Dr. Henri Bélanger was born in Dover Twp near Pain Court (Chatham-Kent) on the 17th of October, 1872. He was the 11th of 12 children born to Leandre Bélanger and the former Genevieve Houle. His parents were farmers and his siblings were; Delia, Joseph, Marie, Julie, Eli, Felice, Ernestine, Aimee (born in 1866 and died in 1868), David, Josephine and Theophile.
Dr. Bélanger attended the University of Ottawa from 1885 until 1890. In 1891 he began studying medicine at the Detroit College of Medicine. He graduated M.D. in 1894. His preceptors were all City of Chatham physicians; Dr. Tecumseh Kingsley Holmes, Dr. George Thomas McKeough and Dr. William Robert Hall. While Dr. Bélanger attended medical school, he spent school breaks studying in the offices of these doctors and attending medical calls. He continued to practice medicine in Chatham after his graduation for a short time.
Dr. Bélanger married Clara “Claire” Elizabeth Reaume on the 2nd of October, 1894 in Dover Twp. Mrs. Bélanger was born on the 4th of October, 1874 the 2nd of 3 children born to Richard Reaume and the former Anna Sterling. Her father was a merchant and her siblings were; Richard and Mary. In the 1880’s the Reaume family moved to Fletcher, where Mr. Reaume operated the general store. Mrs. Bélanger’s mother died in 1888 and later that year, Mr. Reaume married Felice Bélanger in Pain Court, the sister of Dr. Henri Bélanger. Mr. Reaume and his wife Felice had 4 more children; Georgianna Pearl Reaume, Henry “Arthur” Reaume, Edgar Reaume and Victoria Reaume.
After his marriage, Dr. and Mrs. Bélanger moved to River Rouge, Michigan, where he set up his medical practice and where he was to spend the rest of his life.
Dr. and Mrs. Bélanger had 5 children; Angeline Bélanger (born 1898), Leander H. Bélanger (born 1900), Anna G. Bélanger (born 1906), Rosalie Ernestine Bélanger (born in 1907) and Ernest Emmanuel Bélanger (born in 1910).
An article appeared in the Detroit Free Press on the 25th of December, 1933 that sung the praises of Dr. Bélanger in regards to his dedication to his patients. The article mentions that Dr. Bélanger has delivered over 4,500 babies and he has never refused a call or been sued for payment. In 1919 he lead the state of Michigan by delivering 187 children. Further the article states that Dr. Bélanger has attended to one couple 16 times and delivered 17 children, including “twin boys on the twelfth occasion.”
Dr. Bélanger attended to his patients on horseback until 1909 when he purchased a Brush automobile. He was the first resident of River Rouge to own a car.
Dr. Bélanger was the Medical Officer of Health from 1897 until 1920. He served on the River Rouge School Board for over 20 years. Dr. Bélanger was a Senior Consultant to Delray General Hospital in Detroit.
Dr. Bélanger enlisted in WWI on the 12th of September, 1918. Coincidentally his brother Theophile also enlisted in WWI on the same day but in Highland Park, Michigan. (Dr Bélanger enlisted at Wyandotte, Michigan). Both brothers served with the United States Navy.
Dr. Bélanger’s daughter Angeline died on the 23rd of December, 1922 at the age of 24 of tuberculosis. His son Leander died on the 4th of January, 1929 also of tuberculosis. Leander was a “druggist” and his wife Anna and their son Paul were living with Dr. and Mrs. Bélanger at 1251 Coolidge Highway in River Rouge according to the 1930 census. Dr. Bélangers children, Angeline and Leander were buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in River Rouge.
Dr. Bélanger enjoyed flower gardening and reading French literature in his spare time.
Dr. Bélanger’s wife Clara died on the 26th of February, 1938 at the Delray Hospital. She was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.
Dr. Bélanger married Rose (Paré) Canuelle on the 3rd of November, 1942 in River Rouge. She was born on the 8th of October, 1879 in Essex County, Ontario, the daughter of Jacques Paré and the former Scholastique Raymond. Her parents were farmers and she was the 4th of 8 children. Her siblings were; Pierre, Julienne, Philomine, Jacques, Emanuel, Arzelie and Clara. Mrs. Bélanger had been married twice before. She married Antonie Canuelle on the 9th of January, 1897 in Wayne County, Michigan. According to the 1891 census the large Canuelle family farmed in Tilbury West Twp, Essex County. Together they had 7 children; Ida, Leo, Lawrence (who died in River Rouge of pneumonia at the age of 2), Emil, Leona, Rosalie and Clarence. Mrs. Bélanger’s former husband Antonie Canuelle, died in River Rouge on the 2nd of June, 1918. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery in River Rouge. Her second marriage was to Antonie’s younger brother, Joseph Louis Canuelle on the 3rd of July, 1919 in River Rouge. With her second husband, she had a son named Raymond who was born on the 7th of January, 1925. Her daughter Leona died on the 29th of March, 1926 of tuberculosis. Mrs. Bélanger’s second husband died on the 28th of April, 1939 and he was buried at Woodmere Cemetery in Detroit.
Dr. Bélanger died on the 31st of October, 1952 at his residence, 1251 Coolidge Hwy. He was buried at Holy Cross Cemetery.
His wife Rose Bélanger died on the 4th of October, 1979.
There is a park in River Rouge named for the late doctor, the Dr. Henri Belanger Park.
*Dr. Bélanger’s son, Ernest Emmanuel Bélanger also became a physician. Dr. Ernest Bélanger served with the United States Navy during WWII. Dr. Ernest Bélanger also practiced medicine in River Rouge. He died in 1973.
**Dr. Tecumseh Kingsley Holmes, Dr. George Thomas McKeough and Dr. William Robert Hall also appear on the Chatham-Kent Physician Tribute website.
***The webmaster is grateful for the assistance of the Bélanger Family.