Friday, February 28, 2014

52 Ancestors: #9 Elisabeth Vanasse – One of thirteen children

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 9th week of this challenge, I chose my paternal great-grandmother Elisabeth Vanasse (1862-1947).

Last week, I wrote about Elisabeth’s husband Olivier Vanasse; you can read about him here.

My great-grandmother Elisabeth was born on 11 September 1862 in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec.
Elisabeth Vanasse in Chapeau Quebec
Elisabeth Vanasse (in the 1930s or 1940s)

She was the third child and first daughter of Joseph Vanasse and his wife Marie Guérard, who married in January 1859 in Chapeau.

Elisabeth had two elder brothers, Dalmatius (Delmond) and Regis (Richard) and ten younger brothers and sisters, Lucy, Pierre, Isidore, Alexander, Mary Julia, Josephine, Maria Jane, Delina (Delia), David and Joseph.

With so many people in the household, I imagine that Elisabeth’s mother Marie must have relied on her daughter from an early age. In fact, Elisabeth had just turned 21 when her youngest sibling, Joseph, was born in 1883. I wonder if being part of a large family had anything to do with her marrying at the rather advanced age of nearly 27?

Elisabeth married Olivier Vanasse on 16 July 1889. Their marriage record states that “a dispensation […] of the second degree of consanguinity had been granted by [… the] Vicar Apostolic of Pontiac, on the eighth instant […]”.

The couple were first cousins and had known each other from childhood, because they were born and raised in Chapeau. Her father Joseph was the younger brother of Olivier’s father, also named Olivier.

Elisabeth was the mother of nine children: Mary, George, William, Cecilia (Celia), Julia (my paternal grandmother), Joseph, Corinne (Cora), David and Agnes (Aggie).

In about 1946, Elisabeth moved to Ottawa, where some of her children lived. She died there in hospital after a short illness on 1 September 1947. She is buried in the parish cemetery in Chapeau, where she lived most of her life.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

My Mother’s Patrilineal Ancestry

Last month, I posted a chart showing my patrilineal ancestry; it can be viewed here.

This month, I’ve prepared a pedigree chart showing my mother’s paternal ancestry. You'll notice that the original surname Bouchard dit Dorval see-sawed over the years between Bouchard, Dorval and Desgroseilliers. It eventually (at least for this branch of the family) settled on Desgroseilliers.


Paternal Ancestry of Jacqueline Desgroseilliers


Sources:

1. Claude and Marie’s names appear in their son Claude’s marriage record.

2. Notre-Dame (Quebec, Quebec), parish register, 1621-1671, unpaginated, no entry no. (1651), Claude Bouchard – Marguerite Bénard marriage, 20 November 1651; Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 11 February 2014).

3. Notre-Dame (Montreal, Quebec), parish register, 1695-1699, unpaginated, no entry no. (1695), Jean Baptiste Bouchard – Marie Anthoinette Chouart [sic] marriage, 19 December 1695; Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 11 February 2014).

4. Notre-Dame (Beauport, Quebec), parish register, 1734, p. 4 verso, no entry no., Jean Baptiste Dorval Degroseliers [sic] – Marie Joseph de Chavigny marriage, 26 September 1734; Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 11 February 2014).

5. St-Joachim (Châteauguay, Quebec), parish register, 1768-1775, p. 36, no entry no. (1772), Joseph Prosper Desgroseliers [sic] – Charlotte Nunegand marriage, 17 February 1772; St-Joachim parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 11 February 2014).

6. St-Constant (St-Constant, Quebec), parish register, 1803, p. 33 recto, no entry no., François Dégrosellier [sic] – Marie Louise Roy marriage, 17 October 1803; St-Constant parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 11 February 2014).

7. Notre-Dame-de-LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine (LaPrairie, Quebec), parish register, 1825-1828, p. 88 recto, entry no. M3 (1828), Francois Desgroseilliers – Elizabeth Lemieux marriage, 28 January 1808; Notre-Dame-de-LaPrairie-de-la-Madeleine parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 19 February 2008).

8. St-Jean-Chrysostôme (St-Chrysostôme, Quebec), parish register, 1865, p. 27 verso, entry no. M.26, Pierre Desgroselliers [sic] – Flavie Lepage marriage, 7 November 1865; St-Jean-Chrysostôme parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 11 February 2014).

9. St-Viateur (Limoges, Ontario), parish register, 1897-1910, p. 18 (stamped), entry no. M.1 (1899), Albert Dégroseilliers [sic] – Clémentine Léveillé marriage, 24 April 1899; St-Viateur parish; digital images, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 22 January 2010). Also, “Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1857-1924”, digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 22 January 2010), entry for Albert Desgroseilliers and Clementine Leveillé [sic], 24 April 1899.

10. “Ontario, Canada Marriages, 1857-1924”, digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 16 March 2010), entry for Eugene Desgroseilliers – Juliette Beauvais marriage, 18 August 1925.

11. Province of Ontario, marriage registration, no. 1954-044828 (1954), Maurice Belair – Jacqueline Desgroseilliers; Office of the Registrar General, Thunder Bay.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tuesday’s Tip: Birthday & Anniversary Messages from The Queen and Governor General

What an amazing thing it is to turn 100 years old!

My father-in-law, William (Bill) Demoskoff, will celebrate his 100th birthday this June. My husband and his sister are planning to honour their father with small party to mark this special occasion.

William Demoskoff
Bill Demoskoff (2012)

I suggested that they also arrange for birthday messages from Her Majesty The Queen (Elizabeth II) and His Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General (David Johnston).


Contacting both our head of state and her Canadian representative is a simple process.

Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II

I found the details on the FAQ page on the
Governor General’s official website.

To quote from the FAQ:

“How can I obtain a birthday or anniversary message from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? 

Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II sends messages to Canadians who are 100 years of age or older and to couples who have been married for 60 years or more. These are issued by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.”

“How can I obtain a birthday or anniversary message from the Governor General? 


The Governor General sends messages to Canadians who are 90 years of age or older and to couples who have been married for 50 years or more. These are issued by the Office of the Secretary to the Governor General.”


David Johnston Governor General of Canada
His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston

A PDF request form is available online. Once the details are filled in, mail or fax the completed form with proof of birth to Rideau Hall, the Governor General’s official residence, in Ottawa. (The address appears on the request form.) A lead time of eight weeks is needed, and the congratulatory message sent two weeks before the event. There is no cost for this service.


The form does double duty: it has fields for birthday and marriage anniversaries. Simply chose the appropriate occasion.

That’s all it takes to get a unique way of celebrating such an important milestone in the life of a beloved family member!

Image credits:

• Wikipedia contributors, "Elizabeth II," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Elizabeth_II&oldid=593696130 : accessed February 3, 2014).


• The Office of the Secretary to the Governor General. This reproduction is a copy of the version available at http://www.gg.ca/


Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, February 21, 2014

52 Ancestors: #8 Olivier Vanasse – Husband, Father, Farmer

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 8th week of this challenge, I chose my paternal great-grandfather Olivier Vanasse (1863-1944).

Olivier Vanasse
Olivier Vanasse

I never knew this great-grandfather (he died quite a few years before I was born), but my father Maurice and his sister Joan knew him. I remember just a couple of things of what they told me about Olivier. For example, when they were very young (less than 5 years old), they visited his property, a farm, at Chapeau. Then, a few years later, Dad and Aunt Joan and their parents Fred and Julie (one of Olivier’s daughters) lived at Chapeau, when Fred ran a gas station there. One day, I'd like to take a trip to eastern Canada and visit Chapeau in Pontiac County, Quebec and see the Vanasse farm for myself. I'll have to first contact a cousin, though, to get its exact location and find out if it's still in the family.

My great-grandfather Olivier was born on 4 February 1863 in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec. He was the youngest child of his parents Olivier and Elisabeth (Frappier) Vanasse. Olivier’s older siblings were Michael (1853-1933), Julia (1854-1895), Henriette (1856-1883), John (1858-1931) and Elizabeth (1860-1953).

Olivier didn’t look too far to find a bride when he married in July 1889. He chose his first cousin, Elisabeth Vanasse (1862-1947), who like him, was born and raised in Chapeau.

The couple’s first child, Mary, was born the following spring in April 1890. A son, George, soon followed in October 1891, and then seven more children between 1893 and 1905: William, Cecilia (Celia), Julia (Julie), Joseph, Corinne (Cora), David and Agnes (Aggie). My grandmother Julie was their fifth child.

According to his obituary, Olivier retired from farming in 1919. He and his family continued to live on their property, where he died on 7 December 1944; he had been ill for two years.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wednesday’s Child: Aurore, l’enfant martyre

Aurore Gagnon gravemarker
Gravemarker of Aurore Gagnon*
* Image courtesy of Fortierville.com

Aurore Gagnon lived a brief life. Her last few years were filled with pain and abuse. She died too young at ten years old, 94 years ago this month.

It wasn’t until I prepared this article that I discovered that Aurore and I are related. We share a distant (17th century) common ancestral couple, Jean Gagnon and his wife Marguerite Cauchon, which makes me Aurore’s 9th cousin once removed.

My Experience

I was about 8 to 10 years old when I first heard of Aurore, l’enfant martyre [Aurore, the child martyr]. My best friend, Joanne, asked if I wanted to see a movie about a little girl. I don’t remember if she told me other details about the story, but since it was being shown in the basement of our parish church a block from where we lived, I said I’d go.

Joanne and I walked to the church, Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, opened the big double doors, and went down the stairs to a semi-darkened basement. Rows of chairs were arranged facing the film screen. We took our places, and soon the movie began.

It was in black-and-white, and in French. There wasn't any problem understanding the language, since Joanne and I were French-Canadian. But, soon, a problem manifested itself. You see, I didn’t know anything about this little Aurore. I also didn’t know anything about child abuse. It wasn’t long into the movie before I got so uncomfortable and frightened with the story and images that I decided I had to get out of there before the picture was over. I don’t know if I even bothered to tell Joanne that I was leaving, but I got up and made my way back to the staircase and out of the church.

I felt a great sense of relief as I stepped into the daylight and fresh air of that afternoon. As I walked home, my mind was filled with thoughts of that poor child and the horrible pain she suffered. It’s with hindsight that I wish someone would have told me about the movie before I agreed to see it, that an adult could have been present with my friend and I to watch over us, and that prior to the showing, someone could have told the audience that the film might not be suitable for children under a certain age. (I don’t think I told my mother much about the movie before I went to see it that day, otherwise I doubt she would have let me go.)

The movie I saw all those years ago in the 1960s was probably the 1952 version titled La petite Aurore: l'enfant martyre. A few years ago, another version was released in 2005, simply called Aurore. I saw this French-language colour production on television, and this time, was able to sit through to the end. I was very moved by it, but not distressed in the same way I was when a young child.

Aurore’s Story

Aurore Gagnon was born on 31 May 1909 in Fortierville, Lotbinière County, Quebec. She was baptised there at Sainte-Philomène church and received the names Marie Aurore Lucienne.

When she was about seven years old, her life changed. Her mother Marie-Anne Caron became ill with tuberculosis and was hospitalized. Another woman, Marie-Anne Houde, a widowed mother related by marriage to Aurore’s father Télesphore Gagnon, moved in. Aurore’s youngest sibling, Joseph, died suddenly in November 1917; he was only two years old. Soon afterwards, Aurore’s mother died in January 1918. One week later, on 1 February, Télesphore married Marie-Anne Houde.

Aurore suffered physical abuse from her step-mother, as well as her father. After years of mistreatment, Aurore fell into a coma. She died at home on 12 February 1920. The coroner’s report noted “54 wounds, which ‘could only have been the result of the blows to the child’s body’.” [1]

Aftermath

Télesphore and Marie-Anne were arrested, sent to trial, and found guilty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment, but released after serving five years. She was sentenced to be hanged that fall. In the intervening time, Marie-Anne gave birth to twins; not long after, her sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. However, she was released in 1935, and died the following year. For his part, Télesphore married a third time, and died in 1961.

Further reading

• Aurore Gagnon, l'enfant martyre in “Histoire” at Fortierville.com [in French]

• Généalogie de Aurore, l'enfant martyr at FrancoGène [in French]

• “Aurore Gagnon” at Dictionary of Canadian Biography

• "Aurore Gagnon" at Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia

• Aurore! The mystery of the martyred child at Great Unsolved Mysteries in Canadian History

Source:

1. Dictionary of Canadian Biography (http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gagnon_aurore_14E.html : accessed 8 February 2014), “Gagnon, Aurore”.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, February 17, 2014

In Memoriam: Mariette White

Today – 17 February 2014 – marks the sixth anniversary of my Aunt Mariette’s passing. She was 80 years old, a widow, and survived by her seven children, and many grand- and great-grandchildren.

Mariette, my mother’s eldest sister, was born on 18 December 1927 at home in Hearst, Ontario, Canada. She was the second, but eldest surviving, child of her parents, Eugène and Juliette (Beauvais) Desgroseilliers.

Mariette Desgroseilliers
Mariette, about 1936

During her early years, her father Eugène worked as chief of police in Hearst. He made a comfortable living, and was able to buy such luxuries as a piano for his children. He was also able to afford to send his elder daughters Mariette, Madeleine and Simone to the Académie Sainte-Marie, in Haileybury, Ontario, to be educated as boarding students by the Soeurs de l'Assomption de la Sainte Vierge.

About 1935, the family moved to northeastern Quebec. Life was good until about 1938 or 1939, when my grandfather Eugène became seriously ill with double pneumonia. He was unable to work for months, and ultimately lost his position as chief of police. Faced with unemployment, he moved his family to Ontario and found work as a guard in Nobel, just outside Parry Sound.

In the summer of 1942, the family relocated again, this time to Blue Water, a tiny community next to Sarnia, Ontario. It was here, in the mid-1940s, that Mariette met John (Jack) White, whom she married. They had three sons and four daughters.

I met my Aunt when I was very little, because my parents travelled to Sarnia at least twice when I was a toddler. But, I don’t remember anything of those visits. The next time I saw Aunt Mariette, I was a teenager. My parents and I (I don’t remember if my sister and brother were with us) were in Sarnia and visited her home. We walked into the living room where she and my cousins had gathered. As soon as I saw my Aunt, I was amazed at how much she and my Mom looked alike. I had, of course, seen photos of her over the years, but I had never really noticed this striking resemblance. Seeing her in person made such a difference, too. Mariette was a very beautiful woman, and with her dark looks, reminded me of actress Loretta Young.

Mariette Desgroseilliers and Jacqueline Desgroseilliers
Mariette (left) with her sister Jacqueline, 1974

I wish I had a better chance to know my Aunt and my cousins (actually all of my Sarnia relatives), but we lived so far apart from each other, and visits were, unfortunately, infrequent.

You are still loved and missed today, Aunt Mariette.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – Share Some of Your Memories

It’s Saturday, and Randy over at Genea-Musings has issued his weekly challenge for his readers!

Tonight’s challenge is “Share Some of Your Memories” and here are his three steps to accomplish it:

1) Judy Russell asked six questions in her Keynote address at RootsTech to determine if audience members knew certain family stories about their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. She demonstrated very well that family stories are lost within three generations if they are not recorded and passed on to later generations.

2) This week, I want you to answer Judy's six questions, but about YOUR own life story, not your ancestors. Here are the questions:

a) What was your first illness as a child?
b) What was the first funeral you attended?
c) What was your favorite book as a child?
d) What was your favorite class in elementary school?
e) What was your favorite toy as a child?
f) Did you learn how to swim, and where did you learn?

3) Tell us in your own blog post, or in a comment to this post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

Here are some of my memories:

a) Other than having colds when I was very little, the first illness I remember having is measles. I was 5 or 6 years old; my little sister, with whom I shared a bedroom, was also ill with measles; and we seemed to stay mostly in bed, rarely leaving our room. It wasn’t until many years later when I was married and pregnant, that I discovered it wasn’t “ordinary” English measles (rubeola) I had contracted all those years ago, but German measles (rubella). I learned this detail when my doctor ordered screening tests early in my pregnancy.

b) The first funeral I attended was that of my paternal grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair, who died in March 1967, when I was 8 years old. I don’t remember if there was a funeral mass, but can still see in my mind’s eye being at the cemetery. Since it was winter time in Timmins, with snow on the ground, a brief service was held in a little building on the property. I also remember how sad everyone was and hearing people cry. I felt sad, but did not fully understand what death meant and didn’t realize that I would never see my beloved Mémère again.

c) This one is a bit tougher to remember. I know I loved books from an early age, and easily learned to speak and read French and English. Unlike some of my French-Canadian friends, who lived in a more French language home than I did, my parents were always bilingual with my siblings and I, so I guess it made it easier for us to pick up English. So, I think my favorite books were probably a mix of French and English ones. I also know that I loved choosing books at the Timmins Public Library. The basement floor held children and youth books, and was divided in two sections, French and English, each with their own entrance doors and librarians. I liked the Caroline adventure stories by French author Pierre Probst. (I had to look up the author just now, but knew the character’s name.) For English books, some of my favorites were gifts of book-and-cassette read-along stories, like The Gingerbread Man. ("Run, run, as fast as you can! You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man!") At Christmas time, my most favorite book was ‘Twas Night Before Christmas. My sister and I always had to have Mom read to us from that soft-cover illustrated book while we were tucked in bed on Christmas Eve. When my son Nicholas was born, I made sure I bought him his own copy to read to him.

d) This one is easy! My favorite class in elementary school was Grade 4. As far as I was concerned, I had the best teacher in the whole school: Madame Jeanne Lauzon, whom I just loved. She was a bit strict and gave what I thought was a lot of homework, but I didn’t mind, because I loved learning and it challenged me. She also instilled order in us, like keeping our coats and shoes and boots tidy in the vestiaire [cloakroom] attached to our classroom. One day, she entrusted me with an important task: to go to the principal’s office and get “the strap”. Corporal punishment was still allowed in school in those days (the 1960s and 1970s), but Madame Lauzon didn’t casually resort to it. Nevertheless, I felt uneasy and trembled when I asked the principal (a nun from the order of the Soeurs de l’Assomption de la Sainte-Vierge). As she handed me the leather strap, she said, “J’ai peur, j’ai très peur.” [I’m afraid, I’m very afraid.] (The principal must have shown her concern for what was about to happen to the unfortunate student, which if I remember correctly was a boy.) My favorite subjects were religion, history and reading; couldn’t get enough of them.

e) Without a doubt, my favorite toy as a child was my Barbie doll. My sister and I had a modest amount of these dolls and their accessories. We played with our dolls day in and day out. I loved it when Mom took me shopping at Kresge’s or Woolworth’s (five-and-dime department stores) in town to choose a new Barbie outfit or accessory to add to my stash back home. I still have a Barbie, some of her clothes and the vinyl doll case I bought when I was a bit older.

f) I first learned to swim when I was between 5 and 8 years old. It was in the Mattagami River, not far from my home on Commercial Avenue. I checked Google Earth to refresh my memory of the distance I had to travel. It went like this: from my home, walk three blocks west, turn right and walk three blocks north (the river is on my left at this point, but not reachable at this height), turn left at Algonquin Boulevard, walk west across the bridge, make a left, and go down to the river bank. My sister and I did this journey by ourselves in the summer months. I’m amazed at how much my parents trusted us to get to our lessons without some kind of supervision. (Or did we perhaps tag-along with a group of neighborhood kids?) The lessons weren’t too bad, I think, but I didn’t like getting sand in my bathing suit and the water always seemed cold. One day, all the children on the beach were asked to form a chain, and we were told to walk a short distance into the river, because someone was missing. (Nothing came from  that search.) I probably didn’t regularly attend those early classes, because the lessons didn’t take a hold on me. Later on, as a pre-teen and young teenager, I had more swimming lessons at Gillies Lake (in the northeastern part of town) and at the public swimming pool at the entrance to Schumacher, a community east of town.

I’ve shared some of my memories and left a comment at Genea-Musings!

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, February 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #7 Angélina Meunier – My great-grandmother

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 7th week of this challenge, I chose my paternal great-grandmother Angélina Meunier (1855-1896).

I don’t know much about my great-grandmother Angélina. There doesn’t seem to be any photographs of her that, if taken, have survived. She died when my grandfather Fred, her younger son, was only 6 years old. It’s strange, now I think about it, that I don’t ever remember asking my Pépère questions about her. If I had, what kind of memories would he have had of his mother?

Would he be able to tell me what she looked like physically, if she was short or tall, if she was petite, medium or large build, if she had blonde, brown, black or red hair, or if her eyes were blue, brown, green or hazel?

Would he be able to tell me what kind of personality she had, if she was quiet or outgoing, if she was calm and poised, or if she was active and adventurous?

Would he be able to tell me what kind of interests she had, if she like to sew, knit, paint, garden, or if she even had time to enjoy hobbies and activities?

With my grandfather gone 23 years ago, I know only what the records tell me – and what they might suggest – about his mother.

Her baptism record tells me that Angélina was born on 4 August 1855 in the rural community of Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Gatineau County, Quebec. The eldest child of farmer Ménésippe Meunier and his wife Louise Drouin, she had seven brothers and three sisters (one of whom died as an infant). According to the 1861 census, the family lived in one-story log house.

Angélina seems to have been close to her family, because she named some of her children after them. For example, my grandfather was named after her father, and four other sons were named after her brothers Jean-Baptiste, Louis, Cyrille and Gédéon. Also, her mother was godmother to an elder son, while three brothers and one sister were godparents to her younger children.

At 24 years old, Angélina was the first of her family to marry. She and Pierre Janvry dit Belair, whom I wrote about last week here, exchanged wedding vows on 9 September 1879 in Masham’s parish church. Their first child, son Pierre, was born the following year. Seven boys and three girls followed with more or less regularity every two years until 1896.

That summer, on 22 July 1896, Angélina gave birth to her 11th child, Joseph. Sadly, he lived only a few hours. Four days later, Angélina died on 26 July. She was 40 years old. Her widower and seven children survived her.

Her funeral was largely attended. Twenty-three women, all dames de la Congrégation de Ste-Anne, signed their names in the sacramental register. I think that action on the part of those women reveal a great deal about Angélina, does it not?

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, February 07, 2014

52 Ancestors: #6 Pierre Belair – Spellings and Misspellings of His Name

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 6th week of this challenge, I chose my paternal great-grandfather Pierre Belair (1851-1941).

Pierre Janvry dit Belair (1851-1941)

Pierre was the fourth child and third son of Paul Janvry dit Belair and his wife Angélique Lalonde. Born on 1 December 1851 in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Gatineau County, Quebec, Pierre had five brothers and three sisters. He died on 6 May 1941 in Masham.

When I first started looking for him in documents and records, it was challenging to find him. Indexes, in particular, were tricky. Being new and inexperienced at genealogy research, I tended to search for him using only one spelling of his name – Janvry. (I figured since I was told it was spelled that way, that’s what I would look for.) It took me awhile to figure out I had to be creative in order to locate my great-grandfather.

As I gradually found him, I saw that other people (clerks, priests, and index compilers, for example) were also creative in how they spelled Pierre’s name.

Here’s a selection of the names under which my great-grandfather appears in various databases at Ancestry.ca.

Date: 1851 (The official enumeration date was 11 January 1852.)
Event: census
Name:
- Piter Gnory (census index)
- Peter Gnvry (image)

Date: 24 January 1852
Event: his baptism
Name:
- Peter Gemores (baptism index)
- Peter Geanvrier (image)

Date: 1861 (The official enumeration date was 14 January 1861.)
Event: census
Name:
- Pierre Janovis (census index)
- Pierre Janvris (image)

Date: 1871 (The official enumeration date was 2 April 1871.)
Event: census
Name:
- Pierre Bellaire (census index & image)

Date: 9 September 1879
Event: his 1st marriage
Name:
- Pierre Janvier Beland (marriage index)
- Pierre Janvrise dit Belaire (image)

Date: 1881 (The official enumeration date was 4 April 1881.)
Event: census
Name:
- Jérèmie Piere (census index)
- Jienvril Pière (image)

Date: 1891 (The official enumeration date was 5 April 1891.)
Event: census
Name:
- Pierre Jeansey (census index)
- Pierre Jeanvry (image)

Date: 19 July 1897
Event: his 2nd marriage
Name:
- Pierre Belair (marriage index)
- Pierre Bélair (image)

Date: 1901 (The official enumeration date was 31 March 1901.)
Event: census
Name:
- Pierre Janvrie (census index & image)

Date: 1911 (The official enumeration date was 1 June 1901.)
Event: census
Name:
- Pierre Ganner (census index)
- Pierre Janvrie (image)

Date: 1921 (The official enumeration date was 1 June 1921.)
Event: census
Name:
- Pierre Bélair (census index & image)

Date: 19 January 1926
Event: his 3rd marriage
Name:
- Pierre Belair (marriage index)
- Pierre Bélair (image)

Date: 1935
Event: voters’ list
Name:
- Pierre Belair (voters’ list index & image)

Date: 1940
Event: voters’ list
Name:
- Pierre Bélair (image) (Note: The index is quirky and doesn’t always return individuals’ names in the search results.)

Date: 8 May 1941
Event: his burial
Name:
- Pierre Belair (burial index)
- Pierre Bélair (image)

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, February 03, 2014

A Day in My Ancestor’s Life – Julie (Vanasse) Belair

I got the idea for this blog article when I read the tip of the day for 18 November 2013 at Genealogy Tip of the Day.

The object of the exercise is to:

“Pick a day in your ancestor's life. Try and answer the following questions as of that date:

• Where was my ancestor living?
• Who was in his (her) household?
• What was the ancestor's occupation?
• What was the ancestor's age?
• What was going on nationally on this date (at this point in time)?
• What was going on locally/regionally?
• Were my ancestor's parents alive?
• Were my ancestor's siblings alive?
• Where would he (she) have gone to church the previous Sunday?
• Who were my ancestor's neighbors?

I picked 2 August 1927, the day my grandmother Julie gave birth to my father. It was a Tuesday. [1] The forecast was mostly fine, with moderate winds. [2] The average temperature was 15.6 C, with a low of 9.4C and a high of 21.7C. [3]

Julie Belair and Almina Lapierre
Julie (right), who was expecting my father, with her sister-in-law Almina (1927)

• Where was my ancestor living?

Julie and husband Fred lived in Ottawa, Carleton County, Ontario, Canada. Their home was located at 62 Lloyd Street. [4] My grandfather never made big wages, so he and Julie likely lived in an apartment. Lloyd Street was in the working-class neighborhood known as LeBreton Flats, located near the downtown core, west of the Parliament Buildings and south of the Ottawa River.

Aerial view of Ottawa Canada
Aerial view of Ottawa (1927)

• Who was in his (her) household?

There were at least two people in the household, Julie and Fred. I don’t know if they lived by themselves or shared accommodations.

• What was the ancestor’s occupation?

My grandmother didn't work outside of the home at the time of my father’s birth. If she worked at “other than household duties”, it would have been noted on the birth registration form. [5]

• What was the ancestor's age?

Julie was 30 years old. (She turned 31 at the end of the month.)

• What was going on nationally on this date (at this point in time)?

Canada was celebrating the diamond anniversary of its Confederation (1867-1927).

• What was going on locally/regionally?

HRH the Prince of Wales (the future King Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor) and his younger brother HRH Prince George, were visiting Canada. “Thousands of citizens” gathered on Parliament Hill and gave them an “exceedingly cordial welcome” on their arrival in Ottawa on Tuesday, 2 August 1927. [6]

Also, the third World’s Poultry Congress was on its second-to-last day. The well-attended event at Lansdowne Park showcased poultry and educational exhibits, and featured international speakers from countries like Canada, USA, Italy, Germany and Egypt. [7]

• Were my ancestor's parents alive?

Both my Dad’s parents were alive.

• Were my ancestor's siblings alive?

Dad was his parents’ first-born child, so, he didn’t yet have siblings.

• Where would he (she) have gone to church the previous Sunday?

Julie probably attended Sunday mass at St-Jean-Baptiste church, located at the corner of Empress and Primrose streets. It was probably her local parish, because that’s where she married the previous October, and where my father was baptised a week after he was born. St-Jean-Baptiste had served the French-Canadian community of the LeBreton neighborhood since 1872. Sunday mass might have been said by curé Bernard Doucet, O.P. [8]

• Who were my ancestor's neighbors?

I don’t know who my grandmother’s neighbors were. (I don’t have access to a 1927 city directory to Ottawa, but I hope to find one some day.) Based on where she lived in LeBreton Flats, though, many were probably from the same background: working folk, French-Canadian, and Roman Catholic.

Some Thoughts

I wonder how my grandmother Julie spent the last few days before my father’s birth? Did she spend some of her time viewing the poultry exhibits at Lansdowne Park (all that walking might not have been a good idea during her last trimester)? Would she have preferred listening to the band of the Governor-General’s Foot Guards who performed on Parliament Hill that Sunday afternoon? [9] Or, did she spend her time quietly at home, making sure she had all she needed for her baby’s layette and her hospital stay? [10]

Sources:

Image of Ottawa: Canada. Dept. of Mines and Technical Surveys / Library and Archives Canada / PA-015557.

1. “Perpetual Calendar”, infoplease (http://www.infoplease.com/calendar.php : accessed 31 January 2014).

2. “Record and Forecast of the Weather”, The Ottawa Evening Journal, 2 August 1927, p. 1; digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 31 January 2014), Newspapers & Publications Records.

3. “Historical Climate Data”, Climate – Government of Canada (http://climate.weather.gc.ca/ : accessed 31 January 2014), “Ottawa”.

4. Ontario, birth registration, no. 1927-05-020795 (1927), Maurice Melvin Belair; Office of the Registrar General, Thunder Bay.

5. Ontario, birth registration, no. 1927-05-020795 (1927), Maurice Melvin Belair.

6. “Great Throngs Loudly Acclaim Notable Guests”, The Ottawa Evening Journal, 2 August 1927, p. 1; digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 31 January 2014), Newspapers & Publications Records.

7. “Women Speak to Poultry Men Today’s Session”, The Ottawa Evening Journal, 2 August 1927, p. 1; digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 31 January 2014), Newspapers & Publications Records.

8. “Historique”, Paroisse St-Jean-Baptiste (http://www.stjeanbaptiste.ca/ : accessed 31 January 2014).

9. “Guards’ Concert Greatly Enjoyed”, The Ottawa Evening Journal, 1 August 1927, p. 4; digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 31 January 2014), Newspapers & Publications Records.

10. Ontario, birth registration, no. 1927-05-020795 (1927), Maurice Melvin Belair. The physician in attendance was J. M. Laframboise, MD, so my grandmother presumably had her baby in a hospital. (The hospital’s name does not appear on the registration form.)

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Sunday’s Obituary: John G. Cazakoff

John Cazakoff obituary
John G. Cazakoff obituary, 1986

My husband’s maternal uncle John Cazakoff passed away 28 years ago on 5 February 1986 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

John was the second child, but eldest surviving son of his parents George and Polly (Poznekoff) Cazakoff, Doukhobor immigrants from Russia. He was born on 30 July 1909 in Simeonovka (aka Semenovo), a Doukhobor village near Arran, Saskatchewan.

In the late fall of 1930, John married Anastasia (Nellie) Dutoff, who was also born in Simeonovka. The couple, who had three children, Jack, Joe and Mabel, lived in eastern Saskatchewan, where they farmed. Later on, John and his family moved to nearby Benito, Manitoba.

I had the chance to meet Uncle John and his wife Nellie when they visited British Columbia during the 1980s. He was a genial, well-mannered and hospitable man.

After a Doukhobor funeral in Kamsack, Saskatchewan, John was laid to rest there on 10 February 1986 in Riverview Cemetery.

Source:

“Cazakoff”, obituary, undated clipping, from unidentified newspaper; privately held by Edna (Arishenkoff) Cazakoff, British Columbia, 2011. Edna, who was John’s sister-in-law, allowed her nephew Michael Demoskoff to scan the obituary during a visit to her home in January 2011.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Sibling Saturday: Albertine and Cora Gagnon

Albertine Gagnon and her sister Cora Gagnon in the 1920s
Albertine and Cora Gagnon, 1920s

This lovely picture is a copy I’ve had in my photo collection since the 1980s or 1990s. I think it was given to me by one of my paternal relatives, a Vanasse cousin of my Dad’s. The photo was probably taken in the early 1920s, and judging by the background, it must have been a studio portrait.

The fashionably dressed young women are sisters Albertine and Cora Gagnon. (I’m not certain which sister is on the left, but I think it's Albertine.) They were the younger daughters of François (Frank) and Julie (Vanasse) Gagnon, who married in the early summer of 1895 in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec. [1] Julie was the maternal aunt of my grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair.

Albertine, baptised “Mary Abby”, was born on Christmas Day 1897, while Cora, baptised “Anna Cora Josephine”, was born on 19 December 1902, both in Chapeau. [2]

The girls had seven brothers and sisters: Mary (b. 1896), François Richard (1900-1955), Victor (1901-1923), Mary Albina (b. 1904), Robert (1906-1991), Bridget (b. 1909), and Jeanette (b. 1911).

The eldest of the Gagnon children, Mary, was probably the first one to leave the family home for nearby Ottawa, Canada’s capital city, because she married James H. Brown there in 1918. [3] Her younger sisters Albertine and Cora soon followed her to Ottawa.

In October 1926, Albertine was a witness at my grandmother Julie’s wedding to Fred Belair at St-Jean-Baptiste church on Empress Street in Ottawa. [4]

A few months later, in February 1927, Cora married William Guy Holden at Notre-Dame Basilica on Sussex Drive in Lower Town, Ottawa. Her sister Albertine was one of the witnesses. [5]

Notre-Dame Basilica in Ottawa Canada
Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica exterior [6]

A close bond existed between my grandmother Julie and Albertine, because Julie asked her cousin to be part of another important event in her life – the christening of her first-born child, Maurice, my father. Albertine and Julie’s brother David Vanasse, as godfather, were present at my Dad’s baptism on 9 August 1927 at St-Jean-Baptiste church. [7]

In early 1937, Albertine (who had just turned 39 years old) married Dosithé Mainville on 20 January in Christ Roi church, at Argyle Avenue and Bank Street, Ottawa. [8]

I don’t think I ever met either Albertine or Cora, although Cora (and some of her other sisters) lived in Timmins, Ontario (where I’m from) for quite a few years. It’s possible that I met her when I was little, but have forgotten the occasion(s).

Of the two sisters, Albertine died first, in 1968. She is interred in St. Alphonse de Ligouri Cemetery in Chapeau. [9] Cora died five years later in 1973, and is interred in Whitney Cemetery, Porcupine, Cochrane District, Ontario. [10]

Sources:

1. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1895, p. 16 recto, entry no. M9, François Gagnon–Julie Vanasse marriage, 26 June 1895; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http//www.ancestry.ca : accessed 21 June 2010).

2. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1902, p. 24 verso, entry no. B.91, Anna Cora Josephine Gagnon baptism, 21 December 1902; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http//www.ancestry.ca : accessed 18 January 2014). Also, St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1897, p. 27 verso, entry no. B.83, Mary Abby Gagnon baptism, 26 December 1897; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http//www.ancestry.ca : accessed 18 January 2014).

3. Notre-Dame du Bon Conseil (Ottawa, Ontario), parish register, 1913-1930, p. 89 (stamped), entry no. M.15 (1918), James Brown–May Gagnon [sic] marriage, 10 September 1918; Notre-Dame du Bon Conseil parish; digital image, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http//www.ancestry.ca : accessed 19 January 2014).

4. St-Jean-Baptiste (Ottawa, Ontario), parish register, 1909-1968, p. 136, entry no. 28 (1926), Jean Baptiste Belair–Julie Venance [sic] marriage, 28 October 1926; St-Jean-Baptiste parish; digital image, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http//www.ancestry.ca : accessed 30 July 2007).

5. Basilique Notre-Dame (Ottawa, Ontario), parish register, 1926-1933, no page number, entry no. M.9 (1927), William Guy Holden–Anna Cora Josephine Gagnon marriage, 26 February 1927; Basilique Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http//www.ancestry.ca : accessed 19 January 2014).

6. Wikipedia contributors, "Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica, Ottawa," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Notre-Dame_Cathedral_Basilica,_Ottawa&oldid=592169804 : accessed January 27, 2014).

7. St-Jean-Baptiste (Ottawa, Ontario), parish register, 1909-1968, p. 802, entry no. 93 (1927), Maurice-Melvin Bélair [sic] baptism, 9 August 1927; St-Jean-Baptiste parish; digital image, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http//www.ancestry.ca : accessed 30 July 2007).

8. Christ Roi (Ottawa, Ontario), parish register, 1930-1953, p. 87 (stamped), entry no. M.1 (1937), Dosithé Mainville–Mary Albertine Gagnon marriage, 20 January 1937; Christ Roi parish; digital image, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http//www.ancestry.ca : accessed 18 January 2014). Christ Roi, founded in 1930, closed down as a parish church in 2001. (Source: “Région pastorale – Ottawa”, Diocèse d’Ottawa (http://www.missa.org : accessed 27 January 2014), Christ Roi.)

9. RootsWeb.com, St. Alphonse de Ligouri RC Cemetery, digital images (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~cangmg/quebec/pontiac/allumett/stalplig/index.htm : accessed 19 January 2014), photograph, grave marker of Albertina Mainville [sic] (1897-1968), Chapeau, Quebec.

10. RootsWeb.com, Whitney Cemetery, Porcupine, digital images (http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~murrayp/cochrane/porcupin/whitney/index.htm : accessed 19 January 2014), photograph, grave marker of Cora Holden (1902-1973), Porcupine, Ontario.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.