Monday, June 4, 2007


Above is a picture of the Salvation Army Grace Hospital taken in the 1950s on Wellington Street in Ottawa, Ontario Canada. Sue was born at this hospital in April 1955. The hospital was built in 1922 which saw some 3,000 births there yearly. Steven, Sue's husband was born there as was Sue's brother Chris. The hospital was torn down in 2002. A long term care facility was built in its place.
Above is a picture of Sue when she was 3 months old, in July 1955 taken in Ottawa.

Above is a picture of Sue's first home when she was newborn in 1955. The apartment was at 84 Holland St in Ottawa. Sue's parents rented the above bachelor apartment. The apartment building exists to this day. This is a current photo taken in 2007.

Sue Clark's Story begins .....

My name is Sue Clark Wittenberg. I am 52 years old. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. I am currently married to Steven Wittenberg of Ottawa. I have been married three times. I have a brother named Chris who is a year younger than myself.

I have called myself Sue since I was a teenager. My real name is Suzanne. My cousins in Whitby, Ontario teased me relentlessly about my name Sue when the Johnny Cash song same out in the late 60s called "A boy named Sue".

I was born at 12:15 a.m. on April 9, 1955 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada and my parents are Paul Andre Edmond Legare and my mother is Theresa Lucille Sage Legare. My dad is called Paul or Andre and my mom is called Theresa or Terry. My brother was born in May of 1956 at the same hospital where I was born. His given name was Christian but we call him "Chris" My brother and I are 13 months apart in age. My mom got pregnant after my brother was born and had a miscarriage.

I was baptized at the Notre Dame Roman Catholic church in Hull, Quebec that burnt down in 1971. I was only a week old, as was the Roman Catholic tradition of baptizing babies at that time. On the day I was baptized there were 6 other babies named Suzanne being baptized too. Suzanne was a very popular name in 1955. My godparents were my dad's parents, my grandfather Albert Legare and my grandmother Yvette Legare. My middle name is Yvette.

My mom's family moved from Kazabazua to Hull, Quebec to an apartment over the Edmond Funeral Home on St. Joseph Blvd. My mom was a teenager. My uncle Herbie and his wife were moving out so my Grandma Sage took over the apartment. My mom and grandma and Uncle Lyman lived in the apartment. Mom was the youngest of 9 kids. My mom's family had to walk up a hill to get water and had to walk a few miles into town to get groceries.

It was tough life in Kazabazua. The family had to walk up the hill to get water and had to walk into village to get groceries. 5 of mom's brothers went to serve in World War II. Uncle Lyman stayed at home. Mom's two sisters also served in the same war.

My dad was born in Quebec City in Quebec in 1933. My parents were born in the same year. Dad's father Albert Legare got TB when my dad was a child. My dad and his three siblings, his two brothers, one named Gerry and his sister Carmen were put in foster homes in Trois Riveires in Quebec until my grandfather got better.

My grandfather went to the Royal Ottawa Sanitarium in Ottawa to recover. It was the 30s and the great depression was happening and people suffered greatly. My dad got rickets from malnutrition. He told me one time a neighbour gave him some potatoes to eat. His youngest brother died in an accident.

My dad took the family to Trois Riveires to see his former foster parents who were elderly when we met them in the late 60s. Dad also took us to Quebec City where he was born. Quebec City is a beautiful city rich in Canadian history. I liked the cobble stone streets and the people were friendly. I can understand French and read it but I cannot speak it.

My mom met my dad through one of her friends. Mom's friend Theresa had a boyfriend named Gerry Legare and mom met his brother Andre who later become my dad. Mom and dad became fast friends and then later on fell in love.

Dad spoke broken English when he met my mom. My dad's mother tongue is French.

My dad's mom Yvette did not want my dad to go out with girls as he might have gotten distracted from his studies. Dad did not listen to his mother. Mom and dad dated secretly for years. Yvette sold Avon and dad's father Albert worked over at the paper mill. Albert beat his wife Yvette. Dad studied at the University of Ottawa and then got his Bachelor of Arts degree in the late 50s.

Mom got pregnant when she was 21 years old. My dad Andre had just finished his studies a the University of Ottawa. Mom and dad were Roman Catholics. In the 50s the only choices you had when you got pregnant out of wedlock was to either move away to another city and go to a home for unwed mothers or to get married. My parents choose to get married. My mom was being pressured to have an abortion with me and mom stood her ground and didn't. Mom and dad had a shotgun wedding on September 28, 1954 in Roman Catholic church called Notre-Dame Church. Mom wore a nice blue suit when she got married.

The church later burned down on September 12, 1971. No attempt was made to save it. The following year, its stone walls were demolished. Only the presbytery, built in 1889, has survived the wave of demolition. Hull, Quebec.

My mom's dad died when she was 4 years old in 1937. It is one of those skeleton in the closet stories that some families have. My mom told me her father died when he was on a sleigh in the winter and the sleigh turned over and my her father froze to death.

My aunt Cannie my mom's sister says her father had a heart attack near the CPR railroad tracks he used to lay down. My dad told me he looked up the story about my grandfather's death in the newspapers. He told me that my grandfather committed suicide. I don't know the real story and I wish I did.

Grandam Mary Sage was born in Low, Quebec. Grandpa Sage grew up in Martinsdale, Quebec. Grandma Sage grew up on a farm. Her mother died when she was young so her aunt came over to live with them.

My mom has her parents engagement pictured on her bedroom wall. In the picture, Grandma Mary Ann Sage has on a white long dress and her hair is long draped over her shoulders and she was smiling. As was the custom in the early 1900s the engaged couple had pictures taken of them separately. My grandpa Joseph Sage pictures shows him standing tall in a nice suit with black hair and a moustache. Grandma was Irish and Grandpa was Portuguese.

My dad's family moved to Hull, Quebec also when he was a teenager. My grandfather Albert worked at the paper mill and his mother grandma Yvette sold Avon. Albert beat his wife. My dad had a brother named Gerry and a sister named Carmen

My parents were poor. My dad was a clerk in the Federal government. My mom didn't have a job. My parents took me home from the hospital to their upper bachelor apartment at 84 Holland Ave in Ottawa. The apartment was near Wellington and Scott Streets near Tunney's pasture where government employees worked.

I was told by my mom that when I was just a baby she would put me out in a wooden playpen close to the sidewalk early in the mornings when the employees were walking down Holland avenue to go to work at Tunney's pasture where the federal government Health Canada was situated. I would throw my toys onto the sidewalk so the people passing by would have to pick up my toys and hand them to me. I was an extrovert from the start.

Mom also told me one day that she had put me in a carriage outside at the front door of the apartment building. About a half hour later she went to get me and I was missing carriage and all. My mom got frantic and called everyone one she knew to see if they had seen where I had gone but to no avail. Two hours passed by and two young girls knocked on my parents apartment door to tell my mom they had taken me all over the community to show me off. I guess they thought I was a little living doll. Mom was angry and told the girls never to do that again and they didn't.

Our family moved when I was three years old to 178 Carruthers Street near Scott street not far from Holland Ave. We lived in a upper apartment that had 13 stairs to the main street. I remember good times and bad times at Carruther's street.

My brother and I shared a bedroom. My brother was in a crib and I had my own small bed. My brother called me "Tuzane" as he could not say "Suzanne" as it was too difficult for a young child to pronounce.

The teenage boy across the street taught me how to skate. My father would make a rink and slide in the backyard in the winter.

One day when my mom and I and my brother had a nap in the afternoon as we always did, my brother Chris decided to go for a walk outside. It was winter and Chris managed to put on his snow suit by himself and his boots. My mother woke up and could not find my brother Chris and she was very upset and worried. She called the police and all the people she knew. She told me to get dressed and go outside and look for my brother. I was about 4 years old.

I went outside and it was a very cold winter day. I looked all around and could not see my brother anywhere on Carruthers Street. I felt worried too. All of a sudden I turned around towards Scott street and saw my brother Chris smiling and waving his arms as he was walking towards me. My brother said "Tuzane, is mom mad"? Yes I told my brother. Chris and I walked up the stairs to our apartment and my mom gave my brother a beating.

One of our neighbours was mother who was an amputee. One of her hands and forearms was missing. Another neighbour of ours was a developmentally delayed boy with disfigurements to his face and hands. He used to throw stones at Chris and I. He lives near me around the corner now and he has changed. He is very nice and friendly and we speak often when I bump into him. His name is Michael.

We had a wooden swing outside in the backyard. One day my brother was on it and I got hit in the face when it went up into the air. I was hurt but not badly.

One day a man with a old fashioned camera came by. He had a horse with him. He asked my mom if she would like some pictures taken of me and Chris and she agreed. She dressed up in our finest clothes. I remember the man putting a drape over his head and then he took some pictures. Chris and I were on the horse in the pictures. I had long brown hair with ringlets and had on a pretty dress and Chris had on a small suit. We looked so cute in these pictures. My mother has most of our childhood pictures.

My mom asked her sister Caroline "Cannie"s daughter Linda to come and babysit. My cousin Linda was coming over to our apartment when she saw my mom push me down the l3 stairs outside our apartment and I fell on the ground in front of my building. Linda didn't say anything. She was too afraid too.

My mom told her to do some household chores when she was babysitting my brother and I. When my mom got home Linda forgot to do the housework. My mom threw Linda across the room. Linda told her mother Aunt Cannie and she never sent Linda to babysit us again. Aunt Cannie never said anything to my mom.. She did not want to rock the boat.

I remember my third birthday party at Carruthers. In the picture I have a nice cake in front of me with candles and some gifts. I looked so happy. I hid my pain as a child.

I was a nervous child and I had to go and see the doctor because I chewed my right thumb nail down to the cuticle. My mom had to immerse my thumb in some type of heated liquid solution in order that my thumb nail would heal.

My brother and I would swing from the kitchen cabinet doors. My parents didn't like that very much at all. We would play outside together in the backyard and we had lots of fun together.

One day I remember an awful thing that happened to my brother Chris, he must have been about 3 years old. I saw my dad push my brother from the living room into my dad's bedroom where he hit his chin on the steel metal bed frame. My parents took him to the hospital to get stitches. He still has a small scar on his chin to this day. My parents I assume lied about how my brother's chin was split open. Child abuse was a taboo subject for so long.

Mom was washing dad's clothes one day when he looked into one of his pants pockets and found a hotel receipt from Montreal. Mom put two and two together. Dad was away on some weekends with some of his friends. Dad admitted to having had an affair with a secretary. Mom was devastated. She loved my dad so much and was really committed to him. My aunt Olive said my mom never got over what my dad did. Mom lost 90 pounds in three months after that incident. My uncle Lyman did not recognize my mom when she had lost all of that weight. Mom was an emotional eater like me when things bothered her, she would go to the fridge and get some comfort food. Mom's weight has gone up and down like a roller coaster all her life.

My mom went to work in the evenings at the Westgate Restaurant at the Westgate Shopping Center. She was saving up money to put a down payment on a house. My dad had a mini Austin car. I remember my father wrapping my brother and I in blankets as he walked down the stairs to put us in the car to pick up my mom from work.

story continues in Chapter Two -