The daughter of Augustin Bonier dit LaPlante and Adeline Normandin, Marie Louise Bonier was born in 1867 in what was then the Waterford section of Smithfield, R.I. Her maternal grandparents were Joseph Normandin and Ursule Beauregard who had come to the area in 1844. In 1871 Waterford was incorporated into the newly formed Town of Woonsocket.
In 1914 Ms. Bonnier embarked on a project that she saw as a “felt need”. It would become the crowning accomplishment of her life. She had begun a research project on the first families from French-Canada to settle in Woonsocket. Finally published in 1920, when it sold for $1.00, her work was entitled “Debuts de la colonie franco-americaine de Woonsocket, R.I.”
Her research identified 117 families who had immigrated to Woonsocket between 1814 and 1861. She devoted six years to checking marriage and death records and learned that most of the families came from the villages of the Richelieu and Yamaska River valleys, with 23 families from St.Ours.
The Institut Francais of Assumption College, Worcester, published an English edition of the Ms. Bonier’s book, in revised form, in 1997 with editing and translations by Dr. Claire Quintal.
Marie Louise Bonier, on her passing in 1927, was eulogized as ” …historian, foundress of a women’s club and a civic leader”. The reference to a club is the Cercle Marie-Louise, which Ms. Bonier began as a women’s social and civic-service organization.
For her important genealogical research of the early French-Canadian settlers in Woonsocket, the American French Genealogical Society is honored to include Marie Louise Bonnier as a member of the AFGS French-Canadian Hall of Fame, Class of 2003.