Canadian Tourists in India, 1900

When Helen Frances (Bagg) Lewis and her husband Edward travelled from Shanghai to Canada in 1900, they took a circuitous route through India, sightseeing along the way. In a travel journal written 25 years later, Helen described the highlights of that trip, including three frightening encounters with snakes.

Helen was my great-grandfather Robert Stanley Bagg’s youngest sister. She and Edward lived in Shanghai for several months in 1899. They even considered staying there, but decided instead to relocate to Canada’s west coast, rather than return to their hometown of Montreal.

They left Shanghai aboard a P&O steamer and explored Hong Kong for a month before taking a second-class cargo ship to Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), arriving in Columbo on New Year’s Day, 1900.

Helen Lewis’s photo of runners in Ceylon was published in Wide World Magazine.

Their first stop in India was in the southern city of Madura, and Helen wrote that the timing of their visit was perfect.

“It happened to be a gala day at the Temple of Madura, so all the sacred elephants were out in procession, bedazzled with garlands of flowers and state paraphernalia. The procession over, we were allowed to mount a couple of them, and never shall I forget my first experience of riding on the back of one of those stately animals….”

Luck was with them again in Puri, a city famed for what Helen called the “Juggernaut” Temple, an elaborate Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Jagannath. But seeing the dirty exterior of the bungalow where they had arranged to stay, Helen felt disappointment.

Her spirits “sank to zero” when she realized that the rustling they heard came from a nest of cobras on the roof. While inspecting the property further, she encountered a government officer, Major H.. The only white man in the district, he was so pleased to meet some English-speaking people that he invited them to stay with him for three days.

Early in the morning of their last day in Puri, a messenger arrived with the news that a tiger had entered a nearby village and carried off a woman. “Major sahib” was asked to immediately go and kill the animal. Both the major and Edward agreed, leaving Helen in the house with a number of servants, none of whom spoke English.

She decided to explore the rambling bungalow and found herself in the “snake room,” where the major kept an enormous collection of “vicious reptiles in tanks and cages, for scientific purposes. At my entrance, these monsters almost simultaneously rose up and hissed at me, so that my retreat was by no means leisurely.” She was much relieved when the two men returned after a successful hunt, and she noted in her journal that she still treasured the tiger’s claws, a souvenir of their visit.

From Puri, the couple continued by train to Calcutta and Darjeeling, where they were thrilled to view the Himalayas in perfectly clear weather. They then moved on to the sacred city of Benares, on the banks of the Ganges River.

In their next destination, Lucknow, Helen experienced “a narrow escape from a venomous cobra who was coiled up on the stone parapet, enjoying his noonday siesta.”

“On bending over the parapet to peer down, I accidentally touched his head, when he reared and stretched out his neck to strike. Terror lent me wings and I made for shelter. The driver was as keen as I to move on, as the Hindus consider it desecration to kill any animal, and I urged him forward fearing lest Edward — who was on the beach below, photographing sun worshippers, — might return at that moment and insist upon starting off on a cobra hunt. As it happened, I did not say a word about the episode to him until some days later in Agra, where I met with my second cobra adventure.”

Helen found Agra and its famed Taj Mahal interesting, but her encounter with the snake was even more memorable.

“Whilst driving close to the river one afternoon, one of our wheels must have grazed his slumbering body, for suddenly sprung to his full length, he struck with such force at the hood of our open gharry [a horse-drawn cab] as to hit the brim of my broad sun hat, and send it forward over my face. Luckily at the moment I did not realize what a narrow escape I had had.”

Over the next few weeks, the couple continued their explorations. Finally, in March, they sailed from Bombay, through the Suez Canal to Venice and Trieste. From there, they made their way via Paris to Cherbourg and crossed the Atlantic to New York. Edward continued to Vancouver to arrange for their new home, while Helen stopped in Montreal for several weeks to visit family and friends.

Note: This account is part of a series of journals Helen wrote later in life, handwritten in black ink in a lined, leather-bound book. These excerpts are from Book III, The Orient:  A New Life in a New Land. She did not complete this volume and I do not know whether the others have survived. This one now belongs to a descendant of Helen’s niece, Ada Lindsay.

James Sutherland Music Man

James Sutherland’s death from apoplexy (cerebral hemorrhage) was noted in The Music Trade Review published in New York in 1915. The Sutherlands were not known for their musical abilities so discovering that James had been the well known proprietor of Sutherland’s Old Reliable Music House in Toronto, was a surprise.

Music Trade Review 1915

James was born in Toronto in 1850. He moved with his parents, William Sutherland and Elizabeth Mowat to West Gwilliambury and then to Carrick, Ontario where his father had obtained crown land. He worked on the family farm and attended school until 1867, when he returned to Toronto. He was seventeen and lived by himself in a boarding house.

His brothers William and Donald, soon followed him to Toronto. All the Sutherlands, it seems, preferred being merchants to farmers. He and Donald were first book sellers. There was no mention of a music store until 1884. The store was then situated at 292 Yonge Street and perhaps a complement to Donald and William’s book store, Sutherland’s Dominion Book Store at number 286. In the late 1800s, music stores sold mostly sheet music rather than instruments. They sold some pianos but they were not an everyday purchase. In the early 1900s, gramophones became popular and so stores also sold the wax coated cylinders and vinyl discs.

James married Elizabeth Bridge in 1882. He was 32 and she only 17. She wasn’t a Toronto girl but from back home, born and raised in the Carrick, Ontario area. They had four children; sons James Russell, Alexander Uziel, Neill Clarence and a daughter Verney. James, according to his obituary, was an upstanding citizen and business man as his memberships show. He was a member of Knox Presbyterian Church, the Yonge St Mission and the Order of the Canadian Home Circles.

He died in 1915 at 65 years of age and his wife Elizabeth not long after, in 1921. They were buried in Mount Pleasant Cemetery but not in the same plot. They are both lying in adult single graves.

With three sons, I was hoping to find a living relative with the Sutherland name. The eldest son, James Russel married Laura Bansley in 1914. He died of influenza in 1918. They had no children.

Alexander married Florence Petherbridge in 1915. He was an electrician and signed up for military service during WWI. He survived the war but like his brother died of influenza, in 1919. Florence then went back to live with her parents, Charles and Elizabeth Petherbridge taking baby Douglas with her. Twenty years later Douglas visited a friend in the US. His border crossing is the only further mention of him.

Neill Sutherland married Mabel Ashby July 9, 1926. His marriage certificate listed him as a 22 year old chauffeur and she was a 16 year old spinster. John their son, born in September 1926 unfortunately died in July 1927. I have not found any other children.

Daughter Verney born in 1891 leaves even less of a trail. She only appears in two census and her father’s 1915 obituary. Her name is spelled many different ways on the documents. While I would like to find out more about her she would not leave Sutherland named descendants.

I still find the Music Store a strange occupation for James. His brother Donald left a Presbyterian church when they were considering buying an organ as he felt the human voice was all that was needed to praise God. I wonder what he thought about his brother selling gramophones? At least he didn’t sell on Sunday.

Notes:

The Music Trade Review Vol LX No. 15 April 10, New York 1915

Toronto City Directories 1879 – 1915.

Toronto Daily Star: Obituary Mr James Sutherland. Page 11. Friday March 25, 1915.

Ancestry.com. 1871-1921 Census of Canada [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2013.

Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-1989,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familiarization/ark:/61903/1:1:2763-347 : accessed 18 May 2016), James Sutherland, 30 Apr 1915; citing Toronto, Ontario, Canada, section and lot Adult Single Grave 8 4954, line 33082, volume Volume 03, 1908-1919, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,617,217.

Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-1989,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2763-8FM : accessed 18 May 2016), James Russell Sutherland, 14 Dec 1918; citing Toronto, Ontario, Canada, section and lot Adult Single Grave 8 4954, line 38164, volume Volume 03, 1908-1919, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,617,217.

Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-1989,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2763-683 : accessed 18 May 2016), Alexander U Sutherland, 19 May 1919; citing Toronto, Ontario, Canada, section and lot Adult Single Grave 8 5404, line 38405, volume Volume 03, 1908-1919, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,617,217.

Ontario, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, 1826-1989,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/2763-JZH : accessed 05 Dec 2014), Elizabeth Sutherland, 23 Feb 1921; citing Toronto, Ontario, Canada, section and lot Adult Single Grave 8 5404, line 41137, volume Volume 04, 1920-1931, Toronto Trust Cemeteries, Toronto; FHL microfilm 001617217.

Single graves aren’t necessarily single, as James and James Russel were buried in the same adult single grave and Alexander and his mother Elizabeth were also buried in another adult single grave.

Douglas Sutherland gave his Aunt Kate Petherbridge as his Canadian contact when he crossed the US border in 1938. Kate had visited her sister Florence Hatler, who I assume had remarried, in Detroit Michigan in 1928.

Sovereign Council

&

Superior Council of New France

Sovereign Council & Superior Council of New France

1663-1769

The following database consists of books, and documents relating to the Sovereign Council.

The Canadian Encyclopedia’s defines Sovereign Council as noted below.

https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/fr/article/conseil-souverain

Court of appeal in civil and criminal matters where cases arise from lower courts of justice, its judgments are revocable only by the King’s Council.

Sovereign Council

 In 1663, the Compagnie des Cent Associés surrendered its rights to NOUVELLE-FRANCE . Louis XIV then established a royal government. He thus endowed New France with a complete administrative apparatus, on the model of those who manage the provinces of France. The Sovereign Council, which became the Superior Council in 1717, compared itself to the parliaments of these provinces. The Council is initially made up of the GOVERNOR , the bishop, the STEWARD and five councilors. In 1703, this number was increased to 12, to which were added in 1742, four assessors. Its members are generally recruited from the French gentry and are appointed initially by the governor and bishop, then by the king.

Court of appeal in civil and criminal matters where cases arise from lower courts of justice, its judgments are revocable only by the King’s Council. It crowns a judicial structure established in each government of the colony: the provost of Quebec (1663), the royal jurisdiction of Trois-Rivières (1665), that of Montreal (1693) and the Admiralty (1703)

Click the link to access the database:

Open in a new window.

My grandfather’s brilliant city hall career in four scandals – part 3

The Coderre Police Corruption Inquiry/Laurier Palace Fire Scandal

The Crepeaus in Atlantic City probably 1927. Working vacation?

If you are a Quebecker of a certain age, it is possible that as a child you never went to the movies. Everyone under sixteen years of age in this Canadian province was banned from attending the motion pictures even in the company of an adult from 1927 until 1962 *1

This is because of the tragic Laurier Palace movie house fire in January 1927 where seventy eight children perished in a crush at the downstairs doors, doors that only opened inwardly.

These 78 children were among a larger group of working class kids crowded into the upper balcony of the ramshackle Laurier Palace watching a Western on a Sunday afternoon.

A slew of high-profile inquests and hearings followed the tragedy. My grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Director of City Services, was the first to testify at both the initial coroner’s inquest and subsequent hearings. It is unclear what exactly happened in the balcony as only children came forward to testify. All seven or so adults seated there seemed to disappear into the ether. There was talk of two men purposely closing the doors on the desperate kids. At least one older boy had time to go up and down the stairs a few times before the smoke got dangerous. The origin of the fire was never discovered. *2

Most parents, afraid of legal reprisals, testified that they thought their children were at church that afternoon. But parents of the era could hardly be blamed for allowing their children to attend the movies by themselves– against the by-laws. Many of their male children were already out in the workforce earning their own discretionary income and many of their young daughters were already ‘little mothers’ in charge of even younger siblings. With the traffic chaos on the streets in 1927, the movie house probably seemed like a relatively safe place for their children.*3

Just as special ‘kiddie matinees’ were taking off in the US (late 20’s early 30’s) Quebec banned all children from going to the cinema – for 4 decades. Crazy!

On January 10, 1927, the day after the Laurier Palace Fire, the front page of Le Devoir newspaper ran two related stories side-by-side. One was a dry report where my grandfather Jules Crepeau, Director of City Services, admitted that the Laurier Palace Theatre had been operating without a license.

“This will all be explained at the Coroner’s Inquest,” he said.

The second story was a shocking side-bar rehashing testimony from a two year old inquiry into police corruption, testimony that also mentioned my grandfather.

“Our readers will no doubt be interested in re-reading these extracts from testimony at the 1924 Coderre Inquiry into Police Malfeasance and Corruption, 4 that bear on motion picture theatre attendance.”

The side-bar included bits and pieces of testimony given in December, 1924 at this hearing by a certain Constable C.T. in the ‘special services’ division of the Montreal Police Department. The cop railed against City Hall. He was angry because members of the Executive Committee, he said, as well as my grandfather, repeatedly forced the police to cancel citations against motion picture houses that allowed children into the shows, unattended.

Constable CT gave specifics, naming each of the movies houses (the Ouimetoscope!) and the dates when citations were cancelled. He said, “One of these moments there’s going to be a catastrophe that will wake up the authorities.” Le Devoir put that quote in all caps.*5

Despite this sensational after-the-fact finger-pointing at a sensitive time by an otherwise respectable publication, no one took the bait. My grandfather Jules was once again called to testify at the Coroner’s Inquest as well as the other inquiries into the fatal fire but was never asked about Constable CT’s earlier accusations.

Indeed, a while later, when the Taschereau Government was deliberating whether to ban all Sunday showings in Quebec, my grandfather testified once again. He even brought in Ernest Cousins, Vice President of United Amusements, Montreal’s largest movie chain, to talk about the importance of Sunday showings to the movie distribution industry.*6

Isadore Crepeau, my grandfather’s brother, who just happened to be another Vice-President of United Amusements, was not called in to testify at this time, nor was my grandfather’s family connection to United Amusements ever mentioned.*7

So, why wasn’t my grandfather pilloried back in 1927, when passions over the tragedy were at a high boil, for these two year old allegations of interference with the policemen who patrolled motion picture houses (and who, btw, regularly accepted free tickets for their kids.)

Well, the truth is, Constable CT’s testimony was hardly gold-standard. Under cross-examination a day later, the cop admitted rather glibly to having lent the Chief of Police large sums of money at different times, for reasons he refused to elaborate on. He also admitted to depositing more than five thousand dollars into his five bank accounts over a short period of time. “Rents and winnings on horses” he said.

Constable CT was just another corrupt cop, put on the stand specifically to threaten my grandfather by bringing up, out-of-the-blue, the fairly benign subject of children and the motion pictures, when the Coderre Inquiry was mounted to deal with much more dire and dark issues: police involvement in prostitution of women and girls, drug rings and organized crime and illegal booze smuggling in the era of American prohibition.

Taken in that light, Constable CT’s statement “One day there’s going to be a catastrophe” uttered in December 1924, a full two years before the Laurier Palace fire, could be construed as a threat.

My grandfather, at the time, certainly felt threatened. He had Constable CT fired the very next day.

“Who is this Jules Crepeau who can tell the Chief of Police what to do?” asked Juge Coderre in his summary report in March 1925. As if he didn’t know.8

Three years later, in September, 1930, as explained in Part Two of this series, Mayor Camillien Houde was speechifying at the City Hall meeting where the aldermen debated whether or not to accept my grandfather’s coerced letter of resignation.

“The people want revenge,” Houde said. “They want revenge for the Montreal Water and Power Purchase (the purported reason for wanting my grandfather out) and for the Laurier Palace Fire.”

This was a sneak attack of some sort because never before had the Laurier Palace Fire been brought up as a reason to oust my grandfather from his lofty post at City Hall, at least not in any news clipping I have read.

With all the Houdist’s voting against him, my grandfather was, indeed, forced to resign his post of Director of City Services in September, 1930.

At the time, Grandpapa Jules negotiated a huge life pension that would make him the second highest paid employee at City Hall, without working. Seven years later, during the Great Depression, his huge pension would be rescinded by the City.

Two weeks after that, Jules was hit by a car near his home in Notre Dame de Grace, a car driven by an off-duty police officer. I guess my grandpapa threatened someone with a long reach.

He would die a year later of complications.

As it happens, Le Devoir was the only Montreal newspaper to give Jules a lengthy front page obituary. They even called out the other Montreal papers on this point.

The other day a noted public servant was put in the ground. The newspapers only published laconic biographical notes about him that don’t give a just idea of the role he played in municipal politics.”

The obituary didn’t mention the suspicious nature of my grandfather’s death, but it did allude, rather kindly, to the many scandals in his career:

He was too passionate not to occasionally take sides between two rivals, often creating his own enemies. Indeed, he received some knocks, some devastating knocks, but we must say upon his memory, that none of these accusations stuck.

Read the entire obit here.

Notes:

  1. The city by-laws forbade children to attend movies unless in the company of an adult, not because of a fear of fire-traps but for a fear of the morality of pre-code Hollywood. Indeed, exceptions could be made for films vetted by the Censor. A year later, a similar fire happened in a motion picture house in Scotland – also caused by a crush at doors that opened inwards. The only change that came of that was a law forbidding such doors in motion picture houses. But, in Quebec, everything becomes political. A parade of Montreal citizenry testified in the sad affair: the theatre owners (who were eventually exonerated) and employees and the firemen and the victims’ parents; then followed moguls in the theatre business, small independent theatre owners, union activists, more parents and more firemen, also educators and church officials and representatives of various community groups – anyone with a stake and an opinion – showed up to testify . Fire safety became a mere side issue: it was all about the morality of the motion pictures. The government ended up banning children from all showings, in return for allowing the controversial Sundays showings for adults. (Children could not vote, but their parents could.) I personally think the new “Talkies” coming in right then in 1927 had something to do with the decision. They were English talkies after all. Despite all this, Quebec children over the decades often evaded the rules by dressing up and acting like adults. There were also special children’s showings at various theatres over the years.

2. “It must have been a cigarette.” Most movie house fires of the time started in the projection booth. This wasn’t the case here, so they took a wild guess. A fire station was across the street, but firefighters could do nothing upon arrival to save the children.

3. 1927 was a pivotal year in traffic safety in North America. The horse and wagon era was literally colliding with the era of the automobile – and their were no road rules yet. The same edition of the Montreal Gazette that covers the Laurier Palace Fire has a story of a toddler being run over in front of her house. This was a daily occurrence in North American cities at the time.

4. The Coderre Inquiry into Police Corruption and Malfeasance was launched after a record-breaking Brinks robbery in the Hochelaga district where it discovered that policemen were involved, but it had long roots back to WWI and prostitution around the Montreal Barracks. A Committee of Sixteen mostly Protestant groups organized an all-court press on Montreal City Hall in 1921, to protect the sad girls working in prostitution in the city after a prominent doctor gave a speech to the elite members of Canadian Club. They focused on the Baghdad Cafe, a sleazy dive serving US tourists located across the street from the ritzy Mount Royal Hotel, Tony Frank, Montreal’s leading mobster and top drug dealer was also implicated in the Brinks robbery. He thought he had the perfect alibi, but he and his henchmen were quickly hanged on circumstantial evidence. Judge Coderre, a religious conservative, used the Inquiry as his bully-pulpit. “Vice spreads its tentacles into every aspect of Montreal life, ” he wrote in his final report. He made many recommendations, all of which were ignored.

New York Times article: “300 to 600 houses of vice in Montreal, many owned by respectable women who live in good districts and seldom visit the brothels except to do administration.”

5. The Montreal Gazette’s quote at the time was “One day there’s going to be a catastrophe and if a fire breaks out one of these days no one will be able to get out.” These may or may not be the same quote. Unfortunately, the newspapers used creative license when transcribing the testimony and no full 10,000 page transcript of the Coderre Inquiry still exists, although Montreal City Hall has some original documents. https://www.archivesquebec.com/montrealp045.html . I visited there a few years ago and was shown a transcript on pdf that had been prepared for JAAA Brodeur and the Executive Committee. It was edited down and did not include Constable CT’s ‘prescient’ quote. From what I read, it appears that Constable CT brought up the incriminating evidence against my grandfather without even being asked. He changed the subject himself in mid interview. This transcript did contain a vivid account of a visit to a house of prostitution made by an undercover American. All he had to do was to ask the cabby and he was guided to this brothel (that was said to be under the protection of the police) where a dozen of drug-addled girls wearing ‘handkerchiefs’ were displayed before him.

6. The UA chain did not have children as customers, said Cousins, but Sunday was the company’s biggest day at the box office for adults. If Sunday showings were cancelled, United Amusements would have to close down their entire operation…. United Amusements was a movie distribution chain founded by Greek immigrant George Ganetakos during the WWI years.. He started out small, showing ‘flickers’ on the wall o f his uncle’s ice cream shop, then took on Ernest Cousins (an ice cream man) and my great uncle Isadore Crepeau when he expanded. Eventually his company became part of Famous Players. United Amusements built many of the gorgeous Montreal movie palaces of the day. Greeks were big in the movie biz as they were entrepreneurial by nature and this new movie revolution presented a big opportunity for them. In his testimony, as reported in the Montreal Gazette, Constable CT accused Greeks of corralling children into the movies. The Laurier Palace was owned by Canadians of Syrian origin, a group often back then conflated with Greeks. On the morning after the fire, as reported in Le Devoir, George Ganetakos, using the name George Nicholas, set up an emergency fund for the victims.

7. My Mom’s Uncle Isadore was a glass manufacturer/insurance agent whose elegant stained-glass window graced the Rialto Theatre on Park Avenue for many years. It’s still there – in what is now an entertainment venue. In 1933, Isadore ‘fell’ out of his office window, seven floors up, and met his death. The police deemed it an accident relating a ridiculous story and citing unnamed witnesses. Isadore was very likely hired by Ganetakos because of his connection to my grandfather. A survey of movie industry magazines, like Box Office, reveals that my grandfather’s name came up much more often than Isadore’s.

8. Juge Coderre and his wife often attended City Hall events like the soiree for the Royal Princes held in August 1927.

British mourning cards and Funeral fashion

As a child in Britain in the early 1950’s I remember the death of our Monarch King George VI on 6th February 1952. I was 6 and a half.

When his death was announced on the radio, my family and grandparents immediately drew all the blinds in their houses and covered all the mirrors and clocks. Neighbours did the same. A black funeral wreath was placed on the front door, and black bands were purchased for the men, these to be worn on arms when outdoors. The family spoke in hushed tones. I clearly remember answering the door to a visitor and whispering to them “The King has died’

Everyone wore black and some openly cried. On the day of the funeral, everything ceased. Transportation stopped, shops closed, the streets were empty. Schools, theatres, movies were all cancelled. The radio was surrounded by family members listening avidly. Newspapers the next day, provided photos.

Citizens reading of the death of the King

During this time of the World wide COVID-19 Pandemic, death has been a constant. There have always been many visual symbols of grief in the World especially during the Middle Ages, when black attire was popular with the wealthy and symbolic of spiritual darkness. Velvet especially was very expensive.

The wealthy classes would show their status in life, through paper products. cabinet cards, calling cards and they were the status symbols for many years. The Industrial Revolution caused a rise in commercial processes, but they were still very expensive in the 1800s

King George VI Death Card

Victorian society was obsessed with death and Queen Victoria and her subjects followed the rules she set. Perhaps the most significant turning point in Queen Victoria’s life was the death of Prince Albert in December 1861. His death sent Victoria into a deep depression, and she stayed in seclusion for many years, rarely appearing in public. She mourned him by wearing black for the remaining forty years of her life. [1]

Death was a frequent visitor in Victorian Britain and planning to die well, started whilst young. Conversations about death were open and ongoing. People knew what their kin wanted for a funeral, and women made their own shrouds and some even included a funeral shroud in their wedding dowries!

Kate Strasdin, a British fashion historian and curator said it was during this period that codes for mourning dress took hold. The modern department store was born of the brand spanking new funeral industry where, in one stop, you could acquire everything for a funeral from stationary and clothing, to mourning jewellery. [2]

An advertisement for mourning clothes for all the family from Jay’s London General Mourning Warehouse. Date: 1888

The following advert in The Illustrated London News, August 31, 1844 shows how people were tutored on how to dress;

MOURNING—Court, Family, and Complimentary.—The Proprietors of the London General Mourning Warehouse, Nos. 247 and 249 Regent-street, beg respectfully to remind families whose bereavements compel them to adopt mourning attire, that every article (of the very best description) requisite for a complete outfit of mourning may be had at their establishment at a moment’s notice.

Widows’ and Family Mourning is always kept made up; and a note descriptive of the mourning required will ensure everything necessary for the occasion, being sent (in town or country) immediately Ladies requiring Silks—either Satins. Satin Turcs, Watered or Plain Ducapes,and Widows’ Silks, are particularly invited to a trial of the new Corpeau Silks introduced at this house, as they will be found not only more durable, but the colour will stand the test of the strongest acid,or even seawater. Black and Grey, and Fancy Mourning Silks of every description.

The Show Rooms are replete with every novelty that modern taste has introduced in mourning millinery, flowers, collars, head-dresses, bugle berthes, trimmings. &c. &c.—The London General Mourning Warehouse, Nos. 247 and 249, Regent-street, near Oxford street.—W. C. JAY, and Co.

Over the years we have again become more open about death, and to tell our families what we want and how we want to be dispatched. The Victorians would have been shocked at how much less formal we are today with our funerals planned as a ‘celebration of life’ or focusing on protecting the environment.

Many of our customs today would certainly be shocking to someone from the Victorian era, as we are generally much less formal. The Victorians would have been aghast at a funeral that was a celebration of life. A green funeral where the focus of the burial is on protecting the environment would have been an outrage. Although we still wear mourning jewellery today it is more likely to contain the ashes of the deceased. (1)

in my family, my Maternal Grandfather Percival Victor O’Bray allowed me to copy some of his families’ mourning cards. I always wanted to know the reason behind these cards why we wear black and how our mourning rituals came to be.

The research has been interesting.

My Great-Grandmother (Front View)
Back View of the Mourning Card

This next family history mourning card is the most heart-breaking in my collection. By the time this death notice was posted in the newspaper, 16 days later my Great-Grand Uncle’s third and youngest daughter had died too.

Newspaper Clipping March 13, 1890
Back View of Mourning Card

SOURCES

[1] https://studioburkedc.com/blogs/news/victorian-rules-for-the-end-of-life-a-victorian-celebration-of-death-mourning-cards-and-funeral-cards-by-studio-burke-ltd

[2] https://lite.cnn.com/en/article/h_d762dee6d1828b37ca55a2ee4892263b

[3] https://www.sparknotes.com/biography/victoria/section5/

Miss Lindsay’s Last Letter

Marguerite Lindsay wrote a letter from Cartwright, Labrador, to her brother in Montreal, Quebec. The letter was postmarked July 29, 1922. Six days later she was dead.

Marguerite, 26, volunteered as a summer teacher in 1922 with the Grenfell Mission1 at Rev. Henry Gordon’s orphanage school in Muddy Bay six miles from Cartwright. She ran the recreation program for Rev. Gordon and taught the older girls sports such as swimming and introduced the game of french cricket which the boys played as well.

In her long newsy letter to her brother, she mentioned the gunfire from the previous night which announced the arrival of the “Bayeskimo2” in Cartwright. It had taken the ship just a week to come from a very hot Montreal. She wrote: “It is really cold here and foggy quite often, but very bracing, and I like it much better than heat; also when it is cold, there are no flies, and that means a great deal.” Then she described the local bug problem with a delightful sense of humour:

“We bathe in citronella. About 50 of them were getting free transportation on different portions of my anatomy … and there is a species of black fly, and their teamwork with the mosquito is extraordinary. They don’t bother to pierce your epidermis for themselves but follow exactly in the footsteps of the mosquitoes, and they hurt. I could hardly turn my head for a day, the back of my neck was so bitten.”

Perhaps that explains the white hat with a neck flap she wore in the photo of the children and staff sitting on the steps of the school. In another effort to protect herself at night, she cleverly tacked up strips of cotton gauze in the screen-less windows.

1922 – Rev. Henry Gordon’s Orphage School in Cartwright, Labrador (top row L to R: Rev. & Mrs. Gordon, three others, Annette and Marguerite)

Annette Stiles, the other summer volunteer and nutritionist for the school, became close friends with Marguerite. In her letter, Marguerite wrote: “We were bewailing our inadequacies about things we had to tackle; but Annette very truly remarked, that anything we could do was an improvement.” Between them, they cared for about 28 orphaned children3 and gratefully “the children’s enthusiasm was very contagious – a great contrast to the boredom of some in more civilized places.”4

These unfortunate children had multiple health issues as well – many of them suffering from tuberculosis and/or scurvy and berri-berri5 – mostly due to their poor diet. It appeared that the boys were much brighter than the girls and the adult ratio in the community was four men to every woman.

She continued her letter with a brief description of her daily routine: “We are teaching the children to swim; the water is not as cold as you might think…and you would be amused to see me giving the children drill, and getting them to breathe through their noses.”

The friendly duo happily shared their combined duties. “We really have been working awfully hard, but Annette is amusing to work with. We are cooking for some 30 odd people… and some of the experiments would turn your hair grey!”

Overall she adapted to the local food: “The salmon is in now, and we get over 100 a day in the net just off the point. It is very good; am also getting used to condensed milk.” She lamented the lack of ice, but mentioned that any attempts to capture young icebergs were foiled, as it proved too difficult to tow them home behind a boat without them breaking free.

As a reward for all their hard work, Rev. Gordon gave the two volunteers the day off, to accompany a fisherman and some boys on an expedition for firewood across Sandwich Bay. It took three hours to cover the 18 treacherous miles across the stormy waters. The “fisherfolk” at the point of White Bear River welcomed them warmly upon arrival and kindly provided food and a place to stay.

White Bear River (west coast) 18 miles across Sandwich Bay to Muddy Bay (east coast)

“We had expected to sleep on the floor, so had brought rugs; but Annette and I were given a bunk in a room about the size of a dugout, which was really comfortable after we had skilfully removed a pane of glass with a knife, the window being purely for ornament. They provided us a feather bed in the bunk, warm and dry rugs, and fed us with smoked salmon and cariboo meat. It was loads of fun.”

The next morning, they walked up White Bear River for a few hours…”as pretty a place as you could find” before safely returning to Muddy Bay later the same night with ”a perfect run right into the sunset”.

A few days before Marguerite mailed her letter, she met Dr. Grenfell himself (the head of the Mission) when the year’s supplies arrived by steamer. He made such an impression on her that she wrote – “he certainly has a great personality and has accomplished more than would seem possible.” Although Rev. Gordon and the men were away Marguerite told Dr. Grenfell: “Oh we can work just as well as men. You must treat us as such.” and the two girls insisted on rolling barrels and carrying boxes with the rest of the crew.

Soon after Marguerite’s death, Dr. Grenfell wrote a letter of condolence to her mother and spoke of “…the pleasure of meeting and knowing the joyous spirit of your daughter and the full measure of energy she was so gladly giving to help others.”

On August 4, 1922, six days after mailing her last letter home, Marguerite died accidentally while on a walk in the nearby woods.

For the whole story on Marguerite please read:

Miss Lindsay – Part 1

Miss Lindsay – Part 2

Miss Lindsay – Part 3

how i came to write miss lindsay’s tale

1https://www.findinggrenfell.ca/home/files/pg/panel-people-v4-large.jpg as referenced 2021-08-07.

2 Ship Bayeskimo – https://wiki2.org/en/Hudson%27s_Bay_Company_vessels as of 2021-07-15

3Most of the children were orphans due to the Spanish Flu Epidemic in the area

4Among The Deep Sea Fishers, The Cartwright Expert Cook by Annette Stiles, p. 127.

5Beriberi is a disease of the nervous system caused by a person not getting enough thiamine B(vitamin B1) in the diet

The Protestant Families of Québec City

from 1759 to about the 1850 and The British, Scottish, American, Irish, Welsh, Germanic families of Trois-Rivières (Three Rivers) from 1767 to 1875

Quebec City
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is trois-rivieres.jpg
Trois Rivières

The following database contains list of family names of families who resided in Quebec City and Trois Rivières during the years 1759-1875.

The Schoolmaster

In 18th century England, schoolmasters and tutors had to belong to the Church of England. The 1662 Act of Uniformity required all clergy, dons, schoolmasters, and tutors to subscribe to a declaration of conformity to the Articles of the Church of England.1

Samuel Everell,* my four times great-grandfather was the schoolmaster in the village of Longnor, Shropshire, England. He was probably a schoolmaster all his life as I can find him in the records as schoolmaster from the time he registered the birth of his son, Charles, in 18132 until he was 57, in the 1841 census.3 All of the records indicate that Samuel and his immediate family belonged to the Church of England. While there was a community of Quakers in the village of Longnor, Samuel could not have been one of their members. Nonconformists were banned from teaching.4

Samuel, while not necessarily well educated, would have certainly been able to read and write. He was born in 1784 in the village of Condover, about four miles away from Longnor. His father, Benjamin Everall was a blacksmith.5 At that time, one had to be a member of the nobility to attend one of the two universities in England: Cambridge or Oxford. Graduates of these universities sometimes became private tutors for the children of the gentry. These tutors would live with the family and even dine with them.

Samuel probably taught in a charity school. The gentry generally believed that education should not be extended to the poor as it might upset the social order.6 They did, however, believe that the poor should read the Bible. Education for the working classes was haphazard. Sunday schools taught reading so that children could read the scriptures. They also sometimes taught writing and arithmetic. In 1800, when Samuel was 16, there were 2,000 Sunday schools in England with an enrolment of 10% of the population between 5 and 18.7 Maybe this is where he learned to read and write. It was not unusual for one of the better students to become the schoolmaster. The salary of the schoolmaster was either covered by the parents or sometimes the gentry would contribute to the cost of the running of the school, including the schoolmaster’s salary.

It is possible that Samuel’s salary was paid by the estate of Sir Richard Corbet, the 4th Baronet of Longnor. The 1831 Parliamentary Report on Charities states the following:

Sir Richard Corbet, of Longnor, in his will dated November 19, 1764, declared that the trustees of his estate ensure that the poor children of Longnor, Leebotwood, Cardington, and Fodesley and poor children of the tenants and that the trustees shall appoint and pay the master to teach the children to read and write English. There were about 14 children who were instructed in a private home by the schoolmaster. The schoolmaster was paid quarterly between 14l and 15l and included 50s for teaching Sunday School. 7

Manor of Sir Richard Corbet (1696-1774), 4th Baronet of Longnor.8

In the beginning of the 19th century, the Church of England continued to sponsor education. Samuel probably died around 1849, so he would not have seen any sweeping changes during the time he was a schoolmaster. However, the government did start to become involved in the education of the poor, voting sums of money for the construction of schools for the poor. Despite the Elementary Education Act of 1870, 2 million children out of 4.3 million children had no access to schooling at all. England saw compulsory and free primary education in the 1870s and 1880s. It wasn’t until 1918 that the Education Act (Fisher Act) made secondary education compulsory until age 14.9

*Everell can be found in the records as Everell, Everel, Everelle, Everil, Everill, and Heverell.

  1. Gillard, Derek, Education in England: a History, May 2018, http://www.educationengland.org.uk/history/chapter04.html, accessed July 21, 2021.
  2. Findmypast, basptismal certificate of Charles Everall, accessed July 7, 2021.
  3. Findmypast, 1841 census records for the parish of Longnor, accessed July 15, 2021.
  4. Gillard, Derek, Education in England: a History, May 2018, http://www.educationengland.org.uk/history/chapter04.html, accessed July 21, 2021.
  5. National Archives, Probate Benjamin Everell, accessed August 11, 2021.
  6. Dartford Town Archive website, Charity Schools, https://www.dartfordarchive.org.uk/early_modern/education_charity.shtml, accessed Aug 16, 2021.
  7.  Lloyd, Amy J., Education, Literacy and the Reading Public, University of Cambridge.
  8. Parliamentary papers, Reports from Commissioners, 1831, volume 11, Charities, Twenty-Fourth Report of Commissioners, https://books.google.ca/books?id=9joSAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA387&lpg=PA387&dq=schoolmaster+longnor&source=bl&ots=BCKVnr91SC&sig=ACfU3U2H-rc0FjRaxNBk4IFw4WzRMbHfhw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwig1tXOtObxAhWHGFkFHU78AKUQ6AEwCHoECBYQAg#v=onepage&q=schoolmaster%20longnor&f=false, accessed July 21, 2021.
  9. Wikipedia, Sir Richard Corbet, 4th Baronet,  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sir_Richard_Corbet,_4th_Baronet, accessed July 21, 2021.
  10. Wikipedia, History of Education in England, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_education_in_England, accessed August 18, 2021.

Newspaper proprietors, editors, publishers and reporters in British Quebec, Lower Canada, Québec from 1764 onward.

The following database consists of

Pages 5-36 Authors who have contributed to newspapers from 1764 onward

Pages 36-40 Lists of Quebec Newspapers and BanQ Numerique

Pages 40-48 History of Newspapers

Pages 48-52 Repositories

“But along came the likes of Fleury Mesplet, Pierre du Calvet, John Neilson, James Brown, William Brown, Jocelyn Weller, Daniel Tracey, Henry-Antoine Mézière, Samuel Neilson, Ludger Duvernay, François-Xavier Garneau and many others who were the prime movers, the instigators who educated the people and also they were the ones who through their printed pages influenced the people and politicians of Lower Canada and Québec during the formative years of Confederation.”

Excerpt from notes by Jacques Gagné

Click on the above link to access the database.

Working together to help genealogists discover their ancestors

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