Reunited at Last

In early September of 2018 members of the Lindell and Valiquette families gathered together in Labelle, a village in the Laurentian mountains, north of Montreal. There was a chill in the air as they chatted while waiting for a unique memorial honoring both John Louis Lindell and his wife, Pierrette  Laurence Valiquette, to begin.

picture 1

John Louis Lindell was born in Sudbury, Ontario on July 9th, 1936, the son of Karl Victor Lindell and Estelle Anita Jodouin .[1] His early years were spent in the Sudbury area. In 1945 the family moved to Asbestos, a mining town in the Eastern Townships of Quebec. His dream was to become a professional golfer and it was in this town that he learned to excel at golf, winning the Club Championship at a young age. His father had other plans and insisted on a good education for his son.

It was the 1950’s and a career as a golf pro didn’t seem promising.

John was an older brother. There was an age difference and we didn’t see eye to eye on many things, except golf. We were not close; however, we did enjoy family golf games during a weekend when Dad was home. John was always focused on his golf.

John excelled in high school and won a four-year scholarship to McGill where he attained a degree in Commerce. He became a Chartered Accountant.

It was at university where he met Pierrette. [2]. She was the daughter of Philippe Valiquette and Laurette Bruneau. They married in Montreal at Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Chapel in Notre-Dame Church in Old Montreal on January 30, 1960.

Over the years, John worked as an auditor for well-known companies. One of those companies was in the Toronto area where he became a member of the prestigious Toronto Board of Trade Golf Club. One year he won their Club Championship.
He blended work and golf masterfully throughout his life. Pierrette, his wife, soon learned the game and they enjoyed playing together in mixed golf events.

John’s last position was with Brown Shoe Company in Perth, Ontario, a quaint Heritage town. He had been given a specific mandate to verify their accounting procedures. He earned respect while accomplishing the task. He enjoyed living in a small community where it took only a few minutes to travel back and forth to work, giving him leisure time to drop by the golf course after work. There, too, he won the Links O’ Tay Club Championship numerous times over fifteen years.

Maybe his dream of being a professional golfer hadn’t been so far-fetched.

At the age of 62, John fell on the stairs in his home, causing much trauma. He was airlifted to the Ottawa Civic Hospital where within the week he died and was cremated. A Mass celebrating his life was held a St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Perth. Pierrette chose to keep John’s ashes in their home. There was no funeral or wake, no closure for his family. It has taken almost twenty years for us to understand why.

John’s wife, Pierrette died in February of this year. Prior to her death she outlined her wishes to Peter, her son, hoping that he would fulfill them. He was true to his word.

intern 1
John and Pierrete’s children. Peter, Anne-Marie and Mark

The ceremony began as Peter strummed the guitar while we were singing, walking toward the grave. In front of the site were two bouquets of flowers, the urns and a small opening where the urns would be placed. Their daughter Anne- Marie guided us through the ceremony.

Anne-Marie and Peter began placing the urns in the plot. John and Pierrette, as in life, were now to be side by side, sharing their everlasting love, forever.

They had been together for almost forty years in marriage, separated by death for close to twenty years and on that peaceful September day in 2018 they were being reunited for all eternity. It is a moment in time that will be remembered by those of us who had the privilege of knowing them throughout their lives and were able to share in this family tribute.

John Louis LIndell    Pierrette Valiquettes

John Louis Lindell                                  Pierrette Laurence Valiquette
1936 – 1999                                                       1932-2018

Picture 3
Au revoir John and Pierrette


There is a personal tribute to Pierrette on our Genealogy Ensemble blog entitled “A life Well-Lived”

1. Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1802-1967 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2007. Original data: Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.
2. 1997-2018 Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records ( Drouin Collection), 1621-1968 for Marie Laurence Pierrette Valiquette

Arlington National Cemetery, Genealogy, United States Air force,

Stanley Anthony Savaryn, Staff Sergeant USAF

In the fall of 1945 World War II had drawn to a close. The troops were coming home, rationing was over. It was hoped that the war  was behind us. Nations from around the world gathered together to form the United Nations, their goal, to establish peace in the world, yet there was still unrest on the horizon. Before long, there was another war. This time it was in the Korean Peninsula, which even today, 70 years later has not been resolved. Treaties have not been signed by the North Koreans, the South Koreans and the United States of America, although discussions are still ongoing.

Stanley Anthony Savaryn

Stanley Anthony Savaryn was born on the 16th of August 1931 in South Bound Brook, New Jersey, the son of Stanley Savaryn Sr., a cabinet maker and Rose Luta. Shortly after completing High School, Mige, as he was known by his friends and family joined the United States Air Force. He became a mechanic and served his country for four years. (1950-1954). During this time he was an in-flight refueling operator.

The Americans had a base in Kevlafik, Iceland and most of the refueling of aircrafts was done over Greenland during the Korean War.

planes                                                   In Flight Refueling Operator

“In Flight Refueling Operator – Operates air refueling systems aboard aircraft tanker to refuel airborne aircraft: Confers with receiver aircraft pilot to direct aircraft into air refueling position, using radio. Presses buttons and switches on control panel to extend in-flight boom and connect tanker and receiver aircraft. Presses button to start refueling process. Monitors control panel light to detect equipment malfunctions. Contacts receiver aircraft pilot, using radio to inform pilot of progress being made during refueling, to advise pilot of action necessary to maintain safe refueling position, and inform pilot of steps to be taken during equipment malfunction or emergencies. Calculates in-flight weight and balance status of aircraft and notifies tanker pilot of necessary flight correction..”

 After his tour of duty in the Air Force, Mige returned home and worked as a mechanic. In the summer of 1957 he married my sister, Ruth and they settled in Martinsville, New Jersey and had two sons, Peter and Joey. Mige was a handy man. In his spare time he could be found in his workshop or in fine weather tending to his huge vegetable garden. One of Ruth’s loves was their in-ground pool. Mige kept it pristine.

Mige began working as a purchasing agent for a chemical company and although it was a long daily commute, it still gave him more time to work on projects. He always had a project on the go and if he didn’t, you can be sure Ruth would find one.

Years went by and Mige never talked about his time in the service and it was only in his later years that he would often think about his buddies who didn’t come home. He informed his sons that he wished to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery outside of Washington, DC. and that my sister, Ruth was to be buried with him.
arl cem

Arlington National Cemetery Photograph by Paul Lindell

Mige passed away in November of 2008 and Ruth followed him in February 2010. It took quite some time to plan the burial ceremony. November 1, 2012, a bright sunny autumn day, we gathered in Arlington National Cemetery to witness an emotional ceremony. There was a twenty-one gun salute, the playing of taps in the distance and the traditional folding and presentation of the flag to the oldest family member of the immediate family. In this case it was my nephew Peter, their oldest son. We then made our way to the columbarium section and placed several items within. I asked nephew Joe to place a Canadian dime with the ‘Bluenose’ in the columbarium for the couple to sail away to Paradise and in honour of Mige’s service, a Canadian Quarter with the bright red poppy in the centre was also placed beside the dime.


Photograph by Claire Lindell

Our day was not over. We made our way to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and the Changing of the Guard. There, while witnessing the changing of the guard we experienced tearful moments watching, with many others, as the soldiers honoured their fallen comrades. It was a very moving tribute that is repeated continuously day in day, day out.


Tomb of the Unknown Soldier  –  Changing of the Guard

Photograph by Claire Lindell


Genealogy, Ontario

Tea Leaves

Who knew that simple tiny tea leaves could create such joy and laughter?

Almost seventy years ago, my mother drove us to Sudbury, Ontario for a family visit and it was during an afternoon tea at our Aunt Alice’s home that one of the most memorable moments of that trip occurred. There were many wonderful moments, however, this one has stood the test of time.



Granny Jodouin and Aunt Alice 1893

Aunt Alice was the first-born child to Louis Joseph and Louisa Jodouin. They had nine healthy children, six girls and three boys.

Mary Louise Alice was born on the 10th of October 1893, a nineteenth century baby.1. Not for long, though. She was a woman ahead of her time and would more than likely be comfortable in today’s world.

As a child she was taught by her mother and learned to play the piano. A talent which served her in good stead later in life, one she came to rely on when tragedy struck.

When her father, Louis purchased one of the first cars in Sudbury, but was unable to drive, due to a soccer accident,  this pert young woman began driving his car. She became his personal chauffeur. All the “Jodouin girls” learned to drive a car when they were young. Mom was fourteen and didn’t think twice about driving the family to Temiskaming to visit relatives.

William France Percival , a clerk dispatcher working for the railroad, originally from Antigua,  British West Indies became very fond of Alice and asked for her hand in marriage. They were married July 3rd, 1917 in Ste Anne’s Church in Sudbury.2. Together they had five daughters and lost a son at birth.

Uncle Bill passed away at a very young age. I have yet to find any documents, however, according to my brother, Karl who knew him, he believed it was in the early 1940s. Aunt Alice, now a single parent had the responsibility of providing for her five daughters and she relied on what she knew best. She became an organist at a local parish and continued to do so for many years.

Aunt Alice border


Freddie, Billy, Natalie, Aunt Alice, Mary and Madelyn

During the summer of 1948 while on our trip to Sudbury we spent an afternoon at Alice’s home. Granny, Mom, Aunt Alice, Aunt Ted (Adele) and Aunt Dickie (Louise) and I were outside on a warm sunny afternoon in July. Aunt Alice served tea and cookies while the ladies chatted. Before long the tea cups were empty and then the fun began. Each one in turn began reading their tea leaves. (tea leaves were not in little satchels back in the 40’s) Each one was trying to outdo the other. If the leaves looked anything like the Eiffel Tower, then there was a trip to Paris in the offing for the owner of that teacup. If the leaves looked remotely like a dollar sign, that person was going to inherit money. This went on for quite some time. They all had their turn. As a child it was marvellous to witness these sisters with their mother, regaling each other with their creativity and vivid imaginations. All in good fun!




  1. Ancestry Sources, Archives of Ontario: series: MS929; Reel: 114. Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967
  2. and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada) Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1825-1936 {database on-line}. Provo, UT. USA: Operations, Inc, 2010
  3.   of-reading tea leaves.
Genealogy, Ontario, Social history

A Life Well-Lived

Recently a much-loved member of our family passed away. She decided that she didn’t want a traditional funeral, but preferred to have friends and family gather in her home to celebrate a life well-lived.

Family and friends came from near and far to pay tribute.

Usually at a funeral someone gives a eulogy to honour the deceased. In this case, there was no funeral, so perhaps it would be appropriate to write a eulogy.

Pierrette Laurence Valiquette was born in the small town of La Minerve, Quebec, in the northern Laurentian Mountains, on October 20th, 1932, when the leaves were probably ablaze with dazzling autumn colours. She was one of six children of Laurence Bruneau and Philippe Valiquette.

The family moved to Outremont and Pierrette began working as a pattern maker. Her employer soon realized she had artistic talent. He sent her to New York City where she gathered information about the latest fashions. Her work was awarded first place in one of the local fashion design competitions.

Her marriage to my brother, John, took place in the Sacred Heart Chapel of Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal on January 30th, 1960. It is interesting to note that most marriages took place in the chapel because the long walk down the aisle in the Basilica made young brides too nervous.

The couple started a family while John studied to be a chartered accountant. His career took the family away from Montreal, but it didn’t matter whether they were in Toronto, Calgary or Edmonton, Pierrette always adapted to her environment. She continued to sketch and paint. When Pierrette and John returned east the family was delighted. They settled in Perth, Ontario, a heritage town just beyond Ottawa, much closer to the rest of the family.

Adjusted Stewarat Park.jpg


Pierrette learned to play golf, something she continued to enjoy all of her adult life. She also was a member of the Raging Grannies, a golden-age protest group. She was determined to stop smoking. She attended Smoke Enders and later became a spokesperson for the cause.

At Christmas one year she joined a group of bell-ringers.

Pierrette was a member of several art associations in and around Perth. She participated in countless local exhibitions.


 Bouquet in acrylic by Pierrette

Although her family came first, she nurtured her passion in art in its many forms. She would sketch people, create pen and ink drawings of local scenes. Acrylics were most likely her favourite medium. “Pitou” as John called her, painted beautiful scenes of the rolling hills of the Charlevoix area beyond Quebec City on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.

When my sister-in-law was widowed at the age of 67, she decided to travel and pursue her art. One summer she went to Giverny, France, home to the Impressionist Monet, to study. Another year, it was a trip to Florence, Italy to study the Masters.

Other summers, she and some of her artist friends stayed closer to home. They went to Baie St. Paul, a beautiful part of Quebec. There she would truly be in her element.

In her home, the studio and kitchen were her favourite places. She was a good cook and she often had her father-in-law over for a meal. She would hand him his plate and say “Leave what you like” and he who loved to play on words would respond, “Eat what I don’t like?” There was never anything left on his plate at the end of the meal. He liked to tease her. She would give him a big smile.

We will miss Pierrette: her laughter, her smile, her talents, her compassion and kindness. She was a good wife, mother, friend and sister-in-law. We are all better off for having had her in our lives.

Rest in peace, my friend.

Notes: During the celebration in her home, family and friends were treated to an exhibition of many of her works.




Granny Jodouin and Her Baby Grand

In her book entitledLa Fille de Georges’, Laurette Jodouin Talbot, Louisa Jodouin’s niece wrote “Tante Louise was always well turned out, with the tact and distinction of a queen, but endowed with a profound sensitivity. She inspired in me a great respect and I learned from her, the art of remaining a lady at all times.”.

Maria Louisa Seraphina Fortin, my maternal grandmother was the daughter of Francois Evariste Fortin, a merchant. At one time he was the Mayor of Pembroke, Ontario, where she was born in the winter of 1874 at the end of February, some say, the coldest month of winter.

At a young age Louisa learned to play the piano and soon became an accomplished pianist. It was a passion that brought her great joy and satisfaction throughout her lifetime.

When Louisa was eighteen, she married her cousin Louis Joseph Jodouin. They both had the same grandfather, Moyse Hypolite Fortin. He had two wives. Henriette Bertrand, his first wife was Louis Joseph Jodouin’s mother. She passed away at the tender age of twenty-five. Moyse remarried Emilie Thomas dite Tranchemontage, Louisa’s mother. Before the cousins were able to marry, the Vicar Apostolate of the Diocese of Pontiac granted them the required consanguinity dispensation.1

Louis and Louisa were married in the Saint Columbkille Cathedral in Pembroke on the 9th of January 1893. They moved to Sudbury, Ontario, where Louis Joseph had already established a bottling company.

The new community had recently been incorporated and was booming. In 1883, during the construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway, nickel-copper ore had been discovered  near Sudbury. Prospectors and miners came flocking to the district and soon staked their claims with high hopes.

Louis’ bottling company sold ginger ale, soda water and mineral water. It was a successful enterprise. After several years the bottling company was sold. A new company, L.J. Jodouin Ice Company was formed, and it became a thriving business for L. J. (as grandfather was known). He had an ongoing contract with the CPRailway to provide ice for the trains. The trains stopped in Sudbury where they were furnished with fresh ice for the next leg of their journey out west. This long-standing contract lasted till refrigeration became available on trains, some time in the mid forties.

Meanwhile, Louise was settling in as a homemaker. The couple were blessed with nine healthy children, six girls and three boys. They also raised a grandson, Frankie. His mother, Delia  had died of septicemia when he was an infant.

Louisa led a very sheltered life. Louis did all the grocery shopping and he paid the bills. Louisa had no idea what anything cost. She had an allowance that she could spend as she chose.

After her death it was revealed that over the years she bought First Communion dresses for little girls whose parents could not afford them. During the Depression, daughters of friends coming from out of town to find work were taken in to their large home on Elm Street. They were treated as one of the family until they were able to establish themselves. Wedding receptions were hosted in their home for young brides who had no family, the same way they did for their own daughters. She also paid the expenses allowing her granddaughter to continue her education after her parents were separated. All these acts of kindness went unnoticed. Perhaps one of the reasons her niece Louise who wrote about her, and knew of her generosity. More than likely Granny was there for her when she moved from Temiskamang to Sudbury as a young bride.

After Louis passed away in 1944, the family homestead was sold. The property was developed, a Canadian Tire Store was built on the site which was then considered prime land.  Louisa had a small bungalow built not far from the original ice warehouse on Lake Ramsey. She spent her last years living with her spinster daughter, Adele. It was here that she was able to fullfill a lifelong dream of having a baby grand piano in her home! The ‘Baby Grand’ had a place of honour in her bright sunny living room.

During the summer of 1948 my Mother drove four of us, Ruth, John, Paul and I to Sudbury for a visit. I have vivid memories of my grandmother, Granny Jodouin, ever a lady, playing her ‘Baby Grand.’ She sure could tickle those ivories. It seems her fingers remained nimble throughout her life.

Upon leaving Sudbury and heading for the long drive home to Asbestos there was a touching moment, as she began playing “Say Au Revoir, But Not Goodbye”. It is a moment that will be forever etched in my memory.

Two years later, on the 11th of May 1950 she died of a stroke, at the age of seventy-six. She is buried beside Louis in the LaSalle Cemetery in Sudbury. A place I have visited over the years.  Both my parents are there beside my grandparents, near the huge  granite Jodouin cross that once stood so prominently. Over time the ground could not support the cross and we  laid it to rest due to ground changes and heaving. It is also to be my final resting place.


Louis Joseph and Louisa Jodouin 1893


Marie Louisa Seraphina Fortin (Jodouin) – “Granny”


You may want to visit the following family related  stories at

A Pembroke Pioneer – Francois Evariste Fortin Louisa’s Father

Dad’s Favourite Christmas Story – Little Frankie







Dad’s Favourite Christmas Story


My Dad always took great delight in regaling us with his favourite Christmas story. It was a story from my mother’s youth, and he had not yet met my mother when it happened, but he enjoyed recounting it every year and we never tired of hearing it.

My Mom came from a family of nine children. She grew up in Sudbury, Ontario, and the story took place in her family home on Christmas Eve of 1924, when she was 15 years old.

Her older brother, my Uncle Eugene, had come home safely from World War I and had married a young widow, Della Sinnett, from Arnprior, Ontario. When their son, Frankie, was born at the end of 1921, there was great joy.

Unfortunately, the happy occasion was short-lived. In spring of 1923, when Della was expecting their second child, she succumbed to septicemia.

Who would take care of young Frankie?

Frankie stayed with his grandparents. My grandmother was a warm, loving lady and she took care of the young toddler, with the help of her daughters still living at home.

On Christmas Eve of 1924, the family gathered and made their way to St. Anne’s Catholic Church for Midnight Mass, but Frankie did not go. Someone stayed home to take care of him. Who it was we never knew. That person must have dropped off to sleep but Frankie woke up. The little three-year-old, mesmerized and filled with curiosity, he made his way in to the parlour where all the presents were under the Christmas tree.


I like to imagine him as, with great  gusto, he proceeded to open each one of them, scattering paper, ribbons, bows and boxes all over the room! You can imagine the chaos when the family returned from church expecting to sit at the large dining room table and enjoy a traditional French Canadian Réveillons, when families gathered after Midnight Mass. Tourtiére, the famous French Canadian meat pies were freshly baked for this special occasion, along with many other favourite dishes.


All the family could do was to laugh and try to sort out the presents while some of the family members prepared the traditional Reveillons feast, one that our family kept for many years.

Eventually, Frankie’s father, Uncle Eugene, moved to Kirkland Lake, Ontario and remarried. He died in 1969 and is buried there. Frankie died at the age of 61 and is buried in Lasalle Cemetery in Sudbury, Ontario beside his mother, Della Sinnett and close to his Granny and Granpa Jodouin.


You might want to visit the following website. Although they focus on Quebec, the Reveillons is traditional among French Canadians throughout the country,





The Hometown Tourist

Summer is slowly waning, days are getting shorter, the sun is slipping below the horizon earlier each day and at times there seems to be  a slight chill in the wind. The playgrounds are silent. Schools are back in session.

Where did the summer go? How did you spend your summer? Did you travel to faraway places, relax on a beach, or stay right here in the city and enjoy some of the festivities while celebrating our 375th Anniversary?

The island of Montreal has been my home since the mid-60’s. This summer I became a tourist in my hometown. Several organized guided day tours were a pleasant way of seeing and learning about the many hidden gems tucked away in unusual places.

Did you know that there is a large piece of the Berlin wall in the International Trade Center in Old Montreal, or that there were guided tours of the Seminary?

Recently on a   Saturday afternoon, after a lengthy detour and a drive between orange construction cones another genealogist and I arrived   late   for a guided tour of the Seminary in Old Montreal. We joined the group in the courtyard adjacent to Notre Dame Basilica where the Sulpician Priests during this anniversary year have opened their doors to the public. The last time that happened was during Expo 67, fifty years ago.

The young guide, Gabriel, was describing the French clock, (from France) noting how the original mechanisms were made of wood. Over the years there were many changes and today it runs on electricity. The bells ring every fifteen minutes, although they are often drowned out by the bells of the Basilica.  French clock tower IMG_0884.jpg

The Priests of Saint Sulpice arrived in Montreal in 1657. From 1663 until 1840 were the owners of the island of Montreal. They were the Seigneurs. They began building the Seminary in 1685 and today it is the second oldest building on the island of Montreal and the oldest building standing that has retained its original purpose.

As you walk by the courtyard on Notre Dame Street it is possible to see where the restoration of the building is ongoing, beginning with the upper third floor which is currently vacant. The restoration team has done their utmost to retain the same look as the lower levels.

From the clock tower in the courtyard our group moved through a narrow passage between buildings and in to the garden, a large spacious area where for many years it provided produce for the Seminary. Today it is a quiet, serene wide expanse of grass, walkways and large trees, several that are over one hundred years old. Recently they planted almost two dozen young trees at the far end of the garden.

garden IMG_0893.jpg

The tour ended in the garden. However, because we arrived late and missed the visit to the museum we were permitted to go in and view the numerous artifacts found within. The main theme focused on the founding of the Sulpician priests and their mission in New France. One of the items that caught my eye was a hand drawn map of the island of Montreal dating back to 1702 that showed all the different settlements on the island.

Perhaps the most important part of the event was when several people asked about the archives and the possibility of visiting them. The response was surprising as it had always been noted that it was next to impossible to access the archives. The guide noted that there are two permanent archivists and two students working during the summer months. If someone wishes to visit the archives they must have a specific purpose, along with names and dates. The archivist will give your request consideration and inform you if they are able to assist you in your request or they may recommend where you might find answers. He also noted that there is much work to be done in the organizing of all the data they have.

Being a tourist in one’s hometown has been an interesting experience. A cruise on the St. Lawrence gave us a bird’s eye view of the port of Montreal.  A full day bus tour with six different stops along the way covered most of the prominent areas of the city, Old Montreal, up the mountain along Camillian Houde Parkway, a drive up to Mile End area, a brief stop in Welinsky’s and a visit to Fairmont Bagel, just to name a few.

Each of the day trips were rewarding. Although it was strange at first to be a tourist in one’s hometown there were many other Montrealers with the same idea.






Genealogy, Quebec

A Dedicated Life

We were sitting on a bench at a short par three at our local golf course, waiting for the green to be free. Louise and I struck up a conversation that turned out to be serendipitous. We had known each other for more than seven years. The name of Soeur St. Emile had never been mentioned. She began talking about her great aunt, Tante Soeur St. Emile, a Grey Nun of the Cross in Ottawa., also known as the Sisters of Charity of Ottawa. Hearing this, my curiosity was piqued.  My mother often talked about her aunt, Soeur St. Emile, a grey nun who was the Superior of the boarding school in Alymer where she had been a student. Could it possibly be the same person? What were the chances of that?

Louise and I chatted and came to the conclusion that her grandmother and my grandfather were brother and sister!  Soeur St. Emile was their sister.  Indeed it was the same person and we were related.

Marie Louise Jodoin  (Soeur St. Emile) was born November 16th, 1862 in Montebello, Quebec, a community on the Ottawa River not far from Hull. As a youngster she attended the local convent school where the Grey nuns taught. Her family moved to Hull and she remained in Montebello as a boarder until the new school in Hull was completed in 1870.

Louise was eight and a half years old when her mother died and a year later her father remarried. No doubt this must have had a strong impact on the little  girl. Music became her passion at this very young age.  She took piano and singing lessons and had a talent for both. At the age of sixteen she entered religious life through the doors of the Mother House of the Grey Sisters of Ottawa  on Bruyère  Street  and for the next 75 years she lead a  life of prayer and dedication along with  an active life devoted to teaching piano and singing lessons. She was also called upon to serve as a Superior during 37 of those years in various schools and hospitals under the jurisdiction of the community.

Mother House
Mother House –  Bruyère Street, Ottawa

August 15th, 1940 after 62 years of active service to the community she walked through the same door as day the she had  entered the convent. She had come full circle. She was coming home. On April 14th 1942 the community rejoiced as they celebrated her Diamond Jubilee.

Through out her latter years, Soeur St. Emile devoted much of her time to prayer, however, she continued to maintain contact through correspondence with many of the people whose lives she had touched. “La petite Estelle”, my Mom, was one of those people and even after all those years she would always ask her about the children.

She was truly an intelligent and  remarkable women who excelled at everything she did. She died in her 91st year and in her 75th year of religious life.

I would be remiss if I did not tell you the following: When I saw my parents shortly after my conversation with Cousin Louise on the golf course that summer afternoon  of 1984, I asked them a few questions. My mother was a little perplexed and my father piped up and told me the story about meeting Soeur St. Emile in September of 1930 while he and my Mom were on their honeymoon. They had stopped in Hull to see her on their way to Quebec City. Dad pointed out that she was a  rather buxom lady who took him in her open arms and welcomed him in to the family. Needless to say, it was a very meaningful gesture he never forgot. He made a gesture of open arms and said, “ Elle ma embracé.”He then proceeded to tell me the names of all the relatives he had met during that visit and this was almost 50+ year later!

Soeur St. Emile left a lasting impression with him and most likely with many of the people she had met over the years.

Words to live by — Elizabeth Bruyère


With gratitude to my cousin, Louise Pinault for giving me a copy of a short biography that was written a year after the death of our Great Aunt. It was penned  by a member of the Grey Nuns of Ottawa on the 8th of August 1953.






Solving Brick Walls


Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Watson and Dick Tracy were fictional detectives who most likely would have been great genealogists. These detectives solved crimes searching for clues. In the case of genealogists, they solve their problems by perusing through records pertaining to their ancestors. These records are available through church records, court record, land grants and  many other sources to answer their queries with the utmost accuracy and develop family trees. In today’s world  a wealth of computer programs are available to help the genealogists in their research

Researchers in genealogy often encounter what are referred to as “brick walls”, where they are unable to find the vital  information they need to verify a source in order to continue their research. Such was the following case.

Records showed that Moyse Hypolite Fortin was married to Henriette Bertrand. However, there were two separate records for the birth of an Henriette Bertrand. The first was born in Vaudreuil in 1811 while the second was born in Ile Perrot several kilometres away in 1813. Which of these might be his wife?

Over several months  searches of various records were done to find a possible answer, one that would  clarify which Henriette was his wife. Some of the records were hardly read-able making it that much more difficult. It was a major problem and a setback.

Finally a record was found that could possibly be the answer to our question?. To verify this find and  to be certain it was the correct person, a visit was made to Centre d’histoire La Presqu’ile in Vaudreuil where the young archivist  showed me the documents indicating that it was Henriette Bertrand, daughter of Joseph François Bertrand and Scholastique Sabourin,  born in Ile Perrot on March 7th 1813.

Finally, one more “brick wall” scaled. Persistence paid off!  On to the next one!


Finland, Genealogy, United States

Sisu, Saunas and Ida Susanna


The Webster dictionary gives the following definitions of sauna:   A Finnish steam bath is a room in which steam is provided by water thrown on hot stones.   The sauna is a small room or hut heated to around 80 degrees Celsius.  It is used for bathing as well as for mental and physical relaxation.

There was a time, in the not too distant past when there were more saunas in Finland than there were cars.


On a bright sunny morning in southern California, the week before Christmas 1967  at the age of eighty-one, Ida Susanna decided to enjoy what had long ago become a ritual. The sauna had been heated. It was ready. She and several family members were enjoying the heat, steam, warmth and comfort of the sauna when suddenly Ida began feeling uneasy and within a short time she succumbed on the spot, right then and there. Her last breath was in her beloved sauna, a Finnish tradition she had enjoyed throughout her life. Now, she had come full circle.

Ida Susanna Karhu drew her first breath and saw the light of day in a sauna on a cold morning in the dead of winter, March 12, 1886, in the rural village of Isokyro, on the banks of the River Kyro, in Western Finland, the Ostrobothnia Region,  where St. Laurence Church built in 1304 still stands to this day, twenty minutes from Vaasa, Finland near the Gulf of Bothnia.

As a youngster,  she played with friends and watched her younger brother and sister. She went to school and dreamed of a new life in a far-away country where her father was waiting for the family. Johan had left for America several months earlier. At that time the United States was actively recruiting immigrants. He was up to the challenge.

The time had finally come for the family to be reunited. In early spring of 1896 Ida, her mother, Sanna, 42, her brother Jakko and sister Lisa Whilemena, had taken all the necessary steps toward making their way to ‘Amerika’. The Finnish passport containing all four names was in order, having undergone rigorous scrutiny prior to being issued. Four tickets were purchased at the cost of FIM 138 per passenger. The date for departure had been set for May 16, 1896.

It must have been a harrowing thirteen-day voyage for Sanna, with the responsibility of three young children although Ida was able to help with the little ones. They made their way to Hango, Finland on to Hull, England, aboard the SS Urania, then by train to Liverpool, England. The travellers then boarded the SS Lucania, a Cunard Liner, destination New York City with two thousand eager passengers. Some were either homesick or seasick or both.

They passed the Statue of Liberty as they approached Ellis Island on May 29, 1896, where the lengthy registration process began before they could go down the ‘stairway to freedom’.

There were new horizons for the ten year  Ida,  and her family as they  made their way to Ashtabula, Ohio. She went to school, was a diligent student who learned to read and write in English while maintaining her Finnish language and heritage.*

In 1903 at the age of sixteen, she married a fellow Finn, nine years her senior, had nine children. Johan (John) provided for the family for forty years until he was fatally struck in the spring of 1943 by a young fellow driving a forklift. After his passing Ida had several suitors. She remarried, however, her new husband, Herman Haapala died within the year.

Ida Susanna was a lady with sisu*, a Finnish word for perseverance, courage and determination. She married for the third time to a gentleman named Gust Gustafson and enjoyed several years living on a large farm in Cook, Minnesota. For almost ten years they travelled., One summer they visited her son in Canada, and wintered in Florida. However, he too passed away.

Getting on in years and not wanting to endure the harsh winters in the east, she made her way to southern California where she spent her remaining years close to several of her children and their families.

She lived life to the fullest throughout those many years in “Amerika” her adopted country and is buried beside her first love, her husband of forty years, Johan Hjalmar Lindell, in  Edgewood Cemetery in Ashtabula, Ohio.





*Sisu is a Finnish term and when loosely translated into English signifies strength of will, determination, perseverance, and acting rationally in the face of adversity. However, the word is widely considered to lack a proper translation into any other language. Sisu has been described as being integral to understanding Finnish culture. The literal meaning is equivalent in English to “having guts”, and the word derives from sisus, which means something inner or interior. However sisu is defined by a long-term element in it; it is not momentary courage, but the ability to sustain an action against the odds. Deciding on a course of action and then sticking to that decision against repeated failures is sisu.