The German Presence in the Montreal Region

The first German-speaking families probably came to Montreal around 1700. While this community has never been large, it has been well-organized: the German Society of Montreal was set up in 1835 and St. John’s Lutheran Church was established in 1853. Many families of German origin attended Protestant and Catholic churches along with their English, Scottish and French Canadian neighbours. This compilation lists many of the city’s churches and the repositories where their birth, marriage and burial records are kept.

German Presence in Montreal Feb 1

Tracking Montreal Ancestors: Images of the Past

Many genealogists are aware that the Montreal’s McCord Museum has a large collection of digitized photographs taken in the 19th century studios of William Notman (1826-1891). Although it is best known for its photographs of Montreal’s English-speaking elite, the collection goes far beyond the studio, including pictures of Montreal’s Victoria Bridge, the Canadian Pacific Railway, First Nations people across the country and ordinary Montrealers at work and at leisure.

This is only one image collection of potential interest to genealogists researching Montreal. As you try to try to imagine the people and places that would have been familiar to your ancestors in what was once Canada’s largest city, here are some other resources that might inspire you.

The place to start exploring the McCord Museum’s images is http://www.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/keys/collections/. This page links to the museum’s online collection of more than 122,000 images, including paintings, prints, drawings and photos. There are documents such as diaries, letters and theatre programs, as well as costumes and archaeological objects. While the museum’s collections focus on Montreal, they include images and objects from the Arctic to Western Canada and the United States. You can search the McCord’s online collection for an individual name, or you can browse time periods, geographic regions and artists.

Montreal from the Mountain

This is a view of Montreal from Mount Royal, near my ancestor’s house, around 1830.

The McCord also has a flickr page, https://www.flickr.com/photos/museemccordmuseum/albums.The historically themed albums on the flickr page include old toys, Quebec’s Irish community and an homage to women.

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is another excellent source of digital images, including photographs, illustrations, posters (affiches) and post cards (cartes postales) from the past. To start exploring these collections, go to http://www.banq.qc.ca/collections/images/index.html.

There are two collections of special interest to people with Montreal roots. The first is a collection of 22,000 photos taken by Conrad Poirier (1912-1968), a freelance photojournalist who worked in Montreal from the 1930s to 1960. He covered news (nouvelles), celebrities, sports and theatre, and he did family portraits, weddings, Rotary Club meetings and Boy Scout groups. I even found a photo of myself at a 1957 birthday party (fêtes d’enfants). You can search (chercher) the collection by subject or by family name.

The other collection of interest to people researching Montreal is the BAnQ’s Massicotte collection (http://www.banq.qc.ca/collections/collection_numerique/massicotte/index.html?keyword=*). Edouard-Zotique Massicotte (1867-1947) was a journalist, historian and archivist. The online collection mainly consists of photos and drawings of Montreal street scenes and buildings between 1870 and 1920. Some illustrations come from postcards, while others are clippings from periodicals. There are also a few blueprints and designs. The accompanying text is in French. You can search this collection by subject, by location, date of publication or type of image, or you can put in your own search term.

Philippe du Berger’s flickr page https://www.flickr.com/photos/urbexplo/albums is a gold mine of Montreal images. He includes contemporary photos of the city, including neighbourhoods that have recently been changed by big construction projects such as the new CHUM hospital. There are old photos of neighbourhoods such as Griffintown, Côte des Neiges and Hochelaga-Maisonneuve and he illustrates the transformation of the Hay Market area of the 1830s that eventually became today’s Victoria Square. Some albums include old maps to help the viewer put locations into geographic context.

The City of Montreal Archives has uploaded thousands of photos to its flickr page, https://www.flickr.com/photos/archivesmontreal/albums/. They are arranged in albums on various topics, ranging from city workers on the job to lost neighbourhoods, newspaper vendors, sporting activities and cultural events.

Photo:

James Duncan. Montreal from the Mountain, 1830-31. M966.61, McCord Museum. http://collection.mccord.mcgill.ca/en/collection/artifacts/M966.61?Lang=1&accessnumber=M966.61

This article is also posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca

 

Poor Little Children

IMG_0424

I always thought that my grandfather, William Sutherland was one of three children. He and his brother Wilson died before I was born and his sister Mary when I was a baby, so I never heard any information first hand. There is a picture of the family with three children, parents and grandfather. I always assumed the baby sitting on Alice Dickson Sutherland’s lap was Wilson, until one day I realized the eyes were light coloured. Wilson the youngest son definitely had brown eyes confirmed in many other pictures.

Thinking this was a child who had died, I searched through the Ontario Birth, Marriage and Death indexes. I found a James Dickson Sutherland who died at fourteen months, in January 1886, of bronchial pneumonia and thought he was a possible match. This was confirmed in a letter from Alice to a cousin Jessie McIntosh, where she mentioned little James Dickson. “Baby is growing he is pretty plump but not so big and fat as Willie was when he was his age. We call him James Dickson, he has dark hair, blue eyes and a deep dimple in his chin.”

It was certainly not unusual for young children to die before the discovery of antibiotics and vaccines. In my search I had noticed a Mowat Sutherland, who had died of diphtheria in 1891. Unfortunately, Ontario death certificates don’t give the parents names. No one else in the family had been called Mowat, but that was my great great grandmother’s maiden name. Then a “Knowat” Sutherland age two, was found in the 1891 census living with my great grandfather’s brother William and his wife Jessie Sutherland.

There was also an Elizabeth Mowat Sutherland, who died in 1890. I thought she was probably Mowat’s sister but hadn’t found any birth record. Then, in the LDS database I found both Mowat, Elizabeth Mowat and James Dickson buried in Mount Pleasant cemetery, plot M5120 owned by my great great grandfather William Sutherland.

I kept looking through the records. I searched through the birth records putting in different parents names and then just Sutherland, as I knew the death date and age, 9 months. I finally found a record of the birth of an Elizabeth Maud Sutherland whose parents weren’t William and Jessie Sutherland but rather Donald Sutherland and Alice Dixon (Dickson). This little girl was my great great aunt. She was born July 26, 1888 and died of bronchial pneumonia, April 22, 1889.

Imagine, three babies buried in plot M 5120 with their grandparents, but then there were four. Recently a Dickson baby boy was found to be buried in this plot. He was still born and probably the son of Alice’s brother James Dickson.

Donald and Alice lost two children before the youngest, Wilson was born. As the baby of the family he was spoiled according to all sources. His mother babied him and the explanation was undoubtedly the two children she lost. It was said he never had to learn the value of money and would buy a newspaper every day!

There was one more baby who was never mentioned. My grandmother Minnie Eagle Sutherland and her sister Amy had another younger sister. Elizabeth Martha Eagle, known as Bessie was born October 1, 1886 and died July 18, 1887 of cholera . Her mother Eliza Jane Eagle said, “God knew she could only cope with two children and took Bessie to heaven.”

Are there other little children to find so they too will be remembered?

IMG_3854

Robert Wilson Sutherland          Abt 1905

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Robert Wilson Sutherland                  Abt. 1920

Bibliography:

Ancestry.com. James Dickson Sutherland – Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1938. MS 935, reels 1-615. Series: MS935; Reel: 45

 Year: 1891; Census Place: St Johns Ward, Toronto City, Ontario; Roll: T-6371; Family No: 3.

Archives of Ontario. Registrations of Births and Stillbirths – 1869-1913. MS 929, reels 1-245. Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario.

“Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-1989,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KH6C-BDS : accessed 07 Mar 2014), Elizabeth Mowat Sutherland, 1889.

“Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-1989,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KH6C-FP9 : accessed 07 Mar 2014), Mowat Sutherland, 1891.

“Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-1989,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KH6H-378 : accessed 05 Apr 2014), Eliza M Eagle, 18 Jul 1887; citing Toronto, Ontario, Canada, section and lot T 94, line 11917, volume Volume 07, 1883-1891, Superintendent of Administrative Services; FHL microfilm 1617041.

Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-1989,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/24MZ-7G5 : accessed 19 May 2014), Wm Sutherland in entry for Dickson, 05 Oct 1888; citing Toronto, Ontario, Canada, section and lot M 51 20, line 5000, volume Volume 01, 1876-1896, Superintendent of Administrative Services; FHL microfilm 1617049.

Personal communication with Elizabeth Sutherland Van Loben Sels. 2000.

Family letters from Carol MacIntosh Small. All the original letters were donated by Carol to the Bruce County Archives in Southampton, Ontario.

Letter from Alice Sutherland to Jessie McIntosh March 18, 1885.

Germanic Presence in Quebec City

The 2015 German Christmas Market in Quebec City, http://www.noelallemandquebec.com/

The 2015 German Christmas Market in Quebec City

Jacques begins his latest compilation, The German Presence in Quebec City, with a translated quote by German Quebec expert University of Montreal Professor Manuel Meune. In this quote, Meune describes the context of German immigration to Quebec over the years.

The circumstances Meune describes challenge family researchers with ancestors from Germany who might wonder where original records might be stored. To help sort out the information, Jacques has highlighted books and document collections in churches, libraries, schools and societies in and around the Quebec City area.

He’s also included Facebook or other contact information for each repository so researchers can visit these locations to explore what might be available.

German Churches and Cemeteries of Western Quebec and the Upper Ottawa Valley

This compilation is designed to help researchers find German-speaking ancestors in Western Quebec and the Upper Ottawa River Valley area of Ontario. It identifies several books that cover the topic, the towns where German-speaking immigrants settled, the Lutheran churches that served their spiritual needs and the cemeteries where they were buried. It also lists repositories where the archives of these institutions can be found and genealogical societies in these areas.

The German Churches and Cemeteries in Western Quebec January 12, 2016

 

Keeping up with the ancestors

Like many people, historian Michael Wood can barely trace his family back three generations. Then he met a Chinese family who know who all their ancestors are, going back 1,000 years – what do they do with all that history?

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2016/jan/16/china-genealogy-family-ancestors-history-spiritual-bbc2-story-china-michael-wood

My Brothers’ Keeper

I am quite small, hiding under the table in a kitchen filled with big people all talking but not loudly, a hushed kind of murmuring. They are drinking tea and eating. The room is warm.

Scottie, my Gran’s Highland Terrier is with me under the table, he is a black dog which seems appropriate seeing as everyone in the room seems to be wearing black too. The radio plays quietly in the background. Scottie and I are happy to be left alone underneath the table, but I am soon to be called and told to come out from under the table. I don’t want to come out, I was comfortable there. I am helped up onto a chair to peer into a small white box.

The first thing to catch my eye, is the white satin, lining the box. Then I notice the small doll wrapped in a silken shroud, from neck to foot. I am handed a red rose, and told to put it on his chest. Someone says, ‘Now kiss your brother goodbye’ so I lean in, and kiss his cold forehead then scramble down from the table to crawl underneath again to play with Scottie.

I recall that all the curtains in the house were drawn, night and day, a big black wreath was on the front door and all the mirrors were covered, and everyone in the house wearing black arm bands. Hushed conversations which abruptly end when I come into the room.

I am three years old, soon to be four on 20th of November 1948 and this is the occasion of the death of my baby brother born on 18th October 1948 and dying on 21 October, 1948.

Years later I learn that he died whilst nursing in my mothers’ arms on his third day of life. Christopher’s birth, as was the custom in those days, was at home, whilst I stayed with my grandparents, who lived 5 doors away in the same street and many years later I learn that my mother, whilst she was in her ‘confinement’ watched my ‘blond bubble-curled head bob past her window every day’ and still years later, tearfully telling me how one minute Christopher was nursing then he stiffened, and started to turn blue then went limp. She also said that in layman terms “He was born with only half a heart”. Seeing the certificates, brought back the memories and some more tears.

Now in middle age I think of him often. How he would have turned out, what kind of student he would have been, would we have been close friends? Indeed would my parents have ever divorced if he had lived, as death either makes or breaks a family.

For the past 30 years I have been doing family genealogy so recently I sent off for his birth and death certificates, as his birth and death was something I wanted to know about in more detail.

As soon as the birth and death certificates arrive, hands trembling I open them and try to read the certificates, but memories flood back of the day of his funeral, with such clarity I am dizzy for a second.

I have no photos of Christopher but then, handling the certificates, I remember that day of his funeral with vivid clarity, and how black his hair was – our fathers’ Cornish heritage – but those memories are so vivid only because I now have his birth and death certificates in my hands.

I start to read the two documents, His birth first, but then tears make me stop. Now a mother of two boys myself, I cannot imagine what my mother went through on those three days. I pull my self together, and try again.

I read the official account of his too short life and the reason for his death: ”Congenitally abnormal heart. Heart consisted of two chambers a common auricle and a common ventricle” and then the memory of my mother, telling me he was born with ‘half a heart’ and realising that it was surprisingly accurate.

I hurry to write down what I remember of his death and the memories flow. Of his birth, I have no memory.

I would like my future descendant’s to know a little about my brother and to remember him as I did on the day his Birth and Death Certificates arrived for me to read, and the memories I had of his funeral, events still so clear over 67 years ago and once again, I am reminded of how handling documents, photos and memorabilia of family is so important in our lives, especially when we are documenting our family histories.

I wonder how our future descendant’s will manage now most information is digitized?
I believe like most of my genealogical friends, that we will keep our memorabilia in paper form to bring back memories like mine, which were so vivid and clear.

Protestant Churches of Beauharnois, Chateauguay, Huntingdon, Napierville, Soulanges and Vaudreuil

This compilation covers an area south and west of Montreal, Quebec, in a triangle between the St. Lawrence River, the United States border and Ontario. Today many English-speaking Quebecers know the region as the Chateauguay Valley, but on a map of Quebec, you’ll find it as the Haut-Saint-Laurent region, or part of the Montérégie. This is an attractive area of orchards, farms and small towns.

Archaeologists have found traces of occupation by Iroquoian First Nations people dating from the 14th century. As of 1729, it became the Seigneury of Beauharnois, but at that time there were few inhabitants.

Some Americans and immigrants from Scotland and Ireland arrived in the area around the early 1800s, with most pioneers establishing themselves along the banks of the Chateauguay, Trout and English Rivers. Brick making, which took advantage of the area’s extensive clay deposits, began. Other early industries included agriculture, logging and potash.

If you had Protestant ancestors in this region, this compilation should help you begin to understand the histories of the area’s communities and counties. It outlines the histories of the churches and visiting preachers who served the religious needs of the area’s Protestant residents. It will help you search for the cemeteries where your ancestors might have been buried, and find the church records of your family’s baptisms, weddings and burials.

Thank you to Claire Lindell for editing this compilation and adding the table of contents and maps.

Protestant Churches of Beauharnois, Chateauguay, Huntingdon, Napierville, Soulanges & Vaudreuil

Hogmanay

By Sandra McHugh

The Scots call the New Year’s Eve celebration Hogmanay.1 Hogmanay is part of my family’s history.

My grandfather, Thomas McHugh, came to Canada from Scotland with his family in 1912.  The family maintained the Scottish traditions and they celebrated Hogmanay.  My father, Edward McHugh, was usually the “first-footer.” This means that he was the first one to step across the threshold after midnight, bearing gifts.  Traditionally, to ensure good luck, the first-footer is a tall and dark haired male.  Fair haired first-footers were not welcome, as it is believed that fair-haired first-footers were associated with the Viking invasions.2 My father brought gifts of coal and a herring, but some of the other traditional gifts include shortbread, a black bun, and whiskey to toast the new year.3

There are a few theories about the origin of the word Hogmanay.  The Scandinavian word for the feast preceding Yule was Hoggonott. The Flemish words hoog min dag mean great love day. Some believe that the origin of the word Hogmanay can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon Haleg monath or Holy Month or the Gaelic words for new morning, oge maidne. Many believe that the source is French, homme est né for man is born. In France, the last day of the year when gifts were exchanged, was called aguillaneuf and in Normandy, this was called hoguignetes.4

Hogmanay is an important celebration in Scotland.  It is believed that this festival was first brought to Scotland by the Vikings for whom the passing of the shortest day of the year, the winter solstice, was an event to be celebrated.5 The importance of Hogmanay took on an even greater significance because Christmas was banned in Scotland for about 400 years.  A 1640 Act of the Parliament of Scotland abolished the “Yule vacation and observation thereof in time coming.”6 This Act of Parliament reflected the changing attitudes towards the Christmas Feast Days during the Reformation. Christmas Day only became a public holiday in 1958 and Boxing Day in 1974 .7

The partying and hospitality that goes on at Hogmanay is a way of wishing family, friends, and strangers a Guid New Year.  The old is swept out, sometimes literally by giving the home a good cleaning, and by clearing up any debts before the bells ring at midnight.8

I wish you all a very Guid New Year.

Sources

1 http://www.scotland.org/features/hogmanay-top-facts

2 Idem

3 Idem

4 http://www.rampantscotland.com/know/blknow12.htm

5 Idem

6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas_in_Scotland

7 Idem

8 Idem

Difficult holiday for two families

The plane crashed just after one in the afternoon Eastern Time on December 22, 1944. He probably died right then, or soon after.

Devittphoto2

James Frederick (Fredrick or Federic) Devitt left at least two families mourning for him, one in the United Kingdom and his own in Ontario.

His service file shows that the man was 22 years old when he died. His birth had been a Valentine’s Day gift for his parents. Prior to joining the Air Force, he worked for the Canada Bread Company in Peterborough as a driver and route manager. He played hockey and softball and owned a motor boat.[1]

His last trip as a flight engineer/pilot officer left from Gransden Lodge just prior to 4 p.m. in the afternoon, December 22, 1944, exactly 71 years ago yesterday.

His Lancaster and 13 others were on a Pathfinder mission to mark a small railway freight yard in Germany’s Rhine Valley. He was in Lancaster 405/D, which was seen crashing about three hours later by four pathfinders at 50:02 N. 06:25 E., southwest of Leimbach.

Blind Sky Marker failed to return from this operation and nothing has been heard from any member of the crew since time of take-off. This was F/O Tite’s 35th operation.” [2]

His mother’s notes to the Air Force show how difficult these situations were for families.

The telegram and letter reporting him going missing within a month of the crash was the only official news, but she still had hope that he had lived in May.

Can nothing be done to locate my son Fred? I have waited for days thinking some message would come through. I had word from two of the fathers from two of his crew saying their sons were prisoners of war. This was some time ago. Try and help a heart-broken mother please.”

Henrietta was 65 when her Devitt died, but she had already known great loss. His father Robert Campbell Devitt had already died of complications following a stomach ulcer operation when he was three years old, his older brothers were  five, 15 and 21 and his five sisters were eight, 11, 14, 17 and 19.

When she got news about her youngest son going missing, she was already dealing with the death of his elder brother Alexander, who had died the previous January in the Battle of Ortano, Italy.[3]

She wrote the Royal Air Force a second note three months later:

I have not heard any further word about my son Jas Fredric Devitt except what the three members of his crew who came back told me by letter. They said the plane burst into flames. One bailed out and two were blown out and what happened the rest is not known. Surely some identification marks were found. If he was killed and buried like my other son I wouldn’t take it so hard.

Two of the boys were taken as prisoners and the other wounded and put in a German hospital. All any one says is missing.”

A month later she wrote again.

Surely you can tell me something of my son Pilot Officer Jas Fud shot down over Germany December 22…If I know he was died and his body found my mind would be at rest—as it is I’m afraid of results.”

Another woman who loved him also worried. Eight months after his plane went down, a Mrs. S. Hitchings wrote the Royal Air Force from 111 Connaught Road, Roath Park, Cardiff. She too had heard that two airmen from his plane were taken prisoner and she hoped that perhaps they provided the Red Cross with information about Devitt.

I feel sure that if he was alive we would have heard from him, since he became part of our family whilst he was stationed in this country.”[4]

It would take another three years to be sure about what happened to the Lancaster, but Devitt’s service record indicates that:

This 4 engined aircraft fell 60 or 70 yards behind the fam of MARTIN STOMMES in WIERSDORF (L.0357). It was shot down by a German night fighter and was burning in the air, it hit the ground, turned on its back and burned for 3 hours. One engine and the tail unit fell off before it crashed.”

Three bodies and the remains of a fourth were buried in an unmarked grave.[5]

Devitt’s remains have since been moved to Rheinberg War Cemetery in Germany. For more information, refer to his Veterans Affairs Canada memorial page.

Sources:

[1] Devitt, James Frederick; Library and Archives Canada, RG-24, volume 25203, General Information.

[2] No. 405 R.C.A.F. Squadron (P.E.F.) Operations Record Book, Gransden Lodge, photocopies of secret book, December 22, 1944, Appendix 212.

[3] Devitt, James Frederick; Library and Archives Canada, RG-24, volume 25203, National Estates Branch, form C92768FD269, October 29, 1945.

[4] Devitt, James Frederick; Library and Archives Canada, RG-24, volume 25203, report from Officer Commanding No 2, MR&E Unit RAF, dated January 17, 1947.

[5] Devitt, James Frederick; Library and Archives Canada, RG-24, volume 25203, letter from S. Hitchings, received August 25, 1945.

Note: This article was also published on http://www.Arialview.ca today.

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