Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Quebec

Grosse Île and the Irish

Thousands of Irish immigrants came to Canada, especially in the 1800s. They came by ship, travelling up the St. Lawrence River to Quebec City, but many got sick and some died during the long voyage across the Atlantic.

After a cholera epidemic swept England in 1831, a quarantine station was built on Grosse ÎIe, an island in the St. Lawrence downriver from Quebec City. All ships were required to stop there so passengers could be checked by doctors to ensure they were not sick. Government authorities did not want people to bring disease to the busy port cities of Quebec City and Montreal.

The worst years were between 1845 and 1849, when the terrible potato famine hit Ireland. Many of those who fled Ireland, optimistic about starting new lives in North America, never made it. Most of them succumbed to typhus, a disease caused by bacteria carried by fleas and lice. More than 7,000 people are buried in three large cemeteries on Grosse Île.

The quarantine station continued from 1832 until 1937. Today, Parks Canada runs Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site. This moving historic site, including several buildings and cemeteries, is open to visitors from the beginning of May until mid-October. See https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/qc/grosseile/index.

There are a number of books about this place and the tragic events that happened there. One of the most moving volumes I have read is Eyewitness, Grosse Isle, 1847 (note the alternative spelling), by  Marianna O’Gallagher & Rose Masson Dompierre, published in 1995 by Livres Carraig Books of Ste-Foy, Québec. You may be able to find it in a library or online.

This superb book begins with a map of Ireland indicating the places that sent 10 or more ships to Quebec in 1847 with Irish immigrants: 53 ships from Limerick, 33 from Cork, 32 from Belfast, 27 from Dublin, 27 from Sligo and 18 from Londonderry.

The authors got the idea for this book after reading letters that the chaplains of the quarantine station wrote to their superiors during the summer of 1847. The authors wrote, “In order to present a full portrait of the dramatic events that unfolded at Grosse Isle, and in order to distinguish between myth and reality, this book will be the forum where eyewitnesses speak. The priests’ letters, little known until today, but which are very significant, contain descriptions of everyday occurrences, prevailing conditions at ‘the Quarantine’ in 1847. The situation proved to be dramatic and arduous, and the missionaries, faced with the spiritual and physical needs of the immigrants, felt powerless and besieged. Very soon their letters elicited response from many quarters.”

For example, Rev. Armine W. Mountain, Church of England, Acting Chaplain Quarantine Station, wrote:

Buried: Meek, Catherine, daughter of James Meek, mason, late of the parish of Whiteburn, County Linlithgow, Scotland, and of France, by her maiden name Somerville, his wife, aged two years, died on the twenty-second and was buried on the twenty-fourth day of May in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty-seven, by me – Armine W. Mountain – Present: Robert Armstrong, Joh X. Armstrong.

Rev. Charles Morice, Catholic Priest, Officiating Chaplain Grosse Isle, wrote:

Buried: Heatherington, Taylor, Craig, White, McCray, McCray, Smyth

Hugh Heatherington, aged forty, from Ship Dykes

Margaret Taylor, aged twenty three per ship Maria Soames

Elizabeth White, age sixty-three from ship Emigrant

Margaret McKay, age forty two years per ship Eliza

Alexander McKay, age fifty-two per ship Eliza

Robert Smyth, age two years per Sir Henry Pottinger died sixth October. All died, except the last, on the seventh of October and were buried on the evening of the same day in the year of our Lord one thousand Eight hundred and forty-seven by me – Charles Morice – Present: John Fitzgerald, Patrick Dolan

 https://www.amazon.ca/Eyewitness-Grosse-Isle-Marianna-OGallagher/dp/096908059X

Other suggested reading:

John Boileau, “The Dead of Grosse Île,” Legion: Canada’s Military History Magazine, March 1, 2006, https://legionmagazine.com/en/2006/03/the-dead-of-grosse-ile/

You can read a list of some of those who died on Grosse Île at https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/qc/grosseile/decouvrir-discover/natcul4.

To search Library and Archives Canada’s records, see “Immigrants at Grosse Ile Quarantine Station, 1832-1937,” https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/immigration/immigration-records/immigrants-grosse-ile-1832-1937/Pages/immigrants-grosse-ile.aspx

Genealogy, Quebec

Aunt Madge’s Quilt

IMG_3441

The incomplete quilt, carefully wrapped in tissue paper, had been shunted from pillar to post for almost eighty years during the many household moves my parents made. Rarely did it see the light of day, stuffed away as it was in linen closets and basement trunks, so none of the colours faded. My mother could quilt but she never finished it. Perhaps she felt the memories would be too painful. Mum finally gifted it to me during one of her downsizing periods. I couldn’t quilt but I did collect antique linens. Once again it was stored away in a box.

With the quilt came the story of its beginning. I remember few of the details and my mother is no longer here for me to ask. It was evidently begun by Madge, my mother’s oldest sister. My mother and my Aunt Vi helped her. There were two Violets in the family, a sister and a sister-in- law, but whether one or both helped is unclear.

I never knew my Aunt Madge. She died in 1941 before I was born. I. heard the tragic story again and again growing up. She was only thirty-nine and left behind two small boys, boys I finally met when we were adults.

Madge, born in 1902, was the first of George and Isabella Willett’s seven children to leave the farm overlooking the Chaleur Bay on the Gaspe Coast. She earned a teaching certificate at MacDonald College in Montreal and took her first job in Abbottsford in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. There she met Albert Whitney, an apple farmer. They married in 1934 and she happily settled into a familiar life as a farmer’s wife. The family quickly grew with the births of my cousins, David and Paige.

Then illness struck. Madge was diagnosed with cancer. My mother, now a surgical nurse working at the Veteran’s Hospital in Ste. Anne de Bellevue, traveled to Abbottsford on her days off to help with her sister’s care and with the two lively boys. Both Violets were also living in Montreal and they too were able to help. During this time, the last months of Madge’s life, they worked on the quilt together, faithful doulas accompanying her on her final journey.

Today the quilt has been completed. Two women from the Victoria Quilts branch in the Laurentian Mountains village of Arundel did the work. The Victoria Quilts organization makes beautiful lap quilts and gives them to cancer patients to keep them warm during their chemotherapy. Elizabeth Wood selected and purchased the backing and border fabric along with the batting. Pat Thomas did the hours of hand quilting. She claimed that the original stitches on the quilt were the tiniest she had ever seen and said she did her very best to match them.

The quilt fits the queen size bed in our guest room. The simple motif, repeated twenty times, is a flower pot made of brown triangles pieced together and appliqued to a beige background. Each pot holds a single brightly coloured flower with green leaves, all pieced and then appliqued. It has a modern, stylized look yet with a feeling of fresh growth.

Aunt Madge 001 (2)

 

Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Montreal, Quebec

Irish Catholic Churches in Montreal

Every year, the city of Montreal hosts a huge St. Patrick’s Day parade that brings people by the thousands to the downtown streets to celebrate their real or imagined Irish heritage. In fact, many Montrealers do have Irish roots that go back centuries.

In 1700, around 130 of the 2,500 families in New France, or roughly 5%, were Irish, and there was massive immigration from Ireland to North America between 1816 and 1860. By 1871, the Irish were the second largest ethnic group in Canada after the French.

The year 1847 was a tragic one as the Irish fled poverty and starvation in their homeland and died of disease before they arrived in Canada. Almost 3900 are buried at Grosse Île, an island in the St. Lawrence River northeast of Quebec City; another 5,000 are buried at the so-called fever sheds near the Montreal waterfront. Many children who became orphans at this time were adopted by French families, but kept their Irish names.

The early Irish of Montreal resided in the central part of the city. Over time, they moved westward, eastward and northward into Saint Ann’s, Saint Mary’s, Saint Antoine’s, Saint James’, Saint Lawrence’s and Saint Louis Wards. They were the primary residents in districts such as Griffintown, Point-St-Charles, St. Henry, Verdun and Ville Émard. Other Irish families eventually moved east into the Rosemount and Hochelaga districts.

Prior to the establishment of St-Patrick’s church in 1847 and St-Ann in 1854, the main churches of the Irish in Montreal were Notre Dame de Bon Secours, the Church of the Récollet Fathers and Notre Dame Basilica.

When I identify a church as being Irish Catholic in this research guide, I do not mean to imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent. It does suggest that, at one point in time, a minimum of 10% of the acts of baptism, marriage and death records addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

Especially during the early years, acts of baptism, marriage and death that took place at most of the smaller parishes in the Montreal region were registered in the records of Notre-Dame Church. For example, a baptism or marriage might have been held in Griffintown, but the act would have been included in the Notre-Dame-de-Montréal records.

The attached research guide lists the churches in which the Irish presence was appreciable, or parishes that were inaugurated by members of the Irish community. The years in brackets reflect the year I was able to ascertain as being the beginning of the Irish-Scottish-British presence in these Catholic churches. I reached my conclusions following several years of research on more than 3,000 books addressing marriages and baptisms at the Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ) in Old Montreal.

This research guide includes descriptions of the parishes where Irish Catholics attended church in the Montreal region, as well as a list of the cemeteries where many of them were buried. It also includes a list of recommended books and articles, and a list of repositories including archives and museums, online resources and other local sources of information. It is part of a series of research guides to Irish family history resources across the province of Quebec.

To access the PDF research guide to Irish Catholic Churches of Montreal, click on the link:

Irish Catholic Churches in Montreal from 1815

Genealogy

La Cadie before Evangeline

Ten generations before I was born, and for at least three generations before that, my French-speaking ancestors settled in Port Royal on the Annapolis River.

They probably arrived as colonizers in 1603. That’s when France’s King Henri IV set up “La Cadie” between the 40th and 46th parallels south of the Saint Lawrence River. For a good idea of how they lived, visit the Port-Royal National Historic Site.

Just before, or just after, the birth of François Allard III, his parents left the region for Quebec.

I imagine they refused to swear allegiance to the British monarch.

For at least three generations, French settlers like them fought with local Mi’kmaq people against British settlers in New England. Throughout the years, many cross-border conflicts and trade ship privateering occurred. The worse early incident led to Port Royal’s destruction by fire in 1613. It was rebuilt and skirmishes continued for a century, with the French and Mi’kmaq remaining strong.

Siege of Port Royal

The siege of Port Royal in 1710 marked the beginning of the end of French dominance in the region.

On October 5, 1,880 British and New England soldiers arrived at Goat Island just south of Port Royal in five warships with accompanying transport and bomb galleys. First, they blockaded supplies, food and water from getting into the town. Then they began moving men and equipment into the Annapolis River to get ready to attack the fort. One transport capsized killing 23 men. After that, they moved more carefully, landing safely.

Canons attacked the fort for a week. By the end of the day on October 12, the French gave up. The terms of surrender were signed the following day.

According to the University of Moncton researcher N.E.C. Griffiths, surrender terms said:

that the Inhabitants within Cannon shot of the Fort of Port Royal, shall remain upon their estates, with their Corn, Cattle and Furniture, During two years in case they are not Desirous to go before, they taking the Oaths of Allegiance & Fidelity to Her Sacred Majesty of Great Britain.” [1]

Over the next three years, Port Royal became Annapolis Royal and La Cadie became Nova Scotia. Sometime during this period, my family shed their maritime roots for landlubber status.

1714 Acadian Census

The 1714 Acadian Census shows a family headed by François Allard living in Port Royal with his wife, one son and two daughters. If these are my ancestors, François was either a second son who came later or his birthdate is wrong.

More likely this was a different family.

According to my grandmother’s records, my nine times great grandfather Jean-Baptiste Allard and his wife Anne Elisabeth Pageau had François III on February 3, 1719.

It’s hard to figure out why her records show him as the third person to hold the name “François” with his father clearly identified as Jean Baptiste. She does show his grandfather as Jean François but his great grandfather’s name was Jacques. He doesn’t get it from the other side for sure. The men in Anne Elisabeth’s family were Thomases going back at least two generations.

When did they move to Quebec?

My grandmother’s notes show François III’s birthplace as Port Royal, although I found a family tree online that shows a man with the same name born to parents with the same names in Charlesbourg, Quebec.[2]

Either way, by the time François III got married in November 1741, he and his wife Barbe Louise Bergevin definitely lived in Charlesbourg, Quebec. Their daughter, Marie Louise Allard, would be born on November 3, 1742, at Notre Dame de Quebec. Any links to the shores of the Annapolis River were lost forever.

Meanwhile, Acadians in Nova Scotia refused to swear allegiance to the Queen of Britain. Wars continued in the region until 1758. The expulsion of the Acadians, which began in 1755 and continued until the British Conquest, led to Longfellow’s famous poem about Evangeline and Gabriel.

By then, my ancestors were well-established in Quebec.

We have none of the deported Acadians in the family; only people who originally settled La Cadie.

[1] Griffiths, N.E.S. (2005). From Migrant to Acadian: A North American Border People, 1604-1755, ISBN 978-0-7735-2699-0. University of Moncton, McGill-Queen’s University Press. p235.

[2] https://www.nosorigines.qc.ca/GenealogieQuebec.aspx?genealogie=Allard_Francois&pid=70804

Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Migration, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Irish Catholic Churches of Arthabaska, Compton, Frontenac, Mégantic, Wolfe Counties, Quebec

The research guide below is part of a series of seven compilations designed to help you find your Irish immigrant ancestors in mostly French-speaking Quebec. It explores Arthabaska, Compton, Frontenac, Megantic and Wolfe counties, the most easterly of the province’s Eastern Townships.

Few Irish people came to this primarily rural area until the late 1800s. The earliest church record I was able to trace in regard to the Irish of these counties was 1829, within the parish of Saint-Jacques in the then village of Leeds, Megantic County.

Parish records can help you find traces of the Irish setters who came to North America by the tens of thousands during the first half of the 19th century. Please note: The inclusion of an Irish Catholic churches in this research guide does not imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent, but implies that at one point in time, a minimum of 10% of the acts of baptism, marriage, death addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

A good place to start looking for English-speaking settlers in the Eastern Townships is the Eastern Townships Resource Centre, http://www.etrc.ca/. The Eastern Townships Resource Centre preserves the documentary heritage of the Eastern Townships and serves as an archival expertise resource for local heritage organizations. While its Archives Department concentrates on the acquisition of private archives related to the English-speaking community, the Centre’s mission, mandate and on-going activities are meant to be inclusive of all communities present in the Eastern Townships.

Thousands of documents such as diaries, letters, minute books, photographs, postcards, maps, plans and audio-visual material are made available to researchers. Assistance is also provided to genealogists tracing their family roots. You will find contact information for this organization at the end of the PDF research guide below.

Another research guide I prepared a few years ago may also be helpful to your search. See “British, Irish, Scottish, Loyalist, American, German, Scandinavian, Dutch and Huguenot families in Lower Canada and Québec” by Jacques Gagne, https://genealogyensemble.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/british-irish-scottish-loyalist-american-german-scandinavian-dutch-in-quebec2.pdf

townships map

This guide mentions a number of books about Quebec’s large Irish population. Two additional articles of interest are, “Pioneer English Catholics in the Eastern Townships” by T.J. Walsh, http://www.cchahistory.ca/journal/CCHA1939-40/Walsh.html  and “A.C. Buchanan and the Megantic Experiment: Promoting British Colonization in Lower Canada” by J.I. Little, https://hssh.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/hssh/article/viewFile/40265/36450

The attached research guide is an expanded and improved version of a similar guide I posted on Genealogy Ensemble in 2014. It includes a detailed list of the Catholic parish churches in these five counties where people with Irish names worshiped. It also includes links to help you find the cemeteries where they were buried, a recommended reading list and a list of archives and other repositories where further records can be found.

Click on the link to open the PDF:  Irish Catholic Churches of Arthabaska, Compton, Megantic, Frontenac, Wolfe counties

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genealogy

T. G. Hamilton’s Busy Life

Dr. Thomas Glendenning Hamilton (1873-1935) became internationally famous because of his investigations into psychic phenomena.1 But his more mundane activities probably had a greater impact on the lives of his patients, friends and colleagues than his psychic research did.

HamiltonThomas Glen young
undated photo of TGH

TGH, or T. Glen Hamilton, as he was known, grew up in a farming family, first in Ontario and then in Saskatchewan. He graduated from Manitoba Medical College in 1903, at age 30. After interning for a year, he set up a practice in medicine, surgery and obstetrics in Elmwood, a suburb of Winnipeg. Several years later, he and his wife, Lillian, moved into a large house in the neighbourhood. They raised their family there, and he had an office on the ground floor.

Elmwood’s first doctor, he was the kind of old-fashioned physician who made house calls (by horse and buggy in the early years) and delivered babies at home.3 According to his daughter, Margaret, his outstanding quality was his genuine concern for people: “To his many patients, he was not only the beloved physician, but he was the staunch friend and wise counsellor as well.”4

He plunged into community involvement and was elected to the Winnipeg Public School Board in 1907. Perhaps his experience as a teacher before he went to medical school inspired his interest in education. He remained on the school board for nine years, serving as chairman in 1912-13 and helping to guide the board as it built several new schools in the fast-growing city. He helped to establish fire drills and implement free medical examinations for public school students, and he believed in the benefits of playground activities.

He was a member of Elmwood Presbyterian Church (later known as King Memorial United Church) from the time he settled in Elmwood. An elder for 28 years, he was chairman of the building committee and helped raise funds for the construction of the church.5

In 1915, TGH resigned from the school board after he was elected to the Manitoba Legislature as the Liberal member for Elmwood. At that time, his riding stretched all the way to the Ontario border.

These were times of social change. Manitoba’s Liberals brought in several landmark bills, including the right to vote for women, the mother’s allowance act and workmen’s compensation. Nevertheless, a strong Labour vote swept the Liberals from power in the 1920 provincial election and TGH lost his seat.

He then shifted his energies to the medical field. He was a lecturer in the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Medicine, and a member of the surgical staff of the Winnipeg General Hospital. He wrote several articles that were published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on the treatment of hand injuries, on the incidence of goiter (enlarged thyroid) in children, and on ulcerative colitis. He served as president of the Manitoba Medical Association in 1921-1922, and he was a member of the executive committee of the Canadian Medical Association from 1922 to 1931. He founded the Manitoba Medical Review and he was the first president of the alumni association of the University of Manitoba.6

All these volunteer activities in addition to his medical practice must have made him a very busy man. Nevertheless, after the death of his three-year old son Arthur from influenza in 1919, he found time for a new passion: psychic phenomena. His ultimate question was whether some part of the human mind, consciousness, or personality survives bodily death.

For more than a decade, he and Lillian organized weekly séances at their home, watching tables that moved on their own and communicating with spirits. He tried to take a scientific approach to his observations and to prevent fraud, so he took hundreds of photos of these events.

When TGH addressed an audience of Winnipeg physicians about his research in 1926, he was afraid he would lose his professional reputation as a result, but they listened to him with what he later acknowledged was “a tolerant and good-natured skepticism.”Most of them probably did not agree with his comments, but he had accumulated a bank of good will through his many professional and volunteer activities, and he had a strong reputation for integrity.8

When he died of heart attack in 1935, at age 61, hundreds of people filled King Memorial United Church, where he had been active for so long, to say goodbye to this man who had been such an important part of the community.9

This article is also posted on https:writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com

See also:

“Tales of a Prairie Pioneer” Writing Up the Ancestors, Feb. 1, 2019, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2019/02/tales-of-prairie-pioneer.html

“Five Brothers,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Dec. 1, 2018,   http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2018/12/five-brothers.html

“The Legacy,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Jan. 4, 2019,   http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2019/01/the-legacy.html

“Arthur’s Baby Book,” Writing Up the Ancestors, March 29, 2017, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2017/03/arthurs-baby-book.html

Sources and Notes:

1 The Hamilton Fonds at the University of Manitoba Archives includes photos, letters, lecture notes, newspaper clippings and other documents related to TGH’s life and research interests. See “Hamilton Fonds” University of Manitoba Libraries, http://umanitoba.ca/libraries/units/archives/digital/hamilton/index.html

2 Although TG was my paternal grandfather, I never met him. He died many years before I was born.

3 “Elmwood’s First Doctor,” The Elmwood Herald, June 10, 1954.

4  Margaret Hamilton Bach. “Life and Interests of Dr. T. Glendenning Hamilton.” Proceedings of the First Annual Archives Symposium. University of Manitoba Department of Archives and Special Collections, 1979, p 89-90.

5 For more information about the church, see “Historic Sites of Manitoba: Elmwood Presbyterian Church / King Memorial Presbyterian Church / King Memorial United Church / Gordon-King Memorial United Church,” Manitoba Historical Society, http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/gordonkingmemorialunited.shtml, accessed Feb. 22, 2019.

6 Ross Mitchell, M.D. “Dr. T. Glen Hamilton, the Founder of the Manitoba Medical Review,” The Manitoba Medical Review, vol. 40, no. 3, p 219.

7 Margaret Hamilton Bach, Ibid, p. 92.

8 Dr. Charles G. Roland, “Glenn – the Mystical Medic from Manitoba,” Ontario Medicine, May 18, 1987, p. 29.

9  “Death of Dr. T. Glen Hamilton Ends Life of Marked Achievements,” The Elmwood Herald, April 11, 1935.

Genealogy, Immigration, Ireland, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Irish Catholic Churches in Rural Quebec: Bagot, Brome, Missisquoi, Shefford Counties

Between 1815 and 1837, an estimated 200,000 Irish immigrants arrived at the Port of Quebec. Many continued on to the United States or Upper Canada, but some settled in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. This research guide is designed to help you find Irish Catholic ancestors who lived in the Eastern Townships counties of Bagot, Brome, Missisquoi and Shefford.

Please note: When I identify a church as being an Irish Catholic Church in this research guide, I do not mean to imply that parishioners were mostly from of Irish descent. Rather, I mean that, at one point in time, at least 10 percent of the acts of baptism, marriage and death within a particular parish addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

If you are researching ancestors in this region, you may find the Eastern Townships Resource Centre (ERTC), http://www.etrc.ca/ to be helpful. For more than 30 years, the ETRC has been preserving the documentary heritage of the Eastern Townships and serving as an archival expertise resource for local heritage organizations.

The ETRC Archives preserves collections that illustrate the development of the Eastern Townships’ English-speaking community. Thousands of documents such as diaries, letters, minute books, photographs, postcards, maps, plans and audio-visual material are made available to researchers, and assistance is also provided to genealogists tracing their family roots.

The research guide attached below includes brief histories of the Catholic churches attended by Irish Catholics in these four counties, a list of cemeteries where these people may have been buried, a list of books and articles about the Irish in Quebec, and a list of website and archives you may find useful.

It is an expanded and updated version of a guide to Irish Catholic churches in Quebec posted to Genealogy Ensemble in 2014. Other similar guides that have been posted over recent weeks explore the Irish Catholic churches in Lanaudière, in Quebec City, and in other Eastern Townships counties, with more research guides covering other regions of Quebec to come soon.

Click on the link below to view a PDF of the research guide Irish Catholic Churches in Bagot, Brome, Missisquoi and Shefford Counties:

Irish Catholic Churches in Bagot, Brome, Missisquoi, Shefford Counties

 

Genealogy, Quebec

Biology and Ambition

 

marioncanoing

Marion canoeing circa 1907

Marion Nicholson, first year teacher at Sherbrooke High School in 1906-07, is serious about having a career. She is not focused, like so many of her colleagues, on finding a husband or ‘a pupil of one’ as soon possible. Or so she says in her letters home to her mom.

However, Marion’s “strictly private’ pocket diary  from 1907 suggests something else: that the young Richmond-born woman is very much torn between her biology and her ambition. In this little brown journal, eighteen year old Marion often comes off like a flighty Scarlett O’Hara type.

January 12: “Went to a card party and dance at Mrs. Griggs’. Had a grand time. Played cards with Mr. Watson, danced with Mr. Avery, had supper with Mr. Davidson and Mr. Sampson came home with me.” Marion even reflects on this coquettish behavior in a February 19th entry: “I believe I think too much of boys and am a flirt.”

Marion’s busy social life centers around skating parties at a Sherbrooke rink where she obliges many potential suitors – and turns down some others.

That Edwardian winter there are two young men fighting over the ultimate privilege to take Marion home from the ice rink, or the snow shoe club or the local youth hangout: Monty and Gordon.  It does get complicated.

Here’s the entry for January 28: “I slighted Monty by taking off my skates before his turn. He was quite huffy. I guess I will have to go skating with him tomorrow instead of driving with Gordon.”

For Feb 3: “Went to the theatre with Monty. I did not tell Gordon. Gordon was there by himself. He did not look our way the whole time.”

Eventually, this juggling act becomes too much for Marion. “I have decided who I like best and G is the one. I am tired of having two.”

In the spring of 1907, Gordon takes Marion canoeing.  The couple gets caught in a storm on the river and has to take shelter on shore. How romantic!  How promising!

By the time June rolls around,  Marion is getting anxious for the school year to end. It isn’t her work. She is exhausted from all the late nights and ‘dissipation’, as she refers to it in her diary. She returns to Richmond, 30 miles away, to spend the summer with her Mom and sisters.  Here, her social activities center on family friends: the Pepplars, the Clevelands, the McCoys, the Sutherlands and the Crombies.  In 1907, Richmond is a town without any eligible young men. They have all moved away to find jobs.

Marion helps support the family, so she isn’t expected to do work around the house. Most days she is bored silly.  She often sleeps in until noon. She sometimes spends afternoons taking ‘crazy’ photos with her Kodak.

Marion gets down on herself for this: “I think I am about the laziest person alive. All I have the gumption to do is sit and dream of what I would do if I tried. I have wasted two weeks of my vacation doing nothing, when I could have been practicing music or sewing. I hope I improve.”

In Richmond, Marion can go to church, twice a day if she wants. There are frequent afternoon teas hosted by society matrons, daily walks downtown to the mail to see if Gordon has written her, ice cream socials, croquet, tennis, strawberrying and country drives to places like Windsor and Kingsbury by horse drawn carriage.

Town tycoon Mr. Wales is the only Richmond citizen who has an automobile, but that will soon change.

Yes, it is the summer of 1907 (a year on the cusp of some game-changing technological changes)  and the living is far too easy for Miss Marion Annie Nicholson, an energetic young woman who, one day, will lead the PAPT teachers union while supporting four children as a single mom.

According to Marion’s 1907 diary, the most interesting thing to happen to her that summer is when some kittens get into the barn.­­

Oh, and there’s this entry for July 13th :“Lily Lyper nearly murdered. Great excitement.”

Even sleepy Richmond, Quebec had its share of scandals 100 plus years ago.

 
Mariaon1906sherbrooke

Marion, seated bottom and other Sherbrooke High Teachers 1906

 

tighsolas

Marion and beau in front of Tighsolas, their house in Richmond, Quebec

 

Afterward: (added March 14)

Marion did not see much more of Gordon, the son of a wealthy Sherbrooke merchant who would  be making a very good salary, 3,000 a year, in 1911 at the age of 26, this according to the Census.

Gordon married a friend of Marion’s, it seems.  In 1913, Marion married Hugh Blair, the son of a prosperous Three Rivers lumber merchant,  although his parents did not favour the marriage because by that time the Nicholsons were broke.

Marion’s in-laws did not attend the October wedding at the Nicholson residence on Dufferin in Richmond. Marion’s marriage contract was a nasty piece of work  saying she got nothing but the furniture should the marriage break up FOR ANY REASON.

As it happens, Hugh died in 1927. Marion was left high and dry cut out of the Blair family business, so she rolled up her sleeves and went back to work becoming a Master Teacher and WWII era President of the Provincial Association of Protestant teachers in Quebec.

She never re-married, despite having many suitors, such was her sex appeal even in old age. She died of a heart attack in 1947, a few months after representing the Canadian Teachers Association at an UNICEF education conference in Sevres, France. The Editor of the Montreal Gazette (another admirer apparently) wrote her an editorial page eulogy: “With the death of Marian A N Blair, education in Quebec, indeed the entire nation, has suffered  a serious loss. ”

In the end, Marion did have it all, love, work and family. It just came with some major trials and tribulations. Apparently, she never complained.

 

Genealogy, Immigration, Quebec, Resources Outside of Montreal

Irish Catholic Churches in the Eastern Townships of Quebec

Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke, Stanstead Counties

Introduction

From 1815 to 1824, an estimated 50,000 Irish immigrants arrived at the Port of Quebec, and 150,000 more arrived between 1829 and 1837. Many kept going, settling in the United States or Upper Canada, but some moved into the rolling hills of Quebec’s Eastern Townships. The region, which is often known by its French name, l’Estrie or Cantons de l’Est, includes Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead counties.

In order to determine where Irish Catholic immigrants settled in Quebec, I reviewed hundreds of books of marriages, baptisms and deaths in Catholic parishes of Quebec. These books are kept at the Bibliothèque Archives nationales du Québec in Montreal (BAnQ Vieux-Montréal). I also reviewed microfilms there. I did most of this work between 2006 and 2009, and carried out a further review in 2014.

Please note: When I identify a church as being an Irish Catholic Church in this research guide, I do not mean to imply that parishioners were mostly of Irish descent. Rather, I mean that, at one point in time, at least 10 percent of the acts of baptism, marriage and death within a particular parish addressed Irish immigrants or their descendants.

townships map

If you are exploring your family’s history in the Eastern Townships, you may find useful material at the Eastern Townships Resource Centre (ERTC) in Lennoxville, http://www.etrc.ca/ For over 30 years, the ETRC has been a center for the study of the Eastern Townships of Quebec. The ERTC preserves the documentary heritage of the Eastern Townships and serves as a resource for local heritage organizations.

The ETRC Archives preserves and gives access to collections that illustrate the development of the Eastern Townships’ English-speaking community. Thousands of documents, such as diaries, letters, minute books, photographs, postcards, maps, plans and audio-visual material, are made available to researchers. It also provides assistance to genealogists tracing their family roots. You can find out how to contact the ERTC at the end of this research guide.

The guide includes a brief description of the churches in Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead counties that the Irish settlers attended, a list of the cemeteries where many of them were buried, a list of authors, articles and books on the Irish communities of the region, a list of repositories and archives where the records relevant to these communities are kept, and websites that may be of use to family history researchers. I will cover other Eastern Townships region counties in separate posts on Genealogy Ensemble.

To explore the PDF covering the Irish Catholic Churches of Drummond, Richmond, Sherbrooke and Stanstead Counties, click on the link:

Irish Catholic Churches in Quebec’s Eastern Townships