Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Three Young Doukhobor Women

Three young Doukhobor women, dressed in traditional clothing.

Mary and Mabel Tomelin and Mabel Demoskoff about 1918-1920 probably in Saskatchewan, Canada
Left to right: Mary and Mabel Tomelin and Mabel Demoskoff, about 1918-1920,
probably in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Amanuensis Monday: Oranges and Snow-Capped Mountains

An amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

George Demoskoff was my husband Michael’s paternal uncle. He was the fourth child and third son of Wasyl Demosky by his wife Lukeria Tomelin. George was born in July 1911 in the Doukhobor village Khristianovka (aka Moiseyevo), near Buchanan, Saskatchewan. In November 1941, he married Marie Jmieff, by whom he had three daughters. George died in July 1980 in Grand Forks, British Columbia.

In the 1950s, George moved temporarily to California, USA. He was hoping that a stay at Dr. Jensen’s Hidden Valley Health Ranch would help allieviate his heart condition. (Unfortunately, his visit to the Ranch didn't seem to have a long-term benefit.) While away from Canada, George kept in touch with his family back home by sending postcards. This particular one featuring "Oranges and Snow-Capped Mountains" and postmarked 8 June 1956 Escondido, California, was sent to his brother William (Bill) Demoskoff.

George Demoskoff Postcard to Demoskoff Family front
George Demoskoff postcard to Demoskoff family (front)

George Demoskoff Postcard to Demoskoff Family back
George Demoskoff postcard to Demoskoff family (back)

Hi! Bro. Bill & family
Im [sic] feeling better now
and will be staying
here another few weeks.
Oranges, grapefruit, and
lemons are growing
here almost year round
but I can’t use them
too sour for me.

So long
Bro. George
Mr William Demoskoff

Notice how George addressed the card simply with his brother's name and the town (Pelly) and not with a house number and street or post office box number. A specific address wasn't all that necessary back then, because Bill lived on a farm just outside of town and Pelly was a small enough place that his mail would get to him.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Follow Friday: Voyageurs Contracts Database

While doing background research for a post I’m preparing about my Métis ancestry, I came across a very interesting website. It’s the Voyageurs Contracts Database, which is part of the Centre du patrimoine [Heritage Centre] located in Saint-Boniface, Manitoba, Canada.

If you have Métis or French-Canadian ancestors who were involved in the fur trade (for example, a voyageur*), you’ll find this database really useful. The main page of the Voyageurs Contracts Database explains that its database “includes data from approximately 35,900 fur trade contracts signed in front of Montreal notaries between 1714 and 1830. […] The information collected from the contracts includes: family names, parishes of origin, hiring company, length of contract, destination(s) […]” and more.

* A “voyageur” is a French term that means ‘traveler’. “Voyageurs were the canoe transportation workers in organized, licensed long distance transportation of furs and trade goods in the interior of the continent. [They] were highly valued employees of trading companies, such as the North West Company […] and the Hudson's Bay Company […]”. (Source: Wikipedia contributors, "Voyageurs," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed March 16, 2011).)

Shooting the Rapids by Frances Anne Hopkins
Shooting the Rapids (1879)
 (Image source: Frances Anne Hopkins, Library and Archives Canada, acc. no. 1989-401-2, c002774.)

I searched for my ancestor “Toussaint Laronde” using the Database’s Quick Search page. I put “toussaint” in the keywords field and “laronde” in the names field. There were two results; both were my Toussaint. I then clicked ‘Details’ for the results and found items like date, place and length of his contracts, his functions, his wages, and his destinations. (The contracts are dated 13 April 1803 and 28 July 1821.) Next, I clicked ‘Select’, and then ‘View Selections’, where I requested copies of Toussaint’s contracts. In my email, I also asked for the total cost and how I could pay. The archivist promptly answered my questions and said I could pay with PayPal, cheque or money order.

I’m now waiting anxiously for the mail to arrive with paper copies of the microfilmed version of Toussaint’s voyageur contracts!

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Belair Gathering 1975

Belair Gathering 1975
Fred Belair (back, centre) with his children Maurice (back, left), Ray (back, right),
Joan (front, left) and Darlene (front, right), 1975.

There were few times when Fred Belair's children were able to get together as adults. This occasion at my parents' home in Timmins, Ontario in 1975 was one of them.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Clara Strukoff

Two days ago on Sunday, I posted Clara's obituary. Today, I’m following up that post with a scanned image of her gravemarker. Clara is interred in the U.S.C.C. Doukhobor Cemetery in Grand Forks, British Columbia.

Clara Strukoff gravemarker
Clara Strukoff gravemarker.

Clara's gravemarker reads:

1955  1981

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday's Obituary: Clara Strukoff

Clara, my husband’s cousin, was the youngest daughter of George and Marie (Jmieff) Demoskoff. She died of cancer on 18 November 1981 in Trail, British Columbia, 31 years ago today. Clara was only 26 years old and the mother of a little girl Tracey. She was interred in the U.S.C.C. Doukhobor Cemetery in Grand Forks, British Columbia.

Clara Strukoff obituary 1981
Clara Strukoff obituary, 1981.

Source: “Strukoff”, obituary, undated clipping [November 1981], from unidentified newspaper; Demoskoff Family Papers, privately held by Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff, British Columbia, 2012. Yvonne acquired an assortment of family memorabilia (including Clara’s obituary) in January 2012 from her father-in-law William (Bill) Demoskoff.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday: William Addams Reitwiesner

This past Monday was the second anniversary of the death of William Addams Reitwiesner. He succumbed to cancer on 12 November 2010 in Washington, DC; he was only 56 years old. William, who worked at the Library of Congress, was a self-taught genealogist who compiled royal, noble, and political genealogies.

We first met in the Usenet newsgroup in 1996. We then met in person in the summer of 1997 when I went to Washington, DC to do royalty research at the Library of Congress. William was very kind to me, helped me with my research, showed me where the best royal genealogy material was located at the LOC, and toured the city with me. He also gave me a microfiche copy of his monumental work Matrilineal Descents of European Royalty. One afternoon, we met with another a.t.r. member, Noel, and had our photo taken before going out for supper.

William Yvonne and Noel 1997
William, Yvonne and Noel, 1997.
William kept in touch over the years, and even asked me to help with the French-Canadian portions of some of his research on the Duchess of Cornwall, Angelina Jolie, and Shania Twain.

I’m thankful for having known William. I learned a lot from him about royalty, genealogy, and research methodology. I used to tease him that he probably forgot more about royal genealogy than I'd ever remember. I still miss him today.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wedding Wednesday: Vanasse - St Martin

David and Marie Louise Vanasse Wedding 1929
David and Marie Louise Vanasse Wedding, 1929.

A lovely country wedding photo of my paternal great-uncle David Vanasse and his bride Marie Louise St-Martin. David, 26 years old, was the son of Olivier and Elisabeth (Vanasse) Vanasse. Marie Louise, who was just 18 years old, was the daughter of Charles and Emélie (Brunet) St-Martin.

The couple (seen on the far right in the photo) married on 12 June 1929 in St-Alphonse parish church in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec. Their marriage record states that one bann was published and that a dispensation was granted for the other two banns. The witnesses were Leo St-Martin (Marie Louise's brother) and Agnes Vanasse (David's sister), who appear on the far left in the photo.

Some of David's family and relatives spelled their surname "Venasse", but my grandmother Julie (Julia) always spelled her surname "Vanasse".

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Fred and Julie Belair

Fred and Julie Belair gravestone.
Fred and Julie Belair gravemarker.

My paternal grandparents, Fred and Julie (Vanasse) Belair, rest in Timmins Memorial Cemetery in Timmins, Ontario, Canada. Fred was the fifth, but third surviving son of Pierre and Angélina (Meunier) Belair. Julie was the fifth child and third daughter of Olivier and Elisabeth (Vanasse) Vanasse. Fred and Julie married in October 1926 in Ottawa, Ontario. (You can read about their marriage at Sentimental Sunday: Fred and Julie Belair.) My grandmother passed away in March 1967 in Timmins. My grandfather, who survived her by nearly 24 years, died in January 1991 in Peterborough, Ontario.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Matrilineal Monday: Eugène Desgroseilliers

My maternal grandfather Eugène Desgroseilliers' matrilineal line is relatively long: it extends 12 generations. His matrilineal ancestry reaches back to the early 1600s to his 9x great-grandmother Marie Bruyère who was born and died in France. Marie and her husband did not immigrate to New France (Canada). Their daughter Marie, probably born in Cognac, Saintonge, France, arrived in Montreal in November 1653.

Eugène Desgroseilliers's Matrilineal Ancestry:

1. Eugène Desgroseilliers (1900-1960)
m. 1925 Juliette Beauvais

2. Clémentine Léveillé (1878-1969)
m. 1899 Albert Desgroseilliers

3. Cordélia Racette (1849-1928)
m. 1870 Joseph Léveillé

4. Marcelline Gagnon (1831-1918)
m. 1847 Joseph Racette

5. Marguerite Ducasse (1804-1872)
m. 1823 Charles Gagnon

6. Marguerite Charland (1788-after 1851)
m. 1802 François Ducasse

7. Geneviève Rouillard (1756-1815)
m. (1) 1773 Jean-Baptiste Charland

8. Marie Josephe Truchon (1726-1784)
m. (2) 1750 Pierre Rouillard

9. Marie Josephe Charpentier (1698-1729)
m. 1720 Pierre Truchon dit Léveillé

10. Françoise Hunault (1667-1748)
m. (2) 1691 Gilles (Jean) Charpentier

11. Marie Lorgueil (about 1636-1700)
m. 1654 Toussaint Hunault

12. Marie Bruyère (?-?)
m. Pierre Lorgeuil

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Veterans' Week 2012: Remembrance Day

Veterans' Week November 5 to 11. A young boy placing a poppy on a grave.

Today, November 11th, is Remembrance Day in Canada. My family attended our local ceremony at the Cenotaph in Memorial Park. Here are some of the photos my husband took this morning.

Remembrance Day 2012 Hope BC Canada

Remembrance Day 2012 Hope BC Canada

Remembrance Day 2012 Hope BC Canada

Remembrance Day 2012 Hope BC Canada

Remembrance Day 2012 Hope BC Canada

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Veterans' Week 2012: Images of Canada

Veterans' Week November 5 to 11. A young boy placing a poppy on a grave. 

For my second-to-last post for Veterans' Week 2012, I've selected images showing Canada's participation in various wars.

World War I

A Canadian V.A.D. Ambulance driver at the front.
(Photo source: Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-001305.)

29th Infantry Batallion advancing over "No man's Land" through the German barbed wire and heavy fire during the Battle of Vimy Ridge. [Apr. 1917]
(Photo source: Capt. H.E. Knobel / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-001020.)

Wounded Canadians on way to aid-post. Battle of Passchendaele. November, 1917.
(Photo source: Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/.)
Final instructions before going into battle.
(Photo source: Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-000877.)

World War II

Canadian prisoners of war being lead through Dieppe by German soldiers. [19 Aug. 1942]
(Photo source: Library and Archives Canada / C-014171.)

Graves of personnel of the Edmonton Regiment killed in battle of Ortona. [7 Jan. 1944, Ortona, Italy]
(Photo source: Alexander M. Stirton / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-115151.)

Members of the first contingent of the Canadian Women's Army Corps (C.W.A.C.) entering Hamm, Germany, 12 June 1945.
(Photo source: Sgt. Karen M. Hermiston / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-128229.)

Korean War

L/Cpl. Robert John Sobol, P.P.C.L.I. kneels at grave of Private Lloyd K. Wylie, United Nations Cemetery [25 Apr. 1951, Pusan, Korea]
(Photo source: Sgt. W.H. Olson/Library and Archives Canada/PA-128813.)

Tomorrow on November 11th, remember the men and women who sacrificed their lives for our country. Attend your local Remembrance Day ceremony or pause at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in memory of those 1000s of brave men and women.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Lapierre Golden Wedding Anniversary

Almina (Belair) Lapierre was the half-sister of my paternal grandfather Fred Belair. She was born on 8 July 1902 in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Quebec. She was the fourth child and youngest daughter of Pierre Janvry dit Belair by his second wife Mathilde (Domitille) Cloutier. Pierre had 11 children, including my grandfather, by his first wife Angélina Meunier, and 5 children by his second wife Mathilde. 

Almina married Alexandre Lapierre on 9 November 1927 in Masham. I don’t believe that I ever met Alex, who died in 1981, but I knew Almina, because I met her at her daughter Suzanne’s home in Aylmer, Quebec in the early 1980s. I remember being thrilled and honoured to meet her: she was my grandfather’s only surviving sibling by that time when my Dad and I visited her. She was very kind to us, and didn’t mind my asking her lots of questions about my grandparents Fred and Julie. She and my Mémère Julie were great friends and I loved hearing her reminiscences of when they were young.

English translation:

Golden Wedding [Anniversary]
Mr. and Mrs. Alex Lapierre, née Almine Bélair, celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary. They were wed on 9 November 1927, at Masham, where they resided until 1954, when they established themselves at North Onslow and they live presently at Quyon, where the celebration took place. They have two daughters and five sons and count fifteen [16] grandchildren. On this occasion, a mass of thanksgiving was celebrated at the parish church by abbot Gary Cain, priest. The singing was performed by Eleanor Foran and the McKenny sisters. A reception followed bringing together numerous family and friends.

Source: "Noces d'or", undated clipping, 1977, from unidentified newspaper; Belair Family Papers, privately held by Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff, British Columbia, 2012. Yvonne acquired this newspaper clipping possibly from her aunt Joan (Belair) Laneville in the 1990s.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Veterans' Week 2012: 7 Interesting Facts

Veterans' Week November 5 to 11. A young boy placing a poppy on a grave.

While reading the various articles on the Veterans’ Affairs Canada website, I was surprised to learn a few things I didn’t know about Canada in times of war and peace. Here are some of those interesting facts. Phrases and sentences in quotation marks are taken directly from the VAC website and are sourced at the end of my text.

Did you know that:

• The first occasion that Canadian women served with the military overseas occurred during the South African War (1899-1902) when “12 Nursing Sisters helping the sick and wounded in South Africa”. [1]

Nursing sister First Canadian Contigent South African War
Nursing sister, First Canadian Contigent, South African War.

(Photo source: Library and Archives Canada / C-028733 / MIKAN no. 3191871.) 

• Animals played a part in World War I and World War II. Besides horses and carrier pigeons, there were canaries and mice (“they could detect poison gas in tunnels”) and even glow worms (soldiers could “read messages and maps because they give off a soft blue-green light”). [2] Cats and dogs also did their bit by serving as messengers (they carried “information in containers around their necks in dangerous war zones”). [3]

• An American woman named Moina Michael from Athens, Georgia “read the McCrae poem [In Flanders’ Fields] and was inspired to wear a poppy year-round in memory of the war dead” in 1918. [4]

• Teenage boys as young as 17, 18 and 19 signed up to fight. During World War II, there were “approximately 700,000 Canadians under the age of 21 [who] served in uniform”. [5]

• Besides the usual rationing of food items and gasoline during World War II, the Canadian government  wanted to save fabric and buttons for uniforms by forbidding “many 'extras' on manufactured clothing, such as cuffs on pants, any hem in excess of two inches, double-breasted jackets, flap pockets, and more than nine buttons on a dress”. [6]

• During and after World War II (1942-1947), almost all “of the 48,000 young women who had married Canadian servicemen, and their 22,000 children” came to Canada. As well, a few Canadian servicewomen married British husbands (“male war brides”). [7]

• Canada has the only national memorial dedicated to peace support efforts. It’s called Reconciliation, our “salute to peacekeepers”, and can be seen on Sussex Drive in Ottawa. Canada also created National Peacekeepers’ Day. We celebrate it on August 9. The date is significant: “it was on this day in 1974 that a Canadian Forces transport plane was shot down in the Middle East, killing nine Canadian peacekeepers—our country’s largest single-day loss of life in a peace support operation”. [8]

Lt-Col John McCrae and his dog Bonneau
Lt.-Col. John McCrae and his dog Bonneau

(Photo source: Library and Archives Canada / C-046284 / MIKAN no. 3192003.)


1. “The South African War”, database, Veterans’ Affairs Canada ( : accessed 4 November 2012), “The Legacy”.

2. “Tales of Animals in the War”, database, Veterans’ Affairs Canada ( : accessed 4 November 2012), “Archway of Remembrance”.

3. “Tales of Animals in the War”, database, Veterans’ Affairs Canada ( : accessed 4 November 2012), “Delivering the News”.

4. “The Poppy”, database, Veterans’ Affairs Canada ( : accessed 4 November 2012), “Poppy Facts”.

5. “Canadian Youth – Growing up in Wartime”, database, Veterans’ Affairs Canada (  : accessed 4 November 2012), “The ‘Boys’ in Uniform”.

6. “Women at War”, database, Veterans’ Affairs Canada  ( : accessed 4 November 2012), “Keeping the Home Fires Burning”.

7. “The Second World War”, database, Veterans’ Affairs Canada ( : accessed 4 November 2012), “Canadian War Brides”.

8. “Canada Remembers Times”, database, Veterans’ Affairs Canada ( : accessed 4 November 2012), “National Peacekeepers’ Day”.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Workday Wednesday: The Pipeline Accident

You are born, grow to adulthood, work at a job you like, marry, have a family, and you think, “Life’s good.”

But, life has a way of taking unexpected turns.

My father experienced such a turn. Thirty-four years ago today, his life changed dramatically.

Dad was a welder, since about 1952. He didn’t start out that way, though; it just kind of happened while working for Shaw Construction of Sarnia, Ontario. (To read about how my Dad’s welding career began, see Workday Wednesday: Maurice Belair, Welder.)

In the fall of 1978, Dad worked in Bracebridge, Ontario, about two hours north of Toronto. He often left our hometown in search of work when welding jobs were scarce in Timmins. Mom, my sister, my brother and I missed Dad a lot when he was away, but we looked forward to when he’d come home for a few days.

November 7, 1978 was a typical Tuesday. After supper, Mom got ready to go out to see friends. About 7 pm, the telephone rang. A man wanted to speak to our mother. I don’t know why, but I suddenly felt uneasy about this phone call. Within a few minutes, Mom told us that Dad had been in an accident at work. She called Dad’s sisters to let them know what had happened, and then called one of Dad’s best friends. He immediately offered to drive Mom to Bracebridge. She thanked him and then quickly packed a suitcase. Jack and Mom drove the four or five hours it took to reach the hospital. Dad’s sister Darlene, who lived not too far away in Peterborough, met them there. They found Dad seriously hurt, but in stable condition.

Many years later, after my father’s death, I found something I never knew existed. Among Dad’s personal effects, I noticed a sheet of paper on which he had written a few lines. The graph paper was about 13.5 cm x 21.5 cm (approximately 5 ½ by 8”), with Canron’s company logo in blue ink on it. I was surprised and somewhat shocked when I realized that Dad had written about his 1978 accident.

Maurice Belair's summary of his pipeline accident.
Maurice Belair's summary of his pipeline accident.

With just a few words, Dad explained what happened to him on that fateful day. He was welding in a trench one afternoon when its walls suddenly caved in, burying him alive. His co-worker saved his life by pulling him out to safety. Dad was taken to South Muskoka District Memorial Hospital in Bracebridge. He spent about two weeks there recovering from his injuries. After he came home to his grateful family, Dad continued to recuperate. It was a slow recovery. In time, Dad healed physically, but he wasn’t the same person he was before his accident. By the following spring, Dad didn’t want to go back to work.

After 25 years, Dad chose to quit welding professionally. He also decided to accept his brother’s recent offer of starting a trucking business with him. And so, in the summer of 1979, our family moved to British Columbia, where Uncle Ray, who lived here since the early 1950s, welcomed us.

This time, life didn’t take an unexpected turn; Dad created his own.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Veterans' Week 2012: Relatives Who Served In WW I and WW II

Veterans' Week November 5 to 11. A young boy placing a poppy on a grave.

I'm participating in the remembrance challenge for Veterans' Week as seen at Veterans' Affairs Canada website. This article is the second in a series I've prepared for my blog as a way of honouring the memory of my relatives and those who served Canada in times of war and peace.

Relatives Who Served in WW I and WW II

The following list features some of my relatives who served in World War I and World War II. Other, more distant relatives also served in both Wars. As far as I know, none of my ancestors (my parents, my grandparents and great-grandparents) served in either War. The only people in this list that I personally knew were my great-uncles Jean-Marie and Jean-Paul Beauvais and my father's cousin-in-law Joseph Saucier.

World War I

Name: Ovide Desgroseilliers (1884-1959)
Relationship: Ovide was my mother Jacqueline's great-uncle. He was the youngest son of Pierre and Flavie (Lepage) Desgroseilliers. Ovide married Anna Maurice in 1913 and lived in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario.
Rank / Branch: Sergeant / 163rd (Canadien-Français) Battalion.
Note: Ovide also served three years in the 97th Regiment (Algonquin Rifles) during the South African War.

Name: William Vanasse (1893-1955)
Relationship: William was my father's maternal uncle. He was a younger son of Olivier and Elisabeth (Vanasse) Vanasse.
Rank / Branch: Private / Canadian Forestry Corps.
Note: I wrote about some of William's war experience here.

Name: Joseph Vanasse (1898-1973)
Relationship: Joseph was my father's maternal uncle. He was a younger son of Olivier and Elisabeth (Vanasse) Vanasse.
Rank / Branch: Private / Canadian Forestry Corps.
Note: Joseph was awarded the British War Medal.

World War II

Names: Jean-Marie Beauvais (1921-2010) and Jean-Paul Beauvais (1921-2003)
Relationship: Jean-Marie and his twin brother Jean-Paul were my mother Jacqueline's maternal uncles. They were the youngest children of Joseph and Olivine (Hotte) Beauvais.
Rank / Branch: [unknown to me]
Note: I don't believe that either Jean-Marie or Jean-Paul went overseas during World War II. Jean-Marie was posted at CFB Chilliwack, British Columbia for a time.

Jean-Marie and Jean-Paul Beauvais
Jean-Marie (left) and Jean-Paul Beauvais.

Name: Ernest Belair (1919-1944)
Relationship: Ernest was a second cousin of my father Maurice Belair. He was the son of Cléoplas and Anna (Favreau) Belair, who lived in Kenora, Ontario.
Rank / Branch: Private / Lake Superior Regiment (Motor), RCIC.
Note: Ernest was killed in action on 13 October 1944 in Belgium. He is buried in the Adegem Canadian War Cemetery in Maldegem, Belgium.

Name: Marvel Milks (1925-2012)
Relationship: Marvel was my father Maurice's first cousin. She was a daughter of Frank and Cora (Vanasse) Milks, of Ottawa, Ontario.
Rank / Branch: Women's Royal Canadian Naval Service (WRCNS).
Note: I don't believe that Marvel served overseas during World War II.

Maurice Belair with his cousins Lucille Potvin and Marvel Milks.
Maurice Belair with his cousins Lucille Potvin (left) and Marvel Milks (right).

Name: Joseph Saucier (1922-1993)
Relationship: Joe was the husband of Lucille (Lou) Potvin, a first cousin of my father Maurice. Joe was the son of Victor and Rosanna (Beaupré) Saucier.
Rank / Branch: Sergeant.
Note: Joe also served in the Korean War.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Veterans' Week 2012: Private William Vanasse, WWI Veteran

Veterans' Week November 5 to 11

Yesterday, I wrote about what Canadians can do to remember Veterans' Week this year. Here is the first in a series of articles I'm posting on my blog as a way of remembering those who served Canada.

Private William Vanasse, WWI Veteran

My great-uncle William Vanasse was my paternal grandmother's elder brother. A younger son of Olivier and Elisabeth (Vanasse) Vanasse, he was born on 23 February 1893 in Chichester, Pontiac County, Quebec.

William Vanasse with his brother Joseph and sister Cecilia.

I know few details about my Dad's Uncle Willie: he lived on his father's farm on Allumettes Island, was a soldier in World War I, and suffered from shell-shock. Wanting to know more about him and his war experience, I decided to look for William's recruit papers last year at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) website. His attestation papers provided minimal information about him when he enlisted in June 1917. For example, he was 24 years old, was 5’8” tall, had brown eyes and black hair, was unmarried, worked as a bushman (roller and trailcutter), and had never previously served in a military force. (Although his younger brother Joseph also served in WWI, it seems that neither their brothers George nor David did.)

Now that I knew some basic details, I ordered William’s World War I complete service file from LAC and received it by email a few weeks later as a 39-page PDF document. As I examined William’s regimental paperwork, I learned that he was sent overseas in August 1917, just 43 days after he enlisted, sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia on the S.S. Grampian.

S.S. "Grampian" of the Allan Line.
(Photo source: William James Topley / Library and Archives Canada / PA-010252. Online MIKAN no. 3398145.)

He disembarked in Liverpool, England after a 13 day voyage and reported to his base at Sunningdale, near Windsor. William spent the next ten months occupied with railway construction and forestry duties with the Canadian Forestry Corps. (The CFC was created in 1916, because the British government needed wood in the early years of the War. It was easier to recruit skilled Canadian lumberjacks to work in the forests of England, Scotland, and France than to import lumber from Canada.) The following year, in June 1918, William was transferred to France where he spent the next 6½ months, before returning to England in January 1919. He was demobilised a few weeks later, arriving back in Canada that March.

Unfortunately, I didn’t find any mention of battle fatigue or shell shock in William’s medical file, although influenza and “flat feet” are reported. Despite the lack of documentary evidence for shell shock, personal family knowledge attests that William was a casualty of this serious disorder.

William never married. He died, aged 62, at the Veterans’ hospital in London, Ontario on 13 May 1955 after a prolonged illness. His obituary stated that “he served overseas with both the infantry and construction battalions” in World War I. William’s funeral was held in Ottawa and he is buried there in Notre-Dame Cemetery.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Veterans' Week 2012

Veterans' Week November 5 to 11

Veterans' Week in Canada is from November 5 to 11 this year. Canadians gather to remember and "recognize the achievements of our Veterans and honour those who made the ultimate sacrifice".

I'm taking the remembrance challenge as seen at "Veterans' Week" on the Veterans' Affair Canada website. Here's how I'm participating:

- Pin a poppy above your heart. [I started wearing my poppy on November 2nd.]

- Attend the local Remembrance Day ceremony. [My family and I will attend our town's ceremony on Sunday, November 11th.]

- Change your Facebook profile picture to a poppy. [Done.]

- Blog, tweet or update your Facebook status about the importance of remembrance. [I'm posting a series of articles on my blog, starting tomorrow with "Private William Vanasse, WWI Veteran".]

How will you remember? Comment te souviendras-tu?

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Sepia Saturday: 3 November 2012

This week's photo prompt shows a group of men who've gathered after a sporting match in Dublin in 1921. Some have overcoats, but all of them are wearing hats. (It's the 1920s, after all.) Michael Collins, the Irish revolutionary leader, is the chap in the centre talking to the players.

I don't think there's someone as important as Collins in the photo I've chosen, but I'm happy that I found a pix that features a group of men wearing hats and overcoats. They are gathered on what seems to be a very large woodpile. I can't figure out why they're dressed so well or what brought them together in such a location, but I date this photo in the mid-1920s. By the way, that's my paternal grandfather Fred Belair (1889-1991) in the light overcoat in the bottom centre. In those days, he worked on the railroad in Ontario, Canada and as an ironworker building bridges in Ontario and Quebec. I don't know if either of these occupations is the raison d'être for this manly gathering.

Fred Belair 1920s
Fred Belair, 1920s.

Sepia Saturday has a lot of members, so why not head on over there to see how they're doing for 3 November 2012.

Copyright 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, November 02, 2012

Ancestral Anniversaries for November 2012

Last month, I posted an article about some of my ancestors' life events that marked an anniversary in October 2012. Continuing with that theme, here is a selection of ancestral events for November 2012.

6 November 1752:
Marriage of Joseph Meunier and Marie-Joseph (Marie-Charlotte) Bussière in St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Portneuf County, Quebec. The couple later moved to L'Assomption County, where Marie-Joseph died in 1807 and Joseph died in 1809. They are my paternal ancestors.

9 November 1642:
Baptism of Cybard Courault, sieur de La Coste in Angoulême, Angoumois, France. He arrived in Canada by at least 1670, because that year on 2 November he and his wife Françoise Goupil drew up a marriage contract in Quebec City. Cybard and Françoise are my maternal ancestors.

11 November 1742:
Marriage contract between Marc-François Carré and Marie Josèphe Paré drawn up by notary Joseph Jacob fils. The couple married eight days later in St-Joachim, near Quebec City. Marc-François, who was born in Brittany, France, was a merchant mercer. He and Marie Josèphe are my maternal ancestors.

22 November 1592:
Birth of Antoine Crête (Creste) in Tourouvre, Perche, France. Antoine, who did not immigrate to Canada, was a charron (cartwright or wheelwright). He and his first wife Jeanne Legrand are my paternal ancestors.

26 November 1762:
Birth of Marie Louise Giroux in Lachenaie, L'Assomption County, Quebec. She married Jean Baptiste Rose (Larose) in 1786. Marie Louise and Jean Baptiste are my paternal ancestors.

28 November 1692:
Death of Elisabeth Blais in Quebec City. She was buried there the same day at the Hôtel-Dieu (hospital). Elisabeth, originally from Paris, France, arrived in the colony in 1669 as a fille du roi (king's daughter). She and her second husband Vincent Guillot are my paternal ancestors.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet – Z is for ...

Z is for Zacharie Cloutier.

Last week, I wrote about Xainte Dupont in X is for ... For the last letter of the alphabet, I'm turning my attention to Xainte's husband Zacharie Cloutier, my maternal ancestor (ahnentfal no. 3374). To see how other bloggers have responded throughout this fantastic challenge, take a look at Family History Through the Alphabet.

Early Years

In about 1590, Zacharie was born in Mortagne, Perche, France. The date is approximate, based on his reported ages of 76 and 77 on the 1666 and 1667 censuses of New France. The eldest of nine children, Zacharie was the son of Denis Cloutier and his first wife Renée Brière. According to Behind the Name: the etymology and history of first names, Zacharie is the French form of the Biblical name Zechariah, meaning "Yahweh remembers". As for his family name, often spelled Cloustier in those days, it is an occupational name describing a nail maker. (Clou = nail; cloutier = nail maker.)

When he was about 18 years old, Zacharie's mother died a few months after giving birth to a child that did not survive. Renée was buried on 1 May 1608 in Mortagne. Denis remarried later that year with Jeanne Rahir (Gaultier), the banns being read in early November at St-Jean parish church in Mortagne. This union produced four children, providing Zacharie with three half-brothers and a half-sister.


On 18 July 1616, Zacharie married a widow, Xainte Dupont, at St-Jean church. The couple welcomed its first child, a son named like his father, who was baptised there in August 1617. In time, young Zacharie was joined by two brothers and three sisters. All, except for Xainte who died young in September 1632, survived childhood and immigrated to Canada.


In the early 1630s, entrepreneur Robert Giffard recruited skilled workers in his native Perche to help build and populate the fledgling colony of New France. Men like Zacharie, a master carpenter who specialized in large-scale construction work, were in high demand. Accordingly, Zacharie became an engagé when he entered into a notarized contractual agreement with Giffard in March 1634 in which he promised his skills in New France for five years. For his part, Giffard conceded a generous portion of land from his own seigneurie to Zacharie on which to settle. Zacharie named his new property La Cloutièrerie; it consisted of 1000 arpents (about 400 hectares) in Beauport near Quebec.


After he settled his affairs in Mortagne, Zacharie made his way to the port city of Dieppe in May 1634. At about 44 years old, he left his homeland forever and sailed towards a new life on the banks of the St. Lawrence River. Other Perche recruits, including my ancestor Jean Guion (Guyon), travelled with Zacharie that spring.

New France

After a voyage of six weeks, the immigrant ship arrived in Quebec on 4 June 1634. Soon, Zacharie set to work. He must have been a strong, robust and courageous individual. He laboured not only as a carpenter to fulfill the terms of his contract, but also toiled as a colonist to clear the land on his property and build a home and a life for his family. Although Zacharie could not write, he signed documents by making his mark in the shape of an axe.


In 1670, Zacharie sold his property. He and his wife spent their remaining years with one of their sons at Château-Richer. After a long and productive life (he was about 87 years old), Zacharie died on 17 September 1677. He was buried the next day at Château-Richer. Xainte survived him until 1680.

Zacharie, the founder of the Cloutier family in Canada, is sometimes known as the ancêtre de tous les canadiens français (the ancestor of all the French Canadians). Are you perhaps one of his descendants?

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.