Genealogy, Quebec

A Story of Tatting

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

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

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

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

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The Aqua Celluloid Shuttle

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

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Some of the Hasty Notes

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

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

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Snowflakes Mom Tatted

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

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

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

 

Notes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The tatted christening dress

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Genealogy

Finding Emerie

By

Claire Lindell

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

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

Nos origins 1
Census 2.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes:

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

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

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

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

Genealogy, Quebec

A Montreal Stockbroker

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

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

Montreal offered all these people hope of a better life.

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

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The Montreal Stock Exchange – 1903

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

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

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The Montreal Stock Exchange Building now The Centaur Theatre

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

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

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

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

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

Sydenham and Marguerite Lindsay
Sydenham and Marguerite Lindsay

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

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

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

England, Genealogy

A Moody Chef

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

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

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

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

It was still a shocking event in the family.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Credit: Pat Cryer, with permission and thanks.

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

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

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

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

A MOODY CHEF

A Pimlico Tragedy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

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

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

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

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

 

Genealogy

Lifting Up

“My father will be lifted up soon,” my husband, Georges, said to our dinner guests. I could see the puzzlement and consternation on their faces as his father had been dead over three years. Our guests were obviously wondering what exactly this meant and how to react.

I hurriedly intervened by saying, “Georges, in Canada, we leave corpses in the ground forever.” Now our guests were really confused.

Georges then explained the funeral rites in his native village of Skalados, on the island of Tinos, Greece.

Skalados is a small village with a population of under a hundred permanent residents. In the summer, the population can more than double as the families who have left the village to live elsewhere, mainly Athens, come back to enjoy their summer break on the island of Tinos.

Skalados is a Roman Catholic village and the cemetery is Catholic. When one of the villagers die, bells ring from the Catholic Church of Saint John to announce the death. The funeral service is held fairly quickly, usually within twenty-four hours, as is the custom in many hot countries. Embalming is not usual in Greece.

While the person is placed in a coffin, the person is not buried with the coffin.  The deceased is wrapped in a shroud and carefully placed in vault that has a dirt bottom, cement sides and a marble covering. There are eight places or vaults in Skalados. This means that, at some point, the person must be exhumed to make way for others.

I remember my mother-in-law explaining that when her father had been ‘lifted up’ (σήκωσε), she was the one who lovingly washed his bones with wine and prepared them to be transferred to a small chapel that is part of the cemetery. The bones are placed in a vault, identified with the person’s name and often the birth and death dates, along with a picture.

Today, though, it is not necessarily a relative who will wash and prepare the bones. One can hire someone to do this.

The Eastern Orthodox Church is considered the prevailing religion of Greece, as 90% of the population belongs to this church. Roman Catholics represent less than 1%. 1 It is no surprise that the Catholics in Tinos hold memorial masses for their loved ones as the Eastern Orthodox Church requires.  A memorial mass is held on the third, ninth and fortieth day after death, as well as three months and six months following the death, and on the first anniversary of the death and sometimes three years after the death.2

After the funeral and the memorial mass, coffee, liqueur, alcohol, and other refreshments are served. These refreshments are provided by the bereaving family and are quite elaborate. My mother-in-law explained that when she was young, relatives and friends came from far, often on donkeys, and would need a meal before the long journey home. This tradition still continues today.

Also, in the village of Skalados, the family gives a loaf of bread to each household. The family in each home will then say a prayer for the deceased’s soul during their evening meal.

The Greek Orthodox Church prohibits cremation, therefore it is not common for the Roman Catholics in Greece to have their loved ones cremated.3 For the moment, the closest crematorium is in Bulgaria, although the Greek government has approved plans for a crematorium in Athens, despite the opposition of the Greek Orthodox Church. There is overcrowding in the cemeteries and people are exhumed after three years to make room for others.4

It is the custom for bereaving women in the Orthodox Church to wear black for at least two years following the deaths of their loved ones. The Catholics of Tinos also follow this tradition.

 

  1. Wikipedia, Religion in Greece, accessed May 20, 2019
  2. Wikipedia, Memorial Service in the Eastern Orthodox Church, accessed May 19, 2019
  3. Everplans web site, Eastern Orthodox Funeral Traditions, accessed May 20, 2019
  4. The Guardian, March 12, 2019, Greece defies church with step towards first crematorium, accessed May 20, 2019
Genealogy, Quebec

Lead Crystal

My grandmother was seventy-one, barely five feet, less than ninety pounds, and very frail. She lay propped up with pillows as family hovered around her hospital bed. Her eyes were rimmed with purple with the bruise spreading down across her cheeks. Her arm was in a cast and her smashed glasses had not yet been replaced. At nine years old, I could only stand and stare in horror.

I’m sure the mugger had thought Jean was an easy mark – a quick shove, grab the purse and run. But the mugger didn’t know my grandmother. She had fought for years to keep food on the table and she was not going to relinquish her grocery money without a fight.

My grandmother was born Jean Jamison Brodie (1884-1971 , the daughter of wealthy Quebec City flour merchant. She was sickly as a child and, strangely, given into the care of her mother’s spinster sister. In 1902, Jean trained as a teacher at MacDonald College in Montreal. Controlling students bigger than she was proved to be too strenuous and she gave up teaching after only a year.

In 1911 Jean married James Rankin Angus (1878-1964) from Glasgow, a naval carpenter who immigrated to Canada. James opened The Angus Bookstore within the walls of the old city. The couple had two boys a year apart, Colin (1912-1943) and Oswald (1913- 1977), and a third son, Ian (1918-2003), five years later.

Their home was a spacious flat on Fraser Street. Jean’s aunt moved in with them, the boys grew, and the book store prospered. All was comfortable until the stock-market crash of 1929, the year the two oldest boys graduated from high school. James struggled to keep the bookstore afloat, adding a branch store in a more affluent part of town to attract new customers. He downsized his family’s living quarters. Colin and Oswald found jobs and contributed to the household finances. Jean learned to be very frugal. She walked miles to save five cents on a bunch of carrots. My father Ian claimed his mother could create a dinner with five chicken wings and make it look like a feast.

In 1935, the inevitable occurred. Both bookstores were lost. My grandfather joined the ranks of the unemployed.  But not my grandmother!  One would think, given her frailty, she would simply collapse from the weight of the stress. Instead, the desperate situation seemed tgrandparentso galvanize her strength.  She collected the books from the bankrupt stores and set about running a lending library from her home.

It was not easy for Jean to deal with the public – she was a  private person and the family’s financial downfall was very humiliating. How difficult it must have been for her to collect dues, particularly late payments, and suffer petty complaints from  customers who, once her equal, now looked down on her as merely a sales clerk. But she had a family to feed and so she persevered.

Twenty years later, in 1955, Jean was mugged on the way to the grocery store. By then, my grandfather had found employment, the children were grown and had children of their own. Jean no longer had to worry about money for the next meal. Still she refused to give up her purse. Never would she allow herself to become a victim.

 

Notes:

  • Birth certificate of Jane Jamieson Brodie – on file with author
  • Certificate issued to Jean Jamieson from the McGill Normal School – on file with author
  • Wedding Announcement, Quebec Chronicle Telegraph June 1911 – on file with author ; Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621 – 1967
  • Death to the Ashes. A self-published memoir  by Elizabeth Craig Angus, daughter-in-law to Jean Brodie Angus, in which she reminisces  on various incidents in the life of the Angus family.
Genealogy, Ontario

Charlotte and Arthur’s War-Time Wedding

I never asked my great granny Charlotte about her wedding, but the records I’ve found hint at lots of intrigue.

Did they plan a summer wedding and then rush things to avoid conscription? Had they initially hoped to marry in the church next to her home but lost the opportunity due to community infighting?

Probably, but not yet proven.

What I do know is that my great grandparents—then 23-year-old groom Arthur Johnson and his 22-year-old bride Charlotte Charbonneau—chose to marry on Friday, February 9, 1917 in an unfinished church basement blocks away from her home instead of in the church right next door.

The direct information I have about that day appears in an affidavit filled out by Arthur on January 22, signed by the witnesses and solemniser, and turned in to the Registrar on February 17.[1]

When looking at it, I couldn’t help wondering two things: why then and why there?

Why February?

She wasn’t pregnant—their first son wouldn’t be born for another two years.

Money would be tight later, but at that point both had jobs. Arthur worked as a machinist and Charlotte served as a fore-lady, probably supervising women at a factory producing something for the war.

Did the impetus to marry early in 2017 have something to do with federal government musings about conscription at that time? Prime Minister Robert Borden promised publicly that he’d send 500,000 Canadian soldiers to Europe by the end of 1916. Only 300,000 men volunteered by December 2016, and numbers dwindled as horrific details about the Battle of the Somme reached Canada.

Borden passed conscription in August the summer after Arthur and Charlotte wed. Had they married after July 6, 2017, Arthur might have been conscripted. I might not exist.

I’m not sure why Arthur didn’t serve. He certainly had close ties with Europe having immigrated to Canada from Lancashire England ten years earlier. He came to Canada with his brother Albert and his parents, Mary Young and William Johnson.

Neither Arthur nor Albert volunteered for the Armed Forces and the family remained close. Albert and his wife Amie served as witnesses at Arthur and Charlotte’s wedding.

I also wonder how they selected the location of their marriage.

Both families worshipped in the Presbyterian faith. At the time, Charlotte still lived with her parents on Cross Street in Weston, right next to a Presbyterian Church called the Old Kirk at 11 Cross Street.

Why didn’t the couple get married in the Old Kirk?

Turns out that the building couldn’t offer a legally-sanctioned marriage between March 2013 and June 2017, despite more than 200 of the 247 congregation members working hard to keep the place open.

The problem began in March 2013, when fewer than 38 people voted to close the facilities and sell the Cross Street building. Given that the snow kept 209 people at home that day, I suspect that the meeting in question took place in the Main Street building purchased for Sunday School services a year earlier.

The sordid affair appears in a wonderful history of the Church in Weston called “From Then to Now.”

At a congregational meeting in March 1913, bad weather kept attendance to 38 out of 245 members. A majority of the 38 voted to hold all future services at the new facility and to sell the Cross Street site. Westminster Presbyterian Church was then fully established on the new site and the Cross Street site was sold.

The church on Cross Street was then re-purchased by some of the old members and services resumed on January 18th, 1914. Presbytery refused to recognize this congregation though, so it operated as an independent Presbyterian Church known as The Old Kirk The group continued to worship steadfastly and endured three failed petitions to Toronto Presbytery asking to be recognized as a second Presbyterian congregation in Weston (one petition was signed by 259 members). They appealed to the General Assembly, held in Montreal in June 1917, and the appeal was sustained. The church was then named The Old Presbyterian Church. From June 1917 to 1925 there were two official Presbyterian Churches in Weston.

In 1925 Westminster Presbyterian voted for church union and The Old Presbyterian Church opted to remain Presbyterian. It was then named Weston Presbyterian Church and Westminster became Westminster United Church. [2]

I haven’t yet found definitive proof that Charlotte and her family took part in the purchase or petitions of the Cross Street building. Given that Arthur and Charlotte married within a completely different congregation, however, it’s likely that they did.

Perhaps the couple hoped to be the first marriage in the renewed building, but then chose to wed rapidly so Arthur could avoid conscription. They needed a legally-sanctioned marriage.

They Chose St. David’s Church in Toronto

Arthur’s affidavit provides the address. It indicates that Reverend Charles A. Mustard presided over Charlotte and Arthur’s wedding ceremony at 38 Harvie Avenue, a building at the corner of St. Clair Avenue.

Information contained within a Presbyterian Museum article[3] about the Church after it was torn down in 1999 gives context. The St. David’s Church congregation purchasing the Harvie site in 1911. They began operations by moving an original frame church from the south side of St. Clair Avenue opposite McRoberts to the new site. That building opened in 1912.

The community grew rapidly. By 1914, they hired Toronto architect Herbert George Paul to incorporate their original wood frame structure into a new larger building. He finished constructing only the basement, however, when the bank pulled the Church loan due to World War I.

A speech by John Barron in June 1918 describes what happened.

In the year 1911 the present site was secured. Seventy-two feet of the frontage being presented by Westminster Church, to which the Church building was moved and alterations made. This building was opened on Nov. 12, 1912.

The congregation outgrew this accommodation, and in the year 1914 plans were prepared and the present building was commenced, but owing to conditions brought about by the war, the basement only was finished and used for services to the present time.

So, instead of getting married in a perfectly good building on Charlotte’s street, community infighting and a war forced the couple to wed in an unfinished basement in St. David’s Presbyterian Church.

[1] Johnson, Arthur. Affadavid, 022461, loose paper, Office of the Registar General Ontario. Rec. Date: Jan 22, 2019. Ontario Canada Select Marriages. Archives of Ontario. Toronto. MS932, Reel 440, Ancestry.com and Genealogical Research Library (Brampton, Ontario, Canada). Ontario, Canada, Marriages, 1801-1928 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. Ancestry. http://www.ancestry.ca : 2010.

[2] From Then to Now, 1847 to 2007, a history by the Weston Presbyterian Congregation, http://westonpresbyterian.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/WestonPCHistory.pdf

[3] http://presbyterianmuseum.ca/files/2014/09/PCC-National-Presbyterian-Museum-Museum-Musings-St-Davids-cornerstone_revised.pdf

Genealogy

Jacques Archambault, Ville-Marie’s First Well Digger

When the well is dry, we shall know the value of water.

Benjamin Franklin

If your last name is Archambault there is a good chance you, too, are a descendant of Jacques Archambault of Charentes Maritimes in southwest France, a 17th century pioneer who emigrated to New France in 1645 and built Montreal’s first well and participated in North America’s first health insurance scheme.

In 1605 Antoine Archambault and Renée Ouvrand gave birth to their son Jacques, my 10th great grandfather.1. On January 24th, 1629 he married Françoise Tourault at Saint Phillbert du Pont-Charault and they had 7 children.2.

He was a laborer and a wine maker by trade. About 1645 at the age of forty, Jacques, Françoise and six of their children left France for New France. One child had died prior to their departure.

At that time, it was extremely unusual for entire families to emigrate, the cost being prohibitive. One might ask what the reasons were behind this exodus? However, around that time in their home country, Cardinal Richelieu had been persecuting Huguenots. Is it possible that Jacques and his family fled to escape these events?

The family was presumably sponsored by Pierre Legardeur de Repentigny, Director of the  Compagnie des Habitant. They set sail, most probably on Legardeur’s ship ‘Le Cardinal’.3 They arrived in Quebec City and stayed there for several years. Unfortunately, Jacques was indebted to the ship owner for the exorbitant amount of 898 livres and 10 sols. At the time 1 livre was equal to 1-pound sterling silver.

 To pay off his debt Archambault became responsible for taking care of Legardeur’s farm where Jacques also lived with his family.  In 1651 Quebec Governor Louis d’Ailleboust granted Archambault a concession of 4 arpents of frontal land “on the great river Saint Laurent in the place called le Cap Rouge”.4. a small settlement to the west of Quebec. Legardeur de Repentigny died on one of his own ships while returning to New France.

Soon thereafter, when his contract tending the farm was nearly over Jacques was contacted by Paul de Chomedy, Sieur de Maisonneuve, Governor of Montreal. There was a growing need for colonists to settle in Montreal. On November 18, 1652 de Maisonneuve gave Jacques 500 livres with a promise from him that he would live in that colony. Archambault also received large strip of land in Ville Marie, in the area that is referred to today as Old Montreal near Place d’Armes.5.

This is when Jacques Archambault enrolled in North America’s first health insurance scheme.

“During the winter of 1655 Jacques and several residents of Ville-Marie made a deal with the master surgeon, Etienne Bouchard, who was hired on March 30 to dress and give medications for all sorts of things, illnesses both natural and accidental, except for the plague. To the signers and their families for the yearly amount of 100 sols or 5 livres. If Archambault was part of the scheme, it is because he had decided that it was very useful for his family living in the territory.”5                                                                                                                                                                                             

It was in October of 1658 that de Maisonneuve agreed that Jacques would dig that historic first well in Montreal. It was to measure five feet in diameter with a guarantee of two feet of water in the bottom and was promised 300 livres and 10 pots of eau de vie (brandy). Having accomplished the first well he was asked to dig another in the garden of the hospital. His former career as a wine-maker was far behind him. He became proficient at dowsing and digging wells and was asked to construct many more.

“Near here at the Place d’Armes of the fort, Jacques Archambault (1604-1688), sole ancestor of the Archambaults of America, in 1658 constructed the first well on the Island of Montréal at de Maisonneuve’s request”.6

The first well of Ville-Marie certified by notary, 8 and dug by Jacques Archambault

Nº 58 Contract for a well

between M. Paul de Chomedey and Jacques Archambault

Dated Octobre 11, 1658

De MaiSonneuve, Bouchard L. close , BaSSet with paraphe Clerk of the court

 

Success in business came naturally to Jacques, winemaker turned well digger, however, he did experience several setbacks. The first being the death of his oldest son, Denis. He was killed in 1651 as a result of a canon explosion while fighting the Iroquois.9 On December 9, 1663 his wife of over thirty-three years, Françoise died at the age of 64.10

After a lengthy period of mourning, June 6. 1666 in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Canada, New France  Jacques married, his second wife, Marie Denot de Lamartinère, the widow of Mathieu Labat.11. (The brewers). They settled in Verdun. At the age of 74 Jacques was no longer able to work. His children showed deep gratitude toward their father and gave him a yearly allowance of 100 livres for life.

On February 15, 1688, after 84 years of active life, of which more than half was in New France, Jacques Archambault was buried in the Notre-Dame de Montréal Cemetery.

Extracted from the Death Registry of Notre-Dame of Montréal, dated February 15th, 1688.12

Sources:

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

 2. Ibid.

 3. http://www.lesarchambaultdamerique.com/francais/histoire/histoire_qui%20sommes%20nous_fr.htm

 4. https://www.geni.com/people/Jacques-Archambault/6000000000175720204

 5. Ibid.

   6.  www.sophocles.com/duval/page10.html

   7.  www.lesarchambaultdamerique.com/francais/histoire/histoire_qui%20sommes%20nous_fr.html

 8.  http://www.mdharnois.net/documents/Jacques%20Archambault.pdf

 9. https://greenerpasture.com/Ancestors/Details/928

10. https://www.geni.com/people/Jacques-Archambault/6000000000175720204

11. Ibid.

12.https://www.nosorigines.qc.ca/GenealogieQuebec.aspx?genealogie=Archambault_Jacques&pid=2403

Notes:

https://pacmusee.qc.ca/en/

A plate in the back of the Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Montreal commemorates Jacques Archambault’s digging the first water well, near what is now known as Place-d’Armes, on October 11, 1658, upon request by Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve.

Important facts about water:

  • Civilization has historically flourished around rivers and major waterways.
  • Currently, about a billion people around the world routinely drink unhealthy water.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water

Genealogy, Quebec, Scotland

Throwing Rocks

My Swiss grandfather became enthralled with curling when he came to Canada. Curling is a game invented by the Scots but my Scottish ancestors never took up the sport.

René Raguin came to Canada from Switzerland in 1910 to teach school. He knew all about winter and cold weather sports. He had skied, sledded and climbed in his homeland. Once, he cut his leg on a bobsled runner and didn’t realize the extent of the injury until until he was at the bottom of the hill. All of his trips down hill weren’t on sleds with sharp runners, some for fun were on metal trays. I am sure he thought throwing “irons” on ice would be easy when he first tried curling in Trois Rivière. 

IMG_9695
Rene Raguin on the right with some of his curling buddies. Well pinned!

Curling is a game played on a sheet of ice where rocks are thrown from the hack to the rings at the other end and one tries to get closer to the centre or button than one’s opponents. Lakes and ponds hosted the first games, played with granite stones which were plentiful in Scotland. The stones are now carved and polished so they glide over the ice and a twist of the handle gives the curl.

The Grand Caledonian Curling Club was formed in 1838 to regulate this ancient Scottish game. Apparently many rules were needed for throwing rocks on ice. The club later received its royal charter from Queen Victoria and became the Royal Caledonian Curling Club (RCCC), the mother club of the sport.

It is generally accepted that the 78th Fraser Highland Regiment brought curling to Canada in the mid 1700s. The soldiers melted cannonballs to make iron curling “stones” and curled in Québec City. Curling then moved to Montreal where men first played on cleared patches of ice on the St Lawrence river before it moved indoors. Quebecers continued to curl with “irons” until the early 1950s while the rest of the country played with granite.

When René moved to Montreal he didn’t give up curling. He first joined the St Laurence Curling Club, downtown on St Urbain Street and when he moved to Dixie, now part of Dorval, he joined the Lachine Curling Club. There he stayed. He played in bonspiels at clubs all over Quebec, Ontario and the North Eastern United States. Bonspiels are tournaments with many games played over a number of days and lots of drinks to celebrate the winners and the losers. Curlers collected pins from all the clubs where they played. Some would cover their their jackets or their hats with their pins. My grandfather had a coffee table that intrigued me as a child. Under its glass top sat many curling pins of all shapes and colours.

IMG_9647
A Squirrel Pin from The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts

He excelled at curling and skipped teams in many matches. He could easily take out his opponents stones and slide his rocks to the button. He gave back a lot to the sport which resulted in him being elected President of the Canadian Branch of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club in 1939. René was then honoured at a dinner with speeches praising his curling, his character, his tact and diplomacy with many toasts to his good health!

IMG_9623

He never traveled to Scotland but hosted the Scots on their curling tours of Canada. He became an honorary vice-president of the RCCC, the highest office available to a Canadian, for his promotion of all the traditions of curling and especially for the expansion of the game into the northern United States.

IMG_9694
The Scottish Curlers in Canada in 1950s

René enjoyed curling for the camaraderie, the skill needed and the drinks after the games. In out of town excursions he was said to be the life of the party. His son would drive him to all the area curling clubs for the New Years Levees where he would have a drink with the members and toast the coming year, “Good health and good curling.”

Notes:

https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/sports/bonspiel-history-curling-canada/Pages/curling-canada.asp

The minutes of the occasion of the election of Rene Raguin to the office of President of the Canadian branch of the Royal Caledonia Curling Club December 15, 1939 by J.J. Sophus.

The History of the Lachine Curling Club http://www.lachinecurling.com/history_en.php

Cartoon by Bill Cunningham in The Montreal Gazette in 1940.

The Heading photograph is of the Lachine Curling Club taken in 2019 by the author.

Some of Rene Raguin’s family curled a few times but I am the only family member to take up his game.