Monday, September 23, 2013

Mystery Monday: Guérard – Laronde Marriage

The marriage record for my paternal ancestors Jean-Baptiste Guérard (ca 1814-after 10 Oct 1870) and Euphrosine Laronde (ca 1820-before 1861 census) does not seem to exist.

I started looking for this couple’s marriage over twenty years ago. I used published resources like Tanguay’s Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes and microfilmed ones like Loiselle Marriage Index.

Later, I searched a number of online resources when they became available on the Internet, including:

• “Drouin Collection” at
BMS2000 [baptism, marriage, burial] database
Généalogie du Québec et française d'Amérique 
Le Centre de généalogie francophone d'Amérique [Gedcom files]
Mes aieux

I also turned to a firm of Montreal-based professional genealogists for help. Unfortunately, they didn’t succeed in locating a marriage record, but they sent me a report of the types of sources they consulted without success; for example, Fichier Fabien, the Archives nationales du Québec à Montréal, and various Répertoires des mariages.1

Lake Allumette on the Ottawa River in Ontario
Lake Allumette on the Ottawa River in Ontario (ca 1870)

I might not know exactly when and where Jean-Baptiste and Euphrosine married, but I have it estimated to presumably before December 1840. That’s when their daughter Marie was born, according to her baptism, which took place in February 1841 on Ile des Allumettes.2

Thinking they might have married where their daughter was baptized, I searched the 1841-1851 mission register of St-Paul’s church in Aylmer, Quebec, which is available in the "Drouin Collection" at (St-Paul’s was established in 1841 and started keeping records that year.) I didn’t find a marriage entry for them.

I looked at the register of nearby parish of St-Grégoire-de-Naziance in Buckingham, searching page-by-page from January 1839 through to March 1841. I didn’t find the marriage record.

I extended my search to parishes further afield, like the Pembroke, Ontario missions register for 1839-1842, but was unsuccessful. (Pembroke, which lies across the Ottawa River on the Ontario side, faces Ile des Allumettes.)

I was also not successful when I looked at Ottawa’s Notre-Dame Basilica for January 1835 to July 1841. (I didn’t search earlier than 1835, because Euphrosine, who was born about 1820, probably wouldn’t be younger than 15 years old at her wedding.)

I can think of three reasons why Jean-Baptiste and Euphrosine’s marriage is impossible to find.

#1 – The family lived on Ile des Allumettes in Pontiac County, a sparsely populated and more or less wilderness area in the 1850s. The island didn’t have a resident priest at this time and was served instead by missionary priests. Jean-Baptiste and Euphrosine's marriage record may never have made it into the sacramental register in the travelling priest’s home parish. If it did, it’s in a parish that I haven’t searched or considered.

#2 – Since Euphrosine was born in the Lake Nipissing region of present-day Ontario, she might have married there.3 If she was married by a missionary priest, he might have lost or mislaid the record before he reached his usual parish.

#3 – Euphrosine and Jean-Baptiste might have wed in a Native Indian ceremony with the event going unrecorded.4

So, after 20 years of looking, this is where I’m at  the same place as I was at the beginning of my quest.

Could it be that I’ve overlooked a particular parish? Could it be that my Guérard – Laronde ancestors’ marriage record doesn’t exist?

What about you, dear readers? How would you proceed?


1. Institut généalogique J.L. & associés inc., “Rapport de recherche en généalogie concernant le couple Guérard-Laronde”, prepared by Micheline Lécuyer, prés., Montreal, Quebec, for Yvonne Demoskoff, 10 September 1991; copy privately held by Yvonne Demoskoff, Hope, British Columbia, 2013.

2. St-Paul (Aylmer, Quebec), parish register, 1841-1851, p. 14 verso, no entry no. (1841), Marie Guéra[r]d baptism, 4 February 1841; St-Paul parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : 11 March 2008). Marie’s date of birth “dans le mois de décembre dernier” (in the month of December last) is stated in her baptism record. The baptism took place in the mission of St-Alphonse de Liguori on Ile des Allumettes, but recorded in St-Paul’s sacramental register.

3. 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”, ( : 4 March 2011). Euphrosine was 3 years old. Her baptism entry states she was born “au Lac Népiscingue” [Lake Nipissing].

4. Euphrosine’s father Toussaint Laronde appears to be the son of a French-Canadian father and an Aboriginal mother. Her mother Marie Kekijicoköe [Kekijicakoe], described as “une sau[va]gesse” in her daughter’s baptism record, was probably Ojibwa (Chippewa, Algonquin).

Image credit: 

“Lake Allumette on the Ottawa River in Ontario” (ca 1870), by Alfred Worsley Holdstock (1820-1901), W.H. Coverdale Collection of Canadiana, Library and Archives Canada.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – How Many Children/Grandchildren in Your Birth Surname Line?

It’s Saturday, so it's another "Saturday Night Genealogy Fun" at Genea-Musings!

Tonight’s challenge is “How Many Children/Grandchildren in Your Birth Surname Line?” Here’s how Randy explains the mission:

1) Consider your Birth Surname families - the ones from your father back through his father all the way back to the first of that surname in your family group sheets or genealogy database. List the father's name, and lifespan years.

2) Use your paper charts or genealogy software program to create a Descendants chart (dropline or graphical) that provide the children and their children (i.e., up to the grandchildren of each father in the surname list).

3) Count how many children they had (with all spouses), and the children of those children in your records and/or database. Add those numbers to the list. [...]

4) What does this list of children and grandchildren tell you about these persons in your birth surname line? Does this task indicate areas that you need to do more research to fill out families and find potential cousins?

5) Tell us about it in your own blog post, or in a comment to this post, or in a comment on Facebook or Google+.

Here are my results:

1) My birth surname families begin with the earliest BELAIR ancestor who came to New France.

• François Janvry dit Belair (ca 1731-1817) had 6 children and 58 grandchildren.
• Pierre Janvry dit Belair (1772-1848) had 25 children and 73 grandchildren.
• Paul Janvry dit Belair (1822-1922) had 9 children and 69 grandchildren.
• Pierre Janvry dit Belair (1851-1941) had 16 children and 64 grandchildren.
• Ménésippe (Fred) Belair (1889-1991) had 6 children and 12 grandchildren.
• Maurice Belair (1927-1996) had 3 children and 3 grandchildren.

2) I used the family group sheets I originally created when I first started compiling the descendants of my original Belair ancestor and that I added to over the years whenever I found more descendants.

3) I’m almost certain that I haven’t located all the descendants of the daughters in my Belair line, but I was able to calculate at least all their known issue.

4) Interesting points about this list of children and grandchildren:

• Six generations had 65 children (an average of 10.8) and 279 grandchildren (an average of 46.5).
• The second generation (Pierre) had the most children, while the sixth generation (Maurice) had the least children.
• I don’t think living in rural areas (for the first four generations) had an effect on the number of children versus living in urban centres (for the last two generations). It seems to be more of a case of how many wives each generation had. (See next point.)
• Generations two (Pierre) and four (Pierre) probably had the most children because they each married twice. (Generation four Pierre married a third time, but didn’t have children by that wife.)

5) Done in my own blog post and I’ve left a comment at Genea-Musings!

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Eugene and his daughter

Eugene Desgroseilliers with his daughter Mariette in 1928
Eugene Desgroseilliers and his daughter Mariette, 1928

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of the passing of my maternal grandfather Eugène Desgroseilliers, who died on 20 September 1960 in Sarnia, Lambton County, Ontario.

I wanted to honour his memory by posting this wonderful photo of him and his little girl Mariette.

My aunt (who passed away in 2008) appears to be about six or seven months old, while my grandfather was 27 years old (or 28, if the picture was taken on or after his birthday on 30 August).

Eugene, his wife Juliette and their infant daughter lived in Hearst, Cochrane District, Ontario, so that lake behind him is possibly Lac Ste-Thérèse, located just north of town.

Isn’t my grandfather handsome in his police uniform and my Aunt Mariette adorable with her little black patent leather shoes?

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Book of Me – Prompt 3 – Describe your physical self

The Book of Me, Written By You is a newly-created project by Julie Goucher at Anglers Rest. As Julie says, “It is about a personal journey; a journey of rediscovery of yourself and perhaps your loved ones through your eyes”. You can participate through her blog or through GeneaBloggers. For more information, see here.

Prompt 3: Describe your physical self.

• Your size – clothes size

Humm… my size, eh? Not sure I want to share this bit of detail, but I’ll start with my height. I’m on the short side, 5’ 4¾”, but when I fill out forms or talk to people, I usually round up my height to 5’ 5”. I take a size 9½ in footwear, sometimes a 10, depending on the style of shoe. Clothes, well, that depends on the brand and the style, but I usually wear a L or XL.

I have pierced ears, which I got when I was about 18 or 19. I had them done at Peoples Jewellers not long after the store opened in my hometown in the late 1970s. I was a bit curious about pierced ears back then, but wasn’t really sure I wanted to get some and thought it would hurt. One day while at the Mall, Mom and I walked casually into Peoples. After a few minutes, she told me to sit down and get my ears pierced. (Mom didn’t really force me, though. She probably knew I wanted them, but couldn’t make up my mind, so she ‘helped’ me make a decision.) It barely hurt and I couldn’t figure out why I ever worried about the procedure.

I’ve worn eyeglasses ever since I was nine years old. It was common practice back then at my elementary school to do a basic vision test at the start of the school year and one day in Grade 4, my fellow students and I had our eyes were checked. The public health nurse must have given me a slip to take home or perhaps she informed the teacher who then contacted my Mom. Not long after, I had an after-school appointment to see Dr. James Chisholm in town, an optometrist my parents knew. All I remember about that initial appointment was trying on different styles of eyeglasses, liking a particular pair very much, and wanting to walk out of the store with them. It was quite a surprise to be told that the frame I had on didn’t contain real lenses and that I’d have to wait a few weeks before I’d get my prescription eyeglasses. I think that first pair were cats eye-shaped frames, nerdy but fashionable in 1967.

• Scars

I have a small scar on my upper right arm just above my elbow. I still remember how I got it, too. I was walking in Sears department store in Chilliwack, doing some shopping just before my wedding in August 1989. I walked into a clothing rack (I guess I wasn’t paying attention) and scratched my arm. I felt so upset about this little accident, because I didn’t want a scar to show on my wedding day. Over the years, the scar seems to have reduced and today it’s not as long or as visible as it used to be.

I also have a few chicken pox scars that I got from scratching myself when I had that illness as a teenager, but the couple I used to see on my face have faded over time and the others on my back have faded, too.

• Eye colour

Brown. Always been brown. Love my brown eyes. I don’t really remember my maternal grandfather Eugène Desgroseilliers (being only two years old when he passed away), but Mom used to tell me of when we'd visit him he’d rock me and call me affectionately “Ma p’tite poule noire” [my little black chicken] because of my dark eyes and hair.

• Draw your hands

I’m pretty sure I must have drawn my hands for art class in elementary school and later on when I used to do crafts with my son Nicholas when he was a little boy. I wouldn’t normally think of drawing my hands today as an adult, but it sounds like a worthwhile activity for genealogy and the Book of Me.

• Finger Prints

I’ve never had my fingerprints done officially or for fun. My husband Michael has, though, for his security clearance when he worked for a national telecommunications company. Our son Nicholas was also fingerprinted as part of a safety program when he was a child. I might get out some ink from my scrapbooking supplies and do an impression for posterity, though.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Joseph Beauvais

Tombstone of Joseph Beauvais and members of his family
Gravemarker of Joseph Beauvais and members of his family

My maternal great-grandfather Joseph Beauvais passed away 76 years ago today on 17 September 1937. He was 59 years old; cause of death was chronic endocarditis.1 Joseph died in the village of Moonbeam, Cochrane District, Ontario, where he and his family moved to in the mid-1920s. He was buried there two days later.

Mom’s only memory of her grandfather Joseph is of attending his funeral. She remembers how her father Eugène picked her up so that she could see her grandfather in his coffin. At four years old, the experience scared her and she never forgot it.

Although I visited Moonbeam a couple of times in the 1970s when I lived in Ontario, I never thought of stopping by the cemetery. I was fortunate to find a photograph of his tombstone online.2

Joseph’s name and that of his wife Olivine and two of their children (Marie-Louise and Aldège) are inscribed on the marker.

The gravemarker reads:


Epoux / JOSEPH BEAUVAIS / 1878 – 1937
Epouse / OLIVINE NEE HOTTE / 1879 – 1926
Fils / ALDEGE / 1905 – 1940
Fille / MARIE-LOUISE / 1903 – 1947


1. “Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947”, database and digital images, ( : 9 February 2012), entry for Joseph Beauvais, 17 September 1937.

2. Moonbeam Cemetery, database and digital images ( : accessed 12 September 2013), photograph, gravestone for Joseph Beauvais (1878-1937), Moonbeam, Ontario. Used with permission.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Photo: At Home

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 and his sister Margaret
Michael and Margaret Demoskoff, 1956

Michael and Margaret Demoskoff.

My husband Michael and his baby sister Margaret pose for a photo on their parents’ bed.

Around December 1956, because Margaret looks like she’s about 8 months old.

At their parents’ home near Pelly, Saskatchewan.

If it was December, Michael’s father might have taken this photo (there are two or three in this set) at Christmas time.

Michael loves this photo, because he remembers the family’s farmhouse and his parents’ bedroom. He told me how he and Maggie, when a bit older, used to get into trouble for jumping and bouncing on the bed. He also remembers how his father had a fold-out bellows Kodak camera and 120 film and thinks he used it to take this picture.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Learning from Past Mistakes

Warning sign

James Tanner of Genealogy’s Star posted an interesting article today. It’s called “Copy and Paste Genealogy -- Is this the future?” and it’s about how some people are given a family tree chart and focus only on the unknown individuals. He explains how these people aren’t interested in learning more about the names that are already on the chart, because they're already discovered and therefore are ‘finished’ – in other words, there’s no need for them to further investigate the found ancestors.

I know from experience that it’s essential to do just that – investigate those found ancestors to make sure that whatever past research has been done on them is correct.

Some thirty years ago, I corresponded with a relative who had been doing genealogy for a good number of years. She was my mother’s cousin and a retired teacher. I had been researching my family tree for a few years, but was still mostly a beginner. To help me out, she sent me a family tree chart and papers of some of the work she had done on a line she and my mother shared. I was thrilled to receive this package! I figured some of the work is already done for me and I could just sit back and enjoy the material. I didn’t need to do my own research, I rationalized, because it was already done. I happily incorporated the information into my notes and moved on to other ancestors.

I bet you’re thinking at this point that I probably ran into problems, right? I did. I don’t remember exactly how many years it took (I think it was 5-10 years), but one day, I tried to connect other maternal lines to that earlier line and just couldn’t make the connection. What could be wrong? I had the paperwork my correspondent sent me; surely there couldn’t be any mistakes, could there?

Unfortunately, there was.

After I did my own research on this particular line, I realized there was an extra generation on the pedigree chart. It turned out that my relative had inadvertently attached people who weren’t my ancestors.

In the end, this mistake didn’t affect the remaining portion of the pedigree, but it gave me unnecessary work and lost time trying to unravel the relationships of people who didn’t belong on that chart.

If only James had written his article in the 1980s. I might have realized early on the importance of doing all of my own research and avoiding “copy and paste genealogy”.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Those Places Thursday: St-Joseph and St-Charles Schools

Here in British Columbia, school has been in session since last Tuesday (September 3rd). Just about every year at this time, I think back to my elementary school days in Timmins, Ontario and reminisce about how I loved school.

What I loved most about school was learning new stuff. I was a good student in every subject (except Arithmetic). I behaved, I was quiet and studious, I was eager to please and eager to help.

There were times, though, when school wasn’t such a nice place. I was very poor at Arithmetic and would be kept in class during part of recess so that the teacher could get me to understand a concept. (I didn't mind so much losing the chance to play outside at recess, but worried that I was different from the other children.) Some of the boys would make fun of my last name (they made up rhymes and teased me), and walking to and from school in winter was an ordeal on many days. (I can still see myself slipping and falling on icy patches.)

My schools, St-Joseph and St-Charles, were rather plain looking two-storied buildings that shared one large town block. St-Joseph was the smaller building and had eight (possibly ten) classrooms; it’s where I did Grades 1 and 2. St-Charles was bigger and had twenty classrooms (four in the basement and eight on each of the two floors); it’s where I did my Kindergarten and Grades 3 through 6.

The two schools were part of what was known as separate schools. These were French or English Roman Catholic schools where Catholic children could be instructed in their language and in their faith. Very basically, we were ‘separate’, because we weren’t public, non-denominational schools.

Our teachers were mostly women (the first time I was taught by a male teacher was in Grade 6), a fair amount of whom were from the Soeurs de l’Assomption de la Sainte Vierge (s.a.s.v.), an order of teaching nuns.
Yvonne Belair and her sister Marianne in 1966
Yvonne (right) and her sister Marianne, 1966

This picture of my sister and I shows us in our school uniforms: a navy blue jumper (sleeveless V-neck dress that fell just above our knees), a white blouse, and a red tie and vinyl red belt. Marianne and I were 5½ and 8 years old, so we were in Grades 1 and 3, respectively. I can tell it was winter time, because we’re wearing pants. Our hometown had very cold winters, so we wore tights and pants under our uniforms because we walked to school. (We took off the pants once in class and stored them with our coats, boots, hats and mittens.)

Let’s see if I remember the names of my teachers.

• Kindergarten: Madame Sylvia St-Jean
• Grade 1: Mademoiselle Dagenais
• Grade 2: Soeur Lorraine Marie, s.a.s.v. (Sister Lorraine Marie was also the principal at St-Joseph. Whenever she had to attend to some official duty, a stand-in teacher would take over the class.)
• Grade 3: Mademoiselle Blanche Desjardins
• Grade 4: Madame Jeanne Lauzon
• Grade 5: Mademoiselle Dicaire
• Grade 6: Mademoiselle Larose, Monsieur N… (a male teacher from Haiti), Madame Jastrebski, and Mademoiselle Nicole Melançon (I don’t recall why we had a group of teachers during Grade 6, as opposed to one teacher in previous Grades. I remember that Miss Larose and the male teacher were replaced in the first few months by Mrs. Jastrebski and Miss Melançon, because we were somewhat of a rowdy bunch. Miss Melançon knew how to tame us, and she quickly became our favorite.)

I still have a few souvenirs from my K-6 school years:

• my Diplôme “Jardin d’Enfants” (kindergarten diploma)
• a few examples of classwork (printed letters and numbers)
• some artwork (from Easter and other holidays)
• a holy image (which I received for learning the Gloire au Père)
• my bulletin scolaire (Grade 3 year-end report)

St-Joseph and St-Charles were eventually found to be too old (I think they were built in the 1930s or 1940s) and outdated and were torn down to make way for one modern school in the 1970s or 1980s.

I have (mostly) great memories of my school days. What about you, dear readers? What memories or stories do you have of your school days?

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday: Wasyl Demosky

Wasyl Demosky gravemarker
Wasyl Demosky gravemarker

Wasyl Demosky was my husband’s paternal grandfather. He died on 12 September 1933, eighty years ago this Thursday. He was buried two days later in Tolstoy Doukhobor Cemetery, just north of Veregin, Saskatchewan. I wrote a brief article about him last year.

Although Wasyl’s surname is spelled “Demoskoff” on his grave, his name was Demosky. I suspect that his younger sons George and William (who changed their name from Demosky to Demoskoff in 1940) were the ones who modified their father’s name when a marker was chosen.

Wasyl’s gravemarker reads:

1883 – 1933

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Sunday’s Obituary: Fred G. Cazakoff

Fred G. Cazakoff obituary
Fred G. Cazakoff obituary, 1985

Fred, my husband’s maternal uncle, passed away on 11 September 1985. He was the youngest son and eighth child of George and Polly (Poznekoff) Cazakoff. He was also the closest in age to his only sister Ann, who predeceased him in July 1980

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

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, September 07, 2013

The Book of Me – Prompt 2 – Your Birth

The Book of Me, Written By You is a newly-created project by Julie Goucher at Anglers Rest. As Julie explain, “It is about a personal journey; a journey of rediscovery of yourself and perhaps your loved ones through your eyes”. You can participate through her blog or through GeneaBloggers. For more information, see here.

Prompt 2: Your Birth

• Do you have any baby photos?

I have a few black and white baby photos. The earliest picture of me is when I was 12 days old taken on the day I was baptised.

• Where were you born?

St. Mary’s Hospital (now Timmins and District Hospital) in Timmins, Ontario, Canada.

• Who was present at your birth?

Mom and one or two nurses were present at my birth. (The doctor told Mom that I wouldn’t be born until later in the morning, so he left her in the care of the nurses. I fooled him, though, and was born about an hour after he left.) Dad was at home, sleeping. (He brought Mom to the hospital about 8 p.m., but didn’t stay long, because he was told it would be a few hours before I made my appearance.)

• Dimensions?

Height: 18¼“. Weight: 6 lbs. 4½ oz.

• What day was it? Time?

Wednesday at 2:10 a.m. (I still have my hospital baby ID bracelet.)

• Did you have hair? Eye colours

Lots of dark hair and brown eyes.

• Are you a twin?

No, but I would have liked to have been one.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, September 06, 2013

Funeral Card Friday: Elizabeth Vanasse

Elizabeth Vanasse (1861-1947) funeral card
Front and back of memorial record

This lovely memorial record was printed for the funeral of my paternal great-grandmother Elizabeth (Vanasse) Vanasse. Folded, it measures 14 cm x 8 cm (approximately 5½“ x 3¼”). My aunt Joan (one of Elizabeth’s granddaughters) sent me the booklet with other family memorabilia in late 1987.

Elizabeth Vanasse (1861-1947) funeral card
Inside text of memorial card

My great-grandparents Elizabeth and Olivier Vanasse, who married in July 1889 in Chapeau, Pontiac County, Quebec, were first cousins. They had nine children, including my grandmother Julie.

Elizabeth passed away on 1 September 1947 in Ottawa, where she lived after Olivier’s death. The funeral was held there two days later, followed by interment in the cemetery of St-Alphonsus of Liguori (Roman Catholic) church in Chapeau, where she lived most of her life.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday Photo: Visiting Cousins

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 with his brother sisters and cousins
Belair siblings with Philippe cousins

Maurice Belair (centre) with (left to right) his sisters Darlene and Joan and his brother Ray. With them are their cousins Joan (facing Darlene) and Delia Philippe (far right).


My Dad Maurice and his brother and sisters pose with their cousins.


About 1941 or 1942, probably late spring or early autumn. (Dad looks like he’s wearing thick socks with his boots.)


At my grandparents Fred and Julie’s home in Fauquier, Cochrane District, Ontario.


The Philippe family, who lived in Timmins, Ontario was probably on a visit to my Dad’s family. Joan and Delia’s father Joseph was my grandfather Fred’s nephew, being the son of his late sister Angélina (Belair) Philippe.

I love this photo, despite its poor shape and left-side tear. It’s small, measuring about 7 cm x 9 cm (approximately 2¾” x 3½”). The picture is one of my favorites, because it shows my father Maurice and his siblings when they were young, happy and healthy. It’s also only one of a few photos taken during the time when the family lived in Fauquier in northeastern Ontario.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Ottawa's Parliament Hill – Who Owned It?

View of Barrack Hill and the Ottawa River at Bytown (Ottawa)
View of Barrack Hill and the Ottawa River at Bytown (Ottawa)

Yesterday, I spent a couple of hours going through some old genealogy file folders I created about 30 years ago. (I was young when I started genealogy ☺) I looked over each folder, filled with mostly general topics. I kept what I wanted, re-filed some material under more appropriate headings, and put the rest in a discard/recycle pile.

One file that got my interest was the one about the city of Ottawa. Back when I started being interested in my family’s history and genealogy, my grandfather Fred used to tell me the story about how his paternal ancestors once owned the land on which the federal parliament buildings are now located in Canada's capital.

The story went something like this: my grandfather’s father Pierre Belair (1851-1941) or his grandfather Paul Belair (1822-1902) owned property in what was later downtown Ottawa. His ancestor sold his land for a pair of oxen. In time, Canada’s federal government was built here and this area called Barrack Hill became known as Parliament Hill.

When I first heard this story, I thought it was pretty fantastic. But, I also thought that my grandfather’s tale might be too fantastic and wondered if he was pulling my leg.

About a decade later, I visited my sister and her young family in Ottawa. While there, I went to the land registry office to see if I could find any evidence that my Belair ancestors owned land in Ottawa. I told the clerk what I knew and asked if there were any documents that showed early 1800s Ottawa land owners. She couldn’t go that far back, she said. I then asked if there were any documents showing who owned the land before it became Crown property. She showed me some early documents or maps. I forget how old they were, but they weren’t helpful, and I couldn’t find my Belair ancestors on them.

After thanking the clerk, I visited the City of Ottawa Archives. I found a government publication that gave me some information, but not what I was hoping for. I read in a book that the Parliament Hill land “originally formed part of a 600-acre lot granted by the Crown, in 1802, to Jacob Carman, the son of a United Empire Loyalist” and that later, the current owner Hugh Fraser sold the land to Governor Dalhousie in 1823.1

So, it turned that someone did own the land that later became Parliament Hill, but it wasn’t my ancestor. I don’t really think my Pépère Fred deliberately told me a tall tale. I believe there might be a grain a truth in the story, but that I just haven’t found it. Maybe one day I will.

1. Parliament Hill / La Colline parlementaire, by Dr. Lucien Brault (Ottawa: National Capital Commission), ‘Introduction’.

Image credit:
“View of Barrack Hill and the Ottawa River at Bytown (Ottawa)”, by Edmund Willoughby Sewell (1800-1890). Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1991-120-3.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Book of Me – Prompt 1 – Who am I?

The Book of Me, Written By You is a newly-created project by Julie Goucher at Anglers Rest. You can participate in this 15-month-long activity at Julie's blog and at GeneaBloggers, where Thomas MacEntee explains that The Book of Me, Written By You is “a series of blogging and writing prompts that help family historians capture their own memories and write about themselves.” He adds that “members of GeneaBloggers and others are invited to either create a post at their blog or keep a written journal with their answers”. For more information, see here.

Prompt 1: Who Are You?

The prompt for week 1 is a recognized psychology test: Ask yourself 20 times “Who are you?” Each time you should give yourself a different answer, and if you can easily go beyond 20 entries then that is fine too. This prompt is about how YOU see YOU.

Here are my (26) answers, in no particular order, to “Who am I?”

I’m a daughter,
a wife,
a mother,
an aunt,
a godmother,
a sister-in-law,
a cat owner,
a researcher,
a blogger,
a dancer,
an historian,
a book lover,
a believer in God,
a monarchist,
a genealogist,
a crafter,
a writer,
an organizer,
a collector,
a recycler,
a mystery fan,
a music lover,
a reader,
a thinker,
a tourist,
a vinophile.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Ancestral Anniversaries for September 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.

2 September 1693:
Death of Jean Cauchon in Château-Richer, Montmorency County, Quebec. He was buried there the next day; he was between 65 and 72 years old. Originally from Dieppe, Normandy, France, Jean came to New France in 1639 with his father, his stepmother and his siblings. He married Madeleine Miville in 1652, by whom he had sixteen children. Jean and Madeleine are my maternal ancestors.

4 September 1663:
Birth of Gabriel Lemieux in Quebec City. He was baptized there the following day. Gabriel was the second but eldest surviving son of his parents Gabriel and Marguerite (Leboeuf) Lemieux, immigrants from Normandy and Champagne provinces of France. Marguerite died when Gabriel was young, when he was between 3 and 8 years old. As an adult, Gabriel worked in the fur trade. He and Jeanne Robidou, whom he married in 1690, are my maternal ancestors.

6 September 1683:
Marriage of Jean Brousseau and Anne Greslon in Quebec City. Jean was an immigrant from Poitou, France, while Anne was born in the colony of New France. Their union, which produced five children, lasted sixteen years until his death in 1699. Jean, who was a joiner (carpenter), and Anne are my maternal ancestors.

10 September 1933:
Baptism of Jacqueline Desgroseilliers in Notre-Dame de l’Assomption R.C. Church in Hearst, Ontario. Her godparents were Réal Beauvais and Agathe Beauvais, her mother’s younger brother and sister. Born on 30 August 1933, she was the sixth child of Eugène and Juliette (Beauvais) Desgroseilliers. Jacqueline is my mother.

12 September 1703:
Marriage of Charles Cassé (Lacasse) and Françoise Paquet in Beaumont, Bellechasse County, Quebec. Both born in 1682, Charles was the youngest child of Antoine Cassé (Lacasse) and his wife Françoise Pilois (Pilié), while Françoise was a younger child of Isaac Paquet and his wife Elisabeth Meunier. They had ten children, all born or baptized in Beaumont. Charles and Françoise are my maternal ancestors.

22 September 1653:
Arrival of Pierre Godin dit Châtillon at Quebec City. Pierre had signed a contract earlier that year in May. Originally from the province of Burgundy, France, Pierre was a master carpenter. He married Jeanne Rousselier (Rousselière) the following year in October 1654 in Montreal. They relocated to Acadia about 1676, where Pierre died in the mid-1680s. Pierre and Jeanne were my paternal ancestors.

29 September 1703:
Death of Louise Chevalier in Beauport, Quebec County, Quebec. She was buried there the same day. Louise, who was one month shy of her 44th birthday, was the wife of Jacques Parent. The couple had thirteen children. Jacques remarried twice after his wife’s passing. He and Louise are my maternal ancestors.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.