It’s a tradition as old as the Bible itself, but for one Ottawa man, it’s meant two frustrating years of trying to restore his good name.
When Claude Therien needed to replace his lost and expired passport in 2016, the 68-year-old submitted his birth certificate to Passport Canada to prove his Canadian citizenship.
Therien was raised in a traditional French-Catholic family, and his baptismal name follows the centuries-old religious tradition of naming boys after Joseph, husband of Mary, mother of Jesus.
According to tradition, that biblical moniker is followed by a godparent’s name — in Therien’s case, Louis — a given name and finally, the family name, accidentally given an extra “r” by Therien’s father.
Thus, Therien’s birth certificate bears the name Joseph Louis Claude Therrien, and that’s the name that appeared on his new passport.
His parents always intended for him to be called Claude, and indeed the name Claude Therien appears on dozens of pieces of identification old and new, including his driver’s licence, SIN card, business cards and racketball club membership.
“I’ve always used one name in my life,” said Therien, who’s spent the last two years trying to convince government officials that his first name isn’t really Joseph.
“That would make my father, myself and all my four brothers Joseph,” Therien pointed out.
To prove his point, Therien pulled out a box of documents and photographs, including one baby picture inscribed on the back with the words, “Claude à 71/2 mois” in blue ink.