Genealogy

The Family Jewels and Other Treasures

Jewelry

My favourite piece of heirloom jewelry belonged to my Aunt Mary (1920- )My Formidable Tante Marie. She wore the delicate turquoise and pearl necklace while posing for one of her promotional photos during her theatre days in Montreal in the late 1940’s. I wore the very same necklace for my wedding day some 50 years later. 

My great grandfather, Dr. J. P. Hanington (1846-1927)Pharmacist then Doctor, gave his bride-to-be, Gertrude Thorpe Davidson (1852-1950)The Matriarch (A Remarkable Memory), an exceptional gold locket when they married in 1874. The back of the locket, engraved with the words “Sapienter Si Sincere” meaning “Wisely if sincerely” is the Davidson Clan Motto. The two photos inside the locket are of Dr. Hanington and their first daughter, Mary Thorpe, who died of diptheria when she was five years old.

Another couple of heirloom pieces, a delicate cameo brooch and a spectacular 89 Seed Pearl Pendant, belonged to my great grandmother, Mary Heloise Bagg Lindsay (1854-1938)Great Granny Bagg (Kittens on the Wedding Dress). However, neither of the pieces were wedding-related to my knowledge.

Furniture

The Gill Cradle was first used by my 4x Great-Grandmother Phoebe Clark Gill (1777-1864). When only three weeks old, Phoebe was taken on horseback by her mother to a place of safety in Philadelphia away from the British in September 1777. The simple mahogany cradle stayed in the family for the next 230 years gently rocking several generations of babies. There are numerous photos taken of us in our christening dresses in that wonderful old cradle. The family donated it to the McCord Museum in 2005 so that it could be preserved for historical purposes and displayed with their collection.

The Gill Cradle - photo

The Carpet Chair was rescued from a fire in 1916 when Rose Cottage, the family home in Shediac, New Brunswick, burned down. It was the family home of my 2x Great-Grandfather Daniel Hanington (1804-1889)“Roaring Dan” and his wife Margaret Ann Peters (1811-1887). It is a useful “catch all” chair as it folds up nicely. I believe the carpet seat is the original one and, for that reason, it is not used as a chair.

Carpet chair - Hanington

The sewing tables of both my grandmothers fit nicely into different corners of the house. One belonged to my paternal grandmother, Josephine Sherron Anglin (1893-1964)Social Media – Then and Now, and it is a pedestal table. The two drawers are partitioned perfectly to hold sewing supplies and the top folds open to double in size. The other one belonged to my maternal grandmother, Millicent Hanington Lindsay (1895-1982)Granny-Lin, and can be found in The Book of Canadian Antiques1. According to the entry, the Anglo-Quebec style mahogany sewing table is from circa 1830. It has two flaps that open up to extend the work surface as well as a couple of drawers without partitions.

China and Silver

The silver tea set requires polishing several times a year. But once polished – oh my – what an impressive sight! My husband likes to put a tea towel over his arm and serve tea to my friends when we host tea parties. Proper tea parties have become popular again and several tearooms around the city have resurrected the tradition. The set belonged to my Great-Aunt who gave it to my Aunt Mary. When my aunt gave up her home she gave it to me. It must be almost 100 years old.

There are two china figurines that are very close to my heart. They belonged to my mother, Ann Lindsay Anglin (1926-1961)The Courtship of Ann and Tommy – Part 1, who died at the young age of 35. They remind me of her. One is a popular Royal Doulton lady figurine kept in the corner glass cabinet in the dining room with some other collectibles. The other figurine is a lovely lady in a spectacular blue gown seated on a loveseat with a blue matching bonnet beside her fanning herself. She is kept on my bedside table. 

China figurine

Kitchware

Another treasure is an old box from Henry Morgan & Co. Limited with “Tins for Wedding Cake” written on the cover in my grandmother’s familiar scrawl. Inside the cardboard box there is an old tin icing canister with five different tin piping tips and a folded tired stained printed paper with a recipe for “Wedding Cake – 3 layers”. My grandmother was a fabulous cook and must have baked this cake for her three wedded daughters. Priceless! 

Wedding Cake Recipe and Tins (2)

Photographs, Letters and Diaries

Photos, letters and diaries may have no particular monetary value but they are invaluable to us genealogists trying to glean whatever we can from the lives of our ancestors. My dusty old boxes Dusty Old Boxes of cherished paper memorabilia contain heaps of pure joy. A treasure indeed!

1The Book of Canadian Antiques, Donald Blake Webster, p. 62.

Genealogy, Quebec

Discovery and Imagination

Historical walking tours are a great way to walk in your ancestors’ footsteps. Even if you know a lot about the place your ancestors lived, you are sure to learn a few new facts. I recently visited Drummondville, where my dad, Edward McHugh, lived for eight years during the Great Depression. He, as well as his brother, Thomas, and his sister, Sarah Jane, had gone to Drummondville in 1933 after being out of work in Montreal. They were employed by the Celanese, one of the biggest employers in Quebec during the 1930s. The Celanese was a textile plant and my dad worked in the Silk Factory as an electrician. The Celanese plant in Drummondville was one of the main reasons why Drummondville hardly felt the effects of the Great Depression.

The walking tour I went on was a free tour offered by the Société d’histoire de Drummond (historical society of Drummondville).1 The tour started at Parc Woodyatt, named after James Blain Woodyatt, Director General and member of the Board of Directors of Southern Canada Power. Southern Canada Power built, owned and operated the hydroelectric complex In Drummondville. The public park Woodyatt opened in 1930 and included sports facilities such as a pool, a skating rink and tennis courts.2

My dad, who loved to skate and swim and was an avid tennis player, would have gone to this park regularly.

My dad also loved to go to the theatre and I can easily imagine him spending his Saturday evenings at the Théâtre Capitol, built in 1937. He would have been excited when the theatre opened. This lovely art deco building is currently a multi-screen cinema complex.

Across from the town square is the impressive Roman Catholic Basilica Saint- Frédéric. When the McHugh siblings lived in Drummondville in the 1930s, this church was not yet a basilica. The first church was a chapel built in 1822 and demolished in 1879 as it became too small to accommodate the parishioners. The second church was situated where the Saint-Frédéric Park is now, just in front of the current church. The second church burnt down in 1899. The third church, built at the church’s current location, was completed in 1907 and was the victim of arson in 1921. The fourth church is the one currently standing and it was completed in 1922. It is truly magnificent. It was named a minor basilica by Pope Francis in 2015.4

Image result for eglise saint frederic drummondville

In 1937, my uncle Thomas McHugh and Simone Cloutier, a young lady from Drummondville, were married in Saint-Frédéric.5  A Casavant organ, built in 1930, would have played at their wedding. Fourteen Stations of the Cross grace the church. Stained glass windows represent the life of Saint-Frédéric, an archbishop in France.6 The McHugh family was a large one, with nine siblings. They would probably have all attended the wedding, and would have most likely travelled from Montreal by train.

McHugh, Thomas with Simone Cloutier (maybe)

Sadly, they returned to visit this magnificent church less than one year later. Thomas McHugh died of an illness in the hospital.7 My father, along with his other brothers, signed the register as pallbearers.8 Thomas McHugh is buried in the Saint-Frédéric cemetery on Saint-Joseph Boulevard, not very far from the church.

From the outside I saw the Hôpital Sainte-Croix where, sadly, my uncle would have died. The current site of this hospital was founded in 1927 and, at the time of my uncle’s death, had 18 beds and one operating room. It was run by the Soeurs de la Présentation de Marie. 9

We finished our day by driving through the working class district of Drummondville where the workers of the Celanese lived. I know my dad lived on the top floor of a duplex. He had no car so he would have lived in walking distance from work.

It was truly a day of discovery and imagination.

 

 

  1. A sincere thank you to the Société d’histoire de Drummond for this walking tour and for all of the valuable work that they do to preserve the history of Drummondville.
  2. Société d’histoire de Drummond
  3. Société d’histoire de Drummond
  4. Société d’histoire de Drummond
  5. Registration of the marriage of Thomas McHugh and Simone Cloutier, July 17, 1937, Paroisse Saint-Frédéric de Drummond, Registres photographiés au Registres de Arthabaska
  6. Church pamphlet entitled Guide – Visite et histoire de la Basilique Saint-Frédéric de Drummondville
  7. The Drummondville Statesman, “Thomas McHugh Passes Away,” May 27, 1938, accessed March 19, 2016
  8. Registration of the death of Thomas McHugh, May 25, 1938, Paroisse Saint-Frédéric de Drummond, Registres photographiés au Registres de Arthabaska
  9. Société d’histoire de Drummond
Genealogy

A Blacksmith’s Legacy

How does a gardener in a failing economy afford to purchase passage on a ship for a family of four in the hope of bettering his life in Canada? The answer may lie with a blacksmith.

The gardener was my great-great- great-grandfather Charles Brodie, born 1796 in Innerleithen, Scotland. The extended Brodie family lived in three neighbouring villages along the River Tweed: Peebles, Innerleithen and Traquair. The economy of the area rested on raising sheep augmented by wool-weaving. Hand weavers, however, were replaced by machines following the introduction of the steam engine at the beginning of the nineteenth century. Factories were built in cities close to cheap transportation routes forcing workers to leave their farms to find employment. The Scottish border towns fell into economic decline.

The blacksmith was Charles’ great-uncle, Alexander Brodie (1733 – 1811). Alexander was born in Traquair but reached the status of a master blacksmith in London. He designed The Register Stoves and Fire Hearths for Ships. Wood-burning iron stoves were a central feature of ships in those days, essential for cooking and warmth, but at the same time very dangerous. Many ships went to watery graves in flames. Brodie’s design was not only bigger but safer. The Royal Navy placed his stoves in all its ships “to the preservation of many valuable lives” according to a plaque in Traquair’s parish church commemorating his achievement. Alexander was handsomely rewarded for his design.

After the untimely death of his wife and two children, Alexander returned to Traquair. There he put his fortune to work to improve the lives of his fellow villagers. He eventually opened a woolen mill in Innerleithen, ushering in the industrial age. When Alexander died in 1811 his estate, worth over half a million pounds, was distributed, following a twenty-year court feud, among seventeen nieces and nephews. Charles’ father William (1751-1836) was one of the inheritors. Shortly thereafter Charles immigrated to Canada. One can only assume that the money came from his father’s inheritance.

Charles and his wife Elizabeth Kerr (b.1805) arrived in Canada in 1831 with two sons, Charles age twelve (1819-1859), and William age two (1829-1908). They settled in Montreal where the family grew to include two more sons, Robert (1835-1905) and Thomas (1838-1894). Charles was my great-great grandfather.

In 1850 Charles Jr. moved to Quebec City and opened a flour and grocery business. Robert, William and Thomas eventually joined him. Following Charles’ death in 1859 Robert and William formed a new partnership, the W. & R. Brodie Co. This company monopolized flour distribution in Quebec City and was the beginning of what today is the Brodie Flour Company.

In Quebec City’s Mount Herman cemetery, a granite monument stands high on the cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence River. The four sides of the monument detail the life of each Brodie brother. Two sides include the inscription “Born at Innerleithen, Scotland. Died at Quebec“. A blacksmith’s legacy.

Brodie Grave Stone (2)

 

 

Notes and Sources:

Brodie, Peter – ancestry.ca.  Blair Family Tree

http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/brodie_robert_13E.html

http://www.pastinnerleithen.com/alexander-brodie

William N. Boog Watson (1968) ALEXANDER BRODIE AND HIS FIREHEARTHS FOR SHIPS, The Mariner’s Mirror, 54:4, 409-412, DOI: 10.1080/00253359.1968.10659464

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genealogy

Seaside Scientists

“10 Foreigners at Woods Hole: Summer Students From Europe, Asia.” This was the headline on a story in the Cape Cod Standard-Times, Thursday, June 19, 1947. The story added that seven of the 10 students were from Canada. My father, Jim Hamilton, was one of them.

World War II had been over for two years, and people were starting to put their lives back on track. My parents had been married for a year, and I wouldn’t make my appearance for another year, so this was an opportunity for him to study physiology for six weeks at the famous Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory on Cape Cod.

At the time, Dad was working on cancer research at the University of Western Ontario, in London, Ontario. Cancer research was in its early days then, and the aim of the project was to learn more about the fundamental character of cancerous cells. According to an article in the London Free Press describing the study he was involved in, “the methods employed in physical chemistry are to be used wherever they are applicable…. The services of a well-trained physical chemist, J.D. Hamilton, have been obtained for the research project.”

My father had an M.A. in physics, mathematics and chemistry from the University of Toronto, but he needed to improve his knowledge of the biological sciences, hence the summer course at Cape Cod.

Woods Hole institute
A postcard showing the Marine Biological Buildings at Woods Hole from my mother’s scrapbook.

Every summer the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), founded in 1888, attracted graduate students, as well as some of the world’s best biological scientists, to carry out research and share ideas about invertebrate biology, botany, embryology and other subjects, focusing on the marine life found in the waters around the institute. (The MBL still exists today, affiliated with the University of Chicago, and its research and educational programs are now year-round.)

My father had endless curiosity about esoteric facts and was interested in everything from history, philosophy and psychology to mathematics. I can imagine him thoroughly enjoying himself as he dissected a starfish or watched a sea urchin egg multiply under the lens of a microscope, and the knowledge of physiology he acquired during that six weeks no doubt helped him when he studied medicine several years later.

My mother, Joan, accompanied him on this trip. Now that the war was over, she, like many other married women, had left the workforce, so she had the time to travel. Fortunately, the institute had accommodations for married couples and even children. She was also an intelligent and curious person, and she aspired to be a writer, so rather than just sit on the beach, my mother wrote her own article about the lab. It was never published, but she kept a copy of the draft article, along with clippings and photos.

She wrote:

“The lovely New England setting of Woods Hole provides a working example of the internationalism of science. In the lab mess hall you may hear Dr. Jean Brachet of Belgium discussing his experiences as a scientific hostage of the Nazis. At another table Dr. Dashu Nie may be telling some of his companions how scientific terms are described in the Chinese language. Still another group may hear Dr. Mohan Das, Professor of Ecology at the University of Lucknow [India], tell how marine life in India differs from that found on the U.S. Atlantic coast.

“On the beaches, in the dorms, or over a cup of coffee at Cap’n Kids, one hears shop talk. For students and research workers alike, the conversations with some of the best scientific minds of many countries provide tremendous inspiration and encouragement, and from a word dropped at such friendly conversations may come the germ of an idea which will lead to the answer to one more problem.”

Both my future parents found Woods Hole to be a stimulating place. They also enjoyed the social activities, which included Thursday night square dancing and Monday’s traditional record night, when, my mother recalled, “it is very peaceful to sit in the darkness, watching the lights come out across Vineyard Sound and listening to Bach or Beethoven.”

After the course ended, they drove up the coast to Boston and to Maine before heading back to Ontario.

This article is also posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com

See also:

“Jim Hamilton, A Life,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Sept 30, 2015, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2015/09/jim-hamilton-life.html

“My Mother’s Breakout Years,” Writing Up the Ancestors,   Sept. 12, 2018, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/09/my-mothers-breakout-years.html

Genealogy

Original Arial Family of Western Canada

They sat and stood calmly for the formal portrait. No one smiled.

An accompanying photocopy with names scrawled on each person identifies the people. Four chairs in the middle hold Remi, Sophie, Joseph Gabriel and Pete. Billy, Augusta, Joe, Sophie, Aldous, Lucy and Eddy stand behind the chairs. Jean-Baptiste sits in front.

Notes from my grandmother cram the back, including her title “the original Arial family of Western Canada.”

These notes are useful, but they don’t include some of the basic things Grandma knew, so I’m flailing around trying to understand what she meant.

I’ve always known that Gabriel and Sophie Arial were my great great grandfather and grandmother, for instance, but it took me a while to discover that I’m also the great grandchild of “Pete.”

Combining the notes with an analysis of our family tree led to many other questions too. If these are the first Arial’s who migrated to Western Canada, why did they go? Did they fit within a trend? Were their lives difficult? What made my branch of the family move back east? How did Great Grandpa Pete die when he was only 46 years old?

Perhaps they were homesteaders?

Since I know that most of my ancestors were farmers, my assumption is that the formal portrait includes people who moved west to take advantage of homesteading land grants offered in Alberta under the Dominion Lands Act after 1870. This program surveyed Crown land to make it available for settlement. According to the Alberta Genealogical Society

…individuals could apply to homestead a quarter section (160 acres) of their choice. Then, after paying a $10 filing fee and ‘proving up’ their homestead claim (occupying the land for at least three years and performing certain improvements, including building a house and barn, fencing, breaking and cropping a portion of the land), the homesteader could apply for patent (title) to the land.[1]

Records exist for three Arials: Gabriel, Joseph V. and J.B, so those are the next documents I plan to check out.

Hopefully the Gabriel Arial in the homestead records matches the older Joseph Gabriel on my photo. He and his wife Sophie pioneered Western Canadian for my family. He came from St. Roch, Quebec and Sophie came from St. Paul, Minnesota. Everyone else’s birth took place in St. Boniface, Alberta.

Given my families’ predilection for confusing nicknames, however, Gabriel, Joseph V. and J.B. Arial could be just about anyone.

Multiple Nicknames

My great grandfather legally went by the name “Joseph Gabriel Antoine Remi Arial.” Only after I read the notes about his burial on the Ariaill family website did I discover his nickname “Pete.” The same notation led to his death certificate, which includes the name “Pete Arial” and the names “Joseph Gabrial Arial” and “Joseph Gabriel Arial.”

Now I know that there are two Joseph Gabriel’s in the photo: great great grandpa in the centre and great grandpa Pete to his left. There are two Sophies also, although the elder sitting woman’s legally went by Marie Sophie.

A source note on the back tells me when and how my grandma got the photo.

This picture was given to Marguerite and Joe (Gabe) Arial on their 50th Wedding Anniversary, April 6, 1992 by Happy and Dot Arial.”

I knew Happy growing up and he made the best barbecue spices I’ve ever tasted. I don’t remember asking about his nickname. He’s probably the fellow called Billy in the formal portrait. Billy legally went by the name of Wilfred, although one of the documents I have also shows a William, which would definitely explain how Wilfred became Billy.

I’m pretty sure Eddy is Edgar, but maybe not.

There’s no hint about when the photograph was taken either. I suspect it was in the early 1930s. Great grandpa Pete seems to be in his forties in the shot, and his birth took place on May 5, 1888 in St. Boniface, Manitoba. He died of acute myocarditis (heart failure) on January 30, 1935[2], so it’s definitely prior to that.

Death Certificate Hints

Pete’s death certificate says he caught rheumatic fever in 1931. Since he’s sitting in a chair in the photograph, I suspect the photo dates from sometime between then and Joseph’s death on December 7, 1933.

When rheumatic fever becomes acute, it not only causes heart valve damage, but it can also lead to skin rashes, swollen joints especially around the knees and ankles, lumps under the skin, a shortness of breath, chest discomfort and uncontrollable muscle spasms. No wonder the poor man needed to sit in a chair!

Rheumatic fever hardly makes the news in developed countries these days. That’s because penicillin and other antibiotics prevent scarlet fever and strep throat (streptococcal) infections from turning into rheumatic fever. All three of these diseases used to kill thousands in Canada every year, however, and a 2005 source shows 15 million, 244,000 deaths around the world. [3]

Dr. W.W. Eadie signed the death certificate placing Pete’s death in Spedden, Alberta. In another pen, someone else wrote that Pete regularly resided at 9632-107a Avenue in Edmonton, Alberta. His race was French. His father came from Quebec and his mother from St. Paul, Minnesota. Connelly and McKinley buried Pete in the R.C. Edmonton cemetery. He had been a bar tender and house painter before he contracted the disease. A third writer crossed out the words bartender next to last occupation and the address Spedden next to the length of time in the town or district where death occurred. That person wrote in “contractor” next to last occupation and specified that Pete had been in Spedden for “1 month” prior to his death.

School Picnic

The only other info I’ve found about my great grandfather’s life dates from a short newspaper article about a school picnic on the front page of the Medicine Hat News on Thursday, July 1896.

That brief mentions that Pete Arial won an “under 12” race at a Gleichen school picnic. He would have been 8 years old at the time. The reporter also listed Aldos, Sophie and Joe Arial winning prizes from other races the same day. Joe won both the three-legged and donkey races.[4]

Arial is an uncommon name. The chances another family with similar names lived in small-town Gleichen is unlikely.

Pete married Leonore Doucet on November 24, 1908, when he was 20 and she was only 16 years old. They had their first child, my grandfather Joseph Isidore Alfred Gabriel, four years minus a week later.

After that, I can find no more traces of Pete until he died.

Grandma’s Notes

Pete’s not mentioned at all in the tiny squished notes grandma made on the back of that formal photo, although her family tree shows him dying in Spedden, Cold Lake, Alberta.

She does identify Billy, Joe, Aldous and Remi as interior decorators, by which I think she meant contractor. Eddy had status as “a maintenance man, interior decorator, etc.”

She identified women by the people they married. “Augusta married Charles Turgeon,” she wrote. “Sophie married Brasseau, then he died and she married Auger.” “Lucy married James or Gibson.”

Only the elder Sophie had a personal identity of her own: “Grandma Arial was a Metis from the USA.”

The notes about Joseph Gabriel contain the most information.

Grampa Arial had a hotel in Saint Boniface where he had many meetings with Louis Riel in the basement in his hotel and in later years, he own the Palace Hotel in Gleichan, Alberta. After his hotel burned, they moved to Edmonton, Alberta.”

There’s no room for anything more.

I recently found the Find-a-Grave memorial page[5] for Pete’s burial place. He was buried with his father in Saint Joachims Cemetery in Edmonton on February 2, 1935. Less than 11 months later, his mother died too. Thanks to Alison for photographing their joint tombstone.

Sources

[1] https://www.abgenealogy.ca/1870-1930-homestead-project?mid=1155

[2] Alberta Vital Statistics Death Index # 402 556 for J Gabriel Arial ~ 30 Jan 1935 ~ Place of death ~ Spedden, Alberta, Medical Certificate of Cause of Death, form 6, February 28, 1935.

[3] Carapetis JR, Steer A, Mulholland E, et al. The global burden of group A streptococcal diseases. Lancet Infect Dis 2005;5:685-94

[4] Medicine Hat News, Thursday, July 1896, p1, https://medicinehatnews.newspaperarchive.com/medicine-hat-news/1896-07-09/, accessed May 21, 2019.

[5] Alberta Vital Statistics Death Index # 402 556 for J Gabriel Arial ~ 30 Jan 1935 ~ Place of death ~ Spedden, Alberta, Find A Grave, digital images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/156782821/joseph-gabriel_antoine-arial  : accessed May 21, 2019), memorial number 156782821.

Genealogy

To the Lighthouse Part 11

myfatherugby

St Bees Senior Rugby XV  1939. Courtesy of St. Beghian Society website.

Read To the Lighthouse Part 1 here. What was it like to be a young man in prep school on the cusp of WWII?

I am so far ahead, now.  I can stop for a cigarette. We’re not allowed to smoke in front of the junior  students.

The  rugby match with the Geordies wears heavy on my mind, to divert from the other…  They are tough, those townies, built low to the ground, built for rugby and the claustrophobic confines of the coal mines.

I am Vice-Captain of the Senior XV, so it is a big responsibility. To lose to them would be an indignity, and yet they are so very hungry to beat us.

I draw on my unfiltered Player’s Navy Cut cigarette slowly, glacially, to try and stop time to stop thinking about my – our-  uncertain future.

But before I get two drags,  I  hear the sound of someone  huffing and puffing his way up the grassy path toward me, a small boy, a freckled red head. It’s Cowen, one of the new fellows, the asthmatic, courageously plodding toward me

I have to ditch this ciggy fast.  I toss it into the grass.

At the same time, the same grass rustles under my feet and I instinctively jerk to once side like a silly sock puppet. Did the boy see me?

Yes, he did. ‘Are you afraid of snakes?”  asks the boy, through his wheezes, in a non-judgmental matter of fact way.

I don’t answer.

“You were smart to get out of the way,” the boy persists. “It might be a poisonous adder. They can be found in a variety of habitats, including fields, meadows, hillsides and moors as well as coastal dunes.

“They have a grey or brown coloured body with a zigzag pattern along their back. Harmless grass snakes are mostly found in wetlands. They need frogs to eat.”

This Cowen boy, one of the new group from Mill Hill School in London that is being turned into a wartime hospital, is a small, copper-topped encyclopedia of nature, it seems.

“How do you know all this?” I ask Cowen. Mother’s mother is a Cowen from Bishop Auckland in Durham. The Cowans were shopkeepers, mostly. Or they worked in the lead mines in Alston, Cumberland.  Could we possibly be related? Well, we are all related around here. Especially the Border Reiving families: Forster, Nixon, Kerr, Armstrong, Bell, Johnson, Elliott, Graham, Scott.

This small wheezing boy replies, “My father told me.”

“I am afraid of snakes,” I admit to the younger boy. His naïve self-confidence has made me lower my ­­­­guard.

“But, I have good reason to be, “ I add, squinting menacingly at him.  I was born in Malaya and by the time I could walk I learned to watch out for the meter long orange necked keelbacks or die an agonizing death on the spot.” I grab my throat with both my hands and pretend to squeeze, bugging out my small blue eyes.

“I don’t know about Malayan snakes,” the boy soberly continues, unimpressed by my histrionics. I may be a member of the Shakespeare Club, but I am no accomplished thespian.

He continues.“ I know a bit about Indian snakes. I’ve heard stories.”

“Are you a child of the Raj as well?” I ask him with genuine interest.

“No, my father is a civil servant in  London. Foreign office.  But he loves the outdoors. He  takes me to Northumberland every summer on camping trips. While Mother visits her sister in Kent.”

This is getting far too personal, so I change the subject.

“Where are the others?” I ask authoritatively because I am supposed to care.

“They stopped  to raid the gulls’ nests even though I told them only a few gulls will have laid by now.  As the smallest in the group,  I knew they’d want to dangle me over the cliff to grab the eggs,  so I just kept on running. My lungs are burning.”

The boy admits this with no embarrassment, this plucky new boy with the asthma and caring father.

“We’ll never make it to the lighthouse at Whitehaven, at this rate,” I say, not that I care.

stbees

St Bees on the Coast of Cumbria.

“Too bad. I’d like to see the radar installation. If the war persists, I will likely be put in radar. I am a math’s major.”

I hardly hear him. The mere idea of fried eggs, however sketchy the source, thrills me. I am starving, what with these new war time rations.

 “It isn’t like being in  the Air Force,” he continues, “ but radar is important to catch the German subs when they attack. It’s too bad this war will be over soon, because I would like to work in radar, scanning for enemy submarines.”,

I had forgotten about the radar station at the lighthouse. I too am a math’s major destined, they tell me, for a desk job in statistics.  But I have the keen eyes and reflexes of a fighter pilot and that is where I want to end up, if I have to go. Dropping bombs on the enemy.

As if reading my mind, the boy says,

I know they say radar is for layabouts, but they’ll  never let me fly. I’m short-sighted.  “

Do you have good eyes?

“Twenty-fifteen, like Brian Sellers, the cricketer “ I say, bragging.  My long distance vision is, indeed, exceptional. Right now I can see two navy boats out on the grey waters of the Irish sea.

Warship sightings are commonplace these days.

Cowen lowers his eyes and opens up once again: “ I wish I were like you, an athletic stiff with spiffing eyesight, so I could get into the RAF and fly  exciting bombing missions.”

Here’s a boy who spends summers camping with his father, who teaches him all about snakes and nature, and he wants to be like me. I haven’t seen my father since I was five years of age – and that is a good thing from what little I remember.  My sister and I spend holidays with aunts who don’t want us around. They do it because of the money Grandmother Forster, aka Emma Cowen, left them.

Emma Cowen

Peter’s Grandmother, Emma Cowen of Bishop Aukland, Durham in 1914.

I don’t tell Copper-top this, of course. There’s a pause in the conversation. I sweep the grass with my foot for my cigarette butt – and to pretend I am not afraid of anything as insignificant as an English snake.

“Are you going to enlist in the RAF – before they conscript you?” the boy asks after a few minutes. Maybe fly bombers over in Europe? The village boys who have turned 18 are already signing up voluntarily. They want to get the best missions.

“They would, wouldn’t they?” I reply. “What else do they have to do?”

And, I tack on for no good reason, “I assure you, you do not want to be like me.”

“What?” The boy wrinkles his freckly red brow. I have confused him, this sweet naïve boy with his happy loving family.

“Well,” I change the subject. “You won’t be spending this coming summer in Northumberland with your father. They are keeping the school open for LDV training for all of us, senior and junior school. LOOK, Duck and Vanish.

“Yes, I know about Land Defense. But everyone thinks it  will be safer here. That’s why Mill Hill pupils were sent up  to St. Bees,” says Cowen.  “More boys from London are sure to arrive if the war doesn’t end soon. Their mothers will insist.”

“Do these mothers know  that  Barrow-in-Furness is just down the coast and it is a ship building port and likely to be a target of German bombs?”

I say this to scare him. I want to be cruel at this moment.  Truth be told, I resent this happy wheezy boy with the unkempt shock of red hair sticking straight out of the top of his head. War or no war, St Bees is a spartan place and is all about teaching British boys survival skills, on the rugby field mostly.  Land Defense Volunteers Training is somewhat  redundant.

But, then again, what do we schoolboys, happy ones like Cowen or unhappy ones like me, know about true survival?

stbeeshead

St Bees Head courtesy of visitcumbria.org

Final Part (111) to come..

Genealogy, Quebec

A Story of Tatting

My mother always tatted. She learned from her neighbour when she was 10 years old. If she would sit and tat for an hour on a Saturday, with Miss Proudfoot and her sister, she could then bring the funny papers home to her brothers.

Mom was never without a shuttle and thread. She tatted watching TV, waiting in line at the bank, in a doctors’s waiting room and even sat tatting with some fishermen in Portugal, as they fixed their nets.

Tatting is handcrafted lace made of knots, rings and chains using a shuttle. Shuttles are small oval objects that thread is wrapped around and they fit easily in your hand. Tatting is la frivolité in French and the shuttle is a navette. It was very popular in the late 1800s when shuttles were almost jewellery. It used to be considered a dying art but the internet has reintroduced tatting to many people.

Shuttles come in many forms and materials. They have been made of silver, bone, ivory, carved from wood and moulded from plastic. Celluloid, one of the first plastics, was used for shuttles. Some of the newer ones have bobbins making winding the thread much easier. Some have pics on one end, some little metal hooks and some smooth ends. The hooks are needed to join rings but this can also be done with a separate crochet hook.

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The Aqua Celluloid Shuttle

Much of Mom’s tatting was for note cards she and Doris Ward made or the Catherine Booth Hospital. For almost 30 years, Mom tatted yards of little flowers and Doris drew, cut and pasted the cards. Mom was spotted tatting a lace edging for a hanky at an auxiliary meeting and the Brigadier thought tatted cards would be very salable items. When Doris retired at 93 other ladies volunteered to take her place. They weren’t as prolific or exact, still, many more cards were made. Mom kept count and made over 75,000. She also tatted many snowflakes. These dainty items hung on Christmas trees and in windows of many friends and family.

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Some of the Hasty Notes

My mother tried many times to teach us how to tat but without much success. She even learned to tat left handed to show me but I still couldn’t get it. Then one summer, at a Flea Market in Sutton Junction, I spied a box with a plastic shuttle, tatting thread and some other sewing stuff. The box was $5 but as I didn’t want everything she sold me the shuttle and the thread for just $2. My thought was to give it to my mother but my husband said, “You should keep it.” So with my own shuttle, I asked my mother to show me again and “Bingo” I got it!

If I was going to tat, I figured I would collect tatting things. In a booth at the St Lambert Antique Show, an aqua celluloid shuttle caught my eye and as it only cost 50 cents, I bought it. It had thread in it, no removable bobbin and no hook but a pretty colour and it felt good in my hand.

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Snowflakes Mom Tatted

I put it in my pocket. We visited a few antique stores on our way to our cottage. When we got to Sutton I looked for the shuttle but it wasn’t in my pocket and I didn’t remember putting it anywhere else. I finally decided it had fallen out when I took out my car keys. My husband wanted to go and look for it but driving 20 km for a bit of plastic was silly. Still, I felt bad about losing it.

The next morning we were going to play golf at Cowansville and did retraced our steps. At Le Relais, the owner didn’t know what it was but would keep her eyes open. At the next stop, nothing in the parking lot or in the store. The last place wasn’t open but we looked around the ground and there in the grass was my shuttle.

In her last few years, my mother didn’t tat much. In the year before she died at 95, I took one of her shuttles downstairs to her. She took it and made one little flower, then handed the shuttle back to me and said, “That’s enough, you do it.

 

Notes:

My mother Dorothy Raguin Sutherland told me stories about learning to tat.

The Catherine Booth Hospital in Montreal sold the cards in their hospitality shop for almost fifty years. They were a very good money maker. After Doris Ward retired from card making Moira Reynolds and Eileen Rhead took it up.

Mom visited the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec and in the craft sections didn’t see a tatting shuttle so she donated one complete with tatting

It used to be very difficult for my mother to find tatting thread. Thin 80 weight thread makes much finer lace. Everywhere we went we would looked for thread hoping to find new colours. Now one can find many, many colours of plain and variegated threads online.

I can make little flowers and I have made a number of snowflakes but mistakes are hard to fix as the thread is thin and the knots are tight. I don’t quite have my mother’s patience.

During my tatting item collecting I found this tatted christening dress in an antique store in Bromont, Quebec. I had never seen anything with so much tatting, so I had to have it.

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The tatted christening dress

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Genealogy

Finding Emerie

By

Claire Lindell

Several years ago, on a pleasant drive home from Ottawa, the thought of stopping in Rigaud to visit the cemetery seemed like a good idea with the hopes of finding Emerie Chevrier, one of my ancestors.

There were so many Chevriers in the cemetery it seemed impossible that one would find Emerie! Every second or third headstone was a Chevrier. It became apparent that more specific information would be required to find the father of my great-grandmother, Marie Philomene Adele Chevrier, one of Emerie’s twenty-one children.

Nos origins 1
Census 2.

At the age of almost twenty, on the 20th of August 1839, he married young eighteen-year-old, Seraphie Cholet. Together they had fourteen children. One every year! In August of 1852, tragedy stuck and at the age of thirty-one she died, leaving him with a heavy heart, hands full, and a home filled with young children.

Upon Seraphie’s passing, Emerie realized he had a major problem that required immediate attention.  How could he tend to his farm and a home with fourteen children and no mother to care for them? One can surmise that the community came forward with a helping hand and introduced him to a new partner. It did not take very long before he was able to find a young woman willing to tackle the overwhelming task of helping him raise his family. She was one Mary McCarragher, almost twenty years old, of Irish descent. She and Emerie, still a young man of thirty-three, were married in the nearby village of Ste Marthe on January 11. 1853, less than six months after the death of his first wife.

Over the years Mary and Emerie had seven more children and he continued to farm the land. The family moved to Ste Justine de Newton, a small village near the Quebec-Ontario border not far from Rigaud.

After numerous searches to find information about Emerie’s death. 3 I was able to find his “sepulture”, the French church record of his death indicating where he is buried, a small burial ground, a fraction of the size of the Rigaud cemetery. This was the key to finding Emery. The headstone is situated beside the Catholic Church in Ste-Justine-de-Newton.

 Using Google Earth helped to determine the exact location of the cemetery. Armed with the details, with camera battery charged and ready for action, it was time to take a drive to the quaint village sixty kilometres from home.

Arriving in the small community, I parked near the church and walked to the graveyard, opened the gate and began the search. Much to my surprise, the headstone was about six paces to the left, inside the gate!

Although Emerie had passed away in 1889 and his wife Mary in 1884 their headstone was certainly not one that had endured the weather over one hundred years, but rather, it was a beautiful new headstone.4.Indeed, a fine tribute!

Footnotes:

1. https://www.nosorigines.qc.ca/genealogie.aspx

2. Ancestry.com, 1851 Census of Canada East, Canada West, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia (Ancestry.com Operations Inc), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Year: 1851; Census Place: Rigaud, Vaudreuil County, Canada East (Quebec); Ancestry.com

3. Ancestry.com, Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968 (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008), Ancestry.com, http://www.Ancestry.com, Institut Généalogique Drouin; Montreal, Quebec, Canada; Author: Gabriel Drouin, comp

4. Photograph of Emery Chevrier’s headstone taken by the author.

Genealogy, Quebec

A Montreal Stockbroker

Early in the 20th century, just before World War I, the city of Montreal was booming!

During this time the population of Montreal grew to half a million people. Immigration surged setting new records. Skilled workers from England found employment in the city’s factories. European immigrants, especially Jews fleeing persecution, made up the biggest group. Many others came escaping the economic misery back home. And people were also migrating from rural areas attracted by the city’s remarkable economic growth and the available opportunities.

Montreal offered all these people hope of a better life.

The Montreal Stock Exchange, founded in 1832, was Canada’s first exchange and grew to be its most prestigious during this time of great expansion. In 1910, the total number of trades was more than double that of The Toronto Stock Exchange. This growth led to the merger of several small companies creating several large corporations such as Dominion Textile and Montreal Light, Heat and Power which in turn traded their shares on the Exchange.

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The Montreal Stock Exchange – 1903

My great grandfather, Robert Lindsay (1855-1931), was a stockbroker during this exciting period of Montreal history and its prosperous growth. Robert was the son of the successful banker, Robert A. Lindsay (Bank of Montreal), as well as the nephew of the prominent politician, William Burns Lindsay. Wisely, he left banking and politics to his elders and forged his own career in finance.

Robert most likely worked in Old Montreal where many major financial institutions established their Canadian headquarters on and around Saint Jacques Street. The impressive old building on St. Francois-Xavier Street, just off Saint Jacques Street, which housed the Montreal Stock Exchange since 1903 became the home of the Centaur Theatre in 1964 when the Exchange moved to a skyscraper on Victoria Square.

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The Montreal Stock Exchange Building now The Centaur Theatre

Robert was born in Montreal in 1855, the oldest of four children, three boys plus a girl who died in infancy. His mother, Henrietta Dyde, passed away in 1864, ten weeks after her baby daughter died. Robert was only nine years old. His father remarried two years later and he and his new wife, Charlotte Anne Vennor, had six more children.

Robert married Mary Heloise Bagg Great Granny Bagg (Kittens on the Wedding Dress), one of the daughters of Stanley Clark Bagg and Catherine Mitcheson, in 1881 at the age of 26. The Baggs, a prominent Montreal family, never before had a stockbroker in the family.

Robert and Mary Heloise Wedding day
Robert and Mary Heloise on their wedding day – 1881

Robert and Mary Heloise named their first daughter “Ada” after his sister. Eventually, even though Mary Heloise was considered “frail”, they had a total of six children.

Their son Sydenham (my grandfather) and their youngest daughter Marguerite both followed their religious callings. Sydenham The Priest became an Anglican priest in Montreal. However, Marguerite died tragically at the age of 26, as a volunteer school teacher and missionary in Labrador.

Sydenham and Marguerite Lindsay
Sydenham and Marguerite Lindsay

Their eldest son Lionel became a well-loved Montreal family physician. Their daughter, Marjorie, was denied dangerous travel to England during the war to be with her one true love and remained a spinster, despite being a real beauty.

Stanley followed in his father’s footsteps and also became a stockbroker. He must have had a dreadful time during the Great Crash of 1929. Robert, although retired by then, probably followed his son’s career closely during that terrible period of panic and chaos.

For some unknown reason Stanley predicted the market’s collapse and withdrew the family money from the stock market prior to the Crash. Lucky him!

England, Genealogy

A Moody Chef

My Uncle was born second to the eldest daughter in a family of 11 in Cornwall, England.

My Dad never spoke of him, and I had no idea of his existence until I started to research the family tree, adding the family and my unknown Uncle.

Who was he? All I had was the fact he was born in 1909.

My parents divorced when I was seven years old, and I had no contact with Dad’s side of the family after that event. However, my cousins, whom I met about eight years ago, were none the wiser although cousin Diane did speak of a family argument and the eldest son leaving the family home never to return or to be heard of again. EVER!

It was still a shocking event in the family.

What that argument was about I will never know. Many of the other children were not even born when he left. Nobody seems to have any photographs of him, either.

After researching a few sites, I found out he was married at 21.  I cannot find any children yet, but Uncle  died on the 13th of June, 1940 at age 30.

I was shocked to find he had died so young. Immediately, because it was the beginning of WW2 in England, I assumed he died in the Blitz, as so many in that area of London had, and his death certificate states he died in Pimlico which I knew was, like many other areas of London, badly bombed.

When I retired, I took the time to find out the reason he died so young. I decided to purchase his death certificate. When it arrived, it stated he had died of coal gas poisoning.

Thinking again of the war my first thought was he had died of gas poisoning. How awful! Then common sense prevailed. Of course not! Gas poisoning only happened in WWI, so I took a few deep breaths, and re-read the death verdict.

‘Coal Gas Poisoning; Did kill himself while of unsound mind’  Certificate received from WB Purchase Coroner for the County of London. Inquest held 17th June 1940.

Ah, so he had actually gassed himself poor Uncle! What on earth made him do it?

Gas was and still is, a common source of heat in England. Most homes including ours had gas fires. The gas then was coal gas, a very dangerous substance. You turned the tap on let the gas flow, and then lit it whereupon there was a loud POP! My Mum was always nervous about lighting it.

You had to be very careful that the fire, when the gas ran out, was turned off before you ‘fed’ the gas meter with shillings to re-establish the gas flow. Otherwise, you had odourless colourless gas flowing into your home and not realising it. Once a month the ‘gas man’ would arrive open and empty the meter and count the coins at the kitchen table. Depending on the amount of gas used, we would usually get a rebate of coins which were then fed back into the gas meter.

Photo Credit: Pat Cryer, with permission and thanks.

Committing suicide with a gas fire was easy, you just turned it on and did not light it. People accidentally died after forgetting to turn the tap of the gas flow off and feeding the meter, thus gassing themselves. Later in the 1950s a safety tap was added.

Because Uncle’s death was unusual a post mortem had to be conducted.

I reasoned that if he committed suicide, then there was a coroner’s report, which would be reported in a local newspaper. After hours of researching the newspapers of the area, I found what I was looking for.

Because this site is a subscription site, I only had access to this page and the text, so I had to re-write the copy [1]

A MOODY CHEF

A Pimlico Tragedy

The Westminster coroner (Mr. Purchase) held an inquiry at the Horseferry Road.

Coroner’s Court Monday into the death of […..]  (30) a chef, 79 Cambridge-street, Pimlico, who was found gassed there.

On Thursday morning. William McColl, 8 Rugby-street said he was a friend of the deceased. “He was in good health,” said witness. ‘and was in work. He was very moody.

Whenever I asked him what was the matter he would say’ Don’t take any take notice of me. I am a funny guy’

He had never said that would take his life and did not look the sort who might. He was in no trouble of any kind.

Faustina Alvarez. 79 Cambridge-street Pimlico said deceased had lodged there for three months.

On Wednesday night last week, he put threepence in the gas. The next morning witness’s wife got worried about him and witness went upstairs and knocked at the deceased’s door. There was no answer.

On opening the door witness saw deceased lying the floor by the gas ring.

PC. Elliott, 4138. who was called, said he saw the deceased lying on the floor with his head resting on a gas ring. He was dead.

The gas tap was turned on, but the supply had been exhausted. Dr. M. Hains, who made a postmortem examination, said the death was due to asphyxiation from coal gas poisoning.

Herbert Rehm. chairman of Rhem Brothers.Ltd., said the firm had eight licensed restaurants in London, […]  was employed at a branch at Buckingham Palace-road.

He was a very efficient employee, but very moody. The coroner said it seemed that in one of his moods, the deceased took his life. He recorded a verdict that the deceased took his life whilst of unsound mind.

When I was told by my cousin Diane, that the family never heard from him again after the death certificate arrived, I let them know of the circumstances of his death and we realised the reason nobody in the family had ever heard from him again. We cousins were sad for him.

‘Depression’ was not a word used in those days but obviously, that is what he suffered from.

One day, I hope to find if there were any children and so, like any genealogist who hits a brick wall, I keep searching.

Sources:

[1] Whether you are a researcher, historian or you simply want to know more about Britain’s history, take this opportunity to search The British Newspaper Archive – a vast treasure trove of historical newspapers from your own home.

Source: A Moody Chef | Chelsea News and General Advertiser | Friday 21 June 1940 | British Newspaper Archive

(2) Gas Meter Photographed in Blaise Castle Museum  https://www.1900s.org.uk/1940s50s-heating-gas.htm

With many thanks to Pat Cryer, whose website https://www.1900s.org.uk is a valuable source of information on the social life of wartime Britain. Pat allowed her photo of an old gas fire, similar to the one in the story, to be used. Thank you, Pat.