Category Archives: Genealogy

Family Diaspora

Since time immemorial parents have lost children to the far flung reaches of the globe. They left home to serve their country, to preach the Word, to better their own lives or to simply seek adventure.

Today, advances in transportation and modern technology allow families to keep in close touch no matter how far apart they find themselves. Not so in the time of my great grandfather. When five of his seven sons left Scotland at the turn of the twentieth century he knew he would likely never see them again.

My great grandparents, David Angus (1842-1929) and Ann Rankine, had themselves left their families to seek employment elsewhere. David was a shoemaker. They settled in the Glasgow district of Partick a short day’s journey from their home village of Kincardine. Of the nine children born to them in Partick only two were girls, the younger dying in infancy.

By the end of the nineteenth century Glasgow had become a heavy industry and shipbuilding center. The influx of workers into many Scottish cities was so rapid that housing, city planning and provisions for health care couldn’t keep up. This unplanned growth created squalor and over-crowding on a massive scale. Two-thirds of Scots were living in one- or two-roomed houses compared with only 7 per cent in England. Poverty was widespread, wages were low in comparison with other parts of the UK and infant mortality rates were alarmingly high. (1)

Two of David’s sons, David and Ebenezer, escaped this desperate social situation when they immigrated to Australia, David to Melbourne and Ebenezer to Sydney. They both raised families the descendants of which live in Australia today. Both brothers are buried in Australia

Thomas settled in Malaysia as a missionary. He was likely inspired, as were many others at the time, by the legendary African exploits of David Livingston from nearby Blantyre (2). Although the family lived in Kuala Lumpur, Thomas sent his daughters, Kathleen, Joan and Margery, to a missionary boarding school in southern India, the same school I attended years later when my own father worked in East Pakistan. Typically missionaries went on furlough every five years so Thomas may have seen his homeland again.

Andrew did not stray far from home. He lived and died in East Bourne, England and we can presume he returned to Scotland frequently.

My grandfather James (1879-1964) immigrated to Canada and settled in Quebec City. It was many years after his father had died before he was able to return home. He took his Canadian “bride” to Glasgow for their fiftieth wedding anniversary. His only sister Rachel, with whom he had faithfully corresponded over the years, suffered from dementia at the time of their visit and hid from him. A sad ending to their long distance relationship.

The two sons who remained in Scotland, John and William, died in middle age. It was Rachel who cared for their widowed father in the last years of his life. My father and his two brothers spent time with their aunt at her home in Steppes when they were stationed in England during World War II. Their visits were too late for their grandfather.

Today there are more people of Scottish descent living in countries around the world than there are Scots in Scotland. My family is part of this diaspora.

  1. http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/Images/MigrationandEmpire1830- 1939_tcm4-571546.doc
  2. http://protestantism.enacademic.com/389/Livingstone,_David

 

 

 

 

 

Montreal West Writes

Writing Your Family History

Got a family story that you are itching to write? Presenters Janice Hamilton and Mary Sutherland are two of nine Montreal-area genealogists who write about their ancestors and publish their stories on the family history blog Genealogy Ensemble, and in a new book called Beads in a Necklace: Family Stories from Genealogy Ensemble. Their presentation will inspire you to write about your own family and provide tips to help you start writing and publishing your stories.

Tuesday  January 16, 2018  7:00pm

Montreal West Public Library,  45 Westminster S,  514-481-7441

Note: if you can’t make this event, Janice and Mary will do the same presentation at the Benny Library in NDG on Feb. 28. Meanwhile, Tracey, Barb and Claire will be talking about writing family history at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa on Feb. 10, and other presentations are planned for Montreal and the West Island area.

 

 

Happy on the farm

When my aunt turned ninety-six a few years ago, I prepared a short bio of her life, including photos of the farm where she grew up, baptism`s, confirmations and a wonderful photo of four people working in a farm yard.

Handwriting on the photo says “maman a l’age de 20 ans” and “papa” to identify my great grandmother, Marie-Berthe Charette and my great grandfather,  with her two sisters “tante Eva” and “tante Ida.”

They are all on their knees, looking at the photographer. Jean is staring towards Marie-Berthe, who was also called Martha, with an extremely happy look on his face.

The shot is the only happy photo I have of the couple. In every other shot, they look solemn or downright miserable.

Martha was born on October 3, 1889, so if the note about her age is correct, the photo would have have been taken in 1909 or 1910, five years prior to their marriage. There’s no indication where the photo was taken. It could have been his parents’ farm, her parents’ farm, or given that they are also in the shot, perhaps even the farm where his brother Gustave and her sister Ida moved after they were married.[1]

Both Charette farms were in Clarence Creek, where their families had lived since at least 1891. His family farm was located in Sarsfield, a town right next door near the current Ottawa, Ontario.

The first Hurtubese/Charette couple was already married by the time of the happy photo in my grandmother’s photo album. Later, it would be Jean-Baptiste and Martha’s turn, then his younger brother Francois and her younger sister Dora.

All three couples would eventually follow middle Charette son Ernest, who began farming in Alberta.

My cousin says his mother used to talk about a horse and buggy ride after their family lost a farm due to a train expropriation. My aunt spoke to him about remembering her mom’s tears. I don’t know whether that trip precipitated their move to Alberta or took place afterwards.

All I know for sure is that after this photo was taken, the couple had two little girls, Donna and Marguerite. Then, sometime after their second daughters’ birth in 1917 and the 1921 Canadian Census, they bought a farm with a three-bedroom wooden house on it in Bow River, Alberta.[2]

After that, their life took a turn for the worse, and they lost everything. The dust bowl, the Depression, locusts…take your pick, they saw it all.

By 1941, the family was renting part of a house in Edmonton. He did odd jobs to get through the war years and beyond. They remained in Edmonton until her death in 1957 and his in 1959.

————————-

[1] Data from the 1911 Census of Canada, Enumeration District 21, Cumberland Township, Russell, Ontario, Sarsfield Village, Léonard Village, Bear Brook Village, page 7, line 48.

[2] Data from the 1921 Census of Canada, Enumeration District 2, Bow River, Alberta, section 7, township 22, range 21, Meridian 4, page 6, line 28.

A Contrast in Character

DrHenry

Dr. Henry Portrait.

He looks like one of the clan in the snapshot, with a trim athletic body, a handsome, rugged face, full-lips, sturdy chin, prominent brow over deep set eyes. He is confident in his posture as well as a snappy dresser.

He is Dr. Henry Watters of Kingsbury, Quebec and Newton, Massachusetts, first cousin to my husband’s grandmother, Marion Nicholson, the son of her Aunt Christina on her father, Norman’s, side.

That also makes him first cousin to Herbert Nicholson, Marion’s older brother.  And although the two young men resembled each other in build and facial features, they could not have been less alike!

Dr. Henry , by all accounts, was a near-perfect man, a  high-achiever, a man who rose to the top of his profession at the Newton Hospital near Boston, but who remained devoted to family (and that includes his cousins) throughout his life.

Despite his busy vocation, he corresponded with all of his extended family, regularly, with letters than demonstrated uncommon empathy. When writing his youngest cousin, Flora, who apparently had complained of boy troubles in her letter, “I don’t have much experience in these matters, but I can only say, if he doesn’t want you, he isn’t worthy of you.”

Herb, well, what can I say?  As the only son of Norman and Margaret Nicholson of Richmond, Quebec, great things were expected of him. A whopping FIVE dollars was put aside at his birth in 1885 to start a bank account for his future medical career. But, upon graduation from St Francis College in 1905, he went to work as a clerk at the Eastern Townships Bank.

A ladies man and/or a gambler, Herbert immediately got into debt, borrowing money off all of his relations, until, in 1910,  he got into such a desperate situation that he filched 60 dollars from the till at work.

Herbert didn’t go to jail: The Nicholsons were too well connected for that, but even Norman’s patron, E.W. Tobin, the Liberal MP for Richmond, Wolfe, couldn’t help Herbert’s cause.

  Herbert was forced to skulk out West. His already cash-strapped dad had to come up with the huge sum of 500 dollars to help pay his sons debts and travel expenses.

Herbert was a teeny bit ashamed. “Don’t tell anyone where I am,” he wrote to his parents from Saskatchewan, where he was staying with Norman’s former partner in the hemlock bark business.

Out West, Herbert worked in a series of jobs in, yes, banking, then insurance, and then with a the farm equipment company, Massey-Harris.

At one point he devised a scheme to dupe immigrant farmers out of their hard-earned cash.

“I also made a 100 dollars yesterday in the shape of a man’s note due in a year’s time. I sold a threshing outfit that I repossessed from a party that could not pay for it.  For 3300 and as there was only 3000 against the rig to the company; I am 300 dollars to the good.  In doing this I had to divide up with two others who assisted me and knew what I was doing so we get 100 each.  Have to keep these things quiet, of course.”

 

Herbletterhead

Herb’s letterhead from 1911-12 illustrating his roving ways

His other letters home were full of complaints about his workload, the freezing cold weather, etc. – and no shortage of insights into how capitalism works. “You have to already be rich to get rich out here,” he said.

Later, Herbert settled down in ‘real estate’ in Vancouver, got married twice to wealthy women, and then moved on to California.  He died in 1967, childless.

Beside his name in the Nicholson family genealogy it says “Successful Banker.” sic.

Dr. Henry ,whose dad, Alexander Watters,  was a Kingsbury, Quebec farmer, never married.  Henry employed his younger sisters, Christina then Anna, as his housekeeper in his comfortable clapboard Colonial in Newton, Massachusetts.

Henry may not have been a ladies man in the usual sense of the word, but he certainly had a way with the young ladies in his family. In the 1910 period, he indulged the Nicholson women no end with trips to Wellesley College in his flashy Stanley Steamer, with sea-bathing at Nantucket, box seats at Red Sox games, theatre plays, and dinners at the posh Windsor Hotel in Montreal, when at home visiting.

His younger sister, May, got new shirtwaist suits and fancy hats from him as gifts on a regular basis. Henry once used his  vacation time to drive his Aunt Margaret up and down the E.T to visit old friends.

And much to his Uncle Norman’s admiration, he paid his own father, Alexander, a trip “home” to the Old Country in 1911. “Not many sons would do that,” wrote an envious Norman to his wife.

Unlike Herbert, who found nothing good to say about any of his employers, the banks, the railway or insurance,  Dr. Henry never complained about work as a doctor and surgeon in his letters to family, even when suffering from a fatal disease at a relatively young age.

From his obituary in the New England Journal of Medicine: “When stricken with what he knew meant the shortening of his days and the limiting of his activities, he carried on cheerfully and uncomplainingly. He was the friend as well as the associate of those  with whom he worked, the friend and the physician of his patients.

Dr. Henry died 1937 and is buried at home, of course, in the clan cemetery in Melbourne, Quebec.  Herbert died in 1967 and is buried somewhere in a Long Beach cemetery. His last visit home to Richmond was in the 1920’s.

Herbnicholson1910

 Herbert Nicholson 1910ish

The information comes from the Nicholson Family letters of the 1910 period. The Watters clan of Kingsbury, Quebec is written down as Waters on the 1911 Canadian Census. Henry had a younger brother, William, who died in 1910. A photo on Ancestry claims this 21 year old William is an MD too. He must have been a recently graduated one, or still a student.

I have a short obit cut out left by the Nicholsons. It says the family is shocked at William’s death in Montreal, but nothing  else. A man could catch a cold and die in a day in those days, but this very short obit suggests something else more nefarious.

Below: 1911 census showing Herbert Nicholson living in a boarding house in Qu’Appelle Saskatchewan, with two recent immigrants, one from Germany, one of Scotland (a bartender, no less) and a female (!!!) stenographer. His temperance-minded parents would have passed out, had they known. 

 

quappelle

*This post was originally published on Writing Montreal, my blog.

Great-Aunt Amelia’s Christmas Goblet

Every year at Christmas dinner, my husband toasts our guests with a small antique goblet. His gesture has become a new family tradition. Before he came across this goblet in our kitchen cupboard, it had sat unused at my parents’ Montreal home for decades. I had no idea what it was or how it came into the family.

A pattern of flowers and leaves encircles the metal goblet and the initials and date “MJM to AJB Dec. 25 1852” are inscribed. I realized it must have originally been a Christmas gift, but from whom and to whom?

Amelia's gobletResearch revealed that MJM was MacGregor Joseph Mitcheson (1828-1886), and AJB was his 10-month-old niece Amelia Josephine Bagg (1852-1938). This must have been a gift MacGregor sent Amelia for her first Christmas. A fancy goblet seems like a rather strange present for a young man to give a baby, so perhaps it was a tradition, or his parents’ idea.

Amelia was the second surviving daughter of Montreal notary and landowner Stanley Clark Bagg (1820-1873) and his wife, Catharine Mitcheson Bagg (1822-1914). Catharine’s family lived in Philadelphia and McGregor J. Mitcheson was the youngest of her three brothers. In 1852, he was age 24 and a law graduate of the University of Pennsylvania who had recently been admitted to the bar of Philadelphia.

Despite the distance between the two cities, Catherine Mitcheson Bagg and her brother seem to have been quite close, so perhaps McGregor and Amelia eventually got to know each other. Amelia was 21 when her father died in 1873, and McGregor was one of the executors of Stanley Clark Bagg’s will, so he may have travelled to Montreal to advise his sister on family matters.

MacGregor J MitchesonMacGregor must have been an unforgettable house guest. His blue-grey eyes and long brown beard give him a rather wild appearance.1 He also had a forceful personality. In a book on Philadelphia lawyers, written some 30 years after MacGregor’s death, a former colleague recalled, “There never was an advocate who fought harder, or who merged his excessively egotistic personality more completely in that of his client. In another important sense was he entitled to great praise. He had a ready and instinctive perception of every essential fact in a case, in all its bearings, and a fine gift of memory for retaining them …..”2

Professionally, he specialized in real estate law. In the community, he was involved in the charity work of the United States Sanitary Commission at the time of the U.S. Civil War, he was president of the Northern Home for Friendless Children and Soldiers’ Orphans for many years, and he was an active member of the Protestant Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.3

MacGregor married at age 41 to Ellen Brander Alexander Bond, a widow with a young daughter, and together they had three children. One died as a child, one did not marry and one married but had no children.

As for MacGregor’s niece Amelia, she also married relatively late at life. She married her first husband, real estate agent Joseph Mulholland, in 1890 and he died seven years later. Her second husband, Rev. John George Norton, Anglican Archdeacon and Rector of Montreal., was a widower.

Amelia had no children of her own, but she was quite close to her niece Gwendolyn Bagg (1887-1963) and Gwen’s husband, Fred Murray Smith — my future grandparents. They probably inherited the goblet when Aunt Amelia died, age 86, in 1938. For them, it would have been a precious reminder of a favourite aunt and a link to a great-uncle who died the year before Gwen was born.

Photo of MacGregor J. Mitcheson by Wm. Notman & Son, Montreal; Bagg family collection.

This article is also posted on http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca

Notes and Sources

I have described the goblet as metal because I do not know whether it is silver or pewter. There is no hallmark.

MacGregor J. Mitcheson was born Joseph MacGregor Mitcheson on Nov. 26, 1828 and died at age 57 on June 29, 1886. These dates are according to the cemetery records of St. James the Less Episcopal Church, Philadelphia. The records of St. John’s Protestant Episcopal Church, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia, held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, say he was baptized on April 17, 1829.

MacGregor eventually lived on Locust Street in downtown Philadelphia in a house designed by architect Frank Furness. See http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMG1GH_MacGregor_Mitcheson_House_Philadelphia_Pennsylvania

  1. “U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,” Ancestry.ca [database on-line] entry for MacGregor J. Mitcheson, 1865; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington DC. ARC Identifier 56612/MLR Number A1 508, NARA Series M1372; Roll # 127.
  2. Robert D. Coxe, Legal Philadelphia: Comments and Memories, Philadelphia: W.J. Campbell, 1908, p. 140, accessed March 3, 2013.
  3. An Historical Catalogue of the St. Andrews Society of Philadelphia with Biographical Sketches of Deceased Members, 1749-1907, printed for the Society, 1907; Google Books, accessed July 19, 2013.

A Wren’s Story: Dorothy Isabel Raguin

IMG_9015

Dorothy Raguin my mother, joined the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS) known as the Wrens in April 1943. She left a job teaching grade three at Berthelet School in Montreal to help in the war effort and to look after her brothers, Robert and Arthur Raguin, both serving in the Navy.

She had graduated from The High School of Montreal Girls School in 1939 and then attended MacDonald College for teacher’s training and began her teaching career.

War was declared in September 1939, but it wasn’t until three years later that the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service was formed. Dorothy was one of over 6000 women who joined the navy, allowing the shore-based men to go to sea. The navy was the last of the forces to admit women. The first recruits were cooks, clerks and laundry maids but by the end of the war, women filled 39 trades including communication operators, signalman, coders and radar plotters. Their pay was also raised from two-thirds of a man’s to eighty percent. The Navy found women were useful.

The Wrens were inundated with applications even though the Army and Airforce had been recruiting women for two years. These women wanted to join the Navy. As the smallest of women’s services, it claimed to be the most selective. The Wrens were known to have recruited a “better type” of girl. They were ladies, not sailors and kept their hats on indoors.

There was a short three-week course at the WRCNS training centre HMCS Conestoga, in Galt Ontario. This facility which had been a girls reform school was referred to as a “stone frigate.” The women put on the Wren uniform and had a rapid transition into military life. They were given physical training, drill practice and learned about naval traditions and customs.“ They all seemed anxious to serve and do something constructive to help win the war. I found them very receptive to naval tradition and amenable to discipline, said Superintendent Carpenter. ”¹

Dorothy was drafted to HMCS Cornwallis September 1943. Mom’s first posting was to a hospital base, Stadacona in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A family friend, Miss Fellows was in charge of the women and had two sick berth attendant positions available. These were prime positions working in the laboratories. One was in haematology and the other in urinalysis. Mom chose blood and a friend got the other position.

 

IMG_8721

Lab in Halifax 1944

 

It wasn’t all work, marching and standing in lines. In their free time, they visited the scenic places around Halifax including Peggy’s Cove and Chester NS. There were always men coming and going from the ships and the Wrens used to take some of the patients rowing on the Arm. As innocent women, they were warned to be careful walking on Gottingen Street which had buildings right to the sidewalk, as they could be grabbed from the doorways! Dorothy celebrated her 21st birthday in the Navy with a lobster dinner at the Lord Nelson Hotel, a treat by her cousin Richard Scrivner who was then a Navy Commander. It was her first lobster and she never had another. There was also trip with other Wrens to New York City. They didn’t have to pay for their hotel and received meals for free as a thank you for their service.

IMG_8727

Doreen, Dorothy, Gwen

One of her teaching friends Mary Hawkins wrote in May 1943 from Halifax. “Dorothy Raguin and I met at the ANA (Army, Navy, Airforce) Club yesterday. She looks fit and is getting a kick out of the Wrens. She was in the School for Teachers the year before I was and was teaching at Berthelet. She left a month after I did – to join the Navy. I asked her if the Wrens get their tot of rum and she said, No, but apart from that everything is just the way Nelson left it. I know what she meant.”²

She finished her duty doing discharge physicals at the Royal Canadian Naval Hospital (RCNH) St Hyacinthe, Quebec. Her transfer was mentioned in the Tiddley Times, the Wrens newsletter. “Our hospital staff have been lucky in the acquisition of Dorothy Raguin, Aileen Fee and P.O. Anne Hawke, all lab. technicians with first-hand experience from Halifax.”³ The WRCNS disbanded in August of 1946 as women were not needed in peacetime.

Dorothy saw her brothers only once while she was in the Navy. She arranged dates for them when their ship came into Halifax. Happily, they managed to survive without her care and returned home safely.

IMG_8784
Dorothy Raguin

 

My mother Dorothy Raguin Sutherland, died recently, at 95. She was proud of her service in the Navy and so to honour her and her service to Canada I am posting this story.

Notes:

  1. Superintendent Carpenter on Navy Radio, Recorded10 June 1943 for broadcast 14 and 16 June on CBC. Library and Archives Canada: MG30 E 391 Volume 1.
  1. Buch, Mary Hawkins., and Carolyn Gossage. Props on Her Sleeve: The Wartime Letters of a Canadian Airwoman. Toronto: Dundurn, 1997. Print.
  1. Tiddly Times May – June 1945 Wrens Newsletter page 26.
  1. Huba, Diane., The Wrens 70th Anniversary 2012. Starshell Volume VII No. 58, Spring 2012.
  1. Dorothy Raguin Sutherland reminiscences as told to the author.
  1. www.navaireview.ca/wp-content/uploads/public/vol3num3/vol3num3art5.pdf
  1. www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/wmens-royal-canadian-naval-service/

The Bulford Kiwi

Not many families have a big bird named after them.

Well, we do! It is a New Zealand Kiwi bird and it is carved into the chalk hills in Wiltshire, England. It has been there since 1919, so close to famous, ancient Stonehenge, yet virtually unknown.

During my genealogy searching online for family members, like many researchers, I ‘Googled’ my surname, Bulford, but I would always get sent to ‘Bulford Camp’ in Salisbury, Wiltshire, in the UK, which is a large Army camp that was established in 1897.

The Bulford Army Base is still in use today alongside Bulford Village and the Church. Many times, over the years, family members would go to Bulford to get our photos taken with the Village sign.

My Uncle Roy Bulford Circa 1960’s

Marian, Bulford Camp sign. 1993. No longer a country road!  

Bulford Village grew up on the gravels beside the river Avon. The meaning of Bulford is difficult but the most likely explanation is ‘the ford where the ragged robins grow’ or ‘ragged robin island’.  Bulut is Saxon for ‘ragged robin’ and in the 12th century the name was Bultesford. ¹

The Bulford Kiwi is carved on Beacon Hill above the military village of Bulford on Salisbury Plain. Hill figures, or geoglyphs, ² are designed to be seen from afar rather than above and are a phenomenon especially seen in England. The letters “N.Z.” are 65 feet (20 m) high.

This one was carved after the First World War by the Kiwis (as the New Zealanders were called), eager to get back home. Apparently, no troop ships were immediately available and the troops had a few riots in protest, so officers decided that they should be kept busy by carving a Kiwi into the chalk hills!

In 1919, the Canterbury and Otago Engineer Battalions started their work. The design was drawn by Sergeant-Major Percy Cecil Blenkarne, a drawing instructor in the Education Staff, from a sketch of a stuffed kiwi specimen in the British Museum.

In real life, Kiwis are a nocturnal, flightless bird about the size of a chicken with long legs and beak. The kiwi’s muscular legs make up around a third of its total body weight and can outrun a man. The chalk Kiwi’s body covers 1.5 acres (6,100 m2).

Kiwi Bird found only in New Zealand

The site was surveyed and the design put on to the site by Sergeant-Major V.T. Low of the education staff. From the Kiwi’s feet to the top of its back is 420 feet (130 m) and the beak is 150 feet (46 m) long.

In the years after the Kiwi’s creation, the Kiwi Polish Company – the very polish used to shine our forces’ issued marching boots – maintained the Kiwi through their offices in London, employing local villagers to do the work. Although it had “little if any advertising value [for the company]”, they explained their interest in its upkeep as its being a memorial to the New Zealand troops.³

The chalk Bulford Kiwi

 

SOURCES

Bulford parish itself is rectangular, extending eastwards from the banks of the river and the boundaries have remained unchanged for more than a thousand years. In the Middle Ages, there was a settlement called Hindurrington, to the north of Bulford church, that was also on the river gravels. The name may have originated because the settlement was at the back of Durrington, which was on the other side of the river.[1]

http://bulfordparishcouncil.org/history-bulford-village.html [1]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hill_figure Info about the chalk figures in the UK [2]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulford_Kiwi shoe polish [3]

FOOTNOTES

Hill figures are cut in the grass to reveal the chalk and include the Cerne Abbas Giant the Uffington White Horse, the Long Man of Wilmington as well as the ‘lost’ carvings at Cambridge, Oxford and Plymouth Hoe.

For further photos of the chalk Kiwi follow this link:

https://www.google.ca/search?q=Bulford+Kiwi+photos&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&client=firefox-b&gfe_rd=cr&dcr=0&ei=M88tWo3VE8XL8AfXvqzIBQ

Dear Uncle Bill

Dear Uncle Bill,

While rummaging through the Dusty Old Boxes containing family memorabilia, I came upon letters written by you to your only brother, my father, Tom.  There were also letters written to your sweetheart during WWII while you were stationed in England serving with the RCAF. So I thought the best way to remember you would be in the form of a letter.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lucy and I am one of your nieces.

Our paths never crossed.  I was only born in 1957 and you died in 1943. Your brother had seven children.  I was his fourth.  His eldest son, born in 1949, was named after you – William Sherron Anglin II.

While staying with my family in England in 2016, I visited you in person at your last known address:  Runnymede Memorial[1], Panel 179, Surrey, UK.  My grandchildren, who always enjoy a challenge, accompanied me in my search to find you. It didn’t take them long to find your panel and you – or your name, that is – inscribed on one of several stone walls, along with 20,000 other airmen,  at this dedicated memorial building on Cooper’s Hill overlooking the Thames River.

Your name was too high up for the children to touch but I brushed my fingers lovingly over your name and told you we were there. I am quite sure you knew it. You had an interest in mental telepathy, as did your grandfather, and his story was documented in the family boxes as well.  (Surgeon and Mentalist)

Throughout your letters to Tom, along with childhood memories, you shared and referred to an interest in The Rosicrucian Order which “is a community of mystics who study and practice the metaphysical laws governing the universe”.[2]

You maintained the belief in an ability to “project” yourself and to send mental messages. I can only guess that a feeling of closeness to your brother by any means must have consoled you greatly while away at war in England.

In your letters to your sweetheart, you described England in general (with the usual complaints about the rainy weather), your life with the RCAF, weekend leaves to Scotland and dances in the mess hall “wishing you were there”.  Although I don’t have her letters in response, I am sure you took great comfort in hearing from her.

You were sent on a training course at the end of May 1943 and, while away, your crew went on a mission without you – never to return. In the last letter to your girl, you confided that you were feeling “depressed” at their loss.  On the very next mission, you went missing as well.

Last picture of Uncle William

Last picture of Uncle Bill (far left) – 1943

Not long afterwards, your sweetheart sent a bundle of your cherished letters, wrapped in a bow, to your mother and wrote “I know I want to forget as soon as I am able, everything – and so I am sending you the few letters I had saved from those Bill sent me from England.  I hope that you would rather have them, than not … perhaps they will make you glad to have something more – to know something else of Bill’s life in England … rather than rake up memories you are trying to forget. For while I want to forget, I feel so sure that you will want to remember.”

Your mother never gave up hope that you would return one day.

Wendling & Josephine Anglin and sons Bill and Tom (1940)

Bill, Wendling  (the stock broker), Josephine, Tom and family dog (1940).

The abundant number of photos found with the letters in these boxes show your 27 years filled with family times – gatherings, annual trips, formal portraits, a few pets and a full life.

You will not be forgotten.

Lovingly,

Your niece Lucy

Note:

http://www.aircrewremembered.com/richmond-bruce.html

William Sherron Anglin was an Air/Gunner and Warrants Officer II with the 429 Squadron flying in a Wellington X bomber, Serial no. HZ471.

Reason for Loss:

Took off from R.A.F. East Moor, North Yorkshire at 22.36 hrs joining 719 aircraft attacking the town of Wuppertal, the home of the Goldchmitt firm which produced Tego-Film, a wood adhesive used in the production of the HE162 and TA154 (aircraft).  Around 1000 acres was destroyed in the firestorm that followed – 211 industrial buildings and nearly 4,000 houses were totally destroyed. A figure of 3,400 fatalities on the ground has been recorded. Bomber command did not escape lightly on this operation losing some 36 aircraft.

It is thought “probable” that HZ471 was shot down by Lt. Rolf Bussmann, flying out of Venlo airfield, and attacking this Wellington at 3,700 meters with the aircraft falling into the sea off Vlissingen.

429 Squadron possible loss area

[1] https://wiki2.org/en/Runnymede as at November 19, 2017

[2] https://www.rosicrucian.org/ as at November 19, 2017.

Dad’s Favourite Christmas Story

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

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

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

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

Who would take care of young Frankie?

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

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

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

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

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

Notes:

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

http://www.greatbritishchefs.com/features/the-reveillon-christmas-canada

 

 

 

Our book “Beads in a Necklace” launches today!

I’m so excited. Our book comes home from the printer today and we’re planning a fun celebration of its existence tonight.

Here’s how we’ve described our creation on the backcover:

Book back cover photo

A Fun Collaboration

This work came to shape slowly over time. Lucy Anglin, Barb Angus, Marian Bulford, Janice Hamilton, Claire Lindell, Sandra McHugh, Dorothy Nixon, Mary Sutherland and I have been gathering monthly for five years. Together, we’ve learned how to craft our research into our ancestors into compelling literary non-fiction  that anyone might enjoy reading.

Late last year, we began speaking about the possibility of putting our favourite stories together into a book.

Today, our dream takes shape. In this work, you’ll meet several of our ancestors, including:

  • Fille du roi Anne Thomas, who married master carpenter Claude Jodoin in Montreal way back in 1666;
  • Felicité Poulin, 18th-century career woman, Ursuline nun and matchmaker;
  • Stanley Bagg, Massachusetts-born merchant who helped build the Lachine Canal in the 1820s;
  • Gospel singer Edward McHugh, whose 1910-period debut at the Montreal Hunt Club launched an international career; and
  • William Anglin, respected Victorian-era Kingston, Ontario surgeon and wannabe thought-reader.

For more information, refer to our book webpage.

Official Book Launch Tonight

Tonight from 7 until 9 p.m., we’ll be celebrating our creation in the hall of the St. John the Baptist Church, 233 St. Claire Street in Pointe-Claire. If you’re in Montreal, feel free to join us for wine, cheese, sandwiches, home-made treats and a couple of readings from the book.

We’ve also put together some photographs and heritage items for a display to highlight some of the stories.

A self-published limited edition paperback will be on sale for $20.

Tomorrow, we’ll take whatever books are left to Livres Presque 9/Nearly New Books, 5885 Sherbrooke O; Montreal, Quebec H4A1X6, 514 482-7323. You can pick up a copy there while supplies last.

If you prefer a digital copy, an Amazon Kindle edition is available for $3.89.

Hope you enjoy reading our work as much as we enjoyed writing it. I’d love to hear your comments below.

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