It has always bothered me that on the passenger lists of the S.S. Grampian, sailing from Glasgow to Quebec City, my grandfather, Thomas McHugh, was not listed with his wife, Elsie McHugh and their seven children.
My father was always clear that Thomas arrived ahead of his large family in the early 1900s. The plan was that Thomas would have time to find work and a place to live, and get settled in.
I first found my grandmother, Elsie McHugh and the seven grandchildren listed on the passenger list of the S.S. Grampian, leaving Glasgow and arriving in Quebec City. The year was 1912. I knew that I also had to find out when Thomas arrived. I returned again and again to passenger lists for travel between Scotland and Canada in 1910 and 1911. No luck. It was only when I started to research my great-uncle, Edward McHugh that I discovered Thomas also on the passenger list of the S.S. Grampian in 1912, leaving Glasgow and arriving in Quebec City. Thomas was accompanied by his mother and two brothers.
Harrumph. It seemed as if Thomas didn’t leave ahead of time. But why in the world were Elsie and the children not listed with Thomas? Were they separated because of the children? This didn’t make sense. Elsie would have needed all the help she could get. Little Adam was just one year old.
I kept going back to these entries. There was something about them that bothered me. I looked up potential reasons to be separated on a ship. I looked up whether families would be divided for any reason in the list of passengers. No luck.
Also, I kept getting mixed up whether it was May or October 1912. I would look at my notes and if it said May, I realized that the date was October and I would change it. I would then go back later and change it back to May. Argh. I needed to get it right.
This week I decided to establish definitely whether Thomas came over to Canada first. Perhaps he came to Canada and then went back to Scotland for his mother, his brothers, his wife, and his children. This would make perfect sense. This would explain why my father was so sure that he came ahead of the family and all the evidence that I had said that he came over with his family.
Well, I could find no trace of Thomas on passenger lists of 1910 or 1911. He wouldn’t have come before 1910, I would think. I did find him again on the passenger list of the S.S. Grampian, May 1912. And I found Elsie again. Wait a minute. October 1912! The penny dropped. They both travelled over on the S.S. Grampian but at different times of the year. I was so blinded by the name of the ship that I did not realize that even though they were on the same ship, they travelled on different dates.
While this was not a brick wall, it was certainly a puzzle for me. A puzzle of my own making. Once again, this reaffirms that, while primary genealogical research is important, it is also valuable to revisit assumptions, documents, and notes. Look and look again and again. Most genealogists I know enthusiastically forge ahead and tend to neglect reviewing previous finds. I am no exception.
“Those of us already deep in the accumulation may also benefit from revisiting our past research.”
Brenda Dougall Merriman, Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians
Our launch last night was awesome. Thanks to everyone who attended!
I’m so excited. Our book comes home from the printer today and we’re planning a fun celebration of its existence tonight.
Here’s how we’ve described our creation on the backcover:
A Fun Collaboration
This work came to shape slowly over time. Lucy Anglin, Barb Angus, Marian Bulford, Janice Hamilton, Claire Lindell, Sandra McHugh, Dorothy Nixon, Mary Sutherland and I have been gathering monthly for five years. Together, we’ve learned how to craft our research into our ancestors into compelling literary non-fiction that anyone might enjoy reading.
Late last year, we began speaking about the possibility of putting our favourite stories together into a book.
Today, our dream takes shape. In this work, you’ll meet several of our ancestors, including:
- Fille du roi Anne Thomas, who married master carpenter Claude Jodoin in Montreal way back in 1666;
- Felicité Poulin, 18th-century career woman, Ursuline nun and matchmaker;
- Stanley Bagg, Massachusetts-born merchant who helped build the Lachine Canal in the 1820s;
- Gospel singer Edward McHugh, whose 1910-period debut at the Montreal Hunt Club launched an international career; and
- William Anglin, respected Victorian-era Kingston, Ontario surgeon and wannabe thought-reader.
For more information, refer to our book webpage.
Official Book Launch Tonight
Tonight from 7 until 9 p.m., we’ll be celebrating our creation in the hall of the St. John the Baptist Church, 233 St. Claire Street in Pointe-Claire. If you’re in Montreal, feel free to join us for wine, cheese, sandwiches, home-made treats and a couple of readings from the book.
We’ve also put together some photographs and heritage items for a display to highlight some of the stories.
A self-published limited edition paperback will be on sale for $20.
Tomorrow, we’ll take whatever books are left to Livres Presque 9/Nearly New Books, 5885 Sherbrooke O; Montreal, Quebec H4A1X6. You can pick up a copy there while supplies last.
If you prefer a digital copy, an Amazon Kindle edition is available for $3.89.
Hope you enjoy reading our work as much as we enjoyed writing it. I’d love to hear your comments below.
Imagine my surprise to discover that my ancestors lived in my neighbourhood more than three hundred years ago.
At that time, Verdun’s Crawford Park was a very different place than it is today. Today, the neighbourhood encompasses about 1000 people in about 20 city blocks between the St. Lawrence River to the aquaduct in the north and between the Douglas Research Institute and the borough of LaSalle to the west. In 2006, more than 20,000 people lived here.
When my ancestor Étiennette Alton lived here, however, the neighbourhood was known as the fief de Verdun and it extended further north through Angrignon Park and the St. Jacques Escarpment.
She moved here after marrying her second husband, Barthélémy Vinet dit La Reinte on Monday, June 13, 1672. She already had three sons and a daughter from her first marriage. Her fifth child, their first son, Martin was born a little later the same year.
The family were among 83 families in the neighbourhood, according to the 1681 census.
The census reads :
« Barthelemy Vinet 48; Etiennet Alton, sa femme 42; enfants : Pierre 20, Jean 16, Louis 14, Marie 11, Martin 9, Gunégonde 7, Madeleine 6, Guillaume 3; 3 fusils; 18 bêtes à cornes; 20 arpents en valeur. »
The couple had five more children in the following fifteen years. They could afford them. Her husband worked for Sieur Jean-Baptiste Migeon de Branssat, an attorney and later judge with the manor of Montréal.
At that time most men—including Vinet, Migeon, and Montreal Governor Francois-Marie Perrot—earned significant portions of their income from hunting and selling furs. The market for furs, however, was diminishing.
In 1676, a new law forced fur traders to obtain licences, although few bothered to do so.
A year later, Migeon was appointed judge and asked to create a public inquiry into the fur trade industry. During that inquiry, he discovered that most elite, including the Governor himself, were illegally involved in the fur trade. The Governor responded by accusing Migeon of breaking the same laws and putting him under house arrest to halt the inquiry before its results could be known.
The first novel I ever read was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I was ten or eleven years old. I didn’t read the book in school. My mother bought it for me along with a number of Deluxe Junior Classics published by the Doubleday Company.
I can remember the look of the book: grey with a yellow spine and sketches of the four March girls in blue ink embossed on the cover. I can remember the feel of the book: the pages thick and slightly hairy, typical of Book-of-the-Month Club editions. I can remember the smell of the book: inky and acidy. It was a new book, after all. And I especially recall the thrill of opening the book, which I understood was my rite of passage into the brave new world of grown-up reading.
I loved Little Women. It changed my life as great books often do, but I can’t say the plot stayed with me. It was only recently, when I decided to learn Italian by listening to ‘easier’ audio books, that I became re-acquainted with Louisa May Alcott’s American classic. Over and over again, I listened to each delightful chapter, first in English, then in French, then in Italian. “Piccole Donne”. Superbo in any language.
It is understood that Louisa May Alcott used her own Massachusetts family as a model for Little Women, a work of fiction. Authors often lean on real-life characters for inspiration. Who wants to read about unrealistic characters?
The authors at Genealogy Ensemble are publishing a book of authentic short stories about their ancestors, Beads in a Necklace: Family Stories from Genealogy Ensemble. These stories, many of which saw first light on this blog, will soon be available in a glossy hold-in-your-hands hardcopy format.
Beads in a Necklace also includes personal essays by the nine authors, explaining how each of us was inspired to begin the long, difficult and rewarding journey of writing down our family stories.
Claire Lindell was surfing the Net, way back in its early days, when she came upon an article about her father, a pioneer in the Canadian mining industry.
Barb Angus was inspired by missed opportunities and a book called The Wolfe Pack by a McGill University author, Dr. Mildred Burns.
Lucy Anglin lost her mother very early in life and feels that her stories help honour her memory.
Janice Hamilton grew up with oil paintings of her ancestors on the walls around her.
Tracey Arial first wrote about genealogy for a classroom exercise; not a great experience, but one she looks back on with amusement.
Marian Bulford immigrated to Canada from Great Britain in 1978, but it’s her English sea-side roots that move her to write.
Mary Sutherland was inspired by her father once saying, “Find your way home,” and by some fine family heirlooms.
Sandra McHugh was inspired by her ‘two solitudes’ marriage and her Greek husband’s very different kind of family.
I myself got my start when I found 300 family letters from the 1910 period that had belonged to my husband’s ancestors from Richmond, Quebec. I read them out loud to a good friend who said, “Ick. They sound so old-fashioned.”
But I saw something else in these letters. I saw the story of a strong matriarch and her very spirited young daughters, who had known much better financial times but were making the best it.
I saw women who were on their own, in their fine house in the good part of town, because their men-folk were far away.
I saw proud, independent women who sometimes relied on the kindness of a well-off, gentlemanly neighbour to drive them to the post office or to shovel out their walk in winter.
It was the plot of Little Women, but with characters from real-life closely related to my husband and my very own children! How could I possibly resist that?
Beads in a Necklace: family stories from Genealogy Ensemble will be launched in mid-November. A limited number of hard copies will be available for purchase, locally.
Check back with http://www.genealogyensemble.com to find out how to buy one of these rare first editions. An e-book version will be available at launch, as well, with print-on-demand capability by Christmas.
The chapter on the Laurier Era from Canada Then and Now, my fifth grade history textbook. I read this, too, back in the day, but I was not impressed. This was a typical textbook, filled with sturdy but dull prose and employing a narrative style devoid of colour and controversy. This chapter, about a most pivotal time in history, made no mention of suffragettes and restless young women in harem pants. In fact, there are only two women in the entire textbook: Marguerite Bourgeoys and Jeanne Mance, worthy women, no question, but only two? Beads in a Necklace showcases many of our worthy women ancestors. It’s terrific social history.
When you are lucky enough to find original documents pertaining to your ancestors do you really read everything on them or do you just glance through them, copy them and file them for later? One thing I have recently learned is to thoroughly read all documents. What a novel tip for genealogy research!
I was sending information to a fellow writing about my grandfather, Rene Raguin. He told me that Rene’s father Marie Joseph Raguin had been a Limonadier. What kind of occupation is that I wondered? I wrote back and asked him how he knew that information. He responded that it was on my grandparent’s marriage licence.
I had never looked up their documents as I knew when and where they were married. One of my great uncles, Herbert Bruneau had done a lot of Genealogy research and I had his family tree. I was more interested in people I didn’t know and had put off confirming other’s research. The document was easy to find and there under “profession of father of husband” was “Limonadier”. There is a lot of information on Ontario, Canada marriage certificates.
What was this profession? It sounded like someone who made lemonade. The marriage was in 1912 when bottled soft drinks were not available. According to Wikipedia, a Limonadier made and sold lemonade, could also make and sell alcohol or run a cafe.
Aside from being an interesting occupation, this explained some of our family traditions. My mother had a recipe that we called “Grandfather’s Lemon Syrup”. It was a lemon syrup that when added to water made lemonade. My mother used to make it and on visits to my grandparents, we had the lemon drink in little glasses that once contained cream cheese and home-baked sugar cookies. My cousins called my aunt’s version of it, “Grannie’s Lemon Drink” but they were obviously wrong about the origin.
It is also possible that Marie Joseph did run a cafe in Fleurier, Switzerland. One story that we heard growing up was that grandfather used to take a big pan of plum pie to the bakery to have it cooked as the pan didn’t fit in their oven. Why would a family of four need such a big pie? So making it for a cafe makes sense. It was a simple dish, pie crust covered by half plums with sugar sprinkled on top, a dessert that my mother also used to make.
It is amazing how much information one can get from a single word.
Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KS8D-G3N : 10 April 2015), René Emile Raguin and Cecile Béatrice Bruneau, 09 Jul 1912; citing registration, Cornwall, Stormont, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,906,765. On Feb 22, 2017.
https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limonadier accessed Feb 22, 2017.
By Barb Angus
Kathleen Willett, my mother’s sister, was the first of the Kathryn line. She appeared to have been born with a wanderlust, leaving her Gaspe village in her teens for Montreal and points beyond. She trained as a teacher and the summer vacation allowed for lots of travel time .She combined that travel with study opportunities: education courses at Columbia in New York and French lessons at the Sorbonne in Paris to name but two. She taught at an armed forces base in Germany for four years and added a third language. Her travels continued well into her eighties. A photo shows her sitting on the Great Wall of China on one of the last trips of her life. In her will she left an elegant red oriental china dragon to my son who had stared at it for hours as a child.
Kathleen never married. Her nieces and nephews were her children. When my mother was held up London on route to East Pakistan to join my father, Aunt Kay crossed the Channel from Germany, stuffed mum and three kids into her Volkswagen and toured us around the country side. Years later I found her slides from that summer neatly filed and labeled among dozens and dozens of slide trays.
My sister, Kathryn Angus, was named for Aunt Kay. She, too, had a wanderlust. She was born on May 29th, 1953, the day Hillary and Tensing were the first climbers to reach the summit of Everest. Certainly an auspicious date for travellers. Kathy was only four when the family went to East Pakistan, five when my parents took her to Darjeeling in the Himalayas. Tensing was so charmed with this child and her birthdate that he took her on a pony ride! Kathy loved to travel – to places in Europe, Japan, Newfoundland, New Mexico and most of all to the sun soaked beaches and tropical waters of the south. She claimed that life was meant to be spent on vacation. Just being in airports thrilled her with the promise of new adventures!
Kathy’s daughter is Annah Kay Michaud, a name derived from the Joanna Kathryn I named my own still-born daughter, each a homage to our Aunt Kay. She will be our shared daughter, promised Kathy, when I held Annah for the first time. Annah was raised in two languages, the English of her mother and the French of her father. Today she is married to a Montrealer with strong Italian roots. When Annah was fourteen, Kathy and I took her to Japan to visit my son Stephen. He and his Japanese girlfriend Madoka (now his wife) drove us to a variety of both famous and little known towns and sights across the country all the while sleeping and eating in local inns. That trip clinched Annah’s wanderlust. She has since worked in Australia and China and vacationed in Europe, Viet Nam, Thailand and Costa Rico. Like her mother, she too believes that life is meant to be spent on vacation.
Today the most recent member of the Kathryn line is Marisa Kei (pronounced Kay) Tarrant, Stephen and Madoka’s second daughter. Only two years old, she has already travelled from Vancouver to Japan twice with her big sister Evelyn Haruka. Both girls speak English and Japanese and at times can certainly be the fiery little dragons of Stephen’s childhood fascination! I suspect a good deal of travel is in their blood!