Category Archives: Genealogy

The British Isles, American, European Immigrants to Québec from 1759 onward – Monteregie

the-british-isles-american-european-immigrants

The following database contains a collection of selected works by authors who wrote about the many nationalities who immigrated to Canada from the late 1700’s to today.

Below is a brief sample of authors and the title of their books.

Douglas J. Borthwick  Montreal its history : to which is added biographical sketches,  .

Patrick Donovan – The Irish – Irish Famine Orphans in Canada

Mary Alice Downie – Chinese in Montreal: Early voices

Dany Fougères – Montreal A history of a North American City

Laurent Busseau – Montreal’s Italian Community – Guido Nincheri

Collectif (various authors) – List of notaries whose notarial records are deposited at the archives of the city and district of Montreal

Collectif (various authors) – 1881 – Montreal Guide Book with Map

Jacques Lacoursière – People’s History of Quebec

John McConniff – 1890 – Montreal – Illustration, history, scenery, grand institutions – Vol 1 & 2 & 3 & 4

Ken McGoogan – Flight of the Highlanders – The Making of Canada Montreal’s Jewish community from the 1880s to 1945

Denis Vaugeois – The first Jews in North America. The extraordinary story of the Hart family 1760-1860

Click the following link to access the database.

the-british-isles-american-european-immigrants-to-quebec-from-1759 montreal-regions

The Not-At-All Wicked Stepmother – Part 3

In the five years since her arrival from England in 1961, Elizabeth Fulcher married my widowed father, mothered his four children and had a baby of her own.

Although her roles as wife and mother of seven kept my stepmother plenty busy, Elizabeth continued her interest in teaching. In 1969, with two babies of her own, she organized a nursery school counselling the parents while they observed their children at play. However, it proved to be stressful and more difficult than she imagined.

Instead, Elizabeth taught herself the necessary bookkeeping skills to look after my father’s accounting needs in his engineering company thereby reducing his operating expenses. In compensation, Elizabeth allocated the rental income from Tom’s office tenants to her household budget which had remained unchanged since the day they married.

My father Tom grew up during the Depression which most likely left an impression on him. He worked long hours running his company in order to support his growing family and always managed his money carefully. Never would he consider debt to make ends meet.

Fortunately, Elizabeth knew how to ration pretty much everything from growing up in wartime England. Many of the same clothes were worn by child after child. Various craft projects littered the kitchen counter between meals. We all enjoyed the trunk full of old fancy clothes which provided endless hours of dress-up skits over the years.

Her only request? Once a month they wined and dined out… just the two of them.

At one point, Elizabeth received an inheritance from her family in England. She quietly used the money to pay for necessary repairs around the house. Alternately, Tom invested his family inheritance to provide a family nest egg for emergencies. The arrangement seemed to work well for them.

In 1976, Tom sold the Knowlton cottage after 20 years of memorable family summers, and bought land in Franklin, Vermont, with the proceeds. He designed and built a large shell of a two-story house with a deck spanning the entire width of the upper floor overlooking a fabulous view of the nearby fields and the mountains in the distance.

The Anglin House in Franklin, Vermont

Over time, Elizabeth saw to the finishing touches like walls, cupboards and a septic tank making it into more of a home. Together they blazed trails in the woods, planted gardens and, for a time, beekeeping produced the family honey. What a sight to see Elizabeth handling the large red tractor like a pro… sometimes towing a trailer full of kids!

Elizabeth driving the Tractor with a Trailer of Kids

The children eventually brought their children to enjoy autumn walks, bonfires, winter sledding, berry picking, crafts, games and the breathtaking view. A wall of photos captures some of these memories – even a family wedding.

Elizabeth graduated from McGill University in 1988, at age fifty, with a Degree in Special Education. She continued teaching children with learning disabilities part-time for a while and felt secure that she could support herself if need be.

After Tom died in 1995, Elizabeth joined The Unitarian Church near her in Montreal. She volunteered actively for ten years in variety of ways. In 2015, the church awarded her “The Unsung Hero Award” to acknowledge and celebrate her efforts. Even today she volunteers her time with their “Caring Committee” and organizes visits with anyone in need of some company.

Elizabeth receiving The Unsung Hero Award in 2015.

This year, due to the Coronavirus lockdown, the family was unable to gather at the house in Vermont for our usual Thanksgiving turkey dinner feast. Instead, Elizabeth enjoyed time with a whole bunch of us on a “Zoom” meeting and afterwards sent this heartwarming note to all her stepchildren, children and grandchildren:

“I feel as if I have been with all of you (on the Zoom video) and am really lucky to have such a wonderful family. You may not realize it but you all are the most significant aspect of my life. I did not want a career, I wanted a family and I am so pleased with the way you live and your authenticity. With love from Elizabeth, Mum or Nanna”.

Elizabeth and her twin Diana celebrating their 80th birthday with some of the family – July 2018

The not-at-all wicked stepmother – Part 1 (The Unsung Hero)

The Not-at-all Wicked Stepmother – Part 2

The British Isles, American, European Immigrants to Quebec from 1759 onward – SouthWest Quebec – Richelieu Valley

The British Isles American, European Immigrants to Quebec from 1759 onward – South West Quebec – Richelieu Valley

The database consists of the many authors who wrote about immigration to Canada.

Below is a sampling of the titles and their content.

Robert J. Fraser – Scots of the Seaway Valley – As others see us >

J.I. Little – Borderland Religion – The emergence of a Canadian identity 1792-1852

Burton Lang – Old and new placenames of South Western Quebec

Harvey Mann – Samuel Jacobs (Schmuel Jacobs) – The Jew of St. Denis (Saint-Denis-sur-Richelieu) 1761-1786

J. L. Hubert Neilson – Sorel – St-Jean-sur-Richelieu – Laprairie – The Royal Canadian Volunteers 1794-1802

Click the link below to open the database:

The British Isles American, European Immigrants to Quebec from 1759 onward – South West Quebec – Richelieu Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fenian Raids in quebec 1866-1870 by Jacques GAGNÉ

The Fenians were a group of Irish Patriots living in the United States having left Ireland during the Potato Famine and the crop failures. Millions of Irish citizens immigrated to the United States, Canada and Australia.

This secret society had one goal in mind and that was Irish independence from Britain. They began by launching several small attacks  beginning in 1866. In Canada. The Fenians were taken seriously and Britain and Canada had spies infiltrate the Fenians. The Canadians  had 10,000 volunteers called  up for duty. However, these volunteers were poorly trained and lack supplies including rifles. Several days later the Fenians crossed the border near Huntingdon and as they were advancing they realized that opposition was converging on them.

The Battle of Ridgeway was  the largest raid fought  by Canadians. They defeated the Fenians at Pidgeon Hill.

There was a lull for several years and then in 1870. 13,000 volunteers were called up to defend the borders. The Fenians remained largely an effective group.

Click here to access a database of Authors who have written about the Fenian Raids in Quebec.

 

Click on the above link to access the many authors who have written books on the Fenian raid.

Water, Water Everywhere: North America’s First Bottled Water Company

Pic above: Bottled water on an assembly line of large glass water bottles at the Laurentian Spring Water Company, circa 1986.

The image above was captured from a 1986 television news report aired on the centenary of the founding of the landmark Montreal company, Laurentian Spring Water. Laurentian was the first bottled water company in North America!

Laurentian was a family business and my father-in-law was a shareholder. His father, Thomas Wells, or Fuddy, had been President of the Company in the first part of the 20th century.

Thomas Fuddy Wells 1868-1951

This homage didn’t make for the most exciting news item: an assembly line and a talking head, the current General Manager discussing the history of Laurentian.

The GM said that the company was founded a century earlier when a certain Mr. White, a shoe manufacturer, accidentally discovered a wonderful gusher of fresh water 250 feet down while digging under his business on Craig Street. Lots of water was needed in shoe manufacturing.


But, as it happens, this water was especially fresh, from a 5000 year old aquifer the man on the TV said, originating far away in the Laurentian Mountains, hence the company name.

He explained that horses were used to power the drill down into the earth. By the 1980’s, there were two wells, one 250 feet down and one 500 feet down.

While researching my story MILK AND WATER (where I have Thomas Wells and my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Director of City Services, discuss water and Montreal politics in 1927 while waiting for the Prince of Wales outside a speak-easy) I learned that Montreal island has many such aquifers. Whether or not they originate in the Laurentians is debatable.

Around 1900, during a time of typhoid, Thomas White exploited this wholesome mountain imagery to break into the home-water market, by advertising that he had the PUREST water in town. The scientists out at Macdonald College in Ste Anne de Bellevue had tested it, apparently.

Up until then, White had used his glorious geyser to create a ritzy public bath where City aldermen from around the corner at City Hall conducted private meetings while sweating it off – and an elite swimming pool for water polo competitions and such. Women were allowed in on Wednesdays.

“PURITY” was a loaded concept back in the early 1900’s in North America. It had to do with tainted food, a genuine issue, tainted alcohol, typhoid and cholera epidemics, and also fears and racist beliefs about immigrants from Southern Europe and elsewhere. Ivory Soap and its 99.9999 percent pure slogan was born in that era, one of many, many new products advertised as pure in places like the Ladies’ Home Journal.

Thomas White was Fuddy’s Uncle. According to family lore, he had a ‘ner-do-well’ as a son so he brought Fuddy in from Ingersoll, Ontario. Fuddy was the son of a top Ingersoll lawyer who was from Cambridgeshire, England.

My husband’s grandfather had a gift of the gab, but the 1911 census has him down as an accountant for the company earning 7,000 a year, a lot of money in those days.

It is said that 1,500.00 a year was the minimal salary to keep a family of four in dignity. Few families in the City made that amount of money, even with both the Mom and Dad working. And even fewer had such small families. Still, my father-in-law maintained that it was Fuddy’s wife’s dowry that allowed them to live the high life in tony Westmount in the Roarin’ Twenties.

By that decade, Fuddy was a member of many prestigious clubs, including the St. George’s. Back in 1903, the St George’s Club had sued the city of Westmount, a dry city, claiming that as a private club they had every right to serve alcohol.

Fuddy participated in lawn-bowling and curling (and boozing) all in the name of the big schmooze.

My father-in-law claimed Fuddy regularly visited the restaurants around the Mount Royal Hotel and greased the palms of the waiters so that they would serve Laurentian brand soft drinks. Soft drinks were originally created to cut the bad taste of bootlegged liquor.

Fresh water was not considered a human right or even a necessity in the big city in the Victorian era. Water pipes were brought in to keep fires at bay and preserve businesses. Water fountains were placed on Mount Royal only to keep fathers from heading off to the tavern to quench their thirst.

Private homes had to find their own water, either digging a well or getting it from the St. Lawrence River. The poor people of Montreal, many of whom lived ‘below the hill’ in Griffintown, often had no source at all of drinking water, and many still used privies, holes in the ground, as toilets. But filthy water they had a’plenty, every Spring, when their homes flooded. Montreal had the highest infant mortality rate in the Western World due to intestinal diarrhea from contaminated water and milk and the working class suffered the most.

Wealthier people could pay private water sellers to lug barrels up from the river for them. If you did have a tap at your disposal, the water was suspect as the City disposed of its waste very near where it accessed its tap water.

No surprise then that in the early 1900’s Montreal had a series of game-changing typhoid epidemics that took a toll on both rich and poor communities. This made it easy for Laurentian to start selling water to homes. They played it up in the newspaper.

My father-in-law also claimed that during one of the epidemics Laurentian gave water away to anyone who wanted it. I found no newspaper ads suggesting this.

The man on the TV in 1986 said something very interesting. He said that by the 1980’s, thanks to enormous efforts over the decades by the City to provide all households with potable water, Laurentian was selling only to offices, but they were hoping to once again sell to households.

Hmmm. Something was happening here! There were no typhoid epidemics in the 1970s’. Walkerton would only happen a decade later.

It was all about finding new markets. And, as we all know, new markets were found, with the help of a widely-circulated myth (with iffy origins) that everyone needs to drink eight glasses of pure water daily to clear out their kidneys. Meanwhile plastic water bottles fill the oceans and the relatively new idea that fresh water is a universal human right and not a commodity to be hoarded and exploited, is being challenged.

The family-owned business was soon sold to the Labrador company, now Labrador Source. My father-in-law inherited a small fortune and helped us buy our first house.

Family heirloom: A Laurentian Crate in our living room. Glass bottle of course.

Michele Dagenais of the University of Montreal is the expert in Montreal’s Water history. I used many of his papers to write my own book. You can buy Montreal:City of Water here. As it happens, Professor Dagenais also wrote a book about early Montreal CIty Hall, where he discussed my Grandfather, Jules Crepeau and his job as Director of City Services.

St. Albans Raid – Vermont of 1864 by Jacques Gagne

Twenty Confederate soldiers attacked the village of St. Albans, Vermont on October 19, 1864. The raid was planned to avenge assaults on Southern cities, to obtain money needed by the Confederacy, and to cause confusion and panic on the Northern border. The raiders robbed three banks of more than $200,000, killed one citizen and wounded two others, stole a number of horses, and tried unsuccessfully to burn down the town. The Confederates, with Vermonters in close pursuit, escaped across the Canadian border. Eventually several were captured and arrested by Canadians.  MilitaryHistoryNow.com

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Click below to access St. Alban’s Raid of 1864.

https://genealogyensemble.files.wordpress.com/2020/11/st.-albans-raid-vermont-october-19th-1864-6.pdf

Who were the Irish Presbyterians?

My father’s family were all professed Presbyterians, a religion which originated in Scotland. This included both those on his Scottish father’s side and his Irish mother’s side. Religion was very important in all their lives. They were part of a church, “which had a noble band of loyal devoted men and women who have counted it their chief joy to seek its highest welfare”.

It was not until 1843 that marriages performed by Presbyterian ministers were legally recognized in Ireland. My two times great grandparents, Susan Dodds and Alexander Bailey married in that year in Armagh were some of the first to have a recognized Presbyterian marriage.

The name Presbyterian comes from their form of church governance, an assembly of elders. These protestant churches trace their roots to the Church of Scotland whose theology emphasizes the sovereignty of God and following only the scriptures. The Scottish Reformation of 1560 shaped this Church, when many broke with Rome, led among others, by John Knox. This religion was brought to Ireland from Scotland with the migrations of people in the 1600s. Irish Presbyterians were never a single entity. Groups splintered, formed new congregations, united with others and broke apart again.

The majority of the Irish remained Catholic even when Henry VIII founded the Anglican Church, the Church of England and then the Church of Ireland. Most protestants lived in the north. While they soon outnumbered the Church of Ireland, the life of an Irish Presbyterian was not easy.

The government passed the Test Act in 1704, which stated that those wishing to hold civil or military office had to prove they had taken communion in the Church of Ireland. The Church of Ireland demanding tithes also angered the Presbyterians. Even after the Toleration Act of 1719 passed and Presbyterians were not penalized for their beliefs, they still felt estranged, which contributed to the large scale North American emigration in the early 1800s.

When the Susan and Alexander Bailey arrived in Toronto, they probably attended Knox Presbyterian Church, opened in 1820 as the First Presbyterian Church of York, Upper Canada. This church started by Scottish immigrants, welcomed the Irish but they wanted their own church and organized the Second Presbyterian Church in 1851.

Cooke’s Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The congregation raised money for a minister’s stipend and met first in St Lawrence Hall and then an empty Methodist church on George Street. This church soon became too small for the current members and the many others asking for seats. A new property purchased at Queen and Mutual St for 475 pounds soon a housed brick church.

There used to be many churches in the area as Toronto had a Sabbath Day Law with no public transport running on Sundays. People had to walk to church.

The new building became Cooke’s Church, named for Henry Cooke an Irish Presbyterian minister who in 1834 united the Irish Presbyterians. With his ordination in 1808, his ministry began in Northern Ireland. He reformed both the church and public education. He believed that the only music in churches should be what God created. There could be voices singing but no man-made musical instruments. When he died there was a massive funeral march through Belfast with all religious denominations in attendance.

The congregation kept growing. The church was renovated, enlarged and then in 1891 a new church that could hold 2000 worshipers was built on the same site. The Irish always knew they would be welcome in Cooke’s Church.

The new Cooke’s Presbyterian Church, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

My great grandparents, William Eagle from County Monaghan and Eliza Jane Bailey, were members of Cooke’s Church. William served as an elder until his death. Both their daughters, Amy and Minnie, were very involved in church life. Amy sang in the choir and served as secretary and treasurer of other societies. Minnie was the President of the Young Women’s Mission Band which had formerly been the Ernest Helpers Society. Their mother Eliza served on the Women’s Association as well as being Honorary President of the Women’s Foreign Missionary Society.

Donald and Alice Sutherland, another set of great grandparents, although Scottish Presbyterians were also members of Cooke’s Church. Their children were named in the anniversary booklet. Mary, the Christian Endeavor Society flower convenor and Wilson on the Junior Visiting Committee. It is there that my grandparents, William Sutherland and Minnie Eagle met and were married by Reverend Andrew Taylor.

In 1925 the Presbyterians, Methodists and Congregational Unionists joined together to form the United Church of Canada. Cooke’s Church was for the union while Knox Church was against it and responsible for the continuation of the Presbyterian Church of Canada. It is still an active church celebrating its 200th Anniversary this year.

Cooke’s Church interior with their large organ.

Cooke’s Church closed in 1982. There were few parishioners left as most had moved away from the downtown. It’s glory years only a memory when it was the most pretentious structure in the city, a landmark on East Queen Street and a great spiritual influence. It was torn down in 1984 and is now a parking lot.

Notes:

Roulston, William J. Researching Presbyterian Ancestors in Ireland, Ulster Historical Foundation 2020.

Alison, James. Annals of Sixty Years Cooke’s Presbyterian Church Toronto 1851 – 1911. 1911.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Presbyterianism accessed October 18, 2020.

In Ireland there were many Presbyterian Sects:

The Presbyterian Church of Ireland

The Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church

The Secession Church

The Reformed Presbyterian (Covenanters) Church

There is a story about my great grandfather Donald Sutherland leaving his church because they purchased an organ. He seemed to subscribed to the ideas of Henry Cooke. According to a story in the Toronto Star, in 1880, a group of parishioners heard the choir had brought a organ into the church for choir practice. These people entered the church and dragged the offending instrument into the street. A riot ensued. Some were arrested and all were suspended from the church. They went off and formed their own church. Was this the incident Donald was involved with?

A story about Susan Dodds https://wordpress.com/post/genealogyensemble.com/1691

The Great Fire of 1852

The Great Fire of 1852 in Montreal

The strongest portion of this dossier resides with John Lovell (Lovell Directory) on pages 8 and 9 – At a point in time when readers at Genealogy Ensemble realize that their ancestor or ancestors in 1852 had lost their home or homes as per a listing of streets of Montreal in which streets practically all houses were destroyed on July 15th 1852 – See pages 4 and 5 for the streets most affected by this major fire.

Very few books still in print are available in 2020 about this event. On the other hand, Érudit, McCord Museum, BAnQ Numérique, BAnQ Patrimoine, BAnQ Advitam, BAnQ Documents, Collections Canada have books relating to the Great Fire.

BAnQ Patrimoine and BAnQ Documents are two new (fairly new) online dossiers introduced by Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec without fanfare (hype) in which one will find online and in-house digitized dossiers (documents) which address historical events.

Click here to access  Great Fire of 1852 in Montreal

Contents:     The Great Fire of 1852 in Montreal

Introduction

Pages   4 -10    Authors

Pages 10-11   Repositories

Pages 11 -15  History

Indexing Is So Easy On Family Search

So, what exactly IS ‘indexing’ for FamilySearch.org? Besides being an interesting hobby it can sometimes be a  surprising one too.

Take for instance my experience.  One day, when I was deep into indexing a batch of ‘US Death Certificates’ I was quite engrossed and had been indexing for an hour or so when I realised I had been entering as the  ‘Cause of Death’  ‘GSW (Gun Shot Wounds) to head and chest’ more than once.  A few dozen times.  I checked again the title of the batch I had downloaded and there it was, “Chicago, Illinois, Cause of Death – 1900 to 1930s! The days of Al Capone and the Chicago gangs. It was at once chilling and thrilling! You just never know what you may find.

As a volunteer, I do the data entry of the original human records worldwide from centuries ago to the present day,  in any language we choose. The data we index consists of births, deaths, marriages, banns, obituaries, christenings, newspaper items, and baptisms, also, historical records and many other interesting items worldwide. These original documents are scanned, then uploaded to Family Search for us to download and index  (type out) what we see on the documents.

After we enter the information and return them it does not matter if we have made a mistake because the records are checked and arbitrated more than a few times for accuracy before being uploaded to the Family Search site.

It is exciting to see documents that are just now seeing the light of day, and will soon be uploaded to Family Search where we all benefit from the contributions of volunteers like me and that I use to find my ancestors.

In 2013,  I helped index the United States 1940 Census. When you first start out searching for your ancestors, usually the first place to go is the Census of that country, area and year in which they were born and lived in. That monumental task was completed well within the time range expected and up and running far sooner than anticipated.

Then, in July of 2014, the FamilySearch website asked for volunteers for two full days of indexing by asking everyone we knew to join in. This, in part, is their response after that weekend.

“We hoped to have an unprecedented 50,000 contributors in a 24-hour period. FamilySearch volunteers excelled, surpassing that goal by 16,511! That’s right—66,511 participants in one day! Incredible!  We are grateful for the patience and persistence of many volunteers who faced technical difficulties due to an overwhelming response.”

We who helped the indexing that day were offered the badge below.

I have been using this site for many years and I feel that by indexing I am giving back for all the free information I have been able to find over the years. I find it is an absorbing and interesting hobby.  I am never bored.

Many more batches of names, dates and historical facts now await for us to index and to provide a name or a lead for someone who is searching for their ancestors.

Just remember, you are helping to add millions of data for us genealogists to find plus as a side benefit, indexing can help you become a better researcher as you become more familiar with the wide variety of historical documents available to you and the type of information each contains.

So, why not give this interesting hobby a try?  Your first step is to log on to the link below for more information and good luck!

https://www.familysearch.org/indexing/get-started-indexer#/web

NOTES

FamilySearch, historically known as the Genealogical Society of Utah, which was founded in 1894 is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons) but you certainly do not have to share their beliefs to volunteer to index or have a free account to search for your ancestors.

The site is always in the process of digitizing the bulk of their genealogical records, as well as partnering with genealogical societies to digitize other records of genealogical value. Most genealogical sites have obtained their records from this site.

FamilySearch Hits 8 Billion Searchable Names in Historical Records

FamilySearch subscribers worldwide make family discoveries from its free records online.Nonprofit FamilySearch published its 8 billionths free searchable name from its worldwide historic record collections online. The milestone is even more astounding when you think that each name is someone’s ancestor—8 billion family connections just waiting to be discovered. Read about if here.

https://media.familysearch.org/familysearch-hits-8-billion-searchable-names-in-historical-records/

 

 

 

The Not-at-all Wicked Stepmother – Part 2

When my mother died in November 1961, my father hired various nannies to run the household and look after his four children. The revolving nanny door made it difficult and stressful for everyone and finding a new wife and mother quickly became Dad’s priority.

A friend suggested he compile a checklist of his seven most important criteria, which were all essential and the absence of any one eliminates the prospect. Several names were scrawled on his list but there was nobody named Elizabeth. Our future stepmother must have been completely off the grid!

Elizabeth Fulcher arrived in Montreal from England in 1961 to teach at a girls’ private school. Once she had settled into her new life in Montreal, she joined a social club in the spring of 1962, and she met my Dad, Tom Anglin, there. After a few games of tennis, they began to date regularly. Thinking back to that time, she recalls: I thought he was a nice, honest person”.

This wasn’t going to be your typical whirlwind romance.

Elizabeth took the opportunity to get to know the four of us children, as well as Dad, while they were dating. It seemed to be a mutually advantageous relationship for us all as Elizabeth had always wanted a family and now a family wanted her. However, the decision required rational thought as well as emotional feeling. Years later, she admitted her love for us equalled her love for our father.

Tom proposed nine months later, in February 1963, choosing the woman who would love his children just like Captain Von Trapp chose Maria in “The Sound of Music” — our favourite family movie. Elizabeth recalled, “He proposed after we went to a dinner dance at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. I had an idea that he was going to, it was in February and could have been a Valentine’s Day Dance. He could charm and was a good dancer so I always felt good about dancing with him.”

Their Engagement – Elizabeth and Tom going to the Ball 1962

My father arrived in England, only two days before the wedding in July 1963, after organizing summer camps for the children and a leave of absence from his company. Fortunately, he had already passed muster when Elizabeth’s twin, Diana, spent the previous Christmas with us all.

They married in the local church in Iken, steps away from where Elizabeth grew up. Her stepmother, Eileen, decorated the church with masses of flowers, Diana was her bridesmaid and the children of the local farm hands made up the choir. Family and friends watched eagerly as Elizabeth walked down the aisle to the organist’s rendition of…what else but “Oh Canada”!

The newlyweds briefly honeymooned around Western Europe skipping the last stop as Elizabeth just wanted to go “home” and start her new life as wife and stepmother. “We had four days in England to pack up and leave,” she says. “Then we picked up the kids from camp the next day. We all drove out to the summer cottage in Knowlton (Eastern Townships, Quebec) and Tom went back into Montreal to work during the weeks”.

I had just turned six years old when I stepped off the camp bus. I remember looking down at the clogs on my stepmother’s feet and thinking “those are funny shoes” and at the same time realizing “this is my new mother”.

The whole family moved back to Montreal at the end of the summer. The children (aged six to 14) started back to their schools and Tom returned to work. Elizabeth launched into her new life with an impressive and loving energy. Fully committed to her new role, she oversaw the needs of the children, carefully managed a monthly budget, and prepared dinner for six every night… never failing to greet Tom at the door with a kiss and asking about his day.

There wasn’t a hint of wickedness in our new stepmother.

1963- My stepmother, Elizabeth, with her new (instant) family

Five more summers in Knowlton flew by with just the four of us children before the family grew to include my three half-sisters born between 1966 and 1971.

Ultimately, her physical education training continued to prove useful as she juggled a houseful of babies and teenagers!

The not-at-all wicked stepmother – Part 1 (The Unsung Hero)