Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Going for a Stroll

Marianne in her stroller with her Burdan cousins.

My sister Marianne (in her stroller) with our maternal cousins from southern Ontario, (left to right) Janet, Chuck, Nancy and David, in Timmins, Ontario, summer of 1961.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

2 Down, 4 To Go: My Genealogy Bucket List

According to Urban Dictionnary, a “bucket list” is a list of things to do before you die.

green bucket

When I compiled my genealogy bucket list last year, I didn’t realize how soon I’d get to complete two items on my list. I can now check off two wishes and work towards the remaining four.

Yvonne’s Genealogy “Bucket List”

1. I want to visit the places where my Dad lived as a child. I want to see if the streets he lived on still exist in Ottawa and Montreal. I also want to visit Chapeau, Quebec where his mother Julie was born and where her parents had a farm.

2. I want to visit the Quebec cemeteries where some of my ancestors are buried, like the ones in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham (for the Belair side) and Chapeau (for the Vanasse side).

3. I want to research at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, because it has genealogical material from around the world in that one location.

4. I want to meet Elizabeth Shown Mills, one of today’s distinguished genealogists and historians.

(On May 8th, I attended Miss Mills’ “The GPS in Action” lecture at this year’s NGS Conference, and afterwards went up to the podium to ask her a question.)

5. I want to attend a national genealogy conference like the National Genealogical Society’s annual conference. Doing so would give me a chance to meet with other people who share my interests, to hear professional speakers, and to learn about new techniques, methods and resources.

(My husband and I flew to Las Vegas, Nevada on May 7th to attend our first (and hopefully not our last) NGS annual conference. It was everything I thought it would be – I met lots of people, I heard awe-inspiring speakers, and learned current and valuable information. I enjoyed my time there so much (we were there until May 12th) that I didn’t want to leave!)

6. I want to move back to Ontario in eastern Canada so that I can be close to the towns where my parents lived, close to important libraries and archives where I could research, and close to where I grew up and lived.

Tell me ... what’s on your genealogy bucket list?

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Happy Victoria Day!

Happy Victoria Day to my Canadian readers!

Queen Victoria
H.M. Queen Victoria
Photo source: W. and D. Downey / Library and Archives Canada / C-019313

Victoria Day, also known as Sovereign’s Birthday, has been celebrated in Canada since pre-Confederation days.

This year marks the 168th anniversary since the holiday was first observed in 1845.

The day used to be celebrated on May 24, Queen Victoria’s actual date of birth, but in 1952 a federal statute established Victoria Day on the Monday before May 25.

The holiday began as a way of honouring young Queen Victoria, but in time it became Canada's official day to mark the birthday of our current monarch, Elizabeth II.

For more information, see “Victoria Day” at Canadian Heritage.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sentimental Sunday: Goodbye, Aunt Norma

Aunt Norma, my Mom’s second youngest sister, died two weeks ago on 5 May 2013. I found out about her passing the morning after her death, as I was preparing to leave for the NGS 2013 Conference in Las Vegas. I immediately sent a condolence message to her son, my cousin Richard. Mom was deeply saddened by this unexpected news. She hadn’t seen her sister in over 20 years (Mom lives in British Columbia, while Normande lives in Ontario), although they spoke on the telephone.

This past Thursday, Richard called Mom to let her know about his mother’s last days. He explained that her Roman Catholic French-speaking parish priest administered the last rites, that she was conscious, and that she was surrounded by her children at the end. He also told us how he stayed by Normande’s side for 30 hours until she closed her eyes one last time, and that he made the arrangements for his mother's wake and funeral. Although Mom felt emotional listening to Richard’s words, she was grateful that he took the time to personally call her.

Normande, or Norma as she was also known, was born on 12 January 1937 in Rouyn, a mining community in northwestern Quebec, Canada.1 She received the names “Aline Normande Laurette” at her baptism three days later at Cathédral Saint-Michel Archange in Rouyn. Her godparents, Paul Samuel and Laurette Coursol, along with her father Eugène, signed the parish register.2

Normande Desgroseilliers and her sister Jeanne d'arc Desgroseilliers in about 1946
Normande (right) with her sister Jeanne d'arc, about 1946

Eugène was the town’s chief of police.3 He and his wife Juliette, who celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary the previous summer, were the parents of seven living children (six daughters and one son).

I’ve written about Aunt Norma here, here and here.

In the spring of 1957, Norma married Howard Handy in Sarnia, Ontario. They had four children: Brian, Michael, Julie, and Richard. My cousin Brian, who was two months younger than me, passed away in 1979; Uncle Howard passed away in 1984.

Normande and Howard Handy on their wedding day in 1957
Normande and Howard on their wedding day, 1957

I’ll never forget my aunt. She was tall (she and Aunt Jeanne d’arc were the tallest of the Desgroseilliers sisters), beautiful, always prettily dressed and coiffed, and a happy and smiling woman.

Goodbye, dear Aunt Norma.


1. Paroisse Cathedral St-Michel Archange (Rouyn, Quebec), Sacramental Certificate, 1987 (privately held by Yvonne Demoskoff, Hope, British Columbia), Aline Normande Laurette Desgroseillier [sic] birth and baptism certificate (1937 baptism); issued 1987, citing the parish register. Although Normande was born on January 12th, she celebrated her birthday on February 12th.

2. St-Michel-Archange (Rouyn, Quebec), parish register, 1937, no page number (entries are entered in chronological order), entry no. B.17, Aline Normande Laurette Desgroseillier [sic] baptism, 15 January 1937; St-Michel-Archange Jean-Baptiste parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 10 April 2011). Normande’s baptism record states her date of birth.

3. St-Michel-Archange, parish register, 1937, no page number, Aline Normande Laurette Desgroseillier [sic] baptism, 15 January 1937. Normande’s baptism record states her father’s occupation. Eugène was employed as chief of police in small communities located in northern Ontario and northern Quebec from about 1927 to about 1940.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Scenes from the NGS 2013 Conference

The following photos were taken by my husband Michael during our stay at the LVH Hotel & Casino for the NGS 2013 Conference.

Attendees checking in at the Conference
Attendees at the Conference check-in desk

Waiting for the start of the Opening Session
Waiting for the start of the Conference's Opening Session

Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy booth
Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy magazines booth (I'm on the right)

View of Las Vegas from our hotel room on the 19th floor
A view from our hotel room on the 19th floor looking southwest

Dick Eastman presenting door prize to Michael
Dick Eastman (left) presenting an iPad Mini (door prize) to Michael
at Dick's EOGN Saturday night dinner

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, May 13, 2013

My Impressions of the NGS 2013 Conference

I’m back from the NGS 2013 Conference!

It’s been 24 hours since my return home and I’m still on a “genealogical high”. It was an exhilarating experience and my mind is full with all manner of information and details.

From the moment my husband Michael and I arrived Tuesday afternoon at the LVH Hotel and Casino where the Conference took place to when we left Sunday afternoon, I felt like I was home, among my own kind – me and about 2000 other genealogists and family historians.

I met attendees from Canada, like Ruth Blair of The Passionate Genealogist and Louise St-Denis of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. (Louise and I are both originally from Timmins, Ontario, Canada. It was a lot of fun reminiscing with her about our old home town.) I also met people from all over the US, from California, Colorado, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

Here is my by-the-number summary of the Conference.

Thirteen Sessions
I planned on attending twelve sessions, but added an extra one (“Cloud Genealogy” with Shamele Jordon) once I was at the Conference.

Ten Books
As well as purchasing magazines, booklets and miscellaneous items from the exhibitors and vendors, I bought ten books (including Mastering Genealogical Proof, graciously signed by Thomas W. Jones, The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy, by Val D. Greenwood, First Metis Families of Quebec 1622-1748 (Vol. 1), compiled by Gail Morin, and The Forts of New France in Northeast America 1600-1763, by Marc Picard).

Six Tips
These are some of the best (paraphrased) tips I picked up during the lectures.

1. Don’t make genealogy harder than it is.
2. Don’t assume; keep an open mind.
3. Don’t blindly trust what you read (not even things written by experts, says Elizabeth Shown Mills).
4. Consider the whole record or document, not just the portion of interest.
5. Work systematically and efficiently.
6. If you can’t get to the records or documents you need (say, because of distance), find someone reliable who can.

Five Photos
A selection of photos that my husband took during the Conference:

Entrance to the Exhibit Hall
Entrance to the Exhibit Hall

Randy Seaver and Yvonne Demoskoff
Randy Seaver (of GeneaMusings) and me

Mariachi Los Bravos
Mariachi Los Bravos, who performed after the Opening Session

Randy Seaver on the left and Leland Meitzler
Randy Seaver and Leland Meitzler (of GenealogyBlog)

Dick Eastman's Saturday night dinner
Dick Eastman (top right) with some of his guests at his Saturday night dinner

Four Speakers
It wasn’t possible to meet and chat with all the speakers during the Conference, but I had the chance to ask questions and say how much I enjoyed the presentations of four of them: Elizabeth Shown Mills, Thomas W. Jones, Judy G. Russell and Warren Bittner.

Two Best Moments
Even though I got a lot out of all the sessions, I got the most from “Planning “Reasonably Exhaustive” Research" and "Proof Arguments".

It was reassuring to hear Thomas W. Jones explain that it’s not necessary to use an infinite number of sources in order to carry out ‘reasonably exhaustive’ research, as long as all likely relevant or potential sources are used to answer our question or reach our goal.

I also appreciated how Warren Bittner took a step-by-step approach to show how to use logic and common sense when writing a proof argument. (It’s a lot easier than I thought it could be and now I’m looking forward to trying my hand at writing proof arguments.)

One Door Prize
Michael won a door prize during Dick Eastman’s (Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter)  Saturday night dinner: an iPad Mini! Thanks, Dick, for such a generous prize and for hosting a great dinner.

But, what I‘ll remember most about my first NGS conference is
  • meeting people who share my interest in genealogy,
  • attending lectures given by genealogy experts,
  • learning techniques, methods and skills, and
  • feeling validated as a genealogist – even though I don’t have CG after my name.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Maurice Belair

Two days ago on Sunday, I posted my father Maurice Belair’s obituary. Today, I follow up that post with a scanned image of his gravemarker. Dad is interred in Our Lady of Good Hope Roman Catholic Cemetery in Hope, British Columbia.

Maurice Belair gravemarker
Maurice Belair gravemarker
 Dad's gravemarker reads:

Maurice Belair
1927 – 1996
Safe In The Arms of Jesus

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, May 05, 2013

Sunday’s Obituary: My Father, Maurice Belair

Tomorrow, May 6th, marks the 17th anniversary of my father’s passing.

My Dad had been unwell with chest pains when he was admitted to our local hospital the previous week. (Dad had a history of coronary artery disease since 1985.) Five days later, he suffered a heart attack1 and died that Monday morning; he was 68 years old. His doctor was with him, but none of us (my mother, my brother or I) were there because of the early hour and the suddenness of the attack.

I asked Mom if she’d let me compose the obituary; she agreed. I prepared one for our town’s weekly newspaper (seen here)2 and one for The Daily Press of Timmins, Ontario, where our family lived from 1958 to 1979.

May 1996 obituary of Maurice Belair
Maurice Belair obituary, 1996.


1. Maurice Belair, Medical Certification of Death, 1996; Fraser Canyon Hospital, Hope, British Columbia; photocopy supplied May 1996 to Yvonne Demoskoff, Hope, British Columbia. Dr. D. Duke, Maurice’s physician, completed and signed the medical certificate, and allowed a photocopy of the document to be made for Maurice’s daughter Yvonne.

2. “Maurice Belair”, obituary, The Standard (Hope, British Columbia), Thursday, May 9, 1996, p. 16.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, May 03, 2013

12 Sessions in 4 Days! My choices for the upcoming NGS conference

Inspired by Randy Seaver’s post, My Target NGS 2013 Conference Sessions - Wednesday, 8 May, in which he shares the conference sessions he’d like to attend on the first day of the NGS 2013 Family History Conference, I’ve created an outline of my session choices for all four days.

Although I’m not an official NGS blogger like Randy, I'll try to blog an article or two and maybe even include some photos while at the Conference.

My list shows the dates, the times, the track numbers, the session titles and, in parentheses, the speakers.

Wednesday, May 8th

11 AM – W121: Debunking Misleading Records (Thomas W. Jones)

2:30 PM – W142: The Genealogical Proof Standard in Action: Case Building When No Record States an Answer (Elizabeth Shown Mills)

Thursday, May 9th

8 AM – T202: Maximizing Your Use of Evidence (Thomas W. Jones)

2:30 PM – T241: Information Overload? Effective Project Planning, Research, Data Management, and Analysis (Elizabeth Shown Mills)

Friday, May 10th

8 AM – F302: Kinship Determination: Are They Really My Ancestors? (Kay Haviland Freilich)

9:30 AM – F312: Trousers, Beds, Black Domestic, Tacks, and Housekeeping Bills: “Trivial Details” Can Solve Research Problems! (Elizabeth Shown Mills)

11 AM – F322: Strategy for Research Success: How to Analyze Your Evidence and Plan Your Next Step (Sharon Tate Moody)

4 PM – F352: Planning “Reasonably Exhaustive” Research (Thomas W. Jones)

Saturday, May 11th

8 AM – S401: Baker’s Dozen Steps to Writing Research Reports (Elissa Scalise Powell)

11 AM – S421: Proof Arguments: How and Why? (Warren Bittner)

2:30 PM – S443: From Blackstone to Statutes at Large – How Knowing the Law Makes Us Better Genealogists (Judy G. Russell)

4 PM – S451: Enough is Enough! Or is it? (Pamela Boyer Sayer)

That's a total of 12 sessions in 4 days! I hope that's not too ambitious for a first-timer and that my energy lasts the whole Conference!

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday Photo: Moe and the Motorcycle

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.)

Maurice Belair on a motorcycle in May 1980
Maurice Belair (1980)

My father Maurice Belair.

Dad poses on a motorcycle at an outdoor event.

May 1980.

Abbotsford International Airport, Abbotsford, BC, Canada.

One of Dad’s best friends from Ontario visited our family the year after we moved to BC. During his stay, my father and Paul visited local and nearby sites.

I love this photo, because it shows my Dad happy, relaxed and outdoors. Dad always talked about the day he’d buy a motorcycle for himself and Mom so they could tour Canada and the USA. His wish was never fulfilled, but at least he got to dream.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ancestral Anniversaries for May 2013

From October to December last year, I posted articles about some of my ancestors’ life events that marked an anniversary in 2012. I’m continuing this series by presenting a selection of ancestral events for 2013.

1 May 1663:
Birth of Edward Allen in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts. He was a son of Edward Allen (Allyn), originally from Scotland, and Sarah Kimball. When Edward was 20 years old, he married Mercy Painter in Deerfield in 1683. Edward and Mercy are my paternal ancestors through their daughter Sarah Allen (a Deerfield captive in 1704), who married Guillaume Lalonde in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, near Montreal, in 1710.

3 May 1683:
Baptism of day-old Marie Barbe Gournay dite Latour in Repentigny, L’Assomption County, Quebec. She was the second of ten children of Guillaume Gournay dit Latour by his wife Catherine Jetté. Marie Barbe married Charles Gauthier dit Landreville in 1701 in Repentigny, where their fourteen children were born and where they lived the remainder of their lives. Charles and Marie Barbe are my paternal ancestors.

7 May 1673:
Baptism of Paul Charles Dazé at Notre-Dame in Montreal, Quebec. His date of birth is not stated in his baptism record, but he was presumably only one or two days old when he received the sacrament. Paul Charles had as godfather Charles d’Ailleboust, sieur des Museaux, a former interim governor of Montreal. His parents, Paul Dazé and Françoise Goubilleau, were French immigrants who married in Montreal in 1671. Paul Charles married twice: first in 1696 to Barbe Cartier, by whom he had four children, and second (after Barbe’s death) in 1706 to Jeanne (Anne) Chartrand, by whom he had a further twelve children. Paul Charles and Barbe are my paternal ancestors.

8 May 1743:
Burial of Charles Guérard in Ste-Foy, near Quebec City. His date of death is not indicated in his burial record. Charles, who was about 70 or 75 years old when he died, sometimes went by the surname Grap(t) or Legrapt. His wife, Marie Madeleine Chrétien, by whom he had eleven children, predeceased him in October 1741. They were my paternal ancestors.

11 May 1703:
Death of Louis Emery dit Coderre in Varennes, Verchères County, Quebec. He was only 29 years old when he died, leaving a widow, Marie-Madeleine Leclerc, and three young children. Louis and Marie-Madeleine are my maternal ancestors.

17 May 1643:
Marriage contract of Nicolas Guillot and Marie (Madeleine) Joslain dite Doribelle in La Rochelle, France. Nicolas, a merchant butcher, was a widower when he entered into a marriage contract with Marie, who worked as a servant in the household of a fur-pelt merchant. The couple did not immigrate to New France, but their son Vincent (1645-1716) did, and it is through him that they are my paternal ancestors.

19 May 1743:
Birth of Joseph Prosper Dorval (aka Desgroseilliers) in Deschambault, Portneuf County, Quebec. A younger son of Jean-Baptiste Bouchard (aka Dorval and Desgroseilliers) and Marie-Josèphe de Chavigny, he was baptized the following day. Joseph and his wife Charlotte Nunegand, whom he married in 1772, are my maternal ancestors.

27 May 1723:
Death of Paul Martel dit Lamontagne in St-Antoine-de-Tilly, Lotbinière County, Quebec. He was buried there in the parish church under the jubé (choir screen) on the same day. Paul and his wife Marie-Madeleine Guillot, who survived him, are the most recent common ancestors of my parents Maurice and Jacqueline. (Mom is Dad’s sixth cousin twice removed.)

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Wednesday’s Child: Gaston Desgroseilliers, A Brief Life

Gaston Desgroseilliers and his sisters in 1937
Gaston Desgroseilliers (lower right) and his sisters, 1937

Top row: Mariette (left) and Madeleine.
Middle row: Simone (left), baby Normande, and Marianne.
Bottom row: Jacqueline (left) and Gaston.

(This lovely, but somewhat blurry, photo is the only one that my Mom has of her brother. Gaston looks about 2½ years old. I’m assuming that the baby in the picture is his little sister Normande, who was born in early 1937.)

On 21 February 1935, on a cold winter day, Gaston Desgroseilliers was born in the village of Hearst, Ontario, Canada. He was my uncle, my mother’s younger brother. Like his elder sister Marianne, who died young, I never got to know him. (I've written about Marianne's story here.)

One day in the spring of 1941, six year old Gaston, his father Eugène, his uncle Jean-Paul Beauvais (his mother's brother) and a few others went fishing on Georgian Bay, not far from where the Desgroseilliers family lived in Parry Sound, Ontario.

On the way home, Gaston sat in the back seat of the car. The door suddenly opened when the vehicle turned a corner. Gaston fell out. The car stopped and Gaston, who seemed alright, was helped back in. He worried that his mother wouldn't let him go fishing again, so he asked his father not to tell his mother about the accident.

But Gaston wasn’t alright. At home, he became feverish and ill. Two weeks later, on 6 May 1941, Gaston died at the hospital. He was only six years old. His parents Eugène and Juliette never fully recovered from the loss of their son.

In February 1987, I wrote to the Town of Parry Sound to see if I could find out where Gaston was buried. (My mother didn't know for sure where Gaston rested.) I soon received a reply from the Cemetery Records department, and later a follow-up reply. The letters contained information about the cause of death and the burial location. I was grateful to receive these details, but they came with an unexpected twist.

Mom had always believed that Gaston died of head injuries, but according to the death certificate (with its information transcribed into the Cemetery’s Interment Register), the cause of death was “acute lung trouble” (a type of pneumonia). As for Gaston’s place of burial, Mom only knew that it was somewhere in Parry Sound. Now she learned that her beloved brother was laid to rest in an unmarked, single grave in Hillcrest Cemetery.

Rest in peace, mon uncle Gaston.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.