Thursday, January 31, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Pocket Watch

My husband owns a gold pocket watch that used to belong to his maternal grandfather George Cazakoff (1884-1958), who emigrated to Canada from Russia in 1899. After George passed away, his watch eventually came into his only daughter Anne's possession. After her death in 1980, the watch stayed with her husband William. A few years after the birth of our son, Nicholas, Bill presented the watch to Michael, with the idea that it would eventually go to Nicholas.

George Cazakoff 1884-1958
George Cazakoff (about 1949)

Michael knew very little about this open-face pocket watch, except that it was in working condition, had belonged to his grandfather, was probably old, and had probably been in the family for a long time. He rarely looked at the watch, but kept it safely stored in his dresser until the day he would pass it on to our son Nicholas.

About a year ago, in April 2012, our local library hosted “Antiques in the Attic”. Three appraisers looked at family heirlooms and antiques. They gave their professional opinions as to the worth or value of the items, tips on how to care for them, and where to get more information. Michael and I decided to attend this free event and chose two items for appraisal: a serving platter that my Mom bought when she was first married and Michael’s grandfather’s pocket watch.

It was our first time at an “antiques roadshow” and we looked forward to having our family treasures valued. We also wondered what interesting details the pros would share with us.

Pocket Watch
George Cazakoff's pocket watch (2012)

After a brief look, the appraiser checked his antique collectors’ handbook, but couldn’t find a listing for this “Solar - Birkdale” watch. He then carefully opened the back cover for a closer inspection. The case was 10K gold filled, made in Canada, with the mechanism housing made in Switzerland. The chain wasn’t gold, but maybe brass. He estimated that the watch was made in the 1940s. The appraiser explained that about five years ago, it might have been worth about $300.00, but since there were so many similar watches on auction sites like eBay, it now had a market value of about $100.00.

In the end, the fact that the pocket watch is of relatively recent manufacture and of modest value doesn’t matter to Michael. What’s really important is that the pretty timepiece has great sentimental value and has been in his family for three generations.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Madness Monday: A Cold Blooded Murder

About two years ago, I was researching a first cousin of my maternal grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair named Emma Vanasse. Emma and her husband Michael Bradley, a farmer, had four children. Michael, son of Irish immigrant Joseph Bradley and his wife Margaret Berrigan, was born on 2 December 1891 in Sheenboro, Pontiac County, Quebec.1

After finding Michael’s death registration and his burial record, I was curious to know why he died relatively young (he was only 43 years old). In my effort to find more about the circumstances of his death, I searched the online archived edition of the Ottawa Citizen. This newspaper often carries stories about people in nearby communities like Pembroke, Ontario (where a lot of Vanasse lived) and Chapeau, Quebec (where the Vanasse family settled in the 1850s).

I soon found the cause of Michael’s death, but also discovered a “cold blooded murder”.2

On a summer’s morning in July 1933, Michael killed his parents, his brother Thomas, his sister Johanna, and an uncle with his Winchester rifle at their farm in Demers Centre, on Ile des Allumettes in Pontiac County, Quebec.3

Within two years, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to death. The Defense argued that Michael was provoked and that he was insane. The Crown argued that Michael’s actions were premeditated and that he was sane.4

The newspaper accounts suggested the motive for the family murder was due to possible ill-treatment Michael received from his father, who, after having an argument with his son, told Michael he would not inherit the family farm in spite of having worked on it and financially supported it.5

Justice was swift. The jury took 35 minutes to return a unanimous verdict of guilty of murder. Five minutes later, the judge pronounced the sentence.6

Michael was hanged on 5 April 1935 in the prison yard of the Common Goal in nearby Campbell’s Bay.7 He was buried in St. Alphonsus parish church cemetery in Chapeau. 8

Ottawa’s Evening Citizen reported his death that same day. The article stated that he "walked to the scaffold unassisted. The trap was sprung at [5:57 a.m.] and he was pronounced dead by Dr. Jerome Kelly at [6:04 a.m.]".9

Michael Bradley is the only criminal I’ve found while researching my family’s history and genealogy. I hope he’s the only one.


1. St-Paul l’Ermite (Sheenboro, Quebec), parish register, 1873-1893, p. 161 verso, entry no. B. 27, Michael John Bradley baptism, 8 December 1891; St-Paul l’Ermite parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 12 July 2010).

2. “Michael Bradley Found Guilty, Sentenced to Hang April 5”, The Evening (Ottawa) Citizen, 11 January 1935, p. 4, col. 6, digital images, Google News ( : accessed 12 July 2010), News Archive Search.

3. “Maniac Slays 4 of Own Family Near Pembroke”, The Ottawa Evening Citizen, 21 July 1933, p. 1, cols. 1-2, digital images, Google News ( : accessed 12 July 2010), News Archive Search.

4. “Michael Bradley Found Guilty, Sentenced to Hang April 5”, The Evening (Ottawa) Citizen, 11 January 1935, p. 4, cols. 3-4, digital images, Google News ( : accessed 12 July 2010), News Archive Search.

5. "Michael Bradley Is Executed Today”, The Evening (Ottawa) Citizen, 5 April 1935, p. 4, col. 6, digital images, Google News ( : accessed 12 July 2010), News Archive Search.

6. "Michael Bradley Is Executed Today”, The Evening (Ottawa) Citizen, 5 April 1935, p. 4, col. 1, digital images, Google News ( : accessed 12 July 2010), News Archive Search.

7. “Persons Sentenced to Death in Canada, 1867-1976”, database, Criminal Records: Capital Case Files (RG 13 B 1), Library and Archives Canada ( : accessed 3 June 2011), entry for file number 0172 Michael Bradley.

8. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1935, p. 10 recto, entry no. S. 2, Michael Bradley burial, 5 April 1935; St-Alphonse parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 12 July 2010).

9. "Michael Bradley Is Executed Today”, The Evening (Ottawa) Citizen, 5 April 1935, p. 4, col. 1, digital images, Google News ( : accessed 12 July 2010), News Archive Search.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Euphrosine Laronde, My Metis Ancestor

A few years ago, I discovered I had Métis and Aboriginal heritage through my father’s maternal Vanasse ancestors. It's a little known part of my ancestry that I’m still researching.


According to The Métis Nation of Ontario website, Métis are a “distinct Aboriginal people” whose “initial offspring of these unions were of mixed ancestry” – that is, a child born to a European (Canadian) father and an Indian woman. [1]

I used to think that if I had Aboriginal ancestors I would find them in the 1600s or 1700s when Canada (New France at that time) was still young. But it was really interesting to find them in my more recent ancestry with my great-great-great-grandmother Euphrosine Laronde.*

* Euphrosine is my father’s matrilineal ancestor; see Matrilineal Monday: My Father’s Matrilineal Line.

Euphrosine’s birth

Although a birth record probably doesn’t exist for Euphrosine, a record of her baptism does. According to the sacramental registers of Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, a town located about 35 kilometres (about 22 miles) west of Montreal, Euphrosine was agée de trois ans [aged three years] at her baptism on 28 July 1824. [2] She and her siblings Toussaint and Marie were baptised on the same day. Each of their baptismal records states that these Laronde children were born au Lac Népiscingue [at Lake Nipissing], now in the province of Ontario.

Her parents

Euphrosine’s parents, Toussaint Laronde and Marie Kekijicakoe, were first cousins. [3] They had lived as a couple since about 1813, when the first of their 14 children were born. [4] Originally married in a Roman Catholic ceremony in 1837, their union was rehabilitated in August 1838 after an impediment was discovered. [5]

Toussaint was the son of a French-Canadian (possibly Métis) father and an Aboriginal mother. Marie was also Aboriginal, presumably Ojibwa (Chippewa, Algonquin). She is described as sauvagesse [savage, that is Indian] in her children’s baptismal records. Marie became a Christian when she was baptised in 1838. [6]

Toussaint worked in the fur trade as an interpreter for the North West Company in 1804, and later managed the joint operations of the Hudson’s Bay Company and the North West Company at Lake Nipissing from 1821 to 1824. [7]

Marriage and children

In about 1839, Euphrosine married Jean-Baptiste Guérard, almost certainly on Ile des Allumettes in Pontiac County. [8] The couple had at least three children: my ancestor Marie (1840-1917), Célina (born in 1851), and Euphémie (born in 1852). Nothing else is known of their married life.

Her death

Euphrosine died young, when about 31 to 40 years old. Her exact date and location of death and burial are a mystery to me, but she died probably on Ile des Allumettes between October 1852 (when her daughter Euphémie was baptised) and January 1861 (when her husband appears as a widower on that year's census). [9]

My line of descent from Euphrosine and her parents:

Toussaint Laronde (ca 1783-?)
m. 1837 Marie Kekijicakoe

Euphrosine Laronde (ca 1821-1852/1861)
m. ca 1839 Jean-Baptiste Guérard

Marie Guérard (1840-1917)
m. 1859 Joseph Vanasse

Elisabeth Vanasse (1862-1947)
m. 1889 (her first cousin) Olivier Vanasse

Julie Vanasse (1896-1967)
m. 1926 Fred Belair

Maurice Belair (1927-1996)
m. 1954 Jacqueline Desgroseilliers

Yvonne Belair


1. “Culture and Heritage: Who are the Métis”, The Métis Nation of Ontario ( : accessed 17 January 2013).

2. Ste-Anne (Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue [aka Ste-Anne-du-Bout-de-l’Isle], Quebec), parish register, 1796-1846, p. 54 verso, no entry no. (1824), Euphroisine [sic] Laronde baptism, 28 July 1824; Ste-Anne parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 4 March 2011).

3. “Registres paroissiaux” [Régistres des missions de 19 juillet 1836 au 27 may [sic] 1839], p. 77 verso, no entry no., Laronde-Laronde marriage rehabilitation, 28 August 1838; Family History Library (FHL) microfilm 1703968. The text states that the couple received a dispensation of consanguinité au 2e dégré [consanguinity to the 2nd degree].

4. “Registres paroissiaux”, p. 77 verso, Laronde-Laronde marriage rehabilitation, 28 August 1838. Toussaint and Marie’s marriage rehabilitation states they had 14 children before their present marriage, 13 of which were living. Their eldest mentioned child was daughter Angélique, who at 25 years old, would have been born about 1813.

5. A spiritual affinity existed between the couple, because Toussaint provisionally baptised (specifically, ondoyé) Marie before their (original, 1837) marriage. This undeclared impediment rendered their union null, hence the need to have their marriage rehabilitated or ratified in 1838 in order for it to be canonically valid. “Registres paroissiaux”, p. 77 verso, Laronde-Laronde marriage rehabilitation, 28 August 1838.

6. Marie was described as ondoyée in August 1836, when her younger sons Eustache, Paul and Louis were baptised. She was later baptised sous condition [conditionally] by a priest in August 1838. (A baptism sous condition is when the officiating priest baptises a child (or an adult) on condition that he or she has not been previously baptised.) “Registres paroissiaux” [Régistres des missions de 19 juillet 1836 au 27 may [sic] 1839], p. 21 recto, entry no. B125, B126, B127, Eustache, Paul, and Louis Laronde baptism, 5 August 1836; FHL microfilm 1703968. Also, “Registres paroissiaux” [Régistres des missions de 19 juillet 1836 au 27 may [sic] 1839], p. 77 verso, entry no. B117 and B118, Marie and Elizabeth Laronde baptism, 28 August 1838; FHL microfilm 1703968.

7. “North West Company Men’s Names at the Athabasca River Dept. 1805”, database and images, Bouvette Family Website ( : accessed 25 June 2011), entry for Toussaint Laronde. Also, David A. Robertson, Eva M. MacDonald, and Martin S. Cooper, “Among Marshes and Gneiss Mounds: The Archaeology of La Vase Island”, Ontario Archaeology, No. 64 (1997); online archives, The Ontario Archaeological Society ( : accessed 7 March 2011), pages 11-12.

8. Euphrosine and Jean-Baptiste’s marriage date is deduced from when their presumed eldest daughter Marie was born: dans le mois de décembre dernier [in the month of last December]. St-Paul (Aylmer, Quebec), parish register, 1841-1851, p. 14 verso, no entry no. (1841), Marie Guérard baptism, 4 February 1841; St-Paul parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 March 2008). Marie’s baptism took place in the “mission de St Alphonse de Liguori des Allumettes”, but the missionary priest recorded the event in St-Paul’s sacramental register.

9. St-Alphonse (Chapeau, Quebec), parish register, 1846-1856, p. 164 verso, entry no. B95 (1852), [Euphemie] Guérard baptism, 24 October 1852; St-Alphonse parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 March 2008). Also, 1861 census of Canada, [Township of Chichester,] Pontiac, Canada East [Quebec], population schedule, p. 132, line 11, Bte Gerard [sic]; digital image, ( : accessed 8 June 2010); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm C-1305.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wednesday’s Child: Marianne Desgroseilliers

In the village of Hearst in northern Ontario, Canada, a baby girl was born on 23 January 1932. She was baptised “Hélène Marie Anne” on the following day, but was known as Marianne to her family. Her parents Eugène and Juliette (Beauvais) Desgroseilliers had three other children: Mariette (4), Madeleine (2½) and Simone (1½). Four more children would come after Marianne, three sisters and a brother.

During the 1930s, the Depression caused great hardship throughout the country, but the Desgroseilliers family managed to weather the storm. Eugène was the chief of police in Hearst and was able to provide for his family. He was also a charitable man, who gave food and money to the poor and needy of the village.

Marianne and Madeleine Desgroseilliers
Marianne (right) with her sister Madeleine, about 1936.

When Marianne was about 4 years old, her family moved to Rouyn in northwestern Quebec, where Eugène served as chief of police. It was here that her sister Normande was born in early 1937. Within a few months, Eugène relocated to nearby Duparquet, where he continued to work as chief of police.

1938 began with such promise for the family. Marianne’s sixth birthday was coming up in three weeks’ time, and her mother Juliette was expecting her ninth child. However, Marianne became very ill. It was appendicitis. She died on 3 January 1938. Her sudden death plunged her family in mourning. Eugène was present at his little girl’s funeral, which took place two days later at St-Albert-le-Grand church in Duparquet. She was buried in the local cemetery.

Marianne was not forgotten. When my sister was born in 1960, Mom named her Marianne after her beloved sister.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday’s Obituary: Fred Belair

Twenty-two years ago, on 20 January 1991, my grandfather Fred passed away at the venerable age of 101. When I learned this sad news, I knew that my relatives in Timmins would take care of placing an obituary in the local paper. (Although he died in Peterborough at his younger daughter's home, my grandfather had lived in Timmins since the 1950s.) I decided to compose an obituary for him in my local newspaper, since Fred had visited Hope on number of occasions after his younger son Ray moved here. My grandfather Fred was interred in the Timmins Memorial Cemetery with his beloved wife Julie, who predeceased him in 1967.
Fred's Ontario newspaper obituary [1]
Fred's British Columbia newspaper obituary [2]


1. “Frederick Belair”, obituary, undated clipping, ca. January 1991, from unidentified newspaper; supplied by Joan Laneville, Timmins, Ontario, 2011. Joan’s daughter, Lise, scanned her grandfather’s obituary and sent a PDF copy by email to her cousin Yvonne Demoskoff in November 2011.

2. “Fred Belair”, obituary, The Hope Standard (Hope, British Columbia), Wednesday, January 23, 1991, p. 11.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Freddie Burchill, Home Child

Uncle Freddie Burchill, who married my Dad’s aunt Agnes Vanasse, was a British home child. A “home child” was often poor, perhaps an orphan, perhaps living in a slum or in some kind of institution (workhouse, orphanage, or in a children’s home).[1] A child in these circumstances was sent to Canada as a way of ‘saving’ him or her from a life of destitution.

Freddie came to Canada as a youngster in July 1916. (I believe that Freddie is the same person as “Fred Burchell”, 9 years old, who arrived on 22 July 1916 at the port of Quebec.)[2]

When I visited him and Aunt Aggie at their apartment in Ottawa in the late 1970s or early 1980s, he told me a little about himself and how he came to live in Canada. Unfortunately, I have forgotten the details. For example, I don’t know if he told me that he was an orphan (many home children were), where in England he was originally from, or how he was treated once he was placed with his adoptive family.

Freddie was one of 98,000 British children sent to Canada between 1870 and 1930.[3] In the summer of 1916, he and 67 other children came to Canada under the auspices of the Catholic Emigration Association. They left the port of Liverpool on July 14th on board the Scandinavian, and arrived in Quebec City on July 22nd.[4] These boys and girls were one of the last groups of children to immigrate to Canada during World War I because by 1917 “all child emigration was prohibited by the British government, because of the dangers of travel by sea”.[5]

S/S Scandinavian (2), Allan Line
(Photo credit: S/S Scandinavian (2), Allan Line; Norway - Heritage,[6]

The children’s destination was St. George’s Home in Hintonburg, near Ottawa, Ontario.[7] St. George’s Home, headquarters for the CES, was located in Hintonburg, which was on the western outskirts of Ottawa, but is now part of that city. The emigrant boys and girls stayed here until they were placed or adopted with suitable families. Boys were typically sent to farms as labourers, while girls were placed in domestic service.[8] In Uncle Freddie’s case, he told me that Thomas and Anna (Kennedy) Nephin, of Chichester, Pontiac County, Quebec, adopted him.

Freddie died at the age of 82 in November 1989 and Agnes died in June 2000.

Freddie and Agnes Burchill on their 50th wedding anniversary 1985
Freddie and Aggie Burchill on their 50th wedding anniversary, 1985.


1. “Home Children: Origins”, British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa ( : accessed 3 August 2010).

2. “Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935”, digital images, ( : accessed 3 August 2010), entry for Fred Burchell, age 9, arrived Quebec 22 July 1916 on the Scandinavian.

3. Frederick J. McEvoy, “’These Treasures of the Church of God’: Catholic Child Immigration to Canada”, Historical Studies 65 (1999), online archives, Canadian Catholic Historical Association ( : accessed 6 August 2010), p. 50.

4. “Home Children (1869-1930)”, database, Library and Archives Canada ( : accessed 3 August 2010), entry for Fred Burchell.

5. McEvoy, “’These Treasures of the Church of God’: Catholic Child Immigration to Canada”, p. 61.

6. Photo of S/S Scandinavian (built 1898), digital image, Norway – Heritage ( : accessed 12 January 2013), choose the search function of “Emigrant Ships”, search for “Scandinavian”, and retrieve the image by selecting “S/S Scandinavian (2), Allan Line”.

7. “Canadian Passenger Lists, 1865-1935”, digital images,, entry for Fred Burchell, 9, arrived Quebec 22 July 1916, Scandinavian.

8. McEvoy, “’These Treasures of the Church of God’: Catholic Child Immigration to Canada”, p. 50.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Elizabeth Price, Deerfield Captive

Elizabeth Price, a young widow, was one of over 100 prisoners taken to Canada after the French and Indian raid and massacre of her village of Deerfield in present-day Massachusetts on 29 February 1703 (Old Style)/11 March 1704 (New Style). She is one of three Colonial American ancestors of mine who were taken from their homes in similar circumstances in the early 1700s. The other two are Sarah Allen (1692-1764), another Deerfield captive, and Deborah Coal (Cole) (1698-1744), a 1703 Saco captive.

While going over my mother’s ancestry a few years ago, I found out that Elizabeth was my 8X great-grandmother. After some basic research, I knew she was born about 1683 in Massachusetts, was the daughter of Robert Price and Sarah Webb, and was married to a certain Andrew Stevens, who was killed in the raid on Deerfield. I also knew that within a couple of years of arriving in Canada, she married a French-born soldier, Jean Fourneau, on 3 February 1706 in Montreal. Elizabeth died there in November 1716, soon after giving birth to her seventh child, a daughter, who did not survive.

Wanting to know more about Elizabeth and Deerfield, I read what I could find, including books like Captors and Captives: The 1704 French and Indian Raid on Deerfield, by Evan Haefeli and Kevin Sweeney (Amherst and Boston: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003).

Later, I found more information about Elizabeth in the two-volume work New England Captives Carried to Canada Between 1677 and 1760 During the French and Indian Wars, by Emma Lewis Coleman (Portland Maine: Southworth Press, 1925). I got to see this book at the Seattle Public Library in the summer of 2010, when I was in Seattle for a few days with my husband who was there for work.

Page 114 in volume 2 of Coleman’s book had an English translation of the text of Elizabeth’s Roman Catholic baptism, which took place on 25 April 1705 in Montreal. It stated that she was “born at Northampton in New England the (13) 23d August 1683”. I knew it was important to get corroborating evidence for this date and place, but I put that task aside while I concentrated on other ancestors.

I still hadn’t checked for documents about Elizabeth’s birth when, last summer, I came across an article on Travis LeMaster’s blog TJL Genes: Preserving Our Family History titled On This Day : August 12. The very first entry in that list of events caught my attention:

“1683 - Elizabeth PRICE born. Elizabeth was the daughter of Robert PRICE and Sarah WEBB.”

I immediately thought, “Hey, that’s my ancestor!” My next thought was, “What are the chances that I would find a distant ancestor in someone else’s blog?” I posted a comment about the possibility that Travis and I were cousins, and soon afterwards, I sent him an email asking if he knew more about the exact date and place of Elizabeth’s birth.

Unfortunately, Travis couldn't remember which source gave him that information. That is, until this past Sunday. I got an email from him letting me know that he found Elizabeth’s date and place of birth in the “Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1579-2001” database at Hooray! You can read how Travis found this record at Birth of Elizabeth Price (1683-1716) Northampton, Massachusetts.

Thank you, Travis! I'm grateful that you kept my question in mind and got back to me!

Aren’t online cousins and their genealogy blogs terrific?

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: Fred Belair

Like my maternal grandfather Eugène Desgroseilliers’ matrilineal line, my paternal grandfather Fred Belair’s matrilineal line is relatively long: it extends 11 generations. His matrilineal ancestry reaches back to the early 1600s to his 8x great-grandmother Jeanne Charas.

Jeanne and her husband Pierre (Le) Camus, a merchant, did not immigrate to New France (Canada), unlike their daughter Elisabeth (Le) Camus. Elisabeth, who was from the parish of St-Sauveur in Paris, arrived as an unmarried woman in Montreal on 29 September 1659. Within one month, she married Louis Guertin, a shoemaker, originally from the province of Anjou, France.

Fred Belair's Matrilineal Ancestry:

1. Fred Belair (1889-1991)
m. 1926 Julie (Julia) Vanasse

2. Angélina Meunier (1855-1896)
m. 1879 Pierre Janvry dit Belair

3. Louise (Eloise) Drouin (1835-1890)
m. 1853 Ménésippe Meunier

4. Marie Reine Poirier (1806-1892)
m. 1829 Pierre Drouin

5. Marie Louise Rochon (1781-1835)
m. 1800 Joseph Poirier

6. Marie Louise Cadieux (1762-1813)
m. 1781 Augustin Rochon

7. Marie Louise Brazeau (1742-1764)
m. 1762 Pierre Cadieux

8. Angélique Handgrave (1695-1778)
m. 1714 Gabriel Brazeau

9. Marie Guertin (1662-1712)
m. 1675 Pierre Handgrave (Andegrave)

10. Elisabeth (Le) Camus (ca 1645-1680)
m. 1659 Louis Guertin

11. Jeanne Charas (or Charles)
m. Pierre (Le) Camus

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Photo: Michael and the tree

On the first two Fridays of each month, I showcase a family photo and answer the “who, what, when, where and why” of that picture. The first week’s Friday photo is taken from my side of the family and the second week’s Friday photo is chosen from my husband’s side of the family. (I got the idea for this column from Amy Coffin’s ebook The Big Genealogy Blog Book advertised on her The We Tree Genealogy Blog.)

Michael Demoskoff standing beside a felled spruce tree 1958
Michael Demoskoff, 1958

My husband Michael Demoskoff, when about 5 years old.

Michael stands beside a felled spruce tree. When I asked him about this picture, he told me he remembers being happy when his Dad took him where he was working.

The photo was presumably taken in March 1958. (There’s another photo in Michael’s family album in which his father Bill is clearing part of his property and which is date stamped “Mar 1958”.)

Bill’s farm was 10 miles north of Pelly, Saskatchewan. His land (a quarter section) was situated in the parkland area of the province.

Bill was approached by the power company to clear a strip of land on his acreage for a new powerline right-of-way. He did the work himself with an axe, a crosscut saw, and one or two horses.

I love this photo of Michael, wearing a hooded winter jacket, with one mittened hand on the tree. He's got a big smile on his face, clearly happy to be right where he was, as if he might have been the one to bring down this giant of a tree.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Challenge – Baby Items

When I saw those darling baby booties and bib that A Patient Genealogist photographed recently for her blog, I decided to take the baby items challenge for Treasure Chest Thursday.

There are two, simple goals for this challenge: a) photograph your [artifact] and b) share what you learned about photographing the artifact.

Since my husband Michael still has a pair of his blue, lace-up baby booties, I went with those for the challenge.

For the first attempt, I placed the booties on a large white glossy background. Michael then photographed the booties using our Sony digital camera with the flash turned on. The booties appear too close in the photo, but their colour is realistic. This is a cropped, but otherwise, unenhanced version.

Baby booties
Booties, first attempt
For the second attempt, the booties are on the same background and with the flash on, but took the photo at about 12”. Colour and distance are acceptable.

For the third shot, Michael changed the program to “Intelligent Auto Adjustment”, but that resulted in losing control over some settings like the flash. I don’t really like the resulting photo, because the booties look dark and their colour is washed out.

Baby booties
Booties, third attempt
I tried the booties against a (medium) blue backdrop, but found that it didn’t do anything for them. The booties looked kind of lost, so I didn’t bother to haven them photographed.

All in all, I preferred the second attempt, so I made some adjustments to it with Picasa 3. The result is this version in which I cropped the photo and turned up the light.

Baby booties
Booties, improved version
It was fun doing this challenge, but next time, I'll try photographing in natural light (we photographed the booties under LED lights in the evening) with a larger white background.

But best of all, I’ve got a another photo to add to our family heirlooms book. In the last couple of years, I’ve photographed a few family heirlooms, wrote a description of the items on a ‘family treasures form’, and then put the photos and forms in a 3-ring binder. Two family heirlooms have already appeared on my blog: my Dad’s crucifix and my Mom’s high school entrance certificate.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Happy Hour

Maurice Belair Jacqueline Desgroseilliers Mariette and Jack White about 1953

Sitting at the front tables, left to right: Maurice Belair, Jacqueline Desgroseilliers, her sister Mariette with husband Jack White, in Port Huron, Michigan, about 1953.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Amanuensis Monday: First Belair Marriage in Canada

An Amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. Amanuensis Monday is a daily blogging theme which encourages the family historian to transcribe family letters, journals, audiotapes, and other historical artifacts.

My first patrilineal ancestor who came to Canada was François Janvry dit Belair (ca 1736-1817). A French soldier with the Béarn regiment, he arrived in Quebec probably in 1755. His first recorded appearance in Nouvelle-France is as a patient of the Hôtel-Dieu of Quebec on 17 June 1759.[1]

Within two years, he met and courted a young widow, Madame Pierre Boileau (var. Bouleau). François and Marie Elisabeth Martel married on 7 January 1761 in the parish church of Ste-Geneviève (now Pierrefonds), near Montreal.[2]

Marriage record of François Janvry dit Belair 1761
Marriage record of François Janvry dit Belair, 1761

The French-language text reads as follows:

Lan mil sept cent Soixante un le sept janvier je pretre soussigne […] après avoir publie trois bans de mariage pendant trois […] entre francois janvri dit belaïr fils de charles janvri et de marie lefebvre de la paroisse […] diocese de noyon en picardie d’une part et entre marie Elizabeth martel veuve de pierre boileau fille de louïs martel et de feu marie legaré d’autre part sans […] et apres avoir pris leur mutual Consentement par paroles de present leur ay [donné] benediction nuptialle en presence de nicolas houde louïs […] louï martel paul martel qui ont ainsi que les parties declaré ne savoir signer […].

The English translation of the text:

Year thousand seven hundred sixty one the seven january I priest undersigned […] after having published three bans of marriage during three […] between francois janvri dit belaïr son of charles janvri and marie lefebvre of the parish […] diocese of noyon in picardy of the one part and between marie Elizabeth martel widow of pierre boileau daughter of louïs martel and of late marie legaré of the other part without […] and after receiving their mutual Consentment by words of the present have [given] them nuptial blessing in the presence of nicolas houde louïs […] louï martel paul martel who along with the parties declared not being able to sign […].


1. Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu (Quebec, Quebec), hospital register, 1752-1804, no page number (3rd page after the start of June 1759), francois zénéry dit Beller entry, 17 June 1759; Québec (Hôpitaux) (Québec Hôpital Hôtel-Dieu du Précieux-Sang de Québec); digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 21 January 2011).

2. Ste-Geneviève (Pierrefonds, Quebec), parish register, 1756-1775, p. 12 recto, no entry no. (1761), François Janvri – Marie Elizabeth Martel marriage, 7 January 1761; Ste-Geneviève parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 30 July 2007).

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, January 04, 2013

Wonderful Team Member Readership Award

What a surprise and thrill to be nominated for the “Wonderful Team Member Readership Award” by Catherine at Seeking Susan ~ Meeting Marie ~ Finding Family. I haven’t heard of this blogging award until now, but it’s exciting to be thought of as a “wonderful team member”!

Wonderful Team Member Readership Award


(i) Don’t forget to thank the nominator and link back to their site as well;
(ii) Display the award logo on your blog;
(iii) Nominate no more than fourteen readers of your blog you appreciate and leave a comment on their blogs to let them know about the award;
(iv) Finish this sentence: “A great reader is…”

“A great reader is a person who posts thoughtful and encouraging comments on your blog and takes a moment to reply to the comments he or she receives.”

My nominations for the Wonderful Team Member Readership Award are:

(1) Jana – Jana’s Genealogy and Family History Blog
(2) Karen – 21 Wits
(3) Michelle – Gulf Coast Lagniappe

A sincere thank you to all the readers who've visited my blog and thank you, Catherine, for nomimating me, which you can read about here!

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday Photo: Clementine at a funeral

On the first two Fridays of each month, I showcase a family photo and answer the “who, what, when, where and why” of that picture. The first week’s Friday photo is taken from my side of the family and the second week’s Friday photo is chosen from my husband’s side of the family. (I got the idea for this column from Amy Coffin’s ebook The Big Genealogy Blog Book advertised on her The We Tree Genealogy Blog.)

Clémentine Desgroseilliers in Blue Water Ontario 1948
Clémentine Desgroseilliers, Blue Water, Ontario, 1948

My maternal great-grandmother Clémentine (Léveillé) Desgroseilliers (1878-1969).

Clémentine Desgroseilliers posed for a photo at the time of the death and funeral of her daughter-in-law Juliette. Her eldest son Eugène Desgroseilliers was left a widower with seven children when Juliette died of cancer on 14 August 1948.

The photo was taken on or about the day of Juliette’s funeral on 17 August 1948. Her obituary appeared in the local newspaper.

Presumably at Eugène’s house (not seen in the photo) in Blue Water, near Sarnia, Lambton County, Ontario. One of Sarnia’s many oil refineries can be seen in the background.

Family and friends gathered for the funeral of Juliette Desgroseilliers, my maternal grandmother.

This picture is an important one in my family’s photo collection. It is a favorite of mine; not only is it a visual record of a time of sadness, it is also a record of a mother’s love and devotion for her bereaved son and his children. (Clémentine travelled from her home in northeastern Ontario to be with her son Eugène, who lived in southwestern Ontario.)

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Martineau - Belair

Norbert and Mathilde Martineau Wedding 1921
Norbert and Mathilde Martineau Wedding, 1921.

This photo, sent to me over 20 years ago by one of my Dad’s cousins, was taken on Norbert and Mathilde Martineau’s wedding day, 4 January 1921.

The couple, who had known each other all their lives, married in the Roman Catholic church in the village of Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, in Gatineau County, Quebec. Theirs was the first marriage entered in the parish’s register for 1921. The record states that a dispensation for one of the three marriage banns was granted and that there were no impediments to the union. The couple received the nuptial blessing in the presence of Pierre Belair (Mathilde’s father), Isaïe Brazeau (Mathilde’s brother-in-law) and others. Last, Norbert and Mathilde signed their names in the parish register in a clear, legible hand.

Norbert was 24 years old (he had just celebrated his birthday the previous November) and Mathilde was five months shy of her 20th birthday. A younger half-sister of my paternal grandfather Fred Belair, Mathilde was one of five children of Pierre Belair and his second wife Mathilde Cloutier.

I don’t know who took the photograph, but I assume it was either a family member or a friend and neighbor. I also assume that the picture was taken at the Belair family property. (Mathilde in her apron suggests that she just stepped away from her kitchen to go outside for a few moments and be part of the wedding photo.) Norbert and Mathilde (in the centre) are surrounded by their family. Mathilde’s father Pierre is on her right and her mother Mathilde stands on Norbert’s left. Isaïe Brazeau, one of the witnesses, can be seen at the back on the far right of the photo.

Norbert and Mathilde were married for 50 years. He died in June 1971, while Mathilde, who remarried, passed away in April 1973.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Ancestral Anniversaries for January 2013

For the past few months, I’ve posted articles about some of my ancestors' life events that marked an anniversary in October 2012, November 2012 and December 2012. I’m continuing this series by presenting a selection of ancestral events for January 2013.

1 January 1643:
Baptism of Jeanne Langlois in Quebec. She was a younger daughter of Noël Langlois and his first wife Françoise Grenier, early immigrants to the French colony. Jeanne was only 12 years old in October 1655 when she entered into a marriage contract with René Chevalier, a master mason, originally from Anjou, France. The couple married in January 1656, after she turned 13.

4 January 1723:
Birth of François Lunégand dit Beaurosier in Lannion, Bretagne, France. He arrived in Nouvelle-France in or about 1745; he was an infantry soldier. In February 1748, he married Marie Louise Ouimet in Montreal. François’ military duties took him to Fort St-Frédéric (now Crown Point in Essex County, New York) and Fort Carillon (now Ticonderoga, also in Essex County, New York).

9 January 1923:
Death of Arline Deschatelets in Ripon, Papineau County, Quebec. She was the widow of Pierre Beauvais, by whom she had seven children, including Joseph, my maternal great-grandfather. Arline’s exact dates and places of birth and baptism are a mystery to me, but based on declared ages on census and other records, she was born either in 1845, 1846 or 1847 in the province of Quebec.

14 January 1833:
Death of Pierre Drouin in Ste-Scholastique, Deux-Montagnes County, Quebec. He seems to have lived all his life in this county: first in St-Eustache, where he was born and married his first wife Agathe Brunet (my ancestress), then in St-Benoît, where he married his second wife, and finally, in Ste-Scholastique, where he died and was buried.

20 January 1713:
Marriage contract of Pierre Rasset (Racet) and Marie-Anne Caron. Five days later, their union was blessed in St-Augustin-de-Desmaures, Portneuf County, Quebec. It was a short marriage, however, because Pierre died, aged 34, in April 1715, while his wife was expecting their second child.

22 January 1643:
Baptism of Marie Pontonnier in the parish church St-Vincent in Le Lude, Anjou, France. Marie came to Canada as a “fille à marier” ("marriage girl", a predecessor of the “filles du roi”) in about 1656. She married three times. Her first marriage, to Pierre Gadois in August 1657, was annulled two years later. (The couple, who didn’t have children, were said to be under a ‘barren’ curse by Marie’s original, but jilted, suitor.)

24 January 1883:
Death of Ménésippe Meunier in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Gatineau County, Quebec. Thirty years earlier, he married his fourth cousin Louise (Eloise) Drouin in Masham. She survived him and remarried the following year. Ménésippe was the maternal grandfather of my paternal grandfather Fred Belair. (Fred, who was baptized “Jean-Baptiste-Ménésippe Bélair”, was presumably named for his grandfather.)

29 January 1693:
Birth of Françoise Valade in Quebec. Daughter of Guillaume Valade and his wife Françoise Ancelin, she was their 11th of 14 children. Françoise appears on the 1716 census in Quebec, employed as a domestic. She entered into a marriage contract with a widower, but it was annulled in March 1718. A few months later, in October 1718, she married André Michel dit St-Michel in Montreal. They are my paternal ancestors.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.