Genealogy, Immigration, Montreal, Quebec, Scotland

Polio in the Family

My Auntie Elsie McHugh was quite a chatterbox and so were her budgies. When we used to visit her, the budgies filled the room with the sound of their chatter, competing to be heard. Unless it was time to go to bed, or someone was coming in the door, the budgies were free to fly around the apartment. It was quite an adventure to go there.

My Uncle Jimmy Scott was usually sitting in his favourite chair, not saying a word.

Certainly when I remember Elsie, I think about her continual stream of conversation and story-telling. But I also remember that she had a distinct limp.  This didn’t stop her from being a snazzy dresser or wearing fancy shoes.

Scott, Jimmy and Elsie McHugh

Jimmy Scott and Elsie McHugh

As an adult, I learned that Auntie Elsie limped because she was stricken with paralytic polio when she was an infant living in Dundee, Scotland at the beginning of the 1900s.1 While today, polio is almost eradicated, at that time it would have been a frightening disease.

Only Elsie, out of the family of seven children, contracted poliomyelitis, the medical term for polio. Dr. Ivar Wickman of Sweden proved that polio was contagious in 1905. This was probably after Elsie was sick. And it was not until the 1930s that it was discovered that it was an intestinal infection and spread by the oral-fecal route, and not an airborne virus, as previously thought.2

During Elsie’s childhood, the family lived in a tenement in industrial Dundee, near the jute factories. There was overcrowding and poor sanitation.

In children, paralysis from polio occurs one in a thousand cases. Most children are simply sick and consequently develop an immunity to it.3 It is probable that Elsie’s siblings were also exposed to polio, but they suffered from no permanent consequences.

Because young Elsie limped and probably could not run or jump very well, she was considered disabled or “crippled.” As a result, she attended a special school to learn cooking, needlework and housekeeping. The other girls in the family resented the special education that Elsie received.

In Scotland, children had to attend school between the ages of five and thirteen. In addition, the morals and tenets of the Church of Scotland were influential. The church believed that children should be taught to be self-sufficient.4 Therefore, there was considerable pressure on educational institutions to provide for all children, including the blind, deaf and physically disabled.

Throughout the 1800s, institutions for the blind and deaf were opened in the major cities in Scotland.5 It is likely that Elsie attended one of these institutions as some of them expanded to include “cripples.”

The family immigrated to Montreal, Canada in 1912. Elsie was fourteen and would have finished her schooling by then. As far as I know she always worked in a department store as a saleslady, but like many women at the time, she quit her job when she married Jimmy Scott in 1926.6 Her daughter, Norine Scott, was born the next year. 7

Many people who have had polio in childhood experience symptoms of fatigue, weakness in the muscles, pain and breathing problems later on in their lives.8 I remember Auntie Elsie used to have difficulty breathing but she always said that it was old age.  Elsie never let anything get in the way of her enjoying life and she lived to the respectable age of 91.9

She did put her skills to good use at home, cooking for the family and sewing. I have inherited her Singer sewing machine, although I don’t sew at all. The machine works by pushing on a lever with your knee. It is a lovely piece of furniture in my home and, more importantly, a beautiful keepsake of my Auntie Elsie.

sewing machine

 

  1. Birth register of Elsie McHugh, November 10, 1898, District of St. Mary, Burgh of Dundee, National Records of Scotland, Scotland’s People web site, accessed December 1, 2017.
  2. Post-Polio Health International, History of Acute Polio, Tony Gould, unknown date, http://www.post-polio.org/edu/aboutpol/hist.html, accessed January 28, 2019.
  3. Wikipedia, History of Poliomyelitis, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_poliomyelitis, accessed January 28, 2019.
  4. The Semantic Scholar, Voices from the Past, Early Institutional Experience of Children with disabilities – The case of Scotland, Iain Hutchison, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/f5d8/80cd842c518f3bc8a2dd3f5fb4e359eecf7e.pdf, accessed January 28, 2019.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Personal notes of author.
  7. Personal notes of author.
  8. Post-Polio Health International, History of Acute Polio, Tony Gould, unknown date, http://www.post-polio.org/edu/aboutpol/hist.html, accessed February 6, 2019.
  9. Personal notes of author.

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, Huguenot, Quebec, Quebec City

The Protestant Churches of Quebec City, 1629-1759

Some 15 or 20 years ago, someone asked me to research and compile a document addressing the earliest Protestant churches in Quebec and find out where the church registers are. Listed here are Quebec City region Protestant missions organized from 1629 to 1759. None of the church registers have survived.

A number of Huguenot merchants from La Rochelle, Bordeaux and Rouen, France were present in Quebec City in September, 1759 when the British army conquered the French forces at the BattIe of the Plains of Abraham. More than a century before those events, Huguenot merchants were members of a small Calvinist church in Quebec City.

1629 Lutheran Chapel – It is on record that the Kertk (Kirke) brothers, and a small group of French Protestants (Huguenots from France), who captured Québec in the name of King Charles I of England on the 20th of July, 1629, built a Lutheran Chapel in Nouvelle France at the time. David, Louis, Thomas Kertk (Kirke), their wives, plus two other women and an undisclosed number of men worshipped until 1633 in Québec.

1631 – Temple Calviniste – A small community of Huguenots (Reformed Church of France) established a Calvinist Temple in the old city of Québec in the early 1630s or shortly after. The small temple would have been located near the Couvent des Ursulines. Most of the Huguenots at the time in Québec were traders who imported goods from French ports such as Auray, Bayonne, Bordeaux, Brest, Caen, Calais, Cherbourg, Dieppe, Dunkerque, Fecamp, Le Havre, Honfleur, La Rochelle, Lorient, Nantes, Paimboeuf, Port Louis, Rochefort, Rouen, Royan, Les Sables d’Olonne, Saint Brieuc, Saint-Malo and Vannes. These same Huguenots were also merchants, mainly in the purchasing and exporting of fine furs and selected hardwoods in New France. This small but thriving Protestant community was instrumental in opening-up trade partnerships between Nouvelle France and fellow Huguenot associates in France and other European countries including Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and the British Isles.

1759 – Chapel of the Ursulines  – First Anglican Church service in Québec on September 27th 1759 – Rev. Eli Dawson, presiding – Chaplain of the British Forces headed by the late General James Wolfe, Commander in Chief of the British Imperial Army – In attendance were French speaking Huguenots from the Québec region.

 

 

Genealogy

A Soldier’s Fortunate Care

Lawrence Tarrant, known as Larry, was forever thankful to a young female doctor in England for saving his arm during the First World War. He was left with a permanent crook at the elbow where four inches of bone had been destroyed and an inverted hand missing the index finger. Of critical importance was that the skillful repair allowed him sufficient mobility in the arm to later hold down a job and raise a family.

Larry, the grandfather my son never knew, signed up for service on March 25th, 1916 in Magog, Quebec and was assigned to the 117th Battalion of Canada’s Expeditionary Force. He was a teenage boy of eighteen. Lance Corporal Larry arrived in England in August of 1916 but once there requested to be reverted to the rank of private. He knew this move would enable him to proceed immediately to France with the 24th Battalion His brother Lloyd had been killed at Mount Sorrel two months earlier. It would seem that Larry was determined to “get them” who had killed him.

On August 28, 1918, Larry was injured at the Battle of Arras. Canada’s 2nd and 3rd Divisions had been led into this battle by the British General Sir Arthur Currie. Currie’s questionable strategy was to launch successive frontal attacks on the German trenches in order to exhaust the enemy. Although very successful, the cost to Canadian soldiers was huge. Arras was the start of “Canada’s Hundred Days”, the series of offensives led by Canadians that culminated in the Allied final victory at Mons in November. At Arras, however, Larry was shot in the head, legs, and left arm, and was evacuated to England. Although badly wounded, he was actually one of the lucky ones. The total loss to the Canadian Corps during the Hundred Days was eleven thousand men.

In England, Larry was sent to Endell Street Military Hospital in London, another stroke of luck as it was one of the most remarkable hospitals of the war. Entirely staffed by women and the only women’s unit operated by militant suffragists, it was known not only for the skill of its surgeons but for its highly distinctive nurturing care. The staff concentrated on the psychological as well as the physical needs of their patients. Larry claimed that his doctor never gave up on saving his arm but it is just as likely that his doctor never allowed him to give up on himself.

Larry spent almost two years in England recovering from his wounds, first at Endell and then in Epsom, Surrey. His recovery was compromised by influenza so severe that he was hospitalized for weeks in yet another hospital at Hardelot. In August of 1919 he returned to Canada and a military hospital in Toronto. He was ultimately discharged from the army in 1920 as medically unfit for further service  He was only twenty-two years old, hardly yet a man but with four years of hell behind him.

On his return to civilian life Larry found work as a machinist at a paper mill in LaTuque, Quebec where he spent his entire career. He married Flora Tremblay in 1939 and fathered three sons and a daughter. He died in 1962 of a blood clot following routine gall bladder surgery. He was sixty –four. His eldest child, Lloyd, my son’s father, was nineteen. Today my son carries his grandfather’s name: Stephen Lawrence Tarrant.

001 (2)

Larry with wife Flora, two of his three sons (Lloyd and Gerry), his daughter Linda, and a the daughter of a cousin (Susan). His third son (Gordon) was born later.

France, Genealogy, Research tips

The National Archives of France

The National Archives of France is not the most advanced institution in terms of its digitized holdings, however, if you are researching French culture and history, you should be aware of it, and it may be helpful if your French ancestors were among the upper classes.

The Archives nationales (France) is making efforts to facilitate its online research process. You can find an introduction to the catalogue online in French, English and Spanish, and access it from there. For English, see http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en/web/guest/salle-des-inventaires-virtuelle. Also go to http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/en_GB/web/guest/faire-une-recherche

Examples of the archives’ holdings include maps, photographs, documentation from the two world wars, and the records of Paris notaries. In addition, the archives has research centres focusing on topics such as place names and heraldry.

For many years, people with French Canadian or Acadian family lineages who wanted to know more about the research process in France have asked me whether the Archives nationales (France) in Paris was the place to conduct a family search. I have always replied that, if your ancestors in France were considered as nobility (familles nobles), yes, the Archives nationales de France is an online address you should consider. To check out the archives’ holdings on the ”bourgeois families” of France prior to the French Revolution, see https://www.siv.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/siv/rechercheconsultation/consultation/pog/consultationPog.action?pogId=FRAN_POG_05&existpog=true&preview=false

However, if your ancestor was from the working class, you should conduct your online searches in the 95 Archives départementales de France. See my article https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/09/23/finding-ancestors-in-french-municipal-archives/

At the bottom of the following Archives nationales page, you will find links to a number of sites related to genealogy in France: http://www.archives-nationales.culture.gouv.fr/web/guest/signets-sciences

For many years the navigation process on the Archives nationales site was burdensome, and results posted from an online search would only indicate the dossier numbers (“fonds”) and a brief description of the fonds, followed by the ”série” (category of fonds) and the ”cote” (shelf  number). If you one wanted additional information on the content of a dossier, you had to send an email to Paris.

As of September, 2018, even if you find your family name, in order to access the biographical material of that family, you must visit the Archives nationales (France) in Paris. To further complicate matters, the Archives nationales has more than one repository in Paris, and you must first determine in which repository the records you want to see are kept. You also need to determine the spelling of the family name in France at the time. For example, my name, Gagné, was spelled Gasnier.

Genealogy

Discovering Scottish and Irish Roots

My former red hair often had people asking where in Scotland I’m from. For years, I knew of no Scottish blood relatives. Now, I’ve finally found Scottish and Irish roots on my mom’s side.

Turns out that great granny Keziah Charlotte Mcmaster Charboneau, whose birth took place almost exactly a hundred years before mine, identified as ‘Scotch’ even though she never lived in Scotland.

Keziah’s heritage demonstrates a clear cultural tradition in my family of identifying children with their father’s heritage.

She could have identified as Canadian, given that her birth took place in Orangeville Ontario. She might have been Irish, because her mom Mary Willard’s birthplace was Ireland. Still, it was her dad Robert Mcmaster’s birthplace that was important. He was born in Scotland, although I don’t know where.[1]

Even though her parents had different heritages, Keziah identified as “Scotch.”

1901 Census

Yet, some crossed-out hashtags next to her eldest child on the 1901 census indicate that someone wanted to make sure her children were seen as French.

The enumerator probably initially assumed the children shared their mother’s heritage of ‘Scotch’ because the entire family was English-speaking and practiced the Brethren religion. Many of the people he interviewed in the village of Weston, Ontario practiced the protestant denomination stemming from a German movement that began in 1708.

His mistake got corrected, however, presumably by 38-year-old Keziah herself.

Clear hashtag marks indicating that Etta was Scotch were scratched out to write in the word “French” to match the heritage of their father, Paul Charbonneau, who appears in a 1917 Weston resident list as “the caretaker who lives in the house on the east side of Cross street.”

The rest of the hashtags identify all ten children—from two-year-old Wilbert, through six-year-old John, eight-year-old Zelia, nine-year-old Charlotte, 15-year-old Paul, 16-year-old Henry, 18-year-old Latton, 19-year-old Maggie and 20-year-old Etta—as French like their father, not Scotch like their mom.[2]

Keziah and Paul’s first son, Matthew Dalton Charbonneau[3] doesn’t appear at all, perhaps because he lived elsewhere on March 31, 1901 (the day the census is supposed to represent). He’s on earlier and later censuses though. Eight summers later, he married Edith Daniels in Toronto.[4]

Death Certificate

Even when family members had more information, they carried on the tradition of father-centred heritage. Kezia’s son, J.P. Charbonneau described her as “Scotch” on her death certificate just a few lines before identifying her parents’ birthplaces.

Keziah’s death took place in her son’s home at 111 St. Johns Road in Toronto. She died there of chronic myocarditis (heart failure) on July 30, 1932, at the age of 76 years old.[5]

She’s buried in Weston’s Riverside Cemetery, 1567 Royal York Rd, Etobicoke, ON M9P 3C4. I plan to look for her gravesite when next in Toronto.

 

[1] “Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DC6K-4G?cc=1307826&wc=3LV1-DP8%3A1584243504%2C1584252301%2C1584254001 : 19 May 2015), Deaths > 1932 > no 3918-5556 > image 1593 of 1748; citing Registrar General. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
[2] “Canada Census, 1901,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KHPQ-6NG : 18 March 2018), Keziah Charboneau, York (west/ouest), Ontario, Canada; citing p. 8, Library and Archives of Canada, Ottawa.
[3] Ontario Births, 1869-1912,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VNL1-HYW : 16 July 2017), Matthew Dalton Charboneau, 30 Nov 1882; citing Birth, Weston, York, Ontario, Canada, citing Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,845,583.
[4] “Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:KSZV-DMR : 11 March 2018), Dalton Charboneau and Edith Daniels, 22 Jul 1909; citing registration , Toronto, York, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 1,871,870.
[5] “Ontario Deaths, 1869-1937 and Overseas Deaths, 1939-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:S3HY-DC6K-4G?cc=1307826&wc=3LV1-DP8%3A1584243504%2C1584252301%2C1584254001 : 19 May 2015), Deaths > 1932 > no 3918-5556 > image 1593 of 1748; citing Registrar General. Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
french-canadian, Genealogy, Loyalists, Quebec, Research tips

Tips on Researching Gaspé Ancestors

Over the centuries, Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula has been home to a mix of residents including the Micmac First Nations people, French settlers, Acadians and Loyalists. The Gaspé is surrounded by water on three sides — the estuary of the St. Lawrence River, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Bay of Chaleur – so in the past, many Gaspé residents made their living by fishing, however, the fishing industry has changed and suffered in recent years. The interior of the peninsula features mountains, forests and rivers.

If you had ancestors from the Gaspé, the idea of researching their lives might seem daunting. It is a long way from central Canada, and many people in the region do not speak English today. However, there are a number of databases and other resources online, and you can contact the archives there to ask for help.

The attached PDF has links to a variety of resources, including background on the Loyalists who came from the United States after the revolution and settled in the area. The major part of this document lists the notaries who practised in the Gaspé. Their records should help you find your ancestors’ land transactions, business agreements, wills, inventories, and other records.

One of the best researchers to have studied the people of the Gaspé was Michel Émard, a medical doctor, historian and author. This research guide tells you where to find the books he wrote. It also tells you how to contact the main archives serving the area.

Here is the link to the PDF: notaries of the gaspé peninsula guide

Genealogy

Lillian Forrester: Growing Up on the Farm

My father’s mother was born in rural Ontario and grew up on a farm on the Manitoba prairie, but that doesn’t mean she wanted to live on a farm all her life. In fact, she had other plans.

There were basically two career paths open to women in the early 20th century: teaching and nursing. She pursued both. Then, when she married a Winnipeg physician, her future in the city was assured.

samantha & children
Lillian with her mother and brother Arthur Wellington

Lillian May Forrester (1880-1956) was the daughter of John Macfarlane Forrester (known as Jack) and his wife, Samantha Rixon (known as Mattie).1 Lillian’s twin brother, Arthur, died the day of their birth, but, according to a family story, Lillian was placed in a box behind the woodstove to keep warm, and she survived.

The Forrester farm was located in Tyendinaga, near Belleville, Ontario. The property was quite small and the Forresters were a large and expanding family. They needed more land. Good farmland was becoming scarce and expensive in Ontario, while Manitoba, which had recently been opened up to settlement, looked very attractive.

In 1881, the Forresters bought land near Emerson, close to the American border and the Red River. Lillian’s parents farmed one property, her uncle William farmed the property across the road and her grandparents, James and Janet Forrester, farmed an adjoining half section with their son Donald. Lillian grew up with her five younger brothers and sisters and many cousins. According to Lillian, the Forresters “loved” their new home on the prairie.2

There was always work to do and, as the eldest of the children, Lillian must have had to do chores, such as helping to care for the animals. She had a bossy personality (years later she was nicknamed The Duchess), so she probably liked to tell the younger children what to do.

In a memoir, Lillian’s cousin Charles Reid Forrester wrote that the Forresters had their share of hardships. One year the crops were flattened by a hailstorm, and another time, lightning struck Grandpa Forrester’s stable, killing two horses, a cow and a sheep. 3

Lillian may also have remembered her grandmother’s flower garden, her mother’s freshly baked bread, and festive family parties when everyone danced to the music of the piano, violin and mouth organ and her father sang his favourite Scottish ballads.

She was exposed to many books and ideas at home. Cousin Charlie described Jack Forrester as very intelligent and a student of American and Scottish history, 4 while Lillian later wrote that she owed a special debt to her grandmother, who was an avid reader and a poet.5

Lillian attended the Des Marais school, a one-room schoolhouse that served the area. After graduating, she became a teacher herself,6   but she must have decided that teaching was not the right career for her.

hamnursinggroup-01
Lillian, right column, second from bottom

By the early 1900s, nursing had become a modern, well-organized profession, with nursing schools open across Canada.7 Perhaps Lillian thought there was a need for better medical care in rural communities, or maybe she saw this as an opportunity to move to the city. Whatever her motivation, she applied to the Winnipeg General Hospital School of Nursing.

She was 25 years old when she graduated, however, she did not work as a nurse for long. A year later, she married Dr. Thomas Glendenning (T.G.) Hamilton. T.G. practised medicine, surgery and obstetrics just across the river from the expanding city of Winnipeg.

The wedding took place in November, 1906 at the Winnipeg home of Lillian’s uncle. Three years later, the first of the couple’s four children was born, and in 1910, the Hamiltons’ newly built three-storey house in suburban Elmwood was ready for them. It was Lillian’s home for the rest of her life.

See also:

Janice Hamilton, “Exploring Emerson,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Feb. 14, 2014, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2014/02/exploring-emerson.html

Janice Hamilton “James and Janet Forrester,” Writing Up the Ancestors, Feb. 5, 2014, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2014/02/james-and-janet.html

Janice Hamilton, “Mattie Rixon and the Forrester Family,” Writing up the Ancestors, June 8, 2015, http://writinguptheancestors.blogspot.com/2015/06/mattie-rixon-and-forrester-family.html

This article is also posted on writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca

Sources

  1. “Ontario Births, 1869-1912,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:9Q97-Y3SZ-37X?cc=1784212&wc=QZ3B-GHJ%3A1584203503%2C1584203606%2C1584213601: 15 January 2016), Births > 1880 > no 7692-15395 > image 349 of 801; citing Archives of Ontario, Toronto.
  2. Lillian Forrester Hamilton, “Our Ancestors,” photocopy of a four-page typed document, in the author’s possession.
  3. Charles R. Forrester, My World in Story, Verse and Song, self-published, Altona, Manitoba, 1979. p 29
  4. Charles Forrester, Ibid, p 109-110
  5. Lillian Hamilton, Ibid.
  6. 1901 census of Canada, Montcalm, Provencher, Manitoba, population schedule, page 3, family no. 25, Lillian Forester; digital image, Ancestry.ca (http://ancestry.ca, accessed 26 Nov. 2009); citing Library and Archives Canada, Census of Canada, 1901, Ottawa, Canada: Library and Archives Canada, RG31,T-6428 to T-6556.
  7. Anonymous. Wikipedia “History of Nursing” https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_nursing, accessed Dec. 10, 2018

 

french-canadian, Genealogy, New France, Quebec

Bulletin des Recherches Historiques

If your ancestors lived in Quebec between 1640 and 1940, you may find them mentioned in a periodical called Bulletin des Recherches Historiques, published by one of the province’s senior archivists and his sons. Searching this publication takes a little effort, and it helps if you can read some French, but your time may be well spent.

Archivist Pierre-George Roy and two of his sons did their research over several decades and published the Bulletin between about 1920 and 1943. In 1920, Roy was the first archivist at the Archives de la Province du Québec, the precursor of the Archives nationales du Québec (BAnQ), and he later became senior archivist at the Archives nationales du Québec in Quebec City. His two sons were also archivists.

Roy obtained the majority of his material from notarial documents. His father, Joseph-Edmond Roy, was a notary in Québec City from 1880 to 1911, and other Roy family members were also notaries.

The Bulletin includes a variety of articles including family genealogies, profiles of individuals, amusing anecdotes and accounts of historical interest. Some articles focus on high-profile people such as land owners and civil servants in the days of colonial New France. Others look at Catholic religious orders, laws and the courts, but there do not seem to be many women mentioned.

The articles are not exclusively about French Canadians; they also include Acadian, British, Scottish, Irish, Germanic, American, Jewish, Loyalist and Huguenot families and individuals. Ancestors of at least four members of Genealogy Ensemble are covered in the pages of the Bulletin.

When the BAnQ copied these periodicals, it named the database Le Bulletin des Recherches Historiques 1895-1968, however, it appears that the articles cover the period 1642 to 1942, not 1895 to 1968.

To find out whether any of your ancestors is mentioned in the Bulletin, start by scrolling through the 818-page PDF of the index. The volume number is underlined and the second number is the page number. Here is a link to the index: http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656928

Once you have found your family’s name in the index, the next step is to go to the database that includes the actual volumes of the Bulletin. Open http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/ and, on the right hand side, put in your search terms: Bulletin des Recherches Historiques, as well as the volume number in roman numerals and the name of the month the issue appeared in French.

For example, according to the index, the name Bagg appeared in volume 49, page 59, so the search term is “Bulletin des Recherches Historiques XLIX Fevrier” You may have to guess the month, depending on the page number. Then scroll down to find your ancestor. You can also find hard copies of this publication at la Societé généalogique canadienne-française (https://www.sgcf.com/) in Montreal.

The language level of the magazine is not difficult, and you can use Google Translate or a similar online tool to help with the translation.

Here are links to a few samples of the Bulletin that I found interesting:

http://collections.banq.qc.ca/jrn03/dn2087/src/1935/02/164865_1935-02.pdf

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656928

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656964

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657360

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2656957

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657519

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657338

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657158

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657205

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657158

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657534?docsearchtext=Braillard%20de%20la%20Madeleine

http://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2657523?docsearchtext=Braillard%20de%20la%20Madeleine

Genealogy, Great Britain

A Stranger in his/her Bed: An Audio Drama

Here is the first in a series of well-researched creative vignettes I am writing about my father’s side of the family, in Yorkshire and Cumberland and Malaya.

I have written AND VOICED this family story, part fiction, part fact, part family myth that explores genealogy in a different way.

Alzheimer’s runs in my father’s family. This vignette is based on a serio-comic family story about the Reverend John Forster of Knockburn, Northumberland who succumbed to that disease late in life.

 

Click here for a 10 minute audio of the story: A Stranger in his/her Bed

The Characters:

John Forster of Knockburn, Northumberland

(photos courtesy of Our Primitive Methodist Ancestors website.)

Emma Cowen of Durham, his wife.

 

The Places

Brampton, Cumberland, 1920

Birdoswald Roman Fort, Hadrian’s Wall Cumberland (Cumbria)

The Script

John Forster awoke one night from a rather disturbing dream, stared down upon his wife of 33 years in the bed beside him, and bellowed in his booming preacher’s voice: Old Woman, what are yee doing in my bed?

The wife was jolted awake – but she caught herself and calmly replied. I am sleeping. Well, I was sleeping.

Woman, what are you doing sleeping beside me, repeated her aged husband, punctuating his sentence with a downward stab of his spiky chin.

I am sleeping beside you because I am your wife, the old woman replied. What other reason would there be for me to be sleeping beside you?

But, you are NOT my wife, sputtered the old man, splashing his snowy white beard with little beads of saliva.

I am, most certainly, the woman replied, this time with a slight quiver in her voice.

I am EMMA Cowen of Durham, the woman you married in 1892 .  You are John Forster, former Primitive Methodist minister from Knockburn, Northumberland,  and, she added, playfully, in an effort to pacify him, author of numerous essays on politics and a lovely book of poems Pictures of Life in Verse.

I know who I am,”  the old man said, menacingly. It’s you I ‘ave me doubts about.

Emma Cowen sighed and pulled herself up in the hard-packed feather bed, battling through her many bodily aches and pains.

Her husband was suffering from a softening of the brain, so said the doctor, and this fog took over him especially bad upon waking from a sleep or sometimes even a short afternoon nap.

This episode was particularly startling though. The anger! Where did it come from?

We are married, Emma insisted, knowing full-well  it was useless to argue at these times but somehow not able to help herself.

We have three children, Nora, a concert pianist who teaches music at a girls school in Maryport, another daughter, Agnes, in Carlisle, just two streets away and Dorothy who is a planter’s wife in Kuala Lumpur, thousands of miles away.  Dorothy has two children, Peter and Denise. They go to school here in England and  they visited us in Carlisle just last summer. Do you recall?

I know who Peter and Denise are, John Forster replied, in increasing frustration, knotting his furry brow.

Peter is the soft bairn  I took to BIrdoswal Roman Fort at Hadrian’s Wall, who whimpered that he was tired before he got halfway there. And it’s not but 7 miles aft. No Border Reiver blood has he!

I repeat, it is YOU I don’t know – but  with the pitch of his voice lowering he asked, “What are you doing in my HOOS?”  This sounded more like a plea. The moonlight coming in through the window in the bare bedroom lit up the watery irises of his eyes – and  not in a comforting way.

The little girl in Emma wanted to check the corners of the room for wicked fairy-folk, malevolent gyests or mischievous boggles.
I live here, said Emma, defiantly.

But, my wife is Mary Chaytor Hall, naw Emma Cowen.  She of the strawberry blonde ringlets. She was fair, you know. Very fair. YOU ARE NOT FAIR! These four words fell like sharp knives upon Emma’s heart

How self-indulgent of her to feel this way!

She shook the feeling and said in a dull monotone, “Your first wife was Mary Chaytor Hall.  You were married six years only. She died, young. Was this the 100th time she had to explain this fact to her husband, she wondered.

Was she the daft one for attempting to knock sense back into this head?

We married in 1892, she continued. It is now 1925. So we have been married 33 years by my counting. And I’ve stood beside you, the busy wife of an itinerant preacher, moving every two years all over North Yorkshire: Carlisle, Crook, Middleton-in-Teesdale, Cockersmouth, Stanley, Helmsley, helping you prepare your sermons. Occupying the pulpit myself when you were indisposed.  Teaching Sunday School.  Tending the infirm and weary in our flock.

And so you too should be able to vote, said John, his line of thought veering into the present.  What has property got to do with it?

Yes, we worked hard for that, didn’t we, in our day. Woman suffrage.

John stared at her with vacuous blue eyes now, the silvery moonbeam having moved. Watery blue, his eyes. He blinked, once, twice, three times.
I don’t recall ye  ‘ever making sermons, woman. ” said John. “Ye didn’t have the head for it.”

Emma frowned. “I most certainly did,” she said.

And Peter was upset because you carried Denise part of the way, but made him walk,  Emma added, by way of a dig.  He is only five years old after all, just one year older than Denise.

As if things were as before and her husband could comprehend a dig when he heard one.

The dig came from her own angry place.

Who was her anger directed against?  Her husband, his first wife, God? No good place among them.

If  Mary Chaytor was the only woman he could remember, at times, would the memory of second wife, Emma Cowen, eventually fade completely from his brain and she become nothing more than a warm body in his bed?

A stranger in his bed.

She who had stood by her husband, as an undeniable equal in life and work, all of these 33 years.

Ahhhhcchhh, I don’t understand, John growled, his frustration swelling.   I don’t understand. He shook his head hard dislodging his nightcap over his right ear in comical fashion.

Emma edged an inch or two away from her husband, feeling guilty.

Then, John Forster suddenly turned away from Emma and lay back onto his hard feather pillow.

The peace and calm lasted but for a brief moment..

Henry Maine! It’s all his fault! John Forster howled, his head still attached to his pillow.

Henry Main? Who is this Henry Main? Emma asked.

He said it all come from the Romans, the Twelve Tables, but he was wrong.  It makes no sense.

Liberte, Egalite,Fraternite,. John Forster’s skinny freckled forearm shot up in the air. We must lift up our voice against classism, materialism, against selfishness in all of its forms.

Emma almost smiled. She could see him for a moment in the pulpit again, preaching to his untidy frazzled flock of North Country farmers and their wives.

My dear, dear husband, you are an unhinged filing cabinet, overturned and burst open, foolscap floating away on the capricious air currents.  I always said you were too learned for you own good. And see, it has all turned back on you, all this old knowledge swirling around in your befuddled brain. If it isn’t this Henry Main, whoever he is, it’s praise for Karl Marx. If it isn’t  about Marx, it’s critiques of St Paul or Cicero.

What er you talkin’ about, woman? Cicero is not a filing cabinet.

Emma chuckled out loud this time.

What should she do? Call for her daughter, Agnes, again? At 2  am? No, let her sleep.

She took a different tack.  Would you like to me to go outside to the pump and get yee a cup of fresh water, Emma asked John.

The doctor  had said dehydration was an enemy of old people. She started to swing her leaden legs out onto the hardwood floor but arrested them in mid air.

No, woman, it is dark outside. The wolves may be out.  I’m not wanting any wife o’ mine to put herself in danger’s way.

She did not ask which wife he was referring to, the old haggard one or the beauteous young one.  It felt good to hear her husband’s concern.

The mischievous fairy inside Emma wanted to ask “What wolves are you expecting to find in the city of Carlisle?”

But, she this time, she checked herself.  It occurred to her, that she could not go on as before.

We are both strangers to each other, now, Emma thought.

The Lord certainly does works in mysterious ways, the loyal wife whispered to the bare bedroom walls, to the  window frame with the peeling brown paint, to the pellucid moon beam bending around the frayed gray gingham curtain. She pulled her prickly woolen blanket up over her chest.

And my poems were fine, weren’t they? John Forster purred. My lyrics of uncommon charm and grace, they said.

Yes, Hinny, your poems were very, very fine.

And with that John Forster, my great grandfather, fell back to sleep. Emma Cowen, my great grandmother, adjusted the cotton nightcap to cover his bony head, as lovingly as she could muster, and steeled herself for the morning.

 

I wrote a story about the Border Reivers of Northern England on this blog. It can be found here.

 

Genealogy, New France, Quebec, Research tips, Resources Outside of Montreal

Seigneuries of the Charlevoix and the Saguenay

Beginning in 1535, long before the establishment of Nouvelle France by Samuel de Champlain, Europeans traded goods for furs with the indigenous people in the region referred to as the Royaume (kingdom) du Saguenay (1535-1842).

For centuries, the fur traders had complete control of the Saguenay River and the Lac-Saint-Jean regions of Quebec. Because the fur industry was so dominant, farming was forbidden in the Lac-Saint-Jean area until the 1850s.

The Charlevoix refers to the area of boreal forest along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, northeast of Quebec City, including present-day towns such as La Malbaie. The Saguenay River, which flows south from Lac Saint-Jean, enters the St. Lawrence near the village of Tadoussac.

 

Mouth of the Saguenay River at Tadoussac; Janice Hamilton photo

The attached research guide lists the fur trading companies that operated in Nouvelle-France and Québec, from the first such company established in France in 1614 to the Hudson Bay Company in 1854.

In 1835, 1,830 young farmers from the south shore of the St. Lawrence and the Charlevoix region signed a petition sent to Governor Archibald Acheson of Gosford, requesting access to lands in the Lac-Saint-Jean region. When Acheson and later governors did not react to the petition, many young Quebecers moved to the New England States and other parts of the United States in order to seek jobs.

In the late 1850s, the fur trade declined and the fur trading companies lost their political influence. Finally, the Lac-Saint-Jean and upper Saguenay areas were opened to agriculture, however, by this time, the seigneurial system had been abolished across Quebec.

This 23-page PDF includes a list of the seigneurs and business leaders who controlled the Charlevoix and Saguenay areas for almost two centuries. It lists regional cemeteries and briefly describes the counties and towns in the area. It includes a list of the fur trading companies that operated in the region and a list of the notaries who prepared documents such as business contracts and wills. At the end of the guide you will find contact information for the archives and historical societies found in these regions.

See the research guide here: seigneuries of charlevoix, chicoutimi and saguenay