Do you have a photo of Phineas? I am writing a family history book, and would love to include his picture, but I’ve never come across one. If you can help, please contact me at email@example.com.
Farmer Phineas Rixon and his wife Barbara had been out doing errands in town. After they returned home, he was getting ready to do chores when he was stricken by a heart attack. The doctor came, but Phineas never regained consciousness. He died two days later, age 78, on Friday, September 9, 1938, on the farm he had operated for almost 40 years.
The local newspaper, The Colborne Express, reported, “the large number floral tributes and friends present [at the funeral] showed the high esteem in which he was held.”1
These few facts about his last days are the most detail I found about my great-great uncle’s long life. Phineas seldom moved far from his birthplace in rural Northumberland County, Ontario, a few miles from the shores of Lake Ontario. However, considering that his first two wives and his daughter predeceased him, and that he married a third time at age 76, his home life must have had its ups and downs.
Phineas (also spelled Phinehas, Phenas, and other variations) was born on May 8, 1859,2 the son of Martha Rixon and probably of her cousin Thomas Rixon.3 His unmarried mother moved to the United States when he was about nine, leaving him and his sister Samantha (my great-grandmother) to be brought up by their grandparents, Thomas and Betsey Rixon, on their farm in Cramahe Township.
It is not clear where Samantha and Phineas lived after their grandparent’s deaths; by then they were teenagers, and they likely stayed with relatives.
In 1878, Phineas joined the militia and was listed as a private in the 40th Regiment Northumberland. He next appeared in the 1880 U.S. Census (as “Fenis Rickson,”) working as a labourer in Michigan. He must have stayed in the United States for at least a year as he was not counted in the 1881 Census of Canada.
At age 24, he married 18-year-old Almeda Warner, daughter of John Warner and Harriet Morden. Phineas’s and Almeda’s daughter, Samantha Almeda Rixon (usually known as Mattie or Medie,) was born in June, 1884. Almeda died of typhoid fever in December, 1897, aged 32, leaving Phineas with a 13-year-old to raise and a farm to run on his own.
Within four years, Phineas had remarried. The 1901 census showed Phineas, 41, married to Mary Leslie, 34. With them were his daughter, Mattie, 16, and Mary’s mother and her two sisters, both in their twenties. He had also moved from Cramahe Township to lot 6, Concession 4, Haldimand Township.4 An advertisement for an estate auction held soon after Phineas’s death said the auction would be held on the John Leslie Homestead, about a mile east of the village of Vernonville, so Phineas and Mary must have lived on what had been her parents’ farm.
Phineas and Mary were married for about 30 years. After she died in January, 1931, he remained single for the next five years. In May, 1936, he remarried. His third wife was a widow, Barbara Jemima (Haynes) Cowey.5
Phineas was buried in Castleton Cemetery, Cramahe, Northumberland County, with his first wife and his daughter. Medie, who was married in 1906 to farmer Claude Tweed and had six children, died in 1915. Barbara, died in 1939, age 73.
Photos: courtesy Gabrielle Blaschuk
1. The Colborne Express, Thursday Sept. 15, 1938, p. 1.
2. Year: 1901; Census Place: Haldimand, Northumberland (West/Ouest), Ontario; Page: 3; Family No: 26. Ancestry.ca, 1901 Census of Canada (database on-line, entry for Phineas Rixon, accessed Aug. 9, 2020,) citing Library and Archives Canada. Census of Canada, 1901. Ottawa, Ontario, 2004, Series RG31-C-1, Statistics Canada Fonds, Microfilm reels: T-6428 to T-6556.
3. This complex story is recounted in the following two posts:
4. Reference Number: RG 31; Folder Number: 74; Census Place: 74, Northumberland, Ontario; Page Number: 7, Ancestry.com. 1921 Census of Canada (database on-line, entry for Phineas Rixon, accessed Aug. 9, 2020,) citing Library and Archives Canada. Sixth Census of Canada, 1921. Library and Archives Canada, 2013, Ottawa, Ontario. Series RG31. Statistics Canada Fonds.
5. Archives of Ontario; Registration of Marriages 1936; Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1826-1938, online database, Ancestry.ca and Genealogical Research Library (http://ancestry.ca, accessed Aug. 4, 2020,) entry for Barbara Cowey, citing Ontario, Canada, Select Marriages, Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
In 1734, a huge fire destroyed part of Montreal. Marie-Joseph Angélique, a black slave, was accused on setting the fire deliberately as she tried to escape from her owner. She was arrested and found guilty, then she was tortured and hanged and her body was burned.
Angélique was one of many slaves, some black, others Indigenous, in New France. Slavery was legal in Canada for more than 200 years. The Slavery Abolition Act brought an end to chattel slavery throughout the British Empire, coming into effect on August 1, 1834 in Britain, Canada, and several other colonies.
The attached PDF Slavery in New France is a 23-page research guide to the topic of slavery in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries. It contains the following contents:
Page 2 A link to a complete online copy of the book L’Esclavage au Canadafrançais – 17e et 18e siècles” (in French) Author: Marcel Trudel – 474 pages Publisher- Les Presses Universitaires Laval, Quebec, Canada 1960
Pages 3-17 A List of authors who have written about slavery in Canada
What made my ancestor think of using a black cross to mark homes of temperance?
Edouard Quertier (Cartier) launched Quebec’s first official temperance society in 1842 by placing a giant black cross on the top of the escarpment in Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska. So began an organization that would encompass 400,000 of 900,000 Canadian Catholics eight years later.(1)
The symbol created a tradition that continues in Quebec to this day. If you ever go into a home with a bare black cross hanging in the middle of the living room wall, you’ll know you’re in the house of people who do not drink alcohol.
But what gave him the idea?
1842 Arrival in St Denis
Quertier certainly wasn’t feeling inspired when he first arrived in the tiny hamlet or between 10 and 15 families at the edge of a cliff on the Saint Lawrence’s south shore.
How did I accept this arid rock?,” he wrote. “When I arrived [in October], there was not even a piece of board on which to place a bed or a table. I had to go down the slope and rent a small house, or rather a cabin. No matter! I waited there, until my lodging was acceptable.”(2)
Still, Quertier was no youngster when he arrived in Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska. At 43 years old, he had had four previous jobs before his priesthood and 12 years of experience serving communities.
Both of his previous roles as parish priest were stressful.
As curate and then parish priest of Saint-Antoine in Montmagmy, he argued frequently with his patron, Father Charles Francois Painchaud.
His bishop got him out of that situation by appointing him parish priest of Sainte-Georges of Cacouna. There, a new church and presbytery were required, but building them was difficult due to arguments between residents who wanted religious leadership and those who believed in the strong separation of Church and State. Despite the conflict, Quertier was able to build a new church and presbytery within the village. He oversaw the presbytery stonemasons and carpenters and got the church walls well underway before resigning the post. His departure halted the building of the church for a time, but it resumed in 1845 and opened for worship in 1848. The belfry didn’t get added until 1892 and full consecration delayed until 1897, but that’s another story.(3)
The experience simply makes clear that Quertier knew he had to do something important quickly to make an impact on his new neighbourhood.
He decided to promote temperance as a movement.
Temperance in Quebec
The issue already had some momentum in Quebec. Popular people like Bishop Charles-August-Marie-Joseph de Forbin-Janson and Charels-Paschal-Télesphore Chiniquy had been telling stories about the evils of alcoholism in weekly masses since 1839. Community residents saw that frequent imbibing often led to fighting, lethargy, poverty, spousal abuse, theft and neighbourhood violence.
Unlike his predecessors, however, Quertier decided to formalize the movement with an official association he called “The Society of the Black Cross.” He created statutes, oaths for members and procedures for joining the society, including the requirement that each member display a plain black cross on the wall of the family living room.
For the next 15 years, Quertier’s campaign for temperance spread. So many French Canadian families displayed the black cross, it became a decor tradition. The Quebecois de Souche society includes a photo that shows the once prevalent look.(4)
Growth and Departure as Leader
In the meantime, Quertier continued building his parish. The wooden chapel that originally opened on December 24, 1841 got replaced by a stone gothic church in 1850.
Seven years after that, Quertier retired. By then, the Society of the Black Cross included believers in almost every parish in Quebec and Quertier’s own parish had grown to encompass 100 families containing “625 souls.”(5)
Temperance continued to be a key issue, not only in Quebec but across Canada. In Quebec, however, the secularism movement also had great strength in many communities. To avoid angering these groups, the Province of Canada passed the Canada Temperance Act that allowed any county or city to hold referendums to consider whether or not to forbid the sale of liquor. This would ensure that communities who wanted to stay dry could do so without forcing prohibition on the entire country.
Life after Death
Quertier spent the rest of his life in Saint-Denis-de-Kamouraska, which became Saint-Denis-de-la Bouteillerie in 2013. After his death in 1879 at 73 years old, the church entombed his body under the crypt of the church. A tombstone says in French:
Here lies lord Edouard Quertier, first parish priest of St. Denis, one of the first apostles of temperance. Died July 17, 1873, aged 73 years, 10 months, 12 days. For 15 years, he lived for you. Pray for him.”(6)
Quertier’s remains continued to draw enough visitors that the church got entirely rebuilt after a fire damaged it on March 9, 1886. Initially, they built a belfry to hold a 2027-pound bell that cost $425,000 the following spring, and new walls on those of the former church by October. Later, they’d add two more bells to the tower.
Quertiers’ campaign for temperance didn’t end when he died. Members of his Black Cross Society were among 20% of Quebec’s population that supported a federal referendum on prohibition in 1898.
The movement grew substantially during World War I.
Temperance, not Prohibition
The Quebec Government declared prohibition in 1919. Then it made several exceptions by legalizing the sale of light beer, cider, and wine in hotels, taverns, cafes, clubs and corner stores.
The prohibition law got repealed entirely to enable liquor sales through a government-run commission in 1921.
In many ways, by choosing control over strict adherence to abstinence, the government duplicated the practicality Quertier included within the original functioning of the Society of the Black Cross.
Any household that became a member of the temperance organization could get a special dispensation to serve alcohol during celebrations, such as baptisms, birthdays and weddings. If the parish priest agreed that a special occasion merited an exception, he would temporarily replace the plain black cross in a home with a white one. The white cross hung on the wall during the celebration. After the celebration ended, the priest would visit to exchange the white cross with a black one and return the home to a liquor-free location.(7)
This kind of flexibility enabled temperance to continue growing within Catholic communities in Quebec even after 1921. Some of its proponents resurrected Quertier in the form of a statue in front of his former church in 1925. The statue remains in place today.
How do you get to be you? First you must have your parents, then your grandparents and as you trace back through your family trees you find all the coincidences needed for people to come together at a time and place for you to be who you are.
When Louis Prudhomme arrived in New France around 1640 I am sure that he never thought his seven times great-granddaughter would live there almost four hundred years later. He was an early settler in Ville-Marie (Montreal), a brewer, churchwarden and a member of the Montreal Militia. I descend from Louis and his wife Roberte Gadois. This marriage almost didn’t take place. Roberte came to New France as a child with her parents Pierre Gadois and Louise Mauger. Then when just 15, a marriage contract was drawn up between Roberte and Cesar Leger with the ceremony happening four days later. After six years, the marriage was annulled, most likely because there were no children. The survival of the colony depended on couples having children. On the same day her first marriage was annulled, Roberte married Louis Prudhomme. This wasn’t a quick decision as their marriage contract had been drawn up a year earlier. Roberte proved her fertility by soon giving birth. Their first child, son Francois-Xavier Prudhomme (1651 – 1741) is my ancestor.
Finally, well into his thirties, Francois Xavier married Cecile Gervais, only 13 at the time. This marriage too might not have taken place. Cecile’s parents were Jean Gervais and Anne Archambault. Her mother Anne had previously been married to Michel Chauvin. Michel had owned the property next to Louis Prudhomme. Louis, on a trip back to France, learned that Michel had a wife and children still living there. On his return to New France, he accused Michel of bigamy and reported him to the Governor Paul Chomedey de Maisonneuve. Michel, expelled from the colony, went back to France leaving Anne free to marry again and give birth to Cecile. Francois Xavier Prudhomme and Cecile eventually had nine children.
Their first child Francois Prudhomme (1685 – 1748) married Marie-Anne Courault. This couple appeared to have lead uneventful lives except for having eight children.
One of their children, Nicolas Prudhomme (1722 – 1810 ) married Francine Roy. This couple had at least five children before Francine died at age 34. Their youngest child Eustache was just two at the time so not surprisingly Nicholas soon married again.
It was the marriage with his second wife Helene Simone Delorme that produced Jeramie Marie Prudhomme (1766 – 1846) my three times great grandfather. Seven years had past before this child entered the world. Helene must have been busy raising her step children. In 1818 Jeramie is listed by the Sulpicians as one of the twenty family heads living and farming in Côte Saint-Luc, west of the original settlement but still on the Island of Montreal. He married Marie Louise Décarie (1769-1855), from another important farming family. Jérémie and Marie Louise had seven children. Their last child Sophie Marie Louise married Barnabé Bruneau. The Prudhommes had lived on the island of Montreal since the 1640s. Sophie left her ancestral home and moved south across the St Lawrence River to St. Constant.
It is with Sophie Marie Prudhomme that my direct Prudhomme line ended. Other branches of the Prudhomme family continued to flourish. My Great Grandfather Ismael Bruneau chose the middle name Prudhomme in honour of his mother.
7th Great Grandfather Louis Prudhomme (1611- 1671) married Roberte Gadois (1628- 1716)
6th Great grandfather Francois Xavier Prudhomme (1651-1741) married Cecile Gervais (1671-1760)
5th Great Grandfather Francois Prudhomme (1685-1748) married Marie Anne Courault (1689-
4th Great grandfather Nicolas Prudhomme (1722-1810) married Helene Simone Delorme (1730-
3rd Great Grandfather Jeramie Marie Prudhomme (1766-1846) married Marie Louise Decarie (1769- 1855)
Two times Great Grandmother Sophie Marie Prudhomme married Barnabé Bruneau
Charlotte Haines (1773-1851) was only ten years old when the breakaway 13 colonies won the War of Independence in April 1783. Those residing in the new United States of America, who had remained loyal to the British Crown, were persecuted and forced out of their homes and their belongings seized. Chaos reigned everywhere and families were torn apart.
One fateful day around this time, young Charlotte sneaked away to visit her British Loyalist cousins, against the expressed wishes of her American Patriot stepfatheri. Upon her return, standing outside the front door, he refused her entry back into the family home.
Charlotte was my three-times great-grandmother. Her daughter Margaret Ann Peters married Daniel Hanington and their son James Peters Hanington was my grandmother’s father.
The British government came to the aid of these Loyalists and arranged for transportation for those who wished to leave the new America. Charlotte’s grandparents, Gilbert and Anna Pugsley, rescued young Charlotte and her brother David. Together they sailed from New York for ten days on the “Jason”ii, with 124 other “refugees” as part of the final large scale evacuation and landed in New Brunswick (then still part of Nova Scotia) in October 1783…just in time for the brutally cold winter.
Charlotte has been the favourite subject of a couple of books and several folktales. She warranted her own chapter in “Pioneer Profiles of New Brunswick Settlers”iii and is the main character in a children’s book titled “Charlotte”iv. One folktale claimed that she was the first Loyalist to set foot ashore (not true) and in doing so, she lost her “slipper” in the mud (possibly). The matching slipper (unlikely) was donated to the New Brunswick Museum years later, however, it looks somewhat too big and stylish for a ten-year old girl. But they make wonderful stories and fully recognize young Charlotte as one of the first “petticoat pioneers” of New Brunswick.
Fourteen thousand Loyalists established a new settlement in 1783 along the St. John River and shortly afterwards they petitioned for their own colony. In 1784, Great Britain granted their request and divided Nova Scotia into two — New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The Loyalists, who made up 90 percent of the population of New Brunswick, became a separate colony with its capital, Fredericton, 90 miles upriver from Saint John.
The Loyalists and their children were entitled to free land once they provided the necessary proof. Charlotte, as the biological daughter of John Haines, a Loyalist on record, appears in 1786 documentation as one of the grantees of 84 lots on Long Island, Queen’s County, along with several other prominent Loyalists – although she was only 13 at the time. I can imagine her grandfather Pugsley nodding discreetly in her direction as he looked after her interests.
For their first three years, the British provided the Loyalists with a few simple tools, blankets, material for clothing and seeds for wheat, peas, corn and potatoes. The rations of basic food supplied by the British supplemented the abundance of game and fish available to them in the forest and streams. Most lived in tents on dirt floors until they were able to build primitive log cabins. Tree by tree, stump by stump, the fertile uplands were cleared to widen the fields making them ready for crops.
The Loyalists kept meaningful social contacts through various community events. Neighbours organized “frolics” whereby the men would work together to clear land, move rocks, build a barn or complete some other task which proved impossible for one or two people. At the same time, the women prepared meals and the children had a chance to play with friends. Women also held their own frolics to make quilts, card wool or shell corn. These Loyalist neighbours were dependent on one another in times of sickness, accidents and childbirth and supported one another at gatherings for weddings, funerals and church services.
Perhaps Charlotte met her future husband at one of these popular frolics. At 17, Charlotte married William Peters (also from a United Empire Loyalist family) in 1791 in Gagetown. Soon afterwards, the happy couple moved downriver, settled in Hampstead and built a home where the St. John River widens to a magnificent view.
At that time, there existed only ten miles of roadway in the whole province and another 20 years would pass before there would be an 82-mile long road linking Fredericton and Saint John. However, in the meantime, the river served as a “highway” enabling the transport of passengers and necessary goods between the two cities.
When the steamboats first chugged noisily up the river in 1816, William decided to compete with them and he built a 100-foot long side wheeler powered by 12 horses walking up and down the deck and propelling the boat along.
William actively pursued his interest in politics, and as the first representative of Queen’s County in the New Brunswick Legislature, he spent a lot of time in Fredericton (50 miles away) attending the sessions of Parliament.
Meanwhile, back home, Charlotte managed their entire land-holding on her own. Eventually they had 15 children, five sons and ten daughters. She bore her last child at 50 years old according to the baptismal certificate. They all survived except their son John who drowned at 21 attempting to save another man’s life.
Not only did she clothe, feed and care for them all (including the servants) but also provided much of their early education as well. On Saturday evenings in the summer, the fiddlers would play rollicking tunes and the tapping of dancing feet could be heard in big houses and cabins alike. When winter shut down the fields, and with food plentifully stored in the cellar, the spinning wheels would begin to hum during those coldest months.
By the time William died in 1836, they had recently relocated to Woodstock (100 miles upriver from Hampstead) with two of their younger children, James and Caroline. Their older children were married with homes of their own scattered along the St. John River Valley. Around this time, she wrote a letterv to her daughter Susan, Mrs. Thomas Tilley:
I take my pen to address a few lines to you to inquire after the health of you and all of your family. The grate distance we are from you prevents me from hearing. You heard of the death of your Father at Woodstock.
Charlotte described William’s death in some detail and then continued:
I hop [sic] this may find you all well. I am not well. My head troubles me very much. There is not one day that it don’t ake [sic] so that I cant hardly stir. My cough is something better. James and Caroline is well and harty [sic] and quite contented hear. I like the place and if your Father has lived and been hear to see to it we might have made a good living. It is pleasant and a good place for business but we must try to due the best we can. The place is out of repair and soon would have been a common if we had not come hear. I should be glad if my friends was near to us. I don’t know as ever I shall see you all again. I thought to have gon [sic]to see you all before I came up hear but I was so sick that I could not go down to see you. James and Caroline wishes to be remembered to you and all the family. I desire to be remembered to Thomas and the children and tel them I should be glad to see them and you. Give my love to all inquiring friends and except a share for yourself. This from you afectionet [sic] Mother, Charlotte Peters
Although she had her share of aches and pains at that time, she lived another 15 years and ultimately enjoyed the blessing of 111 grandchildren.
She had a powerful influence over all her family for she believed that their heritage carried a great responsibility to others. When the grandchildren would visit, her graceful hands were always busy winding yarn or knitting a sock while patiently answering their questions and reciting passages from the bible.
One of her grandchildren, Samuel Leonard Tilley, later known as Sir Leonard, served as Premier of New Brunswick and went on to became one of the Fathers of Confederation.
A common tale states that Tilley proposed the term “Dominion” in Canada’s name, at the London conference in 1866, which he gleaned from Psalm 72:8 – “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth”. Ultimately, as Minister of Finance in the federal government, he was also instrumental in seeing the transcontinental railway completed.vi
Young Charlotte Haines might have felt all alone in the world at age ten but, when she died 68 years later, the epitaph on her tombstone proclaimed her legacy: “…Lamented by a large circle of descendants and friends by whom she was universally beloved and respected.”
iCharlotte’s mother, Miss Pugsley, died when she was very young. Charlotte’s father remarried Sarah Haight before he died. Then Sarah remarried Stephen Haviland who was Charlotte’s stepmother’s husband (step step father?)
Over the past several years, I have posted several articles about the Huguenots, or French Protestants, who came to New France. Once here, many of them signed abjurations, or declarations in which they renounced their faith, and they became Catholic.
The act of ‘’abjuration’’ was the first step to be taken by a Protestant individual. The second step was an act of ‘’confirmation,’’ conducted by a Catholic priest at a local or regional parish or at a regional convent. Guy Perron in his superb blog refers to this subject as Confirmations.
Recently, the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) has replaced its online research tool Pistard with a much better search engine, Advitam, https://advitam.banq.qc.ca/ and this has made the task of finding these abjurations and confirmations much easier. The first six entries in the attached research guide were obtained by using Advitam. See https://genealogyensemble.com/2020/04/19/banq-advitam/
Through BAnQ Advitam, BAnQ Numérique or BAnQ Ask a Question/BAnQ Poser une question, you can obtain an online download for free within days simply by searching for the ‘’cote #’’ (Shelf # at BAnQ) and an approximate date of an event.
The nine-page research guide attached here Abjurations in New France includes links to registers of abjuration, to the bulletin of the historical society of French-speaking Protestants of Quebec, to Guy Perron’s excellent blog, and to a list of books and articles on the subject.
Over the last few years, Genealogy Ensemble has posted three listings of Huguenot Family Names of New France and Quebec. The links to these lists are at the end of the PDF.
Huguenot family names listed by the Huguenot Trails periodical of the Huguenot Society of Canada prior to 2002.
Huguenot family names issued by Michel Barbeau, a retired genealogist. (Michel Barbeau’s work is highly precise but is a short list in comparison to other sources.)
Huguenot family names compiled by myself from books, essays, papers issued over four centuries by leading historians, academics, archivists, authors, librarians in Canada and in France.
This last list was compiled from books stored at the Collection nationale within the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal, books and dossiers at BAnQ Vieux-Montréal and books which can be researched online at BAnQ Numérique and through various online sociétés savantes (literary societies) and finally from the online pages of Fichier Origine (www.fichierorigine.com.)
Over the past few years, I have posted a series of research guides to finding Protestants in France. Here are links to my articles about the Protestants who came to Quebec:
Also of interest: Marian Bulford’s articles about the Huguenots who immigrated to England. After the British Conquest of 1759 at the Plains of Abraham, British Governors James Murray, Guy Carleton, Frederick Haldimand, Lord Dorchester (Carlton) appointed chief justices, judges and a few lieutenant-governors and senior military officers who were at ease in the French language and all of the above were descendants of Huguenot families who had settled in the London region and also in Northern Ireland. These Huguenot administrators and military officers under Murray, Carleton, Haldimand, Dorchester attended the same churches mentioned by Marian.
When Jessie Jean Forrester (1896-1961) married a Presbyterian minister, she committed herself to a very different life from the one she had been accustomed to growing up on the Manitoba prairie. For almost 25 years, the couple lived in India, where he served as a missionary. There they were surrounded by the soaring Himalayas and elaborate temples, they suffered the heat of the central plains and humidity of monsoons, and they enjoyed eating Indian food.
There were some scary moments too. On one occasion, they were staying in a camp, complete with tea service. Jessie got up to go to the bathroom during the night and, as she was passing through the privacy screen, she saw a tiger roaming the camp.
The youngest daughter of farmers Jack and Samantha (Rixon) Forrester, Jessie first left Manitoba as a teenager, accompanying her parents when they retired to Los Angeles around 1911.
The 1920 U.S. census found her at age 24, living with her parents and working as a book keeper for a hardware store. The following year, she and her mother were counted in the 1921 census of Canada, staying with Jessie’s older sister (and my grandmother,) Lillian Hamilton, and her family in Winnipeg. They were probably busy preparing for the wedding.
Jessie’s husband-to-be, Thomas Benjamin McMillan, was born in 1888 in Margaret, Manitoba. The McMillan family eventually moved to Winnipeg. Tom graduated from Manitoba College with a degree in economics, then served as a lieutenant in the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. After the war, he returned to Winnipeg and completed a two-year course in theology.
Jessie and Tom were married on August 17, 1921.Three weeks later, the newlyweds left for India. Daughter Hazel Lillian (born 1922) and son Hugh Forrester (born 1924) were both born in India and attended Woodstock School, Landour, a school founded in the 19th century to educate the children of American missionaries. They also attended school in Winnipeg during extended visits to Canada.
Tom went to India as a Presbyterian minister, but after the creation of the United Church of Canada by Presbyterian, Methodist and Congregationalist congregations in 1925, he became a United Church missionary. Much of his work was based in the central Indian cities of Hat Piplia, Neemuch and Indore, in the state of Madhya Pradesh. When the weather in central India became too hot, the family retreated to the twin cities of Landour and Mussoorie, in the foothills of the Himalayas. When son Hugh McMillan and his wife visited Mussoorie in 1979, they found the cosmos flowers Jessie had planted many years before still seeding themselves and blooming.1
Besides serving as a pastor, Tom was also active on several committees. In central India, he served as chairman of the building committee for 10 years and secretary of the Evangelistic Commission for three years, and he was a delegate to the General Assembly of the United Church of North India and chairman of the Assembly Business Commission.
Tom and Jessie remained in India during World War II, but 19-year-old Hazel returned to North America in 1941 to stay her uncle and aunt in Los Angeles, and Hugh sailed to California in 1944. Both were accustomed to long sea voyages, having travelled back and forth with their parents every few years to visit friends and relatives in Winnipeg and Los Angeles, but it must have been frightening for them to travel alone in wartime. Tom and Jessie came back to Canada for good after the war ended and before Indian independence.
The McMillans settled in British Columbia, where Tom ministered to several United Church congregations. After he retired in 1960 at age 72, they settled in Victoria, where he continued to visit the sick and served as an associate minister at Oak Bay United Church until 1964.
When Jessie died in 1961, aged 65, her obituary in the Ladysmith-Chemainus Chronicle called her “a woman of great dignity and artistic ability,” adding that the bazaars and festive occasions at the two local United churches where Tom had been minister for four years were made more attractive by her deft floral arrangements.
Tom died in 1965 at age 77 and was buried beside his wife in Royal Oak Burial Park, Saanich, B.C..
Walter Meyer zu Erpen, “Mrs. Jessie Jean (Forrester) McMillan (29 March 1896-16 September 1961), sister of Mrs. T.G. Hamilton (1880-1956), and Reverend Thomas Benjamin McMillan (26 June 1888-25 July 1965), BA (University of Manitoba). Draft research report, 2015/12/26. Note: Walter gathered his research from a number of sources, including telephone interviews with family members and United Church of Canada records.
(This article is also posted on Writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca)
Settlers have long been attracted to Saint Roch, a neighbourhood on the banks of the St. Charles River next to the cliff leading up to Quebec’s walled Upper Town.
My great great great grandparents—Joseph Gabriel Arial Robert Content and Judith/Julie Belleau-dit-LaRose —both grew up in the neighbourhood. They knew it as the Saint Roch parish, which was officially founded in 1829. By then, the swampy neighbourhood housed 20 different shipyards and most of Quebec’s French-speaking families.
The neighbourhood began in 1620 as a small religious community set up by French missionaries known as the Recollets. They built a chapel in 1620. That chapel has long since gone, as were those built in 1811, 1816 and 1841.1 A stone church built in 1923 now sits on the same site as all the others at 160, rue Saint Josephe Est. For some great photos of the area and a discussion in French about all the different churches on the site, refer to Jérôme Ouellet’s 2014 blog post.
Joseph and Judith got married in the 1816 version of the church on September 4, 1832.2 Her parents Joseph Belleau and Marie-Anne Ratté married in a predecessor on November 5, 1808.3
I don’t know exactly where in Quebec Joseph lived prior to their marriage, but his dad Jean Baptiste worked as a day labourer.4
Judith’s family lived at 28 Saint Vallier. Her dad Joseph Bélau (Belleau) worked as a baker.5
Just down from the Bélau home sat an opulent stone house built by businessman Henry Hiché. He built his mansion on the foundations of a farmhouse originally built by Charles Aubert de la Chesnaye in 1679. The building later became known as the “White House” due to a covering of white plaster.
Most of the neighbourhood, including the White House, burned down in the Great Saint-Roche Fire of 1845. A total of 1,200 houses burned down, leaving 12,000 people homeless that year. Another smaller fire swept through in 1866.
You can still see the third rendition of the home built by Scottish immigrant William Grant on the original vaulted cellars of the previous home at 870 Saint-Vallier East. The stone house gives you a rough idea of the beginnings of the neighbourhood built outside of Quebec City’s walls.
Joseph Belleau appears again in the 1851 Canada East agricultural census in St. Roche, Quebec on line 24.6 Joseph and Judith/Julie don’t appear on the 1851 census, but they and their eight children (one of whom was my direct ancestor “Pete”) appear on the census 10 years later, still living in St. Roche.7
If my grandmother’s notes are accurate, Joseph moved to Manitoba sometime after that. He died in St. Boniface on November 4, 1880.8
At some point, I hope to go on a walking tour of the area and reconnect to the neighbourhood that housed my ancestors 200 years ago.
One Sunday after the service at St. Andrew’s United Church, Westmount, a friend of my mother’s commented on an article in the Westmount Examiner. My mother said she didn’t read that paper as she’d never lived in Westmount. “Yes you did dear,” my father replied, “but you didn’t like it!”
My parents, Donald William Sutherland and Dorothy Isabel Raguin were married on June 25, 1948. The recent war and the return of the soldiers made finding apartments very difficult. That summer they lived in Dorothy’s family home on Woodbury Ave in Outremont. Her parents, Beatrice and René Raguin were spending the summer at their cottage in Dunany, north of Montreal. Come fall and the return of the Raguins, there was no room for them there so they moved in with Donald’s mother, Minnie Eagle Sutherland and his sister, Dorothy on Arlington Avenue in Westmount.
My mother found it difficult being a new bride and living with her mother-in-law. She didn’t have much to do. Two women came in to do the housework. Mrs Mikalachki did the heavy work and Mrs Boutilier the light cleaning and ironing. When Mom tried to do things for her husband she came up against Minnie Sutherland, a proud, willful woman who wanted all things done her way. Dorothy had been a Wren during the war and worked as a sick berth attendant in Halifax, Nova Scotia. On leaving the navy, she renewed her teaching certificate and taught at Iona School in Montreal up until the day of her marriage. Sitting around listening to her mother-in-law tell her how things should be done wasn’t making her happy. She certainly didn’t want to start a family living there.
Luckily, one of her husband’s friends had an apartment on Maplewood (now Edouard Montpetit). He and his wife had bought a house and offered to have the apartment lease transferred to Dorothy and Don. My mother was thrilled with her own place but my father hated paying rent. My sister, Elizabeth Anne was born there and it was up to my mother to push the baby carriage to the post office to pay the monthly rent.
In the early fifties, the construction of new houses increased so my parents looked for a home to buy. What had been farmland and apple orchards in western Notre Dame de Grace were now streets with semi-detached brick houses. The show house on Cumberland Avenue, little longer and wider than others on the street was the one my father wanted. It had three bedrooms, a large basement and a good-sized backyard. The house was purchased on February 21, 1951, my sister’s first birthday. It was bought for $19,000 with a small mortgage. My father hated the mortgage payments and paid it off as quickly as he could.
One child soon became four with the births of Mary Ellen, Donald John and Dorothy Jean. The house became too small. My parents considered moving, although they liked the area. They looked at houses in the West Island of Montreal, but none were just what they wanted. So, in 1960 they had an addition built onto their house. A bedroom, bathroom and den were built over the garage and the kitchen was enlarged, including a laundry room.
In the mid-sixties, it became apparent that both grandmothers would soon need help. My parents considered buying a bigger house with a grannie suite, so both grandmothers could live with the family. This time they did look at houses in Westmount. My maternal grandmother lived with us for a short while but in the end, we didn’t need to move as both grandmothers died in 1967.
My mother continued to live in the house after my father died. She went into a residence in NDG in 2011 where she died in 2017 and never moved back to Westmount.
This Sunday was mother’s Day and May 11, 2020, would have been my mother’s 98th birthday so I posted this story as a remembrance of her.
Personal recollections by Dorothy and Donald Sutherland told to the author.
One house in Pointe-Claire had a large closet with sliding doors in the upstairs hall where two little girls put their dolls during the visit and forgot them. The agent returned to look for them but they were gone and never seen again.
In the mid 1600’s New France welcomed many of my ancestors from France. Among them, Genevieve Gamache a ‘marriageable young woman’, contracted to marry. She is, a sixth great grandmother, who was privately sponsored. She settled in the Quebec City area.
At the request of Louis XIV who offered incentives for people to settle in a new country Anne Thomas, also a sixth great grandmother, in 1665 along with 90 other ‘filles du roi’ (young women) boarded the ‘St. Jean Baptiste’ and sailed from Dieppe to Montreal.1.
At about the same time, in the town of Bayeux, Normandy, France, where the famous tapestry depicts the Norman Conquest of 1066, there was a young man seeking adventure. Antoine was born on the Feast of St. John the Baptist in 1664 (June 24th).2. His father Thomas Pilon, a butcher and his wife Madeleine Hugues dit Rouault had 5 children.
At the age of twenty-four Antoine left his homeland to cross the Atlantic seeking a new life in what was then a fledgling country where he became a farmer and later a landowner.
30 oct no.2656 Notarial Record – Lease on a farm 3.
Shortly after his arrival in Ville Marie Antoine, my 7th greatgrandfather chose his bride to be, Anne Brunet. Michel Mathieu Brunet dit L’Etang and Marie Madeleine Blanchard brought Anne into the world on January 1, 1672.4. Michel was a farmer and a prosperous fur trader. At the time of Anne’s birth, the family was living near Trois Rivieres. The family moved to Lachine at a later date.
Antoine and Anne were married in Notre Dame parish church in Montreal on January 29, 1689. Their first child, Jeanne was born in Montreal, December 9th of that same year. Over a period of 24 years the couple had 14 children.6. The first 3 children were born in Montreal, two, in Laprairie and the others in Lachine and Pointe-Claire. In those days not all children survived, and they lost three infants. However, several of their children lived well into their 80`s.
Church record of the marriage of Antoine and Anne 5.
On the 20 of January 1689 a solemn marriage between Antoine Pilon, son of Thomas Pilon and Madeleine Hugues, the father and mother on one hand and Marieanne (Anne) Brunet daughter of Michel Mathieu Brunet and Marie Blanchard, the father and mother on the other. Mathieu Brunet was a witness.
1689 2 janvier 21551 Notarial record of marriage 5.
Antoine was not as fortunate as his children. He died at the age of 50 on February 24th, 1715.7. He is buried in St. Joachim Ancient Cemetery beside the church in the village of Pointe-Claire not far from the home he built.
Church Record of Antoine Pilon’s burial
During those early years Ville Marie, as Montreal was called at that time, experienced numerous Indian raids. One of them being the devastating Lachine Massacre in August 1689. Many lives were lost. During the next few years efforts were made to find a peaceful resolution.
After the signing of the peace treaty, the Sulpicians, administrators, and seigneurs of the land began conceding properties. Several of my ancestors were among those who benefited from this opportunity. They chose to move westward to what we now refer to as the West Island. The first, Sebastien Cholet dit Laviolette, my 6th great-grandfather, a weaver started the trend along with his wife Anne Thomas, the ‘fille du roi’. He and his family settled in the community of present day Dorval. Their home lay on the eastern tip of Valois Bay in a small cove that bears his name, overlooking Lake St. Louis.
Antoine Pilon my 7th great-grandfather also chose to settle west of Ville Marie, following in Sebastien’s footsteps, He also purchased land in Pointe-Claire with frontage on the shores of Lake St. Louis. 9.
All the land transactions, from the original owner Pierre Sauvé to Antoine Pilon are all documented to the current date.10.
The Antoine Pilon House lies on lot 88 of the present survey, forming a part of lot number 154 in the original land registry of the Island of Montreal. Lot 154-D was conceded by the Sulpicians to Pierre Sauvé dit Laplante on November 24th,1698. Then, the size of the property was 3 acres of frontage and 60 acres deep, on the shore of Lac Saint-Louis.
Pierre Sauvé and his wife Marie-Michel sold this land to Jean du Tartre dit Desrosiers on October 27th, 1700. Two transactions took place on the same day, September 19,1706. DuTartre gave a concession to Madeleine LeMoyne, already in possession of the adjoining lot. She immediately sold lot 154-D to Antoine Pilon, having already purchased from her the adjoining lot 155-D.
Anne Brunet, Antoine’s widow, inherited the lot after Antoine`s death and she gave the land to her son Mathieu on January 22nd, 1729. The deed (acte de donation) indicates land of 5 acres of frontage to 20 acres deep, consisting of lots 154-D and 155-D. In this deed we learned that the lot contained a house, and a small barn, possibly built during the summer of 1707.
The house Antoine built remained in the Pilon family, passed on from his wife, Anne to their son Mathieu and then from father to son for 120 years.11. Remarkably it is still standing today. One can see the home when driving along 258 Lakeshore Road-Bord-du-lac near the entrance to Pointe-Claire village.
Ancestry.com. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621- 1968[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2008.Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968