Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Easter greeting

A blessed and happy Easter, everyone!

Joyeuses Pâques, tout le monde!

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, April 18, 2014

52 Ancestors: #16 Luchenia Tomelin – Doukhobor Immigrant

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small [] has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 16th week of this challenge, I chose Luchenia Tomelin (1885-1960).

Family tradition says that my husband’s paternal grandmother Luchenia was born in October 1885 in Tiflis in the Caucasus region of the Russian Empire, now Tbilisi, Georgia. Her birth was probably not registered with the civil authorities, because her parents, Nikolai and Maria (Terichow) Tomelin, were Doukhobors. This pacifist sect’s religious beliefs clashed with the Orthodox Church (they rejected the sacraments and the priesthood) and with the government (they often refused to register births, marriages and deaths, since these events concerned “only the individual and God”). [1]

On 12 May 1899, a group of nearly 2,300 Doukhobors, including the Tomelin family, left the Russian port Batum for Canada, seeking a life free from intolerance. They sailed on the S.S. Lake Huron, and arrived at Quebec City on 6 June 1899. [2]

Two groups of Tomelin families appear on the ship’s passenger manifest. Luchenia’s family group consisted of her parents Nikolai and Maria, her siblings Marfa (Martha), Osip (Joseph) and Maria, her paternal grandmother Anna, her paternal uncles Ivan and Nikolai, and her paternal uncle Vasily, his wife and their three children.

Lake Huron passenger manifest
Lake Huron passenger manifest (portion)

In the above image, which is a cropped portion of a page from the Lake Huron passenger manifest of May 1899, Luchenia’s name is the fourth from the top; she is 13 years old. [3]

Once in Canada, the Tomelin family and the other Doukhobor immigrants travelled by train to settle on lands reserved for them in the North-West Territories, now in the province of Saskatchewan.

Two years later, Luchenia and her parents were enumerated on the 1901 census of Canada living in the Doukhobor settlement Moiseyevo (aka Khristianovka), a little to the west of Buchanan, NWT. [4]

About 1902 or 1903, Luchenia married Wasyl Demofsky, a Doukhobor immigrant like her. The couple’s first child Anastasia, known as Nastya or Tyunka as a child and later as Mabel as an adult, was born in December 1903 or 1904. Four sons soon followed: Pete, Fred, George, and William (Bill), my husband’s father.

Luchenia Demoskoff with sons George and William
Luchenia with her sons George (left) and William (right), about 1917

After Wasyl’s death in 1933, Luchenia lived with her unmarried children. She suffered a stroke in 1938 or 1939, according to her youngest son William. It became progressively more difficult to care for her, especially after her daughter Mabel moved to Edmonton, Alberta. Luchenia’s sons decided she would do better in Mabel’s care, and so she went to live with her and her husband Louis.

In the spring of 1960, Luchenia died in hospital on 28 April 1960; she was 74 years old. Her body was returned to Saskatchewan, and she was buried next to her husband Wasyl in Tolstoy Cemetery near Veregin. [5]


1. John E. Lyons, “Toil and a Peaceful Life: Peter V. Verigin and Doukhobor Education”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 1 April 2014), 87.

2. Steve Lapshinoff & Jonathan Kalmakoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928 (Crescent Valley: self-published, 2001), 49.

3. “Passenger Lists for the Port of Quebec City, 1865-1900”, digital images, Library and Archives Canada ( : accessed 28 March 2014), manifest, S.S. Lake Huron, 21 June 1899, p. 24 (penned), entry no. 1445, Lukeria Tomilin [sic], age 13.

4. 1901 census of Canada, Devils Lake, Assiniboia (east/est), The Territories, population schedule, subdistrict Y-1, p. 10, dwelling 61, family 133, Lucaria Tamelian [sic]; digital images, ( : accessed 31 May 2009).

5. Province of Alberta Department of Public Health, registration of death, no. 08-009495, Lucy Demosky (1960); Division of Vital Statistics, Edmonton.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Bunny

Outside view of bunny art work
Outside view of Bunny

This darling bunny clutching a bouquet of bright tulips was coloured by me when I was in my first years of elementary school. That was between 1963 and 1966 when I was at St-Joseph in Timmins, Ontario, in Kindergarten, Grade 1 or Grade 2.

I assume I did this art work around Easter (bunny and tulips suggest spring-time). It measures 25 cm high by 20 cm wide (about 10” x 7 ½”). The colouring is a bit off in the images (above and below), making it appear yellower and darker than it is in real life.

Inside view of bunny art work
Inside view of Bunny

My teacher – she could have been Madame St-Jean (K), Mademoiselle Dagenais (G1) or Soeur Lorraine Marie, s.a.s.v. (G2) – recorded the letter grade I received for lessons and subjects like Notre Père [Our Father], Conversation, Observation, Compter [counting], Ecriture [writing], and Conduite [behavior]. She also printed my name on the bunny's tummy.

My mother kept this art work with a few other elementary school items for me in an old-fashioned scrapbook. When I re-discovered these childhood souvenirs a few years ago, I was really pleased to see how well they stood the test of time. (There was some minor rust on the bunny’s ears where a staple used to be, and the remains of Scotch tape on its little foot, for example.) I transferred the bunny and my other schoolwork to their own sheet protectors so that they could last even more years.

It’s a real treat to have something tangible from my early years. I’m so grateful that Mom considered these school mementos worth saving.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Surname Saturday: Poznekoff

Polly Cazakoff and Wasyl Poznekoff
Polly (Poznekoff) Cazakoff with her brother Wasyl Poznekoff

My husband’s maternal grandmother was Polya (Polly) Poznekoff (1887-1971), wife of George Cazakoff. I recently wrote about her here.

Polly was about 12 years old when her widowed father Iwan (John) Poznekoff, and her brothers and sisters immigrated to Canada in 1899.

The surname Poznekoff is the English spelling for Poznyakov or Pozdnyakov. It originates from the word poznii or pozdnii, which means “late”. [1]

According to the Doukhobor Genealogy Website, there were “two unrelated branches of Pozdniakovs among the Doukhobors” in the 18th century living in the Russian provinces of Sloboda-Ukraine (Kharkov) and Tambov. [2]

By 1905 in Canada, most Poznikoff families lived in what was known as the North Colony in Doukhobor-established settlements surrounding Arran, Saskatchewan. [3]

Today, Poznekoff is one of the most common Doukhobor surnames in Canada. [4] English spelling variations include Pozdnekoff, Poznikoff, Pozney and Poznikow. [5]

Poznekoff should not be confused with Postnikoff, a similar-sounding Russian (Doukhobor) surname.


1. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 20 March 2014), entry for Pozdnyakov.

2. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website, entry for Pozdnyakov.

3. “Village-Surname Index for the 1905 Doukhobor Census”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 20 March 2014).

4. “Guide to Doukhobor Names and Naming Practices”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 20 March 2014).

5. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website, entry for Pozdnyakov.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, April 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: #15 Ann Cazakoff – How Doris became Ann

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 15th week of this challenge, I chose Ann Cazakoff (1926-1980).
Ann Cazakoff Demoskoff
Ann Cazakoff, about 1942

Ann is the late mother of my husband, Michael. She was born on 11 March 1926 at her parents’ homestead property in St. Philips RM near Kamsack, Saskatchewan. [1] Ann was the ninth child and only daughter of George Cazakoff and his wife Polly Poznekoff, Russian Doukhobor immigrants. I recently wrote about George and Polly for 52 Ancestors; their stories can be read here and here, respectively.

Interestingly, Ann’s name at birth was not Ann. It was Avdoty, a “popular form of Evdokiya”, which means ‘benevolence’ or ‘kindness’. [2]

Ann was known as Avdoty in Russian and as Doris in English. (For a list of Russian to English names among Doukhobor immigrants, see Russian-English Names Cross-Index at the Doukhobor Genealogy Website.)

When she was very young, Ann was sick for “almost a whole year” and “could not sit up in the bed”’. A relative told her mother “why don’t you change her name [… because] Doris isn’t her name”. After her name was changed to “Annie” she got better and started walking. [3]

My father-in-law Bill told this story to his son Michael and I a few years ago. Bill didn't remember too many details, since many years had passed when Ann had originally told him the circumstances of how her name was changed.


1. Province of Saskatchewan, birth registration no. 3076 (1926), Avdoty Kozokoff [sic]; Vital Statistics.

2. “Russian Female Names Among the Doukhobors”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 10 April 2014), entries for “Avdot’ya” and “Evdokiya”.

3. Bill Demoskoff (Grand Forks, British Columbia), telephone interview by Yvonne Demoskoff, 25 January 2011; transcript privately held by Yvonne Demoskoff, [address for private use,] Hope, British Columbia, 2011. Bill spoke from personal knowledge of the time his wife Ann told him why her name was changed.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Vimy Ridge Day

April 9 – Vimy Ridge Day – has been a national day of remembrance in Canada since 2003. It commemorates the Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I in which “Canadians from coast to coast fought in a battle together [for the first time] against a common enemy”. [1]

Vimy Ridge was “Canada's most celebrated military victory”. It took place 9 – 12 April 1917, 97 years ago. [2]

3,598 were killed in the Canadian Corps during those four days in April. [3] On the first day of battle, there were 7,707 casualties, making it “the single bloodiest day of the entire war for the Canadian Corps, and the bloodiest in all of Canadian military history”. [4]

I won’t pretend to say I know a lot about this important battle, because I don’t, but after reading a few articles, I wanted to post something on my blog as my way of remembering the sacrifice that Canadian soldiers made in those terrible days of the Great War.

Map of North Western Europe during First World War
(Canadian War Museum: The Battle of Vimy Ridge) 

Looking over crest of Vimy Ridge on Vimy Village
Looking over crest of Vimy Ridge on Vimy Village.
(Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-001290)

Canadians advancing through German wire entanglements Vimy Ridge
Canadians advancing through German wire entanglements - Vimy Ridge. April, 1917.
(Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/)

29th Infantry Batallion advancing over "No Man's Land" Vimy Ridge
29th Infantry Batallion advancing over "No Man's Land" through the German barbed wire and 
heavy fire during the Battle of Vimy Ridge
(Photographer: W.I. Castle/Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-001020)

Bringing in our wounded Vimy Ridge April 1917
Bringing in our wounded. - Vimy Ridge. April, 1917
(Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/)

To learn more about the Battle of Vimy Ridge, see the following online resources:

• Canada at War: Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 1917   

• Canadian War Museum: The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 9-12 April 1917 

• The Canadian Encyclopedia: Vimy Ridge  

• Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Battle of Vimy Ridge 


1. “Vimy Ridge Day Act S.C. 2003, c. 6”, Justice Laws Website ( : accessed 5 April 2014).

2. Richard Foot, “Vimy Ridge”, The Canadian Encyclopedia ( : accessed 5 April 2014).

3. Tim Cook, Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917-1918, 2 vols. (Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2008) 2: 142.

4. Cook, Shock Troops, 2: 143-144.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, April 07, 2014

The Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 CITE!

I’m participating in Dear Myrtle’s 3 – 2 – 1 Cite: The ‘Ragu’ Challenge. It’s where you take 3 documents, write about them in 2 paragraphs, having to do with 1 event, and make sure you “CITE those sources”.

For the 1 event, I chose my grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair’s date and place of death.

Here are the 3 documents with their sources:

1. Julie’s death certificate.
Death certificate of Julie Belair

Source: Province of Ontario, death certificate, no. 1967-05-012379 (1967), Julia Bélair [sic]; Office of the Registrar General, Thunder Bay.

2. Julie’s burial record.

Burial record of Julie Belair

Source: Julia Vanasse burial certificate (extrait du Régistre des sépultures) [extract from the burials register] (1967 burial); issued 1988, Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes Catholic Church [now Notre-Dame de la Paix], Timmins, Ontario; privately held by Yvonne Demoskoff, [address for private use,] Hope, British Columbia, Canada.

3. Photograph of Julie’s gravemarker.

Gravemarker of Fred Belair and Julie Belair

Source: Fred and Julie Belair gravemarker photograph, 2007; digital image, supplied by Joan Laneville, [address for private use,] Timmins, Ontario, Canada, 3 September 2007. Joan asked her daughter Carol to photograph her parents’ grave marker and then email a digital copy to her niece Yvonne.

The 2 paragraphs:

My paternal grandmother Julie died on 19 March 1967 in Timmins, Ontario, Canada. The above three records provide this information. I ordered my grandmother’s death certificate in late 2008 and received it by mail on 12 January 2009. It states my grandmother’s name and her date and place of death. Other details include her marital status, her age, and when her death was registered. The certificate, a certified extract from her death registration, was issued by the Office of the Registrar General. Some twenty years earlier, I sent a letter to my former parish church in Timmins asking for a copy of Julie’s burial record. The church’s secretary replied with a certified extract that gives the date and place of my grandmother’s funeral. The extract also provides her date of death, but not place of death. The last record is a digital photograph showing my grandparents’ gravemarker. My grandfather made the arrangements for the marker. Later, when he passed away, his elder daughter, my Aunt Joan, had his name and dates of birth and death added to it.

One record provided both the date and place of death, while the other two records stated her date or year of death. I believe that the death certificate is the one with the most genealogical weight, because it is more complete than the burial record and the photograph. Although errors could have crept in all three records (for example, an incorrect year of death engraved on the marker), all the records are in agreement with each other.

Last but not least, I’ve posted my article on my blog and I’m going to also share it on DearMYRTLE's Facebook Group.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Mystery Monday: The Death in 1900 – or Not – of Mary Gertrude Vanasse

In the summer of 1891, a little girl was born to John and Dinasse (Ranger) Vanasse in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec. She was the couple’s first of seven children; three sons and three more daughters were born between 1891 and 1912. She was also a first cousin of my paternal grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair.

At her baptism two days later, on 23 August 1891 in Chapeau’s church, she received the names Mary Gertrude. Her godparents were her maternal uncle Evangéliste Ranger and her paternal grandmother Elizabeth Frappier. They could not sign their names in the parish register, unlike the father, who wrote his name in a clear and legible hand. [1]

John and Dinasse suffered a tragedy on 11 April 1900 when one of their children died. According to St-Alphonse’s sacramental register, the child who died was “Mary Gertrude Vanasse”. The burial record adds that she was 8 years old and the daughter of John Vanasse and Dinna [sic] Ranger. (“Dinna” is a variation of Dinasse.) [2]

Mary Gertrude Vanasse burial record
Burial record of Mary Gertrude Vanasse (cropped image) [3]

Based on this information, there’s no reason to doubt who died that April day – or is there?

I believe there is room for doubt, especially because a marriage record exists for Mary Gertrude. On 8 August 1911, Mary Gertrude, “daughter under age of John Venasse [sic] and Dinasse Ranger” married Hector Marchildon in Chapeau’s St-Alphonse church. [4]

The daughter who married was under age, according to her marriage record. Since matrimonial majority was 21 years at this time in the province of Quebec, Mary Gertrude would have been born after 8 August 1890. [5] All of John and Dinasse’s daughters were born after this date, but only one of them was named Mary Gertrude, the eldest. The other daughters were Anna (b. 1897), Mabel (b. 1899) and Clara (b. 1907). I don’t think it’s a case of mistaken identity, say, for example Anna who married instead of Gertrude. Even though Anna was old enough to marry at 14 years old, it’s not her, since she married for the first time in July 1917. [6] As for Mabel and Clara, they were only 12 and 3 ½ years old, respectively.

So, if Mary Gertrude didn’t die in 1900, who did?

I have a theory that the child who died in 1900 was Mary Gertrude’s younger brother Michael John, who was born on 10 December 1895. [7]

Although I haven’t found a burial record for him in St-Alphonse’s registers, at least not one that explicitly states his name, it seems more likely that it was Michael John and not Mary Gertrude who died on 11 April 1900. I've located the death or burial dates for the other siblings (Isaac, Anna and Mabel) who were born before 1900, so it isn't one of them. Also, Michael John, who would have been 5 ½ years old, does not appear in his parents’ household on the 1901 census [8], suggesting he is not alive.

The fact that Michael John wasn’t enumerated with his parents on the 1901 census schedule doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s the child who died in 1900, but the fact that his sister Mary Gertrude married in 1911 means that she couldn’t be the one who died in 1900 and whose name appears in that burial record.

It's difficult to image that St-Alphonse's parish priest would get a child's name, age and gender wrong in its burial record, but it seems to be the case in this situation.


1. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1890-1893, p. 57 (stamped), entry no. B.50 (1891), Mary Gertrude Vanasse baptism, 23 August 1891; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 16 July 2010).

2. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1900, p. 10 recto, entry no. S.17, Mary Gertrude Vanasse burial, 12 April 1900; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 17 July 2010).

3. St-Alphonse, parish register, 1900, p. 10 recto, Mary Gertrude Vanasse burial, 12 April 1900.

4. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1911, p. 13 recto, entry no. M.10, Hector Marchildon – Mary Gertrude Venasse [sic] marriage, 8 August 1911; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 17 July 2010).

5. Hélène Lamarche and Guy Desjardins, “Majorité matrimoniale et majorité civile”, Mémoires de la Société généalogique canadienne-française, 56 (printemps 2005): 31; DVD edition (Montreal, QC: SGCF, 2013). The “Code civil du Bas-Canada 1866 (art. 115)” fixed the age of majority, that is, the legal age at which parental consent was no longer required for marriage, at 21 for boys and girls.

6. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1917, p. 11 verso, entry no. M.13, Adolphe Chassé – Anna Vanasse marriage, 28 July 1917; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 17 July 2010). Anna is described as “daughter under age” of her parents, which indicates a first marriage. Had she been a widow and married subsequently to a previous marriage, custom dictates that the name of her late husband is stated in the record instead of the names of her parents.

7. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1895, p. 26 recto, entry no. B.86, Michael John Vanasse baptism, 10 December 1895; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 16 July 2010).

8. 1901 census of Canada, Chichester, Pontiac, Quebec, population schedule, sub-district I-1, p. 6, dwelling 50, family 50, John Venance [sic] household; digital image, ( : accessed 1 May 2011). Only four children are listed in this family: Gerty (10), Isaac (7), Annie (4) and Mabel (2).

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.