Halloween Fairy

A family van pulled up outside the front of our house on Halloween night in 2020. A tiny fairy, dressed in white, leaped from the van completely beside herself, jumping up and down and waving at us in our living room window. She and her buddies ran to the goodie tray, picked something, and ran back again pausing to wave again before piling back into the van.

Pure Joy!

Generations of children have enjoyed Halloween over the years and perhaps the planning of costumes took priority in their lives even when their worlds seem to be falling apart.

For example, the children dressed in costumes depicting soldiers and nurses during World War 1 –

While during World War 2, the costumes became a little more intricate like this young boy dressed as an airplane –

Every year, I dusted off the sewing machine and happily pursued my daughter’s Halloween costume project. I especially remember the cat costume and the dalmatian (Walt Disney’s 101) costume as two of her favourites which were enjoyed time and time again afterward as part of the “dress-up” box.

In 2020, the whole world was held hostage by the Coronavirus. Halloween became a real challenge to those who wanted to celebrate the children’s special night. You really had to use your imagination if you wanted to distribute candy to the “trick-or-treaters”. Some folks even invented cardboard chutes that delivered candy to the children safely distanced from their front doors. 

But we had something else in mind.

Our grandkids in England spent the evening safely  at home in costumes with a feast of ghoulish fajitas, carved “jack-o-latern” red peppers and witches fingers for dinner with “vampire teeth cookies” for dessert. Their photos inspired us to make something special happen for our local children daring to go door-to-door during the pandemic.

We set up our display at the end of the driveway on Halloween afternoon. Our painted pumpkin displayed high on a stool and, a little lower down at kiddie height, a small table with a goodie tray filled with chocolate bars and chips and a sign inviting the children to help themselves.

As the final touch, we brought out a tall double lamp and plugged it into the house outlet with a long extension cord. The upper lamp pointed towards the sky and the lower lamp aimed directly on the pumpkin and candy.

I proudly posted a photo of our Halloween setup on social media. “Is this an all-you-can-eat buffet?” commented someone jokingly. Perhaps, but that would depend on if the children were greedy or not. If the first child emptied the tray into their bag then it would be lights out for the rest of the night.

Halloween 2020 – We watched the activity from our living room window behind the bush

But that did not happen.

A steady stream of neighbourhood children on foot were the first to stop by. Their mothers gently urging them to only take a couple treats. Then they happily skipped away after a quick wave in thanks.

After a few hours, my husband checked on the candy supply and reported that we still had half our stash left.

Near the end of the evening, another van pulled up filled with slightly older kids. Again they all waved their thanks to us in the window after helping themselves.

We both became quite emotional every time a child waved back at us, and during those moments, everything seemed right in the world.

At the end of the evening, we were delightfully surprised to find a single bag of chips left on the tray. No one was greedy afterall.

Everyone had left something for the next person.

And for one magical evening children and adults alike could forget what was going on in the world.

I still smile whenever I think of that tiny fairy.

My Old Yellow Bowl

This is my favourite mixing bowl. As you can see old, battered chipped and stained….. but It is not just any bowl. Oh no! This bowl has a history, this mixing bowl is over 50 years old, and this mixing bowl is VINTAGE!

Still quite sturdy and in daily use, but definitely showing its age a little like it’s owner.

Its history starts at RAF Northolt, a station in South Ruislip two miles from Uxbridge in the London Borough of Hillingdon Western London. England. Today, the station still handles many civil flights plus Royal and VIP transport to and from London. This is where my husband, a Royal Air Force Air Cartographer and I were based a few years after our marriage. (1)

When our first child was born, we were assigned married quarters at RAF Northolt, and as you are ‘marched in’ to your furnished house an officer accompanies you. He has a list of all the contents within the house, which as you inspect the house, he points out and writes down the condition of each item. Hours later we can take possession. When we leave the same happens, in reverse and the condition of each item is noted and whether we have to pay a fee for misuse or damage.

Because service people get posted frequently, all essentials and furnishings within a married quarter house are provided including this T. G. (Thomas Goodwin) Green Pottery Company mixing bowl which is 31.115 cm (12 1/4 inches) wide. As you can see, it had a large chip on the edge and then had the beginning of a tiny crack inside the bowl, which, over the years has become larger.

The officer made a note that it would be replaced however, it never was but I continued to use it.

A few years later, when we were ‘marched out’ all was in order and no fees were incurred. However, the officer decided that the mixing bowl was to be discarded, as it had a large chip in the edge so, I asked if I could have it. The officer agreed. It was mine!

On the bottom, the date 1971 – the year my eldest son was born, so it is of sentimental value to me – and a three-prong black mark. This broad arrow was used in England (and later Britain), apparently from the early 14th century, and more widely from the 16th century, to mark objects purchased from the monarch’s money, or to indicate government property.. (2)

Whilst my vintage mixing bowl is not in great condition, I know that the vintage gripstand mixing bowl is highly sought after today, and sells online for over100$ Canadian or 26 pounds sterling.

I found the following ad on Etsy just this week and it sold! However, more reasonable prices can be had online.

I use this bowl daily for my baking and cooking I just love it. Traditional Cane Bowls were an item invented in the late 19th century by the precursor of the Mason Cash Company, which was incorporated in Church Gresley in England in 1901.  T. G. Green & Co Ltd originally operated from the village of Church Gresley, South Derbyshire between 1864 and 2007.

Church Gresley is medieval village and former civil parish in the Southern District of Derbyshire, England. Gresele is recorded in the Domesday Book. Its first element is of uncertain origin, possibly the Old English grēosn meaning gravel and lēah meaning a woodland clearing. Churchegreseleye was first recorded in 1363 and distinguishes it from Castle Gresley. A priory of Augustine canons was founded at Gresley in the reign of Henry I by William de Gresley, son of Nigel de Stafford. It was suppressed in 1536 in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. (3)

T. G. Green is more famous for their blue and white striped ‘Cornish Kitchen Ware’ produced from the early 1920s (then known as ‘E-Blue’) which, as a child, I remember from my own home and my Granny’s house too. Mugs, plates, cups and saucers teapots, the company made it all.

Sadly now however the old pottery site lies in ruins, the land under private ownership, never likely to ever see the production again, and the last of the South Derbyshire potteries has gone, although as it nears its 100th anniversary the traditional Cornishware is still manufactured and sold through a new T. G. Green & Co Ltd. (4)

My bowl is made from local light brown clay also known as yellow ware and is a ‘Gripstand’ version patented in 1906 it has a wedge in the base, which allows the bowl to be tilted and held at an angle that allows for an easier whisk or stirring.

As my bowl is sorely in need of repair, I think it is about time I find a china repair shop and get the chip and the crack on the inside repaired so I can continue to use it for many more years.

Who knows, maybe pass it along to my eldest grandson, Devon or my granddaughter, Molly-Marguerite aged 9 or her brother Louis-Ryan aged 11, all of whom I am thrilled to know, show a great deal of interest in cooking and baking.


(1) “Northolt predates the establishment of the Royal Air Force by almost three years, having opened in May 1915, making it the oldest RAF base. Originally established for the Royal Flying Corps, it has the longest history of continuous use of any RAF airfield. Before the Second World War outbreak, the station was the first to take delivery of the Hawker Hurricane. The station played a key role during the Battle of Britain, when fighters from several of its units, including No 303 Polish Fighter Squadron, engaged enemy aircraft as part of the defence of London. It became the first base to have squadrons operating Supermarine Spitfire aircraft within German airspace” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Northolt’

(2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Broad_arrow

(3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_Gresley#Priory_and_church

(4) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cornishware

The following link is to the T. G. Green pottery archive museum.


An Early Settler in New France

Monument of Samuel de Champlain on the boardwalk

On my parent’s wedding anniversary, September 6, 1948, when the colors of autumn were at their finest, our family visited Quebec City and walked along the famous boardwalk. There, as a youngster I gazed upward at the monument of Samuel de Champlain.1. and wondered about this impressive statue. Who was this man?  Little did I know then just how much he contributed to the development of New France. What made my ancestors choose to settle here?

In the early years many men and women settled in places like Chateau Richer near Quebec City, Ile d ’Orleans, in Trois Rivieres during the mid 1600s and, Montreal around 1666.

 As time went on, these new inhabitants, skilled pioneers, explorers, and settlers scattered across this vast country. Today you will find my ancestors including the  Fortins who arrived in 1651, Jodouins – 1666, along with Jutras – 1646, Cholets and Pilons 1700.

Quebec City was the very first settlement of New France. At the request of Samuel de Champlain, during the winter of 1634, Trois Rivieres, the second settlement was chosen. Champlain realized that the delta of the St. Maurice River, had already known to be a strategic point and a meeting place for fur traders along the St. Lawrence.  Later Montreal was founded by Paul de Maisonneuve in 1642. 

During that first summer, Champlain sought the assistance of Monsieur de Laviolette who arrived in Trois Rivieres in July with the responsibility to oversee the construction of a trading post that would also provide protection for the inhabitants

By 1646 Trois Rivières welcomed Pierre Esprit Radisson, the explorer and his two sisters,

Elizabeth and Francoise and his half- sister, Marguerite Hayet. They all settled, married and raised their families in this fledgling settlement.

In the story “A Woman of Courage”4, very little was noted about Marguerite Hayet’s first husband, Jean Veron de Grandmesnil, born Jan 26, 1620 5.. in Saint Martin de Mesnil-Oury, (today: Saint Martin des Noyes in the diocese of Lisieux, Normandy, France) and there is a commune named Grandmesnil in the arrondisment of Lisieux. His parents are unknown.

Jean Veron, a soldier arrived in 1644, one of the few who knew how to sign. He was one of the fourteen settlers to receive a concession at Cap De La Madeleine. In addition, he owned land in Trois-Rivières, and had at least 7 concessions granted over his brief lifetime.6.

Jean  Veron de Grandmesnil and Marguerite Hayet were married on 25th of November 1646 .7.

Acknowledgement of a marriage contract between 

Marguerite Hayet and Jean Veron de Grandmesnil.8.


Marguerite and Jean’s three children.9.

 Jean Véron de Grandmesnil , François Marguerie and Claude David were granted on June 2, 1647  by the governor of New France, Charles-Jacques Huault de Montmagny, acting   on behalf of the Compagnie des Cent-Associés, to clear Saint-Quentin Island (then called Pigs Island), in the delta of the St. Maurice River.10.

The Governor of New France  land grant June 2, 1647:

The map showing the mouth  of the St. Maurice River and Saint Quentin Island

During an expedition against the Iroquois on August 19, 1652 11.. led by Governor Guillaume Duplessis Kerbonot, Jean de Grandmesnil was killed at the young age of 32 and buried the same day. His widow, Marguerite had three young children, Marguerite 4, Etienne 3, and Guillaume 1 year old.10.

A year later, on August 23, Marguerite married Medard Chouart des Groseilliers 12.. who partnered with her half-brother Pierre Esprit Radisson and together they founded the Hudson Bay Company.


1.https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons      /9/92/ Statue_de_Samuel De_Champlain%2C_Qu%C3%A9bec.jpg

2.Family photograph by Karl Victor Lindell

3.https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laviolette https://www.werelate.org/wiki/Person:Pierre_Guillet_(1)

4.https://genealogyensemble.com/2022/08/16/a-woman-of-courage/https://genealogyensemble.com/2022/06/22/motherhood-in-new-france/https://wordpress.com/post/genealogyensemble.com/11313https://wordpress.com/post/genealogyensemble.com/10998 https://genealogyensemble.com/2020/03/11/allegiances  \

5.Fichiers origins.com

6. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/V%C3%A9ron-43 Numerous Notarial Acts https://www.naviresnouvellefrance.net/html/vaisseaux2/soldats/soldatsVerZ.html

7.   http://www.genealogy-unmontreal.ca https://www.fichierorigine.com/            

8.   https://www.jackandpatt.com/freeman/p2593.htm

9.   www.prdh-igd.com

10 .map of St. Maurice River

11 . https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/V%C3%A9ron-43

Research Sources:









Results for Jean Veron de Grandmesnil



Amy Eagle “Auntie”

Minnie and Amy Eagle 1885

Amy Eagle, my grandmother Minnie’s sister never married and lived at 69 Seaton Street, Toronto for most of her life. During one visit to Montreal in the 1950s, to celebrate birthdays, her house was robbed. She blamed her sister, accused her of orchestrating it and never traveled again.

Amy was the introvert to Minnie’s extrovert. They were close in age, with Amy born in March 1882 and Minnie in November 1883. They did most things together with Amy following Minnie’s lead. Both worked for Ryrie Brothers Jewellers. Minnie worked on jewelry repair and construction with their Uncle, Jim Bailey, while Amy worked in bookkeeping. They often went out with friends but they were mostly Minnie’s friends.

Amy Eagle

Singing was the love of Amy’s life. She sang in the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir and the Canadian National Exhibition Chorus under Dr H. A. Fricker. She must of had a good voice as the Mendelssohn Choir had yearly auditions, even for current choir members. The choir often toured the northern US with trips to Chicago, Philadelphia and Cincinnati and New York. This was one thing Amy did alone as Minnie couldn’t sing. She enjoyed these trips and sent many postcards. She saved her collection of choir medals and pins. When the Exhibition Chorus ended in 1934 it seemed she stopped her singing.

Their mother worried when Minnie got married that Amy would become more of a recluse.

Amy didn’t approve of William Sutherland and they had to tiptoe around her before their marriage. She came around when the children arrived. She was Auntie. She loved her nieces and nephew and enjoyed visiting them in Montreal and their visits to Toronto. After the children came she became Auntie.

We enjoyed the girls visit so much and it did Amy so much good, going out so much. About this winter my principal reason for staying at home is the Mendelssohn Choir business, and it is really the only thing she belongs too to take her out regularly. The only exercise she gets for walking and she loves it so much and if she ever staid out a season she would not go again.”

When her Mother Eliza Jane Eagle died in 1931, Amy continued to live alone in the house on Seaton Street. It was a narrow three-storied semi -detached with little rooms, lots of stairs, and the toilet tank on the wall had a long pull chain.

69 Seaton Street, Toronto, Ontario

She didn’t work after Minnie got married but she continued her bookkeeper’s ways. She kept records of everything she bought all recorded in a fine hand. She even had a box of lace with the date and price of purchase of each little piece. She recorded who was buried where in the cemetery plots. She promised to tell my Aunt Bet the stories of the family coming to Canada from Ireland but unfortunately never got around to it.

In her early eighties she suffered from lung cancer but wouldn’t go to the hospital because her mother went in and never came out. She still lived alone and had become feeble, unable to shop, cook or clean. My mother and grandmother went up to see her. They didn’t have a key. They rang the bell and could see Auntie in the hall trying to crawl to the door. My mother broke a small window and unlocked the door. Although Auntie was relieved to see them she was mad that her window was broken. She remained in her home until the end, with visits from the doctor and the VON. Auntie died March 16, 1965.

Amy and Minnie 69 Seaton Street 1963

My parents went up later to clear the house and put it up for sale. According to Auntie’s account book, she had recently taken out one thousand dollars. She had paid the newspaper boy and had given Mom money for a taxi, but that was all the money that was accounted for. They looked everywhere for it; in dressers, cupboards and desks and in all the little boxes they contained. Finally in the arm of an old kitchen chair, known as the “mouse chair”, wrapped in a rag was the money. They actually found $1151 in her house.

My parents laid in bed on garbage day and listened to the truck door open and close again and again and wondered what family treasures they might have thrown away.


Letters and postcards written to family members over the years and in the possession of Mary Sutherland.

Eagle, Eliza Jane. Letter to Minnie Sutherland. 24 Sept. 1925. MS. Toronto, Ontario.

Personal recollections of Bet Van Loben Sels, Elizabeth Sutherland Somers and Mary Sutherland.

Of interest: Dr J.N. Humphrey’s account was $19 and the VON $54, not much money to stay in your own home. From Mills and Mills Barristers, Solicitors, ETC. Toronto 2, Canada. Estate of Amy Eagle – disbursements June 3, 1965.

An Ordinary Man

1882 store book page as a single man.

“When the courting at midnight has ended

And he stands with his hat in his fist

And she lovingly lingers beside him,

To wish him ta-ta and be kissed,

How busy his thoughts of the future,

You betchya his thoughts he don’t speak,

He is wondering how they can manage,

To live on six dollars a week.”

(little poem etched in pencil in one of Norman’s early ‘store books’)

Norman Nicholson, my husband’s great grandfather liked to keep track of things: Indeed, that was his one extraordinary trait. He kept track of his every expense, business or household, over five decades (right down to 5 cents tossed to a tramp). He kept balances, inventories, invoices and lists from 1881 when he left home to live on his own to 1921 at this death at home in Richmond, Quebec.

He kept all this information in dozens of ledgers, diaries and notebooks and he kept these booklets neatly arranged in a trunk under the window in his daughter’s room. ( I know because it said so in one of the many letters he kept, which the daughter in her turn kept, and which eventually fell into my hands as the wife of his great grandson.)

Norman in Masonic Regalia circa 1905

That’s how history-challenged I came to have a real appreciation for the life of a 1st generation Canadian living in the Eastern Townships of Quebec at the turn of the 20th century, that is Norman Nicholson, son of Malcolm Nicolson, he who came to this country in 1841 at age 26 with his parents and 8 siblings after being cleared from the family farm on the nearly treeless Isle of Lewis, Hebrides; who walked from Port St Francis to Flodden and settled on crown land, earning money by burning wood for potash and clearing trails through the forest.

That’s how I’ve come to understand that my husband’s great grandfather, Canadian-born, Canadian schooled Norman Nicholson, successful hemlock bark dealer, turkey salesman, bill collector for a local doctor, Town Public Works Clerk, Inspector for the Transcontinental Railway and The Quebec Streams Commission (I have all the documentation) was a work-a-day sort, devoted husband to the spirited feminist-minded Margaret McLeod, (also a Lewis descendant) doting father to three feisty and ambitious daughters Edith, Marion, Flora and one lost soul of a son, Herb.

He was the kind of ordinary man who lives a full life, with all its joys and sorrows and broken dreams, and dies, the memory of him quickly fading to black until, one day, (with any luck at all) a glimmer, as a great great grandson, flipping through the brittle pages of a photo album, points to one particular picture and asks. “Who’s this ‘sick-looking’ dude with the white moustache and beard?” And the boy’s middle aged father answers: “Oh, that’s Norman Nicholson, your great great grandfather, or at least, I think it is.”

“Was he a general or something, too?” the boy asks referring to the man’s mason uniform – because the boy is related to General Douglas MacArthur on another branch of his family tree.

“No, Norman Nicholson was just an ordinary man.”

Cost of setting up house 1883. 45 dollars for furniture

Now, after scanning the ledgers and reading all his diaries, that I can confirm: ordinary, in every possible way. Not a hero like Alexander Mackenzie, the Lewis born explorer, for whom a great Canadian river is named, although Norman did have a thing for bodies of water. From his 1912 diary: List of Rivers East of Cochrane, Abitibi River, Sucker Creek, Mistango River, Low Bush Creek

Not a villain like Lewis descendant Donald Morrison, the Megantic Outlaw, subject of Canada’s largest ever manhunt and at least two books and one documentary, although Norman did have a part in the man’s post capture defense.

From an 1889 press clipping: Let it be hereby resolved that Norman Nicholson be appointed by the Richmond Royal Caledonia Society to press the authorities for an interview with Donald Morrison.

Neither famous, nor infamous, neither scoundrel nor saint; ergo NOT the kind of man whose exploits are chronicled for future generations in plodding high school history texts or low budget straight to cable documentaries; just a loyal husband, protective father, dutiful citizen. An ordinary man, the kind of man who reaches a point in life where he feels the need to lay down the law to his kids: November 14, 1902 Future Regulations: All must be up and downstairs by 7:30 o’ clock in the morning, Sunday included, breakfast at 7:30. The kind of man who, lonely on the job in middle age, writes love letters to his wife: “I don’t want a concrete hall or a little birch canoe; just want a place with you by the fireside.”

Very very ordinary. No, not the stuff of history books or even good caricature, although it would be easy to characterize Norman as the quintessential penny pinching Scot (someone who believes his bank book to be the best kind of reading) but that characterization would be totally unfair.

Norman Nicholson may have been a practical man:

Price of ash for 1899: 8 cents for 12 inch;10 cents for 13 inch; 12 cents for 14 inch.

1913 Trip to Boston to see Grand Lodge: ticket to Montreal, 2.55, street car 05, ticket to Newport, 3.25. Dinner on train .60

with a petty side:

number of times Dr. Kellock was away from his congregation in year 1897: 24 January in Boston; 21 March in Spencerville; 24 October in Toronto;

October 18, 1899. Date McMorine had his water cut off in his store by M. McDonald tinsmith.

But he also was a romantic:

Nothing to do Margaret, Dar..ling, nothing to do. Let’s take a trip on memory’s ship back to the by gone days. Let’s sail to the old village, anchor outside the school door. Look in and see, that’s you and me, a couple of kids once more.

See? An ordinary man of conflicting passions, just like you and me, the kind of man who has but one chance to have something flattering written about him and that’s at the end of his life:

From the Richmond Guardian June, 1922:

The death occurred suddenly last Friday morning in Montreal of Mr. Norman Nicholson, one of the most respected citizens of this place…

And then that’s it, finito, no more, except, perhaps, for an epitaph on a tombstone in a far-flung country cemetery no one ever visits.

RIP Norman Nicholson, my husband’s great grandfather. An oh-so ordinary man, except for this one extraordinary trait, this compulsion to keep track of things, to leave a paper trail for posterity – if mostly in list form.


LIST Cost of LIving 1900 Richmond Quebec.

1900 accounts, family of six, children in teens. Wife Margaret got a hefty allowance with her purchases going unnoted, but I see no mention of material or sewing notions in the list and Margaret sewed her daughter’s clothes for the most part. In 1900 the Nicholsons were comfortably middle class with a fine house, but their fortunes would soon fail with the end of the hemlock bark industry.


1/3 of a beef, 106 pounds 6.35

Skating rink 10

6 lbs pork 25

2 beef tongues 20

Marion for Rink 10

Postage 12

79 lbs pork from Bromfield 4.35

Sunday School 04

Church plate 05

Scribbler for Flora 05

1 lb sulphur 05

Hairdressing 15

Membership Board of Trade 1.00

Treat of cigars 25

Fare to Sherbrooke and return 1.35

Copy book Flora 08

Scribbler Edith 05

Marion skating rink 10

½ lb Black tea 18

Sunday school 04

1 Ladies Jacket 8.50

1 pair gent’s overshoes 2.00

¼ lb candies 05

1 lb frosting sugar 08

1 lb baking soda 04

¼ lb peppermint 05

Sunday School 04

Church concert 60

Postage 20

1 paper of pins 05

I pocket handkerchief 08

Herbert 05

Postage 25

1 jar molasses 14

Mending Marion’s boots 25


Sunday School 04

Bridge toll 02

¼ pound candies 05

Times for one year 1.00

Maggie 25

½ pound Black tea 18

Marion for rink 10

Sunday School 03

¼ lbs cream of tartar 09

1 lbs currants 10

1 bottle Powell’s medicine 25

Maggie 50

W. Daigle for hauling bark 15

1 writing pad 15

1 pair rubbers Edith 45

1 pair rubbers Marion 45

1 loaf break 05

1 lb crackers 08

1 pint oysters 20

Cough candies 02

Scribbler for Marion 05

Postage 02

Maggie 50

1 loaf bread 05

1 bag fine salt 10

Sunday school 02

Church Collection 10

100 lbs salt 05

1 whisk 15

1 loaf bread 06

¾ pounds walnuts 10

Maggie for Church 2.10

1 lamp chimney 07

1 bottle M. Liniment 25

Maggie 06

½ black tea

1 pair laces 04

4 gallons coal oil 75

10 lbs corn meal 15

10 lbs Graham flour 25

5 gallons Coal Oil 95

1 hockey stick 30

Herbert for Dictionary 15

Maggie 10

½ loaf bread 06

1 lbs ginger snaps 10

¼ pound Ceylon Pepper 10

Postage 06

Flora and Marion 05

1 package Corn Starch 09

¼ lbs cream of tarter

Hair dressing 15

Marion for rink 10


1 jar molasses 12

1 doz eggs 20

Maggie 10

Chinaman for laundry 14

Sunday School 04

Patriotic Fund for Hockey 60

1 pair rubbers Herbert 60

Maggie 40

Marion and Flora 10

Sutherland for Miss Wilson 1.00

Postage 20

Mending tins 05

Missionary meeting 05

Skating rink 05

Maggie 25

¼ pounds cream of tartar 10

Sunday School 03

Maggie for concert 10

1 cake shaving soap 07

1 lbs soda 04

½ lbs Black tea

¼ lbs cream of tartar 09

1 bottle vanilla 10

5 pounds sugar 25

Maggie 25

5 lbs butter McKee 1.00

Marion 05

Herbert for Sharpening skates 05

Maggie 1.00

5 lbs G Flour 10

6 ½ lbs butter 1.45

Mending Herbert’s boots 25

1 loaf bread 10

Cough candies 05

1 quart milk 05

Skating rink 20

Maggie 22

9 ½ lbs butter 2.00

Flora 05

1 bags fine salt 10

Maggie 50

1 bag flour 2.25

49 pounds oats 49

5 lbs sugar 25

Sunday School 04

½ lbs Black tea

Postage 10

Postal notes 05

Subscription to Herald `1.50

Subscription to Westminster

Pady Jim 25

12 ¾ cords wood 35.25

I scrubbing brush 10


5 lbs sugar 25

Maggie 10

1 pair of rubbers Flora 35

Sunday School 04

½ gal Coal oil 10

1 bottle ammonia 05

1 lamp burner 10

1 doz herrings 25

20 lbs Graham Flour 50

1 bag rolled oats 25

5 Gal Coal Oil 95

20 pounds corn meal 30

Flora 05

Small writing pad 05

1 box crackers 25

½ pound candies 10

Scrubbing floor 25

Herbert for sugar 10

Maggie 20

Hair dressing 15

1 jar molasses 15

½ lbs Black tea 18

2 lbs tapioca 10

Postage 27

Sunday School 07

Herbert for Birthday 25

Maggie 10

1 Gallon syrup 65

3 lbs sugar maple 24

3 pairs shoe laces 08

2 pair stockings 60

5 lbs sugar 25

Sugar scale 40

Maggie 2.60

1 pair rubbers 60

Maggie 35

To Sunday School 03

2 dozen eggs 30

1 package popcorn 05

F Lyster for milk 95

Fir dressing Herbert 15

5 lbs sugar 25

Maggie 1.00

Hauling manure 20

Postage 10

Sunday School 03

Bill of goods bought by Dan 32

1 box crackers 25

1 spool thread 10

1 can corn beef? 25

3 ¾ lbs steak 47

Sunday school 04

Candies 04


5 lbs sugar 25

½ lbs Black tea 18

¼ pounds ginger 09

1 bag potatoes 45

¼ ream bill paper 05

Daigle for manuring 40

Edith 50

Herbert suit of clothes 4.00

Spading garden 1.00

Mending M and F. Shoes 70

Garden seeds 40

2 pairs shoes Edith and Marion 3.00

1 necktie for funeral 25

Maggie 25

Seeds got by Dr. Cleveland 50

1 package envelopes 07

Post office box 1.00

Sunday School 03

2 scribblers 10

1 bag oatmeal 1.90

1 lb flour 4.50

Mending boots 1.25

Pass Book 10

Postage 09

10 lbs graham flour 30

¼ lbs cream of tartar 25

2 lbs steak 25

3 ½ pounds S. Ham 25

Military dinner 75

3 gallons Maple Syrup 1.95

A Guide to Court Records

Montreal Court House – Palais de Justice

Online resources found on BAnQ


Judicial archives guide

Guide to Court Records, Evelyn Kolish, 2017, 99 p. [PDF – 1.16 Mo]

BAnQ has close to 21 kilometres of court records in its 10 centres, dating back to the middle of the 17th century. These records constitute an historical archival fonds of remarkable depth and continuity, that enables researchers to study how Québec society has changed from its origins to the present day.

Created by courts throughout Québec, these records are preserved in the BAnQ regional centre closest to their point of origin. Because they show how different aspects of daily life have changed, both over time and by region, they can give sometimes highly detailed information about the past. This information can provide many different paths of inquiry: into specific people and events, as well as into broader social, economic and political phenomena – not to mention the judicial system itself! The Guide to Court Records will give researchers an overview of how the courts themselves and the records they create have changed over the past four centuries. Furthermore, for practical purposes, the Guide is based specifically on the court records preserved in BAnQ’s regional centres

Below is a copy of the document the above text refers to.

The History of a Summer Community    

I spent the past two months working on the history of my summer community in Maine. It is not exactly family history, although my family has been vacationing in this place by the ocean for almost 100 years, so bear with me while I tell you what I learned about writing local history.

Local history is essential to understanding our ancestors. The towns, cities and rural neighbourhoods where they lived were the places where they went to work, to shop, to worship, to play. By researching their communities, we can get hints about their daily activities, their values, their friends and acquaintances and the educational opportunities open to them.

Biddeford Pool, the community where I spend my summers, is on a tiny peninsula that juts out into the Atlantic Ocean, flanked on one side by a sandy beach and on the other by the rocky shore of Saco Bay. Originally known as Winter Harbor, the peninsula was once home to a thriving fishing village with a herring fleet and shipbuilding industry. In the mid-1800s, several enterprising local residents decided to build hotels and rent out rooms to boarders for the summer.

The big beach, low tide, Biddeford Pool, Maine

Families from big cities such as Cincinnati, St. Louis, Memphis and Montreal have been going there for generations. Eventually, some summer visitors decided to build their own cottages, and they encouraged friends and family members to join them on the coast. Today, many of their descendants are still vacationing at Biddeford Pool, still sailing the same waters, swimming at the same beach and playing on the same golf course that their grandparents and great-grandparents enjoyed.

Many of these families are interrelated, although no one has ever done a big family tree of the summer resident families.

Inspired by my experiences with Genealogy Ensemble, several of us started a blog a few years ago and encouraged people to write their own stories. We invited them to find out how their families first came to Maine, and we asked for childhood memories and other stories. Most people were polite, smiled and nodded, but did not write a word. I can’t say I was totally surprised. People are on holiday there, busy with friends and family, and once they get home, they get into their regular routines. Privacy may have been a concern for some. Also, writing is not easy for everyone.

Even more disappointing was that many people never looked at the blog. Maybe they are just not comfortable with digital media, and perhaps we were too successful in trying to keep it low-key. But it seemed the entire effort was a failure.

This spring I took a fresh look at the two dozen stories that were posted on the blog and enjoyed them. And at a time when most of my parents’ generation have already died or are now well into their 90s, the articles preserve memories of the way things used to be in the community – the bad and the good. So now, a group of about half a dozen of us are again copying what the members of Genealogy Ensemble did: we putting together a collection of short articles in a self-published book. At the very least, it will be on the shelves of the community’s little library, and filed beside the hundreds of old photographs that the Biddeford Pool Historical Society has collected and digitized. Hopefully, future researchers and family members will read it.

Some of us went to the county registry of deeds office to research the histories of our century-old cottages, and we used genealogy sources such as Familysearch.org to find marriage records, census records and city directories, as well as old newspaper databases. Others wrote personal anecdotes.

This project is a bit haphazard. It depends on who volunteered to participate and what he or she chose to write about. It is far from a one-place study or a carefully structured oral history project. And we left out most of the local residents who once lived there year-round, such as the lobster fishermen. That is unfortunate, however, narrowing the focus of the book has made it possible to get the project finished in one season, plus we know clearly who the target audience of the book will be.

I will let you know next summer how it turns out. 

The French Republican Calendar

Genealogists love FamilySearch. I have spent many enjoyable hours searching for my ancestors on their free databases. As a way of giving back, I enjoy transcribing historical documents so that others can search for their ancestors. This is called indexing and projects are always available on the FamilySearch web site for volunteers to transcribe.

Not too long ago I chose an intermediate French indexing project on FamilySearch, to transcribe Belgium birth registrations.  I now know that an intermediate level of difficulty may mean very difficult. I was able to decipher the names fairly easily, even the uncommon ones, such as Dieudonné. But I ran into difficulties with the dates.

The records I were transcribing were registered in 1798, smack in the middle of French Republican calendar and therefore the dates needed to be converted to the Gregorian calendar. The French Republican calendar, also known as the French Revolutionary calendar, was used by the French government for twelve years from late 1793 to 1805, and for 18 days by the Paris Commune in 1871. It was used in government records in France and other areas under French rule, including Belgium.  The Republican calendar was one of the ways that the French government wanted to do away with the ancien regime after the French Revolution. The new calendar was created by a commission whose members were French intellectuals. Year I (roman numeral) was the first year of the Republic and each new year was set at midnight beginning on the day the autumnal equinox falls at the Paris Observatory. There were twelve months, each divided into three ten-day weeks called décades. The five or six additional days needed to complete the solar year were called complementary days. This calendar closely resembled the one developed by the ancient Egyptians. 1

Luckily, Family Search has a wiki page that explains how to convert the date on the French Republican calendar to the Gregorian calendar. The twelve months in the French Republican calendar are based the natural events that occur during the year. For example, vendémiaire is the grape harvest month. The Family Search wiki gives an example of how the date would be written out: The 13th of Pluviose in the seventh year. This means that this date is the 13th day of the rainy month in year seven of the French Republican calendar. Family Search then provides four calendars that provides the conversion into the Gregorian calendar depending on the French Republican calendar year.2

I had ten birth registrations to transcribe and it took me two and a half hours to complete.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to understand the French Republican calendar. Looking on the Family Search site, I see that there are more civil registrations to transcribe in French but I will wait until I have a few hours ahead of me as once I start, I like to finish the batch.

Even though it is difficult and painstaking to convert the French Republican calendar dates to the Gregorian calendar, I enjoyed learning about this calendar. And, of course, it is always a thrill to know that you have connected the individuals in the historical records a little closer to their descendants.

  1. Wikipedia, French Republican Calendar, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_Republican_calendar, accessed 8 September 2022.
  2. Family Search, French Republican Calendar, https://www.familysearch.org/en/wiki/French_Republican_Calendar, accessed 8 September 2022

Montreal Archives Property Assessments 1847-2003

Évaluation foncière 1847-2003

Property assessment 1847-2003
4,606 online listings

3723 documents textuels (registres). – Environ 3800 microfiches. – 957 microfilms. – 12 boîtes.

3,723 documents (registers) – About 3,800 microfiches. – 957 microfilms – 12 boxes

Portée et contenu     
La série renseigne essentiellement sur l’évaluation foncière dans les
différents quartiers de la Ville de Montréal, de 1847 à 2003 inclusivement. Le rôle d’évaluation permet d’établir le montant des taxes municipales à partir d’un taux fixé par règlement par le conseil municipal.

Content of dossiers                                                                          The collection addresses the property assessment from 1847 to 2003 in various districts of the city of Montreal.

Chaque propriété listée dans le rôle d’un quartier possède un numéro de compte unique à huit chiffres, dont les deux premiers réfèrent au quartier.

Les autres informations disponibles sont l’adresse civique, le cadastre, le nom du ou des propriétaire(s) et la valeur de la propriété, résultat de l’évaluation de la bâtisse et du terrain.

Each property listed within various districts was assigned with an assessment number of eight digits, the first two being the district number. Additional information includes the street address, the cadastral number, the name or names of owner or owners in addition to the monetary value of said property.

La série comprend les registres originaux sur papier pour les périodes 1847-1934, 1963-1978 et l’année 1987. Les rôles d’évaluation pour les périodes 1847-1962 et 1979-1986 ont été microfilmés. Les rôles d’évaluation pour la période 1963-1978 et l’année 1987 sont disponibles uniquement en format papier (registre). Pour les années 1988 à 2003, les rôles ont été microfilmés.

Fonds includes the original dossiers of 1847-1934,1973-1978 and the year of 1987 in their original paper formats. The periods of 1847-1934,1973-1978 and 1987 are available on microfilms.

Les documents sont en français et en anglais.

Documents are available in either the French or English languages.

Archives de Montréal  Consultation
archives@montreal.ca Téléphone : 514-872-1173 / 514-872-2615

Opened on Tuesdays and Thursdays


Catalogue of dossiers

Researched and compiled by
Jacques Gagné


Researching Quebec when Church and State were one

If you drive into Montreal from the Laurentians on a sunny day, you’ll see a wonderful skyline, complete with a church spire as the tallest building for miles around. Such views are still typical throughout Quebec, although that’s likely to change as the iconic buildings get torn down to be replaced with skyscrapers, auditoriums and other modern structures.

These are remnants of the period from 1621 until 1964, when the Catholic Church operated as Church and State in this province. As genealogists, it’s important to remember this history as we look for traces of our ancestors. Traces of anyone in North American, even Protestant, Jewish and secular ancestors, might be found within documents held by religious organizations in Quebec.

In 1996, David Seljak described the Catholic Church’s influence in Quebec in an article. He wrote:

“Before 1960, the Church exercised a virtual monopoly over education, health care, and the social services offered to French Quebeckers who formed the majority of the population. During his years as premier from 1944 to 1959, Maurice Duplessis had declared Quebec a Catholic province and actively promoted the Church’s welfare. In 1958, more than eighty-five percent of the population identified themselves as Catholic and more than eighty-eight percent of those Catholics attended mass every Sunday. A virtual army of nuns, priests, and brothers, which by 1962 numbered more than 50,000, oversaw the Church’s massive bureaucracy.”

(Seljak, David. “Why the Quiet Revolution Was ‘Quiet’: The Catholic Church’s Reaction to the Secularization of Nationalism in Quebec after 1960,” CCHA, Historical Studies, 62 (1996), 109-124, n.d., 16.)

He argues that the Church took its loss of status with relative serenity because Quebec had so many Catholic residents at the time. The influence of Vatican II meant that most activists in favour of a secular reform in Quebec came from within the Church itself. If he’s right, the Church in Quebec decided itself to remove itself from a position as an instrument of the State to ensure that secularism spread throughout the Province.

Whether that’s true or not, given that many North Americans passed through Quebec during at least one generation, almost everyone has an ancestor whose experience may be highlighted within the records of the Catholic Church in Quebec. If you’re looking for traces of your ancestors, it’s worth exploring these documents.

Records that exist include:

  • baptisms
  • private and public engagement contracts (especially with Marriageable and King’s daughters’ contracts)
  • banns
  • marriages
  • parish records (black cross)
  • migration records
  • death records
  • burial records
  • orphan records
  • land records
  • construction records
  • fundraising records
  • directories
  • newsletters


Abjuration: Recantation of faith, often associated with Huguenots (Protestant people from France)

Acquet: Goods inherited or otherwise obtained prior to marriage

cimetière: Cemetery

Communauté de biens: commonly-held goods

claration de fiançailles: oral promise to marry

def, defunt or feu: deceased

Douaire: dower or widow rights to be paid by a future husband to his future bride in the case of his death; this amount could not be taken by creditors in the case of bankruptcy

Fiançialles: marriage bonds, oral promise of marriage, engagement

Mandements: clergical administrative orders

Propres: Items legally owned by a man and women when they married that would not be jointly owned after marriage

Sépulture: burial

Société Notre-Dame de Montréal: a religious organization founded in 1639 in Paris. It recruited people to go to New France, including Jeanne Mance, who wanted to found a hospital, and Marguerite Bourgeoys, who wanted to found a school. The company was dissolved in 1663 and the Seigneurie de l’Ile de Montreal was turned over to the Compagnie des prêtres de Saint-Sulpice. Members started supporting the public program, with Bourgeoys founding the Maison Saint Gabriel farm house in 1668 to house the King’s wards.

Primary Religious Sources in Canada

Archdiocese of Montreal Archives


30 volumes of mandements, pastoral letters, circular letters and other documents published by the Diocese of Montreal since its beginnings. Also available via: https://numerique.banq.qc.ca/patrimoine/details/52327/2751780

Archdiocese of Quebec Archives


Note: The Archdiocese Archives operate on Monday to Friday, from 9 to 11:45 am and from 1 to 3:45 pm, by appointment only.

Appointments are made via email in which the researcher must provide the archivists with the following information: research subject and context, period and dates, places, people (first and last names, titles and dates) concerned, a summary statement of existing research, and the researcher’s personal information: first and last name, title, institution, and city.

Collections include:

  • Adjurations Index
  • Certificates of freedom of marriage, 1757-
  • Confirmation registers
  • Parish, Mission and Centre Archives
  • Archives from the first missions and the Native American missions (manuscripts in Native American languages)
  • Archives from the apostolic vicariate of New France (1658-1674)
  • Archives from the archdiocese of Quebec (1674), with collections pertaining to the government of the diocese, the cathedral chapter, diocesan councils and committees, the chancellery, church authorities, pastoral work, human resources, communications and communications.
  • Archives from the provincial councils of Quebec (1851-1886) and from the Plenary Council of Québec (1909)
  • Archives from the Québec Interdiocesan Tribunal (1946)
  • Archives from parishes and communities
  • Archives from diocesan seminaries and colleges
  • Archives from institutes of consecrated life
  • Archives from ecclesiastic organizations, associations and movements
  • Archives from religious events at the diocesan, provincial, national and international levels
  • Personal and familial archives, including personal archives of bishops and archbishops of Québec

Archives Deschâtelets


The historical archives of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) in Canada (documents going back to 1841); manuscripts; volumes; microfilms; photographs (going back to 1816); collections pertaining to Oblate Missions, Aboriginal and Western history. 

Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec (BanQ)


  • Canada, Québec, registres paroissiaux catholiques, 1621-1979.” Database with images. FamilySearch. https://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2021. Archives Nationales du Quebec (National Archives of Quebec), Montreal
  • Canada, Québec Index de copie civil de registres paroissiaux, 1642-1902.” Images. FamilySearch. http://FamilySearch.org : 14 June 2021. Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales Du Québec (National Library and Archives of Quebec).
  • Marriage Contracts of Quebec: Contrats de mariage des districts judiciaires de Québec, de Beauce, de Charlevoix, de Montmagny et de Thetford Mines, 1636-1953
  • Superior court records: Fonds Cour supérieure. District judiciaire de Québec. Insinuations, registres des insinuations de la Prévôté de Québec, vol. 1 (Anciennement registres 1, 2 et 3) (1er mars 1667 – 25 septembre 1696), folios 109-109v.
  • Parish Records:Fonds Paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Foy, 1662-1976, Cote : P48, Id 298582
  • Parish Records: Paroisse Sainte-Famille, Ile d’Orléans – registres d’état civil, 1666-1790, ZQ1,S28 #184 : 12 avril 1666 au 7 octobre 1727.
  • Parish Records: Paroisse Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, 1657-[vers 1850], Cote : P1000,D1277 Id 696688 et Registres d’état civil, 1642-1948, Cote : ZQ106, Id 420864 et Index alphabétique des confirmés de Notre-Dame-de-Montréal, de 1676 et 1678 – s.d. 11 pages Numéro : 301330
  • Notarial records: Montréal (Québec : district judiciaire). Notariat, 008127867_003_M99W-KP4, Jan 1, 1657–May 14, 1669; notary Claude Aubert, 1652-1692; notary Bénigne Basset, 1658-1672; notary Pierre Raimbault, 1698-1727; notary Antoine Adhémar, 1673-1712.
  • https://www.banq.qc.ca/archives/genealogie_histoire_familiale/ressources/bd/recherche.html?id=TUTELLE_CURATELLE_20170823

Library and Archives Canada


  • New France Archive Collection: https://nouvelle-france.org/eng/Pages/new-france-archives.aspx, including the correspondence and memoirs of Jean Talon
  • Collection Jacques Henri Fabien (MG 25 G231), La collection sur microfilm se compose de renseignements généalogiques pour la période de 1657 à 1974.
  • Cases of indentured servants who left their masters (extraits d’arrêts du Conseil supérieur concernant les engagés qui quittent le service de leurs maîtres) 00003916294, fol. 56-57v sur microfilm Centre des archives MG1-C11A, 1663-1702 Microfilm reel number: F-2.
  • Rules, arrests and declarations made in Paris (Recueils de réglements, édits, déclarations, et arrêts : concernant le commerce, l’administration de la justice, & la police des colonies françaises de l’Amérique, & les engagés : avec le Code noir, et l’addition audit code, France, Chez les Libraires associés, Paris), 1765, MG1-C11A. Microfilm reel number: F-2.

McCord Museum

Archived Collections: http://collections.musee-mccord.qc.ca/en/keys/collections/

Parks Canada

History elibrary, http://parkscanadahistory.com/

St. Paul University, Centre for Vatican II and 21st Century Catholicism

Vatican Archives of the Sacred Congregation “de Propaganda Fide” 1622-1846, PFcongressi_1831-1836_p.407-526, https://ustpaul.ca/upload-files/RCRHC/PFcongressi_1831-1836_p.407-526.pdf.

Primary Religious Sources in the United States

Creighton University, Omaha, Nebraska

English translation of The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents, 1610-1791, http://moses.creighton.edu/kripke/jesuitrelations/, edited by Reuben Gold Thwaites, secretary of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, computerized transcription by Thom Mentrak, historical interpreter at Ste. Marie among the Iroquois living history museum, Liverpool, New York, 1898-1901.

Internet Archive, San Francisco, California


The Internet Archive operates as a free catalogue of everything on the Internet since 1996. It also operates as a public library.

Secondary Sources

Academic papers

Boivin Sommerville, Suzanne. “Marriage Contract in New France according to La Coutume de Paris / The Custom of Paris,” French-Canadian Heritage Society of Michigan, https://habitantheritage.org/cpage.php?pt=14, May 12, 2018, originally published in Michigan’s Habitant Heritage, Vol. 26, no. 3 (July 2005): 135-137.

Gauvreau, Michael. “From Rechristianization to Contestation: Catholic Values and Quebec Society, 1931–1970.” Church History 69, no. 4 (December 2000): 803–33. https://doi.org/10.2307/3169332.

Seljak, David. “Why the Quiet Revolution Was ‘Quiet’: The Catholic Church’s Reaction to the Secularization of Nationalism in Quebec after 1960,” CCHA, Historical Studies, 62 (1996), 109-124, n.d., 16.


Baum, G. (1991). The Church in Quebec. Canada: Novalis.

Grand’Maison, Jacques. Nationalisme et religion. Tome 2. Religion et 58 idéologies politiques, (Montréal: Beauchemin, 1970)

Jetté, René. Dictionnaire généalogique des familes du Québec. Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983.

Lindsey, Charles. Rome in Canada: The Ultramontane Struggle for Supremacy Over the Civil Authority. Lovell brothers, 1877.

Sulte, Benjamin. Histoire des Canadiens-Français. Wilson & Cie, Editeurs, Montréal, 1882, ISBN 0885450183; Editions Elysse, 1977.

Trudel, Marcel. La population du Canada en 1666. Recensement reconstitué. Québec: Septentrion, 1995.

Valynseele, Joseph et al., La Généalogie, histoire et pratique, Paris, éditions Larousse, 1991.

Vincent, Rodolphe, Notre costume civil et religieux, Montréal, Centre de psychologie et de pédagogie, 1963, B004QP56OA


Genealogy Ensemble: https://genealogyensemble.com/ (particularly

New France, New Horizons, http://www.archivescanadafrance.org/, a bilingual site set up by the Direction des Archives de France (Paris) et les Bibliothèque et Archives Canada (Ottawa) to commemorate the 400th anniversary of New France in 2004. The search function still works.

Southwestern Quebec Genealogical Resources, https://www.swquebec.ca/land_grant/land_grants.html.

Quebec Heritage Repertoire, https://www.patrimoine-culturel.gouv.qc.ca/rpcq/

Working together to help genealogists discover their ancestors

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