Saturday, June 16, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What Did Your Father Love To Do?

It’s Saturday and Randy at Genea-Musings has issued his weekly challenge to his readers. With Father’s Day tomorrow, Randy asks, “What did your father really like to do in his work or spare time? Did he have hobbies, or a workshop, or did he like sports, or reading, or watching TV?”

Dad was a welder by trade and worked all over Ontario and Quebec, Canada, from the early 1950s until about 1979. He really liked this kind of work and he was very good at it, too. After we moved to British Columbia in 1979, Dad welded mostly for himself (like repairs on his MACK dump truck), but also for neighbors when they asked for his help with a project.

Trucking was Dad’s second favorite job, whether it was in partnership with his brother Ray building roads in the mountains between Hope and Boston Bar (here in B.C.) in the 1980s or when he drove snow plow trucks for the local highways department in the winter months to supplement his income.

Dad didn’t belong to service or sports clubs, not because he didn’t think they weren’t worthwhile, but because he liked the freedom to choose what he wanted to do and when he wanted to do it.

In the 1960s, Dad liked fishing, particularly for doré (I think it's walleye in English), abundant in Ontario where we lived. He had the usual gear, like fishing rods, reels, and tackle. What I liked best of all that stuff were the fly lures. At six or seven years old, I found their multi-coloured feathers pretty to look at, but nasty if I accidently pricked myself with a barbed hook.

Dad discovered the fun of CB radios in the 1970s. He was quite the enthusiast and bought himself a base station, desk mic, and an antenna tower.

When Dad more or less retired from trucking in the 1990s, he took up metal detecting. He treasure-hunted everywhere, from the field across the road by our house, to English Bay beach in Vancouver. When he and Mom travelled in the summer, Dad made sure his metal detector went with him.

Maurice Belair in Vancouver BC in 1996
Metal detecting at English Bay, Vancouver (1996)

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun - What Did Your Mother Love To Do?

Randy at Genea-Musings has issued his weekly Saturday challenge to his readers.

Today’s mission is to write about what “your mother really like to do in her work or spare time? Did she have hobbies, or a workshop, or did she like cooking, or reading, or watching TV?”.


Mom was a young teenager when she started working in the late 1940s. After attending high school for a few weeks, she realized it would be too difficult for her recently widowed father (who was out-of-work at the time) to pay for her expenses, like clothes, supplies, and bus fare. Her elder sister Madeleine helped her get her first job working in the cafeteria of the Polymer Plant in Blue Water, near Sarnia, Ontario. She eventually moved up to waitress in the Plant’s restaurant and even worked banquets there on occasion.

A couple of years later, Mom and her friend Irene (sister of her future brother-in-law) moved to London, Ontario. They rented a small apartment and found work as waitresses. Mom doesn’t remember the name of the restaurant, but told me it was classy and on one of the main streets in London.

As an adult, Mom enjoyed being a waitress and was good at it. She was proud of how many plates of food she could balance on her arms as she brought orders to customers’ tables. She used to tell me that a good waitress always knew what the soup of the day was and what the specials were. She was trained to never return to the kitchen empty-handed. In later years, as a customer, she would always tut-tut whenever she noticed a waitress walk past a table that needed attention.

Mom was mostly at home in the 1960s when my sister and I were younger. But when I was about 10 or 11, Mom decided to work. Dad didn't make big wages (“des grandes gages”, as Mom used to say in French) as a welder, so it was a way for her to make some money and to keep busy during the day when my sister and I were in school. She walked in at the A&P grocery store in town and asked if there was an opening. She didn't have experience, but wanted to try working in the meat department. She was just an assistant to the butcher, but found she liked learning about different cuts of meat and other similar details. I liked that Mom worked, because it meant that I ate my lunch at school (I brown-paper bagged it), instead of having to trek to and from home and back to school in less than an hour.

Around the time my brother Raymond was born in 1970, Mom sold Avon products door-to-door. I’m not sure how she got into that, but my Aunt Joan (Dad’s sister) also sold Avon. I remember keeping Mom company once or twice on her rounds. It was fun to see (and try out) all the beauty products that were stored in her blue sales rep bag. As a pre-teen, I especially liked the mini lipsticks and perfumes.


Jacqueline Belair playing cards

Mom’s favorite activity was (and is) playing cards with friends and family. She was about 12 years old when her new brother-in-law Jack (her sister Mariette’s husband) taught her to play poker for pennies.

Her two favorite games are Poker and “May I”, a variation of rummy. When the family gets together for cards, we seem to talk as much as we play. If we chat too much, though, Mom taps the table with a coin and tells us to get back to the cards, saying, “Are we here to talk or to play cards?”

Jacqueline Belair playing cards

When Mom was in her 60s, she suffered two strokes. In time, she recovered and after a few months, resumed her favorite pastime of playing cards, which she did with barely any cognitive difficulty.

After we moved to British Columbia in 1979, Mom and Dad started going to bingo games in Washington State, about 2 hours south of where we live in Canada. They typically drove to Lynden, Ferndale, or Bellingham on Friday nights. Mom had to watch Dad’s bingo cards as well as her own, because he tended to nod off. I don’t think Mom ever won much at bingo, but Dad won about $2300 one year.

I almost forgot to mention that Mom also loved to go to casinos in Reno and Las Vegas. She and Dad would drive there or she and her sisters Madeleine and Simone would fly or take a bingo bus to Nevada.

Mom turns 85 this summer and doesn’t show any sign of slowing down at cards. She’s a real trouper!

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Sentimental Sunday: Missing you, Dad

Maurice Belair in 1981

Remembering my late father Maurice on the twenty-second anniversary of his passing.

Love you and miss you, Dad.

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Recall a Summer Day When You Were 12

It’s Saturday and Randy at Genea-Musings has issued his weekly challenge to his readers.

Randy asks, “Remember when you were 12 years old? On a summer day out of school? What memory do you have of fun activities?”

What fun memories do I have of the summer I was 12 years old?

Let’s see… 

It’s hard to remember one day in particular, but I recall some events of the summer of 1970.

I had just finished Grade 6 at St-Charles elementary school. I was glad to be on vacation for the next two months, but felt a little sad knowing that I wouldn’t return there in September. (St-Charles was a Grades 2-6 school, so those of us moving up to grade 7 would be assigned to a new school that accommodated grades 7 and 8.)

My brother Raymond was 2-3 months old (he was born earlier in May). The whole family was still getting used to this new addition and my sister Marianne and I loved having a brother after being the only girls in the family.

At the end of July, I celebrated my 12th birthday. Marianne and our cousin Pauline spent the day with me. Mom made a chocolate birthday cake (my absolute favorite) and I got a few gifts, including a drawing set (I think it was called “Fashion Plates”), a fiction book (probably a Nancy Drew), and some money. The next day, I opened my first bank account with that money.

In July and August, I anxiously waited for a letter from the school board that would let me know which school I would attend that September. I can still see myself checking the front door every day to make sure I’d see the postal carrier as soon as he stepped up to our house. When the letter finally arrived (I think it was mid-August), I was shocked to read that my new school was not St-Gérard like I expected, but Don Bosco. I was really disappointed, because not only would I be going to a school located in the northwest part of town far from where I lived, I also wouldn’t be with my friends, who were going to St-Gérard in the southeast end of town. I begged Mom to call the school board and make them change schools, which it did, to my great relief.

About the same time I got the school board letter, my family (including baby Raymond), my cousin Pauline (she often came with us on outings), and a few others spent an afternoon at Green Lake, one of the many lakes that make up Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, about 40 minutes east of Timmins. I don’t recall that day, but I know it was special, because my Mom and Dad rarely took us to the lake.

That’s about all I remember of the summer of 1970, but it was good to get those memories down on paper, so to speak. Thanks for another great mission, Randy!

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Church Record Sunday: Joseph Deschatelets’ 1813 Baptism Record

Joseph Pinau dit Deschatelets, my maternal 3x great-grandfather, was born 205 years ago this month.

The eldest son of Joseph Pinau dit Deschatelets by his first wife Marguerite Bouvret (Beauvais), Joseph fils was born on 24 April 1813. He was baptised the next day in Ste-Anne R.C. church in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, about 40 km (25 miles) north of Montreal. [1]

Joseph Deschatelets 1813 baptism record
Joseph Deschatelets baptism record (Ancestry)

My transcription of Joseph’s baptism record (original lineation indicated by / ):

Le vingt cinq Avril mil huit cent treize nous curé de / Ste Anne soussigné avons baptisé Joseph né le jour / précédent du légitime mariage de Joseph Pinau dit Descha- / telets cultivateur de cette paroisse et de Marguerite Bou- / vret. Parrain étienne Bouvret, marraine Marie Duquet / qui ont déclaré avec le Père ne savoir signer.
[signed] Ant. Tabeau Ptre C.

My English translation (original lineation indicated by / ):

The twenty fifth April one thousand one hundred thirteen we undersigned [parish priest] have baptised Joseph born the day / previously of the legitimate marriage of Joseph Pinau dit Descha- / telets farmer of this parish and of Marguerite Bou- / vret. Godfather étienne Bouvret, godmother Marie Duquet / who have declared with the Father not knowing how to sign [their names].
[signed] Ant. Tabeau Ptre C.

The godfather Etienne might be the child’s grandfather, Etienne Bouvret, or might be his uncle, also named Etienne Bouvret.


1. Ste-Anne (Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec), parish register, 1813, p. 50 recto, no entry no., Joseph Pinau dit Deschatelets (written as Joseph Pinau dit Deschatelets, indexed as Joseph Pinau Dt Deschatelets) baptism, 25 April 1813; Ste-Anne parish; digital images, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry ( : accessed 25 April 2008).

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Sibling Saturday: The Children of Pierre Janvry dit Belair (1851-1941)

My paternal great-grandfather Pierre Janvry dit Belair was the father of sixteen children by his first two wives, Angélina Meunier (1855-1896) and Mathilde Cloutier (1861-1923). Pierre and his third wife Rosalie Lavictoire (1859-1927) did not have children.

By Angélina (my great-grandmother), Pierre had ten sons and six daughters. By Mathilde, he had two sons and three daughters.

The Belair children were born over the course of twenty-three years – 1883 to 1903. All were born in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham (now La Pêche), Gatineau County, Quebec and were baptised there. (I assume that Pierre’s eldest child, Pierre, was baptised in Masham, although his baptism record does not appear in Ste-Cécile’s sacramental register.)

Norbert Martineau and Mathilde Belair wedding 1921
Martineau – Belair wedding (1921)

Photos of Pierre are rare. Here is one that my late cousin Suzanne (who descends from Mathilde) sent me some years ago. Pierre is the second from left, his daughter Mathilde (in a hat) and her new husband Norbert are in the centre, while his wife Mathilde (in apron) is next to them. I wrote about this wedding in Wedding Wednesday: Martineau – Belair.

I prepared the following tables to show Pierre’s children with their birth, marriage(s), and death details. Most of this information is from sacramental records, but some is from death registrations, census records, and family information.

Table 1. Pierre and Angélina's children: 

Table 2. Pierre and Mathilde's children: 

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Birthday Gathering

I love looking at photos of family and friends; they bring back wonderful memories. Here is an example of such a picture. I used the 5Ws (who, what, when, where, why) to help me identify the details.

Jacqueline Belair with family and friends

Who is it?
Left to right: Jeanne d’arc, Jacqueline (behind), Johanne, Jackie (behind), and Joan.

Jacqueline (my Mom) and Jeanne d’arc are sisters; Mom and Joan are sisters-in-law; and Joan and Johanne are cousins-in-law. I think Jackie and Joan are related through their husbands, but I‘ve forgotten the connection. All the women are in their 30s. Three were at-home mothers, while two, who also had families, worked outside of the home.

Mom lives with me now, but the other ladies still live in the town where I grew up. I remember them well, because they were a part of my life as a child and teenager.

What is it?
It looks like it’s a birthday, presumably Jeanne d’arc’s or Johanne’s, from the way they are holding a frosted cake with candles.

When is it?
The date stamp that I cropped out of the photo said “Apr 68”, but that date could be deceiving. I know that Mom didn’t always take her finished rolls of film to be processed right away, so the date could refer to that month or to a few weeks earlier, say in late 1967 or early 1968.

Jeanne d’arc worked Mondays to Fridays, so the party was probably on a weekend night.

The photo was in one of Mom’s old family albums, so she was likely the original owner. I don’t know who took the picture; perhaps the hostess or another guest?

Where is it?
It’s not my family’s house or Jeanne d’arc’s house when she was first married. It also doesn’t look like Joan’s house, so it’s possibly Jackie’s or Johanne’s home.

Why is it?
Birthdays were important to our circle of friends, so it’s natural we took photos of these milestones.

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Church Record Sunday: Mathilde Belair’s 1923 Burial Record

Mathilde Cloutier, second wife of my paternal great-grandfather Pierre Belair, died 95 years ago on 16 April 1923. [1]

Pierre’s first wife, Angélina Meunier, died in July 1896, leaving behind seven children, including my grandfather (Pépère) Fred, who was only six years old.

A year later, Pierre married Mathilde Cloutier, who was born and raised in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Pontiac County, Quebec, like Pierre and his family. They had five children: two sons and three daughters.

Mathilde’s burial record doesn’t indicate the cause of death (such records rarely did), but she was 62 years old at her death. Her husband was present at the funeral on 18 April, along with their son Joseph, my grandfather’s eldest half-brother.

I don’t know what kind of relationship Fred had with his stepmother. I wish I had thought of asking him when he was older after I got interested in genealogy.

Burial record of Mathilde Cloutier Belair
Mathilde Cloutier burial record (Ancestry)

The burial record above reads in French:

Ce dix-huit avril mil neuf cent vingt-trois / je soussigné curé de cette paroisse ai / inhumé dans notre cimetière le / corps de Mathilde Cloutier, épouse / de Pierre Belair, de cette paroisse / et y décédée avant-hier âgée de / soixante ans. Etaient pré / sents Pierre Belair, Joseph Belair et autres parents et amis qui ne / revinrent pas après le service. 
[signed] Hector Yelle, ptre

My English translation:

This 18 April nineteen hundred and twenty-three / I undersigned [parish priest] of this parish have / interred in our cemetery the / body of Mathilde Cloutier, wife of Pierre Belair, of this parish / and who died [the day] before yesterday aged of / sixty years. Were pre / sent Pierre Belair, Joseph Belair and other relatives and friends who did not / return [to the church] after the [burial] service. 
[signed] Hector Yelle, [priest]


1. Ste-Cécile (Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Quebec), parish register, 1918-1930, p. 95 verso, entry no. S.11 (1923), Mathilde Cloutier burial, 18 April 1923; Ste-Cécile-de-Masham parish; digital images, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry ( : accessed 30 March 2018).

Copyright © 2018, Yvonne Demoskoff.