Category Archives: Genealogy

BAnQ Advitam

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (Library & National Archives of Québec, or BAnQ,) recently introduced a powerful new online search engine.  Known as Advitam, it replaces the previous search engine, Pistard. It points to documents, files, photos and other holdings in the BAnQ’s archives, some digitized, others only available in the BAnQ’s 10 branches across Quebec.

You can access this online search tool at https://advitam.banq.qc.ca/

Advitam (ad vitam means to life in Latin) offers online researchers two search options: Reherche simple (Regular online searches) and Recherche avancée (Advanced online searches.) Unless you are familiar with the French language and the way archives are organized, the regular search is probably easier to use.

Type in the name of the person, place or topic you are searching for. The results will come up in two parts: on the right are the photos, maps, documents, collections, etc. stored at the BAnQ, while on the left is a list to help you filter your results. The filter choices are written in French, but they are not difficult to figure out. If you have difficulty, try using an online translation tool such as Google Translate or DeepL.

You can also use the bar at the top left to focus on the time period you are interested in. New France existed 1604-1759, the British period was 1760-1790, and Quebec was known as Lower Canada 1791-1841.

You can also filter your searches to look for Quebec civil registers, judicial registers or notarial records. You can search for the names of cities, towns, townships, seigneuries, villages, counties and even modern-day MRCs (regional municipal regions or districts.) You can look for events (baptisms, marriages, deaths, divorces, legal proceedings, judicial inquiries and judgments, etc.) and find out about institutions such as religious orders, military regiments, government appointees, etc.

Here’s an example of how this search tool can help you find the record of an ancestor who lived in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, and who was baptized in the Catholic church there. An online search on Advitam for Pointe-Claire, (a suburban municipality on the Island of Montreal) brings 823 results addressing the city or village of Pointe-Claire from about 1713 to 2002.

The fourth result from the top refers to the Catholic Parish of Saint-Joachim-de-la-Pointe-Claire – Content 1713-1918 – CE601-S37 – Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal – État civil. BAnQ Vieux-Montréal Id 477622. This dossier addresses Parish Registers of this Catholic parish from 1713 to 1918, kept on five microfilms at BAnQ – Vieux-Montréal.

These church registers can also be found online through BAnQ Numérique – Registres de l’état civil, or on Ancestry.com, on FamilySearch.org and on Généalogie Québec, however these sources may not contain all of the church registers from 1713 to 1918. If you haven’t found your ancestor’s name elsewhere, try Advitam.

The BAnQ’s repositories are: BAnQ Vieux-Montréal, BAnQ Québec, BAnQ Gaspé,BAnQ Gatineau, BAnQ Rimouski, BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, BAnQ Saguenay, BAnQ Sept-Îles,BAnQ Sherbrooke and BAnQ Trois-Rivières. If you do not reside in Montréal or near another BAnQ branch, try contacting the BAnQ to ask a question.

BAnQ Ask a Question  https://www.banq.qc.ca/formulaires/formulaire_reference/index.html?language_id=1

or

BAnQ Poser une question https://banq.qc.ca/formulaires/formulaire_reference/

 You can use these links to make a request for digitized material. A BAnQ clerk or librarian will help you download the material for free, but you need to facilitate the research process for the archivist. You should indicate the approximate year of an event (baptism, marriage, death) and be sure to specify the ‘’cote #’’ (dossier # or shelf #) as in the above example, 1713-1918 – CE601-S37 – ID-477622. Each file at BAnQ is identified by a similar description which can be found through your initial online search on BAnQ Advitam

 Email requests can be written in French or English, and your reply will be in the same language.

In most cases, if the above basic conditions to your request are respected, you should receive a reply within days by email. If your request is more complicated, contact the regional specialist librarian at the appropriate branch of the BAnQ.

 Please note: Due to Covid-19, all branches of the BAnQ are closed at this time. (2020-04-19)

BAnQ Vieux-Montréal 514 873-1100 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 1 514 873-1101 # 6260 archives.montreal@banq.qc.ca

BAnQ Québec  418 643-8904 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 2 archives.quebec@banq.qc.ca

BAnQ Gaspé  418 727-3500 plus option 6573 – 1 800 363-9028 plus option 6573  archives.gaspe@banq.qc.ca

 BAnQ Gatineau  819 568-8798 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 7 archives.gatineau@banq.qc.ca

BAnQ Rimouski  418 727-3500 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 3 archives.rimouski@banq.qc.ca

 BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda  819 763-3484 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 8
archives.rouyn@banq.qc.ca

BAnQ Saguenay  418 698-3516 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 4
archives.saguenay@banq.qc.ca

BAnQ Sept-Îles  418 964-8434 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 9
archives.sept-iles@banq.qc.ca

BAnQ Sherbrooke  819 820-3010 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 6
archives.sherbrooke@banq.qc.ca

BAnQ Trois-Rivières  819 371-6015 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 5  archives.trois-rivieres@banq.qc.ca

Researched and compiled by Jacques Gagné  gagne.jacques@sympatico.ca

2020-04-16

 

Abandoned

My mother-in-law stood on the front porch as two women approached her from a parked car. I could see that they were speaking but I could not hear their words. One reached out to her.

Abruptly, avoiding what she must have the perceived as an embrace, Flora entered the cottage, slamming the door shut and crying, “I have no sisters!”

Flora Tremblay Tarrant did in fact once have a sister. Flora and her sister Lily were born in La Tuque in 1910 and 1912 respectively. Their mother, Mary Mercier, and her third child died during childbirth when Mary was just twenty-two.1

The girls’ father, Ligouri Tremblay, had migrated to LaTuque from the Lac St. Jean area seeking employment when the St. Maurice Industrial Co. opened a pulp and paper mill in 1908. Ligouri met and married Mary in 1909. 2

Following Mary’s death in 1914, Ligouri abandoned his young children to their grandmother, Caroline Mercier, and moved on to the pulp and paper towns of northern Ontario. Lily died of whooping cough shortly after. 3

Caroline Mercier was born Caroline Beads at Rupert House on James Bay north of La Tuque. 4 Her father, Robert Beads, was the grandson of either John or Thomas Beads, brothers from England who, in the early 1820’s, settled in the area while in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company and married into the indigenous Cree community. 5

Caroline married Joseph Mercier from Riviere Ouelle 6, a French-Canadian river-man on the St. Maurice River who delivered mail to the hinterland beyond La Tuque. Any shadow of Indian blood lay heavy over a family at that time and so it was with Caroline’s family. It took another two generations before Flora’s grandchildren would proudly proclaim native ancestry.

Flora was initially raised by her grandmother and later by Elizabeth (Lizzie), a deaf maiden aunt. Fortunately, her cousins Mary, Peggy and Grace Thompson were as close to her as any sibling would be.

When she was sixteen, Flora’s aunt heard from Ligouri. He was remarried with a young family and now wanted Flora to live with them. “You won’t leave here to be a maid and babysitter”, were evidently Lizzie’s words. She demanded that Ligouri pay the cost of Flora‘s room and board over the past twelve years. She never heard from him again. Flora would forever claim that Lizzie saved her from a fate worse than death.7

Flora married Laurence Tarrant from Bury in the Eastern Townships, a WW1 veteran who had spent three years in British hospitals recovering from his injuries (see A Soldier’s Fortunate Care). Like many Quebecers before him, he travelled to La Tuque to find work in the paper mill and settled there 8.

Flora gave birth to four children. She was widowed in 1964 at the age of 54 when her youngest child was only seven.

Ironically, following her husband’s death, Flora found work as a housekeeper and babIMG_3830 (002)ysitter at the Indian Residential School across the road from her home 9. She cared deeply for the children living far from their families and stripped of their language and culture. Likely she empathised with their feelings of abandonment.

Flora never remarried. “I’ll not wash another man’s dirty socks” were her words, perhaps a throw-back to how she believed her father treated her.  And she would never accept Ligouri’s children as her sisters.

 

 

Notes and Sources

  1. Handwritten family tree in possession of the writer.
  2. com. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 20081891
  3. Handwritten family tree in possession of the writer.
  4. Census of Canada, database. Ancestry.com (ancestry.ca: accessed June 5. 2017), entry for Caroline Beads Citation Year: 1891 Census Place: Unorganized Territory, Champlain, Quebec; Roll: T-6390; Family No: 39
  5. George Robertson.” Biographical Sheets, Hudson Bay Company, www.gov.mb.ca/chc/archives/hbca/biographical/index.html. Accessed 5 June 2017
  6. Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967
  7. Personal conversations with Flora Tarrant.
  8. Family Records and documents on file with the writer
  9. https:/www.anglican.ca/tr/histories/la-tuque-quebec/

 

Continental Notes for Public Circulation

After Stanley Clark Bagg (1820-1873) and his family returned home to Montreal from a year-long trip through Europe in 1868-1869, he wrote a small book about some of the places they had visited. Published in 1870, he called it Continental Notes for Private Circulation.1 The irony is that, 150 years after this book appeared, it is far from private: it can be found in university libraries, and it is also available on the Internet.

Continental Notes highlights 20 of the places the Bagg family visited, including Paris, Venice, Strasbourg, the Rhine River, Waterloo, the ruins of Pompeii and the French Riviera.

I was excited to find a copy of this little book on an open circulation shelf at McGill University a few years ago. I had read a lot about my great-great-grandfather, but I hoped to get to know him a little better by reading his own words.

At first glance, the book seemed dry and impersonal. This was disappointing, considering that SCB and his wife, Catharine, had made the trip with his sister-in-law and five children, ranging in age from seven to 20. The trip was no doubt considered an essential part of the children’s education. Surely there must have been some surprises or amusing incidents along the way that he could have described. But SCB explained in the introduction that the book was based on his personal notes, some of which were written before they even left Montreal. And this was a man of the Victorian era who had a reputation for being conservative, at least in politics. As a member of Montreal’s elite, his writing style was no doubt appropriately reserved.2

On closer reading, however, it became clear that Continental Notes reflected his personal interests, which included history (especially the Roman Empire and the early history of Christianity) and archaeology.

Cluny Paris

The Musée de Cluny, also known as the Musée national du Moyen Âge, is in the Latin quarter of Paris. JH photo

In the two pages he wrote about Paris, he gave more space to the Hôtel de Cluny, which he called “one of the finest remains of the ancient mansions of Paris of the 16th Century” than he did to the Louvre. He added that the Palais des Thermes, once the residence of the Roman Governor of Gaul, was connected to Hôtel de Cluny and housed a collection of antiquities that was open to the public. That museum of medieval art is still there, so when my husband and I visited Paris in 2010, we visited it. One of the treasures it houses today is a famous series of tapestries, The Lady and the Unicorn.

One of the other spots SCB visited was Hyères, a town located near the Mediterranean coast of France, between Nice and Marseilles. He mentioned its warm winter climate, which may have been one of its attractions, and went on to write, “The environs of Hyères abound in vineyards and olive gardens.… This reminds me of the good Samaritan who poured oil and wine into the wounds of the man that fell among thieves. Who can walk through these pleasant vineyards without thinking of our blessed Lord when he said, ’I am the true vine, and my Father the husbandman.’”

Hyeres castle ruins
The castle ruins, Hyères. JH photo.

Forty years ago, long before I knew anything about Stanley Clark Bagg, I spent a month in Hyères, taking classes at a French language school there. Hyères was not the area’s most attractive town and I wondered what my great-great-grandfather would have found of interest there. Then it occurred to me that, besides the weather, he was probably attracted by the ruined medieval castle. SCB noted, “The ruined walls and towers of the Castle of Hyères stand on a hill above the town. It is probable that this Roman fortress dates as far back as the sixth century.” I walked up to the ruins one afternoon, but was not as excited about the castle as he was.

Many years later, I came across some notes that probably referred to that European adventure. Someone had put them in the Bagg family Bible, perhaps so they wouldn’t get lost.3 The notes reveal that the family not only visited France, Belgium, Prussia, Switzer­land, Italy and the Papal States, but also Ireland, Scotland, England.

These little reminders probably reveal as much of SCB’s attitude on the road as his book does, and most of them remain good advice 150 years later:

Do not fill trunks, nor take too many. Look after luggage.

Read up references, prepare routine, currency, etc.

Letter of introduction useful.

“A soft answer turneth wrath away.”  Keep cool, be firm, good-tempered, “polite.”

Staterooms on ships near stairs, seat at table near Captain.

Do not leave bills, business until last minute.

Be at boat or cars at least 15 min. early.

Never give up passports.

“Fee” the steward, etc. when you go on board — more attentive.

Take what clothing you may require for voyage in a carpet bag — trunk may be too large for admission to staterooms.

Seasickness: Norton’s chamomile Pills. 10[?] drops in brandy, mixed with water. Adults, children in proportion.

Deposit office for articles in all [railway] stations in Eng. Ire. Scot­land. A penny or two. Check given, office responsible for loss. Great convenience.

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

Sources:

  1. Stanley Clark Bagg, Continental Notes for Private Circulation, Montreal, printed by Daniel Rose, 1870. https://www.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.02377/1?r=0&s=1 (accessed April 8, 2020)
  2. SCB’s most personal writing is probably his poetry. The title, Leisure Moments, seems something of a misnomer, however, given that this small collection of poems he had printed in 1871 features melancholic themes such as grief for deceased loved ones and assurances of a beautiful afterlife. Leisure moments [electronic resource] : a few poems, by Stella [i.e. Stanley Clark Bagg], Bagg, S. Clark. Montreal, 1871 https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100248153 (accessed Jan. 5, 2020.)
  3. I found these notes in the family Bible at the McCord Museum, Montreal, and copied them then, but when I looked again a few years later, they were no longer there.

 

Letter to My Grandson

Dear Grandson,

You will be born tomorrow, April 2, 2020. At this time, Montreal has 2,097 cases of the Corona Virus (COVID-19). In Quebec, this flu virus has caused 33 deaths. 1

The World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Almost every country in the world is currently in some type of lockdown. As governments manoeuvre through this crisis, trying to maintain health care systems and the basic needs of their citizens, families face individual struggles.

Schools, daycares, and businesses that are not considered essential services are closed.  Public health messages tell people to stay at home, to practice social distancing, a new term that means we do not congregate and that if we do need to have contact, to maintain a two-metre distance from each other. Playgrounds, libraries, sports complexes, cinemas, theatres, and shopping centres are shut down.

But love is not cancelled. We already love you so much. Normally we would be preparing for tomorrow, planning on meeting you at the hospital, with balloons, flowers and other gifts. Right now, no visitors are allowed.

Just a month ago, in what now seems to be a carefree world, I would have been planning to greet you at home, waiting to cuddle you in my arms, and lovingly admire your every feature. At this time, we do not know when we will visit you.

A little over a hundred years ago, my family lived through the Spanish Flu of 1918 in Montreal. It must have been just as frightening as today’s health crisis. The McHughs were a large family. My grandfather, Thomas, and his wife, Elsie, had eight children living at home. Grandfather Thomas’ mother, his two brothers, and his sister’s family lived close by. Thomas and Elsie’s daughter, Anne, and her husband, Norman Smith, had their first son, Thomas, just a few months before the Spanish Flu outbreak reached Canada.  They must have been terrified.

It is estimated that 20,000 people in Montreal died of the Spanish Flu. This is out of a population of over half a million.2 Many years ago I asked my aunt why no one in the family died during the Spanish Flu and she answered that the family stayed home. Only those who worked went out. They left the house as little as possible to buy food. They didn’t go to church. The children stayed home from school. And they did not visit anyone. In light of today’s crisis, it seems like they did the right thing.

Montreal was hard hit by the Spanish flu as it was a port city.3 Like COVID19 that has today spread quickly throughout the world due to travel, the Spanish Flu also spread rapidly this way. 4

It is believed that the Spanish Flu first came to Canada in two separate occasions, both on September 13, 1918. Polish soldiers coming through the U.S. to a military training camp at Niagara-on-the-Lake arrived with the flu. The same day, a group of Catholic clergy and parishioners arrived, also from the U.S., to attend a Eucharistic Congress in Victoriaville that hosted over 25,000 participants. By Monday, some of the participants were dead and the students who attended the Congress and who were not yet ill, travelled back home across Canada, spreading the virus rapidly.5

So dear Grandson, always remember that, no matter what, love is never cancelled. And, while you will be born in a time of great turmoil, I am optimistic for your future. You are lucky that you will be a citizen of a country with responsible government. Already the crisis has shown that creative solutions to problems can be found. A coat manufacturer is retooling to produce hospital gowns. Manufacturers of auto parts are set to change production lines so that they can deliver ventilators. Many distillers are making hand sanitizers instead of spirits.6 The provincial government has indicated that it will help farms in Quebec to expand so that they can produce more. One drug store chain has donated over a million face masks to the government.7

We will get through this.

Love,

Gran

 

  1. Government of Quebec website, Information about the Corona Virus, https://www.quebec.ca/en/health/health-issues/a-z/2019-coronavirus/situation-coronavirus-in-quebec/#c47900, accessed April 1, 2020.

 

  1. Wikipedia website, Montreal, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Montreal, accessed March 22, 2020, Population in Montreal in 1911 was 533,341.

 

  1. Government of Canada, Parks Canada website, The Spanish Flu in Canada 1918 -1920, https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/culture/clmhc-hsmbc/res/doc/information-backgrounder/espagnole-spanish, accessed March 22, 2020.

 

  1. Global News, D’Amore, Rachael, Here’s How the Spanish Flu is similar and different from the Corona Virus, March 21, 2020, https://globalnews.ca/news/6707118/coronavirus-spanish-flu-comparison/, accessed March 22, 2020.

 

  1. Canadian Geographic website, The Outbreak and its Aftermath, Mitchell, Alanna, August 23, 2018, https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/outbreak-and-its-aftermath, accessed March 22, 2020.

 

  1. Ipolitics website, Pinkerton, Charlie, March 19, 2020, Trudeau says wartime production law could be used to boost manufacturing of medical equipment, https://ipolitics.ca/2020/03/19/trudeau-says-wartime-production-law-could-be-used-to-boost-manufacturing-of-medical-equipment/, accessed March 22, 2020.

 

  1. Le Journal de Québec website, Gagnon, Marc-André, COVID-19 Pénurie de masques d’ici 3 à 7 jours, March 31, 2020, https://www.journaldequebec.com/2020/03/31/en-directfrancois-legault-fait-le-point-sur-la-pandemie-de-covid-19-au-quebec, accessed April 1, 2020

Three sisters: three flu pandemics

As we go through the current pandemic, I wondered how my ancestors coped with similar pandemics in their lives. After all, including this one, Canadians have faced six flu pandemics since Confederation.1 Looking at their lives might help with what we’re dealing with now.

Turns out they faced much worse circumstances than we have so far, particularly during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. Few people living in Canada that year knew to limit contact until the end of the year, and the beginning of 1919. By then, most people saw someone they knew die.

The Spanish Flu killed almost as many Canadians as World War I did, but in a much shorter time.

It took four years of war to kill 51,000 Canadian soldiers and nurses.2

The Spanish Flu took only nine months to kill 50,000 Canadians during the fall of 1918 and the spring and summer of 1919. It killed my great great grandmother’s sister-in-law, Marie Amanda Gauthier Gourdinne.

Oulletteville in 1918

Mrs. Gourdinne lived in a close-knit francophone community called Ouelletteville, near Cluny, Alberta. The village stemmed from a community of 32 families who set up farms there in 1910.

A great many homesteaders from Ontario and Quebec joined them over the next decade, including my great grandmother Marie-Berthe (Martha) Charette, her two sisters, Ida and Eva, with their husbands and their brother Ernest.

Ernest, Ida, Martha, Eva

 

Flu Symptoms

The three sisters probably heard stories about the 1890 Russian flu pandemic from their parents, especially since their little sister Dora was born that year.

Still, nothing could match living through the fear and then reality of someone you love suffering from the disease.

At the beginning of his comprehensive tome about the Spanish Flu in Canada, researcher Mark Osborne Humphries describes the death of an 18-year-old soldier named George William F.

It wasn’t pretty.

“[George William F.] fought his symptoms for two days as he drilled, marched and played sports in the chilly autumn rain. By the 29th [of September], he had grown considerably worse and was forced into a hospital. There his condition quickly deteriorated. Within a couple of days, his breathing grew shallow and more infrequent as his pulse quickened to 112 beats per minute. His temperature climbed above 103 degrees. Blood dripped from his nose. On 4 October, doctors noted that his lips, and earlobes were beginning to turn blue from lack of oxygen. His once slight cough became ‘considerable,’ and he began to complain of chest pain. A mild flu was rapidly progressing into a severe case of pneumonia. Although his doctors still hoped for recovery, his temperature remained high. On the night of 16 October, almost three weeks after entering hospital, his breathing quickened still more, rising above fifty shallow breaths per minute. The young soldier was gasping for air but his lungs were incapable of absorbing oxygen. At five the following morning, Gunner George William F. died from complications of Spanish flu. There was little doctors could do but watch him perish.”3

It didn’t start in Spain

The Spanish Flu got its name from the newspaper reports coming out of that country, which was one of the few places on earth that didn’t censor news reports due to the war.

That fact initially led people to blame immigrants for the virus spread.

Historical research eventually found multiple trigger events on military bases instead.

Military Outbreaks

One strain began with a flu outbreak at a military base in Haskell, Kansas, for example. Researchers traced the transmission through American military camps until Polish troops brought it to Niagara-on-the-Lake in October 1918. It then spread throughout Ontario during the fall of 1918 and from there to new recruits who carried it across the country as they travelled to British Columbia to leave for Russia.4

The Spanish Flu hit Ouellettesville, Alberta on its way west. That’s where my ancestors lived.

Everyone knew everyone else in the town, and they were family, so the three sisters knew the 51-year-old Mrs. Gourdinne. Her suffering and later death must have been a shock.

I have notes from my grandmother saying “1918 was a hard year for the Gourdinne family due to the flu epidemic. Beloved grandmama died.”

Still, the three sisters out west and their family members living near Ottawa all escaped harm.

Limited Mortality from Russian Flu Exposure?

In retrospect, we know that their little sister Dora, who turned 28 in 1918, made the luckiest escape.

A study conducted by researchers in 2013 showed unusually heavy Spanish flu mortality among 28-year-olds.

“We posit that in specific instances, development of immunological memory to an influenza virus strain in early life may lead to a dysregulated immune response to antigenically novel strains encountered in later life, thereby increasing the risk of death. Exposure during critical periods of development could also create holes in the T cell repertoire and impair fetal maturation in general, thereby increasing mortality from infectious diseases later in life.”5

That process may have contributed to all the sisters’ dying soon after the second pandemic they lived through. None of them lived long after that.

Ida died of cancer in 1922.

Asian, Hong Kong and H1N1 flu pandemics

Martha and Dora were among 7,000 Canadians who succumbed to the Asian flu in 1957. My great grandmother Martha died in Edmonton on June 6. Her sister Dora died in Ottawa on October 23.

Eva moved back east to join her family in Ottawa. She survived the Asian flu to die a mere two years later.

The following pandemic, known as the Hong Kong flu, killed 4,000 Canadians in 1968, including my grandmother on my mother’s side. Agnes Maria Himphen died on October 13.

Luckily, no one I know died in the 2009 H1N1 pandemic, although the outbreak killed 428 Canadians.

With all the research efforts underway across the country, I certainly hope that we’ll discover a vaccine for the current COVID-19 soon.

I’m praying that there won’t be any more deaths.

Sources

1Dickin, Janice, Patricia G. Bailey and Erin James-Abra. “Flu” in The Canadian Encyclopedia. Published September 29, 2009; edited May 1, 2017. Accessed on March 24, 2020, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/influenza/.

2Spanish Flu information kit for students, Ontario Archives, http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/en/education/pdf/Spanish_Flu_in_Ontario_Lesson_Kit.pdf, accessed on March 24, 2020.

3Humphries, Mark Osborne. The Last Plague: Spanish Influenza and the Politics of Public Health in Canada. University of Toronto Press, 2013, p 3.

4Mitchell, Alanna. The outbreak and its aftermath, Canadian Geographic, August 23, 2018, https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/outbreak-and-its-aftermath, accessed March 25, 2020.

5Gagnon, Alain, et al. “Age-Specific Mortality During the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Unravelling the Mystery of High Young Adult Mortality.” PLoS ONE, vol. 8, no. 8, 5 Aug. 2013, p. e69586, 10.1371/journal.pone.0069586. Accessed 24 Mar. 2020.

My Grandfather, North Yorkshire and Discobulus

VenusandAdonis

Venus and Adonis by Titian. This Renaissance painting is now at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles but it once graced the Hall of Duncombe Park in Helmsley, North Yorkshire. I know this because of a precious little volume from 1829 I found on archive.org, A Description of Duncombe Park, Rivalx Abbey and Helmsley Castle.

As it happens, my father’s  paternal ancestors are from Helmsley, today a picturesque market and tourist town on the River Pye in the Ryedale District.

helmsley

Duncombe Park  was once an imposing structure in the Doric style built in 1718 overlooking Helmsley Castle not far from Thirsk where the vet who inspired All Creatures Great and Small worked. It was the seat of the Earls of Feversham.

My grandfather, Robert Nixon (1890-1967), was born to Robert Nixon Sr. and Mary-Ellen Richardson.

helmsleynixonhouse

This stretch of very unimposing row houses is where the Nixons lived in 1911, according to the UK Census.

abbott'swellcottge

Mary-Ellen was from nearby Rievaulx, a village famous for its cathedral ruins. She was born in this quaint cottage, Abbot’s Well. Her dad was a tailor.

RobertCENSUS

According to this census, Robert Nixon Sr. was a delver in a quarry in Rievaulx in 1911.

The same census page says my grandfather, Robert Jr.  21,  was a footman, likely at Duncombe Park. Robert was a strapping 6 foot 4 inches tall. The gentry liked their footmen to be fine physical specimens, but this was not always a good thing if Nixon family lore can be counted upon.

According to an English ‘auntie’ of my  father’s, the daughter of ‘the local earl’ went ga-ga for young Robert back in the day, so the love-struck girl’s powerful father sent him away, far away to Malaya.

I have no picture of Robert, but I recall seeing one decades ago and he looked like my dad, Peter.  So here’s a picture of Peter in 1958 holding our new puppy, Spotty, a coonhound. My father was also 6 foot four inches tall.

father

This myth might be true, as employment in Malaya was only offered to young men from well-off families, not delver’s sons.

I see that the sitting Earl of Feversham had four daughters, but they were much too old for Robert. Maybe it was Feversham’s granddaughter who fell in love with my strapping grandfather. I hope so, because I like this family myth. This is a Vanity Fair pic of the Earl from Wikipedia.

Lord Feversham 1829-1915

According to travel records, my grandfather, Robert took a boat to Malaya (willingly or unwillingly) in 1912 to work at Batu Caves Estate in Selangor, just outside of Kuala Lumpur.

He returned to England after WWI to marry my grandmother, Dorothy Forster, from County Durham, whose father was an itinerant Primitive Methodist preacher posted in Helmsley between 1912 and 1914.

MRsDOROTHYNIXON

Dorothy followed him to Malaya in December, 1921 and my dad was born ten months later on October 24.  Robert later became Manager of the estate. Both my grandfather and grandmother were interned at Changi Prison during WWII.

According to the 1829 book, Duncombe Park was  home to a treasure trove of classical paintings, among them the Titian shown at top, but also a Da Vinci, a Reubens, a Rembrandt  as well as Discobulus, described as ‘the finest statue in England.’

My grandfather never did get to see these great works of art in person because most were burned in a fire in 1879.  Back then, some of these paintings were worth five thousand pounds.

The Discobulus and the DaVinci work were lost in the fire but Titian’s Venus and Adonis was saved to eventually find its way to California and the Getty Museum.

Duncombe was rebuilt in the Baroque Italianate style and used as a backdrop to the 2012 British mini-series Parade’s End, with Benedict Cumberbatch.  I love that mini-series, so it is all very appropriate.

Duncombe

Dunscombepark1

Allegiances

Allegiances were not among his strongest traits. In today’s world he might be recognized as the first great Canadian entrepreneur. He was named “a person of National Historic Significance by the Canadian Government”. 1 His remarkable achievements exploring New France, in the mid 1600s led to the growth and development of the fur trade. He was a co-founder and received the charter for the Hudson Bay Company from the King of England, Charles II in 1670. These were great accomplishments.

This title belongs to Pierre Esprit Radisson. He was born in France about 1640, the third child of Pierre Esprit Radisson, my ninth great grandfather and Madeleine Henault. At a young age, Pierre arrived in New France in 1651. He and his family, his parents, and sisters, Francoise and Elizabeth settled in Trois Rivieres.

I am proud to call him my eighth Great Uncle.

Radisson’s life was tumultuous. Early on he was captured by Indians and lived with them for two years. He escaped and was again captured. During captivity he learned their language and the skills required to survive in the woods.

His family thought they would never see him again.

Much has been written about Radisson and his brother-in-law, Medard Chouart Des Groseilliers and their explorations of the Great Lakes and later, the far north where they were trading furs. Very little is known about his personal life. He spent time in Three Rivers, his “home base” when he was not on one of his four lengthy journeys. From writings about Radisson it appears he married three times and fathered nine children.

Throughout his fur trading days, his various alliances with the French, the English and Indian tribes were a cause for concern.

He had one allegiance. Do what was in his own best interest.

In researching and preparing for this story about this famous explorer there were many areas of interest. Two stood out. The first was the manuscript, the second his relationship with the Hudson Bay Company.

His manuscript entitled “Voyages of Peter Esprit Radisson is in the Bodleian Library and the British Museum in London, England.2

The manuscript is written in English and is considered the first descriptive document of explorations beyond the St. Lawrence River. He wrote about the four journeys taken with his brother-in-law, Medard Chouart Des Groseilliers.

For two hundred years his writing had not been seen. They were brought to light in 1885.

Archivists and Paleographers examined the manuscripts to establish their authenticity and to determine if Radisson was the author. The quality of the paper was examined, the handwriting was compared and scrutinzed to determine if the documents were written by one person or several. After considerable debate they were  found to be the writings of Radisson, in his rather fractured English.3

Below is an excerpt from the manuscript that gives the reader some insight into the manner these daring adventurous men were treated by the authorities.

“The Governor was greatly displeased at the disobedience of Radisson and his brother-in-law in going on their last voyage without his permission. On their return, the narrative states, “he made my brother prisoner for not having obeyed his orders; he fines us L. 4,000 to make a fort at the three rivers, telling us for all manner of satisfaction that he would give us leave to put our coat of armes upon it; and moreover L. 6,000 for the country, saying that wee should not take it so strangely and so bad, being wee were inhabitants and did intend to finish our days in the same country with our relations and friends…. Seeing ourselves so wronged, my brother did resolve to go and demand justice in France. “Failing to get restitution, they resolved to go over to the English. They went early in 1665 to Port Royal, Nova Scotia, and from thence to New England, where they engaged an English or New England ship for a trading adventure into Hudson’s Straits in 61 deg. north.”4

In the mid 1600’s in New France the fur trade was a highly competitive business and both the French, and the English were via for furs. Alliances were formed. It is with these alliances that Radisson had difficulty, especially after the French confiscated their furs and Des Groseilliers was imprisoned for a time. The men were fined by the French Governor. They decided to seek assistance from the British. They experienced success and were able to pursue their dream of reaching Hudson Bay.

In the manuscript excerpt below Radisson’s negotiating skills were of great importance in the success of their endeavours.

“To Des Groseilliers and Radisson must be given the credit of originating the idea of forming a settlement at Hudson’s Bay, out of which grew the profitable organization of the Hudson’s Bay Company. They obtained through the English Ambassador to France an interview with Prince Rupert, and laid before him their plans, which had been before presented to the leading merchants of Canada and the French Court. Prince Rupert at once foresaw the value of such an enterprise, and aided them in procuring the required assistance from several noblemen and gentlemen, to fit out in 1667 two ships from London, the “Eagle,”…., and the “Nonsuch,” ketch, ….”.5


With the financial assistance of Prince Rupert, the cousin of Charles II, King of England. They were given ships and supplies for the voyage. The first ship “Nonsuch”, with Des Groseilliers’ on board completed the voyage, while Radisson’s ship was not as fortunate. He was unable to reach Hudson Bay. The first ship returned laden with furs. This was a major success for both Radisson and DesGroseilliers. The accomplishment led to what was later known as the establishment by the British as Rupert’s Land. A large area where these fur traders could hunt for the much-desired beaver pelts.

Charles II of England granted a charter to the Hudson Bay Company May 2nd, 1670 and Radisson and DesGroseilliers were named co-founders. 5

This year (2020) the Company  is celebrating their 350th year.

The persistence and bravado of these two explorers were recognized long after their demise. Their names live on through the manuscripts and this famous company.

Pierre Esprit Radisson, my eighth great uncle’s contribution to the development of our country was worthy of the title bestowed upon him as a National Historic Significant figure.

Sources:

1.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persons_of_National_Historic_Significance.

2.https://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/viewFile/12836/14054 Who Was the Scribe of the Radisson Manuscript?, GERMAINE WARKENTIN

3. www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/6913/pg6913-images.html The Project Gutenberg EBook of Voyages of Peter Esprit Radisson by Peter Esprit Radisson
introduction by Gideon D. Scull, London England, Boston, The Prince Society, 1885, n

4. Ibid.

5. https://web2.uvcs.uvic.ca/courses/lawdemo/DOCS/RC1670.htm The Royal Chyarter for incorporating The Hudson’s Bay Company, A.D. 1670.

References:
https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/pierre-esprit-radisson

https://archivaria.ca/index.php/archivaria/article/viewFile/12836/14054 Who Was the Scribe of the Radisson Manuscript?, GERMAINE WARKENTIN

https://www.cbc.ca/history/EPCONTENTSE1EP6CH1PA3LE.html
Videos – The Business of Fur- Radisson and Des Groseilliers, The Business of Fur- The Fashion of Fur, The Business of Fur -New Lands for Trade, The Business of Fur- Hudson’s Bay Company Beginning

https://www.encyclopedia.com/

https://www.historymuseum.ca/virtual-museum-of-new-france/the-explorers/pierre-esprit-radisson-1659-1660/

Note:
www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/6913/pg6913-images.html The Project Gutenberg EBook of Voyages of Peter Esprit Radisson by Peter Esprit Radisson
introduction by Gideon D. Scull, London England, Boston, The Prince Society, 1885,
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook

Golf in Dunany

The Dunany Country Club will be celebrating its 100th Anniversary in 2022. This nine-hole golf club, located north-west of Montreal in the lower Laurentians, near Lachute, has been of prime importance to my family and our history. My parents met in Dunany.

The Dunany area was settled in the mid-1800s by the Irish. These immigrants tried to farm the rocky Laurentian Shield carving small farms out of the forests. The area had already been logged but still, trees were everywhere. Small patches of land were cleared but it was subsistence farming at best. A post office was established in 1853 and it was called Dunany. The name came from a point of land in County Louth, on the east coast of Ireland. The four small lakes brought fishermen and cottagers to the area early in the 20th century.

My paternal grandparents, William and Minnie Sutherland first travelled to Dunany to visit friends, the McRobies. The long journey from Montreal, needed a car, train and horse and cart to complete, so one stayed a few days. Grandfather Sutherland enjoyed the country and so he bought some property and built a cottage on Boyd Lake. For them, it remained a long journey but he was said to be the first person to drive a car in from Lachute.

No one thought about golf until Katherine “Kit” McRobie challenged a friend to a game around the pastures and fields and so golf came to Dunany. A group of 20 people, including my grandfather, contributed money to buy land and in 1922 the Dunany Country Club was born.

IMG_0124
Wilson Sutherland putting on a sand green 1924
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Golf course equipment circa 1925
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Rocks and Rough Greens 1927

When my maternal grandfather Rene Raguin was interested in buying a country house in 1931, he too looked in Dunany. He knew of the area because his wife’s sister, lived in Lachute and she and her husband had a place at Lake Louisa, near Dunany. One evening, the Sutherlands visited the Raguins at their new cottage as Mrs Raguin and Mrs Sutherland knew each other from the United Church Women’s group. My mother was ten and she and her sister were sent to bed but spied on the visitors and their 15-year-old son Donald. With the age difference, Dorothy and Donald didn’t see much of each other until they met again after the war at a dance at the clubhouse. Two years later they married.

Everybody in the families at least tried golf. My grandmothers were not taken by the game but most other family members persevered. Some actually became very good players. The rough pastures and sand greens gradually evolved to smoother fairways and grass greens. The course grew from a couple of holes to a full nine. The layout of the course kept evolving. Then even sand traps were added. The trees have grown and some fixture trees have had to be cut down. The fairways are still not perfect but it is a country course played with preferred lies.

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The Golfer 1959

My father always lamented that he didn’t have proper lessons as his father taught him so he made sure we all had lessons with the visiting pro. My mother often took the four children over to the club so she could play. The well-behaved children could hit balls while those misbehaving had to sit on a bench and wait for the hole to be completed.

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The Sutherlands on the 1st green 1960

Four members of the family have had holes-in-one at Dunany. William Sutherland aced a hole that is no longer in play. He stationed his brother on a hill with a view of the green so he wouldn’t lose his ball and after he hit, all Wilson said was, “It’s in.” Isn’t that the point of the game! My mother Dorothy’s ball went into the hole after my father said, “Your mother just doesn’t hit the ball like she used to.” Her ball landed at the side of the green, bounced on and rolled in. My brother Don and I have also each aced a hole.

There are many trophies played for at the club. The Sutherlands have won a number. The Parkes Culross trophy is one that many family members have won. It is a low net competition played for on Labour Day weekend. Eight family members have their names engraved on this trophy.

The club continues to be the centre of the community. There are now plans for the log clubhouse to be renovated. Those who don’t play golf still attend the many functions, from dinners and bridge to music fests and art shows, sports nights and other junior activities. Mine isn’t the only family who found love in Dunany and so most people are related to somebody. Children who grew up and moved away have now returned and bought their own cottages. When you meet someone new you ask, “Whose house do you live in?” They think it is theirs but the spirit of all the old Dunanyites lives on.

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9th Green Grass & Sandtrap 2011

Notes:

Hammond Eleanor Hamilton, A History of Dunany. Printed in Canada by Zippy Print, Brockville, Ontario. 1990.

Eric Dauber, The Story of the Dunany Country Club, 1967.

Beth Sutherland Van Loben Sels, As I Remember Dunany.

Family winners of the Parkes Culross are Rene Raguin, Dorothy A. Sutherland, Donald W. Sutherland, Mary Sutherland, Donald J. Sutherland, Dorothy I. Sutherland, Sharon Leslie and Scott Ritchie.

how i came to write miss lindsay’s tale

“Our ancestors want their stories told” said my third cousin and fellow genealogy writer. We are both related to my great aunt, Miss Marguerite Lindsay, and we were both told the same story growing up: Poor Marguerite Lindsay died tragically in Labrador, in 1922, at age 25. Period.

We never questioned the statement nor begged for gory details. Little did we know that she did indeed have a story to tell and she finally got her wish almost 100 years later.

I wrote a story about Marguerite’s father, Robert Lindsay. Lindsay worked as a Montreal stockbroker in 1880 during booming and prosperous times. At the end of his story, I listed the names of his six children, including his youngest daughter Marguerite.

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/06/27/a-montreal-stockbroker/

Shortly after the publication of his story on our website, I received an e-mail from a student at Memorial University in St John’s, Newfoundland. She wanted to know where Marguerite was buried. I found that to be a very strange question in response to a story about her father. I replied hesitantly and asked why she wanted to know. What a delightful surprise to hear that not only had she researched Miss Lindsay’s story but also offered to send me copies of her findings and the 1922 newspaper clippings!

The media covered the tragic tale in great detail over an 18-month period including the final coroner’s report. The official report concluded that her accidental death occurred from a shot by her own pistol when she tripped and fell.

I devoured the newspaper clippings and finally knew the whole story that no one spoke of so long ago.

Research is not my forte but it seems everyone that I contacted had something to tell me. Several websites produced other glimpses into Cartwright, Labrador and Grenfell himself. What a thrill to discover a great deal of information about the International Grenfell Association preserved on microfilm at The Rooms Provincial Archives in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

That fateful summer in 1922, Marguerite worked as a volunteer school teacher with the Grenfell Mission in Cartwright, Labrador, under Reverend Henry Gordon. The local community named their school in Cartwright after him.

Miss Marguerite Lindsay Grenfell Mission Volunteer

When I contacted the assistant principal at Henry Gordon Academy, she seemed equally as excited as I to talk about Miss Lindsay. We decided to skip e-mails and speak directly over the phone instead.

Well, this is some of what she told me…They named the marsh where they found her body “Miss Lindsay’s Marsh”. An honorary plaque graces the local church and a memorial prayer said every Christmas. Some of the young students wrote her a poem and the new students are all told Miss Lindsay’s story. Miss Martin, a fellow teacher, recently retired from the Henry Gordon Academy and still has the sewing machine that her grandfather, John Martin, bought with his reward money for finding Miss Lindsay’s body that December back in 1922.

And just then…the music began to play over the phone, and I quietly listened to Harry Martin’s song “Somewhere Beyond the Hills” written for Marguerite.

“I can’t believe that I am talking to a descendant of Miss Lindsay!” said my new friend.

I could almost imagine Marguerite standing beside me soaking up all these loving tributes… her story finally told.

(Rumour has it that if I can make the 100th year anniversary of Miss Lindsay’s death in August 2022, there might be a potluck supper and memorial service at the church in her honour!)

Helen Frances Marguerite Lindsay 1896-1922

Notes: Miss Lindsay’s three part story can be found below:

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/10/30/miss-lindsay-part-1/

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/12/18/miss-lindsay-part-2/

https://genealogyensemble.com/2019/12/25/miss-lindsay-part-3/

1. A summary of Miss Lindsay’s story can be found on the Finding Grenfell website under the People of the Mission section: (https://www.findinggrenfell.ca/home/files/pg/panel-people-v4-large.jpg).

Beautiful hooked rug by Grenfell Mission artisans – courtesy of Janice Hamilton

2. The famous Grenfell hooked rugs: http://www.grenfellhookedmats.com/and also, they continue to make and sell rugs, clothing, books and other items, or you can buy a membership in the historical society

Far from Home

The news from home gave John Hunter, my great-grandfather, a jolt. Usually letters from home to the troops during WWI were full of the joys of everyday life, encouraging the soldiers that the war would end soon and that the family back home awaited their return with anticipation.

For many months now, John Hunter had been getting bad news. John knew that his wife, Mary Hynd, had become seriously ill. Then John got the news that she was in the hospital, and then that she had died.

Luckily for John, he at least received news regularly from home in Scotland.  All mail going to France, where John was stationed, first had to reach Regent’s Park in England. From Scotland, this would have taken a bit of time. Nevertheless, the government consistently delivered letters to the troops as they felt that the letters helped with the troops’ morale. Nineteen thousand mailbags crossed the Channel every day and arrived at one of three stations in France: Le Havre, Boulogne, or Calais.1

John, a sapper with the 326th Company of the Royal Engineers, worked as a miner by trade back in Scotland. Sappers, sometimes called quarrymen or tunnelers, mined the quarries and built the tunnels essential to the Allies in their battles against the Germans.

The 326th Company was formed at Buxton, England and it landed at Le Havre on May 23, 1917, consisting of four officers, 264 men, and two horses.2 They moved to Marquise on May 27, 1917.  By this time, Mary, back home in Scotland, had been diagnosed with liver and intestinal cancer. Mary died on October 14, 1917 and her death certificate states that her husband, John, was out of the country in Rinxent, France. Rinxent is about 3 km from Marquise. The significant quarrying operations in Rinxent provided the stones for the laying and maintenance of roads by the Allies.3

It was in a document on October 27, 1918 that the request was made to the war office in London to release Sapper John Hunter, 326th Company, Royal Engineers from his war duties and to transfer him to the reserve. Permission was granted:

“…. Provided he can be spared, you will issue the necessary instructions for him to be despatched to the Scottish Command Discharge Centre, East London Street Schools, Edinburgh, with a view to him being transferred to the reserve and returned to his home.”

This permission was based on “compassionate grounds” and “due to his domestic situation.” Mary had left behind two children, my grandmother, Grace, 17, and Thomas, 12.

The Deputy Adjutant General signed off on the transfer of John Hunter to his home. He was transferred to Calais and then shipped to England, and then transferred to Scotland.4

By the time he actually arrived back home in Scotland, the Armistice had been signed, essentially bringing the war to an end. Nevertheless, as part of a quarrying company, he would have still needed permission to return home as the companies continued to mine in France until late 1919.

 

  1. BBC, “How did 12 million letters reach WWI soldiers each week,” http://www.bbc.co.uk/guides/zqtmyrd, accessed April 21, 2019.
  2. https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/quarry-companies-of-the-royal-engineers/, The Long, Long Trail” or “The Long, Long Trail: the British Army in the Great War” or “Chris Baker’s site The Long, Long Trail” as title in addition to the URL, accessed April 21, 2019.
  3. https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/battlefields/gazetteer-of-the-western-front/gazetteer-of-the-western-front-rinxent/, The Long, Long Trail” or “The Long, Long Trail: the British Army in the Great War” or “Chris Baker’s site The Long, Long Trail” as title in addition to the URL, accessed April 21, 2019.
  4. Document to the Commandant, Scottish Command Discharge Centre, Edinburgh, ref. Z1/B, signed December 13, 1918 by Lieutenant R.E. for Lieutenant Corporal, Troops Base Depot.