Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Demosky – Popoff

Fred and Mary Demosky Wedding Photo
Fred and Mary Demosky's wedding photo 
11 November 1938 Arran, Saskatchewan

Front: Luchenia Demosky with her grandsons Allan (left) and Lawrence (right).

Back (left to right): Louis and Mabel (Demosky) Safonoff, Fred and Mary (Popoff) Demosky, Annie (Chernoff) and Pete Demosky.

Luchenia was present at her younger son Fred’s wedding to Mary Popoff. Also there were her children Mabel and Pete and their respective spouses Louis and Annie, and her grandchildren Allan and Lawrence (Pete and Annie’s sons). Luchenia’s youngest sons George and Bill (my father-in-law) aren’t in the photo, but they were present.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Census Sunday: I’m ready

I’m ready for the 1921 Canadian census, that is.

Flag of Canada

Canada’s 6th federal census since Confederation will be released to the public on 1 June 2013. On that date, Statistics Canada, the current custodian, will transfer the census records to Library and Archives Canada.

Other jurisdictions, like the USA, release their censuses somewhat earlier than we do in Canada. Here, the law says that 92 calendar years must elapse before the 1921 census can be released to the public.1

John D. Reid has an article at his Anglo-Celtic Connections blog about the upcoming census titled 100 Days to the 1921 Census of Canada.

Library and Archives Canada stated last year that the “intention is to make [the 1921 census] available to researchers online, in the same format as previous censuses, as soon as possible after that date [of 1 June 2013]”.2

Although there’s a little over three months to go, with no firm date as to when the census’ digitised images will be available at LAC, I’ve put together a list of my ancestors that I’ll want to check when the census is viewable.

The list is a basic table with columns for my ancestor (with dates of birth and death), when married and name of spouse, and where my ancestor likely lived on 1 June 1921, the official enumeration date. Here is a glance at what the first few entries look like:

Possible Residence
on 1 June 1921
Fred Belair (1889-1991)
1926: Julie Vanasse
Ramore, Cochrane District, Ontario (maybe working for the railroad)
Julie Vanasse (1896-1967)

Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec (at home with her parents) or Ottawa, Carleton County, Ontario (where she worked before she married)
Eugène Desgroseilliers (1901-1960)
1925: Juliette Beauvais
Moonbeam, Cochrane District, Ontario (his youngest brothers were born here in 1920 and 1923) 
Juliette Beauvais (1900-1947)

Montpellier, Labelle County, Quebec (her twin brothers were born here in May 1921; she probably lived at home until she married) 

Until the census is publicly available, you might like to see a sample image of the 1921 Census of Canada population schedule and read the enumerator instructions at Canadian Censuses: 1921 Census.


1. “Statistics Act”, 18.1 (1) [Statistics Act. 1970-71-72, c. 15, s. 1]; Statistics Canada ( : accessed 21 February 2013).

2. “1921 Census countdown!”, Library and Archives Canada Blog, 27 March 2012 ( : accessed 21 February 2013).

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Ottawa City Directories

About a year ago, I viewed the 1926 Ottawa, Ontario, Canada city directory at WorldVitalRecords.

I searched for my grandfather Fed Belair, thinking he ought to be listed in it since he married in Ottawa in October 1926. Unfortunately, there was no Fred or the other names he used when younger (like Ménésippe and Jean-Baptiste) under “Belair” or "Belaire".1

So then I searched for my grandmother Julie, his soon-to-be wife.

I think I found her as “Juliet Vanasse”, living at 370 Cooper Street, a centretown-downtown street in Ottawa that runs east-west between Bank and O’Connor.2

1926 Ottawa City Directory
1926 Ottawa city directory (cropped image of p. 646)

My grandmother was Julie, Julia or Juliette, never “Juliet”, as far as I know. That particular spelling could be due to how the directory canvasser chose to spell her name. Or, maybe someone (perhaps the landlord) spoke on my grandmother Julie’s behalf and guessed at how she spelled her name.

I don't know when my grandfather moved to Ottawa, but I know he worked there at the time of his marriage. My grandmother Julie lived and worked there before she married, but I'm not sure just when she left her home in the province of Quebec for Ottawa. With that thought in mind, I looked at the 1923 Ottawa city directory, but neither of them seem to appear in that edition.3

So far, I haven’t located other 1920s Ottawa city directories on the Internet. I’d love to travel to Ottawa in the next couple of years and find these books at a library or an archive so that I can have a good look for my grandparents.


1. “The Ottawa City Directory, 1926, Part 1”; digital image, World Vital Records ( : accessed 27 April 2012), 83, “Belair” and “Belaire”.

2. “The Ottawa City Directory, 1926, Part 1”, 646, “Juliet Vanasse”.

3. “The Ottawa City Directory 1923"; digital image, Internet Archive ( : accessed 20 February 2013), 234, “Belair”, 235, “Belaire”, 812, “Vanasse”, 813, “Venance”, and 813, “Venasse”.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Three Sisters

Mariette Desgroseilliers with her sisters Jeanne d'arc (left) and Normande (right) in about 1940

Mariette Desgroseilliers posing, in what appears to be a studio portrait, with her youngest sisters Jeanne d’arc (left) and Normande (right), about 1940.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Black Sheep Sunday: Séraphin Poudrier, Fact or Fiction?

What would you say if I told you that Séraphin Poudrier – the fictional character from French-Canadian literature – wasn’t so fictional after all?

Until I started researching a certain branch of my paternal relatives a few years ago, I didn’t know that Séraphin was based on someone who actually lived. I was surprised to find that the real Séraphin was related to me; in fact, he was a second cousin of my grandfather Fred Belair.1

The Novel

L’avare Séraphin (Seraphin the miser) made his first appearance in Un homme et son péché [A man and his sin], by Claude-Henri Grignon. This famous novel, published in 1933, later inspired a radio series, motion picture films, and the very popular Quebecois television series Les Belles Histoires des Pays d’en Haut, with its haunting intro melody.2

In Ste-Adèle of the 1880s-1890s, lived a man named Séraphin Poudrier. A pitiless miser, he lends money to those in need, but charges exorbitant interest rates. He makes the acquaintance of young Donalda, a devout Catholic girl from the village. They marry. Séraphin keeps tight control of the couple’s expenses, even to the point of not having children, because it would cost him money. When Donalda becomes ill, Séraphin delays in calling the doctor. At her death, Séraphin finds yet another way to save money: he chooses a too-small coffin for his late wife. Later, while attempting to save a wandering cow in the nearby river, Séraphin sees his house in flames. He rushes to the building, but cannot rescue the sacks of oats that he keeps hidden there. When his body is pulled from the smoldering ruins, the villagers see that the miser clutches a few gold coins in his fist.

The Author

Claude-Henri Grignon was born and raised in Ste-Adèle, a village situated about 70 km (43 miles) northwest of Montreal. Grignon’s father Doctor Wilfrid Grignon settled here after curé Antoine Labelle, a Roman Catholic priest known as the ‘King of the North’, helped colonise this region.

The Inspiration

Ste-Adèle is also where a certain Moïse Belair married and raised a family, including a son named Israël, who was born in 1867. Apparently, Israël was the inspiration for literature’s well-known Séraphin, according to Grignon’s daughter Claire. In an interview in 2002, she stated that: “Séraphin était inspiré d'un avare de Sainte-Adèle, Israël Bélair, dont la femme, comme Donalda, n'a vécu qu'un an et un jour après son mariage”.3

In the past, whenever Grignon was asked to reveal the name of the real Séraphin, he would reply that three men from his childhood in Ste-Adèle were the models for Séraphin. Claire explained that her father deliberately said three men instead of the actual one because “des descendants d'Israël Bélair vivaient toujours”.4

The Miser

Just how far would the real Séraphin go to save to money? One anecdote reveals that Israël Belair “[…] pouvait marcher des kilomètres pour marchander le prix de la saucisse, par exemple, entre le boucher de Sainte-Adèle et celui de Mont-Rolland pour n'économiser qu'un misérable sou.”5

The Research

It was inevitable that, after reading these and other online articles, I’d want to know more about Israël. I wanted to know if we were related, and if there were similar events in his life and that of Grignon’s character.

Here is what I found:

• Israël Belair was born on 6 September 1867 in Ste-Adèle. He was the second son among sixteen children of Moïse Belair, a farmer, and his wife Martine Guestier.6

• Bernadette Desjardins was a younger daughter of Israël Desjardins, the village blacksmith, and his wife Philomène Lapointe. She was born on 31 October 1876 in Ste-Adèle and baptised that same day; her godmother was her eldest sister Donalda Desjardins.7

• Israël and Bernadette were married on 15 January 1895 in Ste-Adèle.8

• The following year, Bernadette gave birth to a son on 5 June 1896. This unnamed boy was baptised at home by Doctor Wilfrid Grignon, but died within a few hours.9 One week later, on 11 June 1896, Bernadette died; she was 19 years and 8 months old.10

So far during the course of my research, I’ve found a convicted murderer on my grandmother’s side of the family (Madness Monday: A Cold-Blooded Murder) and now there's an infamous miser on my grandfather’s side of the family.

What other surprises will I discover about my family tree?


1. ‘Séraphin’ and Fred are related through their common ancestor François Janvry dit Belair:

François Janvry dit Belair (ca 1731-1817) : Pierre Janvry dit Belair (1772-1848) : François Belair (1802-1878) :  Moïse Belair (1835-1919) : Israël Belair (1867-?)

François Janvry dit Belair (ca 1731-1817) : Pierre Janvry dit Belair (1772-1848) : Paul Belair (1822-1902) : Pierre Belair (1851-1941) : Fred Belair (1889-1991)

(Note: François (b. 1802) is Pierre’s son by his first wife Marguerite Quevillon, while Paul (b. 1822) is his son by his second wife Scholastique St-Michel.)

2. Claude-Henri wrote his story in the summer of 1933. It was available for purchase in bookstores that December. For a history of the author, his novel, and the subsequent films, radio and television series, see Un homme et son péché … l’oeuvre de Claude-Henri Grignon.

3. My translation of this quote: “Seraphin was inspired by a miser from Sainte-Adèle, Israël Bélair, whose wife, like Donalda, lived only one year and one day after her marriage.” Odile Tremblay, “Séraphin, un archetype qui ne veut pas mourir”, Le, 23 November 2002, Web edition ( : accessed 16 November 2005).

4. My translation of this quote: “descendants of Israël Bélair were [still] living [at this time]”. Tremblay, “Séraphin, un archetype qui ne veut pas mourir”, Le, 23 November 2002. Israël apparently left no descendants, but his surviving sister and brother did.

5. My translation of this quote: “[…] would walk kilometres in order to bargain the price of sausage, for example, between the butcher of Sainte-Adèle and the one in Mont-Rolland to save one miserable penny.” “Chroniques de Pierre Grignon et autres, année 2005”, Sainte-Adèle ( : accessed 22 November 2012), “Sainte-Adèle en fête – 150 ans de belles histoires”.

6. Ste-Adèle (Ste-Adèle, Quebec), parish register, 1867, p. 15 recto, entry no. B63, Israël Bélaire [sic] baptism, 7 October 1867; Ste-Adèle parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 February 2009).

7. Ste-Adèle (Ste-Adèle, Quebec), parish register, 1876, p. 17 recto, entry no. B64, Marie Bernadette Desjardins baptism, 31 October 1876; Ste-Adèle parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 February 2009).

8. Ste-Adèle (Ste-Adèle, Quebec), parish register, 1895, p. 2 recto, entry no. M2, Israël Janvry dit Belair – Bernadette Desjardins marriage, 15 January 1895; Ste-Adèle parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 February 2009).

9. Ste-Adèle (Ste-Adèle, Quebec), parish register, 1896, p. 10 verso, entry no. B34, Anonyme de Israël Bélair baptism, 5 June 1896; Ste-Adèle parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 February 2009). Also, Ste-Adèle, parish register, 1896, p. 10 verso, entry no. S20, Anonyme de Israël Bélair burial, 6 June 1896.

10. Ste-Adèle (Ste-Adèle, Quebec), parish register, 1896, p. 11 recto, entry no. S22, Bernadette Desjardins burial, 15 June 1896; Ste-Adèle parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 February 2009).

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Surname Saturday: Cazakoff

My late mother-in-law Ann was born a Cazakoff. She was the youngest child and only daughter of George and Polly (Poznekoff) Cazakoff, Doukhobor immigrants who settled Canada in 1899. (For a brief explanation of this Russian religious group, see Family History Though the Alphabet – S is for …)

In 1948, Ann’s elder brother Philip legally changed his surname Cazakoff to the more English-sounding Casacove.

As a surname, Kazakoff developed from the word kazak, which means Cossack. According to the Doukhobor Genealogy Website, Doukhobors with the surname Kazakov “originated from the province of Tambor, Russia in the 18th century”.1

Kazakoff is one of the most common Doukhobor surnames in Canada; it ranked fourth in 1970.2 Other English spellings include Kazakow, Kozakoff, Casacove, Kazakove, Kasikoff and Kasakoff.3


1. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 7 April 2009), entry for Kazakov.

2. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website, entry for Kazakov.

3. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website, entry for Kazakov.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: Petit Valentin

I don’t think I kept any Valentines given to me when I was in elementary school in the 1960s. But, I do have a Valentine (it’s about 28 x 21.5 cm or 11 x 8½”) that I made in Grade 3 at Ecole St-Charles in Timmins, Ontario that I gave to my parents. (Thanks, Mom and Dad, for keeping it all these years!)

I don’t have any memory of colouring the little flowers, outlining the heart shape in red crayon, or gluing the heart-shaped red paper doily. I don’t even remember writing, in what looks like my best cursive penmanship, the little poem. My teacher, Mademoiselle Blanche Desjardins, must have had a copy of the poem on the blackboard for us students to copy.

Handmade Valentine
Valentine made at school, 1967 

Here’s my translation of the French text:

Little Valentine,
Go along this good morning,
Carrying kisses
To loved parents.
One, to my mother,
Because I love her so.
The other, to my father
Who I do not forget.
Soon on their way
They travel briskly
Carrying kisses
To those who are loved.

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday's Obituary: Jenny Belair

My cousin, Janet Rae (known as Jenny), was the elder child and only daughter of Ray and Emily (Murphy) Belair. Ray, who was my Dad’s younger brother, had moved from Ontario to British Columbia in the early 1950s, where he still lives today. Aunt Emily passed away in 1980.

I met Jenny for the first time when my family (my parents and my sister) went on a trip to BC in the summer of 1966. Uncle Ray lived on a large rural property near the town of Hope. Jenny and her brother Leo had a huge yard in which to play, took a bus to school, and every window of their home featured views of the Cascade Mountains. It was all so different from the urban life my sister Marianne and I knew in the northern Ontario mining town of Timmins.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been two years since Jenny passed away. Rest in peace, my cousin.

Jenny Belair obituary
Jenny Belair obituary, 2011

Source: “Janet Rae (Jenny) Belair”, obituary, The Hope Standard (Hope, British Columbia), 17 February 2011, p. A18.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, February 08, 2013

Friday Photo: The Old Men and the Sea(weed)

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.)

Bill Demoskoff on the left and Nick Cazakoff in the mid-1970s
Bill Demoskoff (left) and Nick Cazakoff, mid-1970s

William (Bill) Demoskoff and his brother-in-law Nick Cazakoff (my husband’s father and maternal uncle, respectively).

Bill and Nick are gathering seaweed from the ocean beach. (Bill holds a bag, while Nick uses a pitchfork to put the seaweed in the bag.)

In the mid-1970s, presumably in the autumn.

The photo was taken in Tsawwassen, near Vancouver, British Columbia.

My parents-in-law used seaweed as a fertilizer in their vegetable garden.

My husband likes this photo, because it shows how hard-working and energetic his parents were. Bill and Ann would drive from their home in Grand Forks, BC to the Lower Mainland coast (a seven hour journey) to visit family and to collect seaweed. Ann’s brother Nick and his wife Edna (who lived near Tsawwassen) used seaweed in their large garden and believed in its benefits. This photo is an example of Bill and Ann pairing a family visit with a trip to the beach.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What’s In A (Ancestor’s) Name?

"What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet"
~ Romeo and Juliet (Act 2, Scene 2)

Parents today have greater choice and freedom in choosing their child’s first or given name than parents of past centuries. Roman Catholic families in Quebec during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries had to consider the laws and customs of the Church when naming their child. For example, priests were forbidden to allow “profane or ridiculous names”, and could command that a child be given the name of a male or female Saint.1 A list of acceptable names was even published to guide parents.2

Curious about the types of names among my ancestors, I surveyed the names in the second through the seventh generations of my family tree. Of a potential 126 ancestors, 12 are unknown or are duplicate (cousin marriages), leaving 114 ancestors (57 male and 57 female). Here are the results.

Male Ancestral Names

First Name
1 (tie)
Joseph, Pierre
Charles, Louis
5 (tie)
Ménésippe, Olivier, Régis, Toussaint
6 (tie)
Albert, Alexis, Antoine, Etienne, Eugène, Ignace, Louis Antoine, Maurice, Michel, Narcisse, Paul

Female Ancestral Names

First Name
1 (tie)
Marguerite, Marie
2 (tie)
Angélique, Elizabeth, Louise
4 (tie)
Adélaïde, Agathe, Catherine, Desanges, Flavie, Marie Louise, Thérèse
5 (tie)
Angélina, Archange, Arline, Clémence, Clémentine, Cordélia, Euphrosine, Geneviève, Jacqueline, Julie, Juliette, Marcelline, Marie Anne, Marie Elisabeth, Olive, Olivine, Reine, Scholastique


1. “First & last names”, database, PRDH (Le Programme de recherche en démographie Historique) [The Research Program in Historical Demography] ( : accessed 30 April 2012).

2. “First & last names”, database, PRDH (Le Programme de recherche en démographie Historique) [The Research Program in Historical Demography] ( : accessed 30 April 2012). A list of acceptable names (1,251 for boys and 373 for girls) appeared as an appendix in Rituel du Diocèse de Québec [Rites in the Diocese of Quebec], 1703, by Monsignor Saint-Vallier, Bishop of Quebec.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Ancestral Anniversaries for February 2013

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

3 February 1653:
Baptism of Anne Elisabeth de Tarragon in Trancrainville, in Orléanais, France. Her father Loup de Tarragon, a squire and a lord, was a descendant of Juan Darragon, who left his native Spain for France in the early 1400s. Anne came to Canada about 1671 as a fille du roi, one of over 700 women sponsored by the King of France (hence, “King’s daughter”) who immigrated to Canada between 1663 and 1673 in order to marry and help populate the French colony. She married Gilles Couturier dit Labonté, a soldier originally from Brittany, France, in about 1676. They are my paternal ancestors.

4 February 1863:
Birth of Olivier Vanasse in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec. The youngest of six children, he was the son of Olivier Vanasse and Anne Isabelle (Elisabeth) Frappier. Olivier, a farmer, married his first cousin Elisabeth Vanasse, in July 1889 in Chapeau. They had nine children; their younger daughter Julie Vanasse is my paternal grandmother.

7 February 1763:
Marriage of François Bray and Marie-Geneviève Lalonde in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, near Montreal, Quebec. Three days earlier, the couple had entered into a notarized marriage contract. François was 21 years old and Marie-Geneviève had just celebrated her 17th birthday. They were married for 43 years. François and Marie-Geneviève are my paternal ancestors.

11 February 1883:
Death of Narcisse Lepage in St-Louis-de-Gonzague, Beauharnois County, Quebec. Buried there two days later, Narcisse left a widow, Flavie Lepage, whom he married in 1847. The couple had a large family, 9 sons and 5 daughters. They are my maternal ancestors.

23 February 1623:
Baptism of Guillaume Landry in La Ventrouze, near Tourouvre, Perche, France. Son of Mathurin Landry (a master tailor) and Damiane Desavis, Guillaume immigrated to Canada and was in Quebec by October 1656. Three years later, he married Gabrielle Barré, originally from La Rochelle, Aunis, France. They are my paternal ancestors.

28 February 1733:
Death of Jean Guyon, probably in St-François, on Ile d’Orléans, Quebec. He was the eldest child and first son of Claude and Catherine (Colin) Guyon, French immigrants. By his wife Marie Pépin, herself daughter of French immigrants, he had eleven children (4 sons and 7 daughters). He was buried four days later, on 1 March 1733 in St-François, where he had lived most of his life. He and his wife are my maternal ancestors.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, February 01, 2013

Friday Photo: Expectant Mothers

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.)

Sisters Jacqueline and Normande Easter 1958
Jacqueline (left) and Normande, 1958

My mother Jacqueline (Jackie) and her younger sister Normande (Norma), in their early 20s.

Mom and Aunt Norma are each expecting their first child – me and my cousin Brian. I was born that July and Brian that September.

Since Mom and Aunt Norma are wearing hats and gloves, suggesting they are dressed for an event, I’m guessing it’s Easter Sunday (April 6th) 1958. (There’s another photo in this series that is date stamped “Apr 1958”.)

The photo was taken at Mom’s father’s home in Blue Water, near Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

As soon-to-be mothers, Mom and Norma probably thought it would be great fun to be photographed. It was also one of their last opportunities to be together before Mom and Dad moved to Timmins, which is about 617 km (383 m) north of Sarnia.

I love this photo because it shows my Mom and Aunt as young, healthy, beautiful women, who will soon be mothers for the first time. It’s only one of two photos that I have showing my Mom as an expectant mother.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.