The Blacksmith of Bridge Street
The young Finnish merchant marine, Johan Hjalmar Lindell along with his mates went in to Boston while the ship was anchored. While ashore they were all encouraged to drink and they had more than a few pints. The drunken sailors were brought back on board ship. When Johan and another mate realized that they had been “shanghaied”, they decided to swim ashore. They had previously planned to remain in the United States, the land of opportunity! They were successful. A decision neither ever regretted.
From all accounts Johan had a happy childhood. He was born in1874 in Tampere, in southern Finland. During his early years he received love, affection and caring from both parents. A tragic turn of events changed his life forever. His mother died. He was devastated. His father was a handsome, energetic man who before long began to seek a new companion. The step-mother was not very caring toward the young lad and he would often find the cupboards locked. Unable to satisfy his appetite, he decided he could not live this way and made a decision to run away! He was twelve years old.
From the stories told over the years, he made his way to St. Petersburg, Russia, where as a slender fellow, with nimble finger he worked in a woolen mill, his dexterity and size being an asset. This however, would not last. It was time to move on. His adventurous spirit took him to far-away places. During his travels he learned to be a blacksmith, a trade that would serve him well later in life. He made his way to the open seas and for several years he was a merchant marine who sailed the Seven Seas.
After being shanghaied in Boston, Johan made his way to Pennsylvania. Upon learning there was a large Finnish community in Ashtabula Harbour, Ohio on Lake Erie, he headed north. His early years were spent working on the ore boats on the Great Lakes.
In 1903 he married young Ida Susanna Karhu, born in 1886. She had immigrated from Finland in 1896 with her mother, Sanna, brother, Jaako and sister, Lisa Whilemena and were living in Ashtabula where the father had already established a home for them.
Johan and Ida had eight healthy children and lost a son at birth. They raised their family while Johan, or John or Herman, as he was sometimes known, worked at his blacksmith shop on Bridge Street in the Harbour. He had four forges and shod the horses that hauled the brewery wagons. He built wagons used for hauling coal. He also served as a court interpreter, inventor and banker.
The family lived above the shop. About a mile outside of town they also had a small farm.
For many years life the family thrived.
Times were changing and with the Ohio Dry Campaign of 1918 and the Women Christian Temperance Union’s actions, business at the blacksmith shop slowly dwindled. There were fewer horses that needed to be shod and before long the large brewery companies pulled up stakes. They left town without paying their bills. There were young children at home. Kaarlo his oldest son worked as a cook on the ore boats on the Great Lakes. He loaned money to his father. Grandfather was grateful for his son’s assistance and he made it up to him as the economy improved. Grandfather continued to work as an interpreter, along with all his other various ‘irons in the fire’. He was a resourceful man. He even tried his hand working on automobiles.
The 1940 United States Census report indicated it was the first time Johan had made the necessary inquiries about obtaining citizenship, although he had been in the United States for close to fifty years. At that time, perhaps it was a requirement that he work outside his business in order qualify to receive Social Security benefits. It was war time and he was in his mid-sixties. He began work in a munitions factory. While working there to secure his benefits he was struck by a young worker driving a tow motor (fork-lift). He was hospitalized and died several days later in 1944. He was seventy years old. He was to retire from his work in six weeks. Ida Susanna received the benefits Johan had worked so hard to obtain.
Twists and turns throughout his lifetime made Johan Hjalmar Lindell a strong, vibrant man who lived it to the fullest. He lived long enough to see his son, Kaarlo go to University and became a successful engineer. His daughter, Helen a registered nurse. All his children, except Alpo, was a merchant marine, raised their families and had children of their own. Some stayed in Ohio. Others headed for California. Kaarlo ( Karl) settled in Canada. Johan is buried in Edgewood Cemetery in Ashtabula, Ohio. In 1967 later Ida Susanna died ( December and is buried beside her first love.
Altonen, Karhu, Kuivinen, Lindell Family Reunion 1919
The older couple sitting in the center of the photo – Johan and Sanna Karhu, grandmother Ida’s parents. They are surrounded by their family. The arrows point to Johan Hjalmar, Grandfather, Ida and their eight children. Kaarlo is standing directly behind his grandfather, beside Ida who is holding baby brother Alpo
I never knew my Grandfather, but, certainly wish I had! What I do know is from stories my father, Karl told me over the years.In 2010 I attended an Altonen, Karhu, Kuivinen Lindell family reunion in Ashtabula and visited with cousins. This was my first visit to the area. It was a heartwarming experience to meet with relatives and see the sights my father had so often spoken of; the harbour, the lighthouse, Bridge Street where Grandfather’s blacksmith shop was and the famous Bridge Street bascule swing bridge that crosses the Ashtabula River not far from the shop. During my grandfather’s time Ashtabula was a thriving port. Coal was being transported up and down the Great Lakes. The railroads were busy transporting goods. Today there is very little activity in the port. For many prosperity in the harbour is but a distant memory.
Etiennette Alton, the ancestor of Genealogy Ensemble contributor Tracey Arial, was married to Marin Hurtubise in Montreal on January 7, 1660. Their union is among the earliest Catholic marriages in Montreal that are detailed on the French-language website Fichier origine (www.fichierorigine.com). Established under an international partnership between the Quebec-based Fédération québécoise des sociétés de généalogie and the European-based Fédération française de généalogie, it has been available for free on-line since 1998.
The list of 900 people who married in the early days of Montreal is available at http://www.fichierorigine.com/recherche?nom=&commune=&pays=&mariagerech=Montr%C3%A9al
You can find a wealth of information about each person within the couple, including the name of the conjoint (the husband or wife). Fichier origine tells us Etiennette’s date of baptism in 1635, her place of origin in France before she came to Canada, the names of her parents and siblings, and her date and place of death (Montreal, 1722) (http://www.fichierorigine.com/recherche?numero=240043). The information about her husband is equally revealing.
To read more about this particular couple, refer to Arial’s story at: https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/10/03/etiennette-alton-a-marriageable-woman/.
Fichier origine includes the very first marriage celebrated in Montreal: that of Mathurin Meunier and Françoise Fafard on March 11, 1647. (http://www.fichierorigine.com/recherche?numero=242904). It also has information on more than 5000 other people who immigrated to Quebec from France, from the founding of New France until 1865.
In those times, marriage was probably more of a partnership and an agreement to start a family than it was about romantic love. Nevertheless, on Valentine’s Day, it is interesting to recognize these weddings. These couples are the ancestors of thousands of people spread today across Quebec, Canada, the United States and the world. Perhaps your ancestors are among them.
By Sandra McHugh
When I say that my grandfather, Thomas McHugh, worked as a cipher, Bletchley Park, MI5, and Russian spies immediately come to mind. He was neither a Russian spy nor did he work as a cipher during the war. His employer was the Bank of Montreal and it was his first job when he came to Canada in 1912.
The decision to immigrate to Canada was not easy for Thomas. He was in his mid-30s and already had seven children, between the ages of one and fifteen. For over 40 years, the jute manufacturers of Dundee, Scotland had been providing employment for his parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, wife, and for him. However, by the early 1900s, he was facing a precarious future for his children.
By the early 1900s, Dundee had suffered a serious decline in the textile industry and more significantly, the jute industry. Jute was imported from India, however, the mill owners realized that it would significantly lower the cost of production to open mills in India to prepare the jute and import the finished product to Scotland. Once mills were established in India, the jute production in the mills in Dundee decreased substantially.1
So when Thomas arrived in Canada, a little ahead of his wife and his children, he was eager and prepared to do any job so that he could. The Bank of Montreal had its headquarters in Montreal, Quebec. In the early 1900s, the bank had significant dealings with Great Britain and there were correspondence and banking instructions back and forth between Canada and Great Britain daily. These instructions were mainly sent by telegraph overnight. There were two reasons for this. Some of these instructions were confidential and it was preferred that they remain so. Overnight instructions reduced the number of people who would have access to them. Another reason was the time difference between Montreal and the United Kingdom. The banks in London and Edinburgh were open for business while Montreal was still asleep.
Even in those days, the banks were concerned about security, privacy, and confidentiality. The banking instructions and transactions were submitted by telegraph and were encrypted. It was the job of the cipher clerk to decipher them so that the bank staff could then ensure that the instructions were carried out as required.
To be a cipher clerk, one had to be reliable, meticulous, and honest, and ensure the confidentiality of the bank’s business. The cipher clerk used a cipher handbook to decipher the information. Also, the cipher clerk worked overnight, so it was a difficult job for a man with a family.
So while my grandfather, the cipher, did not work in espionage, I still think that his first job in Canada was rather interesting.2
2 As related by my father, Edward McHugh
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When Robert left Ireland for Canada in 1829, young William Anglin (my great-great-grandfather) missed his older brother terribly. For the next 14 years, he wrote letters frequently as the only way to keep him close to his heart. Upon hearing of the rebellions in 1838 in Upper Canada and near Kingston, Ontario, where Robert had settled with his family, William wrote a worried letter:
Another reason why I have not written is the very disturbed state of your country – you cannot think the feelings of my mind on account of you my dear brothers and family for fear you should suffer loss of property, or life. I pray that you may receive this and that it will find you all well. I was afraid that a letter may not pass from here to you, and was kept in awful suspense to know how it would terminate – and anxiously waiting for every account – and you cannot imagine what joy it gave me to hear that the Rebels are in a great measure defeated. ..… I was glad to know from the papers that they did not get up to Kingston, and I hope that you in that city do still enjoy peace. We were glad to hear the stand the Protestants have made with the Army against them. Things may be worse than we know with you but do hope our next account will bring us satisfactory news. A good deal of the Army sailed from England and Ireland for America and do hope they have safely arrived before this date. I forbear to say any more on this, to me, painful subject, and know that you are better acquainted with it than I can be. I only mention what I have said to let you know what I have heard about the agitated state of your country. Under such circumstances as these I hope you will write as soon as you receive this, for I long to hear from you or to see you.
– Excerpt from a letter from William to his brother Robert in Kingston – Feb 23, 1838
In 1843, William at age 28, arrived in Kingston, Ontario, where he finally joined two of his older brothers, Robert and Samuel, in business. William, the youngest of four brothers and one sister, was born in 1815 in Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. He hadn’t seen his brother Robert in 14 years.
Before long William branched out into business for himself, partnering with an iron-gray pony named ‘Fanny’. He travelled along the Rideau Canal as far north as Big Rideau Lake, and also along Lake Ontario to Hay Bay near Adolphustown, purchasing cordwood as fuel for the mail boats operating between Toronto and Montreal – steamers named ‘Passport’, ‘Spartan’, ‘Corsican’, ‘Corinthian’, and ‘Algerian’.
Later he purchased his own powerful tug, named ‘Grenville’, as well as two barges and continued to manage the cordwood contract with his young son’s help. The cordwood was then freighted up on scows and barges, and piled on the Long Wharf in Kingston, later known as Swift’s Wharf.
In 1847, four years after his arrival in Kingston, William married Mary Gardiner who had been born in County Durham, England, in 1817, and had also immigrated to the Kingston area with her family.
William and his wife first had two daughters, Mary Frances, who died shortly after her birth in 1850, and Annabella ‘Annie’ Jane.
Annie was born in 1853. Sadly, on July 1, 1878, while watching a fireworks display in the Cricket Field from the roof of a neighbors’ house, she took ill and developed pulmonary tuberculosis. She was only 26 years old when she died on April 18, 1879.
Then came two sons, William Gardiner Anglin (my great-grandfather), in 1856, and James Vickers Anglin, in 1860. They grew up in the house at 56 Earl Street where they moved as young boys with their parents in 1865.
Both sons eventually studied medicine at Queen’s University and became well respected surgeons in Kingston. William, however, also built an extension on his father’s house at 56 Earl Street which served both as his own home and medical office. To this day, the name “Dr. W.G. Anglin” is still etched on the window at 56 Earl Street.
When William’s mother died in Ireland, in 1863, twenty years after William’s arrival in Kingston, his eldest brother, John, was finally able to move to Upper Canada to join the rest of the family.
The Anglin brothers were re-united once again.
 Helen Finlay, owner-operator of 52 Earl Street Cottages, Kingston, Ontario
The fur trade was a key part of Canada’s history and hundreds of people were involved in it from the late 1600s to the early 1800s. One way to research an ancestor who was a fur trader is to find the contracts he signed, contracts thwere generally prepared by notaries in Montreal, Quebec or Trois-Rivières.
The notaries who handled fur trade contracts in the 18th and 19th centuries were:
Louis Chaboillez – Montréal 1787-1813 – 9,346 bibliographical records
John Gerbrand Beek – Montréal 1781-1822 – 5,277 records
Jonathan Abraham Gray – Montréal 1796-1812 – 3,258 records
Jean-Baptiste Adhémar– Montréal 1714-1754 – 3,151 records
Louis-Claude Danré de Branzy – Montréal 1738-1760 – 2,784 records
François Simmonet – Montréal – 1737-1778 – 2,139 records
Joseph Desautels – Montréal 1810-1820 – 1,638 records
Antoine Foucher – Montréal – 1746-1800 – 1,056 records
Henry Griffin – Montréal 1812-1847 – 952 records
Pierre Panet de Méru – Montréal 1755-1778 – 824 records
François Leguay – Montréal 1770-1789 – 814 records
Nicolas Benjamin Doucet – Montréal 1804-1855 – 609 records
Henry Crebassa – Sorel 1795-1843 – 555 records
Joseph Cadet – Québec 1784-1800 – 276 records
Charles Claude Pratte – Trois-Rivières 1801-1817 – 236 records
Louis-Joseph Soupras – Montréal – 1762-1792 & 1809-1832 – 150 records
Pierre Ritchot – Montréal 1821-1831- 117 records
Joseph Gabrion – Montréal 1780-1804 – 54 records
Jean-Baptiste Desève – Montréal 1785-1805 – 15 records
One of the busiest of these notaries was Louis Chaboillez, who practiced in Montreal. Summaries of the more than 9000 fur trade contracts he handled can be found online on the website of the Societe historique de Saint-Boniface (SHSB) at http://archivesshsb.mb.ca/fr/list?q=Louis+Chaboillez&p=1&ps=20
The SHSB in Winnipeg has a special interest in the history of the fur trade and the people who were involved. You can learn more about the SHSB heritage center at http://shsb.mb.ca/en/about_us. This society can also help with genealogy research, especially if you have Metis ancestry. See http://shsb.mb.ca/en/Collections_and_Research.
Diane Wolford Sheppard of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan has done extensive research on the fur trade during the French Regime, especially in the Detroit region of Michigan, the Mississipi River in Illinois and the Green Bay region of Wisconsin. This includes Fort Michilimackinac (Mackinac Island & Mackinak County, Michigan) 1683-1754; Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit – Fort Détroit (Detroit, Michigan) 1701-1760; Fort de Chartres (Mississipi River in Illinois) 1718-1731; Bay of Sauks (Ouisconsin) — Fort Winnebago; (Green Bay, Wisconsin) 1640s-1763.
The notaries in New France who handled fur trade contracts for destinations in Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin were:
Antoine Adhémar – Montréal 1668-1714 – Trois-Rivières 1668-1714
Claude Mauque – Québec 1674-1682 – Montréal 1677-1696
Hilaire Bourgine – Montréal 1685-1690
Pierre Raimbault – Montréal 1697-1727
Michel Lepailleur de Laferté – Québec 1700-1715 & Montréal 1701-1732
Jean-Baptiste Adhémar – Montréal 1714-1754
Henri Hiché – Québec – 1725-1736
François Simmonet – Montréal – 1737-1778
http://www.habitantheritage.org/french-canadian_resources/the_fur_trade This article on the website of the French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan links to a variety of resources about the fur trade in the 17th century.
http://habitantheritage.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Women_and_Their_World_-_for_website.275153906.pdf This article by Diane Wolford Sheppard lists some women who were involved in the fur trade or liquor trade in the 17th century.
http://habitantheritage.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Outdoor_Activities.27051652.pdf This article mentions the names of some of the men who were present in Detroit around 1715.
If you had an ancestor who worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company, take a look at this article from the Alberta Family History Society on researching family history at the archives of the HBC: http://afhs.ab.ca/aids/talks/notes_mar98.html. The Hudson’s Bay Company records are at the Manitoba Archives, https://www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/.
Library and Archives Canada has many records of people who worked in the fur trade; for example, http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/genealogy/topics/employment/Pages/fur-trade.aspx
The McCord Museum in Montreal has records of the North West Company, one of the major players in the later years of the fur trade. Some of its photos and documents have been digitized; see http://collections.musee-mccord.qc.ca/scripts/search_results.php?keywords=North+West+Company&Lang=1
Notarial records including fur trade contracts from prior to 1800 can be found on the Parchemin database; see https://genealogyensemble.com/2017/01/01/finding-quebecs-early-notarial-records/
The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) is slowly digitizing its collection of notarial documents, but most can be consulted on microfilm at the archives in Montreal and other branches across Quebec.
The Société de généalogie de Longueuil (http://www.sglongueuil.org/), just south of Montreal, also has an extensive collection of notarial records on microfilm; see http://www.sglongueuil.org/cadres/texte/greffes.html.
René Emile Raguin, my grandfather, was the last of my relatives to arrive in Canada. He was the only one to return home after he emigrated. His family, originally from Doubs, France, moved to Fleurier, Switzerland soon after he was born.
He arrived in Canada aboard an Allen Line steamship, the Lake Erie and so didn’t have to endure a long voyage on a sailing ship. It was 1910 and he was 23 years old. He had been a Lieutenant in the French army. His father was French and as the son, even though he lived in Switzerland, he had to do his service. He had also trained as a teacher but there were no jobs in Switzerland, so he was fortunate to find a job at the French Protestant school in Pointes aux Trembles, Quebec.
René was a dapper little man with a full beard and moustache. He was sure he was going to be a hit with Canadian girls although his landlady told him they didn’t like men with a lot of facial hair. The morning after meeting Beatrice Bruneau and her sisters, he came down stairs with only a goatee! In later years he only had a small moustache but with a completely shaved head.
René and Beatrice were married in 1912 in Cornwall, Ontario by Beatrice’s father, Reverend Ismael P. Bruneau. Their first daughter Aline Marguerite was born in May 1913. The next summer they sailed to Europe to show off Aline to Rene’s family. Rene enjoyed the voyage, walking on deck with his little daughter, but Beatrice, pregnant with their second child Robert, suffered from sea sickness and was mostly invisible. Rene was very happy chatting with all the other passengers who wondered about the little girl’s mother.
They were having a wonderful time in Fleurier, visiting Rene’s parents, Joseph Marie and Rosina Steinman Raguin and his sister Bluette, when the Archduke Franz Ferdinand was assassinated and World War I began. When England declared war on Germany August 4, 1914, returning to Canada as quickly as possible became a priority. As Rene had become a Canadian/British citizen in 1913, they appealed to the British Government and received a document of safe passage through both France and Italy to return to England. They made a quick journey by train from Switzerland to Le Havre, France taking what they could easily carry and leaving their trunk behind.
They made it safely back to Canada where René was then the principal of De La Salle Academy in Trois Riveres, Quebec. The school administration had been worried he wouldn’t return for the beginning of the school year. He used his story to raise money during the war, for the Canadian Patriotic Fund.
Robert was born in December followed by Arthur, Dorothy and Madeleine. René continued teaching and finished his career as a French teacher at Baron Byng High School in Montreal. They spent summers in Dunany north of Montreal where he enjoyed golf and socializing and winters in Montreal where he curled and socialized. He and Beatrice didn’t travel very much, just one train trip to Vancouver to visit their son Robert. They never returned to Europe, never again saw any of Rene’s family, or their trunk.
Rutherdale, Robert. Hometown Horizons: Local Responses to Canada’s Great War. Vancouver: University of British Columbia, 2004. Print.
Anecdotes personally communicated to the author by Aline Raguin Allchurch in 2003.
Passeport; original document in possession of author.
Rene’s British /Canadian Naturalization Certificate was in his possession in Europe to obtain his Passport but the document was later lost as it was replaced in 1916. Libraries and Archives Canada: Citizenship Registration Records for Montreal Circuit Court 1851-1945.
Military documents in possession of author.
Have you heard a family story about an ancestor who was a voyageur or coureur des bois? These were the men who canoed across the interior of North America to trade with the indigenous people for beaver pelts and other furs and bring the pelts back to Montreal.
The fur trade thrived in the 17th and 18th centuries and the early years of the 19th century. Setting out from Montreal, the voyageurs’ destinations included what is now western Canada, Ontario, Michigan and Illinois. Some had wives and children in Quebec and some fell in love with aboriginal women and were the ancestors of Canada’s Métis people.
Before they set out on their travels, the voyageurs signed contracts with fur trading companies or their agents. These contracts specified where they were to go and for how long, and how much they were to be paid. Notaries, most of whom resided in Montreal, Lachine or Ste-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Ile (now known as Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue), prepared the contracts and kept them on file. As a result, more than 34,500 of these contracts have survived.
The notarial records themselves are stored at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) along with all the other contracts, wills, leases and other documents these notaries prepared.
In addition, the information in many of the voyageurs’ contracts is available online, thanks to La Société historique de Saint-Boniface (http://shsb.mb.ca/en). St. Boniface is a traditionally French part of Winnipeg, Manitoba, and its Centre du patrimoine (heritage center) specializes in the history of the francophone community of Manitoba, and in the heritage and genealogy of the Métis people.
http://archivesshsb.mb.ca/en/list?q=Notaires+de+Montr%C3%A9al&p=1&ps=20 This link takes you to the database of contracts. You can search in English, but the data is mostly in French. There are various ways to search the database, but if you know your ancestor’s name, you can put that into the search box. There is a small box for each result, and clicking on “more detail” opens it up. Included in the details is the date the contract was signed. For example, 18090503 indicates May 3 1809. You can use Google translate or a similar online translator if you need help understanding the text.
http://habitantheritage.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/docs/Fur_Trade_Contracts_during_the_French_Regime.29095438.pdf This article by Diane Wolford Sheppard of Michigan is a collection of representative contracts drafted during the French Regime, including engagé (hiring) contracts, partnerships, partnership settlements, obligations and invoices for fur trade purchases. They have been translated into English.
http://www.habitantheritage.org/french-canadian_resources/the_fur_trade For more in-depth background, images and documents about the fur trade in the Great Lakes region, see this page posted by the French Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan.
The Air Canada plane starts its descent and I look down out of the window. It is a dark November afternoon and I can see nothing except a few pinpricks of light on the ground. After regularly flying around densely populated Europe, this is a shock. Where are the towns? The people? What have we come to?
It is November 17, 1978 and here we are with our two boys, seven and five, landing at Mirabel Airport near Montréal, Quebec, where my husband, John, will start a new job.
We stand in a long line and wait. First there is an interview with a customs official who tells us that we can collect our boxes of “chattels and household effects” in a few days. Then on to the Immigration Officer who asks us about Geneva, where we had been living, and England, where we were born, and then examines our papers. We then talk to a pleasant lady who gives us information on schools and local businesses, and a telephone number to apply for our SIN cards (our what?). Finally, we can collect our luggage and leave. We have been admitted to Canada!
John sets off to find our car hire and when he returns driving a huge Plymouth Volare, the kids are thrilled. Cars of this size are not often seen in Europe. As we start to drive, it seems very dark; there are few lights on the motorway – or highway – as we soon learn to call it.
Our youngest child, Owen, awake since we left Geneva, finally falls asleep in the back seat as we head downtown to our temporary home, an efficiency apartment in a downtown hotel.
The next morning when we switch on the TV, we are confronted with the horrifying story of the Jonestown Massacre¹ a religious cult leader has killed all his followers with poisoned punch. The story is revealed in great detail, and we find the television coverage quite different from the French, Italian and German media we were used to (and could hardly understand) in Switzerland. We feel quite naive.
Finally, we venture outside for breakfast, choosing Ben’s, right across the street from the hotel. The boys are thrilled to see two policeman at the counter, their backs to us, wearing guns.
In that high, carrying voice of the very young, Owen pipes up, ‘Are they real guns Mummy?’ He has never seen a policeman with a gun before. The policemen smile and wave at the children, but we feel nervous after the shocking TV news, and now policemen wearing guns?
Breakfast was, how shall I say it? Different. Bacon with pancakes and maple syrup? We give it a try. It’s not bad, but it’s a strange taste for us. Coffee is served without asking if we want it; we prefer tea. And the food portions are enormous. We stagger out, well fed.
Soon it starts to snow and the children are delighted, but by late afternoon, when it is still snowing, we are staggered. When does it stop? (FYI, in late April the following year.) We tell the hotel concierge we are going to take a walk. He eyes us and says, ‘You will need boots and winter coats. Try Eaton’s, just a block down there.’ We venture out and cannot believe how deep the snow is. I tiptoe down the street in my high heels, feet freezing.
In England, we have just one heavy coat, shoes and one pair of boots for all the seasons. In Switzerland, we only use boots for skiing, so all this new clothing is strange. We buy hats, scarves and warm gloves too, and we soon appreciate how important it is to be warmly dressed in winter!
Eventually, we move into our house and the time comes to register the boys for school. We decide to send them to a French school since they studied in French in Geneva. The elementary school principal is amazed, as we are obviously English, but in our fractured French, we insist.
Owen, who will be six years old in February of the coming year, is outraged that he is deemed ‘too young’ to start school full time. He can only attend half a day until the following September. He has been in school since he was three!
I had never learned to drive, and now I had to learn quickly if I wanted to go anywhere. So, in February, 1979, I took my first driving lesson on the frozen streets of the West Island. Slipping and sliding down the streets I go, with the sweat running down my back! I am very, very nervous. I do not even know how to work the wipers, plus, my youngest son is in the back seat – no safety belts then – since I don’t know anyone who could babysit while I have my lesson. Stress after stress for the first few years. Typical of most immigrants, I should think.
The politics too were a bit of a surprise, as it seemed everyone was fleeing down the 401 to Toronto. A few days of reading the newspapers told us why. Apparently a law called “Bill 101”² had been passed the previous August and the ‘Anglos,’ as we soon learned to call ourselves, were leaving Quebec. It appeared we had arrived in a province in turmoil.
The noises in our house were also unfamiliar. At first when we heard the furnace starting up in the basement, we were all startled, but we quickly got used to it. Another puzzler was having to buy a brush for the car and a shovel for the driveway. Why? We soon found out that if we did not copy our neighbours and clean the car of snow and shovel the drive, we simply couldn’t get out!
One night, we heard the city snow blower and trucks clearing the snow very late at night, and we all leapt out of bed to check what the noise was. It was scary; all small things, but so different from living in England and Europe.
We experienced many ups and downs as we got used to life here. Perhaps the hardest thing was to adapt to the extreme cold winter weather, and then to the hot, humid summers (yet again, we needed to buy more appropriate clothing), but despite all that, we like it here. Almost 40 years later, our sons are fully bilingual and attended college and university. I have to say that Quebec has been very good to our family as we continue to build our own little dynasty, in this place we now call ‘home.’
² https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charter_of_the_French_LanguageThe Charter of the French Language (French: La charte de la langue française), also known as Bill 101 (Law 101 or French: Loi 101), is a law in the province of Quebec in Canada defining French, the language of the majority of the population, as the official language of Quebec.
Many people living across North America today had ancestors in the colony of New France or in the British colony of Quebec prior to 1800. The legal documentation of their business transactions, property transfers, wills and marriage contracts were prepared by notaries.
Notarial acts written after 1800, plus a few from the late 18th century, are available on microfilm at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) and are in the process of being digitized. You can search the BAnQ website (http://bibnum2.banq.qc.ca/bna/notaries/), while a growing number of notarial documents can be viewed on familysearch.org (https://familysearch.org/wiki/en/Quebec_Notarial_Records) and on Ancestry.ca (http://search.ancestry.ca/search/db.aspx?dbid=61062&geo_a=r&o_iid=41015&o_lid41015&_sch=Web+Property).
But most acts of notaries prior to 1800 are only available through a database called Parchemin, and you will have to visit a branch of the BAnQ or go to Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa to consult this database.
Parchemin is a collection of hundreds of thousands of records prepared by the notaries of early Quebec, from the first French settlement of North America until December 31, 1799. During this two-century period, more than 275 notaries practised in New France and in Quebec following the British conquest. The collection of original documents takes up hundreds of meters of shelf space, and is mainly preserved at the BAnQ.
The Parchemin database was built with software designed specifically for notarial documents. It displays like a computer directory, providing access to personal data, as well as to other information regarding the nature of the transaction.
The Parchemin database was developed by Archiv-Histo with the financial support of the Chambre des notaires du Québec, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications du Québec, and other government programs.
You can search the Parchemin database at the LAC archives in Ottawa, Ontario, and at various BAnQ locations across Quebec (see list below). Parchemin is also available at some municipal and university libraries in Quebec which are not listed here because they are accessible to residents and students only.
Future posts will identify many of these early notaries and describe the work they did.
Where to access Parchemin by Archiv-Histo
- Bibliothèque et Archives Canada – Library Archives Canada
395, Wellington Street. Ottawa (Ontario) K1A ON4 – email:
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
80, boulevard de Gaspé, Gaspé (Québec) G4X 1A9
1-800-363-9028 poste 6573 – emaill : email@example.com
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
855, boulevard de la Gappe, Gatineau (Québec) J8T 8H9
(819) 568-8798 – email : firstname.lastname@example.org
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
535, avenue Viger, Est, Montréal (Qc) H2L 2P3
(514) 873-1100 – email : email@example.com
- Société généalogique canadienne-française
3440, Davidson, Montréal (Qc), H1W 2Z5
(514) 527-1010 – email : firstname.lastname@example.org
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec – Pavillon Louis-Jacques-Casault – Campus de l’Université Laval – 1055, avenue du Séminaire, Québec (Québec) G1V 4N1
(418) 643-8904 – email : email@example.com
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
337, rue Moreault, Rimouski (Québec) G5L 1P4
(418) 727-3500 – email : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Société de généalogie et d’archives de Rimouski
110, rue de l’Évêché est, Rimouski (Québec) G5L 1X9
(418) 724-3242 – sghr.ca/fr/contact
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
27, rue du Terminus Ouest, Rouyn-Noranda (Québec) J9X 2P3
(819) 763-3484 – email : email@example.com
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
930, rue Jacques-Cartier Est, bureau C-103, Saguenay (Québec) G7H 7K9 – (418) 698-3516 – email. firstname.lastname@example.org
- Le Centre d’histoire de St-Hyacinthe
650, rue Girouard Est, St-Hyacinthe (Québec) J2S 2Y2
(450) 774-0203 – email@example.com
- Société d’histoire et de généalogie de Salaberry
16, rue Saint-Lambert, Salaberry-de-Valleyfield (Québec) J6T 1S6
(450) 763-2398 – email : firstname.lastname@example.org
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
700, boulevard Laure, bureau 190, Sept-Îles (Québec) G4R 1Y1
(418) 964-8434 – email : email@example.com
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
225, rue Frontenac, bureau 401, Sherbrooke (Québec) J1H 1K1
(819) 820-3010 – email : firstname.lastname@example.org
- Société généalogique des Cantons de l’Est
275, rue Dufferin, Sherbrooke (Québec) J1H 4M5
(819) 821-5414 – email: email@example.com
- BAnQ – Archives nationales du Québec
225, rue des Forges, bureau 208, Trois-Rivières (Québec) G9A 2G7
(819) 371-6015 – email : firstname.lastname@example.org