How my family heritage is taken from Blazing Saddles

As a young boy I was told that my ancestors’ surname wasn’t Beaulaurier and as a young boy I could have cared less. But one day during my late teens, my grandfather brought it up again and alluded that a horse thief in our branch of the family tree was the reason for the name change. I bought it because grandpa doesn’t lie. What I didn’t realize was he was a very dry comedian.

I came to learn many years later that the movie Blazing Saddles had more to do with my current surname than did any horse thief.

In Rock Ridge, the setting for Blazing Saddles, everyone in town has a last name of Johnson. It’s a hysterical element revisited throughout the movie. There’s Gabby Johnson, Ben Johnson, Howard Johnson, Johnson & Johnson, etc.

Apparently a similar scenario had played out in Eastern Canada for the Provencher families. There was just too damn many of them. So it was decided that the eldest, youngest, short straw, who knows which son should take on a new surname. And for whatever reason, my ancestor’s choice or assignment was Beaulaurier.

The following is translated from a snipping taken from

Today, although the majority of descendants have retained the surname Provencher, several families of the Provencher adopted the names Beaulaurier, BĂ©land, Belleville, Ducharme, Fleurant or Villebrun.

I wonder if there was a Gabby Provencher. That would be awesome.


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