Monday, March 31, 2014

Top 5 Books I Use for French-Canadian Genealogy

When I research my French-Canadian ancestors, I have a few go-to books I like to use. These are books in my personal library that I refer to over and over again, because I always learn something from them. They range from how-to texts to genealogical works to surname guides.

Map of Quebec

Here are the top 5 books I use for French-Canadian genealogy (in no particular order):

1. Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes, 7 vols., by Cyprien Tanguay (1871–1890, reprint, Montréal: Editions Elysée, 1991).

– This 7-volume publication was considered unique and remarkable for its day. Father Cyprien Tanguay used original records to compile the genealogy of French immigrant families that settled in the province of Quebec. It has its share of errors, but is useful as a starting point for French-Canadian research.

2. Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec des origines à 1730, by René Jetté (Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983).

– This indispensable genealogical reference work can be thought of the natural successor to Tanguay’s dictionary.

3. Traité de généalogie, by René Jetté (Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1991).

– There’s a good review of this how-to genealogy book at Traité de généalogie on the Acadian and French Canadian Genealogy website.

4. Inventaire des répertoires de baptêmes, mariages et sépultures (BMS) et des recensements disponibles aux: Société de généalogie de Québec, Archives nationales du Québec (Québec), Archives nationales du Québec (Montréal), 2e edition, by Jacques Daigle, (Sainte-Foy, Québec: Société de généalogie de Québec, 2005).

– This inventory is useful when I need to know if a certain baptism, marriage or burial repertory exists for Quebec and other Canadian provinces, as well as the U.S.A. and France. It also mentions selected newspaper obituary collections, monumental inscriptions, and censuses.

5. Répertoire des noms de familles du Québec: des origins à 1825, by René Jetté and Micheline Lécuyer (Montréal: Institut Généalogique J.L. et Associés Inc., 1988).

– This two-part book contains alphabetical lists of French patronyms (surnames) that appeared in Quebec marriage records from the early 1600s to 1825 shown with their equivalent or dit name(s) and the year(s) they first appeared. For example, in part one, I learn on page 64 that my original family name Janvry has two dit names: Bélair and Desanvry and that they appeared in 1761 and 1792, respectively. When I search in part two, I find on page 131 that my current family name Belair is one of sixteen Bélair names, and that its original patronym Janvry first appeared in 1761.

Do you have favorite books you often use when doing research?

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Society Saturday: Kelowna & District Genealogical Society 2014 Conference

K&DGS logo courtesy of

Recently, Kelowna & District Genealogical Society announced their “Harvest Your Family Tree 2014 Genealogical Conference & Marketplace”. It will be held this fall from September 26 to 28 in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

I attended my first KDGS conference two years ago in September 2012 (I wrote about my experience here) and am looking forward to returning to Kelowna this year.

Some of the weekend’s highlights include the KDGS Library Open House, meet the speakers reception, 24 speaker-led workshops (beginner to advanced levels), and personal photo consultations with international photo expert Maureen Taylor.

Here are my Saturday workshop choices:

  • “Identifying and Dating Family Photographs” (with Maureen Taylor)
  • “Murder and Mayhem – Coroner’s Records & their Genealogical Importance” (with Ann ten Cate)
  • “Thinking Outside the Box” (with Dwight Radford)
  • “Canadians in the First World War” (with Dave Obee)

I’m also taking an additional workshop on Friday titled “Ten Steps to Smash through Brick Walls in Eastern European Genealogy” (with Xenia Stanford), and I’ve pre-booked my timed ticket for a photo consultation with Maureen Taylor.

If you want to know more about KDGS’s 2014 Conference, its speakers, workshops and more, visit Kelowna & District Genealogical Society website, where you can download the conference brochure.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, March 28, 2014

52 Ancestors: #13 Polly Poznekoff – Russian Baba

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the past three months of this challenge, I’ve been featuring my paternal and maternal ancestors, but now I’m changing directions to look at my husband’s family. For the 13th week, I chose Polly Poznekoff (1887-1971).

Polly was my husband’s maternal grandmother. She was born in 1887 in Russia and died in 1971 in Canada. Her obituary is available here. Polly was part of a large group of Doukhobors who immigrated to Canada in 1899 to seek a life free from the religious intolerance they had known in Tsarist Russia. She settled in Saskatchewan, married George Cazakoff, and had a family. Late in life, she lived with her only daughter Ann and her family that included her grandson Michael, my husband.
Polly Cazakoff and Michael Demoskoff
Polly (back, left) with some of her grandchildren, including Michael (centre), about 1962

Recently, I did a short interview with my husband to record some of his memories of his grandmother.

Q: What did you call your grandmother?
A: I called her Baba, which is short for Babushka (grandmother in Russian).

Q: What are some of your memories of your grandmother?
A: She made great borscht and other Doukhobor food like pyrahi [small baked vegetable-filled pastries], piroshky [the fruit tart version of pyrahi], and vareniki [perogies]. I remember one time (I was about 9 or 10 years old) when I must have had a very small breakfast and by 11 o’clock I was hungry again. She said lunch isn’t ready yet, why don’t you have a soda pop [to fill you up]. There was some pop in our basement, so I had an Orange Crush; half a bottle satisfied me until lunch.

Q: What languages did your grandmother speak at home?
A: Russian mostly, with very few English words only to my sister Margaret and me.

Q: Do you remember hearing your grandmother describe her life? What did she say?
A: I remember my mother, my sister and I would sit in the living room listening to my grandmother telling stories about life in Russia. Too bad I didn’t record these stories. The only one I remember is the one when she said when they [Doukhobors] first made plans to come to Canada, they heard that the soil was very rich and needed rocks and pebbles to break it up. She said everyone that was travelling to Canada decided to take as many rocks as they could in their luggage and clothing (pockets). The story went that when the ship sailed it was riding low in the water. When the captain found out that the passengers were hiding rocks, he had everybody throw the rocks overboard. Personally, this story doesn’t make sense (bringing rocks and weighted ship), so I assume it was folklore.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Pocket Flask

My late father Maurice Belair became the owner a pocket or hip flask when he was in his late 20s. According to Wikipedia, a pocket flask is “a thin flask for holding a distilled beverage; its size and shape are suited to a trouser pocket”. [1]
Maurice Belair flask
Maurice Belair's flask (front view)

In January 2011, I talked to Mom about Dad’s flask to see if she could tell me how he came to own one. She told me that Dad came home one day and “took out his flask”. Mom asked him “Where did you get that?” and he replied “I bought it.” He then took a drink from it. [2]

Dad bought the flask in the late 1950s, possibly in Sarnia, Ontario where they lived, before he and Mom moved to Timmins, in northeastern Ontario, in the spring of 1958.

Here are some details about the flask:

• In its leather case, it measures approximately 15.5 cm (about 6”) tall (not including the top cap) by 10.5 cm (about 4”) wide by 2.5 cm (1”) deep.

• It seems like it would hold 250 ml (8 ounces).

 The curved flask is made of glass, while its shoulders and cap are made of chrome-plated copper. There’s a tiny bit of rust on the shoulders.

 The brown leather case or holder has stitching at the bottom edge, centre back, and on its underside; it has a front center snap closure.

 The top cap (over the screw cap) has a small dent and some rust on it, with the word GERMANY stamped on top. (I wonder if this is where it was made?) There is no other information on the flask or the holder as to year or make or manufacture.
Maurice Belair flask
Maurice Belair's hip flask (back view)

I never saw my Dad use this flask, as least not so as I remember. He didn’t drink spirits much, according to Mom, preferring beer and wine. Dad stopped drinking around 1970, so he probably put the flask away at that time. I think it was stored in his bedroom dresser. After Dad passed away, I gathered most of his personal items, including his flask, and kept them in a large cardboard box in my home.

About three years ago, I took the flask out of storage. My husband photographed it for me and I filled out a “Family Treasures Form” to record details about it. I then placed the form and photos in a 3-ring binder in which I keep track of family heirlooms.


1. Wikipedia contributors, "Hip flask," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia ( : accessed 12 March 2014).

2. Jacqueline Belair (Hope, British Columbia), interview by Yvonne Demoskoff, 3 January 2011; transcript privately held by Yvonne Demoskoff (Hope, British Columbia), 2014. Jacqueline is Maurice’s widow and Yvonne is his daughter.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Women’s History Month Challenge: #5 – Maternal Ancestors

Earlier this month, Olive Tree Genealogy Blog issued herself and blogging genealogists a Women’s History Month Challenge to “write a minimum of 10 blog posts this month [March 2014] about women who have made a difference”.

So far, I haven’t participated in this terrific challenge, but l looked over the suggested prompts and thought I would give idea #5 a try. It says:

“Make a list of your direct line maternal ancestors beginning with your mother. So you will list your mom, her mom, her mom's mom and so on, back as far as you can. Now figure out how many children each female ancestor had. Did the females in your direct maternal line tend to have the same numbers of children each generation? Did they have more? Less? Were they prolific or are there few children born to each woman? Is there a pattern emerging?”

I’ve already written a post about my six-generation matrilineal ancestry (see here), so now I’ll provide a brief outline of this ancestry.

Step 1. List your mom, her mom, her mom's mom and so on, back as far as you can.

1. Jacqueline Belair (*1933)
2. Juliette Beauvais (*1901+1947)
3. Olivine Hotte (*1879+1926)
4. Marguerite Lacasse (*1839+1907)
5. Thérèse Durgey dit Doyer (*1810+1900)
6. Marie Marguerite Carpentier (*ca 1782+1874)

I can only go back to Marie Marguerite, because I haven’t found her parents, although I have an idea who they might be.

Step 2. Figure out how many children each female ancestor had.

1. My mother had three children (one son, two daughters).
2. My grandmother Juliette had nine children (two sons, seven daughters).
3. My great-grandmother Olivine had sixteen children (twelve sons, four daughters).
4. My great-great-grandmother Marguerite had eleven children (six sons, five daughters).
5. My great-great-great-grandmother Thérèse had nine children (three sons, six daughters).
6. My great-great-great-great-grandmother Marie Marguerite had twelve (or fourteen) children (five sons, seven (possibly nine) daughters).

Step 3. Did the females in your maternal line tend to have the same numbers of children each generation? Did they have more? Less?

Except for two maternal ancestors, who had the same amount of children (nine), most had different amounts. Three ancestors had 9 or less children (#1, 2 and 5), while three others had 11 or more children (#3, 4 and 6).

Step 4. Were they prolific or are there few children born to each woman? Is there a pattern emerging?

With five of my six maternal ancestors having 9 or more children, I’d say that they were very prolific. This pattern of large families is probably due to factors like religion (all were Roman Catholic), language (all were Francophone), residence (all, except for my mother once married, lived in rural areas of Quebec and Ontario), and occupation (all their husbands worked at manual labor occupations).

There's still one week left in March, so if you’d like to participate, see Women's History Month: A Challenge to Geneabloggers!

Copyright © 2104, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Church Record Sunday: Misfiled Sacramental Records

Drouin Collection screenshot from Ancestry
“Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967” (

Great-Uncle Joseph Beauvais

Last week, I wanted to find the baptism record of Joseph Beauvais, a younger brother of my maternal grandmother Juliette (Beauvais) Desgroseilliers.

I was pretty sure that great-uncle Joseph was born and baptised in 1916 in Montpellier, Papineau County, Quebec, so I logged into and went straight to the Montpellier section of the “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, bypassing the database’s search engine.

Missing Records

I was surprised to find that 1916 and 1917 were missing from Montpellier’s range of years spanning 1907 to 1941.

I decided to do a database search and found Joseph’s name. He appears in the index as “Epouse Nille Germaine Gerard Joseph Beauvais”. Whoever transcribed his name for that index put “Epouse Nille Germaine Gerard” in the prefix portion of Joseph’s name. This bit of misspelled info, located in the text’s sidebar, indicates that Joseph married (épousé) miss (Mlle) Germaine Girard.*

* Joseph’s baptism record is on the right hand side of the above image, entry number B.20.

Misfiled Records

The interesting part about finding Joseph’s baptism record, though, is that it’s with Montebello’s records in the “Drouin Collection”, instead of being with those of Montpellier.

If you take a look at the above screenshot, you’ll see Ancestry’s logo in top left corner. Beneath it in the dark strip, you can see M > Montebello > 1916-1917. These words and years indicate that the reader will find records for the town of Montebello for the years 1916 and 1917. However, these are not Montebello records, but Montpellier records.

Montpellier vs Montebello

Just below this dark strip is a piece of paper on the left that is held by paperclips. On that paper, it states:

Co. Papineau

So that’s where Montpellier’s records are – they’re filed with Montebello records.

An Explanation

During the 1940s-1960s, Institut généalogique Drouin microfilmed Catholic parish registers in Quebec and Ontario (and elsewhere). The result became known as the “Drouin Collection”. Ancestry has an indexed version of this collection, but the original collection comes from the Institute. The records can be viewed with a subscription at GénéalogieQuébec.

Thinking that Ancestry misfiled Montpellier’s records, I took advantage of my subscription with GénéalogieQuébec to verify how they were filed at this site. It turns out that Montpellier’s 1916 and 1917 records are misfiled in the same manner – with Montebello’s records.


When searching for baptism, marriage or burial records for Montpellier for 1916 and 1917 in the “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967” database at Ancestry, be sure to look instead under Montebello.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, March 21, 2014

52 Ancestors: #12 Olivine Hotte – Timeline of Her Life

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 12th week of this challenge (already 3 months!), I chose my maternal great-grandmother Olivine Hotte (1877-1926).

Olivine seems to have had a fairly typical French-Canadian, Roman Catholic life for one who was born in the 19th century. She lived at home until she married, had a large brood of children, followed her husband when he moved briefly to the U.S.A. and then back to Canada. (I wrote about this move in her husband’s story last week, which can be read here.) Olivine gave birth to her last children (twin boys) in 1921 and died, sadly, when they were only five years old, in 1926.

Timeline of Olivine Hotte

Childhood Years

10 Jan 1877 – Olivine Hotte is born in Hartwell (now Chénéville), Papineau County, Quebec. She is the eighth of eleven children of Louis Hotte and his wife Marguerite Lacasse.

15 Jan 1877 – Olivine is baptised in St-Félix-de-Valois R.C. church in Chénéville.

4 Apr 1881 – Olivine, her parents and her siblings appear on the 1881 census, residing in Chénéville.

23 Jun 1891 – Olivine, her parents and her siblings appear on the 1891 census, residing in Chénéville.

Married Years

16 Aug 1897 – Olivine marries Joseph Beauvais in Chénéville.

8 Jun 1898 – Olivine’s first child, son Ovide, is born in Chénéville.

Between 8 Jun 1898 and 25 Nov 1899 – Olivine, her husband and their young son move to Tupper Lake, Franklin County, New York, USA.

25 Nov 1899 – Olivine’s second child, son Oscar, is born in Tupper Lake.

1 Jun 1900 – I haven’t located Olivine and her family in Franklin County, New York on the 1900 U.S. census. It’s possible that they have already returned to Canada by this date.

Between 25 Nov 1899 and 31 Mar 1901 – Olivine and her family return to live in Chénéville.

31 Mar 1901 – Olivine, Joseph, and their two young sons appear on the 1901 census, residing in Chénéville.

30 Jun 1901 – Olivine’s third child, daughter Juliette, is born in Chénéville. (Juliette is my grandmother.)

Between 1 Jul 1901 and 30 Jan 1903 – Olivine, Joseph and their family move to Montpellier, near Chénéville.

30 Jan 1903 – Olivine’s, fourth child, daughter Marie-Louise, is born in Montpellier.

16 Aug 1905 – Olivine’s fifth child, son Aldège, is born in Montpellier.

4 Jan 1907 – Olivine’s sixth child, son Léger, is born in Montpellier.

3 Apr 1907 – Olivine’s mother Marguerite dies in Chénéville.

31 Jul 1907 – Olivine and Joseph are godparents to Oscar Pilon, his sister Odile (Beauvais) Pilon’s two-day old son, in Chénéville.

16 Mar 1908 – Olivine’s seventh child, son Romuald, is born in Montpellier.

7 Apr 1910 – Olivine’s eighth child, son Emile, is born in Montpellier.

17 June 1911 – Olivine, Joseph and their family appear on the 1911 census, residing in Chénéville.

17 Sep 1911 – Olivine’s ninth child, son Martial, is born in Montpellier.

26 Jan 1913 – Olivine’s tenth child, son Réal, is born in Montpellier. (Réal would later be my mother’s godfather.)

About Jun 1914 – Olivine’s, eleventh child, son Aurèle, is born in Montpellier. He was baptised between 28 May and 14 July 1914. (The record omits his date of baptism, but states that he was born the previous day.)

22 Aug 1916 – Olivine’s twelfth child, son Joseph, is born, in Montpellier.

3 Mar 1918 – Olivine’s thirteenth child, daughter Agathe, is born in Montpellier.

9 Aug 1919 – Olivine’s fourteenth child, daughter Laurette, is born in Montpellier.

7 Jun 1920 – Olivine’s eldest child Ovide marries Lucienne Duchesne in Sturgeon Falls, Nipissing District, Ontario. He is the first of her children to marry.

1 May 1921 – Olivine’s fifteenth and sixteenth children, fraternal twin sons Jean-Marie and Jean-Paul, are born in Montpellier. They are the last of Olivine’s children.

1 Jun 1921 – Olivine, Joseph and their family appear on the 1921 census, residing in Chénéville.

Later Years and Death

13 Aug 1921 – Olivine becomes a grandmother for the first time when her son Ovide’s wife gives birth to their first child, son Conrad.

5 Oct 1922 – Olivine’s second child, son Oscar, marries Rosa Robillard in Montpellier. Her husband Joseph is present at the ceremony.

Between Oct 1922 and Aug 1925 – Olivine, Joseph and their younger children move to Moonbeam, Cochrane District, Ontario.

20 Dec 1923 – Olivine’s father Louis dies in Chénéville. It’s possible that Olivine, Joseph and their family have already moved to northern Ontario, because Joseph does not appear among the list of men who were present two days later at his father-in-law’s funeral.

18 Aug 1925 – Olivine’s eldest daughter Juliette marries Eugène Desgroseilliers in Moonbeam. After the ceremony, she and Joseph are photographed with the newlyweds and their in-laws.

4 Jun 1926 – Olivine dies in Moonbeam. Cause of death: cardiac asthenia.

27 Jun 1926 – Olivine’s funeral takes place in Moonbeam. (Three weeks is a long interval between one’s death and burial. Olivine's death registration does not indicate that an autopsy took place. I wonder if that length of time was to allow family members to gather for her funeral?)

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Julie Belair

Julie Vanasse Belair
Julie (Vanasse) Belair, 1958

My beloved paternal grandmother, Julie, died 47 years ago today on 19 March 1967. I still miss you, Mémère.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Amanuensis Monday: B.C. Tourists

An amanuensis is a person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another.

Nelson, BC postcard
Front view of postcard

This vintage postcard features Main Street of Nelson, British Columbia, Canada. It was sent to Larry Cazakoff in Kamsack, Saskatchewan by his brother Nick, who was touring the Kootenay region in southeastern B.C. with their father George. (I wrote recently about the anniversary of George’s passing here.)

Nelson, BC postcard
Back view of postcard

The card is postmarked 24 July 19[??], possibly 1955 or 1956. George retired in the mid-1950s and died in March 1958, so 1955 or 1956 seems plausible for him to have travelled from his home in Saskatchewan to visit British Columbia.

The postcard reads:

Hi We’re still in Nelson

Dad was a bit sick for
a couple days but he’s
O.K. now. Sure some scenery
in the Kootneys [sic]. Will
be leaving for Grand Forks to-morrow
and then on to Vancouver.


Mr. L. G. Cazakoff postcard, Demoskoff Family Papers, privately held by Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff, British Columbia. Yvonne acquired assorted memorabilia (including this postcard) in January 2012 from her father-in-law William (Bill) Demoskoff. Bill’s wife Ann was Larry and Nick’s sister.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, March 14, 2014

52 Ancestors: #11 Joseph Beauvais – Resident of Canada and of USA

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 11th week of this challenge, I chose my maternal great-grandfather Joseph Beauvais (1877-1937).
Joseph Beauvais and wife Olivine Hotte
Joseph and Olivine (Hotte) Beauvais

Biographical Info

Joseph was born on 11 April 1877 in Ripon, Papineau County, Quebec. He was the second of seven children of Pierre Beauvais and his wife Arline Deschatelets. On 16 August 1897, Joseph married Olivine Hotte in Hartwell (later Chénéville), near Ripon. Between the birth of the couple’s first child, son Ovide, in June 1898 and autumn 1899, Joseph and his young family moved to Tupper Lake, Franklin County, New York. Since Joseph was a bûcheron (woodcutter, timberman or faller) on the 1901 census of Canada, I suspect that he was in search of work in a part of New York that was known for its lumber production. After son Oscar was born there in November 1899, Joseph was back in Hartwell by March 1901, where he is enumerated on that year’s census with his wife and two sons.

Places of Residence

After his return to Canada, Joseph lived in other communities, so to help me visualize these localities, I created an “ancestral migration” map and added his places of residences on it. I got the idea for this activity a few years ago when I came across a genealogy book or website that suggested creating a map showing where an ancestor lived. Now that I think about it, it might have been 
The Unpuzzling Your Past Workbook, by Emily Anne Croom (1996). Since that time, I’ve done a few of these maps for myself, which I title “Ancestral Migration of [name of ancestor]”. I’m not sure if author Croom coined the term, or if I came up with it on my own.
Map of Quebec and part of New York State
Image 1: Map of Quebec, including part of New York State

Image 1 shows where Joseph lived in the province of Quebec and in New York State. Note: Tupper Lake appears on this map of Quebec, but is, of course, in the USA. (Combining Canada and USA on one map was an easy way to show the location of Tupper Lake in relation to where Joseph lived in Canada.)

Map of Ontario
Image 2: Map of Ontario

Image 2 shows where Joseph lived in the province of Ontario. It was here, in Moonbeam, that he died on 17 September 1937. Joseph was survived by all of his sixteen children, his wife Olivine having predeceased him in 1926.

Make Your Own

If you’d like to make your own “ancestral migration” maps, print an outline map of your desired province or state, determine when and where your ancestor lived, locate those places of residence on your map, make a legend showing the date range of those locations, add some sticky dots (my favorite are the Avery brand ¼” round assorted colour-coding labels), and then write letters inside the dots to correspond with the legend. If you want, include capital cities or other important locations to give you an idea of how close or far your ancestor lived from those places. Be sure to give your map a title and the date you created it, and you’re done!

Source for map outlines (without the addition of yellow stickers and handwritten text added by me):

“The Atlas of Canada”, database, Natural Resources Canada ( : accessed 23 September 2009), “Reference Maps: Provincial and Territorial Outline – Quebec Map” and “Reference Maps: Provincial and Territorial Outline – Ontario Map”. The "reproduction is a copy of an official work that is published by Natural Resources Canada and [...] the reproduction has not been produced in affiliation with, or with the endorsement of, Natural Resources Canada”.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Russian Cousins

Ann Cazakoff with Mike and John Trofimenkoff

This winter scene, taken in 1950, probably in Saskatchewan, Canada, shows Ann Cazakoff photographed with her cousins Mike (left) and John Trofimenkoff (right).

Ann later married William (Bill) Demoskoff; they are my husband’s parents.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

In Memoriam: George Cazakoff

George Cazakoff and his wife Polly
George and Polly Cazakoff, 1950s

Today (March 12) marks the fifty-sixth anniversary of the death of my husband’s maternal grandfather George Wasilievitch Cazakoff. (For a brief explanation of this surname, see Surname Saturday: Cazakoff.)

George was born on 21 January 1884 in Orlovka, a village in Tiflis province in the Caucasus region of the Russian empire, now in present-day Georgia. [1] His Russian name was Gregorii.

George was one of at least four children of Wasyl Wasilievitch Cazakoff and Fedosia N. Savinkoff, Doukhobor pacifists. (I’ve previously written about this Russian religious group in Family History Through the Alphabet – S is for …) He had an older brother Mikhail (Michael), and a younger brother Nikolai (Nicholas) and sister Pologea (Polly).

In the late 1890s, George, his parents and siblings were part of a group of over 2,000 Doukhobors who left Russia for Canada. According to family tradition, they sailed on the chartered Canadian freighter S.S. Lake Huron from the Black Sea port of Batum on 22 December 1898, and arrived nearly one month later in January 1899 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. [2]
Lake Huron ship
S.S. Lake Huron [3]

The Cazakoffs settled in what was known as the South Colony in the District of Assiniboia (now the province of Saskatchewan). [4] This land, or reserve, had been specially set aside for the new Doukhobor immigrants. (Other Doukhobor immigrants settled in the Saskatchewan Colony, the Good Spirit Lake Annex and the North Colony.)

About 1905, the family moved to Simeonovka (aka Semenova), a village in the North Colony, where George married Polya Iwanovitch Poznekoff. [5] Polya, known as Polly in English, was also a Doukhobor immigrant.

The couple had nine children between 1907 and 1926: Wasyl, John, Philip, Peter, Alex, Nicholas, Lawrence, Fred and Ann. Sons Wasyl and Alex died as infants. [6]

George Cazakoff and his family
George, Polly and their sons (left to right) Philip, Pete, John and baby Nick, 1919
in front of George's first car, a 1918 Chevrolet

In 1910, George, his father and younger brother withdrew from communal living and became independent Doukhobors. [7] About six years later, George acquired a homestead in St. Phillips Rural Municipality, about ten miles northwest of Kamsack, in eastern Saskatchewan. [8]

After 39 years of agricultural work, George retired from farming in the mid-1950s. [9] He and Polly built themselves a house in the town of Kamsack, where they lived until George was taken ill.

George died on 12 March 1958 in Kamsack Union Hospital. [10] His six surviving sons were pallbearers at his funeral service two days later in the Kamsack Doukhobor Prayer Home. [11] George is interred in Riverview Cemetery, Kamsack. [12]
George Cazakoff funeral in 1958
George Cazakoff's funeral, with his sons as pallbearers, 1958

My husband Michael, who was only 5 years old when his grandfather died, has few memories of him. He remembers that he paid one or two visits to his grandparents’ large house with its wide veranda, and that George smoked cigars.


1. History Coming Alive, R.M. of St. Philips, Pelly and District, 2 vols. (Pelly, Saskatchewan: St. Philips/Pelly History Book Committee, 1988), I: 382.

2. “Doukhobors at Halifax”, The Globe, 21 January 1899, p. 13, cols. 6-7; digital images, The Globe and Mail ( : accessed 10 April 2009).

3. Photo of S.S. Lake Huron (built 1881), digital image, Norway – Heritage ( : accessed 18 January 2014).

4. History Coming Alive, I: 383.

5. History Coming Alive, I: 384.

6. History Coming Alive, I: 384.

7. History Coming Alive, I: 383.

8. History Coming Alive, I: 384.

9. History Coming Alive, I: 384.

10. Province of Saskatchewan, death registration, no. 07-002372 (1958), George Wasyl Cazakoff; Department of Public Health – Division of Vital Statistics, Regina.

11. George W. Cazakoff’s In Memoriam: A Memorial Book, Kamsack, Saskatchewan, citing funeral service on 14 March 1958; privately held by Edna (Arishenkoff) Cazakoff, White Rock, British Columbia, 2011. Edna, George’s daughter-in-law, allowed her nephew Michael Demoskoff to scan the memorial booklet during a visit to her home in January 2011. The “Pall Bearers” section lists the names of George’s sons as the pallbearers.

12. “Doukhobors in Riverview Cemetery – Kamsack, Saskatchewan”, database, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed ), entry for George W. Cazakoff (1884-1958).

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Day in My Ancestor’s Life – Pierre Belair

Last month, I made my first attempt at recreating “a day in my ancestor’s life” when I wrote about my paternal grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair; you can read her story here. I’m following up that post with a go at another ancestor: my paternal great-grandfather Pierre Belair (1851-1941). (I began the research for this article a few weeks ago, but I'm just posting the finished product today.)

Note: The questions below are courtesy of the tip of the day (“Pick A Day”) for 18 November 2013 at Genealogy Tip of the Day.

Pierre Belair
Pierre Belair as a young man

I picked 6 April 1891, when the third census for the Dominion of Canada was held. I don’t know if Pierre and his family were enumerated that day (the date is left blank on the census form), but enumerators were instructed to gather information “as it applied at midnight, when April 5 turned into April 6”. [1]

April 6 was a Monday. [2]

I didn’t find weather data for Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, where Pierre lived. Instead, I chose Montreal, where the temperature hovered between -5.6 and 0.0 on Sunday 5 April and between -3.9 and 3.3. on 6 April. [3]

• Where was my ancestor living?

Pierre lived in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, a rural community in Ottawa (now Gatineau) County, Quebec. His home was a farm house, a short distance from the village.

Belair home in Ste-Cecile-de-Masham
The Belair home (taken in the 1980s)

• Who was in his (her) household?

Besides Pierre, there was his wife Angélina (née Meunier) and their children Pierre (age 10), Paul (9), Angélina (7), Marie (5) and Jean-Baptiste (1). [4] (Jean-Baptiste, aka Fred, was my grandfather, and he was more like 1½, because he was born in December 1889.)

1891 census of Canada [5]
(Pierre's family is on the last seven lines.)

• What was the ancestor’s occupation?

Pierre was a cultivateur (farmer). He did his own work without the help of an employee, according to the census. [6] It’s too bad that the agricultural schedule of the 1891 census has not survived in manuscript form, because it would be interesting to get details about his crops, livestock and such. [7] Based on family tradition, though, Pierre engaged in general farming.

• What was the ancestor's age?

Pierre was 39 years old.

• What was going on nationally on this date (at this point in time)?

Nationally, the country’s third census had begun. A few days earlier, a newspaper worried about a “census curiosity”. The unnamed reporter wondered how the census would be able to reveal if “there are any Canadians in Canada except French Canadians”. The reporter noticed there were only two columns for nationality on the census form: “country or province of birth” and “French Canadians”, and none for “native [-born] Canadians”. [8]

Previously, but probably still in the public’s mind, was the general election that took place last month on 5 March 1891. Sir John A. Macdonald's Conservative party was re-elected at the federal level, but in the County of Ottawa where Pierre resided, the Liberal party outweighed the Conservatives. [9]

Also in the public’s mind was the Springhill mining disaster of 21 February 1891. The Nova Scotia coal mine explosion left “125 dead and dozens more injured”. The newspaper reported the latest financial contributions – amounts between 25 cents and $5.00. [10]

• What was going on locally/regionally?

One local/regional story was the continuing work of the rail line from Hull to Maniwaki of the “Ottawa and Gatineau Railway Company”. The project began in 1871, but construction didn’t start until some years later. The first section that linked Hull to Wakefield was only completed in 1891. [11]

• Were my ancestor's parents alive?

Pierre’s parents Paul and Angélique (Lalonde) Belair were alive, but I wasn't able to locate them on the 1891 census, despite a page-by-page search of the images at The couple doesn't appear to be living in the households of their other children or in the households of Paul's surviving siblings Esther (in Montreal), Mathilde and Elisabeth (in Masham), and Denis (in Gloucester Township, Ontario).

• Were my ancestor's siblings alive?

Pierre had only one sibling living in Masham: his youngest sister Adèle and her husband Jean-Baptiste Milliquette. They had two children, and were the godparents of Pierre’s youngest son Fred. Adèle and her family lived close to Pierre, because they appear on the census two households away from his property.

His other sister Lucie and younger brother Emilien lived with their respective families in Onslow, Pontiac County, Quebec. His younger brothers Jean-Baptiste and Paul lived in Hull, Ottawa County, Quebec with their families. Finally, Pierre’s eldest surviving brother Joseph moved to Ontario in about 1883, where he, his wife Emilie Berton and their children lived.

• Where would he (she) have gone to church the previous Sunday?

The village’s only Roman Catholic church is dedicated to Ste-Cécile. It’s where Pierre was baptised and married, and where his children were also baptised. Angélina was a devout woman, so it's likely that Pierre and his family attended Mass the previous day, the first Sunday after Easter. The parishioners would have heard Father A.-G. Lyonnais preach the Liturgy in Latin, since the vernacular (native language of the people) was not used until the 1960s. Curé Lyonnais was relatively new to Masham, having arrived in the community in October 1889. [12]

• Who were my ancestor's neighbors?

Some of Pierre’s neighbors were Jean-Baptiste and Elmire Meunier (Angélina’s brother), Victor and Marie Robert, Antoine and Sydonie Giroux, and his own sister Adèle and her family. Other nearby families included those of Moïse and Marie Martineau, Joseph and Justine Martineau, Louis Rose père, and Louis Rose fils and his wife Sophie née Martineau, Pierre’s first cousin.

Some Thoughts

Although I don’t know for sure, I’d like to think that Pierre had a somewhat good life. At 39 years old, he was married, the father of five (living) children, had property that he worked himself to support and feed his family. He lived in the community where he was born and raised, and where a sister and close relatives also lived.

Pierre couldn’t read or write, but that didn’t stop him from sending his sons Pierre and Paul to school, because they could read and write, according to the census.

Speaking of the census, I wonder if Pierre was the one who gave his family's details to the enumerator? Did his children gather nearby to listen and perhaps comment among themselves about their father's responses? Did Pierre have to ask Angélina about such-and-such a child's age, or did he know all of their ages by heart?

Politically, Pierre was a constituent of a traditionally Conservative county, so perhaps he voted Conservative in the March election. If so, he would have presumably been pleased when Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, came back to power for a sixth term. What if he was a Liberal, though? Did he cheer the victory of merchant C.R. Devlin, the Liberal who won the election in Ottawa County, but feel disappointed at his party’s overall loss? [13]


1. Dave Obee, Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census (Victoria, BC: Dave Obee, 2012), 135.

2. “Perpetual Calendar”, infoplease ( : accessed 11 December 2013).]

3. “Historical Climate Data”, Climate – Government of Canada ( : accessed 7 December 2013), “Montreal”.

4. 1891 census of Canada, Masham, Ottawa, Canada, population schedule, subdistrict BB, p. 31, family 113, Pierre Jeanvry household [indexed as Jeansey, but written as Jeanvry]; digital images, ( : accessed 30 July 2007); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-6412.

5. 1891 census of Canada, Masham, Ottawa, Canada, pop. sch., subdist. BB, p. 31, fam. 113, Pierre Jeanvry household.

6. 1891 census of Canada, Masham, Ottawa, Canada, pop. sch., subdist. BB, p. 31, fam. 113, Pierre Jeanvry household.

7. Obee, Counting Canada, 137.

8. “A Census Curiosity”, The [Ottawa] Evening Journal, 4 April 1891, p. 4, col. 1; digital images, ( : accessed 8 December 2013), Newspapers & Publications.

9. “History of Federal Ridings since 1867”, database, Parliament of Canada ( : accessed 10 March 2014), “General Elections”.

10. Nova Scotia, Canada, Men in the Mines ( : accessed 9 December 2013), “The Springhill Mine Disasters of 1891, 1956 and 1958”. Also, “The Springhill Disaster – another handsome addition to the relief fund”, The [Ottawa] Evening Journal, 6 April 1891, p. 2, col. 4; digital images, ( : accessed 8 December 2013), Newspapers & Publications.

11. “History of the Municipality of La Pêche”, database, Municipalité de La Pêche ( : accessed 11 December 2013). Also, “Up the Line: The Railway from Hull to Maniwaki”, database, Outaouais Heritage WebMagazine ( : accessed 11 December 2013).

12. Hector Legros, prêtre, Histoire de LaPêche et Masham (Hull, Quebec: Evêché de Hull, 1966), 113.

13. “History of Federal Ridings since 1867”, database entry for “General Elections”. The County of Ottawa was Liberal-Conservative (aka Conservative) since August 1867, and then went Liberal in March 1891.

Copyright © 2013, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, March 07, 2014

52 Ancestors: #10 Albert Desgroseilliers – A tall and bespectacled man

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 10th week of this challenge, I chose my maternal great-grandfather Albert Desgroseilliers (1879-1957).

During the first week of this challenge, I wrote about Albert’s wife Clémentine Léveillé; you can read about her here.

My great-grandfather Albert was born on 12 February 1879 in Embrun, Russell County, Ontario. He was the eighth child and fifth son of Pierre Desgroseilliers and his wife Flavie Lepage. (Five other children were born after Albert.) He received the name Norbert at his baptism the day after he was born, but was known as Albert. He was not the first son named Albert in his family, though. An earlier Albert was born in July 1873, but lived only 12 days.

Albert grew to be a tall man, about 6’5”. I don’t know when he started needing eyeglasses, but he appears to be wearing a pair in the earliest photo I have of him taken at his son Eugène’s wedding in August 1925.

In the spring of 1899, Albert married Embrun-born Clémentine Léveillé in St-Viateur church of Limoges, near Embrun, on April 24. Clémentine was a few months older than her husband, as she was born on 12 November 1878. Within a few months, the couple moved north to Nipissing (now Sudbury) District and made their home in the village of St. Charles, where Albert’s parents and other paternal relatives were now living.

Albert and Clémentine’s first child, Eugène, was born in August 1900. Thirteen more children followed between 1901 and 1923: Arthur, Alma, Ovila, Hormidas, Roméo, Anna, Léonidas, Flavie, Léandre, Donat, Ovide, Ovila, and Joseph. Two daughters and a son (Alma, Ovila and Anna) died when very young, between 1905 and 1910.

Albert Desgroseilliers
Albert (sitting, left) with his wife and six of their children, 1950s

After living in St-Charles for about 17 years, Albert moved his family further north to the quaintly named village of Moonbeam, in Cochrane District. There, his three youngest children were born. The family sustained two loses when sons Arthur (21) and Hormidas (27) died in 1923 and 1934, respectively.

The first child to marry was my grandfather Eugène, when he wed Juliette Beauvais in the summer of 1925 in Moonbeam. Albert and Clémentine became grandparents the next year when Juliette gave birth to a son in December 1926, but sadly, the child did not survive. More grandchildren, though, came at a regular pace over the years, with the last one born five years after Albert's death.

In the mid-1940s, Albert gave up farming, and moved to Sturgeon Falls, not far from St. Charles. Here, he and Clémentine lived out their remaining years.

In the fall of 1957, Albert travelled to Ottawa, presumably to visit his younger brother Célestin, who was ill. Célestin died that November in hospital. Albert must have been taken ill, as well, because he died while still in Ottawa less than a month after his brother, on 16 December 1957. His nephew Laurent (Célestin’s son) registered Albert’s death. (I’ve written here about how I learned that Albert died in Ottawa, instead of Sturgeon Falls where I had always been told he died.)

Albert’s funeral was held in Sturgeon Falls on 19 December 1957. He is buried there in St. Mary’s (Old) Cemetery.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.