Our Newsletter


Genealogy Ensemble

A group of Montreal-based friends who meet monthly to discuss genealogy
and write about their ancestors


April 2018 Newsletter No 3


Emigration of the Huguenots -1556- Jan-Antoon-Neuhuys.
Wikipedia Public Domain.

The Huguenots, French Calvinist Protestants, were at one time ten percent of the population of France but many thousands were forced to emigrate to Europe and elsewhere due to religious persecution. (See Genealogy by the numbers below.)

As it happens, one of the most popular landing pages on http://www.genealogyensemble.com is The List of Huguenot Surnames by Jacques Gagné. Jacques has posted other related items, as well. Although only a small number of these Huguenots eventually emigrated to Catholic New France, many people seem to feel they have Canadian Huguenots in their family trees. Do you?


Business News


Benny Library Presentation: Planting the seeds of family stories.

Mary Sutherland reports: On Wednesday, February 28, 2018, Janice and Mary gave their second Writing Family History presentation at the Benny Library in NDG. The opening slide of skaters in Benny Park in 1959 was a hit. The picture, taken just across the street from where the new library now sits started people reminiscing. It was a smaller group this time around.

Some people were more interested in how to research their family than write stories about them but they all listened and asked questions. The interactive exercise was very successful once again. That surprised me. People immediately turned to a neighbour and started talking about a family member. Some didn’t want to stop. Let’s hope we inspired someone to start writing.

Conversation Starter: Mary Sutherland’s wonderful photo of her family enjoying the outdoors in Benny Park, circa 1959.

Mary Sutherland again: The picture is part of my family collection. I’m the one in the funny little snowsuit and my father is the one with the weak ankles. (My brother said the skates were made of kangaroo leather and very soft not supportive.) Also my sister Betsy and my friend Dilys.


Announcing Two April Presentations in Hudson, Quebec.


The dates are set for Writing Your Family Stories presentations at the Hudson Memorial Library: Saturday April 14, 2 p.m and Wednesday, April 18, 7 p.m.

Entrance to the Hudson War Memorial Library at the end of March. Let’s hope the snow melts before April 14th.

Claire Lindell, Marian Bulford and Dorothy Nixon will be the animators. Claire will open by describing the Genealogy Ensemble Writing Group’s working model and then she will talk about how our book Beads in a Necklace came about. Dorothy will follow with a discussion on ‘sources of inspiration’ for family stories – over and above the genealogical record and Marian will talk about how much she has learned as a writer in her five years since attending the group and read from one of her Beads in a Necklace stories.

Two copies of Beads in a Necklace will be given out in a draw and other copies will be available for sale.

The War Memorial Library also has two copies for loan to members.

If you are interested contact Donna Seaman, who is organizing these workshops.

60 Elm, Hudson Heights QC J0P 1J0
Members of the congregation of St John the Baptist in Pointe-Claire have been invited to an April 26thpresentation on Writing Your Family Stories given by Barb Angus and parishioner Lucy Anglin.

You can read about how all three Genealogy Ensemble presentations unfolded in our May newsletter.

More Business News.



An Ontario Genealogist Reviews Beads in a Necklace.

Lynn Gainer writes a wonderful review of Beads in a Necklace: Family Stories from Genealogy Ensemble in the March issue of Ancestor Hunting, the newsletter of the Sudbury Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. The copy of Beads had been sent to her by Claire Lindell.

“As I read through these wonderful stories describing the lives of everyday people, I was excited to think that these talented ladies had done what so many of us have dreamed about, written their stories!”

Thank you, Lynn for the positive review. You nailed it! Our aim at Genealogy Ensemble is, indeed, to inspire other genealogists to get down to writing their own family stories.


A Kindle e-book version of Beads in a Necklace: Family Stories from Genealogy Ensemble is available on Amazon and an e-book version can also be purchased through the Ontario Genealogical Society’s online bookstore where there are many other great books about Canadian history and genealogy.

One advantage of the e-book version of Beads is that it permits instant access to many of the websites in the footnotes, including old newspaper articles.

Special Member Events




This month, Lucy Anglin, the GE author who creates stunning sculptures out of cloth, will be participating in two local art shows and sales in the West Island area of Montreal. The first show is mounted by ArtBeaconsfield.com and is being held on April 7 and 8 and the second show is at Fritz Farm, in Baie D’Urfe, and is being held on April 21st and 22nd. The second show, Art Expo, is in benefit of NOVA, a group that does great work, locally, in the health sector.


Summary of Stories



Congregation Church, Springfield, Massachusetts circa 1908


Maiden aunts: they often given short shrift by genealogists (for obvious reasons) but not here on Genealogy Ensemble. We love our feisty, quirky and often highly-accomplished maiden aunts. Barb Angus proves it once again with her new story, aptly titled The Maiden Aunts.

Sandra McHugh explores the troubling politics around illegitimacy in 19th Scotland with her story about her grandmother titled The Paternity Suit.

In another story, Tracey Arial focuses on the fascinating town of Ste Anne, Manitoba, which she says “has served as a haven for Aboriginal, Métis, French, Immigrant, and Catholic peoples over the years.”

And Janice Hamilton publishes her first in a series of articles about her American Puritan ancestors in Massachusetts with Henry Burt: from Devon Clothier to Colonial Farmer, a story that is also posted on her personal blog writinguptheancestors.blogspot.ca. In early April, Janice will post a companion piece about visiting an old burying ground in Westbury, Massachusetts.

Janice explains: “Sources include vital records from Massachusetts and Connecticut, as well as other research materials available to members of the New England Historic Genealogical Society. (www.americanancestors.org)

Also helpful are old books about the histories of New England communities that have been scanned and are online, and family histories that I photocopied during two visits to the NEHGS in Boston.

Janice admits this is a big job. “The people of the New England colonies people have been thoroughly studied, so what I am trying to do is to put all the scattered facts together as stories.”


Quote Unquote

We don’t inherit the land from our ancestors,
we borrow it for our children.

Various presumed sources. Repeated in 1971 by Wendell Barry, American Environmentalist

Genealogy Tip of the Month

Janice Hamilton writes on the GE blog: “As family historians, we all run across family stories, some amusing, others tragic. An important part of our job as family historians is to clearly make the distinction between history and story, fact and myth.” Read Janice’s post here.


Writing Tip of the Month



As Blaise Pascal wrote in Lettres Provenciales, “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” “If I had had more time, I would have made this letter shorter.” When first writing family stories, it’s a good idea to, keep your stories to a 500 to 700 word length. In this way you can stay focused and achieve quicker results.



Genealogy in the News

(Curated by Marian Bulford, the administrator of the Genealogy Ensemble Facebook page)

You took a DNA test and it says you are Native American: Public Radio International

Why Mormons do Genealogy? Huffington Post

When I was a small child, our whole family (eleven kids and parents) were in the local newspaper because my parents were so widely known for their hobby …



Food For Thought

It’s a cliché, and it may very well be changing, but childhood memories of food seem to revolve around Mom and Grandmom.

Claire Lindell has one strong memory of her mother sneezing over some pastry dough as she prepared blueberry pies for her brood in her kitchen in Asbestos, Quebec. Claire wrote about it in What Could It Possibly Be?

Claire’s mom was allergic to flour. Still, when some Sudbury relatives gifted the family with wild Ontario blueberries, her mother got right to work cooking up the delicious pastries for her loved ones, despite her evident discomfort. Way to go, Mom!

Read Claire’s story here.


Genealogy by the Numbers


1572: Date of the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

2,000 to 70,000: Number slaughtered on St. Bartholomew’s Day, depending on who is doing the counting.

9,000 to 10,000 with 2 to 3 thousand in Paris: One thoughtful guestimate. //www.unamsanctamcatholicam.com/history/79-history/255-bartholomew-day-massacre-death-toll.html

1598: Date of the Edict of Nantes, enshrining religious tolerance
1685: Date Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes.

800,000: Total number of Huguenots who fled to foreign lands

321: Number of Huguenots on Canadian list


Links We Like




In the words of Mary Sutherland: Find a Grave is a great place to get great genealogical information. Pictures have been taken of tombstones in cemeteries all over the world and posted on this site. Birth and death dates of many family members are often on one tombstone, making it easier to understand who is who.

I found a picture of my Aunt Elsie Janet Mason Raguin’s gravestone in the Notre Dame Cemetery, Cornwall, Ontario. Raguin was across the top and Elsie 1916-1977 was engraved in a square on one half of the tombstone. There was another blank square ready for her husband.

Sadly, it will remain blank as Arthur Raguin 1920-1988 was buried with his second wife Charlotte Schultz 1915-1983 in another cemetery.

A word of caution: Names on tombstones can be wrong, even if they are etched in stone. Find a Grave, although a helpful resource, but should not be relied upon without other evidence.


Sounds Interesting

(Genealogists learn a lot about how their ancestors lived and wrote but not much about how they sounded when they spoke – or sang.)

Hanky alert! RHOS Choir. Music from the Welsh Mines. 1957

Coal mining, a dirty and difficult job but someone had to power the Industrial Revolution. At Genealogy Ensemble Barb Angus and Sandra McHugh count Scottish coal miners among their ancestors.

Welsh coal mining was famously portrayed in the 1939 best seller, How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewelyn, a sentimental account that apparently was more fiction than fact. Do any of you have coal miners from Wales, Scotland or the North of England in your tree?

Read Sandra McHugh’s story here.





This is a table cloth created by internees at Changi Internment Camp in Singapore during WWII.

In 2006, Dorothy Nixon, Genealogy Ensemble author, visited the Imperial War Museum in London and asked to see this cloth. Her grandmother’s signature (the same name as hers) is embroidered on it. The tablecloth was packed away and unavailable. Today it is online at this URL for the world to see.


This Changi tablecloth is not to be mixed with the more famous, and much more decorative Changi Quilt at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The Changi Quilt was also created by female internees in WWII. It was the brainchild of Red Cross Representative Ethel Mulvaney, a Canadian as it happens, as a way for the internees in the Women’s Camp at Changi to send ‘secret’ messages embedded in the designs to their loved ones over at the Men’s Camp. Communication between the camps was strictly forbidden and it was rare for families to be reunited, even for short periods.

Here’s a lovely interactive feature on the British Red Cross Website.
Dorothy’s grandmother didn’t sew a patch on the Changi quilt, but her unpublished memoir revels that she did team up with Mulvaney, in 1943, to fight for internee’s rights to certain medicines such as insulin.

Dorothy’s grandmother, Women’s Camp Commandant for six months in 1943, also ignored the rules and visited the adjacent Men’s Camp whenever she so felt. She suffered for her brazen ways when on October 10th, 1943 she was thrown into a genuine jail in Singapore and tortured as a spy.

Read about Dorothy’s grandmother in My Bittersweet Expo 67 Summer in Beads in a Necklace. The Kindle version is here.

Read Looking for Mrs. Peel – a complete account of her grandmother’s adult life – here.
If you enjoyed this newsletter, please feel free to pass it on to your friends and relations.



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