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
Can someone leave a lasting legacy in less than 26 years? That’s the first thing I thought about when I began researching my seven times great grandmother on my fathers’ side.
I think so. The era they lived, the names they called their children, the way they responded to pressure—it all combines to create the culture that immediately follows them. Every generation leaves a mark on its culture. We today are artifacts of our ancestors, even those born more than 300 years ago, like my ancestor Barbe Dodier.
It’s hard to tell, but names definitely continue throughout families. Several of the people in my family still carry names from our ancestors.
My middle name Louise has been used on both sides of the family beginning with Barbe, since it was her middle name. Her husband Gabriel Robert Dufour passed monikers down to my son, my dad, his dad and his grandfather. I can’t help but wonder what other cultural remnants remain in our family.
Some of us are still Catholic and others French-speaking. Many others are not–and that’s a legacy too.
But what of less obvious legacies? The way we shake a head, a hand shake or a practical sense? These are evident three generations back. My son rubs his neck when he’s tired, just as I do. My father has the same habit, as did his father before him. How many generations does that go back? I don’t know.
Did Barbe share that trait? I don’t know that either. In fact, I know very little about her.
One record that remains of her life comes from her marriage, clearly recorded on page 97 of the Sainte-Anne de Beauprés church register. She married Ignace Gasnier on November 5, 1680.1
After they were married, Ignace and Barbe rented a two-arpent-sized lot in the Seignerie de Beaupré (Beaupré Manor). I know this, because the 1681 Census by New France Intendant DuCheseau lists Ignace and Barbe, along with their rifle and a cow.
Ignace Gasnier 25 ; Barbe Dodier, sa femme 18 ; 1 fusil ; 1 vache ; 2 arpents en valeur.1
Part of the Beaupré Manor still exists today. Now run jointly by the l’organisme de bassins versants charlevoix-montmorency (obv-cm) and the séminaire de québec – seigneurie de beaupré, the territory covers a 20 by 95 km band north of the Saint Lawrence River. Today, the manor spans 1,600 square kilometres west of Stoneham and east of St-Urbain in Charlevoix. Hunting, fishing and outdoors clubs share the space with loggers, Boralex and Gaz Métro/Valener.2
My ancestors probably lived much closer to the river near the current Beaupré, but I’m not sure. A circa-1680 map of the area shows the long settlement patterns typical of Quebec between 1627 and 1850, but the date isn’t precise. Ignace’s brother, Louis Gasnier, appears on the map next to the date 1683.3
Ignace and Barbe don’t appear on that map, but many Manor residents aren’t there.
The seigneurial land management system came to Quebec and the rest of New France in 1627. At that time, New France extended from the Arctic to Florida.
The Compagnie de Cent Associes (Company of 100 associates) granted important colonists and groups, including religious ones like the Seminaire de St. Joachim, land masses extended one by three leagues (5 by 15 km) along major rivers, including the Saint Lawrence. The land would then be divided into 3 x 30 arpent sections perpendicular to the river so that everyone had access to boat transportation. Arpents measured 190 feet (58m).
In 1663, French King Louis XIV gave New France a new constitution but it didn’t interfere with seigneuries, like the one Gasnier leased from the Saint-Joachim Seminary.
Pioneers like Barbe and Ignace probably survived using subsistence farming and hunting. My direct ancestor Louise was born two years after that census. Her little sister Geneviève came along when she turned three years old and her brother Jacques arrived when she was five.
By the time she died on February 7, 1689 in Petite-Rivière, Capitale-Nationale Region, Quebec, Canada, my ancestor went by the name Barbe Gagné. She’s buried in Baie-Saint-Paul Cemetery in Charlevoix. The Tanguay dictionary of French families lists her birth year as 1665, but if the 1681 census was correct, she would have been born in 1663.4
In that case, she was either 25 or 26 years old when she died.
1Sulte, Benjamin. Histoire des Canadiens-Français 1608-1880, Tome V, Montreal, Wilson @ Cir, Editeurs, 1882, p78.
3Renaud, Alain. Plan de propriété des terres à Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré en 1680, Archives de Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré.
4Register of Saint-Pierre-et-Saint-Paul-de-Baie, Quebec, 1689, p8 viaFind a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed 21 October 2020), memorial page for Barbe Dodier Gagné (1665–7 Feb 1689), Find a Grave Memorial no. 93294269, citing Baie-Saint-Paul Cemetery, Baie-Saint-Paul, Capitale-Nationale Region, Quebec, Canada ; Maintained by Pat and Billy (contributor 47767337).
As the family genealogist, I research my ancestors and write their stories. Recently, I found three generations of ancestors with the same name and the same role in an evolving Canada.
Their birth and death dates were vital as the first step to sorting them out. I noticed, however, that previous genealogists also struggled to sort them, as two of the three were sometimes labelled “Senior” and “Junior” (and sometimes in reverse order) and then “The Elder” and “The Younger” were assigned to another two. To keep things simple in my story, I will label them first, second and third – in the order of their births.
How the First William (Robert) Lindsay Founded a Public Service Dynasty
Like many first generation Canadians, my 4x great grandfather established an impressive personal and professional life in his adopted homeland. I can’t help but wonder, however, if he paid too heavy a price for his success.
In November 1828, a doctor confined him to his room writing that he needed more “rest, mentally and physically, than he has had up till now.”1
How could such a thing happen?
The First William Lindsay (1761-1834) came to Quebec, Canada from England in 1773 as a 12-year old boy to live with his uncle. Ten years later, at the age of 22, he opened a dry goods business with a partner near the St. Lawrence River harbour in Quebec City.2 At the age of 29 years in 1790, he married Marianne Melvin and they had nine children in 14 years.
While still operating his retail business, William also served as Justice of the Peace for the district of Quebec. Then he entered the public service in 1792 as clerk assistant of the new Lower Canadian House of Assembly, after the Constitutional Act of 1791 divided the British colony called the Province of Quebec,3 into Upper and Lower Canada.
In 1805, he assumed the role of registrar for the newly founded Quebec Trinity House which oversaw the safety management of the burgeoning port facilities and navigation in the harbour of Quebec.4 Also during this time, he held a position of Grand Officer with the Free Masons in Quebec, eventually becoming their Grand Secretary by 1807.5
And then life got really busy.
This first William was known above all for his role in the assembly. At the age of 48, and having gained sixteen years experience as clerk assistant since 1792, he was commissioned as clerk in 1808 and was the second person to hold that office in Lower Canada.
Initially, he received the oaths of allegiance of the members of the Legislative Council and the House of Assembly, revised and printed the rules and regulations as instructed and produced numerous reports.
Before long, his duties included purchasing needed items, hiring workmen and overseeing their work, collecting debts, and paying accounts. By 1812 the clerk’s job had become more administrative than secretarial. This new job description, however, did not include an increase in his salary.
By the time William finally received his requested wage hike three years later, he also had the added responsibility of overseeing a staff of extra workers needed to complete the required duties.
Ten years later, in 1824, when William’s obligations were already overwhelming, the salaries of all officials and writers were cut by 25 per cent and he had to enforce the work schedules as well as prevent his employees from attending to personal matters during working hours. A few years after that, William also became responsible for “filling the empty positions in the house.” However, the assembly members reserved the right to approve or reject appointments!6
Although William always managed to satisfy the members of the House of Assembly, there was a heavy price to pay. The stress from his job wreaked havoc on 67-year old William’s health. In 1828, his doctor ordered immediate bed rest, and delivered a medical certificate to the speaker.
Nowadays, we call it “burnout.”
The prestige of the job must have outweighed the ill effects on his health because, around this time, the first William recommended his son, William (Burns) Lindsay, to the assembly for the deputy clerk position. In September 1829, the second William Lindsay officially succeeded his father who then died five years later at the age of 73.
The first William Lindsay not only faithfully served the assembly for half his life but left a dynasty of loyal hard working clerks for, first his son and then his grandson, succeeded him in that very same public office.
Next: Why the second William Lindsay changed careers (to be published May 5, 2021)
1Yvon Thériault, “LINDSAY, WILLIAM,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 6, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed February 23, 2021
This week Perseverance landed on Mars, the latest rover sent to explore the Red Planet. The excitement of space exploration always stimulates my imagination.
When the first astronauts went up in space I attended elementary school. Televisions on tall carts were wheeled into our classrooms and we watched wide eyed as the rockets took off. The excitement of the count down kept us all on the edge of our seats; three, two, one, blast off!
With only male astronauts, most little girls didn’t even consider going into space, myself included. Still, as men first circled the earth and then the moon, finally landing there in 1969, dreams of space travel were limitless.
In 1983, Canada chose their first astronauts and among the men, a woman, Roberta Bondar. She followed Marc Garneau as the second Canadian in space flying on the Space Shuttle Discovery. In 1992, the Canadian Space agency wanted a new group of astronauts. How did they look for astronauts? They put advertisements in local papers. There in the Career’s section of the Saturday Gazette it said, The Canadian Space Agency Seeks Astronauts.
I had been working as a technician in a cancer research laboratory. My boss’s research grants were not going to be renewed and so I needed another job. A fellow at the camera club who applied on to be an astronaut in the previous search expressed pride at his rejection letter. So I thought, why not.
Surprisingly, I could say yes to all the qualifications to become an astronaut. You had to be a Canadian citizen, have at least a Bachelor’s degree from a recognized university in engineering, physical science, biological science, medicine or mathematics. They only wanted at least three years of related professional experience and the candidate needed good communication and presentation skills and would undergo demanding physical and psychological examinations. So I applied, highlighting my background in a scientific lab with expertise working with instruments, biological and immunological assays, designing experiments, trouble shooting and working both independently and in a a team all abilities suitable for a payload specialist.
When I received the ‘we regret to inform you letter’ from the Canadian Space Agency, I expected it. Over 5000 Canadians applied and according to the letter; “ the Agency has had the challenging task of selecting a relatively small number of candidates from among the many diverse and interesting applications received. Your submission was carefully considered, but we are unfortunately unable to offer you employment. However, your application form will be kept on file for a period of six months. Should a suitable position become available within this period we will be pleased to communicate with you again.” I had no further communication.
The Canadians chosen to train as astronauts in 1992 included Chris Hadfield, Michael McKay, Julie Payette and Dave Williams but not me.
I must admit in my heart of hearts I didn’t really want to go into space. It is fun imagining being there but after training for years, the end result of all your work is to climb into a tiny capsule above a bomb to be blasted into space. I will be happy to watch from my armchair as a Canadian astronaut flies to the moon in 2023 on the Artemis II mission.
As Christmas fast approaches it stirs memories of my childhood holidays. The pungent smell of the balsam fir ready to be decorated, Christmas carols playing in the background, especially Joan Baez, the bright paper and ribbons waiting to wrap presents and the kitchen noises as my mother prepared all the holiday foods, including our favourites, the sweets. My mother baked all year round so we always had dessert but Christmas meant special treats.
November found my mother chopping dried fruits and nuts and mixing them in a big enameled wash pan, also used to bathe babies and soak feet. The fruit cake had to be started early so that after baking it could be wrapped in cheesecloth and regularly doused it in brandy. We liked fruit cake but we liked other things more.
Next came the shortbread cookies. I am not sure how much she enlarged the recipe because we seemed to have a mountain of cookies. While I make a log and cut slices or balls that I roll and flatten with a fork, my mother would roll out the dough and cut Christmas shapes. Stars, bells, candy canes and holly leaves all decorated with red and green cherries and silver balls would appear. Layers of cookies, laid between sheets of wax paper, filled a large canning pot put on the top shelf of the pantry to keep the cookies away from little hands. Luckily, with a step stool and a good reach, cookies could be extracted and enjoyed in ones own little space. Of course, many still remained for Christmas.
We loved the Cherry Bonbons, a candied cherry covered in cookie dough, rolled into a ball and coated with pink icing. Then the Gumdrop Squares, a chewy and spicy cake fill with chopped gumdrops and nuts topped with white icing and more gumdrops filled another tin. Another favourite, Cornflakes Meringue cookies with chocolate chips and a cherry on top quickly disappeared. Lastly, the Christmas pudding, steamed on the stove ready to be served with hard sauce. Never my favourite!
The day before Christmas was the time to make the Sugarplum Tree. I am not sure when my mother started making this treat. She rarely baked with yeast. The recipe had been cut out of a magazine and stuck into her book, spotted with years of flour and greasy fingers. The dough, filled with raisins and citron raised in a warm corner, rolled into a rectangle, spread with sugar and cinnamon, the corners folded in and cuts made on the sides to form branches magically appeared. She iced it, added more gumdrops for decorations including one flattened yellow gumdrop cut to form a star. All done ready for Christmas.
In our house, when we woke up Christmas morning, we didn’t hurry downstairs in our pajamas. We had to brush our teeth, get dressed, make our beds and then sit on the stairs waiting until everyone was ready. My father would go down and light the tree and then we rushed to see if Santa had come. We could play with our Santa Claus present while my mother made breakfast. Along with the Sugarplum bun we had half grapefruits with crushed pineapple, red and green cherries in the center and Santa mugs for our milk. Some people would even eat cereal!
My sisters continued the tradition of making sugarplum trees. My older sister had Christmases at her home after she married so she has made many buns. My younger sister began her own tradition after my mother stopped visiting her and making the bun at Christmas.
I never made the treat until the Christmas after my mother died. I had her recipe book with the original magazine recipe, so in her memory, I made the bun. Not quite like hers, as I used ginger, no gumdrops and a cream cheese icing. Still, the delicious sweetness evoked fond memories and so I will make it again this year. I did and a few pieces are still in the freezer!
Last weekend, we grabbed a bunch of boxes from the basement and spent a few hours decorating the house for the holidays. We also played carols, drank rum and egg nog and laughed a lot. Most of our decorations are a little kitschy. Others are touching, like the reindeer horns made of our hands and feet when our now adult children were little.
One of the ugliest things we pulled out is an old Christmas tree that once belonged to my grandmother. Made of wire and green plastic that looks a bit like garbage bags, the thing is only about three feet high. We put it on a table so that the lit angel on top almost touches the ceiling.
I love that ugly tree. It came into my possession 36 years ago from Nanny, who used a tiny ceramic tree my mom made her for her apartment from then on. Using her gift over and over makes me feel ecological. Yes, it’s plastic and convenient but it’s being reused, so it isn’t filling up land fill yet.
It brings to mind Charlie Brown’s Christmas, holidays as a child and imaginary visions from the Victorian era.
Canada’s First Christmas Tree Decoration Party
Christmas-tree decorating has been popular in Canada since at least 1781. That year, General Von Riedesel (Freiherr Friedrich Adolf Riedesel Freiherr zu Eisenbach) and his wife Frederika Charlotte held a Christmas Eve party in Sorel, Quebec. During the event, they decorated North America’s first documented Christmas tree. Wikipedia cites his wife’s diary for this fact.1
Von Riedesel grew up in Germany, fought in London, and ended up in North America with thousands of other German soldiers fighting for the British during the American Revolution. His wife brought their three daughters to join him. The couple got captured during the Battle of Saratoga.
It took two years before the British traded them for an American prisoner of war. They lived in Sorel, Quebec for another two or three years before returning to England.
That party also included plum pudding,2 another tradition from my childhood. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to locate the recipe for granny’s yummy rum sauce.
My family and others continue decorating Christmas trees, just as the families of German and British pioneers have done for more than 200 years.
For the first hundred years, as in my house now, the trees stood on a table covered with a white cloth that served as snow.
Christmas trees became full-sized self-standing around 1900, when someone invented cast iron tree stands. The stand I use almost looks old enough to date from that era.
Of course in those days, the trees were lit with candles, which is why the Christmas tree decorating occurred only on Christmas Eve. That way, the freshly cut tree still retained enough moisture to prevent being a fire hazard.
For years, I used electric lights that got warm enough that I lit them rarely. I now have LEDs so that my ugly little tree can decorate our home with the only risk being one of fashion.
1Riedesel, Friederike Charlotte Luise; Riedesel, Friedrich Adolf (1801). von Reuß, Heinrich (ed.). Die Berufs-Reise nach America: Briefe der Generalin von [sic] Riedesel auf dieser Reise und während ihres sechsjährigen Aufenthalts in America zur Zeit des dortigen Krieges ín den Jahren 1776 bis 1783 nach Deutschland geschrieben. Haude und Spener Berlin, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Adolf_Riedesel#cite_note-9, accessed November 24, 2020.
My father’s family were all professed Presbyterians, a religion which originated in Scotland. This included both those on his Scottish father’s side and his Irish mother’s side. Religion was very important in all their lives. They were part of a church, “which had a noble band of loyal devoted men and women who have counted it their chief joy to seek its highest welfare”.
It was not until 1843 that marriages performed by Presbyterian ministers were legally recognized in Ireland. My two times great grandparents, Susan Dodds and Alexander Bailey married in that year in Armagh were some of the first to have a recognized Presbyterian marriage.
The name Presbyterian comes from their form of church governance, an assembly of elders. These protestant churches trace their roots to the Church of Scotland whose theology emphasizes the sovereignty of God and following only the scriptures. The Scottish Reformation of 1560 shaped this Church, when many broke with Rome, led among others, by John Knox. This religion was brought to Ireland from Scotland with the migrations of people in the 1600s. Irish Presbyterians were never a single entity. Groups splintered, formed new congregations, united with others and broke apart again.
The majority of the Irish remained Catholic even when Henry VIII founded the Anglican Church, the Church of England and then the Church of Ireland. Most protestants lived in the north. While they soon outnumbered the Church of Ireland, the life of an Irish Presbyterian was not easy.
The government passed the Test Act in 1704, which stated that those wishing to hold civil or military office had to prove they had taken communion in the Church of Ireland. The Church of Ireland demanding tithes also angered the Presbyterians. Even after the Toleration Act of 1719 passed and Presbyterians were not penalized for their beliefs, they still felt estranged, which contributed to the large scale North American emigration in the early 1800s.
When the Susan and Alexander Bailey arrived in Toronto, they probably attended Knox Presbyterian Church, opened in 1820 as the First Presbyterian Church of York, Upper Canada. This church started by Scottish immigrants, welcomed the Irish but they wanted their own church and organized the Second Presbyterian Church in 1851.
The congregation raised money for a minister’s stipend and met first in St Lawrence Hall and then an empty Methodist church on George Street. This church soon became too small for the current members and the many others asking for seats. A new property purchased at Queen and Mutual St for 475 pounds soon a housed brick church.
There used to be many churches in the area as Toronto had a Sabbath Day Law with no public transport running on Sundays. People had to walk to church.
The new building became Cooke’s Church, named for Henry Cooke an Irish Presbyterian minister who in 1834 united the Irish Presbyterians. With his ordination in 1808, his ministry began in Northern Ireland. He reformed both the church and public education. He believed that the only music in churches should be what God created. There could be voices singing but no man-made musical instruments. When he died there was a massive funeral march through Belfast with all religious denominations in attendance.
The congregation kept growing. The church was renovated, enlarged and then in 1891 a new church that could hold 2000 worshipers was built on the same site. The Irish always knew they would be welcome in Cooke’s Church.
My great grandparents, William Eagle from County Monaghan and Eliza Jane Bailey, were members of Cooke’s Church. William served as an elder until his death. Both their daughters, Amy and Minnie, were very involved in church life. Amy sang in the choir and served as secretary and treasurer of other societies. Minnie was the President of the Young Women’s Mission Band which had formerly been the Ernest Helpers Society. Their mother Eliza served on the Women’s Association as well as being Honorary President of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society.
Donald and Alice Sutherland, another set of great grandparents, although Scottish Presbyterians were also members of Cooke’s Church. Their children were named in the anniversary booklet. Mary, the Christian Endeavor Society flower convenor and Wilson on the Junior Visiting Committee. It is there that my grandparents, William Sutherland and Minnie Eagle met and were married by Reverend Andrew Taylor.
In 1925 the Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregational Unionists joined together to form the United Church of Canada. Cooke’s Church was for the union while Knox Church was against it and responsible for the continuation of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. It is still an active church celebrating its 200th Anniversary this year.
Cooke’s Church closed in 1982. There were few parishioners left as most had moved away from the downtown. It’s glory years only a memory when it was the most pretentious structure in the city, a landmark on East Queen Street and a great spiritual influence. It was torn down in 1984 and is now a parking lot.
Roulston, William J. Researching Presbyterian Ancestors in Ireland, Ulster Historical Foundation 2020.
Alison, James. Annals of Sixty Years Cooke’s Presbyterian Church Toronto 1851 – 1911. 1911.
There is a story about my great grandfather Donald Sutherland leaving his church because they purchased an organ. He seemed to subscribed to the ideas of Henry Cooke. According to a story in the Toronto Star, in 1880, a group of parishioners heard the choir had brought a organ into the church for choir practice. These people entered the church and dragged the offending instrument into the street. A riot ensued. Some were arrested and all were suspended from the church. They went off and formed their own church. Was this the incident Donald was involved with?
“Eddie! Come on, Ed. Frank forgot his lunch and you have to take it to him.”
Ed’s heart sank. He had no school today but, instead of playing with his friends, he would have to make his way all the way from Verdun to Montreal West so that he could give Frank the lunch he forgot. It was sitting right there, on the kitchen table when Frank left – and he forgot it again!
My uncle, Frank McHugh, worked as a tramway driver and he drove the tram on the 63 or 64 route that went along Sherbrooke Street West in Montreal. The unlucky little boy who always had the job of taking him his lunch was my dad, Edward McHugh.
Uncle Frank’s full name was Francis Strachan McHugh. He was born in Dundee, Scotland in 1904 and emigrated to Canada with his parents and six siblings in 1912. His younger brother, Edward, was born in 1914. So, by the time Frank had found work as a tramway driver in the 1920’s, Edward was old enough to travel across the city and bring him his lunch.
Thomas McHugh with sons, Edward (left) and James (right). Edward was about eight years old in this picture, about the time he would have carried Frank’s lunch to him.
The first public transportation company in Montreal, The Montreal Passenger City Railway Company (MPCRC) was established in 1861 when the first horse-drawn tramway came into service along Notre Dame Street. The horse-drawn tramway had two employees on-board, a driver and a conductor who collected the fares. The passengers simply hailed the tram when they wanted to get on and signaled to the driver when they wanted to get off.1
Horse-drawn winter tramway on St. Catherine Street (around 1877), Société de transport de Montréal (STM) website, Tramways History
The MPCRC eventually became the Montreal Street Railway Company (MSRC). The MSRC introduced the first electric powered tramway, The Rocket, on September 21, 1892. The electric tramways immediately became very popular as they were much faster than the horse-drawn tramways. 2
By the time Uncle Frank became a tram driver, his employer was the Montreal Tramways Company (MTC). The MTC, created in 1911, acquired all the other transit companies on the island at that time. The citizens of Montreal, concerned that a private company had a monopoly over the public transit in the city, put pressure on the city, and the Montreal Transit Commission was created in 1918 to oversee the MTC. 3
At the time that Uncle Frank worked as a tramway driver in the early 1920s, it was the peak of the operation of the tramway system in city. At that time, the MTC carried nearly 230 million passengers per year. 4 In 1924, the company published this map of the Montreal Transit system.5
By the mid-1920s, the city began transitioning to buses, with the first major replacement of the tramway in 1936 in the city’s east end on Notre Dame Street. 6 Uncle Frank followed suit and drove the bus that went along Sherbroooke Street West. But by that time, if he forgot his lunch, he was out of luck.
When cars became popular in Montreal in the 1950s, Uncle Frank quit his job as a bus driver and became a taxi driver.
The black-leather-lined plasticized bilingual identity card wacked my arm as it fell from the shelf. Until then, I had never really noticed the card among the many items my grandmother left me.
Luckily, its heavy construction protected the words on the card, which remain as legible as they were when my grandfather received it on January 4, 1936.
The Canadian federal “Department of Marine” issued the card to give my grandfather credibility as a radio inspector. It says:
“The bearer G. Arial is hereby authorized to issue and inspect private radio receiving licences in Edmonton East. He is further authorized to require the production of private radio receiving licences for inspection.”
Turns out that this little artifact hints at a short-lived controversy in Canadian history. The card expired on March 31, 1937, but it would be defunct before then.
The Department of Marine seems like an odd overseer of radio licences until you realize that early broadcasting began in the 1890s when Morse Code was used to enable ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication. The idea of a public broadcaster begin in May, 1907, when the Marconi station in Camperdown, Nova Scotia began broadcasting regular time signals to the public.
The “wireless telegraphy” industry continued to develop with private individuals investing in ham radios with no regulation. By June 1913, the federal government decided to regulate the industry to protect military communication.
When World War I began in August 1914, private licenses were banned altogether. Only the Marconi Wireless Telegraph Company of Canada, Ltd. kept operating during the war years, in part because it became a research arm of the military.i
After the war, the private industry blossomed, particularly in Western Canada. Many of the new broadcasters came from multiple religious communities, a situation the federal government tried to prevent by setting up a public broadcasting system through the Radio Broadcasting Act of 1932.
That act led to the establishment of a licensing commission called the Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission under the leadership of Hector Charlesworth. Charlesworth’s group censored many religious groups and political groups, but none more than the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Norman James Fennema described the controversy in his 2003 dissertation, Remote Control.
…in Canada we find a situation in which the original impetus for regulating radio broadcasting began with the specific aim of putting a rein on religious broadcasting. Originally directed at the radio activities of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, this expanded in the early 1930’s into a policy against the licensing of religious broadcasters, a policy initially justified on the basis of the scarcity of the broadcasting spectrum, but that survived the expansion of the system.ii
By 1935, Clarence Decateur Howe became both the Minister of Railways and Canals and the Minister of Marine,iii the ministry under which my grandfather’s job was created.
Howe favoured private broadcasting, and encouraged new private entities to flourish.
Prime Minister Mackenzie King preferred a public broadcast system however. In February, 1936, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) came into being, and my grandfather’s job ended.
There is always a lot of talk in this province about who is a “real” Quebecer. Our current Premier Francois Legault, wants to limit services in English to “Historical Anglos”. While I can certainly claim this right, having been born and raised in Quebec, as were my parents, I also have “Pure Laine” ancestry. I descend from Pierre Gadois, the first person to be granted land on the Island of Montreal.
L’eglise Saint-Martin d’Igé in Orme, Basse-Normandie, in north west France has a plaque with the names of men who left for Canada and the saying, “Je me Souviens” (I remember). I don’t know when the plaque was installed in this ancient church but Pierre Gadois arrived in Nouvelle France (Canada) about 1636. He left in one of the earliest waves of immigrants from L’Igé. Nicolas Godé, his sister Francoise’s husband also has his name on the plaque. That family arrived in Ville Marie (Montreal) six years later.
Pierre, his wife Louise and two children sailed to New France as part of a settlement initiative by Robert Giffard de Moncel, the first Seigneur of the French Colony. They first settled near Quebec City on the Beauport Seigneury where Pierre farmed. Another child, Francois was born during this time and baptized in 1636. Pierre decided to move to the safety of Montreal after several Indian attacks. It was recorded that Hurons entered his house a number of times, beat him and robbed him of food.
While he arrived in Montreal after the founding ceremony in 1642, he was still a very early settler. In 1648 Paul de Chomedy de Maisonneuve the governor of the colony, awarded him the first land grant. Why was he given 40 arpents of land? Had he proven himself a good farmer? The answer was probably yes. The colony needed food to survive and as the majority of inhabitants were soldiers farmers would be important citizens. Pierre Gadois was well thought of as he was also elected the fourth warden of Notre Dame Church.
According to notarial records, Pierre farmed his land and later added to his acreage. It was François Dollier de Casson, the author of the Histoire du Montréal 1640- 1672 who referred to him as “Le Première Habitant” or first farmer of Ville Marie.
He built a small wooden house of 390 pi² (French square feet slightly larger than English ones) on some of his land. An out building of almost the same size was also erected. This land is now in what is called “Old Montreal” bordering on de La Commune on the south, rue St Pierre on the east and possibly McGill Street on the west.
Montreal was not safe from Indian attacks even with its protective palisades. Pierre continued to defend his land and his family. Even when he was well into his sixties, he fought bravely defending Charles Le Moyne and other colonists who had been attacked by the Iroquois.
I descend from Pierre’s daughter Roberte Gadois and her husband Louis Prud’homme. Roberte became the owner of a number of pieces of property, after her father’s death. The family continued farming as their profession continued to be recorded as production-aliment or food producers.
Montreal kept growing. When François Dollier de Casson laid out the first streets for Montreal, one, Rue Sainte-Pierre was named in memory of Pierre Gadois. A small monument in Place d’Youville, placed there in 1992 during Montreal’s 350thanniversary also honour’s The First Farmer.
Pierre Gadois (Gadoys) Born 1594 & died Oct 20, 1667 in Montreal age 73.Married Louise Mauger in 1627.She was born in 1598 and she died 18 March 1690 in Montreal at age 92!
Roberte Gadois was born Sept 15, 1628 in France & died Sept 14, 1716, Montreal, the day before her 88th birthday.
Pierre born Nov 17, 1631 died May 18 1714
Francois born Dec 2, 1636 No further information.
Jeanne born Jun 26,1638 died June 26, 1638
Joseph born Sept 28 1639 died Oct 1639
Jean-Baptiste born March 2, 1641 died April 15, 1728
Pierre’s father was Francois Jean Gadois and his mother Barnabe Gadois
He was the brother of Francois, Francoise and half brother of Valentine Gadois.
Dollier de Casson, Francois. Histoire du Montreal 1640-1672. pg 88
Adhemar – Fiche Biographique Centre of Canadian Architecture