Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday’s Obituary: Joe Saucier

Joseph Saucier obituary
Joseph Saucier obituary, 1993

Joseph Saucier was born on 6 March 1922 in the parish of St. Raphael, near South Glengarry in eastern Ontario, Canada. Joe, who served in World War II and in Korea, married my Dad’s first cousin Lucille (Lou) Potvin in 1946. I used to visit him and Lou at their home when I was a student at the University of Ottawa.

Joe died on 27 July 1993 in Ottawa and was buried there in Hope Cemetery. I will always remember him as very nice man, kind, soft-spoken, with a hint of mischievousness.


“Joseph Olier Saucier”, obituary, undated clipping (1993), from unidentified newspaper; Demoskoff Family Papers, privately held by Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff, British Columbia, 2013.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Society Saturday: British Columbia Genealogical Society

Logo of the British Columbia Genealogical Society

A couple of days ago, I joined the British Columbia Genealogical Society.

I thought about becoming a member in the past, but didn’t. I felt that since my ancestors were mostly from eastern Canada (Ontario and Quebec), it didn’t make sense to join a genealogical society based in western Canada.

I also believed that the Society didn’t have much in the way of resources for someone like me of French-Canadian ancestry. As it turns out, the BCGS has quite a lot of Quebec material, as I pleasantly discovered this past Thursday.

Every year in July, the Society hosts an open house and library week at which the public can use – for free – its library books, periodicals and databases. The event runs this year from July 14th to 20th (it ends today). I’d never been to the BCGS library so took the opportunity to go with a friend and my husband.

After we signed in, a volunteer gave us a tour and explained where the various materials were located (there are two floors). We then looked at books, checked out their databases, and I made a few photocopies. In all, we spent about three hours there.

The best part for me was seeing the range of materials for French (Quebec) research: books like Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec des origines à 1730 (by René Jetté), Our French-Canadian Ancestors (by Thomas J. Laforest) and Dictionnaire Généalogique des Familles Acadiennes (by Stephen A. White); periodicals like Mémoires (of the Société Généalogique Canadienne-Française) and L’Ancêtre (of the Société de Généalogie de Québec); and databases like the R.A.B. [repertory of baptisms, marriages and burials] of the PRDH.

As we were about to leave, my husband suggested I become a member of the BCGS. The one-year individual membership is $45, but after the volunteer explained that since it was Open House Week, the membership is valid until December 2014 instead of the usual current calendar year. Factoring in other benefits (borrowing privileges from the library, the Society’s quarterly journal, special offers and discounts, and more), it was too good of a deal to pass up!

If you want more information about the BCGS, visit their website at British Columbia Genealogical Society.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Follow Friday: L’Ami du Peuple

If you have (or had) family, friends and relatives living in or around Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, you’ll want to take a look at L’Ami du Peuple [the People’s Friend].

This French-language newspaper published between 1942 and 1968, and most of it is available as digitized images. I found articles about my mother’s family (Desgroseilliers) and related families from the 1940s and 1950s.

L’Ami du Peuple is part of the collections that include “newspapers, oral histories, photographs, books, newsletters, legal documents, meeting minutes and other ephemeral materials” available at Multicultural Canada.

All of this material can be searched or browsed, and best of all – it’s free.

You’ll find records like 1956 Hungarian Memorial Oral History Project, Canadian Jewish News, German Canadians, Hong Kong Handover Collection, and Zhyttia i Slovo (a Ukrainian-language newspaper).

You can do a broad search of the digital collections or search specific collections. Each collection has its own years of coverage and may have anything from a few issues to whole series.

Multicultural Canada is a great online resource. Drop by and see what you can discover.

Image source: “News”, openclipart (

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: George Demoskoff

George Demoskoff gravemarker
George Demoskoff gravemarker

This past Sunday, I posted my husband’s uncle George’s obituary. Today, I follow up that post with a scanned image of his gravemarker. George is interred in the U.S.C.C. Doukhobor Cemetery in Grand Forks, British Columbia.

George’s gravemarker reads:

1911 – 1980

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sunday’s Obituary: George Demoskoff

Obituary of George Demoskoff
George Demoskoff obituary, 1980
George Demoskoff, my husband’s paternal uncle, was a younger son of Russian Doukhobor immigrants Wasyl and Luchenia (Tomelin) Demosky.

George lived most of his life in Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and for a short time in California, USA, where he sought relief for a heart condition. (I’ve written about his time at the Hidden Valley Health Ranch here.)

George died on 16 July 1980 in Grand Forks, British Columbia. He is buried there in the USCC (Sion) Cemetery.

Source: “George Demoskoff”, obituary, undated clipping (July 1980), from unidentified newspaper; Demoskoff Family Papers, privately held by Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff, British Columbia, 2013. Yvonne acquired an assortment of family memorabilia (including George’s obituary) in January 2012 from her father-in-law William (Bill) Demoskoff.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

New Blog on the Block

I've created a new blog called Doukhobor Photos.

It’s where I feature pictures from my father-in-law William (Bill) Demoskoff’s family albums that he gave us about three years ago.

Pop wasn’t taking any more pictures (he was, after all, 96 years old) and he decided that we would become the caretaker of his snapshots, some of which went back as early as the 1910s. All (or almost all) are of Doukhobor people – men, women and children – who lived in Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

My husband Michael and I thought what a great treasure to own and have enjoyed looking over all of these pictures, some of which he hadn’t seen in years or even knew they existed. The only problem, though, was many didn’t have any info such as names, dates or locations, and of the ones that had names, Michael didn’t know who these people were.

It was a shame to keep the pictures tucked away in an album, and we weren’t about to throw them away (no way could we do that), so after some thought, I decided to scan them and put them out there on a blog in case someone can help identify the people, the locations or the events behind the photos.

I hope you’ll drop by at Doukhobor Photos!

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – The Date Your Father Was Born

I haven’t participated in Randy Seaver’s SNGF in a few months, so when I saw tonight’s “mission” – The Date Your Father Was Born – I thought it was time to get back in the swing of things. 

Here’s the mission for Saturday, July 13, 2013:

1) What day of the week was your Father born? Tell us how you found out.

2) What has happened in recorded history on your Father's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

3) What famous people have been born on your Father's birth date? Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.

4) Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

My results:

1) My Dad Maurice Belair was born on 2 August 1927 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. It was a Tuesday, according to the ‘create calendar’ feature at

2) Five world history events that happened on August 2 (according to Historical Events on 2nd August):

1492 Jews are expelled from Spain by King Ferdinand & Queen Isabella
1610 Henry Hudson enters bay later named after him, the Hudson Bay
1790 – The first US Census is conducted
1865 Lewis Carroll publishes "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland"
1932 The positron (antiparticle of the electron) is discovered by Carl D. Anderson

3) Five famous people born on August 2 (according to and August 2: Today's Notable Birthdays):

1754 – Pierre Charles L'Enfant, French-American engineer, architect and designer of Washington, D.C.
1835 – Elisha Gray, American telecommunications equipment inventor
1892 – Jacob (Jack) Leonard Warner, Canadian-American film studio co-owner (Warner Brothers)
1923 – Shimon Peres, Prime Minister of Israel
1924 Carroll O’Connor, actor 

4) Done here and I’ve also put a link to it in a comment at Randy’s blog.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Friday Photo: Family and Neighbors

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.)

George and Polly Cazakoff with family and neighbors in about 1949
George and Polly Cazakoff with family and neighbors, about 1949

Left to right: George Cazakoff, his granddaughter Mabel Cazakoff (in front), his wife Polly, their daughter Ann (back centre), Mrs. Fred Malakoff and her husband Fred Malakoff and their son Harry Malakoff (holding a cat).

My husband’s maternal grandparents George and Polly pose with their daughter Ann and their granddaughter Mabel in front of their farm house, with their neighbors Fred and Tanya (Tatiana) Malakoff and their son Harry.

About 1949 (Mabel appears to be about 3-4 years old).

St. Phillips Rural Municipality, a few miles northwest of Kamsack, Saskatchewan.

My husband doesn’t know why this picture was taken, but thinks his uncle John and Nellie Cazakoff (Mabel’s parents, not seen in the photo) might be visiting John’s parents at the same time as their neighbors the Malakoffs.

My husband likes this photo because he has memories of playing on the front porch of his grandparents’ house and of sliding down the banister of the long staircase inside. He also remembers it being a big house (his Mom was one of seven children) that was located in a clearing on farming acreage.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: George Vanasse and His Sisters

George Vanasse and his sisters Mary Agnes and Celia in June 1950

George Vanasse with his sisters (left to right) Mary, Agnès and Celia (Cécile). They’re gathered for the wedding of George’s son Armand on 5 June 1950 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Matrilineal Monday: William Demoskoff

Last September, I posted my husband Michael’s short, four generation matrilineal line.

Today, I post his father Bill’s matrilineal line, which is even shorter – it’s only three generations.

It’s a challenge to be able to find my husband and his family’s ancestors, especially since his grandparents immigrated to Canada from Tsarist Russia in 1899.

William Demoskoff’s Matrilineal Ancestry:

1. William Demoskoff (b. 1914)
m. 1952 Ann Cazakoff (1926-1980)

2. Luchenia (Lukeria) Tomelin (1885-1960)
m. ca 1903 Wasyl Demosky (1883-1933)

3. Maria Terichow (ca 1865-after ca 1911)
m. ca 1884 Nicholas D. Tomelin (ca 1863-ca 1926)

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Proof Summary: Pierre Desgroseilliers’ Death Date

I recently came across an online article about organizing “your findings in a way so that readers can understand how you came to a logical conclusion”.1 I’ve been working on trying to prove that an ancestor (my maternal great-great-grandfather) didn’t die on the date seen in a local history book. After reading Susan Jackman’s article, I decided to write my own proof summary about my findings and use her summary as a model.

Proof statements, proof summaries, and proof arguments are the "three options for presenting a conclusion as proved".2 I'm still learning about all these new terms and how they are part of the GPS – the Genealogical Proof Standard.

Here’s how I did.

Proof Summary: Pierre Desgroseilliers’ Death Date

Date: 22 June 2013

Compiler: Yvonne Demoskoff

Subject: Pierre Desgroseilliers, born 1841, son of François and Elisabeth (Lemieux) Desgroseilliers

Project Definition: Prove that Pierre Desgroseilliers did not die on 28 March 1901.

Background: Two sources give three dates of death for Pierre Desgroseilliers. The first source, a local history book (Historique de la paroisse Saint-Charles) was published in 1945, some forty years after Pierre’s demise. It contains two different dates of death: 28 March 1901 and 1904 (day and month unspecified).3 The second source is Pierre’s tombstone. The tombstone says 20 March 19[??], but the online image is not quite clear enough to distinguish the year of death.4

Proof Argument: Pierre did not die on 28 March 1901, as stated in the local history book, because at least three records show him as alive after this date.

Analysis of Findings:

- 1901: Pierre, his wife Flavie and their younger children are enumerated on the 1901 census of Canada in Casimir Township in the district of Nipissing in Ontario.5 The official census date was 31 March 1901; therefore, as long as Pierre was correctly reported as being alive on this date, he could not have died on 28 March 1901.

- 1903: Pierre was present as a witness at the funeral of a widow on 18 May 1903.6 Pierre, whose name is rendered as “Pierre Desgroseilier” in the burial record, was one of the two recorded witnesses at the burial of [–?–] Lauzon, whose age is not stated and whose deceased husband’s name is not stated.

- 1903: Pierre and his wife Flavie are named as godparents at the baptism of an infant child, Ernest Xavier Gagnon, on 6 December 1903.7

Conclusion: Pierre did not die on 28 March 1901 as reported in the local history book, because at least three records put him in a given place at a given time after this date.


1. Susan Jackman, “Where Is Your Proof?”, Archives, 27 September 2011 ( : accessed 22 June 2013).

2. Thomas W. Jones, Mastering Genealogical Proof (Arlington, Virginia: National Genealogical Society, 2013), 84.

3. Lionel Séguin, Historique de la paroisse Saint-Charles (Saint-Charles, Ont., 1945: 232 and 233); digital images, Our Roots ( : accessed 18 June 2013). The author, Father Séguin, explains in the book’s foreword, that he visited each family and gathered all the details and information, which he adds was often contradictory, to compile his history of St-Charles.

4. “St Charles (Dunnet Township) Gravemarker Cemetery Gallery”, digital images, Northern Ontario Canada Gravemarker Gallery ( : accessed 17 June 2013), photograph, grave marker of Pierre Desgrosseilliers [sic], St. Charles, Ontario.

5. 1901 Census of Canada, Casimir Township, Nipissing, Ontario, population schedule, subdistrict F1-2, p. 2, dwelling 15, family 15, Piere Desgrossillier [sic]; digital image, ( : accessed 24 August 2007); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-6428 to T-6556 [T-6483]. The official enumeration date for this census was 31 March 1901.

6. St Thomas the Apostle (Warren, Ontario), parish register, 1901-1910, no page number (but digital image 4 of 25), entry no. 3 (left hand side of booklet) (1903), [–?–] Lauzon burial, 18 May 1903; St Thomas the Apostle parish; digital image, “Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923”, FamilySearch ( : 15 May 2013).

7. St-Thomas Apôtre (Warren, Ontario), parish register, 1901-1967, p. 13, entry no. 88 (1903), Ernest Xavier Gagnon baptism, 6 December 1903; St-Thomas Apôtre parish; digital image, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, ( : accessed 18 June 2013). Ernest Xavier Gagnon was the infant son of Augustin and Marie (Couvrette) Gagnon.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Friday Photo: All Bundled Up

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 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 in 1928
Maurice Belair, 1928

My father Maurice Belair.

Dad bundled up in a winter sled.

Winter 1928.

Presumably Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, where Dad was born in August 1927.

Dad looks like he was about 6-8 months old in this picture. He’s all bundled up against the cold with blankets (the top one reminds me of a sheepskin rug), so it was probably the winter of 1928, between January and March.

I love this photo of my Dad as a baby. It’s very special to me, because it’s the earliest one of him that exists and I see a strong resemblance between him as an infant and myself as a little girl.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Letter from Buckingham Palace

Letter from Buckingham Palace to Yvonne Belair
Letter from Buckingham Palace to Yvonne Belair, 1983

The imminent birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s first child makes me think back to the time of Prince William’s own birth in 1982, and of the gift I sent to him for his birthday the following year.

That gift was a family tree, which showed how he was related to five of his six godparents.

Not long after Prince William’s list of godparents was made public in late June 1982, I got to thinking how this illustrious group of people might be inter-related. I had been researching royal and noble family trees for my own pleasure for a few years, so I figured this project wouldn't be too difficult. For the most part, it wasn't, although I couldn’t establish a relationship between Prince William and the South African author Sir Laurens van der Post.1

With a bit of research, I had found that Prince William and most of his godparents shared a common ancestor: James I, King of England (r. 1603-1625).

Four godparents, Constantine II, King of the Hellenes, Lord Romsey (now the 8th Baron Brabourne), HRH Princess Alexandra (daughter of the late Prince George, Duke of Kent), and the Duchess of Westminster (wife of the 6th Duke), descend from King James I’s daughter Elizabeth (wife of Frederick V, Elector Palatine), while one godparent, Lady Susan Hussey (a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth II) descends from King James I’s son Charles I, King of England. As it happens, Prince William descends from both Elizabeth (through his father the Prince of Wales) and her brother King Charles I (through his mother Lady Diana Spencer).

I created a chart – it measured about 43 cm x 55 cm (about 17” x 22”) – showing these relationships, composed a cover letter, and then mailed my gift to Kensington Palace in June 1983.

A few weeks later, I received a letter from Lavinia Baring, the Princess of Wales’ lady-in-waiting. Mrs. Baring thanked me on behalf of the Princess, saying that “Her Royal Highness greatly appreciates […] the family tree”.

I remember thinking that my gesture might be considered a bit bold, but I also thought that my humble little gift might just be a one-of-kind present. I’m glad I went ahead and sent Prince William this family tree, because now I have a great souvenir of that time and I have a letter from Buckingham Palace for my efforts.


1. Prince William’s names and the names of his six godparents were announced by Buckingham Palace on 28 June 1982. (“His name is Prince William of Wales”, The Times (of London), 29 June 1982, p. 1.)

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Wedding Wednesday: Longest Ancestral Marriages

Wedding rings

Last month, I wrote about my oldest ancestors (Lives Well Lived: My Longest-Lived Ancestors). I enjoy doing this kind of demographic study, because I learn interesting details about my ancestors and it makes a nice change of pace from searching for those basic, but essential, facts like names, dates and locations.

Staying with the demographic theme, I searched my family tree in order to find the longest ancestral marriages.

I kept the criteria simple and limited to:
  • Generations two through seven of my ancestry (my parents to my 4x great-grandparents)
  • Marriages of fifty years or more.

The results:
  • I have data for only 51 out of 63 marriages.
  • Of these 51 marriages, 13 were 50 years of more (about 25%).
  • All the couples were French-Canadian and Roman Catholic.
  • Eleven of the 13 couples married in Quebec, while 2 couples married in Ontario.
  • Seven of the 13 couples are from my paternal line and six are from my maternal line.
  • The earliest marriage in this list is that of 7 January 1761 (when my first Belair ancestor who came to Canada married in Ste-Geneviève, Quebec) and the most recent marriage is that of 24 April 1899 (when my mother’s paternal grandparents married in Limoges, Ontario).

Yvonne's Longest Married Ancestors

Ancestral Couple
Marriage Date
Length of Marriage
Pierre Drouin & Reine Poirier
2 Mar 1829
63 years, 4 months
Jean-Baptiste Larose & Marie Louise Giroux
12 Jun 1786
59 years, 9 months
Albert Desgroseilliers & Clémentine Léveillé
24 Apr 1899
58 years, 8 months
Olivier Vanasse & Elisabeth Frappier
20 Apr 1852
57 years, 2 months
Etienne Bouvret & Marie Desanges Guyon
4 Jun 1793
56 years, 5 months
6 (tie)
Olivier Vanasse & Elisabeth Vanasse
16 Jul 1889
55 years, 4 months
6 (tie)
François Janvry dit Belair & Marie Elisabeth Martel
7 Jan 1761
55 years, 4 months
Paul Belair & Angélique Lalonde
2 Sep 1845
54 years, 5 months
Joseph Deschatelets & Angélique Caillé
19 Jan 1835
54 years, 4 months
Toussaint Lepage & Catherine Longtin
20 Oct 1823
54 years, 3 months
Joseph Léveillé & Cordélia Racette
Nov 1870
51 years, 11 months
11 (tie)
Régis Vanasse & Josephte Messier
15 Sep 1829
50 years, 8 months
11 (tie)
Joseph Caillé & Marie Angélique Houle
10 Oct 1814
50 years, 8 months

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Ancestral Anniversaries for July 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.

3 July 1633:
Marriage of Daniel Gautron and Antoinette Foubert in La Rochelle, Aunis, France. Daniel, a merchant butcher, and Antoinette did not emigrate to New France, but their younger son Michel Gautron dit La Rochelle did. They are my paternal ancestors.

11 July 1643:
Baptism of Jean Rasset (Racet; Racette) in Ste-Geneviève-en-Bray, near Dieppe, Normandie, France. A son of Pierre Rasset and Jeanne du Thy (du Til), he was in New France as early 1666, when he is enumerated in that year’s census in Beauport. He married Jeanne Chapeau in Quebec City in 1678. I have two lines of descent from this couple, who are my maternal ancestors.

15 July 1783:
Birth of François Desgroseilliers in Montreal. The eighth child of Joseph Prosper Dorval (Desgroseilliers) and Marie Charlotte Lunegand (Nunegand; Beaurosier), he was baptized the same day in that city. François is a great-great-grandchild of the famed explorer Médard Chouart, sieur des Groseilliers. François and his wife Louise Roy, whom he married in 1803, are my maternal ancestors.

21 July 1673:
Baptism of two-day old Anne Dupré (Desprès) in Quebec City. She was the third child and second daughter of Antoine Dupré (Desprès), originally from Paris, and his wife Marie Jeanne Guérin dit Brunet, originally from La Rochelle and a fille du Roi. In 1690, Anne married Nicolas Légaré, who arrived in New France in 1680. They are my paternal ancestors.

27 July 1823:
Death of Joseph Poirier dit Desloges in St-Benoît, Deux-Montagnes County, Quebec. Joseph, who was nearly 74 years old, was buried two days later there. His wife of 51 years, Marie Charbonneau, survived him. They are my paternal ancestors.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, July 01, 2013

Happy Canada Day!

Canada Day flag

Today – July 1st – is Canada’s 146th birthday!

Have a safe and Happy Canada Day, everyone!

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.