Sunday, November 22, 2015

Sunday’s Obituary: Célestin Desgroseilliers

Celestin Desgroseilliers obituary 1957

Célestin Desgroseilliers passed away 58 years ago on 22 November 1957 in Ottawa, Ontario. [1] He was a younger brother of my maternal great-grandfather Albert Desgroseilliers. Célestin was born on 19 November 1881 in Embrun, Russell County, Ontario. He was the ninth child and sixth son of Pierre and Flavie (Lepage) Desgroseilliers.

In January 1904, Célestin married Fabiana Gauthier, by whom he had ten children. He and at least two of his brothers (Prospère and Albert) were tall men. He was a merchant in Sturgeon Falls and in Kapuskasing, Ontario before relocating to Ottawa in the mid-1950s.

Célestin died in hospital after a short illness. He was survived by his wife, 8 children, 16 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.


1. “Ontario, Canada, The Ottawa Journal (Birth, Marriage and Death Notices), 1885-1980”, digital images, ( : accessed 21 November 2015), Celestin Desgroseilliers death notice; citing The Ottawa Journal, 23 November 1957, p. 24, col. 1; City of Ottawa Archive, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wednesday’s Child: Lina Desgroseilliers (1905-1915)

2015 marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Lina Desgroseilliers, my first cousin twice removed. I meant to have this article appear on my blog in April, but didn’t get around to it.

Lina was born on 20 April 1905 in St. Charles, Ontario. [1] She was the sixth child and fifth daughter of Joseph and Azéline (Lemieux) Desgroseilliers. Joseph was the eldest brother of my maternal great-grandfather Albert Desgroseilliers.
Lina Desgroseilliers birth registration 1905
Lina Desgroseilliers' birth registration (

At her baptism on 23 April, Lina received three names: Marie Marguerite Lina. Her godparents were her father’s brother Célestin and his wife Fabiana (Gauthier) Desgroseilliers. [2]

A few years earlier, Lina’s parents and their elder children left Russell County in southeastern Ontario for an area in northeastern Ontario that had recently opened up to colonisation. This settlement, Grand Brûlé, located south of Sudbury, would soon be known as St. Charles. Here, Joseph earned his living as a merchant, one of the first in the region. [3] He and Azéline had nine children: Liliane, Alice, Corinne, Florence, Hormidas, Lina, Léo, Alphège, and Lionel.

Tragedy struck the family in the spring of 1915 when Lina died suddenly a few days after her 10th birthday. [4] She was buried on 29 April 1915 in St. Charles. [5]

Lina Desgroseilliers burial record 1915
Lina Desgroseilliers' burial record (

Neither Lina’s burial record nor her death registration gives a cause of death. Instead, I found that information in her family’s entry in the history of St. Charles published in 1945. According to that source, Lina died accidently “à la suite d’absorption de chlore” (after swallowing chlorine). [6]

A heart-breaking end to a short life. Rest in peace, my cousin.


1. “Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1913”, digital images, ( : accessed 16 April 2015), entry for Marie Desgrosillier [sic], 20 April 1905; citing Archives of Ontario, Registrations of Births and Stillbirths – 1869-1913; Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario; microfilm series MS929, reel 180.

2. St-Charles (St-Charles, Ontario), parish register, 1902-1925, p. 8 stamped, no entry no. (1905), Marie Marguerite Lina Desgroseilliers baptism, 23 April 1905; St-Charles parish; digital images, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, ( : accessed 16 April 2015).

3. Lionel Séguin, Historique de la paroisse Saint-Charles (Saint-Charles, Ont., 1945), 231; digital images; Our Roots / Nos Racines ( : accessed 22 July 2014).

4. “Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947”, digital images, ( : accessed 16 April 2015), entry for Lina Desgross[ei]lliers (written as Lina Desgross[ei]lliers, indexed as Lina Desgrawcelliers), 29 April 1915; citing Archives of Ontario, Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1938; Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario; microfilm series MS935, reel 213.

5. St-Charles (St-Charles, Ontario), parish register, 1909-1967, p. 55 stamped, entry no. 4 (1915), Lina Desgroselliers [sic] burial, 29 April 1915; St-Charles parish; digital images, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, ( : accessed 16 April 2015).

6. Séguin, Historique de la paroisse Saint-Charles, 231.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: William Guy Holden

William Holden gravemarker

William Guy Holden, known as William, was born on 2 June 1893 in North Bay, Ontario. Son of Anastasia Holden, he was recruited during World War I in 1917.

William married Cora Gagnon, a first cousin of my grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair, on 26 February 1927 in Ottawa, Ontario. (I wrote about Cora’s burial last month in Tombstone Tuesday: Cora Holden.) Later, William and Cora moved north to Timmins, where he worked as a miner.

William died in 1968. He was interred next to his wife in Whitney Cemetery, Porcupine, near Timmins. My husband photographed their gravemarkers during our visit to my old hometown in May 2014.

William’s gravemarker reads:

Beloved Husband of Cora 
1893 – 1968 
Rest in Peace

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Remembrance Day 2015


Today, November 11, is Remembrance Day. Let us take time to remember and pay tribute to our Canadian veterans.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday: Cora Holden

Cora Gagnon Holden gravemarker

Cora was a younger daughter of François and Julia (Vanasse) Gagnon. She was born on 19 December 1902 in Chapeau (or Chichester), Quebec. She and my paternal grandmother, Julie (Vanasse) Belair, were first cousins.

Like her sisters Mary and Albertine, Cora left their home village in the 1920s to seek work in Ottawa, Canada’s capital. (I’ve written about Albertine and Cora in Sibling Saturday: Albertine and Cora Gagnon.) Here, she married William Guy Holden in February 1927. They couple eventually moved to Timmins in northern Ontario, where Cora’s cousin Julie lived.

Cora died in 1973 and was interred next to her husband William in Whitney Cemetery, Porcupine, near Timmins. My husband photographed their gravemarkers during our visit to my old hometown in May 2014.

Cora’s gravemarker reads:

Beloved Wife of William 
1902 – 1973 
Rest in Peace

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Church Record Sunday: Joseph Vanasse’s 1838 Baptism Record

For today’s CRS, I’m featuring a baptism record, since I wrote about burial records for the past two Sundays.

Joseph Vanasse, no. 22 in my ancestor list, is my 2x paternal great-grandfather. A younger son of (Jean François) Régis Vanasse, a cultivateur (farmer), and his wife Josephte Messier, Joseph had eleven siblings – six brothers and five sisters. His older brother Olivier (1832-1914) is also my ancestor (he's no. 20), because his son, Olivier, married Joseph’s daughter Elisabeth.

Joseph was born on 17 October 1838, presumably in the parish of St-Michel in Yamaska, where his parents resided at the time of his baptism. He was baptized the next day (October 18) in nearby St-David, Yamaska County, Quebec. [1] Alternatively, the attending priest travelled to Yamaska where he baptized Joseph in St-Michel church, but recorded the event in St-David’s sacramental register.

Joseph Vanasse 1838 baptism record
Joseph Vanasse baptism record (FamilySearch)

The baptism record (above) reads in French:

“Le dix huit octobre mil huit cent trente / huit nous Pretre curé soussigné avons / baptisé Joseph né la veille du légitime / mariage de Regis Vanasse cultivateur / et de Josephte Mainsier [sic] de la paroisse de St- / Michel dYamaska, parrain Antoine / Vanasse marraine Marguerite Vanasse / qui ont déclaré ne savoir signer.”

In English:

“The 18 October 1838 / we undersigned priest curate have / baptized Joseph born the previous evening of the / legitimate marriage of Regis Vanasse farmer / and of Josephte Mainsier of the parish of St- / Michel of Yamaska, godfather Antoine / Vanasse godmother Marguerite Vanasse / who have declared not able to sign [their names].”

The priest, J. Boucher, curé (curate) of St-David, recorded only the basic details. I wish he had added the relationship between newly-baptized Joseph and his godparents. His father Régis had a younger brother named Antoine, so he might be the godfather. As for Marguerite, she might be his father’s cousin, because Régis didn’t have a sister or an aunt by that name.


1. St-David (St-David, Quebec), parish register, 1835-1846, p. 65 verso, no entry no. (1838), Joseph Vanasse baptism, 18 October 1838; St-David parish; digital images, “Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979”, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 September 2015). Note: To access this browsable-only image, follow this path from the FamilySearch homepage: Search > Records > Canada > Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1979 > [Browse] > Saint-David > Saint-David > Index 1835-1876 Baptêmes,...ges, sépultures 1835-1846 > image 170 of 515.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

52 Ancestors 2015: #42 – André Bessette, a saint in the family

Saint Andre Bessette
Saint André Bessette

I’m participating in “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 Edition” by Amy Johnson Crow of 
No Story too Small.

For the 42nd week of this challenge, I used the optional weekly theme (Proud) to write about Saint André Bessette, a distant relative of mine. After I read about his tireless work for the sick of Montreal, I felt very proud to know him. Today – 17 October 2016 – is the sixth anniversary of his canonization. He is the first Canadian-born male to receive this distinction. [1]

St. André and I have one or two, possibly more, sets of ancestors in common. For this article, I chose my maternal ancestors Jacques and Marie (Bouart) Antrade, immigrants from the province of Poitou, France to show how we are related. If you have French-Canadian ancestry, you quite possibly have this saint, too, in your family.

St. André was born Alfred Besset (var. Bessette) on 9 August 1845 in Mont-St-Grégoire, a village southeast of Montreal. [2] He chose André as his name when he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross as a lay brother in Montreal in December 1870. [3] Because of poor health, Brother André worked in a humble capacity for the Congregation. He was porter, sacristan, laundry worker, and messenger at its Notre-Dame College. [4] Brother André also cared for the sick – those who came to see him at the College and those he visited in their homes. When people were miraculously healed, he did not take credit, but believed it was due to the intercession of St. Joseph, for whom he had a special devotion, and to whom he prayed faithfully.

Led by this devotion, Brother André began construction of a chapel dedicated to St. Joseph in 1904. Soon, the small chapel gave way to a church, and later, to a basilica, also known as an oratory. Large crowds of people and pilgrims came to Saint Joseph to pray and to seek a cure for their ailments. As a sign of faith, those who were healed left behind their crutches. [5]

Oratoire Saint Joseph
Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal

Brother André died on 6 January 1937 in St-Laurent, now part of Montreal. His funeral was held at Saint Joseph Oratory on 12 January. The Archbishop of Quebec, the Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec, and the Premier of Quebec were among the dignitaries present. Also in attendance was “une immense foule” (
an immense crowd) not only from Montreal, but from the province of Quebec and the United States. [6]

On 23 May 1982, Brother André was beatified by Pope John Paul II as “Blessed André”. Twenty-eight years later, Pope Benedict XVI canonized him “Saint André Bessette” on 17 October 2010. [7] His feast day is January 6 in the USA and January 7 in Canada. [8]

Photo credit:

Saint André: Wikipedia contributors, "André Bessette", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

Saint Joseph Oratory: "Photo by Paolo Costa Baldi. License: GFDL/CC-BY-SA 3.0" (“Oratoire Saint-Joseph du Mont-Royal”, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed 13 October 2015).


1. “Saint Brother André: His Canonization”, Saint Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

2. St-Grégoire-le-Grand (Mont-St-Grégoire, Quebec), parish register, 1845, p. 20 verso, entry no. B.92, Alfred Besset [sic] baptism, 10 August 1845; St-Grégoire-le-Grand parish; digital images, “Le LAFRANCE”, Généalogie Québec ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

3. “St. André Bessette”, Congregation of Holy Cross ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

4. Wikipedia contributors, "André Bessette", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

5. “St. André Bessette”, Congregation of Holy Cross ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

6. Notre-Dames-des-Neiges (Montreal, Quebec), parish register, 1937, p. 1 verso, entry no. S.1, Alfred Bessette burial, 12 January 1937; Notre-Dame-des-Neiges parish; digital images, ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

7. “St. André Bessette”, Congregation of Holy Cross ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

8. Wikipedia contributors, "André Bessette", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed 13 October 2015).

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.