Our Newsletter


Genealogy Ensemble

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


Nov/Dec  2018    Newsletter No 7




Loyalists Drawing Lots for their Land.

C.W. Jefferys: Ontario Government Art Collection.


Many Canadians are descendants of the United Empire Loyalists, Americans who did not support the 1776 War of Independence. But not all Loyalists returned to Great Britain or jumped the border to Canada. Some went to the Bahamas, Bermuda, Sierra Leone, Florida, Dominica, St-Vincent or Jamaica. Do you have a United Empire Loyalist in your family tree?


Business News


This autumn has been a busy time with members of  Genealogy Ensemble giving their Writing Your Family Stories presentation at Arundel, the Mile End (Mordecai Richler) Library (in French) and at the Atwater Library.

Barb Angus presented at Arundel; Sandra McHugh, Janice Hamilton and Tracey Arial presented at Mile End and Janice Hamilton and Lucy Anglin were at the Atwater Library.

Some participants bought our book Beads in a Necklace and many others signed up for our writing tips and/or newsletter.

Just recently, on November 8, Claire Lindell and Barb Angus gave a presentation at the Wales Home in Richmond, Quebec.  Marion Bulford accompanied them and read out Dorothy Nixon’s brand new story, Biology and Ambition, written especially for the residents. Everyone was impressed by the WWI artifacts on display at the residence.

The Beads in a Necklace writing and publishing journey is certainly proving of great interest to wannabe and experienced author/ genealogists across Quebec.


The audience at the How to Write your Family Stories presentation at the Atwater Library. Many library patrons got to know each other better through the common ground of family stories.


More Business News


On September 22, 2018 the entire Genealogy Ensemble team, including Jacques Gagné, attended a book signing at Chapters in Pointe-Claire.

Many copies of Beads in a Necklace were sold and the book continues to be available on the “local authors” shelf at the store.

A Kindle edition of “Beads in a Necklace” is available here on Amazon. One advantage of the Kindle version is that it has clickable links. And you can get a preview, too.


Meet Jacques Gagné, Quebec Specialist at Genealogy Ensemble

Jacques Gagné caught the genealogy bug twenty years ago, at age 64, when a cousin piqued his interest with a one page hand-written recap of family marriages. The genealogy went all the way back to their  first Quebec ancestor, Pierre Gagné, who settled in Château-Richer in 1648.

Jacques  asked his cousin where he had obtained such detailed information.  His cousin said he found it at the Bibliothèque Saint-Sulpice at 1700 Saint-Denis Street in Montréal.
Within a year, Jacques, himself, was making weekly visits to that archive.  Over the next 15  years he would become a regular at the Archives nationales du Québec on Viger Avenue in Old Montreal, the Salle Gagnon at the old Montreal Central Library on Sherbrooke Street East, the Grande Bibliothèque de Montréal, the Collection nationale.

Today, genealogists and researchers from around the world approach Jacques for a wide range of information on Quebec genealogy. They might want to know the basics: how to research French lineages in France. Or they might be having trouble with research on Anglo Protestant families for whom church registers aren’t readily accessible online.
They might be seeking more obscure information on notaries, specifically how people can determine who was the notary employed by an ancestor, especially in rural Quebec.
Other people might have hit a brick wall searching for ancestors of Nouvelle-France (New France) during the Seigniorial period, under the British authorities following the British Conquest of 1759.

These inquiries are all fall within Jacques’ many areas of expertise.
These days, Jacques works a minimum of 8 hours a day, six days a week, and he says he will continue to do so as long as his health permits.

Currently, he is working on a 220 pages research guide addressing the merchants, fur traders, ship owners, and private bankers of Nouvelle-France (New France) and Acadie (Acadia) and their associates in 22 port-cities of France.

Over and above adding to his robust (and extremely useful) body of genealogical research, Jacques’  life is centered around his children and grandchildren living in British Columbia, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and London, England.


Mr. Gagné’s Latest Posts


Census Results for New France Online showcases a database of 265 population census returns of New France.

Seigneuries, Notaries and Cemeteries of the Montreal Region is a 151 page update of an earlier compilation with more notaries added.

Researching the New France Archives explores a illuminates a wonderful new resource at Library and Archives Canada.

Seigneuries of the Trois-Rivières Region is a new, improved and expanded compilation by Jacques.

Summary of Stories


Canadian social history came alive on Genealogy Ensemble this past summer.

In My Mother’s Breakout Years, Janice Hamilton penned a story about her otherwise ‘sheltered’  Mom’s WWII career with the fabled National Film Board of Canada.

In Women Heroines During WWI, Tracey Arial wriote about women workers at La Poudrière, a munitions plant in Verdun, her hometown.

In The Canadian Celanese and the Great Depression, Sandra McHugh explored her father’s 1930’s era job issues and her family’s subsequent move to Drummondville to work for that iconic company.

And in Collateral Ills, Barb Angus explained the WWI overseas career of nursing sister Ella Edna Willet, who somehow survived the Spanish Flu among other shocks.

You might also like to check out All in a Day’s Work, by Marian Bulford, a charming account of an early-morning incident in the life of her grandfather, a Cornwall, England police constable. Hint: the story involves a beagle and a well.

In Further Information is Being Withheld, Mary Sutherland explores the life and career of her grandfather’s cousin, the ‘almost’ Chief Engineer of Toronto in the 1950’s

In The Courtship of Anne and Tommy, the first of a multi-part story about her parents, Lucy Anglin paints a vivid picture of what it feels like to be a young couple in love, using her father and mother’s very personal letters.

Lastly, in Thinking about My Filles Du Roi Ancestors, Dorothy Nixon examines why it is so difficult to dig out interesting, personal information about these otherwise legendary lady pioneers of New France.

 Genealogy Tip of the Month

Don’t ignore the small print!

Other people’s footnotes are incredibly useful to a genealogist’s research. Don’t ignore them. By checking out those footnotes at the end of an article you get to retrace the author’s thinking process.  You may stumble upon some useful information for present or future use. You may even discover an entirely new approach to your genealogical research.

Writing Tip of the Month

What exactly  is Character?

When we engage in genealogical writing, we often are illustrating an ancestor’s character. But, what exactly is character?  According to playwright David Mamet (among others) character is the sum of a person’s habitual actions.

So, it follows that if you want to paint a true portrait of an ancestor in one of your stories, you can’t just make a blank statement: “My great grandfather, Louis Lamoureux, was a love-struck husband but also a ruthless businessman.”

“You have to provide hard evidence (SHOW don’t TELL) by describing an action or actions that underscore the point. “My great-grandfather, Louis Lamoureux, claimed his partner’s patent as his own, made a pile of dough, and bought his wife her own island in the St. Lawrence.”

  Food For Thought


So, you have a bunch of family letters written by ancestors from the British Isles where meals are oft mentioned: breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and tea.  You have an idea of what ‘tea’ is from watching period pieces like Downton Abbey. For the upper classes, tea is an afternoon snack, with beverage and scones and finger sandwiches.

Catty gossip is optional.

This is called “low” tea.

If your ancestor took ‘tea’ as an evening meal, they probably were working class. They called it ‘high tea’ and ate it between 5 and 7 pm. It was a heavy meal of meat and potatoes. In England, kidney pie was a staple for some families.

Dinner is usually defined as the main meal of the day, either at midday or in the evening, although in the past it might have meant a very formal evening affair.

Supper is a light evening meal. The word is derived from the French word “souper.”

Lunch is a light informal meal at noon (Campbell’s soup and a sandwich?) although a luncheon, in upper-class parlance, is a fancy noon meal.

Below: Margaret Nicholson, daughters Edie and Flo and neighbour Mrs. Montgomery, taking afternoon tea on the lawn of their home “Tighsolas” in Richmond, Quebec, circa 1911.

Barb Angus and Claire Lindell recently gave a presentation at the Wales Residence in that Eastern Townships town.




Genealogy by the Numbers


80,000 to 100,000. The total number of United Empire Loyalists

35,000. The Number of United Empire Loyalists who settled in the Maritimes

10,000. The Number of United Empire Loyalists who settled in Quebec and Ontario.

4118  The Number of Loyalist Claims for Compensation

8,000,000 The total amount of these claims in pounds sterling

50 The Percentage of Loyalists who submitted claims who were farmers

Source: Fact Sheet: http://www.uelac.org/education/WesternResource/501-Facts.pdf

Links We Like

 The United Empire Loyalists of Canada.

Loyalist military information.  http://www.royalprovincial.com/index.htm “Sample of manuscripts relating to the loyalist military.”

  Quote Unquote

No one is innocent in the tide of history. Everyone has kings and slaves in his past. Everyone has saints and sinners.

Diane Peterfreund

Sounds Interesting

The Sound Library at the British Archives is a treasure trove for any writer/historian genealogist looking up English accents and dialects. https://sounds.bl.uk/Accents-and-dialects

If you want to find out how your Northumbrian great grandfather might have spoken, you can search this website.  Yes, he said “hoos” instead of “house.”

One of Sound Library’s most enchanting collections is the Opie Collection of Children’s Games and Songs. From the website: “The Opie Collection of Children’s Games and Songs is a set of recordings made by Iona Opie between 1969 and 1983. Iona and her husband, Peter dedicated their working lives to documenting children’s songs, folklore, language and literature.”


Happy Holidays from Genealogy Ensemble. See you in January.


Shell casing

Lest we forget. WWI August 1914 – November 1918.


A festive-season arrangement set in a crumpled shell casing from WWI, brought home by Edward Wells of Montreal, Quebec, as a souvenir and used as a doorstop for decades by his father’s descendants – until someone decided the shell deserved more respect than that.

(Dorothy Nixon family collection)

Some WWI Posts on Genealogy Ensemble

Granny was with the Wrens

Heatwaves and Victory Gardens

Uncle Frank: French or German

Troop Train Across the Sind Desert
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