The fur traders and coureurs de bois of Quebec, Northern Ontario and labrador – part 2

The following database consists of four sections:

* Pages 3-11 Trading Companies: articles, maps, journals and correspondence.

* Pages 11-40 Forts and Fur Trading Posts: along with a description of their locations.

*Pages 41-51 History: documentation by publishers on the subject.

*Pages 51-55 Repositories : consisting of links to Archives, various BanQs, Bibliotheques, Librairies, etc.

My grandfather’s brilliant city hall Career in Four Scandals: Part 2.

Flying Dentures and the Terrible Typhus: The Montreal Water and Power Scandal of 1927

Jules Crepeau, second from right seated on a fishing trip with Aldermen and Mayor Mederic Martin. He looks deadly bored doesn’t he? Jules Crepeau lived to work.

On September 29, 1930, in a memorable public meeting of the Montreal City Council filled with oratorical fireworks, twenty-nine aldermen debated whether my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, should be allowed to ‘resign’ from his lofty post of Director of City Services at City Hall. It was an especially loud and rowdy session of Council, with observers in the gallery booing Mayor Houde, but, apparently, ‘a religious hush’ came over the hall when Etienne Gauthier, Chief City Clerk, read out my grandpapa’s coerced letter of resignation.

This was the most important debate ever held at City Hall, cried out the left wing Liberal newspaper Le Canada the next day. The City Hall reporter from the Montreal Gazette had unusual fun with the story: “It was a hot session. A dozen usually placid aldermen lost their tempers and their ruddy complexions paled in anger. The mayor lost the main span of this false teeth in the middle of a sentence, caught them on the fly and pocketed them nonchalantly. But nobody lost his voice. His Worship and Ald. Schubert of St. Louis ward put on the main bout, and the alderman asked Ald. Bruno Charbonneau, the pro-mayor in the chair, to have the mayor expelled from the Council Chamber for bad behavior.”1

______________________________________________________________________________

Jules Crepeau’s third and fourth scandals overlap in the late 1920’s, so I am starting with the least unsettling of the two: The Montreal Water and Power controversy where the City purchased a much-needed privately-owned water utility based in a separate city, Westmount, for 14 million dollars.

Gazette headline

This purchase in 1927 was fairly benign business-as-usual except in the eyes of those Anglo businessmen who despised monopolies. Indeed, with the support of Hugh Graham (Lord Althostan) Camillien Houde used this non-scandal in 1928 to propel himself right onto the Montreal Mayor’s throne where he would remain, on and off, for decades – famously apposing the draft in WWII and even going to jail for it.

In 1930, Mayor Houde invoked this same Water and Power ‘scandal’ to force my grandfather Jules Crepeau, a 42 year veteran of City Hall, to resign his all-seeing post of Director of City Services, just two years after Council had praised him to the hilt on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of his tenure at City Hall.

Like my grandfather’s other scandals that I am writing about in this series, The Montreal Water and Power Purchase is a bit difficult to unpack, but let me try.

The Purchase was all about contagion, especially typhoid epidemics in 1904, 1909 and 1927 respectively. A key ethical question loomed over the purchase: whether municipal utilities existed to promote big business and speculation or to serve the better interests of the citizens of urban areas, rich and poor, or both.

In 1904, the typhus bug had likely originated in the pipes of Westmount’s deceptively named Montreal Water and Power Company, tainting the unfiltered water in this tony suburb and killing 30. But s**t famously flows downstream and three times the number of citizens were killed in the working class town of St. Henri.

Assess to potable water had long been a problem in St Henri, a low-lying ‘burb that flooded every spring. That town also housed a number of abattoirs and tanneries mucking up the natural water supply. In 1910, the infant mortality rate in St. Henri was world class.

The beleaguered citizens of St Henri had to pay two water taxes, one to the Company and one to the municipality. Most people couldn’t afford it.

Thus St Henri was forced to pay the water tax for many of its poorer citizens. At the turn of the 20th century, this burden proved too much and, in 1906, St Henri was absorbed into the City of Montreal.*2.

From then on it was understood that the City of Montreal would have to purchase the waterworks from its private owners– it was just a matter of time. Between 1917 and 1926, a succession of bills were passed in the Quebec Legislature making way for the City to purchase Montreal Water and Power. Meanwhile, Montreal Water and Power continued to be ‘a thorn in the side of the city.’ 9

And when the purchase was finally approved by Council on February 14, 1927, the timing was most suspicious – or auspicious, depending on the point of view.

It seems the City Council signed off on the purchase shortly after Senator Norman Webster purchased the company stock in parcels between the spring and autumn of 1926 from the Hanson Brothers, through a family trust located in New York State. Webster paid only nine million, five hundred thousand dollars for the company. The city taxpayers were out four and a half million.

Apparently, the Montreal Star and Standard (owned by Hugh Graham until 1925) were the only English newspapers that condemned the purchase outright. The Council either acted too hastily, they said, or there were corrupt motives involved.

Surprisingly, no one mentioned the typhoid epidemic, taking hold right then in February, 1927, as a very good reason for Council to rush to purchase Montreal Water and Power, considering the events of 1904. I guess no one wanted to frighten away those monied American tourists who were flocking to Montreal for a boozy good time. 4

The Crepeaus visiting Atlantic City in 1927 or 28 judging from my mother’s size. Hmm…Working vacation? Atlantic City had no prohibition. You could probably cut the tension at home with a knife, considering what Jules was going through back then. My grandmaman had her own altar at home and kept a house full of priests. Was she super religious or was she afraid of something?

Alderman Mercure soon mounted a libel suit against the Montreal Standard on behalf of Council, so all people in question had to publicly testify.

On the stand Norman Webster was positively cocky. Yes, he owned most of the shares in the family trust. Maybe he had been at the Quebec legislature in early 1926 when the bill was passed giving Montreal the go-ahead to purchase Montreal Water and Power, but he knew nothing about it. He was there on other business, Presbyterian Church Union. No, he hadn’t ever intended to quickly flip the company to the City, at least not until the City Council approached him.

The Court ruled that the controversial purchase was legal and above-board: that’s what businessmen do, speculate. Montreal Water and Power was created for no other reason than to be purchased for a profit, in the future, said the Court. It was the responsibility of the City’s Executive Committee of aldermen, led by “Montreal’s Napoleon” JAAA Brodeur to have stopped the Webster purchase were it, indeed, such a bad deal for citizens. Brodeur (who died but a few months later) had testified that he knew about Webster’s prior purchase but he still thought the deal a good one.

La Presse pic of huge reception for UK PM Baldwin August 2, 1927. My grandfather, along with Alderman Mercure and Mayor Mederic Martin were among the copious head table guests, which included Norman Webster and Sir Hugh Graham. The Royal Princes were also in town to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Confederation. David and his brother were out golfing at a public event this lunch hour but they had attended a ceremony at City Hall that morning, an event organized by my grandfather’s office.

How does my poor grandpapa fit into all this? Well, Houde claimed that as Director of City Services it was his job to warn all the aldermen against the deal.

My grandfather defended himself in the papers by saying that he did not even attend the council meeting at City Hall where the aldermen voted to seal the purchase, so how could he have warned anyone? He only learned about the purchase the next day, he claimed.

It is a bit weird that he did not attend that Council meeting, since that was one of his many, many tasks. Was it a shady session? Maybe. Did my grandfather know about it? Probably.8

During the 1928 election campaign, Camillien Houde called out as corrupt the late Mr. Brodeur and a certain name-left-unspoken “everybody knows who he is” Minister at Quebec.

Houde won the April 2 election handily, winning over voters in English wards specifically on the W and P issue, or so said the Montreal Gazette, and the very next day a report was commissioned on all aspects of the Montreal Water and Power purchase. A board of arbitration put the price at fourteen million and Mayor Houde would go on to ratify the purchase. All in all, the Montreal Water and Power purchase was a very good thing for the city.

Still, Houde used the Water and Power purchase to bounce my grandfather two years later, saying the electorate had given him the mandate to do so back in 1928.

My grandfather wrote up a short letter of resignation on September 22, 1930 but he said in the newspapers that it was up to Council whether or not to accept it. Thus came about that rowdy debate at City Hall on September 29th, recounted almost word-for-word in most of the Montreal newspapers, except in the Montreal Star, where the news report was kept short and simple.1

Le Canada suggested that my grandfather had become ‘an embarrassment’ to Houde because he knew too much about the new administration. This was highly probable. Before acquiescing to Houde’s demand, my grandfather negotiated an enormous severance payout and life pension which one might guess was in return for his future silence. And the circumstances surrounding my grandfather’s untimely death in 1938 suggests the same thing.*7

In the end, on that cool autumn evening in late September, twenty-two aldermen – all Houdists – voted to accept my grandfather’s resignation and seven voted not to. My grandfather would retire and still be the second highest paid person at City Hall.

During that fateful council session Alderman Trepanier, my grandfather’s long-time ally, argued passionately on his behalf – claiming that Mayor Houde had his aldermen ‘by the throat.’ He was forced to retract that statement, replacing it with something less aggressive, “The aldermen are pirouetting to Houde’s every demand,” he said.

Houde was undeterred. “The people want revenge for the Montreal Water and Power Scandal and they want revenge for the Laurier Palace Fire,” he boomed, spitting out his lower plate.

And so we get to my grandfather’s fourth, most meandering – and most murky – career scandal at Montreal City Hall in the 1920’s, the Laurier Palace Fire/Coderre Police Corruption Scandal. This is where my grandfather’s story starts to look like the convoluted plot for a season of Line of Fire. To be continued in Part 3.

David, the Royal Prince, with Mayor Mederic Martin on the morning of their visit. The charismatic prince sorely disappointed his female fans a few hours later by rushing to the golf game in Laval des Rapides incognito instead of taking an open car on a parade route. Still, may privileged guests got to follow the princes on their round.

1. Read the entire Gazette report here: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=Fr8DH2VBP9sC&dat=19300930&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

Le Canada, published in league with the Liberal Party of Canada, called the debate at the council session, the most important ever held at City Hall. They also said ‘there was a religious silence in the room” as my grandfather’s resignation letter was read out..

The Montreal Star story, of which I have a paper clipping, was much more restrained, featuring classic reporting that summarized the situation and said ‘lot’s more happened.’ It mentioned the flying teeth, though.

2.Lord, Kathleen. “Days and Nights: Class, gender and on Notre Dame Street in St. Henri, 1875-1905. McGill Thesis 2000.

3.This according to Fong’s book on McConnell and Wikipedia FR on Houde. The Star’s archives aren’t online anywhere. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Camillien_Houde

4.The epidemic was taking hold probably right around then. By March the numbers were making the newspapers. There would eventually be 5,000 cases and 533 deaths. Americans sent up their health experts to locate the cause – eventually found to be milk not water. With no prohibition in Montreal in 1927, the city was a tourist haven for Americans looking for a good time. That’s probably why Council didn’t bring up the epidemic in their defence. (My opinion only.) Brodeur later denied there was any typhoid epidemic at all. “Just a few cases.”

5. In 1927, L’Autorite Magazine, among other revues, called my grandfather an innocent pawn of Chairman Brodeur, during the inquiry into the Laurier Palace Fire in 1927. In this particular case, I suspect they got it wrong. See my next post. They also claimed Houde kept Jules on at first because he needed his knowledge.

6. Le Canada was a very modern-looking newspaper with lots of ads and a ladies and sports page. (See BANQ for more info.) It was a newspaper published in league with the Liberal Party of Canada, and contained many scathing articles and editorials about the ‘firing’. They refused to call it a resignation. Basically, they said the new Houde administration was corrupt, already breaking laws at all levels of government, putting hardworking fathers out of their city jobs and replacing them with their own. (The Depression was starting and unemployment was rampant in Montreal. Le Canada contested Houde’s claim that the people wanted Jules out over the Montreal Water and Power deal, since these same people, they said, had re-elected most of the alderman who voted for the deal in 1928. (I’m not sure if this is true.) They said my grandfather was gotten rid of cause ‘he knew too much and maybe he had become….embarrassing.’ Probably true. When City Hall contested the Pension in 1930 /1931, there were snippets in newspapers here and there that my grandfather might run for municipal office, even as Mayor. Did he really want to run for Mayor? Not quite his style. The average Joe on the street didn’t know his name, *unless they read the tabloids in 1914. I think these postings were little threats. “Make sure I get the pension, or…” Le Devoir did not think it right that my grandfather was turfed out, “ He will be a hard man to replace: no one knows like he does how to keep the wheels of municipal government running smoothly,” but they laughed at the idea that the Houde administration was more corrupt than the previous administration ‘which was well known to be run by liberals.’ They also claimed at the time that my grandfather managed to keep the scandal over the Water and Power sale at arm’s length – at the time, anyway. They suggested that all his scandals, including the one in 1914 over the bribery, only served to enhance his reputation at City Hall.

To get his pension the city charter had to be amended at Quebec..

7. My grandfather finally won the court case and got his pension (and retroactive payments) in 1931. In 1937, under financial pressure during the Great Depression, the city rescinded my grandfather’s pension. (Thank you Christian Gravenor for digging out that info.) .Just two weeks later, Jules would be hit by a car near his home in NDG, a car driven by an off-duty policemen, get a broken his leg among other serious injuries, spent two months in the hospital, and die a year later of bone cancer (from the x-rays, my mother always said.). All very suspicious, wouldn’t you say? My mother who was only 16 at the time of the incident thought it was an accident, but my cousins were told he was murdered.

8. My grandfather’s job, as defined clearly by the City Charter, was to be the liaison between top employees, like the city engineer (a Mr. Terrault) and the powerful Executive Committee of aldermen, although this worked only in theory. 8 As the unelected top civil servant he was expected to be neutral on all issues but the very nature of this position made that next to impossible. No doubt my grandpapa Jules was a pawn of the powerful JAAA Brodeur, among others even higher up in the political pecking order. I suspect he was ordered to stay out of it – or he chose not to participate out of reservations of his own. During testimony into the Laurier Palace Fire taking place simultaneously an alderman said as much.

9. At the court hearing it was described as such by another alderman.

A copy of my grandfather’s coerced letter of resignation from his City Hall File that I retrieved. For all of his scandals, and all the work his office did, the file was pretty thin. I suspect it has been heavily redacted long ago.

Born in Biloxi

It is always interesting when my husband shows his American passport as we go through customs. He was born in Biloxi, Mississippi and that always gets comments.

His parents, Arline Raebeck and William Baker were northerners from Belle Harbor, Long Island and Dedham, Massachusetts, so to have their son born in the deep south was unusual but it was wartime and they were both in the US Army.

Arline graduated from Brooklyn Friends School and Centenary College. She decided against a job at the Stock Exchange as typing with a dictaphone jack in her ear wasn’t for her. Wearing her white gloves and hat, as she learned at college, she got a job at the Personnel Finance Company on Long Island, then later at the Head Office of J.P. Penney’s in New York. All the young men around her were joining the military. She was getting restless and none of these jobs, “were the real me,” so one day she went to the recruiting office and signed up. She needed her birth certificate and had to ask her father, for it. William Raebeck thought she wanted to get married but she joined the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC).

She traveled down to Daytona, Florida by train to attend basic training and Administration School. The Army wasn’t ready for the women. They had no uniforms, no barracks and so slept eight to a room in little nothing hotels. They were right on the ocean but, “it just wasn’t perfect!”

After their training, Arline and over a hundred other WAACs boarded a train to Keesler Field, an Army Flight Corp base in Biloxi, Mississippi. The base already had some women, nurses and civilian secretaries but the Base Commander sent a letter to all officers saying, “these WAACs were not going to ruin our field’s reputation.” He expected these 100 or so women to lead the 40,000 – 60,000 men down the road to ruin. They initially had guards around them everywhere they went. There was to be no fraternization and special permits were required to meet with individual soldiers.

Arline was posted to the Classification office where the recruits received their postings. Here she had her first contact with William Perry Baker. Bill Baker had graduated from Harvard and worked in several jobs including administering aptitude tests before signing up as a conscientious objector. He refused an officer’s commission and was a Master Sargent. It was only a three-person office and Arline had more in common with the office Sargent than with Bill.

All the squadrons had parties to keep up morale. At one event in a small hotel on the gulf, Arline couldn’t reach the refreshments on the table and asked the man in front of her for a piece of celery. It was Bill. Later, while she was dancing with her date he came and tapped him on the shoulder. He offered Arline stalks of celery and had the salt and pepper shakers in his back pocket. That was the beginning but according to Arline, “It was a little more complicated. It didn’t happen as easily as all that!”

While she dated Bill a few times she also visited two soldiers she knew from home, one in Florida and one in Dallas but, “The whole thing was a mess.” After her Dallas visit, Bill came by and while leaning against a tree outside her barracks said to Arline, “Consider yourself engaged!” She wasn’t sure of this proposal and asked one of her friends, “What kind of a husband do you think Sargent Baker would make?” The answer must have been good as two months later they were married. Only Mildred Raebeck, Arline’s mother came down from Belle Harbor for the wedding. She liked Bill the first moment she saw him. Her husband didn’t come. He didn’t like travel or the hot humid weather in Mississippi so Major Harrison in his white dress uniform, gave Arline away.

They only took a weekend for their honeymoon. They drove a few miles west in a borrowed car to Pass Christian and stayed at a closed golf course. Her mother wanted to get home but most seats were reserved for servicemen. She did manage to board a train and then the soldiers were nice to her and made sure she had a room.

Arline, then a corporal, continued to work after their marriage but had to resign when she became pregnant. William Perry Baker Junior was born September 20, 1945, in Biloxi Mississippi. Bill hadn’t yet been discharged although the war had ended.

The one item my husband wished he got when his mother downsized was her celery dish. His father won the little oval glass dish at a penny arcade.

Notes:

Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC) began May 15, 1942, as an auxiliary Army unit and on July 1, 1943, became an active unit, Women’s Army Corp (WAC). Everyone had to sign up again. Arline said it was like being asked after six months of camp, do you want to go home or do you want to stay. She took a long time to sign again because she was worried about her parents being home alone and what if something happened.

Arline Baker Wahn interviewed by her son Jonathan W Baker, March 19, 2010, in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Video of Arline Wahn at Thanksgiving dinner by William Baker, November 24, 2011, in Sudbury Massachusetts.

Arline Raebeck Baker Wahn 1921- 2016.
William Perry Baker 1914 – 1963.

Zacharie Cloutier, Master Carpenter

In the early days of New France Robert Giffard, a doctor and a seigneur living in the new colony of Beauport was recognized for his determination to fulfill a specific role. The Company of One Hundred Associates was instrumental in requesting him to establish the new colony. At the time there were approximately one hundred people living there. For it to become a viable settlement they needed to attract new immigrants. Giffard was up to the task. He set out to recruit the most skilled and talented craftsmen in Perche, Basse Normandie. Men signed contracts with Giffard and emigrated to New France in the first wave of settlers.

Zacharie Cloutier, my ninth great grandfather, a master carpenter, in his mid-forties, along with an ever-growing family were eager to participate. He and his great friend, Jean Guyon, a master mason both signed three-year contracts with Robert Giffard on March 14th, 1634.  

      There were several stipulations in the contract:1. Robert Giffard

  • would pay passage from France to Canada for Zacharie and Jean 
  • plus one family member each.
  • promised them 1,000 arpents of land on which they could hunt, fish, and build a home
  • also promised to foot the bill for all their living expenses for the duration of the contract.
  • After two years, Seigneur Giffard would pay passage for the rest of the mens’ families to join them.
  • There was also a clause indicating that the men would be required to render fealty and homage to Giffard.

Although Zacharie did not know how to read or write, his signature was not the regular X, that was used by many, but, rather a unique, distinctive, creative drawing of an axe.

        The marks of Martin Grouvel (left) and Zacharie Cloutier (right)2

The ship carrying the men arrived in New France on June 4,1634 after a two-month journey at sea.3.Historians did not appear to agree on the time the men’s families arrived. Some indicated that they brought their families–in their entirety on the initial voyage, whereas, others noted that a passenger list for ships arriving in1636 contained the names of Zacharie’s wife and children. We do know that his family is among the first to settle in Beauport along with the Guyons.

Zacharie was born at the close of the 16th century about 1590 in Mortagne-au-Perch (Orne)and married a widow, Xainte Dupont July 18, 1616 in Saint Jean in the same village.4. Together they had six children, 3 girls and 3 boys. A young daughter, Sainte, sometimes spelt like her mother Xainte, died in France. She was only ten years old.

Within a short period after their arrival in Quebec City, June 4th,1634 our master carpenter set to work. He began building Robert Giffard’s manor home in Beauport.5.

Once his contract was terminated, he continued building the parish church in Quebec City, and the Saint Louis Fort. Meanwhile he worked for the nuns and others at their request and in his free time began clearing and cultivating his land that was granted February 3rd, 1637. La Clouterie, the arriére fief measured 322 metres in width and 7.4 kilometres in length.6.

An arriéve-fief is a subdivision of a seigneurie.6.

Zacharie was not from a noble family. These titles were given by the King, however, as a seigneur he became known as a ‘bourgeois seigneur’ with the same duties and titles of noble seigneurs.7

The issue of fealty and homage rose to the forefront between Giffard, Cloutier and Guyon., There was a parting of the ways caused by a dispute over the clause in their contract that requested fealty and homage to Giffard. Zacharie Cloutier and Jean Guyon resisted for several years and were adamant. They refused to pay tribute to Giffard. Court actions ensued. Zacharie chose to sell his land in Beauport to Nicholas Dupont and moved to Chateau Richer where Governor Jean de Lauzon had granted him land.8.

On the 12th of May 1669, Zacharie and Xainte, his wife, made their will and placed themselves in the hands of their son Zacharie.

In 1670 Zacharie and Xainte were now about 76 and 70 years of age. They chose to prepare an “Actes de Donation”.9 Their sons and families had settled in Chateau Richer. The act consisted of a donation of all their possessions. Land and goods were given to their son and his family. In return, they were to provide the parents a home, food, clothing, and all that comes with caring for their parents for the remainder of their days.

Zacharie died on September 17th, 1677 at the age of 87 or 88 and was buried the following day in Chateau Richer Cemetery.10 Xainte succumbed on the 13th of July 1680. 341 years ago today, as I put the finishing touches on this story. She too is buried in the same cemetery.

The Cloutiers are one of the foremost families of Quebec, noting that over the years there have been between 5 and 6 million descendants.11. I’m in good company, Prime Minister Louis St Laurent is also a direct descendant.

 1.https://peoplepill.com/people/zacharie-cloutier

 2.https://www.fichierorigine.com/

 3. https://www.tfcg.ca/zacharie-cloutier-sainte-dupont

 4. http://www.francogene.com/genealogie-quebec-genealogy/000/000032.php

 5. https://www.angelfire.com/ma3/noelofbrockton/page43.html

 6.  https://www.geni.com/people/Zacharie-Cloutier/6000000003137750084    The best overview   of the life and times of the Cloutiers

 7. https://www.tfcg.ca/zacharie-cloutier-sainte-dupont

 8. https://www.findagrave.com/

 9.https://www.google.com/maps/@46.8389989,-71.2081627,37709m/data=!3m1!1e3

10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zacharie_Cloutier

11.http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/cloutier_zacharie_1E.html

Notes:

The name ‘Cloutier’, itself, supports the contention that Zacharie was a skilled person. It appears the name is a contraction of the French word “clou” meaning nail and “métier” meaning to make; thus, a Cloutier being a ‘maker of nails’

Zacharie and Xainte were the first couple in Canada to celebrate their diamond and golden wedding anniversaries in New France.

The Fur Traders and Coureurs de bois of Quebec, Northern Ontario and Labrador

The Fur Traders and Coureurs de bois of Quebec, Northern Ontario and Labrador

This is the first part of a two part series The first part of this database consists of an extensive list of authors who have written on the subject of the fur trade in the specific areas of Quebec, Northern Ontario and Labrador.

The second section consist of historical documents on the fur trading industry. While the third section lists the many repositories containing information on the fur traders.

Part two will follow in the next session.

Please note that this database contains numerous books, documents, articles and reports that are free to either read online or download. These are highlighted in green text for easy recognition.

The Legend of star gazey pie

Have you ever heard of Star Gazey Pie? Me, neither, but soon after their marriage, my Dad, from Cornwall, asked my Mum, from Devon, to make him a Star Gazey pie. I think it was a sneaky request as she had absolutely no idea what he was talking about and I think he knew that!

The main ingredients are Pilchard – or Sardines – a small, tasty fish high in omega 3 oils. Today we buy them in tins, submerged in water, tomato sauce or mustard. In England, we usually serve them on hot buttered toast.

Star Gazey Pie was created in Mousehole, Cornwall UK, where ‘Mousehole’ is pronounced as ‘Mow-Zul’

A legendary character by the name Tom Bawcock appears to have been a local fisherman in the 16th century, and according to the legend one winter was extremely stormy and the fishermen could not leave the harbour to fish.

Christmas was approaching and fish was the main source of food. The villagers were facing starvation but Tom Bawcock decided to brave the storm.

He safely returned with enough fish to feed the entire village and the whole catch was baked into a pie, which was named ‘Star Gazey Pie’ in his honour, and is now a festival called “Tom Bawcock’s Eve” held on the 23rd of December. (1)

Pilchard, or sardines were fished using ‘seine nets’ all around the coastline of Cornwall and in the early days of fishing the seine nets used were large and very expensive, so they were owned only by the wealthy noblemen.

The shoals appeared in late summer and autumn in North Cornwall following warm currents and planktonic food. The shoals were so huge, the fish could be seen from the cliff tops. ‘Huers’ were employed to keep watch and when the enormous shoals were spotted the Huers would shout ‘HEVVA!’ and alert the village into action.

On Newquay’s Towan Headland, thought to have been built in the 14th century, there stands a huers hut.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is heurs-hut.jpg

Huers Hut Towan Headland, Newquay, Cornwall

Pilchard seines nets were huge cotton nets with small mesh, in a horseshoe shape and were used in shallow waters. A cox and four oarsmen in 40 foot length rowboats, were used to set up the nets.

Then, the ‘stop net’ was set, this was a smaller wall of net, which trapped the fish in shallow water. This net would be hauled until the fish were now in a smaller, concentrated area. The fish were then scooped out of the shallow water into baskets. (See the drawing below).

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is diagram-st-ives-pilchard-seines-1.jpg

Drawing of seine nets (Image courtesy of John McWilliams ©)

The ‘tucking’ process was very labour intensive and fishermen, boys and women were all involved.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is tucking-a-seine-copywrite-john-mcwilliams.jpg

Tucking of seine nets (Image courtesy of John McWilliams ©)

This way of fishing was used for hundreds of years until the late 1890’s when the fishing industry begun to decline. The seine nets were hugely expensive, and if a fisherman wanted to be his own boss, he used the smaller drift nets, which became the mainstay of pilchard fishing. During the First World War motors began to be installed which was safer and much more practical.

However, by the 1970’s pilchard fishing ceased in Cornwall, until the 1990’s when an enterprising skipper began experimenting with ring netting for pilchards. Others followed and once again there is a thriving industry in pilchards or, as they are now known, Cornish Sardines. (2)

And now for the most interesting bit , a photo of an unbaked a Star Gazey Pie.….

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is file.jpg

Here is the recipe and how you make it; go on, have a go!

STAR GAZEY PIE

454 grams (1 pound) of shortcrust pastry.

6 pilchards – or 8 large sardines gutted and filleted BUT with their heads left on and tail fins removed.

171 grams (6 ounces) of brown breadcrumbs

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon allspice

Freshly ground black pepper

One small onion

1 egg

3 hard boiled eggs, chopped

4 teaspoons single cream, and 4 table spoons chopped parsley.

METHOD

Set the oven to 220 C or 425 F

Wash the fish and pat dry then open them out.

Make the stuffing with bread crumbs, cloves spice and pepper mixed with finely chopped onions bound together with beaten egg.

Fill the opened fish with stuffing. Close up, reshape and leave in a cool place.

Grease a flat pie-dish about 25.4 Cm. (10 inches) in diameter. Line with 113 grams (1/4 pound ) pastry.

Arrange the stuffed fish like the spokes of a wheel with their heads on the fin and tails in the centre. Cover with hard boiled eggs, cream parsley and pepper; finish with the rest of the pastry and pinch the two layers firmly together between the heads but roll back the pastry round the heads to reveal their eyes gazing starwards. Brush with beaten egg.

Bake for 15 minutes reduce heat to 180 C (350 F) and continue for a further 20 minutes until the pie is golden brown. (3)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is star-gazey-pie.jpg

The baked Star Gazey Pie.

And, no, I have not baked one myself, however, I think I may now have to try. However, when I asked the family, their response was not the most enthusiastic! I wonder why??

SOURCES

(1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Bawcock

(2) Drawing of seine nets Image courtesy of John McWilliams ©

(2) https://www.cornwallgoodseafoodguide.org.uk/cornish-fishing/history-of-the-cornish-fishing-industry.php

(3) ‘Favourite Cornish Recipes’ compiled by June Kittow

Below is a 1943 documentary about pilchard netting and life in Mousehole during the Great War era. (2)

Video: https://film.britishcouncil.org/resources/film-archive/coastal-village

THE COMPANIE DES CENT – ASSOCIES OF nOUVELLE -FRANCE 1627-1663

Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing a Waterfalls Artist Frances Anne Hopkins

The Company of One Hundred Associates of New France

The Compagnie des Habitants (or Communauté des Habitants) was a company formed by traders from New France founded in 1645 and which held the monopoly on the fur trade of the Compagnie de la Nouvelle-France from 1645 to 1663.

The following database consists of a compilation of information with extensive links to The Company of One Hundred Associates of New France. 1627-1663.

The fur industry attracted investors , bankers, administrators, ship owners, fur traders, explorers, military officers, merchants, notaries, first nation language interpreters, civil servants, seigneurs, governors and coureurs de bois of the French colonies of Nouvelle-France and Acadie.

The database is divided into sections:

Page 1-5  Various Companies, the Elite, Pioneer Families, Census, of families.

Page 6-78      Leaders, explorers, fur traders, officers, merchants, etc.

Page 78-125  Authors noting where complete documents are available online.

Page125-148    History – reference links to biographies, publishers, socieities, universities, etc.

Page 148-159  Repositories in France

Page 159-163  Repositories in Canada

Complete document available online is written under any link that opens up to a document that can be read online or is available for download. Where restrictions apply, they are indicated.

Open link in a new window

The Fur Trade at Lachine National Historic Site

 

Why the third William Lindsay gave up a promising career as a lawyer

(The Three William Lindsays – Part 3)

Circumstances beyond his control* compelled the third William Lindsay to abandon a brilliant career as a lawyer. In 1841, at the age of 17, he entered the public service as an Extra Clerk in the Legislative Assembly of Canada while also studying law.

I wonder what those circumstances may have been?

The third William Lindsay (1824-1872), my three times great-uncle, exhibited great potential in his law studies as well as becoming an accomplished scholar. He spoke French as fluently as English – a must as the Clerk – but could also speak Latin and Greek as well.

William studied law with such an impressive ability that even before his admission to the Bar many of his teachers predicted a very successful career ahead of him.

But why did he never practise law in the end ?

Perhaps the established family tradition influenced his decision. Like his father and grandfather before him, he became the third William Lindsay to progress to the senior positon of Clerk for the Legislative Assembly. It’s certainly the most plausible explanation. But who knows, maybe there were lucrative perks that came with the “clerkship” that enticed him.* It seems we will never know for sure.

All that to say he certainly had big shoes to fill! There must have been high expectations placed on him not only as the son of the most recent Clerk of the Legislative Assembly but also as the grandson of William Robert Lindsay who held the same office for twenty years in the early 1800’s during the time Lower Canada possessed a separate government and legislature. A multitude of historical changes in the structure of today’s Canada have all been recorded by the “Lindsay” hand.

William was born in Quebec City. He had six brothers and five sisters. One of his brothers, Robert A. Lindsay (1826-1891), was my two times great grandfather who followed their father’s other profession and enjoyed a life long banking career with the Bank of Montreal.

In November 1845, at the age of 21 and just after completing his law studies and passing his Bar exams, William married Marie Henriette Bourret in Quebec City. Eventually, they had 13 children, although four of them died in infancy.

William’s career as a clerk progressed quickly. He was promoted from Extra Clerk to Assistant Law Clerk and Translator to the Legislative Assembly of the then Province of Canada. The progression continued until he ultimately became the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

In 1867, The House of Commons came into existence, when the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, uniting the Province of Canada (which was divided into Quebec and Ontario), Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single federation called the Dominion of Canada.

William was appointed the first Clerk to this newly established House of Commons1.

William Burns Lindsay 1824-1872

The multiple steps taken toward Canadian independence in the past, during the clerkship of William’s father and grandfather, had finally come to fruition.

William’s main duty as the Clerk of the House began with the reading of petitions and bills, and later progressed to recording the House’s proceedings. Those notes on the proceedings were kept in journals which tracked the decisions and other important transactions of the House.

In September 1872 at age 48, just five years after becoming Clerk to the House of Commons, William’s career ended abruptly. He died in Ottawa during the smallpox pandemic2. He left a family of several children and a widow who then died two months later. His mother-in-law also succumbed to the disease at the same time. The youngest of their orphaned children was only five years old at the time.

Nine years later, according to the 1881 Census, William’s eldest daughter Maria Louisa (then aged 30) was still looking after her three teenage siblings and living in Quebec City. Her older brothers Crawford (and his family) and Lionel (a priest) also lived nearby and perhaps offered support of some kind.

William was the third and last of the Three William Lindsays. His eldest son “Crawford William” went by the name Crawford and did not become a clerk, however, he did inherit his father’s talent with languages and became a translator.

Limestone Sculpture of William Burns Lindsay by Christopher Fairbrother 1979

Notes:

1.As the family genealogist, I research my ancestors and write their stories. Recently, I found three generations of ancestors with the same name and the same role in an evolving Canada.

Their birth and death dates were vital as the first step to sorting them out. I noticed, however, that previous genealogists also struggled to sort them, as two of the three were sometimes labelled “Senior” and “Junior” (and sometimes in reverse order) and then “The Elder” and “The Younger” were assigned to another two. To keep things simple in my story, I will label them first, second and third – in the order of their births.

2.* Handwritten notes – Stanley Bagg Lindsay – dated March 1939

3. My cousin Ian Lindsay recently shared the following in an email 2021-05:

Somewhere I saw the report of the parliamentary committee that looked into the work of the Clerk’s office. By that time, while it was never going to be a sinecure, it was an opportunity to make friends, at the very least with stationers. (An old friend explained the best job was Minister of Supply and Services, where one could feather all your friends’ nests, and bide your time.) In any case, the Committee asked about the qualifications for the job were, and WBLII explained that the clerk had to be fluently bilingual and versed in all the relevant technical terms of both languages. Here, I point out that his son was fluently bilingual and versed in technical terms. The Committee next asked the same question of the Assistant Clerk, who explained that, when needed, he just asked one of the French guys for help. I think a grave injustice was done.

1https://wiki2.org/en/House_of_Commons_of_Canada?wprov=srpw1_0 – referenced 2021-05-23

2https://www.jstor.org/stable/41977998?seq=1

Reinventing Themselves Has Been Launched

It has been almost 200 years since my paternal ancestors came to Upper Canada from Scotland and took up farming here. It has been about 12 years since I started researching and writing about them. Now that I have pulled all their stories together into the pages of a book, it is time to celebrate.

Earlier this week, relatives and friends helped me launch Reinventing Themselves: A History of the Hamilton and Forrester Families. We got together on Zoom, a solution that was perfect considering that the descendants of this family are spread from Montreal to Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and across the United States.

This collection of short articles traces the descendants of weaver Robert Hamilton and carpenter David Forrester. The two Scottish immigrants and their families came to Upper Canada in the 1830s and became part of strong farming communities. Fifty years later, both families moved west. The Hamiltons were founding settlers of a temperance community that eventually became Saskatoon. The Forresters took up prairie farming in southern Manitoba.

The following generations continued to reinvent themselves, with several pursuing careers in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Among them were physician Thomas Glendenning Hamilton and his wife, nurse Lillian Forrester – my grandparents. After their young son died in the 1919 influenza pandemic, the couple began holding seances, and their research into psychical phenomena brought them international fame.

Many of the articles about the Hamilton family have previously appeared on my blog, Writing Up the Ancestors, but pulling them together into a cohesive thread makes the ancestors’ story easier to follow. Much of the material about my grandmother’s family, the Forresters, will be new to most readers.

Reinventing Themselves is available from the online bookstore at https://store.bouquinbec.ca. The direct link is https://store.bouquinbec.ca/reinventing-themselves-a-history-of-the-hamilton-and-forrester-families.html. It is $20.00 Canadian for the paperback version, or you can download the e-book for $10.00. Shipping is $6.50 shipping to Canada and $15 to the United States. Most of the books for sale on that site are in French, but the order form is in English.

The process of reinvention is continuing, as the book has inspired two videos. Tracey Arial interviewed me for her podcast Unapologetically Canadian (the link is coming) and Frank Opolko, a friend who recently retired from the CBC, also interviewed me. Here is the video he made, incorporating some my photos of Scotland and some of the photos that appear in the book:

I learned a great deal while doing this project, best of all I discovered several living cousins who were previously unknown to me. One new cousin instantly felt like an old friend, and the mystery person who is my closest match on Family Tree DNA has turned out to be a Forrester descendant from Michigan.

This project reminded me how challenging it is to write about genealogy. All I know about many distant ancestors is their dates and places of birth, marriage and death. While this is essential information, such lists can make for boring reading. The family stories are the good stuff, and they have been the focus of the articles on my blog. Of course, there are two types of family stories: anecdotes that may or may not be true, and well-documented facts.

I was also reminded how much discipline it takes to complete a project of this magnitude. I recently overheard my husband tell someone that he didn’t dare come near my office while I was working on the book because I would chase him away. There are so many distractions, especially on the Internet, that it really takes discipline to stay focused, and a project this size inevitably takes longer than expected.

Now it is time to take a break from family history, catch up on reading novels and enjoying summer before turning my attention to my mother’s family.

Explosion in the Mine

“No Hope for 20 Men Entombed in Mine Afire,” declared the headline in the September 29, 1918 edition of the Chicago Tribune.1

Sadly, 21 men died in the gas explosion on September 27, 1918 in the mine of the Franklin Coal and Coke Co. in Royalton, Illinois.  On the preceding night a fire had been discovered and the firefighters sealed off two of the rooms. They had nailed a door shut but an employee pried it open and ignited the fire with his naked light. He was blown back and he survived until the next day and was able to explain how the explosion happened.2

My great-uncle, John Hynd, a mine examiner, died in this explosion. He was forty-nine and had three young children.3

Rescue operation after Royalton explosion, courtesy of Wayne’s World of History and Genealogy

John came from a long line of coal miners and was born at the Wellwood Colliery in Dunfermline, Scotland. This means that his parents lived on the site of the mine. John’s father, also John Hynd, was illiterate and signed his son’s birth registration with an X.4 Most sons of the miners in the colliery also worked there and started at a young age.

Parliament in the U.K. established the Children’s Employment Commission in 1842 to investigate the conditions of children in mines and factories. With respect to the Wellwood Colliery, James Spawort testified that “the age at which children are taken down depends on the circumstances of their parents, if they are destitute, they are taken early. “ The schoolteacher, William Craig, further testified that “there is no hope of the children being better instructed until some stoppage is put to the practice of working infants in mines. “5

While conditions were still grim, John, born in 1869, had better employment circumstances than his father and forefathers. As a result, the Mines and Collieries Act arising out of the Commission inquiry prohibited girls and women to work down the mine, and ruled that males could only start working at 10 years of age. The work day for any child under 13 was limited to twelve hours.6

The 1881 census shows that John was already working in the mine at the age of 13. He was a doorkeeper in a pit.7 Ten years later, John had been promoted to coal miner. His brother, James was also working at the mine by then and his sister, Mary, was a pit head worker at the mine in Cowdenbeath, Scotland.8

John Hynd arrived in the U.SA. in January 1905. He arrived with a friend.9 He probably came to the U.S. looking for work in a mine. Mines in the U.S. needed qualified workers and hired employment agents in the U.K. to attract workers. It was also usual to advertisement on public bulletin boards. Perhaps this is how John knew about opportunities for miners. 10 While he travelled only with a friend when he arrived, his wife, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Milne and child also immigrated. 10 He possibly settled in Illinois because of the many opportunities for employment in the coal mines and he was living in Benld, a small village that happened to have a coal mine. However, at the time of the census it says that John was working as a bartender. His brother, William was also living with him and working as a miner. William had arrived in 1908 and had also been a miner in Scotland.12 U.S.A. naturalization records show that John’s two other brothers, Andrew and James also immigrated to Benld and probably worked in the mine.13

By 1918 John is back in the mine working as a mine examiner at the Franklin Coal and Coke Co. in Royalton, Illinois, about 130 km away from the village of Benld.  This was a supervisory job that meant he was responsible for assessing the risk of danger in the mine, such as gas leaks and fires. It is not clear whether he lived in Royalton at the time of explosion or he traveled for work. He was buried close to the village of Benld, in Gillespie.14

After John’s death, Elizabeth did not stay in a small village in Illinois. As she had three small children to take care of, she would have had to work. The 1920 USA census tells us that she was living with her three children and working as a confectioner in St. Louis, Missouri.15 Elizabeth died 43 years later in 1961 and was buried beside her husband, John.16

John’s death was the third tragedy in the Hynd family in three years. His father, John, had to bear the burden three deaths. John Hynd’s (senior) wife, Euphemia, died in 1916 of abdominal cancer.73 Then his daughter, Mary Hynd, my great-grandmother, died of liver cancer in 1917.18 And then John’s shocking and tragic death in 1918.

  1. Clipping from Newspapers.com, accessed May 22, 1921.
  2. Wayne’s World of History and Genealogy: History, Genealogy, Coal Mining in Illinois, https://hinton-gen.com/coal/disasters3.html, accessed May 23, 2021.
  3. Death certificate for John Hynd, issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health on April 12, 2021.
  4. Scotland’s People, Statutory Registration of Births, John Hynd, accessed May 1, 2020.
  5. Scotland’s Mining Website, Children’s Employment Commission 1842, Wellwood Colliery,http://www.scottishmining.co.uk/89.html, accessed May 22, 2021.
  6. Wikipedia, The Mines and Collieries Act 1842, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mines_and_Collieries_Act_1842, accessed May 22, 2021.
  7. Scotland’s People, 1881 Census, Mary Hynd, accessed April 27, 2020.
  8. Scotland’s People, 1891 Census, Mary Hynd, accessed August 14, 2020.
  9. Family Search, USA arrivals, John Hynd, accessed May 23, 2021.
  10. Immigration to the United States, Labor, Coal Mining, https://immigrationtounitedstates.org/438-coal-industry.html, accessed June 16, 2021.
  11. Family Search, 1910 U.S.A. Census, John Hynd, accessed May 23, 2021.
  12. Idem.
  13. Illinois Department of Commerce and Labor Naturalization Service, Circuit Court, Seventh District, Macoupian County, Illinois.
  14. Death certificate for John Hynd, issued by the Illinois Department of Public Health on April 12, 2021.
  15. Family Search, USA 1910 Census, Elizabeth Hynd, accessed May 24, 2021.
  16. Find a Grave, Elizabeth Hynd, accessed May 25, 2021.
  17. Scotland’s People, Register of Statutory Deaths, Euphemia Wallace, accessed May 24, 2021.
  18. Scotland’s People, Register of Statutory Deaths, Mary Hynd, accessed April 20, 2019

Working together to help genealogists discover their ancestors

%d bloggers like this: