Living in Westmount

One Sunday after the service at St. Andrew’s United Church, Westmount, a friend of my mother’s commented on an article in the Westmount Examiner. My mother said she didn’t read that paper as she’d never lived in Westmount. “Yes you did dear,” my father replied, “but you didn’t like it!”


My parents, Donald William Sutherland and Dorothy Isabel Raguin were married on June 25, 1948. The recent war and the return of the soldiers made finding apartments very difficult. That summer they lived in Dorothy’s family home on Woodbury Ave in Outremont. Her parents, Beatrice and René Raguin were spending the summer at their cottage in Dunany, north of Montreal. Come fall and the return of the Raguins, there was no room for them there so they moved in with Donald’s mother, Minnie Eagle Sutherland and his sister, Dorothy on Arlington Avenue in Westmount.


My mother found it difficult being a new bride and living with her mother-in-law. She didn’t have much to do. Two women came in to do the housework. Mrs Mikalachki did the heavy work and Mrs Boutilier the light cleaning and ironing. When Mom tried to do things for her husband she came up against Minnie Sutherland, a proud, willful woman who wanted all things done her way. Dorothy had been a Wren during the war and worked as a sick berth attendant in Halifax, Nova Scotia.  On leaving the navy, she renewed her teaching certificate and taught at Iona School in Montreal up until the day of her marriage. Sitting around listening to her mother-in-law tell her how things should be done wasn’t making her happy. She certainly didn’t want to start a family living there.

Luckily, one of her husband’s friends had an apartment on Maplewood (now Edouard Montpetit). He and his wife had bought a house and offered to have the apartment lease transferred to Dorothy and Don. My mother was thrilled with her own place but my father hated paying rent. My sister, Elizabeth Anne was born there and it was up to my mother to push the baby carriage to the post office to pay the monthly rent.

In the early fifties, the construction of new houses increased so my parents looked for a home to buy. What had been farmland and apple orchards in western Notre Dame de Grace were now streets with semi-detached brick houses. The show house on Cumberland Avenue, little longer and wider than others on the street was the one my father wanted. It had three bedrooms, a large basement and a good-sized backyard. The house was purchased on February 21, 1951, my sister’s first birthday. It was bought for $19,000 with a small mortgage. My father hated the mortgage payments and paid it off as quickly as he could.

One child soon became four with the births of Mary Ellen, Donald John and Dorothy Jean. The house became too small. My parents considered moving, although they liked the area. They looked at houses in the West Island of Montreal, but none were just what they wanted. So, in 1960 they had an addition built onto their house. A bedroom, bathroom and den were built over the garage and the kitchen was enlarged, including a laundry room.


In the mid-sixties, it became apparent that both grandmothers would soon need help. My parents considered buying a bigger house with a grannie suite, so both grandmothers could live with the family. This time they did look at houses in Westmount. My maternal grandmother lived with us for a short while but in the end, we didn’t need to move as both grandmothers died in 1967.

My mother continued to live in the house after my father died. She went into a residence in NDG in 2011 where she died in 2017 and never moved back to Westmount.



This Sunday was mother’s Day  and May 11, 2020, would have been my mother’s 98th birthday so I posted this story as a remembrance of her.

My mother’s story of serving as a Wren

Personal recollections by Dorothy and Donald Sutherland told to the author.

One house in Pointe-Claire had a large closet with sliding doors in the upstairs hall where two little girls put their dolls during the visit and forgot them. The agent returned to look for them but they were gone and never seen again.

The Protestants of Alpes – Dauphiné – Languedoc – Midi-Pyrénées – Provence of the 16th and 17th centuries

 In the 17th century, southern France harboured more Protestant families than any other part of the country. In 1660, the six provinces of the Midi (Southern France) accounted for close to 50% of the total Protestant population of France: 369,000 individuals and 298 temples (churches.)

This region included: Haut-Languedoc (Haute-Guyenne) – 80,000 individuals and 64 temples; Bas-Languedoc – 81,000 individuals and 63 temples;  Cévennes – 74,000 individuals and 59 temples; Vivarais – 48,000 individuals and 29 temples; Provence – 8,000 individuals and 12 temples; Dauphiné – 78,000 individuals and 71 temples. (Source : Les seize provinces synodales (1660)

The Region (updated May 15)

This is the oldest region of France, although some will argue that the city of Paris is even older. The city of Marseille was a Roman Empire outpost.

The ancient provinces and regions of this south eastern region of France were assigned various names over the centuries, so I listed all of them. In the 1790s, following the French Revolution, the old provinces of France were carved-out into départements. The boundaries of the territories of ancient  France were not respected when France was reorganized into départements. Some of the départements were formed in the 1790s and onward from portions of two distinct ancient provinces.


Alpes de Haute-Provence formerly part of the province of Provence. Its main cities are Digne-les-Bains, Manosque, Sisteron, Barcelonnette, Castellane and Forcalquier. After 1790, this alpine region became Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Between about 1565 to 1791, Protestant Temples were erected in 14 communes (villages, towns, townships, cities.) Sources: Archives des Consistoires 1317-1446 – 1520-1740 at the Archives nationales de France – Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (Paris) & Wikipedia


Dauphiné is an ancient province in southeast France which was also referred to as Viennois. Its capital was Vienne. The Dauphiné de Viennois from the eleventh century to 1343 was part of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1349 under Philippe VI de Valois it became a province of France. Following the French Revolution this region became the départements of Drôme, with 76 Protestant communes (villages, towns, townships, cities), Hautes-Alpes with 35 Protestant communes and Isère with 39 Protestant communes. Sources: Archives des Consistoires 1317-1446 – 1520-1740 at the Archives nationales de France – Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (Paris) & Wikipedia

Languedoc- Roussillon

The ancient province of Languedoc began in the XIII century. In 2020 it is known as région française d’Occitanie. The two largest cities are Toulouse and Montpellier. After the French Revolution, Languedoc was divided into 11 regional départements; Ardèche with 140 Protestant communes, a portion of Ariège with 20 Protestant communes, Aude with 32 Protestant communes, Gard with 274 Protestant communes, a portion of Haute-Garonne with 23 Protestant communes, Hérault with 46 Protestant communes, a portion of Haute-Loire with 14 Protestant communes, Lozère with 44 Protestant communes, a portion of Tarn-et-Garonne with 40 Protestant communes, Tarn with 18 Protestant communes, a portion of Pyrénées-Orientales with 3 Protestant communes. Sources: Wikipedia & Archives des consistoires 1317-1446 – 1520-1740 at the Archives nationales de France – Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (Paris)


This part of southern France was known in ancient times as Haut-Languedoc. Its largest city being Toulouse, the region regroups eight modern-day départements. Ariège with 20 Protestant communes (villages, towns, townships, cities), Aveyron with 26 Protestant communes, Haute-Garonne with 23 Protestant communes, Gers with 18 Protestant communes, Lot with 11 Protestant communes, Hautes-Pyrénées with 11 Protestant communes, Tarn with 54 Protestant communes, Tarn-et-Garonne with 40 Protestant communes. Sources: Wikipedia & Archives des consistoires 1317-1446 – 1520-1740 at the Archives nationales de France, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (Paris)


This is an ancient region of the south of France and its oldest city, Marseille, dates back to the Roman Empire. Following the French Revolution (1789-1799), modern-day Provence-Alpes-Côte-d’Azur became six regional départements of France; Alpes-de-Haute-Provence with 10 Protestant communes (villages, towns, townships, cities), Hautes-Alpes with 35 Protestant communes, Alpes-Maritimes with nine Protestant communes, Bouches-du-Rhône with 15 Protestant communes, Var with 11 Protestant communes. Sources: Wikipedia & Archives des consistoires 1317-1446 – 1520-1740 at the Archives nationales de France, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (Paris)


This is another ancient region of south-eastern France. The cities of Lyon and Grenoble are the largest. Following the French Revolution of the 1790s, Rhône-Alpes was divided into eight regional départements; Ain with 48 Protestant communes (villages, towns, townships, cities), Ardèche with 148 Protestant communes, Drôme with 76 Protestant communes, Isère with 40 Protestant communes, Loire with four Protestant communes, Rhône with six Protestants communes, Savoie with 21 Protestant communes, Haute-Savoie with five Protestants communes. Sources: Wikipedia & Archives des consistoires 1317-1446 – 1520-1740 at the Archives nationales de France, Pierrefitte-sur-Seine (Paris)

                                             The Research Guide

The attached 100-page research guide to Protestant records from this area  includes a variety of resources, including a long list of books by various authors and academics, online resources, and links to archives and historical, genealogical and Protestant societies in France.

In this guide, you will find an alphabetical list of the villages, towns, cities, townships and counties of this region of France where Protestant families once established a temple or a house of worship. The guide includes the largest listing of place-names addressing the Protestants of France of the 16th and 17th centuries available up to this point. These dossiers can be obtained from the Archives nationales de France in Pierrefitte-sur-Seine near Paris or requested by email or text-message as part of the Archives des consistoires TT-230-276B (1317-1446 & 1520-1740). A consistoire in France is a Protestant diocese. To this day, consistoires still exist in most regions of France.

Within the Collectif portion I have reproduced the texts in the old French language of the 14th, 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, precisely as they appear within the collection at the Archives in Paris within the Archives des consistoires (1317-1446 & 1520-1740.)

Another listing , the Trésor des Chartes (1204-1407) on page 10 contains, most likely, the oldest dossiers in France addressing the bourgeoisie de France (elite families) from 1204 to 1407.

I have also included a new feature: (academic theses), from page 95 to page 97, theses by regions of France addressing Protestants (Huguenots).

Most of these books, websites and other resources are in French. For help understanding these resources, you can use online translation tools such as Google Translate or DeepL.

You can access this research guide here: Protestants of Alpes, Dauphiné, Languedoc, Midi-Pyrénées, Provence

There are two more research guides to come in this series on French Protestants. I hope you find them helpful. We will eventually post a similar series on Catholic records in France.

You can find more background information on Protestant records in France in the introductions to the other guides in this series. Here are links to the previous research guides on Protestant records, plus guides to researching French archival records in general:

Protestants of Bourbonnais, Bourgogne and area, April 26, 2020,

The Protestants of Champagne-Ardenne of the 16th and 17th Centuries, April 12, 2020,

The Protestants of Centre – Val-de-Loire of the 16th and 17th Centuries, March 29, 2020,

Hauts-de-France – The Protestants of Artois, Calaisis, Flandre, Picardie of the 16th and 17th centuries, March 12, 2020

Protestants of  Anjou, Beauce, Bretagne, Perche, Poitou, Touraine of the 16th and 17th Centuries, March 2, 2020,

Protestants of  Alsace-Lorraine of the 16th and 17th Centuries, Feb. 16, 2020,

Protestants of Paris in the 16th and 17th Centuries,  Jan. 19, 2020,

See also

How to Search for Huguenot Ancestors in France, May 20, 2018,

Huguenot Family Lineage Searches, June 3, 2018,

Researching Your French Ancestors Online, May 13, 2018, (the attached updated PDF describes how to research in the Archives départementales de France, the country’s 95 regional archives)

The National Archives of France, Jan. 27, 2019,

BNF Gallica (Bibliothèque nationale de France), Dec. 16, 2018,

Finding Ancestors in French Municipal Archives, Sept. 23, 2018,


The Antoine Pilon Home

In the mid 1600’s New France welcomed many of my ancestors from France. Among them, a ‘marriageable young women, Genevieve Gamache, a sixth great grandmother, privately sponsored. She settled in the Quebec City area.

At the request of Louis XIV who offered incentives for people to settle in a new country  Anne Thomas, also a sixth great grandmother, along with 90 other ‘filles du roi’  in 1665 boarded the St. Jean Baptiste and sailed from Dieppe to Montreal.1.

At about the same time, in the town of Bayeux, Normandy, France, where the famous tapestry depicts the Norman Conquest of 1066 there was a young man seeking adventure. Antoine was born on the Feast of St. John the Baptist in 1664 (June 24th) .2. His father Thomas Pilon, a butcher and his wife Magdeleine Hugues Rouault had 5 children..

At the age of twenty-four Antoine left his homeland to cross the Atlantic seeking a new life in what was then a fledgling country where he became a farmer and later a landowner.



Capture.JPG Pilon lease on a farm 1693

Notarial Record – Lease on a farm.

Shortly after his arrival in Ville Marie Antoine chose his bride to be, Anne Brunet. Michel Mathieu Brunet dit L’Etang and Marie Madeleine Blanchard brought Anne into the world on January 1, 1672.4. He was a farmer and a prosperous fur trader. At the time of Anne’s birth, the family was living near Trois Rivieres. The family moved to Lachine at a later date.

Antoine and Anne were married in Notre Dame parish church in Montreal on January 29, 1689. Their first child, Jeanne was born in Montreal, December 9th of that same year. Over a period of 24 years the couple had 14 children.6. The first 3 children were born in Montreal, two were born in Laprairie and the others were born in Lachine and Pointe-Claire. In those days not all children survived, and they lost three infants. Several of their children lived until their 80`s.

Capture.JPG Marriage Church Record Notre Dame

Church record of the marriage of Antoine and Anne 5.


On the 20 of January 1689  a solemn marriage between Antoine Pilon, son of Thomas Pilon and Magdeleine Hugues the father and mother on one hand and Marie Anne Brunet daughter of Mathieu Brunet and Marie Blanchard, the father and mother on the other. Mathieu Brunet was a witness.

Capture.JPG Notarial act marriage Antoine Pilon and Marieanne BRUNET copy

Notarial record of marriage 5.

Antoine was not as fortunate as his children. He died at the age of 50 on February 24th, 1715.7. He is buried in St. Joachim Ancient Cemetery beside the church in the village not far from the home he built.

Antoine Burial

Church Record of Antoine Pilon’s burial

During those early years Ville Marie, as Montreal was called at that time experienced numerous Indian raids. One of them being the devastating Lachine Massacre in August 1689. Many lives were lost. During the next few years efforts were made to find a peaceful resolution.

The Great Peace of Montreal (FrenchLa Grande paix de Montréal) was a peace treaty between New France and 39 First Nations of North America. It was signed on August 4, 1701, by Louis-Hector de Callière, governor of New France, ….and provided 16 years of peaceful relations and trade before war started again.”.8.

After the signing of the peace treaty, the Sulpicians, administrators, and seigneurs of the land began conceding properties. Several of my ancestors were among those who benefited from this opportunity. They chose to move westward to what is now the West Island. The first, Sebastien Cholet dit Laviolette my 6th great-grandfather started the trend. He settled in the community we now call Dorval. He built his home on the eastern tip of Valois Bay in a small cove that bears his name, overlooking Lake St. Louis. Antoine Pilon my 7th great-grandfather also chose to settle west of Ville Marie, following in Sebastien`s footsteps, He purchased land in Pointe-Claire with frontage on the shores of Lake St. Louis. 9.

map of Cholet cove copy

All the land transactions, from the original owner Pierre Sauvé to Antoine Pilon are all documented up to the current date.10.

The house lies on lot 88 of the present survey, forming a part of lot number 154 in the original land registry of the Island of Montreal. Lot 154-D was conceded by the Sulpicians to Pierre Sauvé dit Laplante on November 24th,1698. Then, the size of the property was 3 acres of frontage and 60 acres deep, on the shore of Lac Saint-Louis.

Pierre Sauvé and his wife Marie-Michel sold this land to Jean du Tartre dit Desrosiers on October 27th, 1700. Two transactions took place on the same day, September 19,1706. DuTartre gave a concession to Madeleine LeMoyne, already in possession of the adjoining lot. She immediately sold lot 154-D to Antoine Pilon, having already purchased from her the adjoining lot 155-D.

Marie-Anne Brunet inherited the lot after Antoine`s death and she gave the land to her son Mathieu on January 22nd, 1729. The deed (acte de donation) indicates land of 5 acres of frontage to 20 acres deep, consisting of lots 154-D and 155-D. In this deed we learned that the lot contained a house, possibly built during the summer of 1707.

The house Antoine built remained in the Pilon family, passed on from his wife, Anne to their son Mathieu and then from father to son for 120 years.11. Remarkably it is still standing today, and one can see it when driving along 258 Lakeshore Road-Bord-du-lac near the entrance to Pointe-Claire village.


Antoine PIlon House


  3. Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec; Montréal, Quebec, Canada; Collection: Fonds Cour Supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal. Cote CN601. Greffes de notaires, 1648-1967.; District: Montréal; Title: Saint Martin, Antoine Adhemar dit (1668-1699)com. Quebec, Canada, Notarial Records, 1637-1935 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2016. Repertoire de notaires (Notarial catalogs), Montreal. Maugue, Claude (1677-1696)
  5. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621- 1968[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2008.Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968
  7. Quebec, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families (Tanguay Collection), 1608-1890[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011. [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2011.Original data: Tanguay, Cyprien. Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu’à nos jours. Québec, Canada: Eusèbe Senécal, 1871-1890. Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Canada
  11. 11.htps://


Ring Around a Rosie

                                     Ring around the rosie, a pocket full of posie.

IMG_3883 (002)

In a video my son posted on Facebook, my granddaughters Evelyn and Marisa, hands clasped, laugh happily as they as they sing and swirl in circles to the nursery rhyme.

                                                       Husha, husha, we all fall down.

The girls tumble to the grass, still laughing. The activity appears to be great fun and certainly a way for them to expend some energy during the pandemic shut- down.

The rhyme dates back to the 1600s and the Great Bubonic Plague. The fatalism of the rhyme is brutal: the roses represent the deadly rashes, the posies are the herbs used in an attempt to treat the disease, and the falling down is the almost inevitable death.

Today we are entering the seventh week of a country-wide shut-down in an attempt to mediate the spread of the world’s most recent pandemic, the Corona-19. As of May 3rd, the total number of cases in just one country, Canada, is approaching 57,148 confirmed cases with the total number of deaths at 3,606. Television ads constantly urge Canadians to wash their hands frequently, wear masks in public, keep two metres apart, and stay at home.

Schools, stores, businesses, restaurants, sports and entertainment facilities, barbers and hair salons are all closed. Borders are shut. Airline flights are cancelled. Streets are all but empty. Only essential workers are employed and they must all wear masks.

The pandemic began in Wuhan, China in December of 2019 and was initially spread by international travellers. Very soon it spread rapidly through community transfer. The first Canadian cases emerged in a Senior’s Home in Vancouver. Seniors, not children, have been the hardest hit by this pandemic, most of them confined to care homes where a single case becomes rampant. Front line workers fall ill and cannot care for their patients. Hundreds of our elderly have died resulting in what has been referred to as geriatric genocide.

So far, my family is healthy. My son and his wife are able to work from home and, unlike thousands of others, their income remains intact. The girls are bored and restless with schools closed, parks and playgrounds barred, sports and extracurricular activities cancelled. While child care is not an issue for them as it is for many families, they struggle with home schooling the girls via on-line learning. A simple childhood game of Ring Around the Rosie is a welcome reprieve.

This is not the first time that family members have been impacted by a pandemic. During the Spanish Flu, the disease was formally documented for two ancestors in their military service files.

In June of 1918, my son’s grandfather, Laurence Tarrant, contracted the Spanish flu while convalescing at the Epsom Military Hospital in England from surgery to save an arm badly injured during the Battle of Arras. He survived.

My great aunt, Ella Willett, a nursing sister in WW1, also survived the Spanish flu. She contracted it in June of 1919 during the second wave of the flu and recovered in the Basingstoke Military Hospital, England.

The Spanish flu began in an American army camp in Kansas and moved back and forth across the Atlantic with the troops. The military provided an ideal incubator. The soldiers lived in conditions conducive to its spread. Stressed, dirty, hungry, wet and cold, massed in camps, huddled in trenches and tents or jammed into troop trains and ships, soldiers and nursing sisters were easy prey.

Unlike today’s Covid-19 flu, the Spanish Flu attacked more young adults than those who were elderly and it moved with grim speed. Symptoms experienced during the second wave were far more severe than those of the first wave. Victims’ lungs filled with bloody, frothy liquid and their faces turned blue as they drowned in their own fluids, often overnight.

The first wave of the Spanish flu killed 3-5 million people world-wide; the second wave killed 20-50 million. Without today’s computers, it is difficult to be definitive.

World economies have suffered dreadfully during this corona pandemic. In Canada, the Federal and Provincial governments have poured out billions and billions of dollars to aid of closed businesses and unemployed workers leaving the country with a mountain of debt.

In the last week we have heard much talk of when and how to reopen the economy. In most provinces, the number of those infected has not yet peaked despite all our interventions. The virus will clearly not go away until there is a vaccine.  Our reopening must be done slowly, gradually, and very cautiously or all our efforts thus far will be for naught. We do not want a second wave with the number of dead exceeding that of the first.

Ultimately, we can never return to the way we once were in pre-covid-19. We must instead create a new, safer normal. Test, trace and isolate and treat will be the key strategy.

Look back at the photo of the girls playing Ring Around the Rosie. There is a black hearse very clearly parked in the background. Let that be our warning.


Tarrant, Lawrence. Service File, Archives Canada

Willett, Ella. Service File, Archives Canada

Sharon Adams. “War and the Spanish Flu.” Legion: Canada’s Military History, Sept. 2018.









Parades made up a big part of life, while in training as a nursing assistant at RAF Halton.  Every few months, we would have the ‘Air Officer Commanding’ Parade and recruits and trainees like us were roped in to attend.

Everything was expected to be polished and ironed steamed and brushed. Any negative remarks from the parade commander about our appearance was NOT a good thing!! I was always on the end of a parade, due to my height as parades were organised by height smallest in the middle and fanning out to the tallest at the end.

The person on the right of the photograph, jaws clenched, anxiously awaiting the officers’ inspection is me.

The Air Officer Commander Parade –  May 1966 RAF Halton

RAF Halton a large camp included the Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital on its grounds. It catered to the big RAF population on the station and the local civilians. Many babies from the surrounding towns and villages were born at RAF Halton and during our training period,  we spent a few hours a week there to observe and learn.

Christmas 1966 was spent at RAF Halton[1] and what an enjoyable experience. The food, once again superb as you can see from the menu below.  One of our duties as trainees, the day before our Christmas dinner, we had to prepare all the vegetables for the meal. I and another girl prepared mounds of Brussel Sprouts all morning! We actually enjoyed ourselves.


The Christmas Menu  at RAF Halton, 1966

In January 1967  our course was over and our results posted. We had all passed!  I cried tears of relief because I never thought I would pass the exams.  We had our official photograph taken with our tutor, Sgt. Constantine in the centre.

I am in the front row on the left of Sgt. Constantine.

The Medical caduseus badges were issued which we proudly pinned to each side of our collars on our ‘Best Blue uniform and on our nurse’s uniforms.

My Medical Pins with The Kings’ Crown, on top.

Our Sgt. Constantine’s had King George VI crowns on his pin signalling he was an ‘old soldier’  At the end of the course, he gave them to me! I still have them. Made of brass, and once again, I had to polish well before photographing!

I started life in the Women’s Royal Air Force, as an ‘ACW’ (Aircraft Woman) however, after this nursing assistant course, I became an LACW (Leading Aircraft Woman) and in the future, I could take additional courses for further advancement. I ended my career as a SACW – Senior Aircraft Woman, nursing assistant.

We had a ‘going away party’ in the local pub with our Sgt. Constantine and the group.  Mrs C is sitting front left and I am on the right, with my hand on Sgt. C’s shoulder.

Now, we waited to be posted to another RAF station and start our careers as nursing assistants. Where we would be posted we did not know yet, so once again goodbyes were said and another wait for our next postings which came a few days later.

I was to be posted to the Medical Centre, at RAF Upavon near to the ancient monument Stonehenge in Wiltshire England.  RAF Upavon was built in 1912, It was a grass airfield, military flight training school, and administrative headquarters of the Royal Air Force. [2] and was where I met my future husband.

My RAF romance will be told in Part Four…

Dear Miss Bulford, basic training in the WRAF, can be read here:

Dear Miss Bulford – Part Two can be read here:




A Brief History of RAF Halton

Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital Halton was opened in 1927 as a large military hospital and as an institute for pathology and tropical medicine Before that it was a temporary hospital set up for training nurses during the First World War.  In 1940, it became the first hospital to use penicillin on a large scale soon after its discovery and introduction into clinical medicine by Flemming, Florey and Chain.

In 1945, Howard Florey and Ernst Chain shared a Nobel Prize with Alexander Fleming Penicillin is one of the most important discoveries in medicine. When peace was declared in 1945, the hospital was kept as a training unit using the best facilities and medical specialists. It later became a specialist burns unit, employing the skills learnt to help victims who suffered during WW2 and the medical units grew alongside the main RAF base. 

The hospital closed in 1995 because the MOD (Ministry of Defence) wanted one centralised unit to train military nurses, making the Royal Hospital in Haslar, at Gosport in Hampshire, their main base and the RAF Halton site will be completely closed by 2022.


Protestants of Bourbonnais, Bourgogne and area

Researching the Protestants of Bourbonnais, Bourgogne, Franche-Comté, Nivernais and Pays de Montbéliard of the 16th and 17th centuries

Researching your ancestors from this central region of France can be conducted online through the regional archives (Archives départementales). Online searches for the 16th, 1 7th and 18th centuries must be carried out by the commune (village, town, township, city) where your ancestor resided. Once you have determined the commune you seek, click on its name.

A list will come up of all the Catholic parishes of that département as well as the Protestant temples (churches) if the acts of baptisms and marriages survived. There were very few records of deaths among Protestant families for this period.

For each Catholic parish and/or Protestant temple, you can select the time period, listed by years, months and days. These church registers are available online for free by simply clicking on the dossier of your choice. Downloads of documents are also free.

Two notes of caution: the penmanship of ancient Church Registers, both Protestant and Catholic, can be best described as scribbling, and these resources are only available in French. You can apply online translation tools such as Google Translate or DeepL.

 Côte d’or – Archives départementales

 Doubs – Archives départementales

Haute-Saône – Archives départementales

Jura – Archives départementales

 Niévre – Archives départementales

 Saône-et-Loire – Archives départementales

Territoire de Belfort – Archives départementales

Yonne – Archives départementales

If you do not know the name of the commune in France of your ancestor lived, see:

Journal des femmesNoms de familles. A listing of family names in France that tells you in which commune or département a family name is most common.

If you are a North American family lineage researcher, you may have been researching online using or/and In my opinion, the best commercial research tool in France is  This research tool is NOT free of charge.

The attached 28-page research guide to finding the Protestants who lived in this area of France in the 16th and 17th centuries can be accessed here:  Protestants of Bourbonnais, Bourgogne, etc.



With much excitement, my first posting after basic training was to  RAF Halton near Wendover, Buckinghamshire, the trade training school, called the ‘Medical Training Establishment’ where I would start my training as a Nursing Assistant.  I was now known as “J2844104 LAC Bulford” (Leading Aircraft Woman) and would answer a question put to me with the following,  ‘104 LAC Bulford, Ma’am”.  In 1966  when I was 20 years old, and other girls my age were enjoying ‘Swinging London’ and pop groups, I was marching, shining shoes and making bed with perfect ‘hospital’ corners.

RAF Halton Medical Training Establishment Crest

The camp I arrived at was enormous. In addition to the Medical Training Establishment (MTE) where I would do my training, RAF Halton also had on its property the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Hospital, the RAF Institute of Pathology and Tropical Medicine and the Dental Training Establishment, in addition, hundreds of apprentices or ‘boy’ entrants attending the No. 1 School of Technical Training learning to be aircraft technicians, electrical engineering and administration trades.

The handbook below has the crests for these various schools on the cover.  ‘Main Camp’ was where I signed in and then directed to ‘Hospital Camp’ and given an arrival information book (below) with a large map attached to find my way.

After a very long walk to my barracks,  I found the two-story red brick building named ‘Paine Barracks’.  My shared room was on the second floor and again, a long bright room with 14 beds seven on each side. The number of girls who intermittently arrived from all parts of England were all strangers to each other. They were pleasant and chatty, and, after introductions and a sizing up of one another, we started to exchange ideas about what the next stage of our life would be like.

Most of us seemed to be of the same idea;  we came from similar backgrounds after all.  We had left school at 15 years old and wanted to see life and get more education before settling down.   A Corporal arrived to show us the way to our mess hall on the main camp and we all set out for our tea.  Once more, I found the food to be very good, I suppose it does not say a lot about meals at home!   We still had to clean the large dormitory we all slept in, the bathrooms and our uniforms and shoes, but inspections were only once a month and not quite so stringent.

The following day started the next phase of my learning.   We were known as “Course 642, Medical Training Establishment”  We attended the classes every day, once again, marching to and from them.  Our tutor,  Sergeant Constantine,  (Sarge) and various other tutors were assigned different subjects but Sergeant Constantine was our main man.

Sarge taught us anatomy and physiology, first aid, infectious nursing surgical techniques removal of sutures, transfusions,  infusions vaccinations and general examinations. We learned about the body systems, body cells tissues then bones and the skull. Plus, types of wounds the composition of plasma and blood and platelets and the heart and other tutors taught us everything needed to take care of patients, such as care of their body, hair, teeth, intake of food and their general comfort.

With much hilarity, we practised giving each other first-aid, bed baths, and shampooing each others’ hair. Then fittingly,  ‘Last Offices’ were shown and practised. ‘Last Offices’ the laying out and preparation and treatment of the dead. I actually found this very interesting and enlightening, probably because my Granny whom I lived with for a few years had in a no-nonsense way had introduced me to death at a very early age. [2]

We went to the hospital wards a few times a week, to be bullied by the ‘Sisters’ – Princess Mary’s Nursing Sisters were Registered Nurses and officers  – but did they ever teach us well!

In England, in the RAF  all the Senior registered nurses were addressed as ‘Sister’. Not in a religious way, but as a formal address. In civilian hospitals, she would have been called  ‘Matron’ [1]

With our other tutors, we had to learn ‘Passive Defence’  the definition of which is ‘Any action which will reduce the effect of a nuclear biological or chemical attack’  We went into great detail about symptoms and proper treatments.  (Should we be so lucky to survive such attacks!) This was something I had never even thought about, but we still managed to fill whole exercise books of information and treatments and I found this quite scary.

One day, we were taken out to a huge field with bunkers which we were herded into. Once inside this bunker, we were told to take down a gas mask off the wall and put it on.  Sgt. Constantine then set alight a gas bomb. We were ordered to remove the gas mask hold our breath then  – Sgt. Constantine was with us –  walk in a circle three times, before exiting the door.  We did so, but not before some girls were shrieking with fear and crying to be let out! When we eventually stumbled out gasping some of the girls vomiting and with tears falling down our faces we were told this ‘exercise’ was to alert us to a gas attack. Very enlightening. These exercises, we were told, was because should such an event take place, the military would be called upon to assist civilians.

We were taught how to sterilise, prepare and layout numerous treatment trays and instruments everything in those days being metal. In a military hospital, we had reams of RAF forms to learn and ‘civilian’ forms too. Admissions were different for each. We had something called the duties of a ‘Crash Orderly’ Actions to be taken after a military of civilian plane crash, shown in my notebook, below.

I particularly like “Kettle is put on for tea” The panacea of British life!

Many studies for the general care of a patient were performed, and one day, in class, we had a ‘mock’ plane crash alarm in the woods although, at the time, we did not know it was a ‘mock’ It was very frightening and realistic.  Everything we did was recorded in our study books, which I still have. I rooted them out to write this story and I enjoyed reading and reminiscing.  Everything we did I now realise, was extremely thorough, which I will explore in part three.


[1] The word “matron” is derived from the Latin for “mother”, via French.  The matron was once the most senior nurse in a hospital in the  United Kingdom before ca. 1972. She was responsible for all the nurses and domestic staff, overseeing all patient care, and the efficient running of the hospital. Matrons were almost invariably female—male nurses were not at all common, especially in senior positions. They were often seen as fearsome administrators but were respected by nurses and doctors alike.

The matron usually had a very distinctive uniform, with a dark blue dress (although often of a slightly different colour from those worn by her direct subordinates, the sisters) and an elaborate headdress.

More recently, the British Government announced the return of the matron to the NHS, (National Health Services) electing to call this new breed of nurses “modern matrons,” in response to various press complaints of dirty, ineffective hospitals with poorly disciplined staff.

Dear Miss Bulford – Part One Basic Training

My Brothers’ Keeper – An Early Introduction To Death

BAnQ Advitam

The Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (Library & National Archives of Québec, or BAnQ,) recently introduced a powerful new online search engine.  Known as Advitam, it replaces the previous search engine, Pistard. It points to documents, files, photos and other holdings in the BAnQ’s archives, some digitized, others only available in the BAnQ’s 10 branches across Quebec.

You can access this online search tool at

Advitam (ad vitam means to life in Latin) offers online researchers two search options: Reherche simple (Regular online searches) and Recherche avancée (Advanced online searches.) Unless you are familiar with the French language and the way archives are organized, the regular search is probably easier to use.

Type in the name of the person, place or topic you are searching for. The results will come up in two parts: on the right are the photos, maps, documents, collections, etc. stored at the BAnQ, while on the left is a list to help you filter your results. The filter choices are written in French, but they are not difficult to figure out. If you have difficulty, try using an online translation tool such as Google Translate or DeepL.

You can also use the bar at the top left to focus on the time period you are interested in. New France existed 1604-1759, the British period was 1760-1790, and Quebec was known as Lower Canada 1791-1841.

You can also filter your searches to look for Quebec civil registers, judicial registers or notarial records. You can search for the names of cities, towns, townships, seigneuries, villages, counties and even modern-day MRCs (regional municipal regions or districts.) You can look for events (baptisms, marriages, deaths, divorces, legal proceedings, judicial inquiries and judgments, etc.) and find out about institutions such as religious orders, military regiments, government appointees, etc.

Here’s an example of how this search tool can help you find the record of an ancestor who lived in Pointe-Claire, Quebec, and who was baptized in the Catholic church there. An online search on Advitam for Pointe-Claire, (a suburban municipality on the Island of Montreal) brings 823 results addressing the city or village of Pointe-Claire from about 1713 to 2002.

The fourth result from the top refers to the Catholic Parish of Saint-Joachim-de-la-Pointe-Claire – Content 1713-1918 – CE601-S37 – Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Montréal – État civil. BAnQ Vieux-Montréal Id 477622. This dossier addresses Parish Registers of this Catholic parish from 1713 to 1918, kept on five microfilms at BAnQ – Vieux-Montréal.

These church registers can also be found online through BAnQ Numérique – Registres de l’état civil, or on, on and on Généalogie Québec, however these sources may not contain all of the church registers from 1713 to 1918. If you haven’t found your ancestor’s name elsewhere, try Advitam.

The BAnQ’s repositories are: BAnQ Vieux-Montréal, BAnQ Québec, BAnQ Gaspé,BAnQ Gatineau, BAnQ Rimouski, BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda, BAnQ Saguenay, BAnQ Sept-Îles,BAnQ Sherbrooke and BAnQ Trois-Rivières. If you do not reside in Montréal or near another BAnQ branch, try contacting the BAnQ to ask a question.

BAnQ Ask a Question


BAnQ Poser une question

 You can use these links to make a request for digitized material. A BAnQ clerk or librarian will help you download the material for free, but you need to facilitate the research process for the archivist. You should indicate the approximate year of an event (baptism, marriage, death) and be sure to specify the ‘’cote #’’ (dossier # or shelf #) as in the above example, 1713-1918 – CE601-S37 – ID-477622. Each file at BAnQ is identified by a similar description which can be found through your initial online search on BAnQ Advitam

 Email requests can be written in French or English, and your reply will be in the same language.

In most cases, if the above basic conditions to your request are respected, you should receive a reply within days by email. If your request is more complicated, contact the regional specialist librarian at the appropriate branch of the BAnQ.

 Please note: Due to Covid-19, all branches of the BAnQ are closed at this time. (2020-04-19)

BAnQ Vieux-Montréal 514 873-1100 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 1 514 873-1101 # 6260

BAnQ Québec  418 643-8904 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 2

BAnQ Gaspé  418 727-3500 plus option 6573 – 1 800 363-9028 plus option 6573

 BAnQ Gatineau  819 568-8798 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 7

BAnQ Rimouski  418 727-3500 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 3

 BAnQ Rouyn-Noranda  819 763-3484 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 8

BAnQ Saguenay  418 698-3516 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 4

BAnQ Sept-Îles  418 964-8434 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 9

BAnQ Sherbrooke  819 820-3010 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 6

BAnQ Trois-Rivières  819 371-6015 – 1 800 363-9028, option 4 plus option 5

Researched and compiled by Jacques Gagné




My mother-in-law stood on the front porch as two women approached her from a parked car. I could see that they were speaking but I could not hear their words. One reached out to her.

Abruptly, avoiding what she must have the perceived as an embrace, Flora entered the cottage, slamming the door shut and crying, “I have no sisters!”

Flora Tremblay Tarrant did in fact once have a sister. Flora and her sister Lily were born in La Tuque in 1910 and 1912 respectively. Their mother, Mary Mercier, and her third child died during childbirth when Mary was just twenty-two.1

The girls’ father, Ligouri Tremblay, had migrated to LaTuque from the Lac St. Jean area seeking employment when the St. Maurice Industrial Co. opened a pulp and paper mill in 1908. Ligouri met and married Mary in 1909. 2

Following Mary’s death in 1914, Ligouri abandoned his young children to their grandmother, Caroline Mercier, and moved on to the pulp and paper towns of northern Ontario. Lily died of whooping cough shortly after. 3

Caroline Mercier was born Caroline Beads at Rupert House on James Bay north of La Tuque. 4 Her father, Robert Beads, was the grandson of either John or Thomas Beads, brothers from England who, in the early 1820’s, settled in the area while in the employ of the Hudson Bay Company and married into the indigenous Cree community. 5

Caroline married Joseph Mercier from Riviere Ouelle 6, a French-Canadian river-man on the St. Maurice River who delivered mail to the hinterland beyond La Tuque. Any shadow of Indian blood lay heavy over a family at that time and so it was with Caroline’s family. It took another two generations before Flora’s grandchildren would proudly proclaim native ancestry.

Flora was initially raised by her grandmother and later by Elizabeth (Lizzie), a deaf maiden aunt. Fortunately, her cousins Mary, Peggy and Grace Thompson were as close to her as any sibling would be.

When she was sixteen, Flora’s aunt heard from Ligouri. He was remarried with a young family and now wanted Flora to live with them. “You won’t leave here to be a maid and babysitter”, were evidently Lizzie’s words. She demanded that Ligouri pay the cost of Flora‘s room and board over the past twelve years. She never heard from him again. Flora would forever claim that Lizzie saved her from a fate worse than death.7

Flora married Laurence Tarrant from Bury in the Eastern Townships, a WW1 veteran who had spent three years in British hospitals recovering from his injuries (see A Soldier’s Fortunate Care). Like many Quebecers before him, he travelled to La Tuque to find work in the paper mill and settled there 8.

Flora gave birth to four children. She was widowed in 1964 at the age of 54 when her youngest child was only seven.

Ironically, following her husband’s death, Flora found work as a housekeeper and babIMG_3830 (002)ysitter at the Indian Residential School across the road from her home 9. She cared deeply for the children living far from their families and stripped of their language and culture. Likely she empathised with their feelings of abandonment.

Flora never remarried. “I’ll not wash another man’s dirty socks” were her words, perhaps a throw-back to how she believed her father treated her.  And she would never accept Ligouri’s children as her sisters.



Notes and Sources

  1. Handwritten family tree in possession of the writer.
  2. com. Quebec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968[database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 20081891
  3. Handwritten family tree in possession of the writer.
  4. Census of Canada, database. ( accessed June 5. 2017), entry for Caroline Beads Citation Year: 1891 Census Place: Unorganized Territory, Champlain, Quebec; Roll: T-6390; Family No: 39
  5. George Robertson.” Biographical Sheets, Hudson Bay Company, Accessed 5 June 2017
  6. Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967
  7. Personal conversations with Flora Tarrant.
  8. Family Records and documents on file with the writer
  9. https:/


The Protestants of Champagne-Ardenne of the 16th and 17th Centuries

Modern-day Ardennes – Aube – Marne – Haute-Marne

 Champagne-Ardenne, with its capital Troyes, was located within the northeast region of France near the borders with Belgium and Germany. This large province was first established as a territory in the 11th century. In 1284, Champagne was unified with France under the leadership of King Philippe IV.

This research guide is a comprehensive tool for researching French Protestant ancestors from this region.

Caveat: much of it is in French.

Champagne – The ancient, or pre-French Revolution, province of Champagne was subdivided into many territories; Champagne (Troyes) Rhemois (Reims) – Rethelois (Rethel including Porcien) – Perthois (Vitry-le-François) – Vallage (Joinville) – Bassigny (Val-de-Meuse) – Senonais (Sens) – Sedan (Sedan) – Tonnerrois (Tonnerre) – Chalonnais (Châlons-en-Champagne) – Barrois (Barrois-sur-Aube) – Brie Champenoise (Meaux) – Arcy (Arcy-sur-Cure) – Dieulet (Vaux-en-Dieulet) – Pays de Der (Montier-en-Der)  – Clermontois (Argonne)

Following the French Revolution, the province was divided into four départements: Ardennes – Marne – Aube – Haute-Marne.

Please note the ancient province of Ardenne (without an ‘’s’) and modern-day Ardennes (département) are basically the same region. Ardenne was located primarily in Belgium and Luxembourg, but stretched well into Germany and France (lending its name to the Département of Ardennes and the former Champagne-Ardenne.) The primary towns or cities of the Ardenne of France were La Roche-en-Ardenne, Libramont, Neufchâteau, Bouillon, Bastogne, Spa, Saint-Hubert, Chimay, Sedan, Charleville-Mézières, Givet, Revin.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Musée Protestant (France), a leading historical society in France, places modern-day Aisne within the ancient Champagne-Ardenne region. The Government of France in past centuries had placed modern-day département of Aisne within the region of Hauts-de-France – See   I also added the département of Aisne to this dossier. See page 7

On pages 3, 4 and 9, I have added additional texts in regard to Protestantism in France. These resources can be accessed at various Archives départementales de France.

This region of Champagne-Ardenne was home to exceptional individuals during the 16th and 17th centuries including:

  • Françoise de Bourbon – Vendôme
  • Henri-Robert de la Marck
  • Many professors at the Académie de Sedan, a Protestant college in the city of Sedan from 1559 to 1681. There are articles on the Academy of Sedan and some of its professors on the English and French-language versions of Wikipedia, and at BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France.

Click here to view the 43-page PDF research guide:   The Protestants of Champagne-Ardenne

Included are links to records concerning Protestants in French archives;  collections on; Histoire des protestants en France by Patrick Cabanel; research guide to family history in France by Gildas Bernard; towns in this region where Protestants resided between 1565-1721; Protestant church and civil registers in France;, links to the Académy de Sedan; books about the history of Protestants in this region; historical societies; online resources; BnF; archives; archives départementales; archives municipales; old Protestant newspapers; genealogy in France, regional; publishers; links to Genealogy Ensemble articles.


Working together to help genealogists discover their ancestors

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