Category Archives: Genealogy

The Story of Three Thomas Wells’s

or

In Praise of Small, Local Museums

 

THOMASWELLS

My husband’s grandfather, Thomas Gavine “Fuddy” Wells, born 1868, Ingersoll, Ontario.

My husband’s grandfather, Thomas Gavine Wells, or “Fuddy” was born in Ingersoll, Ontario in 1868,“ the year after Canadian Confederation” as my father-in-law, Thomas Gavine Wells Jr. liked to say.

According to my father-in-law, Fuddy’s father, also Thomas Wells, was a lawyer from  England. His mother was a White – and, by the way – the Whites invented the hockey net.

This is everything my father-in-law, who loved to regale us with family stories, knew about his father’s British branch.

It has taken me quite a few years to confirm through the historical record that this information is correct –  well, except for the hockey net part.

…..

A few years ago, I started researching the background of my husband’s grandfather, Thomas “Fuddy” Wells, the one born in 1868 in Ingersoll.

As a young man,  Fuddy came to Montreal to work as an accountant for his uncle, Thomas White, who had founded an accidental company, Laurentian Spring Water, when he stumbled upon a golden aquifer under Craig Street while digging a well to service a shoe factory. Fuddy eventually became a salesman and then the President of the company.

Laurentian Spring Water was the first bottled water company in North America – and that deserves a story of its own – but not here.

DAPPERGENTS

The dapper gentlemen of the St. George’s Lawn Bowling Club, Westmount, Quebec. Fuddy is seated above the man on grass with splayed legs.

 

This piece is about my more recent search for more information about Fuddy’s father, Thomas, the lawyer in Ingersoll, Ontario, who was from England, but what part?

But, finding that out was difficult. Putting up my husband’s DNA  on Ancestry did nothing to clear up the mystery. Wells is a common name, as is White.

Making things more difficult, Fuddy’s birth certificate isn’t online, nor is Thomas, the lawyer’s, marriage certificate to Mary White.

CENSUS

However, Fuddy’s four marriages (yes) are online, giving his birth as 1868 and his mother as Mary White.

The  1901 and 1911 censes claim Fuddy was born in England, in 1868, (that would explain the lack of a Canadian birth certificate) but the 1881 census (above) confirms he was Canadian-born.

The paper-trail isn’t always to be trusted, it seems.

According to an online notice from the Canadian Law Almanac, Fuddy’s father, Thomas, started his law career in Ingersoll in 1866 – the year before Confederation.

Now, I put all this information aside for a year or two until a few months ago when a genealogist friend  said she’d give it a try using UK records.  After a bit she got back to me: “No luck. There are just too many Thomas Wellses,” she said.

Then, trolling the Internet for more information,  I stumbled  upon a brand new net nugget: a citation in the footnotes of a book published in 1989 for “Diary of Thomas Wells, teacher, 1851-1864, Ingersoll Cheese Factory Museum.”

I immediately contacted said Cheese Factory Museum to be told that Thomas Wells’ diary was in the Ontario Archives – and, then,  I couldn’t find it on their database. Darn!

But, shortly  thereafter, I received another email.

An intrepid researcher at the Ingersoll Museum had taken it upon herself to do a little research about Thomas Wells and she had discovered his obituary in the Woodstock Journal. Bingo!

Thomas, it seems, was born in Fulbourn, Cambridgeshire, 4 miles from the famed University.

His father, John, had a farm there, 326 acres, 10 employees.*

Thomas came to Canada in 1854, to Ingersoll in 1856, and worked as a teacher as he put himself through law school. He was a sportsman, like many of his descendants, and played baseball among other games. (He kept a diary that was used for a very detailed thesis and subsequent book on amateur sports in small-town Ontario.)*

Thomas, said the  obit, was “the Dean of Western Ontario lawyers” and was still practicing law at 93 years of age, right up until his death in 1926!

Now, that ‘s a scintillating family story my father-in-law  should have passed on to his four children and fourteen grandchildren.

It was every bit as good as the  ‘hockey net’ one – and it has the added benefit of being true.

INGERSOLL

The Professionals of Ingersoll. Thanks to the railway, Ingersoll (between Toronto and London) was a town of note in the 1870’s, with a healthy sporting rivalry with nearby Woodstock. But the hockey net was NOT invented there. According to online info, the hockey net  was invented in Beamsville, Ontario.

 

WestmountHIGH
Westmount High School Football Team, circa 1936. Thomas Gavine Wells Jr., my father-in-law, second row, fourth from left.  He played semi pro hockey for a Montreal team, but that career was ended at 19 when Emile “Butch” Bouchard, the future defenceman for the storied Montreal Canadiens, checked him into the boards at the Montreal Forum. He broke a leg. (Wikipedia describes Bouchard as ‘the best body checker of his era.’ OUCH!)

 

*Fulbourn Valley Farm, as described in a Victorian Era list of Cambridgeshire farms on the Internet. This was a farm slightly above average size for the era in England.

There are other snippets about John and his Cambridgeshire farm on the Net: hail was a problem for his barley crops; his maid lied a lot;  his wife took over the farm when he died; and there were two ransacked Roman burial tombs on the farm.

JohnWells

*For the Love of the Sport: Amateur Sports in Small-Town Ontario. Bouchier, Nancy B. (Her thesis is available at Canada’s Thesis Portal.)

(Funny story: researching Fuddy’s life in Montreal for a book, Milk and Water: Scandals, Lies and Covers-Up in Jazz Age Montreal, I came across a 1903 snippet in a newspaper about the St George’s Club and how they evaded Westmount prohibition by claiming to be a private club and not encumbered by city by-laws.)

The Protestants of Paris in the 16th and 17th Centuries

Protestantism in Paris

The first national Protestant synod was held in Paris in 1559.  See the following French language text by Christiane Guttinger; scroll down the page for the English translation.

http://www.huguenots.fr/2010/09/le-premier-synode-national-protestant-reuni-a-paris-en-1559/

The City of Paris is home to splendid archives, libraries and societies in the repositories of which you may find partial answers to your questions about an ancestor who might have been a member of the Église réformée de France or l’Église luthérienne en France from as early as 1555 in the Paris region.

Some of the leading societies or repositories addressing Huguenots in the Paris region are: Société de l’Histoire du Protestantisme Français, Comité protestant des amitiés françaises à l’étranger (Paris), BnF – Bibliothèque nationale de France (Paris), Archives nationales de France (Paris), Archives de Paris, Archives départementales de Paris, Archives départementales – Essonne, Archives départementales – Eure-et-Loir, Archives départementales – Hauts-de-Seine, Archives départementales – Loiret, Archives départementales – Seine-et-Marne, Archives départementales – Seine-Saint-Denis, Archives départementales – Val-de-Marne, Archives départementales – Val-d’Oise – Archives départementales – Yvelines, Archives départementales – Yonne – Archives municipales of the region of Paris

If you are researching French Protestant ancestors who came to North America, you may find the following site of special interest: The Huguenot Refuge in America is an online museum and website in French, English and German.  See https://www.museeprotestant.org/en/notice/le-refuge-huguenot-en-amerique/

The following 45-page compilation in PDF format is designed to help you research Protestants in the Paris area in the 16th and 17th centuries. Click here:  The Protestants of Paris 16th, 17th centuries

This compilation includes various listings; a list of books and articles on the subject (many of these are in French; you can use an online tool such as Google Translate to help understand these texts); a list of historical societies concerned with Protestantism in France; a list of online archival resources including databases, libraries and museums; links to the national library of France, national archives of France, the archives of Paris and other departmental and municipal archives; links to historic Protestant newspapers; French genealogical links; a list of publishers.

See also the following related posts on Genealogy Ensemble:

Jacques Gagné, May 20, 2018, «How to Search for Huguenot Ancestors in Francehttps://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/20/how-to-search-for-huguenot-ancestors-in-france/

Jacques Gagné, June 3, 2018, «Huguenot Family Lineage Searches,»  https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/06/03/huguenot-family-lineage-searches/

Jacques Gagné, May 13, 2018, «Researching Your French Ancestors Online,» (the attached updated PDF describes how to research in the Archives départementales de France, the country’s 95 regional archives)  https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/13/researching-your-french-ancestors-online/

Jacques Gagné, Jan. 27, 2019, «The National Archives of France, » https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/01/27/the-national-archives-of-france/

Jacques Gagné, Dec. 16, 2018, «BNF Gallica» (Bibliothèque nationale de France) https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/12/16/bnf-gallica/

Jacques Gagné,  Sept. 23, 2018, «Finding Ancestors in French Municipal Archives» https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/09/23/finding-ancestors-in-french-municipal-archives/

The Future of Asbestos

Asbestos Part 3

In August 2019 my genealogy friend, Marian and I drove to Asbestos, a mining town among the gentle rolling hills of the Eastern Townships. We took the scenic route, admiring the lush farms as we drove along secondary roads, away from the hustle and bustle of the major highway between Montreal and Quebec City. The town is approximately a two-hour drive from the city.

location of the town of asbestos

Our family had moved to Asbestos in 1945. Our house was very close to the Jeffrey Mine, perhaps about 300-400 yards from the largest open pit in North America.

Jeffrey Mine, 1952
Jeffrey Mine 1952 with St. Aime Church #3 visible.

When we arrived in Asbestos on that warm summer day, we began our visit in what was once our very modern St. Aime Parish Church, that still maintains the beautiful Casavant organ where there are occasional organ recitals. The church is now transformed into the town hall, a local library, and a mining museum. The young lady librarian was knowledgeable and helpful with information and some suggestions, one of them being to make certain we visit the lookout.

It was in the museum section that I took a careful look at the huge diorama and noted the many identified expansions of the pit. It was difficult to comprehend all the changes that had taken place over a span of nearly 75 years, from my earliest memories when we first arrived in Asbestos. The large diorama indicated where our home once was. All the childhood visions came to the forefront. This  created a deep feeling of loss, one that permeated most of that day.

We left the library and drove around looking for places and landmarks that might be remotely familiar. There were no traces of childhood haunts. They were long gone! Our house, our neighbour’s homes, the Main Office, the hospital, the school at the end of our street, the movie theatre, the bowling alley, the outdoor skating rink, the hardware store and so many other buildings along the main street have become a part of the history of the town now only to be seen in photographs! They are forever etched in our data banks, along with multitudes of childhood memories.

New areas were built away from the open pit as it grew and expanded.

We ventured over to the lookout and we both gasped at the enormity of what lay before us. Once this giant hole was active with several 200-ton trucks moving in and out along paved roads carrying tons of crushed asbestos rocks containing fibres up to the mill for processing.  There were no more trucks or roadways. Today, the pit is simply referred to as “the hole” by the townspeople, silently, slowly filling with water.

Jeffrey Mine
Jeffrey Mine 2019
Photograph by Claire Lindell

At one point the mine was the largest single source of asbestos fibres in the world. Today the size of the pit is now close to 2 kilometres across and 350 meters in depth. Oh! so much bigger than in 1945.

The company ceased all operations in 2012 and the consequences were devastating for the industry and community. The production of Asbestos was banned throughout North America and Europe, noting that asbestos is a carcinogen causing cancer of the lungs and chest wall.

Over the last few years the town has been working toward attracting and developing new enterprises, creating new business opportunities.  One of the main companies to invest in the town is Alliance Magnesium. They are extracting magnesium from the residues. of 400 million tons of tailings from the mine, accumulated over a period of more than one hundred years.

Magnesium Ingot

Magnesium is a light weight mineral that is used in everything from medical implants to electric cars.  It is 34% lighter than aluminum. It will lighten the weight of automobiles. making them more efficient and better for the environment. At the museum we were able to handle one of the first ingots produced by Alliance Magnesium.

Hemp Insulation

Hemp farming has been introduced to the area with the intention of replacing various insulations made of fibreglass, plastic and foam. Hemp is eco-friendly and non-toxic, among its many other attributes.

Brome Lake Duck has invested $30 million to setup a processing plant raising Peking ducks, to meet the high export demand while creating 150 new jobs.  

A microbrewery, Moulin 7, named after the last working mill, has gained recognition through their award-winning beers. We had a delicious lunch in the pub. The décor has a mining theme and the beers have names such as La 1949. References to the strike and “White Gold”

…and the winner is

Another interesting tourist attraction is the Slackline that spans the width of the pit. There is an annual Slackline Festival attracting people from around the world. Last summer a young lady from British Columbia crossed without incident from one end to the other, the entire 1.66 kilometres in :58 minutes creating a new world record.

This record was broken on July 27, 2019, by Mia Noblet of British Columbia and Lukas Irmler of Germany. Both managed to cross a 2-kilometre (1.2 mi) slackline suspended more than 200 metres (660 ft) above the open-pit Jeffrey Mine in Asbestos, Quebec, during Slackfest, a slackline and highline festival. Noblet completed her crossing in 58 minutes.

Marian and I took one more quick drive around town and were pleasantly surprised at how businesses appear to be thriving. Success seems to be on the horizon.

We drove back to Montreal late in the afternoon, with a sense of satisfaction knowing that  my hometown has survived several setbacks over the years and now appears to be heading for success in new business ventures and perhaps a name change, or a new identity.

It will be interesting to follow the possibilities that lie ahead for Asbestos.

Sources:

Ducks

https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/duck-production-1.3731001

Hemp

https://www.ecohome.net/guides/3342/hemp-insulation/

https://hemplogic.blogspot.com/2018/03/hemp-insulation-comes-to-north-america.html

Identity

https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/asbestos-quebec-change-name-1.5375703

https://www.asbestos.com/news/2016/11/07/asbestos-mining-town-canada-new-identity/

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/five-years-after-asbestos-mine-closure-quebec-town-seeks-new-identity/article31569391/

Magnesium

https://www.therecord.com/news-story/8352298-quebec-town-built-on-asbestos-may-find-new-life-in-byproduct-of-deadly-mineral/

Beatrice Bruneau Quiet Perseverance

IMG_0047
Rene Raguin & Beatrice Bruneau Wedding Day 1912

I am always looking through my files, searching for something I knew I had. Recently, I came upon a letter addressed to Miss C. Beatrice Bruneau, my grandmother.

“ In changing your profession to that noblest of all professions you have shown your elders a good example.” She left teaching to get married. “May that quality of quiet perseverance, which has marked your work among us go with you and crown all the enterprises of your life with success.” This one sheet of paper indicated a lot about her.

She was definitely my quiet grandmother, sweet and gentle. Grannie never raised her voice although sometimes she used firm words. My sister thought she had eyes in the back of her head, behind the two buns she always wore, so we couldn’t get away with anything. She always kept her hands busy, knitting socks or crocheting fancy potholders.

Although of French Canadian descent, Cecile Beatrice Bruneau (1889- 1967 ) was born in Green Bay Wisconsin. There, her father Ismael Bruneau, a French Presbyterian Minister, served a congregation of Swiss Protestants. Her mother Ida Girod, from the French part of Switzerland, had taught school in Baltimore, Maryland before getting married.

French Protestants were few and far between so the family moved a lot, from Wisconsin to Holyoke, Massachusetts, to Quebec City, and then Montreal.

IMG_0048
Some of the Bruneau Children; Sydney, Helvetia, Beatrice, Herbert, Renee, Edmee, and Gerald – Montreal 1907.

My grandmother did most of her schooling in Montreal. The family lived over the French Presbyterian Mission on Dufferin St (now De La Roche). The Mission was just north of La Fontaine Park, between Marie Anne and Mount Royal in an area now known as Le Plateau-Mont-Royal.

Beatrice, the oldest girl didn’t have an easy life, being a minister’s daughter, one of nine children and protestant in a catholic province. A minister didn’t make much money and the family relied on handouts from the church community. Two other protestant families lived on the block and according to her brother Sydney that marked them as an “unloved minority.” The sisters played happily with the neighbours but Sydney had a hard time. Small in stature the bullies followed him around.

There were no French Protestant schools available to them. The Catholics refused to have any Protestants in their schools and so English was the language of their schooling. After attending Mount Royal elementary school Beatrice went to The High School of Montreal. The five eldest children all earned scholarships from the lower schools so their parents didn’t have to pay fees.

The Bruneau children all received a good education. Beatrice went on to McGill’s Normal School, the Teacher’s College, where she received her teaching diploma. This program later moved from the downtown campus to MacDonald College in Saint Anne de Bellevue. She came 23rd out of 61 students and won the Superintendent’s prize in French. She received elementary and first-grade staff certificates and passed in cardboard work. Beatrice later earned her French Specialist certificate from the Protestant School Board. At that time, as they could only hire Protestants to teach in their schools, native French speakers had no problem finding a position. In 1907 Beatrice was hired by the Protestant Commissioners as a teacher without experience.

When Ismael and Ida made another move, this time to Cornwall, Ontario, Beatrice and two sisters, Herminie and Helvetia stayed in Montreal teaching in public schools. They all gladly left the crowded quarters over the mission hall to lodge with a fellow minister, a friend of their father’s.

The 1912 letter indicated that Beatrice had been teaching at Mount Royal School on St Urbain Street in Montreal, the same school she had attended. Her teaching career lasted only five years. She married Rene Raguin that July and never taught again. She quietly persevered in her family life looking after her husband and raising their five children.

IMG_0049

Notes:

Grannie told us one joke. I now realize it was connected to the area where she grew up. A woman was riding the bus up St Lawrence Blvd. The driver called out Rachel, the bus stopped and a woman got off. He then called out Marie Anne and another woman got off. The woman then went up to the driver and said my name is Suzanne, when do I get off?

Walking with God in Duquen, A. Sydney Bruneau 1960s, transcribed by his granddaughter Virginia Greene in 2017. A copy with the author.

The Gazette, Montreal Quebec, Canada. May 29, 1907, page 8. Downloaded Nov 16, 2019.

The Gazette, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. June 14, 1907, Page 12. Downloaded Nov 16, 2019.

Cardboard Work was part of the manual dexterity training in elementary schools. The children used cardboard to make boxes and made other things of raffia and plastic material while the high school students did woodwork and metalwork.

There is a church structure on De La Roche between Mount Royal and Marie Anne. According to the Montreal Tax role it was built about 1912, so after the Bruneaus left. It is now two residences.

Rene & Beatrice 1961
Beatrice & Rene Raguin 50th Anniversary 1962

For a story about Beatrice’s father Ismael Bruneau see: https://wordpress.com/post/genealogyensemble.com/1237

For a story about Ida Girod, Beatrice’s mother see: https://wordpress.com/post/genealogyensemble.com/3674

Dear Miss Bulford….

With the following letter, so begins the most exciting period of my life.

It came to a 19 year-year old me still living in Plymouth, Devon England the town of my birth. That version of me wanted something new. Having left school at 15 years and one month hardly qualified me for anything other than low-paid dead-end jobs, until, like most girls around me, marriage beckons.  Such was NOT the life I wanted, so I applied to join the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF). To my amazement, I got in.

Initially, it seemed a lark and a good way to show off to my friends. Still, joining up offered a chance to leave home with accommodation, a job and an ability to feed myself all at the same time. I had to take the chance!

Soon after the initial interview in Plymouth with Flight Lieutenant W. G. Reeve – above – As the letter states, my acceptance was based on passing a medical examination and a selection interview at RAF Spitalgate, In Lincolnshire. To travel there I was issued with travel documents and a kit list including an apron! Stockings! Suspender belt!.

Travel Warrant and Kit List for the journey. 

I left my home in Plymouth to Kings Cross railway station in London then a 4 and 3/4 hour journey. From there, another train from Kings Cross to Grantham, Lincolnshire railway station to join several other nervous-looking girls. We discovered a phone on the wall with the first order of our careers. It read:

“RAF SPITALGATE

NEW RECRUITS

PHONE FOR CAR”

Once on ‘camp’, our Corporal introduced herself and we were ushered into a room in a large building known as the barracks. This is where we would sleep and live together, for the next six weeks. It was a vast room with 10 beds either side spaced out with a locker and a wardrobe. Once we had deposited our luggage in our space, the Corporal took us to a cafeteria-like place called a mess for our tea and the food was really good!

The next day the medical assessments began. We had medical exams, Xrays, general fitness tests dental examinations and vaccinations. We started out with about 22 girls which whittled down to 17 after that first day. The next day, those of us who were formally accepted began our training. First, we were taught how to make a bed the RAF way, keep our ‘space’ clean and tidy enough to pass inspections every day.

Our bathrooms and toilets were at the end of the room. For many of us, this was the first experience of hot running water, baths every day plus central heating. After a few days, several of us developed sinus problems. Our bodies were used to cold houses, fires and baths only once a week.

We soon developed a routine. Every Wednesday, we deep cleaned in a tradition called ‘bull night’. We pushed a large heavy flat ‘buffer’ side to side to polish the floors, A cumbersome task but good for the stomach muscles! We finished by putting newspapers on the floors because nobody was allowed to walk on those perfectly polished floors! We wanted everything shiny and bright the next morning at 6 a.m. inspection. Despite the hard work and need to adapt to new realities, we managed to have a lot of fun. 

We had parts of our uniforms issued over the next few days, including the laughable ‘passion killer’ knickers. We were each issued three pairs, pale blue, down to the knee and  I don’t think anyone wore them at all, except here, for one night only as a giggle. The photo below shows the ‘buffer’ we used to polish the floors to a high gloss. I’m the one holding the dustpan and a cigarette wearing the pale blue ‘passion killers’

For the next 6 weeks, we learned to wear our uniforms properly, tie our ties, make sure hair was off the neck and how to wear our berets and best blue hats. Most importantly, we learned how to salute an officer. That lead to discovering various badges and who to salute and who not to salute.

We were shown the NAAFI (Navy Army Air Force) shop where we were ordered to buy shoe polish, then taught how to clean our shoes to a very high gloss with spit and polish and repeated for hours on end

We learned how to march together, in order. That’s not as easy as it sounds. A few girls began as ‘camel marchers’  They were girls who just could not march at first. They tended to march with the left arm and left leg together, instead of the opposite.

We marched every day, and everywhere from day one, chanting left-right-left-right, halt out loud as we went! Each day we practised marching on the parade ground for one hour, then off to classes.

In class from 9am to 5pm we learned all about the history of the RAF, and the trades available, which uniforms to wear on which occasion (such as ‘fatigues’ and ‘best blue’) and how to keep our ‘kit’ clean. We had hygiene classes informing us how and when to brush our teeth, take a bath and keep ourselves clean. We had Pt classes to keep fit. It was exhausting and exhilarating. The morning after our first bull night, an officer inspected us the next morning with white gloves and ran her fingers along every surface. We had to stand at attention together, whilst she inspected our quarters. The first few weeks everything had to be ‘done over again’ as she ripped out sheets and blankets and shouted at us saying the beds were not made properly. She complained about the dirty surfaces and how dirty the bathrooms were. We could no nothing right those first three weeks. We had no uniforms yet, so every day we marched in ‘civilian’ clothing with just a beret on. We felt silly. 

It was a great day when we were eventually issued with our uniforms and full kit.

Our best blue uniforms at last! Me on the left.

After six weeks of basic training came our ‘Passing Out Parade’ and the next day, after our goodbyes, we were all posted to our various trade training camps, but that is another story!

 

 

Miss Lindsay – Part 3

Miss Marguerite Lindsay, working as a summer volunteer teacher, went missing from the Grenfell Mission in Cartwright, Labrador, in August 1922. Her body was finally discovered four months later, in December 1922.

The nearby authorities in Battle Harbour were notified immediately, as was her family in Montreal. When her body was gently pried loose from its frozen grave, they were stunned to discover a bullet wound in Miss Lindsay’s chest.

John Martin, the young trapper who found her body, was unable to provide any more information upon further questioning. When interviewed over 50 years later, he recalled his sad discovery that day by remarking: “Twas a remarkable place where she was found. There was a pool (Salt Water Pond) with two big junipers beside it. It was only about 15 minutes walk from the (Muddy Bay) boarding school.”1

Journalists suddenly had ample new fodder for their newspapers, and the story of Miss Lindsay dramatically bounced back into the headlines. Murder? Suicide? Accidental death?

In no time at all, a bullet wound in her chest evolved into riveting stories of “foul play,” a “love affair gone wrong,” or “shot through the heart” and other sensational headlines that sell newspapers. However, the possibility of a tragic and fatal accident was barely mentioned, as that version wouldn’t satisfy scandal hungry readers.

After three inconclusive investigations, Detective Head Constable Byrne was dispatched to Cartwright nine months later, in September 1923. Twenty-two local Cartwright people were interviewed in an effort to gather more information and rule out the rumours of foul play and murder.

Fifty years later, in 1976, Ida Sheppard recalled that time in another interview “I was workin’ at the Muddy Bay School when Miss Lindsay got lost. We were all cryin’ for her ‘cause we fair loved her, she was such a nice person.” This poignant statement seems to echo the sentiment of the people of Cartwright even to this day.2

Eventually Detective Byrne concluded the following in his statements to the press:

          “The presumption is that Miss Lindsay on her way to take a bath in Salt Water Pond into which the brook flows, stopped to shoot some muskrat which abound in the river, and that she fell on the firearm which she was known to have carried.”3

           “The postmortem examination held at Cartwright showed that a bullet had entered the left side, passed through the heart and out on the other side of the body. From this it is concluded that Miss Lindsay must have fallen on the weapon as it was almost impossible to turn it on herself in the direction.”4

In her coat pocket were a dozen bullets that would fit her Browning pistol, also supporting the accidental death theory.5

Detective Byrne terminated his investigation with the statement: “The postmortem disclosed nothing which would tend to indicate deliberate suicide.”6

Once the sea ice had melted in June 1923, permitting navigaton once again, Miss Lindsay’s body (preserved in salt) was transported to St. John’s, Newfoundland. There a funeral was held for Miss Lindsay before her body was taken by train back to her family in Montreal.

           “As the cortege wound its way to the railway station, citizens stood with uncovered heads evidencing their respect for the departed heroine and sympathy for the sorrowing relatives at home. Marguerite Lindsay will rank with the great women of the world who have given their lives for others”. 7

She was finally laid to rest in the family plot in the Mount Royal cemetery in Montreal where, as it happens, I went to visit her recently.

So whether someone today strolls by “Miss Lindsay’s Marsh,” fingers her name on the local church’s plaque8, listens to a song written in her honour9 or reads a poem written by school children… the Cartwright community continues to honour Marguerite’s memory almost 100 years after her death.

Now that’s a legacy!

The grave of Helen Frances Marguerite Lindsay

1“I found Miss Lindsay,” John Martin, 1976, Cartwright, Labrador. Researcher Doris Saunders.

2“We Fair Loved Her,” Ida Sheppard, 1976, Happy Valley, Labrador. Researcher Doris Saunders.

3Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.

4Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.

5Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.

6Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.

7Evening Telegram, “Miss Lindsay’s Death Accidental,” September 24,1923.

8St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Cartwright, Labrador

9“Somewhere Beyond the Hills,” words and music by Harry Martin

Notes:

Miss Marguerite Lindsay 

By: Adam Dyson and Brandon Cabot (Grade 4 – Henry Gordon Academy, Cartwright, Labrador)

Once on a summer day in 1922,

A fine young lady died and only a few know.

What happened to her is a mystery,

And will every be part of Cartwright’s history.

Harry Martin wrote a song, we really thank him.

They know that the chance she was alive was very slim.

The newspaper says a mystery was found,

The dogs found her body in a snowy mound.

She went for a walk 15 minutes away,

From a land she loved called Muddy Bay.

She never came back, not even the next day,

She was supposed to catch a boat heading far far away.

She was found by the edge of a big marsh,

The winters were violent an her death was harsh.

Miss Lindsay and her life at Muddy Bay,

Is a mystery that is unsolved today.

Somewhere Beyond the Hills 

Words and Music – Harry Martin of Cartwright, Labrador

Have you ever wondered, as you listened to the wind,
What secrets does she carry, what sad things had she seen?
Well, I’ve listened to her stories a thousand times before,
But still, I have to question her once more.

What happened on that summer’s day in 1922?
Has been talked about by many but the truth is known by few;
And those who knew the answer have been silenced by the years,
But suspicion on the wind have reached my ears.

Someone said somebody knew but when he spoke he lied,
Others said they saw them talking on the day she died;
When the darkness found her she was silent, cold and still,
And her body lay somewhere beyond the hill.

Somewhere in some city a grey-haired mother prays,
Please, God, protect my angel in that land so far away;
But tonight her youngest daughter lies asleep beneath the snow,
In a winter land so far away from home.

Then one cold December day a mystery was unveiled;
They found the poor young maiden there beside a trapper’s trail;
Her body, cold and lifeless, had a bullet through the breast,
Now, the reason why won’t let this poor soul rest.

I have often wondered, as I listened to the wind,
What secrets did she carry, what sad things had she seen?

But those who knew the answers are no silent, cold and still,

And the secret lies somewhere beyond the hill.

Protestants in Quebec

Recently, the news media reported that Quebec Premier François Legault stated that “all” French Canadians are Catholic. While it is true that, historically, almost all francophone Quebecers were Catholic, today many are lapsed Catholics while others are atheists. There are also those who, for a variety of reasons, switched from the Catholic Church to a Protestant religion.

In my own case, I became a Protestant in my mid-forties. My father, Lionel Gagné, was also a Protestant. At a young age, he lost both his Catholic parents and was placed in a Catholic orphanage in east-end Montreal. At about the age of seven or eight, he was taken in by a Huguenot teacher and his wife, a Presbyterian from Massachusetts, who were teachers at a bilingual Protestant College in Pointe-aux-Trembles. This college was operated and financed at the time by McGill University and the Presbyterian Church of Canada.

Like many people, Premier Legault is probably not aware that a small minority of French Quebecers had Protestant ancestors, many of whom were forced to give up their religion when they settled here. Genealogist Michel Barbeau has estimated that about 320 Huguenots, or French-speaking Protestants, settled in New France between 1634 and 1763. See the database of names he identified as Huguenots: http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/fichier/index.htm). You can read more about the history of the Huguenots on Barbeau’s website Our Huguenot Ancestors, http://pages.infinit.net/barbeaum/huga/index.htm

Many of these people came to North America to escape from persecution in Europe, however, they did not find life much easier in New France. Many were forced to abjure, or renounce, their religion and others became Catholic after marrying in the Catholic Church. Those who remained Protestant were banned from certain trades, while some had their possessions confiscated.

Here are links to two of my research guides to the Huguenots of New France:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2014/04/02/huguenot-refugees/

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/02/03/register-of-abjurations/

The following article describes the early Protestant churches of Quebec City:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/02/03/the-protestant-churches-of-quebec-city-1629-1759/

In addition to being a list of French-language Protestant churches and their ministers, the research guide below includes an excellent article by Réne Péron about the lives of Protestants in New France, a list of books and authors who have written on the subject, and contact information for the archives of Protestant churches where you can find church registries:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/11/22/french-protestant-churches-in-quebec/

The following research guide is a list of villages, towns and townships across Quebec where people from a variety of origins, including Huguenots, settled:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2015/04/08/british-irish-scottish-loyalist-american-german-scandinavian-dutch-huguenot-families-in-lower-canada-and-quebec-1760/

In 2020, I will be posting a series of articles about the Huguenots in Europe. The first will focus on the Protestants of Paris and surrounding region in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Miss Lindsay – Part 2

In June 1922, Miss Marguerite Lindsay arrived as a summer volunteer with the Grenfell Mission in Cartwright, Labrador. Two months later she went missing.

When Miss Lindsay didn’t return from her afternoon walk that fateful day, an extensive search took place immediately. All of Cartwright took part and did their utmost to find her.

Indeed, Marguerite was held in such great affection by the local children and their families that a thorough search of the area was made by her boy pupils, who combed the shoreline and nearby woods inch-by-inch.

Reverend Gordon, with several others, took a motorboat and cruised along the Cartwright shore without luck. They concluded that she must have drowned, perhaps by hitting her head while swimming or falling down some cliff into the fast tidal currents, which then carried her away.

It wasn’t long before the news got out. On August 15, 1922, The Evening Telegram in St. John’s, Newfoundland, published the first of many articles about the fate of Miss Marguerite Lindsay with the headline: “Tragedy at Cartwright – Volunteer Teacher Supposed Drowned.” This was the type of sensational story that sold newspapers and, for the next year, the media worldwide went wild with it.

In one extreme case of yellow journalism, several American tabloids published an article which originated in Britain, devoting an entire page to an appalling story with this ridiculous headline:

“Kidnapped by Savage Eskimos – Beautiful Canadian Girl Suffers As Tragic a Fate As Ever Befell a White Woman; Carried Off by the Dreaded “Fish Fang” Tribe Into the Trackless Wastes of Labrador.” 1

IMG_1576

The article described, in horrific fictional detail, Miss Lindsay’s new life as the captive wife of one of the imaginary savages. One can only hope that her family didn’t read these newspapers.

A month after her disappearance, in September 1922, my great uncle Stanley Lindsay, another of Marguerite’s brothers, arrived in Cartwright by ship. Unfortunately, nothing was accomplished by his northern trip except the melancholy satisfaction of learning firsthand that no effort was spared to trace his sister. He simply thanked the good people of Cartwright for all they had done.

Imagine their relief at his kind words.

Upon Stanley’s return, the Lindsay family held a memorial service in Montreal at the Church of St John the Evangelist in October 1922. Reverend and Mrs. Gordon attended the “impressive ceremony” on behalf of The Grenfell Mission and the people of Cartwright.

Helen Frances Marguerite Lindsay 1896-1922
Helen Frances Marguerite Lindsay 1896-1922

On December 13, 1922, four months after her disappearance, Marguerite’s body was discovered by John Martin, one of two trappers whose dogs dug deep into the snow by the shoreline. The frost had heaved her body upward out of the bog.

Sadly, Miss Lindsay’s boy pupils had been searching within ten yards of her body but the Indian Tea bushes native to the area had hidden her.2

She was fully clothed, her exposed frozen face was disfigured and… she had a bullet hole in her chest.

1 The Springfield News Leader 10 Dec 1922 – https://newpapers.com/newspaper/39664723

2The Evening Telegram 24 Sept 1923

 

A Furious Bombardment: WW 1 Battlefields Tour

Canada did not repatriate its close to 61 thousand dead service men and women during WW1. Throngs of Canadians did not line highways as they do today, paying their respects as hearse after hearse carries bodies home to cities and small towns across the country. The overwhelming number of dead made repatriation virtually impossible.

Initially the dead of the First World War were buried on or near the battlefields where they fell, often in mass graves, marked with simple wooden crosses.

IMG_3731

In May of 1917 the Imperial War Graves Commission was established to design and construct cemeteries and memorials. The war dead are now commemorated on white headstones, uniformly and equally, irrespective of military or civil rank, race or creed. Red roses, not poppies, decorate the graves.

In the summer of 2019, my husband and I, together with, my husband’s cousins Elaine and Max Shane , took a coach tour from England to visit the Western Front Battlefields in France and Belgium. Knowing so little of WW I battles, this tour was an eyeopener for me. But any tour to the battlefields inevitably meant visits to cemeteries.

The tour stopped at the largest cemeteries and memorials such as Tyne Cot Cemetery, the Ploegstreert Memorial, Newfoundland Park and even a German cemetery at Langemark. It was the small cemeteries, however, that captured my attention. Hundreds can be found in towns and villages and along the roads and highways we travelled. Some gravestones appear to be right in the backyards of the homes of the living.

My son’s great uncle, Lloyd William Tarrant, is buried in the small cemetery of Bedford House in Belgium, 2.5 km south of Ypres on the road to Armentieres. It was not a scheduled stop but the tour guide kindly pointed it out to me.

Lloyd died at Mount Sorrell sometime between June 2nd and June 3rd, 1916. (see Boy Soldier of The Great War at http://www.genealogyeemsemble.com) The mount was the only high ground retained by the Allies from the fighting of the previous year. It was of strategic importance and a key target for the Germans. On the morning of June 2nd, a furious bombardment was unleashed against the Canadian Third Division defending Mount Sorrell and simultaneously four huge mines were exploded under the mount.

Trenches and their defenders vanished.  Only 76 of the 702 men of the 4th Canadian Mounted Rifles, Lloyd’s regiment, survived. It was not before several more battles over a two weeks period with a total of 8 thousand casualties that, on the 13th of June, the Allies regained their lost positions.

It is assumed that, as the bodies of those slain at Mount Sorrel were found and identified, they were buried nearby, their graves marked with the ubiquitous wooden crosses.  Many bodies, or pieces of bodies, likely shared a common grave.

In 1923, Lloyd’s mother received a letter telling her that her son’s body had been reburied at Bedford House Cemetery.

Bedford House was the name given by the army to Chateau Rosendal, a country house in a small wooded park with moats, that was confiscated to use as a clearing station for men wounded at the front. Those who died at the station before they could be moved on to hospitals for further treatment were buried there. More bodies were added, particularly between 1916 and 1918. Enclosure #4 where Lloyd is buried is the largest of six enclosures. Three thousand bodies were brought in from other burial grounds and from the battlefields of the Yves Salient, battlefields like Mount Sorrell.

Almost two thirds of the graves at Bedford House are unidentified. Lloyd’s family is one of the lucky ones in that they know where his body lies. The saddest words on a gravestone are A Soldier of the Great War Known only to God.

 

Notes:

Remembrance Day drawing by Evelyn Tarrant (age 9),  great great niece of Private Lloyd William Tarrant

Service file of Lloyd William Tarrant

The Wedding Trip

The itinerary of my grandparents’ 1906 honeymoon sounds more like a business trip than a romantic get-away, nevertheless, they both seemed to enjoy their trip to Chicago, Toronto and Montreal.

The bride and groom were Dr. Thomas Glendenning Hamilton 33, a Winnipeg physician (usually known by his initials, T.G.,) and Lillian May Forrester, 26, a nurse. Lillian trained at the Winnipeg General Hospital, graduating in May, 1905, but she resigned from nursing when they became engaged.

The bride, Lillian Forrester
Lillian on her wedding day.

The wedding took place at the Winnipeg home of the bride’s uncle, lawyer Donald Forrester, at 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 26, 1906: According to the newspaper, “The bride, who wore a pretty gown of white net over taffeta and carried bride’s roses, was given away by her father, Mr. John Forrester, of Emerson…. There were no attendants, only the immediate relatives of the happy couple being present.” Following the brief Presbyterian service, the bride changed into a red and grey travelling outfit and they left for their honeymoon on the 5:20 train.

Lillian kept a diary of the wedding trip, leaving out any romantic details. They spent their wedding night on the train to St. Paul and reached Chicago late the following evening. Staying at the 16-story Great Northern Hotel, they visited Marshall Field’s department store, viewed the impressive tower of the Montgomery Ward Building and attended a play. They also visited the 1,400-bed Cook County Hospital which, Lillian noted, treated 25,000 patients a year and did an average of 10 operations per day. They then headed to Detroit for a brief stopover, and Toronto, where they began by exploring the area around Queen’s Park and the University of Toronto.

Niagara Falls was on their honeymoon bucket list. T.G. and Lillian spent a snowy day there, seeing both the Canadian and American falls. They dressed in waterproof clothing to access the back of the falls, and took a cable elevator car to view the Whirlpool Rapids.

After several nights in Toronto with T.G.’s Aunt Lizzie Morgan, they boarded a train for Montreal. Lillian noted some of the towns they passed through en route, including Belleville, where she was born.

It was now early December, and there was a heavy snowfall in Montreal, nevertheless they took the street car to Notre Dame Cathedral, which they found to be “as grand and beautiful as we anticipated.” Lillian ordered 50 visiting cards – she would need them in her new social role as the wife of a busy physician – and she visited several stores “and spent her first pin money.”  She described Morgan’s department store as “the most beautiful store we have ever seen. The art gallery, glass room, electrical room and furniture department are all exceedingly fine.”

T.G. was planning on running for election to the school board in Winnipeg, so he took advantage of the trip to do some research. While Lillian was shopping, he interviewed the Superintendent of Schools.

No visit to Montreal is complete without a trip up Mount Royal. T.G. and Lillian went to the top in a sleigh and enjoyed “a splendid view of city, canal, river and Victoria Bridge.” On the way back downtown, they visited the Royal Victoria Hospital, ”a beautiful, well equipped building” with 300 beds.  The next day they explored the Redpath Museum, had dinner at the Windsor Hotel (one of the city’s best) and took the overnight train back to Aunt Lizzie’s in Toronto.

It was a Sunday so, after church, T.G.’s cousin accompanied them to visit relatives. The following day, T.G. met with the Superintendent of School Buildings in Toronto and with a former principal of Wellesley Public School, said to be the most handsome and modern school building in Toronto.

Over the next few days they visited more family members and St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Scarborough, where T.G.’s father and grandparents were buried, as well as the farmhouse where T.G. spent his childhood. On their final day in the city, they attended a lecture on new developments in vaccines.

Finally, they headed west to Chicago and Minneapolis. Back in Winnipeg, Lillian’s brother picked them up at the train station and they went to buy furniture.

The last entry of the trip diary was dated almost a month after their wedding: “Dec. 22. Had tea at 8 a.m. in our own house.”

Note: a slightly longer version of this article is posted on my family history blog, writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com.