Our Newsletter


Genealogy Ensemble

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


Sept/October  2018    Newsletter No 6




Janice Hamilton, co-editor of Beads in a Necklace, reads to her grandson, Henry, earlier this summer. Janice, with Tracey Arial and Sandra McHugh, will be presenting, in French, How to Write Your Family Stories at the Mordecai Richler Library in Mile End in October. See the details in Business News below.


Janice Hamilton, the co-editor of Beads in a Necklace, grew up in Montreal. After graduating from Carleton University in Ottawa, she went to Whitehorse where, among other challenges, she edited the Yukon Indian News.

She spent six years as a reporter in the Montreal bureau of The Canadian Press. Then, as a freelancer from 1984 through 2012, she wrote on subjects ranging from science and health to social issues. Her articles have appeared in Canadian Geographic and many other publications. She also wrote non-fiction books for children on the history, geography and culture of Canada, South Africa, and other countries, and for several years, she wrote for corporate publications in the aviation industry.

In 2005, she was one of several authors to be involved in Building on a Century of Caring, a centennial history of the Montreal Children’s Hospital and the following year, her book The St. Lawrence River, History, Highway and Habitat, was published by Redlader.

This summer, Janice gave a Writing Your Family Stories talk at Biddeford Pool, Maine. Janice focused on her Puritan ancestors. As you can see from the photo, there was a great turn-out from people just a hop-skip-and jump from some of the East Coast’s great beaches.




100 Years of the Women’s Vote in Canada

­ Was your Ancestor a Suffragette?

Exactly 100 years ago to the month, in September, 1918, the Canadian Parliament passed An Act to Confer the Electoral Franchise on Women.  Canadian women could now vote in federal elections.

The Act would come into effect in January 1, 1919. The first time Margaret Nicholson of Richmond, an avid suffragist, got to visit the ballot box was in December 1921.

She wrote a  note to her daughter about it:
Richmond, December 7th, 1921

Dear Marion,

Mr. Duboyce called me up at 3 pm asking me if I had voted. I said, “Do you suppose I would wait until this late hour to vote? “Oh,” he said, “I was going to take you down in the car.”

Then he asked whether our neighbour (I mean, Ethel) was going to vote. I said, “Go and ask her.”

Well, she would not vote.

It did not feel degrading in any way. Mrs. Tobin was over at Ethel’s and I was invited. Mr. Tobin did not need her vote, but if she were going to vote, she’d vote for him. Mrs. Farquharson did vote but seems ashamed  of it. I have not seen her since. Mrs. Montgomery came late last night, too late to vote. Oh, I am just delighted with this country.”­­­­

Even back then some Canadian women found every excuse NOT to vote. Isn’t that something to think about?


Margaret inserted this document in her letter to Marion. E.W. Tobin was the long-time Liberal M.P. for the district, a fact that did not change with women voting.



Canadian Suffrage leaders, mostly from Toronto, pose before participating in the 10,000 strong 1913 Suffrage Parade in New York City.  There were no suffrage parades, big or small, in Canada. (From Toronto Sun)

For more about the murky -and mostly unchronicled -Canadian suffrage movement read: Suffragettes by the St-Lawrence in Beads in a Necklace.


Mr. Gagne’s Posts

Over the slow-moving summer months, Jacques Gagne’s posts are proving as popular as ever. The good news is, many new compilations are coming down the pike. They include: Seigneuries of the Lower St. Lawrence and of the Côte-du-Sud;  Archives communales de France;  Seigneuries of the Richelieu River Valley and adjacent townships and villages; Notaries in the Judicial District of Bedford;  Seigneuries in the Region of Montréal (Nouvelle France 1636-1759); Seigneuries in the Region of Trois-Rivières 1633-1759; The Notaries who served among Fur Traders in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ontario and  Manitoba;  The Notaries of Gaspé Peninsula – Judicial Districts of Bonaventure – Gaspé; Townships, villages, towns, cities of Western Quebec (Pontiac, Gatineau counties plus the township of Hull).

Among his special interests are the Huguenots, and the merchants, fur traders and members of the French nobility who came to New France. Other posts will highlight some of the books and historical documents available in Montreal libraries and archives, and how to search for them online. Stay tuned.



It’s so exciting. Genealogy Ensemble is having another book-signing for Beads in a Necklace: Family Stories of Genealogy Ensemble.  This time we’ll at Chapters in Pointe-Claire. The date is Saturday, September 22, from noon until 4 pm. All of the authors of Beads in a Necklace are expected to be there.



Upcoming Writing Your Family Stories Presentations


Barb Angus giving a presentation for the Arundel Library at the Arundel Municipal Centre in Arundel, QC on Friday, September  28th at 7:00 pm.

As part of their wonderful Mile End Memories series,  Genealogy Ensemble will be giving a presentation Sunday, October 14, 1 to 4 pm at the Mordecai Richler Library in Mile End. The  session is in French.

Presenters will be Janice Hamilton, Tracey Ariel and Sandra McHugh.


5434 Avenue Du Parc
Montreal, QC H2V 4G9


Sign up here: http://memoire.mile-end.qc.ca/en/histoire-du-quartier/

Mile End LIbrary Program in PDFMile End LIbrary Program in PDF

Janice Hamilton and Lucy Anglin will recount the inspiring story of their nine-member group of family history enthusiasts and how they collaborated on the book Beads in a Necklace: Family Stories from Genealogy Ensemble at the Atwater Library, October 18, from 12:30 to 1:30 pm.

Address: 1200 Atwater Avenue, Westmount, Quebec.

Sign up here:

Atwater LIbrary Events Lunchtime series


On November 21, 6:30 (tentative starting time) Sandra McHugh and Claire Lindell will be giving a Writing Your Family History presentation at the Dollard Library.
Address:  12001 Salaberry Blvd, Dollard-Des Ormeaux, QC H9B 2A7


More Business News

Beads in a Necklace is on its second printing, as mentioned above. Paperback copies can be purchased at Chapters in Pointe-Claire.

Our online version can be purchased at the Ontario Genealogical Society https://ogs.on.ca/shop/beads-in-a-necklace/  and a Kindle version is available at Amazon.


Summary of Stories

(from June, July and August)

Our members continued to post very interesting stories over the summer months. If you missed them, here follows a summary.

In the Black Out, Sandra McHugh uses a document, a bicycling ticket her father, Edward McHugh, got in WWII Yorkshire, to explore the rules and regulations around these obligatory black-outs.

Mary Sutherland dives into the family jewel box to reveal that even the most ordinary piece of jewelry has a story behind.

Dorothy Nixon explores the connection between the classic era movie houses of Montreal, such as the Rialto and the Empress, and her mother’s French Canadian family, in Montreal Movie Memories.

In The King’s Daughters: They Came to Populate New France, Tracey writes about her 12th generation ancestory, Catherine Barre.

In The Gray Child, Barb Angus discusses how Quebec’s language laws affected her son, who somehow fell between the cracks.

Claire Lindell writes about an American ancestor, Stanley Anthony Savaryn, who served during the Korean War.

And Mary Sutherland dares explore a family letter marked ‘private’ to expose the life of female ancestor in an abusive marriage. Hattie’s Story will certainly touch you.

Uncle Paul to All, Lucy Anglin chronicles the highly productive life of her unassuming uncle, Paul Lindsay, successful stockbroker, high-stakes gambler, and principal in the Foster Parents Plan.

Sandra McHugh explains Regular and Irregular Marriages in Scotland, information sure to be of use to many genealogists landing on our website.

Marian Bulford goes back exactly 100 years to write about her Granny, who was a Wren and munitions worker in 1918. Spoiler: a lock of golden hair figures in the story.

And, finally, in Keeping Up with the Montgomerys, Dorothy Nixon writes all about the lure of the motorcar in the 1910 Eastern Townships of Quebec,


Links We Like:

Mile End Memories: Nine walking tours of the historic Mile End district of Montreal.

Beads in a Necklace features many stories about Mile End.  Two are The Mile End Tavern and Playing House in Mile End.

If you want to learn more about Mile End, see the Mile End Memories website, http://memoire.mile-end.qc.ca/en/category/histoire-du-mile-end/ where you will find a number of articles in French and in English.

Former journalist, writer and researcher Yves Desjardins put years of work into the book Histoire du Mile End, published by Les éditions du Septentrion, 2017.

Dictionnaire Historique du Plateau Mont-Royal, by Justin Bur, Yves Desjardins, Jean-Claude Robert, Bernard Vallee and Joshua Wolfe, was published in 2017 by Les Éditions Ecosociété.


Genealogy in the News

(as curated by Marian Bulford on the G.E. Facebook page)


Lives of the First World War

Men of the Machine Gun Corps photographed at their billet in Winnezeele on this day in 1917.

Can you share the story of an individual who served with the MGC on Lives of the First World War?


Image IWM Q 2882
Photograph taken by Lieutenant Ernest Brooks


Quote Unquote

“Like branches on a tree our lives may grow in different directions yet our roots remain as one.” 

-author unknown


Buried Treasure

(stories on Genealogy Ensemble you might have missed)

Saddlebag Preachers of the Eastern Townships

Between 1798 and 1812, American circuit riders, or saddlebag preachers, travelled to Quebec’s Eastern Townships to serve the religious needs of the area’s settlers. Many of those settlers were Loyalists from New England, Pennsylvania and other states who had come to Canada following the American Revolution.


Genealogy by the Numbers


1913 Founding of Montreal Suffrage League 1913-1919

0 number of suffrage parades in Canada

3 Number of Times Emmeline Pankhurst came to Canada to speak 1909 Toronto; 1911 Toronto and Montreal and 1916, to support war efforts.

1917  the Date some women got to vote ..with men in the war. War Times Election Act

1918 An act to confer the electoral franchise on women. (Came into effect January 1, 1919)

1922 Founding of La League des droits de la femme the bilingual group fighting for Quebec women’s voting rights.

18 No of years it would take Quebec women to win the provincial vote. (1940)



Page of Minutes of the new La Ligue des droits de la femme, January, 1922. Picture taken at Montreal City Hall Archives.


Sounds Interesting

Dorothy Nixon’s son was travelling in Europe by train, when he met a scholar who claimed to be able to guess the place of origin of any English-speaking person. As an English-Quebecker, her son thought he’d have the man bamboozled but, no. The man easily guessed that her English-speaking son was from Quebec.

Why is Canadian English Unique http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150820-why-is-canadian-english-unique


Genealogy tip of the Month

Whether you are a Franco-American or Franco-Ontarian, if your ancestor first came to New France, you should visit Fichier Origine. If your ancestors from France immigrated directly to the United States, Ontario or Western Canada, Jacques Gagne has listed tips on locating a family name in each and all Départements of France.

The PDF research guide embedded in the following blog post addresses Catholic families of France. See https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/13/researching-your-french-ancestors-online/

Jacques has compiled separate research guides addressing the Huguenots in France of the 16th, 17th, 18th centuries.  See Huguenot Family Lineage Searches, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/06/03/huguenot-family-lineage-searches/  and How to Search for Huguenot Ancestors in France, https://genealogyensemble.com/2018/05/20/how-to-search-for-huguenot-ancestors-in-france/


Writing Tip of the Month

 When in doubt, read it aloud.

Often, it is a good idea to read your work out loud, or to tape it, or to have someone else read it back to you.

Grammatical errors may suddenly jump out at you and poorly constructed phrases might become glaringly obvious.

You might even discover upon hearing your work that an entire section of it is incoherent or illogical.

One thing is certain: by reading your work out loud you will get a clearer sense of the rhythm of your phrases and paragraphs and if certain words disrupt that rhythm, you might want to find more sweet-sounding synonyms.


Food for Thought

Does one of your ancestors own his/her life to the milk ladies of Edwardian Montreal?



Maternity by Canadian impressionist painter Mary Riter Hamilton 1906


Milk Stations of the Edwardian Era

In 1910, infant mortality was an enormous problem in all large cities across the western world, but Montreal led the way with more than a quarter of children dying before age one, mostly from infantile diarrhea.

Only Calcutta had worse infant-mortality than Montreal, some experts claimed. Working class citizens, both French and English, suffered the most.

Tainted milk and water, over-crowding in slums, and poor sanitation were the main causes of this epidemic, although the 1913 Child Welfare Exhibition brochure put the blame squarely on Mother, her ‘ignorance and even negligence.’

The same brochure also claimed that breast-feeding is best, while featuring an advertisement for Nestle’s formula.

To combat infant mortality, the local women’s groups, both English and French sides, mounted milk stations where working-class mothers, negligent or not, could go for ‘pure milk’ and other advice on good mothering.

The 1913 Annual General Report of the Montreal Local Council of Women claimed that their efforts reduced infant mortality to 1% in the areas they served.