Friday, May 30, 2014

Family Friends Friday: Aunt Jackie

Jackie Lalande and Yvonne Demoskoff in May 2014
Aunt Jackie (left) and Yvonne, May 2014

What a wonderful time I had with Matante Jackie when I visited Timmins earlier this month. We hugged, we talked, and we reminisced. We hadn’t seen each other since 1983, so we had a lot of catching up to do.

I should point out that Aunt Jackie isn’t my aunt by blood or by marriage, but she’s been a part of my life ever since I was a baby that I naturally call her “Aunt”.

My Mom Jackie and Aunt Jackie quickly became good friends soon after Mom and Dad moved to Timmins in the late 1950s. Besides their name, Mom and Aunt Jackie shared a few things in common: they were born in the same month and year (August 1933), have the same background (French-Canadian and Roman Catholic), and were married with young families. But most of all, they loved to play cards.

It didn’t take long for Mom and Aunt Jackie to find other like-minded players. They met informally at each other’s houses, usually in the evening, week day or week end. All it took for a card game to happen (their favorite was “May I”) was for someone to phone the house, ask if the person was interested, and if so, phone the others until 4 to 6 players were available. The routine was the same each time over the next twenty or so years. If the game took place at our house (the friends took turns hosting in their homes), Mom would prepare the coffee and snack (egg salad sandwiches were usual), get the decks of cards from the kitchen drawer, make sure she had some change, and placed enough chairs at the kitchen table.

Jacqueline Belair and Jackie Lalande about 1973
Mom (left) with some of her card-playing friends, including
Aunt Jackie (2nd from right), about 1973

My sister Marianne and I loved seeing Aunt Jackie at these gatherings; she was always nice to us and made a point of paying attention to us when she arrived at our house. Aunt Jackie was often the early bird, so we’d have time to chat before the rest of “the girls” arrived. Later, as teenagers, we’d drop in to see her when she worked at Bucovetsky’s department store if we happened to be in town after school. She always greeted us with a smile and asked us how we were.

I’m so glad to have had the chance to see dear Aunt Jackie during my visit to Timmins. It’s too bad we live so far apart, but I have terrific memories of the days when she and Mom played cards.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

52 Ancestors: #22 Louise Drouin

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 22nd week of this challenge, I chose Louise Drouin (1835-1890).

Louise Drouin is my paternal great-great-grandmother and is number 19 in my ancestor list.

She was the fifth of ten children of Pierre Drouin, a day laborer, and his wife Marie Reine Poirier. Louise was the eldest surviving daughter of her parents, her two elder sisters (both named Marie Louise) having predeceased her in 1831 and 1834, respectively.

Louise, sometimes known as Eloise, was baptized on 16 August 1836 in St-Benoît (now Mirabel, a little to the north of Montreal) in Deux-Montagnes County, Quebec. According to her baptism record, she was born in July 1835. It’s possible that she was born in Cornwall, Ontario, where her father Pierre resided and worked at the time of her baptism.

I haven’t been able to trace where her parents and siblings lived in the 1840s, but the family lived somewhere in the southwestern part of the province of Quebec. By the 1851 census, the Drouin family, including 17-year-old “Leuesia”, is enumerated in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham in Gatineau County.

It was here in Masham that Louise met and married her fourth cousin Ménésippe Meunier, who I wrote about last week for 52 Ancestors; see his story here. The couple, who wed on 4 October 1853, had eleven children between 1855 and 1874, including my great-grandmother Angélina Meunier (1855-1896), whose story I wrote last February for 52 Ancestors.

After Ménésippe’s death in January 1883, Louise married widower Joseph Poliquin on 14 September 1884 in Masham. Louise and Joseph, a voyageur and later a day laborer, didn’t have children.

Louise died on 13 March 1890 in Masham; she was 53 years old, according to her burial record. Two days later, her funeral took place in the parish cemetery, with her younger son Gédéon Meunier in attendance.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Remembering Aunt Simone

Simone, who was Mom’s elder sister, died one year ago today on 28 May 2013. She had been in poor health for some time, but died peacefully.

One of the things I remember the most about Aunt Simone is her visits to our home in Timmins. She, with one or two of her children in tow, would drive north to see us, either in July or August. Here, Aunt Simone liked to spend time picking wild blueberries to take back home. After we moved to British Columbia, Aunt Simone came west, often travelling with sister Madeleine. She still loved to pick berries during those visits.

Aunts Madeleine (left) and Simone after berry picking, July 1991, Hope, BC

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

I’m Back from My Trip to Ontario

CN Tower
CN Tower (Toronto) seen in the distance

It’s been five days since I got back home from my trip to Ontario. I’ve caught up with the laundry, but I’m still viewing emails and reading assorted blog posts that I missed while I was away from my PC.

My husband, our son and I had a terrific holiday. We visited relatives and friends in four towns in ten days, and if I had to do it again, I would set a slower pace or allow more time. I had planned a certain amount of work for myself, and got it mostly done.

Snow on rental car in Timmins Ontario
Snow on our rental car (Timmins)

We ran into all kinds of weather while in Ontario, from rain when we landed at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on May 13th, to snow when we arrived in Timmins on May 15th, to sun when we visited London on May 19th.

Everyone was so kind, welcoming, generous and helpful during our stay. I last saw some cousins and aunts anywhere from 24 to 31 years ago, so it was exciting to arrive at their homes but emotional to leave when we had make our way to the next town.

Lock 21 in Peterborough Ontario
Lock 21 (Peterborough)

We didn’t get to tour everything on our list (in retrospect, it was pretty ambitious), but some of what we saw include the CN Tower (although we didn’t go to the top) and the CBC Radio-Canada Museum in downtown Toronto, Lock 21 in Peterborough, and museums and cemeteries in Timmins. While here, I ran into an old family friend, Nicole Gauthier, as I was getting out of the car at the Timmins Public Library. We hadn’t seen each other since a few years before my family left Ontario for British Columbia in 1979. What an unexpected, but happy chance meeting. (I wrote about the recent passing of Nicole’s father, Lionel Gauthier, at Family Friends Friday: Lionel Gauthier.)

Tired trio on return flight home
Selfie of a tired trio on return flight home

Now that I’m at home, I’m going through all the genealogical goodies I accumulated while back east. Let’s see, I’ve got scanned images of documents and photos, photocopies, photographs, family artifacts, letters, obituaries, funeral cards and newspaper articles, photo albums, souvenirs, purchases, recorded conversations and interviews, as well as material, including civil registrations, that I researched during the two days I spent at the Archives of Ontario. There was so much stuff that I ended up buying another suitcase to hold it all!

For the next few weeks, I’m going to be spending time sorting, cataloging, preserving and familiarizing myself with all these precious items, some of which will appear on my blog in due course.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Amanuensis Monday: Kuebler’s Camp

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

My husband’s late uncle George Demoskoff suffered from a heart condition. In the 1950s, he left his wife and children at home in Canada for a few weeks’ stay at Dr. Jensen’s Hidden Valley Health Ranch in California, ‘seeking his health’.

While in the sunny Californian climate, George sent postcards to his family, letting them know how he was getting on. I’ve previously written about one of those cards at Amanuensis Monday: Oranges and Snow-Capped Mountains.

Here’s another postcard George sent back home to Canada. [1] It is postmarked [11?] May 1956 from Twenty Nine Palms, California, and is addressed to his younger brother William (Bill) in Pelly, Saskatchewan.

Front of postcard from George Demoskoff
Front of postcard

The text on the front of the colourful card reads:

Kuebler’s Camp
Lake Wohlford
Star Route 770 – Phone 1046W
Escondido, Calif.

Back of postcard from George Demoskoff
Back of postcard

George wrote:

Hi! Folks
Here I am about [80?] miles
south of Los Angeles
at Dr. Jensen’s Health ranch
seeking my health.
[signed] Brother


1. George Demoskoff to William Demoskoff (Pelly, Saskatchewan), postcard, [11?] May 1956; Demoskoff Family Papers, privately held by Yvonne (Belair) Demoskoff, Hope, British Columbia, 2014. Yvonne acquired assorted memorabilia (including this postcard) in January 2012 from her father-in-law William (Bill) Demoskoff.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, May 23, 2014

52 Ancestors: #21 Ménésippe Meunier

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 21st week of this challenge, I chose Ménésippe Meunier (1829-1883).

Ménésippe Meunier is my paternal great-great-grandfather and is number 18 in my ancestor list.

He was born on 26 February 1829 in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, northwest of Montreal, in Terrebonne County, Quebec and baptized there that day in Ste-Anne parish church.

Ménésippe was the seventh child of Jean-Baptiste Meunier and his wife Adélaïde Larose. He had seven brothers (four died as children) and three sisters.

During my search for records about my 2x great-grandfather, I encountered interesting spelling variations of his name. Examples include:

• Ménazime (at his baptism in 1829)

• Ménésippe (at his daughter Angélina’s baptism in 1855 and at his children Angélina, Léocadie and Ménésippe’s marriages in 1879, 1880 and 1882)

• Menazipe (on the 1861 and 1871 censuses)

• Ménazipe (on the 1881 census)

• Ménézique (at his burial in 1883).

His surname is usually spelled Meunier, but occasionally appears as Munier (at his marriage in 1853) and Munié (on the 1881 census).

In my files, I standardize his name as Ménésippe Meunier, but include a note about the variations.

If Ménésippe’s name isn’t a mystery, his presence on the 1851 Census of Canada is. (I’ve found him on the 1861, 1871 and 1881 censuses.) He’s not living in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines with his parents or his married brothers Jean-Baptiste and Moïse. He’s also not residing with his married sister Adélaïde in the town of Terrebonne. I even checked Ste-Cécile-de-Masham in Gatineau County to see if had relocated there, where his future wife lived, but no luck.

I estimate that Ménésippe moved from home in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines in the mid- to late-1840s. He probably settled in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham in the early 1850s, presumably after the 1851 census. Here he made the acquaintance of Pierre Drouin (Derouin) and his family, who were also recent arrivals to Masham.

I wonder if Ménésippe was aware that he and Louise (Eloise), Pierre’s younger daughter, shared common ancestors and were fourth cousins when they courted. It doesn’t look like a dispensation due to consanguinity was required when they wed on 4 October 1853 in Masham, because the priest did not record this fact in the sacramental register.

Ménésippe and Louise were the parents of eleven children, seven sons and four daughters. The eldest child was my great-grandmother Angélina. I’ve written about her for 52 Ancestors; see her story here.

After twenty-nine years of marriage, Ménésippe died on 24 January 1883 in Masham; he was not quite 54 years old. He was buried there two days later in the parish cemetery.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, May 16, 2014

52 Ancestors: #20 Angélique Lalonde, a bride at 27 years old

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 20th week of this challenge, I chose Angélique Lalonde (1818-1900).

Angélique is my paternal great-great-grandmother and is number 17 in my ancestor list.

She was born on 5 February 1818 in Les Cèdres, Soulanges County, Quebec and received the name Angélique at her baptism the next day. She was known as Angèle on at least three occasions: on the 1851 census, at her son Pierre’s baptism in 1852, and at her son Paul’s marriage in 1887.

Angélique was the second youngest among the twelve children of Jean-Baptiste Lalonde and his wife Angélique Bray. Through her father, Angélique is a descendant of Sarah Allen (Madeleine Hélène), who was brought to New France in 1704 as a Deerfield captive.

Les Cèdres in Quebec
Les Cèdres, ca 1840

Angélique’s parents were born and married in Les Cèdres; it’s also where all but their last child was born. When Angélique was a young girl, the Lalonde family moved a little to the west to Côteau-du-Lac. Located in southwestern Quebec, these small rural communities are located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.

In June 1842, Angélique’s mother died aged 66 in Côteau-du-Lac. By now, all of Angélique's surviving brothers and sisters were married. She was 24 years old and unmarried. Angélique must have wondered what her prospects were like for a marriage and a family of her own.

I don’t know what prompted my 2x great-grandmother to leave her family and widowed father in Côteau-du-Lac, but by the summer of 1845, she was living in Hull, a logging town on the Ottawa River across the future city of Ottawa, capital of Canada.

At the rather advanced age of 27, Angélique married Paul Janvry dit Belair on 2 September 1845 in Aylmer, near Hull. Her husband was four years younger than she was. (I recently wrote about Paul for 52 Ancestors. You can read his story here.)

The couple’s first child Paul was born in August 1846. He died three months short of his eighth birthday when he drowned in May 1854. Angélique’s third child, daughter Delphine, died when she was only five weeks old, in January 1850.

Angélique and Paul’s other children, most of whom were born in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, not far from Hull, lived to maturity.

• Joseph, born in 1848, eventually moved to Ontario, where he married and had seven children.

• Pierre, born in 1851, my great-grandfather. He married three times and had 16 children.

• Lucie, born in 1853, also married and had a family.

• Emilien, born in 1855, married a local girl and had 12 children.

• Jean-Baptiste, born in 1856, also married a local girl, and had a family. He followed his elder brother’s example and moved to Ontario.

• Paul, born in 1858, married, had a family and went to live in nearby Hull.

• Youngest child Adélaïde (Adèle), born in 1861, remained in Masham, where she married and had six children.

At about the same time as the Belair family arrived in Masham, Angélique elder sister Geneviève left Soulanges County with her husband Joseph Onézime Legros and their children and established themselves in the same community. It is through this couple, Geneviève and Joseph, that I am a fourth cousin of the Dionne quintuplets, whom I’ve written about in Famous Relatives: The Dionne Quintuplets.

Angélique died on 16 January 1900 in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham. She was buried there two days later in the presence of a large number of family and friends, including her sons Pierre and Emilien.

Image credit: Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, no d'acc 1931-218-1.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, May 12, 2014

I'm Off to Ontario!

In about 24 hours from now, I’m heading back home, to my home province of Ontario, that is.

Map of Ontario

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been back east, and it’s a trip I’ve wanted to make for a long time.

The main reason to visit Ontario is to see my aunts – Dad’s sisters Joan and Darlene, and Mom’s sisters Madeleine and Jeanne d’arc – to talk, reminisce, scan photos and documents. Since they live in three different cities, it’s going to be a whirlwind trip.

Besides visiting my Aunts, I plan on doing research at the Archives of Ontario, located in Toronto and tour the city. While up north in Timmins, I want to revisit the streets where I lived, the schools I attended, and the churches where I worshipped. I also want to visit local cemeteries, in particular where my paternal grandparents rest.

It’s going to be a family trip, with my husband and son (it’s his first time to Ontario). My Mom was scheduled to come with us, but will now stay behind at home, because of some health concerns. lt wasn't an easy decision for her physician to make, but she didn't want to compromise Mom's health. I promised my Mom that I'd take even more photos, chat even more with her sisters, and visit even more sites for me to share with her on my return.  

We fly out tomorrow Tuesday, May 13 and return to British Columbia on Friday, May 23.

I’m taking a break from blogging during the ten days I’m away from my computer. I’ve prepared two articles (ancestors #20 and #21) for 52 Ancestors that will appear, though, on their regularly scheduled days.

See you in a couple of weeks!

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day!

Mother's Day scrapbooking layout

A few years ago, I made this scrapbook layout and gave it to my Mom for Mother’s Day. I recently took it out of its black-edged frame and asked my husband to photograph it for me.

The layout measures 30 cm x 30 cm (12" x 12"). I didn't keep track of all the elements I used, but the background paper is "C'est Pink" by Rhonna Farrer for Autumn Leaves. On my screen (and perhaps yours), the paper looks almost orange, but it's actually a brilliant pink. 

I was a newbie scrapbooker when I created this layout and didn’t have much experience. I don’t think I did too badly, but now I would do some things differently. For example, I’d back the quote onto a solid piece of cardstock, and I’d give a more generous border to the flower-photo-patterned paper section.

I’ve concentrated so much on my genealogy research these last few years that I haven’t scrapbooked like I used to. Looking at this layout, though, and finding great scrapping ideas from genealogy blogger and scrapbooker A Patient Genealogist, it's inspiring me to try my hand at scrapbooking my family history.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, and to mothers everywhere!

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, May 09, 2014

52 Ancestors: #19 Paul Janvry dit Belair

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 19th week of this challenge, I chose Paul Janvry dit Belair (1822-1902).

Paul is my paternal great-great-grandfather and is number 16 in my ancestor list.

He was born on 13 May 1822 in Ste-Geneviève (later Pierrefonds, and now part of the City of Montreal) on the Island of Montreal, Lower Canada (now the province of Quebec), and baptized there the following day.

Paul was the third child, but second surviving son of Pierre Janvry dit Belair and his second wife Scholastique St-Michel. By his first wife, the late Marguerite Campeau, Pierre had 14 children, 10 sons and 4 daughters.

Throughout his life, Paul’s surname alternated between his patronym Janvry (and its spelling variations like Janvril) and its dit name Belair (with its spelling variations like Bellaire).

Paul’s parents moved frequently when he was younger. The family lived in Ste-Geneviève, then a little to the north in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, then at some distance west in the Hull-Gatineau area (across from the future city of Ottawa, later capital of Canada), where Paul’s youngest siblings were born.

When Paul was 23 years old, he married Angélique Lalonde on 2 September 1845. Although the bride and groom each resided in Hull, the wedding ceremony took place in a mission church attached to St-Paul RC church in Aylmer, just to the west of Hull.* Missionary priest J. Desautels blessed their union, which was witnessed by Paul’s father Pierre, his younger brother Toussaint, and his sister’s husband Louis Poulin.

* A mission church is a church that does not have a resident priest. It is served by a missionary priest, who travels from the home church to outlying areas to serve the faithful.

Map of Masham, county of Ottawa
Masham, comté d'Ottawa [Masham, county of Ottawa]

Paul and Angélique settled on lot 55 in range 4 of Ste-Cécile-de-Masham Township (now La Pêche), about 30 kilometres (19 miles) north of Hull, between 1849 and 1851.

The couple had nine children, most of who were born in Masham: Paul, Joseph, Delphine, Pierre (my great-grandfather), Lucie, Emilien, Jean-Baptiste, Paul, and Adélaïde (Adèle). Paul père supported his large brood as a farmer on his own land of about 123 acres.

Paul died in Masham on 17 July 1902; he was 80 years old. He was predeceased by Angélique and three of their children. Paul’s funeral took place three days later in Ste-Cécile parish church. It was well attended by family, including his sons Pierre and Emilien, and by members of the Ligue du Sacré-Coeur (a lay brotherhood devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus), to which Paul belonged.

Image credit: Library and Archives Canada (MIKAN no. 4126897).

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

NGS 2014 Conference & Live Streaming

LVH, venue of the NGS 2013 Conference

Last year at this time, I was in Las Vegas, Nevada attending the National Genealogical Society’s annual Conference. It was my first time at such a high-caliber conference and I was super excited about being there.

This year, it’s a different story. I’m at home and not at the NGS 2014 Conference that’s currently happening in Richmond, Virginia. But, not to worry, because a couple of months ago, I registered for one of two live streaming tracks that NGS is offering.

It’s the first time that “NGS has provided a portion of the conference to NGS members and others across the United States and overseas”, so I’m thrilled at this opportunity.

I signed up for “Track One: Records and Research Techniques” happening tomorrow afternoon and Friday morning. (“Track Two: Virginia Resources and Migration Patterns” was also available, but not having Virginian ancestry, I didn’t sign up for it.)

On Thursday May 8, Elizabeth Shown Mills talks about “Using Evidence Creatively: Spotting Clues in Run-of-the-Mill Records”, and Thomas W. Jones talks about “Can a Complex Research Problem Be Solved Solely Online?”.

On Friday May 9, there’s “Using NARA’s Finding Aids and Website” with Pamela Boyer Sayre, followed by “Disputes and Unhappy Differences: Surprises in Land Records” with Sharon Tate Moody, and then “’Of Sound Mind and Healthy Body’: Using Probate Records in Your Research” with Michael Hait.

Many thanks to NGS for being so forward-thinking by providing (and at a reasonable cost, in my opinion) the chance to enjoy some of the 2014 Conference from the comfort of my home!

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

My Dad, Maurice

Maurice Belair
Maurice Belair, about 1952

Maurice Belair – my Dad – died on 6 May 1996. Even though it’s been 18 years since that fateful day, we, his family, hold his memory dear and never forget him.

Later today, we will gather at the cemetery to reminisce and pray.

Still missing you, Dad, after all this time.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Remembering Aunt Norma

One year ago today on 5 May 2013, Aunt Norma, my Mom’s younger sister, passed away. She is still missed and fondly remembered.

Jacqueline Desgroseilliers with her sisters Normande and Jeanne d'arc
Jacqueline (centre) with her sisters Jeanne d’arc (left) and Normande (right),
about 1946, in Blue Water, Ontario.

Normande Desgroseilliers
Normande, about 1955.

Jacqueline (left) and Normande (right),
about 1963, in Sarnia, Ontario.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Census Sunday: The Belair Family and the 1891 Census

1891 census of Canada for Masham Quebec
1891 census of Canada (Masham, Quebec) [1]

My great-grandfather Pierre Janvry dit Belair, his wife Angélina and their children were enumerated on the 1891 census of Canada. [2]

Pierre’s son Fred, my grandfather, was born in late 1889, so this census marks his first appearance on a federal Canadian census return.

Cropped version of 1891 Masham census

The Belair family, as seen in the above cropped image version of the Masham 1891 census, consisted of head of family Pierre (39), his wife Angélina (35), and their children Pierre (10), Paul (9), Angélina (7), Marie (5) [usually known as Délia], and Jean Bte (1) [my grandfather Fred].

The enumerator did not sign his name nor did he date the return. Enumerators were instructed to gather information “as it applied at midnight, when April 5 turned into April 6”. [3]

The Belair family home, described in Column 4 as “B1/3 “, was a one-story wooden house with three rooms. [4] Other details include the family members’ place of birth (Q, for the province of Quebec), religion (C.R., for Catholique Romain [Roman Catholic]), and that only mother Angélina and elder sons Pierre and Paul could read and write.


1. 1891 census of Canada, Masham, Ottawa, Quebec, population schedule, subdistrict BB, p. 31, family 113, Pierre Jeanvry [sic] household; digital images, ( : accessed 30 July 2007); citing Library and Archives Canada microfilm T-6412.

2. 1891 census of Canada, Masham, Ottawa, Quebec, pop. sched., subdist. BB, p. 31, fam. 113, Pierre Jeanvry [sic] household.

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

4. Census of 1891, Library and Archives Canada ( : accessed 1 May 2014), “About the 1891 Census: Common Abbreviations – Other”. Some of the abbreviations found on the 1891 census forms, including those for residential buildings, are explained on the LAC website. The unnamed enumerator wrote in French, thus the B in “B1/3” stands for bois (wooden).

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, May 03, 2014

Society Saturday: BCGS 2014 Seminar

BCGS logo

The British Columbia Genealogical Society is holding its annual Seminar in just 4 weeks, on Saturday 31 May 2014.

The all-day seminar features international speakers Audrey Collins from England and Geoff Doherty from Australia.

Collins and Doherty will present talks on "The National Archives of the UK", "The London Gazette", and "Finding Your Australian Cousins".

The event will be held at South Arm United Church in Richmond, British Columbia.

For more information, including prices and brochure, see the BCGS website and click on the tab marked “BCGS 2014 Seminar”.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, May 02, 2014

52 Ancestors: #18 Des Groseilliers and the Royal Charter

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 18th week of this challenge, I chose Médard Chouart, sieur des Groseilliers (1618-1696?).

Today – 2 May 2014 – is the 344th anniversary of the Royal Charter granted to "the Governor and Company of Adventurers of England, trading into Hudson Bay" by King Charles II. [1]

The Charter is a five-page parchment document, with each page measuring 31” x 25”, according to the HBC website. Images of the original Charter, including its specially designed case, are available at Corporate Collections: Artefacts: Restoring the Royal Charter.

How does my 8x great-grandfather Médard Chouart tie in with the anniversary of this “extraordinary document”? [2]

Médard and his fellow explorer and fur trader Pierre-Esprit Radisson, those “two men [who] stood out among the rest”, were instrumental in the establishment of the Hudson’s Bay Company, which received its charter on 2 May 1670. [3]

Two years previously, Chouart and Radisson sailed from England for Hudson Bay in June 1668. Radisson, his ship the Eaglet and its crew were forced to turn back part way on their ‘exploratory journey’, but Chouart and the Nonsuch made it safely to their destination. He and his men wintered at James Bay (south of Hudson Bay), where they built themselves accommodations and other structures, and, importantly, traded for beaver pelts with “nearly three hundred James Bay Indians” the following spring. [4]

Chouart and the Nonsuch were back in England in October 1669 with a “considerable quantity of Beaver”. [5] Although the voyage did not make much money due to expenses, it proved to the financiers that Chouart and Radisson knew what they were talking about, that is, able to “sail into Hudson Bay, winter on its shores and return with a profitable cargo of fur”. [6] The private investors at the English court were satisfied they could make long-term gains, and thus, the HBC, “history’s oldest continuing capitalist company”, came into existence. [7]

Médard, from whom my mother Jacqueline Desgroseilliers descends, has already been featured in my blog; you can read about him in Médard Chouart, sieur des Groseilliers


1. Corporate Collections: Reference: The Charter, HBC ( : accessed 26 April 2014), “Text of Royal Charter”.

2. Peter C. Newman, Company of Adventurers: The Story of the Hudson’s Bay Company, 2 vols., (Markham, Ontario: Penguin Books, 1985), I: 110.

3. Newman, Company of Adventurers, I: 82.

4. Newman, Company of Adventurers, I: 108.

5. Grace Lee Nute, Caesars of the Wilderness: Médard Chouart, Sieur Des Groseilliers and Pierre Esprit Radisson, 1618-1710 (St. Paul: Minnesota Historical Society Press, reprint, 1978), 123. Nute quotes the London Gazette of 14 October 1669.

6. Newman, Company of Adventurers, I: 109.

7. Newman, Company of Adventurers, I: 110.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Statue

Our Lady of Grace statue

The Statue

I’ve owned this statue of the Virgin Mary representing Our Lady of Grace since I was a teenager. During my elementary school years (K-6), I attended St-Joseph and St-Charles, located on a large property in Timmins, Ontario, Canada, where I was born and raised.

One day in the 1970s (I’ve forgotten the actual year, but likely about 1976 or 1977), I learned that both schools were going to be demolished to make way for one new school on the same site. St-Joseph and St-Charles had been around since at least the 1930s, because my uncle Ray (Dad’s younger brother) attended school there when he was a child. In fact, when I started Grade 3, my teacher Mademoiselle Blanche Desjardins asked me if I was related to a Ray Belair. I said that he was my uncle, and she told me that she remembered him as a young student of hers.

After getting more information about the schools’ demolition, I found out that the public could have one last look inside the buildings. Having enjoyed, for the most part, my early school years, I decided to visit St-Charles one afternoon.

While walking through the halls and the empty classrooms, I noticed in the distance a small statue of the Virgin Mary. I recognized it from the days when every classroom in our school had such a statue that stood on a small wooden shelf attached to a wall. Although I couldn’t be sure that this particular statue had ever been part of the fixtures in one of my classrooms, I knew I wanted it. I asked the person in charge if I could take the statue as a souvenir. To my pleasant surprise, he said I could.

When I got home, I found a place for the statue on my bedroom dresser, and it’s been with me ever since that time.

Statue Specifications

Item: A statue depicting Our Lady of Grace. She is clothed in a white dress with gold sash, a blue mantle bordered in gold, and a white veil. With her serene face, downward gaze and open hands, she crushes a serpent in her bare feet as she stands on a globe or hemisphere.*

* “In Catholic devotion, a statue of the blessed mother, known as our lady of grace, shows our lady with hands open and feet crushing the serpent. The symbolism is derived from Genesis 3:15. The grace is God, and Mary’s obedience to His will. By her obedience she brought about the Fullness of Grace, Jesus Christ, who, by His complete obedience to the Father’s will, crushed the head of the ancient serpent.” [1]

Size: The statue measures 42.5 cm (17”) tall, 19 cm (7½”) wide and 10 cm (4”) deep.

Weight: It weighs 1.7 kg (about 3.8 lbs).

Material: It is made of chalkware. Chalkware, sometimes known as the “poor man’s porcelain”, were figurines that are sculpted or cast-molded from gypsum plaster and painted with watercolours or oil paints. [2] My statue was hand-painted with watercolours, which seem to have faded over the years. Ellis Antiques has an almost exact model as mine on eBay. Although that listing has ended, the image and details can still be seen here.

Condition: It has some damage, including broken and chipped sections (the octagonal base, the hands) and scuff or scratch marks (the veil front and back).

Manufacturer: No markings indicate a company or country of origin. It has a stamped 301 (possibly 501) on the base at the rear. I’ve compared my statue with similar examples found online, and it looks like it could have been made by a firm like Columbia Statuary Company of Italy. My statue was made between the 1930s and the mid-1970s, but more likely in the 1950s or 1960s.

Other features: There’s “No. 6” written on the bottom of the base. Did someone at the school scratch this number on the statue’s base to indicate it belonged in classroom no. 6? (St-Charles had 20 classrooms in its heyday: four in the basement, and eight each on the main and upper floors.)

Final Thoughts

I’ve never had Our Lady of Grace taken to a professional appraiser to see what its value might be. I don’t think it’s worth much due to its condition, but it means more to me for its religious and personal significance.


1. Kenneth D. Brighenti and John Trigilio, Jr., The Catholicism Answer Book: The 300 Most Frequently Asked Questions (Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, 2007), Google Books ( : accessed 13 March 2014), 99-100 (Question 68. Is baptism necessary for salvation?).

2. Sarah Callen, “Chalkware - A Fun Vintage Collectible With an Interesting Past”, Ezine @rticles ( : accessed 15 March 2014).

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.