Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Photo Consultation Part III – Vanasse Family

This blog post is the third and final article of a three-part series in which I write about the help I received from photo detective Maureen Taylor during a recent photo consultation. For the two previous installments, see Photo Consultation with Maureen Taylor and Photo Consultation Part II – Pierre Janvry dit Belair.

This picture of my Vanasse great-aunts and uncles (my father’s maternal relatives) was sent to me as a digital image by my cousin Nancy in the spring of 2013.

Seated at the front (left to right) are George, his sister Corinne (Cora) and his brother William (Willie). At the back (left to right) are his sister Agnes (Aggie), his wife Louise, his brother David (Dave), his sister Cecilia (Celia), and his brother Joseph (Joe). Missing from the group are parents Olivier and Elisabeth, and sisters Mary and Julie (my grandmother).

Here are Maureen’s thoughts about this picture:

  • A studio portrait (painted background, heavy furniture, carpet).
  • It could be part of a series of photos taken at the same time.
  • Presumably a wedding photo, since Louise is less likely to be included with the family while unmarried to George.
  • The men all wear different collars and ties. Joe (back, far right) appears to be “a bit of a dandy”, judging by the style of his collar.
  • Joe has a protective hand on Willie’s shoulder.
  • Cora (centre, front) and Celia (back, right) are fashionably dressed. Maureen added that she’s never seen Cora’s style of necklace.
  • Aggie (back, far left), who’s about 14 years old, is “dressing younger than her age”. Her hair (in banana curls) and dress reflect a “very youthful style”. She could be dressed by an older person instead of having the chance to make her own fashion choices.
  • Louise’s “dress is way too big”. She seems to have borrowed it from someone “taller and much larger in the chest”.

My impressions:

I believe this photo was taken in June 1920, when George (born in 1891) married Louise Potvin in Bourget, Russell County, Ontario. Louise’s dress with its shiny, heavy fabric, so different from what her sisters-in-law are wearing, suggests the picture was taken on a special occasion. Until Maureen pointed out how big Louise’s dress is, I hadn’t noticed how much fabric appears on her left sleeve.

If I’m correct about the year, the Vanasse brothers and sisters gathered for this photo less than two years after the end of the Great War (1914-1918). Willie (born in 1893) and Joe (born in 1898) both served overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Forces. Poor Willie came back home shell-shocked and spent a number of years in veterans hospitals. I get the feeling that Willie and Joe were particularly close, and that Joe feels protective of his elder brother. I also think that Celia (born in 1895) is close to her youngest brother Dave (born in 1903), since she’s holding onto his arm.

Dave’s skin is darker than any of his brothers and sisters. His skin tone might be due to genetics: both his parents are great-grandchildren of Aboriginal women.

I'm grateful that my cousin Nancy shared this wonderful Vanasse family photo with me. I dearly loved my grandmother Julie, who died when I was eight and half years old. After her death, I felt privileged to have known her sisters, particularly Celia, who I used to visit at her home in Ottawa when I was there at university.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, October 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: #42 Valentin Cole, Catholic convert

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 42nd week of this challenge, I chose Valentin Cole (ca 1728-1794).

Valentin is my maternal 6x great-grandfather and is number 466 in my ancestor list.

Born about 1728 in Boston, colonial Massachusetts, he was the son of Jean Cole and Elisabeth Xque. [1]

I haven’t done much research into Valentin’s background or the circumstances of how he came to immigrate to Canada.

His first appearance in Canadian records seems to be in 1753 when, as “Valentin Colle, Anglais”, he was received into the Roman Catholic Church. On 21 April of that year, Valentin renounced the ‘heresies of the faith in which he was raised’ and was baptized under the name Jean Baptiste by Father J.C. Noël in the parish church of St-Antoine-de-Tilly, near Quebec, on the south shore of the St. Lawrence River. [2]

Valentin Cole baptism record
Valentin's baptism record (part 1),

Valentin Cole baptism record
Valentin's baptism record (part 2),

Valentin’s conversion was likely in preparation for his marriage that took place four months later, on 24 September 1753 in Ste-Croix (located a little to the west of St-Antoine-de-Tilly), to Marie Joseph Martel. [3] Twenty-two year old Marie Joseph, who was from Ste-Croix, was a younger daughter of Paul Martel and his wife Marie Geneviève Houde.

Now known as Jean Baptiste, he and Marie Joseph had five children between 1754 and 1765: Marie Anne, Marie Josephe (who died young), Marie Louise (my ancestor), Jean Baptiste, and Marie Josephe. [4]

Jean Baptiste died on 28 July 1794, and was buried the next day at St-Paul-de-Lavaltrie, east of Montreal. [5]


1. Ste-Croix (Ste-Croix, Quebec), parish register, 1727-1796, p. 13 recto, no entry no. (1753), Jean Baptiste Cole – Marie Joseph Martel [sic] marriage, 24 September 1753; Ste-Croix parish; digital image, ( : accessed 16 October 2014). Valentin’s place of origin and the names of his parents are stated in his marriage record. His date of birth is estimated from his age (66) at his burial. "Québec, registres paroissiaux catholiques, 1621-1979," index and images, FamilySearch (,22176802,23163803 : accessed 16 October 2014), Saint-Paul > Saint-Paul > Index 1786-1832, 1786-1877 Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures 1786-1812 > image 267 of 601, Jean Baptiste Coll [sic] burial.

2. St-Antoine (St-Antoine-de-Tilly, Quebec), parish register, 1751-1754, p. 16 recto, entry no. B.13 (1753), Valentin Colle [sic] abjuration and baptism, 21 April 1753; St-Antoine parish; digital image, ( : accessed 29 October 2011).

3. Ste-Croix, parish register, 1727-1796, p. 13 recto, Jean Baptiste Cole – Marie Joseph Martel [sic] marriage, 24 September 1753. Tanguay states the couple married on 21 August 1753. Cyprien Tanguay, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes, 7 vols (1871–1890, reprint, Montréal: Editions Elysée, 1991), III: 109.

4. “Dictionnaire généalogique des familles 1621-1799”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) ( : accessed 29 October 2011), Jean Baptiste Col – Marie Josephe Martel [sic] family, record no. 30735.

5. "Québec, registres paroissiaux catholiques, 1621-1979," Jean Baptiste Coll [sic] burial.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wordless Wednesday: Moe and Norma

Maurice Belair and Normande Desgroseilliers

My father Maurice with his sister-in-law Normande Desgroseilliers (Mom’s younger sister), in 1955, probably taken in Weston, Ontario.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Photo Consultation Part II – Pierre Janvry dit Belair

Last week, I wrote about a photo consultation I had with Maureen Taylor by telephone and how she helped me better understand three family photos I had submitted to her by email.

I thought that article would be the only one I’d post on my blog about that conversation. I planned on transcribing the rest of the notes I made during our phone call and then file them for future reference. It occurred to me, however, that if I put those notes away, who would see them and get to know about the people and the extra details that Maureen found in the pictures except maybe only me?

That’s when I decided to share with my readers what Maureen had to say about the other two photographs. After all, that’s the point of my having a genealogy blog – to share my ancestors with others.

Therefore, I’m focusing on the second of the three photos this week, and the third photo and its information will appear next week.

Pierre Janvry dit Belair

This photo of my paternal great-grandfather Pierre Janvry dit Belair (1851-1941) was given to me many years ago by a cousin. All I knew about it was that it was a picture of Pierre. I speculated that he was perhaps photographed before he married in September 1879, because of his youthful appearance. I don't know when or where it was taken (possibly not too far from his hometown of Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, near Hull, Quebec) and I don't know what led him to want to be photographed.

These are Maureen’s thoughts about Pierre and the picture:

• The original photo is a tintype. (Maureen explained how she knew that, but I didn’t write it down, and I’ve already forgotten what she told me.)

• Pierre is wearing 1870s attire, judging by the wide lapels of his jacket and his shawl-collared vest. The piping or twisted braiding on his vest is also a feature of 1870s men clothing.

• He has two different eyes: his right eye seems to be normally lidded, but his left eye has a droopy upper lid. Maureen didn’t give any opinions as to the reason for Pierre’s droopy eyelid (like a medical condition). She wondered, though, if it could be due to the photographic process.

• Pierre has a strong jaw and an advancing hairline.

• He appears to be wearing a pinkie ring on this left hand, which rests on a thick book, perhaps the Bible.

If Pierre really has a droopy eyelid, I wonder if he could have had something called ptosis – drooping of the eyelid. [1] Ptosis can be caused by “a variety of conditions include aging, diabetes, stroke, Horner syndrome, myasthenia gravis, or a brain tumor or other cancer that affects nerve or muscle reactions”. Other causes could be a growth (like a stye), nerve damage, or normal variation. [2] Pierre was 89½ years old when he passed away, so I don’t think he had diabetes, tumor or cancer when he was younger (he was about 20 to 27 years old in the photograph). The only other photo I have of my great-grandfather is the one taken of him at his daughter Mathilde’s wedding in 1921, but that picture isn’t clear enough for me to tell in what condition his eyelids were.


1. MedlinePlus, database, National Institutes of Health ( accessed 9 October 2014), “Ptosis, drooping of the eyelid”.

2. MedlinePlus, database, National Institutes of Health ( : accessed 9 October 2014), “Eyelid drooping”.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving bounty

Wishing all my Canadian readers and bloggers a very “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Have a safe holiday, everyone!

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sympathy Saturday: René Legault

Four years ago today, on 11 October 2010, my Aunt Madeleine and my cousins lost their beloved husband and father, René. He was 86 years old.

Uncle René was a tall, good looking man, with wavy hair. He was always happy and smiled a lot. Mom loved dancing with him at family events like weddings, and he and Dad shared a similar sense of humor and got along well.

These are two of my favorite photos of Uncle René. They are wonderful reminders of how I most remember him: the working man (a police officer in a small northeastern Ontario town) and the family man with lots of humor.

René Legault

When uncle René was dressed in his uniform, he seemed serious, but still approachable. When he was home, off work, he was lots of fun and loved teasing his children and us, his nieces (my younger sister Marianne and I), when we visited him and Aunt Madeleine and their eight children – my cousins Richard, Michel, Raymond, Robert, Jean-Paul, Lise, Patrick and Gérard – at their home with the big yard.

René Legault

In the above photo, there’s my cousin Robert (far left), my Mom holding me, Aunt Madeleine holding her son Patrick, and Uncle René hanging on to daughter Lise’s pigtail. He wasn’t being mean (Uncle René was the most fair and upright man I ever knew), but just being playful with his only daughter.

Still missing you, mon oncle René.

Copyright © 2104, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, October 10, 2014

52 Ancestors: #41 Joseph Caillé’s 1814 Marriage

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 41st week of this challenge, I chose Joseph Caillé (1798-1865).

Joseph is my maternal 4x great-grandfather and is number 118 in my ancestor list.

A younger son of Joseph Caillé by his first wife Marie Françoise Renaud dite Dumoulin, Joseph was born on 27 February 1798 and was baptized that day in the village of Ste-Rose on Ile Jésus, just north of Montreal. [1]

Today – 10 October 2014 – is the two hundredth anniversary of the marriage of Joseph and Angélique Houle [Houde] dite Gervais. The couple, who were distantly related, married on 10 October 1814 in the parish church in Ste-Thérèse, Terrebonne County. [2]

Until I prepared this post for my blog, I hadn’t considered my ancestors’ ages when they wed. I was surprised to learn that Joseph was only 16 years old, while Angélique was one week away from 21 at their marriage.

Marriage record of Joseph Caillé and Angélique Houle
Caillé - Houle marriage record (1814) [3]

Below is my transcription of their marriage record. (I’ve kept the original spelling, punctuation and capitalization, as well as the original lineation.)

Transcribed  Caillé - Houle marriage record

What information appears in Joseph and Angélique’s marriage record? [4] I found the following 26 details:

1. Date of marriage (10 October 1814)

2. Publication of the banns (three banns announced during the Mass on three consecutive Sundays)

3. Place of marriage (our parish masses)*

4. Groom’s name (Joseph Câyer [sic])

5. Groom’s occupation (farmer)

6. Groom’s place of residence (this parish, Ste-Thérèse)

7. Groom’s age (minor, under 21 years old)

8. Groom’s matrimonial status (single, never married)†

9. Groom’s parents (Joseph Câyer [sic] and Marie Françoise Renault dite Dumoulins [sic])

10. Groom’s parents’ place of residence (also of this parish)

11. Bride’s name (Marie Angélique Houle)

12. Bride’s place of residence (also of this parish)

13. Bride’s age (major, 21 years or older)

14. Bride’s matrimonial status (single, never married)‡

15. Bride’s parents (the late Joseph Houle and Marie Louise Fournier)

16. Bride’s parents’ place of residence (also of this parish)

17. Bride’s father’s occupation (farmer, while living)

18. Canonical impediments to the marriage (none)

19. Parents’ consent to marriage (given)

20. Groom and bride’s consent to marriage (received by both parties)

21. Nuptial blessing (given by celebrant)

22. Witnesses (groom’s father Joseph Câyer [sic], groom’s uncle Charles Dubois, bride’s brother Jean Baptiste Houle, bride’s friend Joseph Logué, and many other relatives and friends)

23. Relationship of witnesses to groom and bride (see previous entry)

24. Signatures of couple and witnesses (none)

25. Ability of couple and witnesses to sign (no one could sign their name)

26. Celebrant’s signature (JB Lajus, priest curate)


* Although the name of the parish is not mentioned in the text, the marriage took place in Ste-Thérèse’s parish church, as stated on the first page of its sacramental register for 1814.

† The groom’s single status is implied because his parents’ names are stated. If a groom is a widower, his parents’ names are omitted and instead the name of his late wife is mentioned. There are rare exceptions to this rule, however, where the celebrant did not follow this formula.

‡ The bride’s single status is implied. (See note above.)

Joseph and Angélique were married for nearly 51 years. (See them in Wedding Wednesday: Longest Ancestral Marriages.) They were the parents of fourteen children – eight sons (including twins), five daughters (including my ancestor Marie Angélique), and one child of unknown gender who did not survive.

Joseph died on 8 June 1865 in St-André-Avellin, Papineau County, while Angélique survived him by two years, dying on 30 May 1867, also in St-André-Avellin. [5]


1. Ste-Rose (Laval, Quebec), parish register, 1785-1799, p. 6 recto, no entry no. (1798), Joseph Cahié [sic] baptism, 27 February 1798; Ste-Rose parish; digital image, “Le LAFRANCE”, Généalogie Québec ( : accessed 3 October 2014).

2. Ste-Thérèse (Ste-Thérèse, Quebec), parish register, 1814, p. 29 verso, entry no. M.19, Joseph Câyer [sic– Marie Angélique Houle marriage, 10 October 1814; Ste-Thérèse parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 1 November 2010).

3. Ste-Thérèse, parish register, 1814, p. 29 verso, Joseph Câyer [sic– Marie Angélique Houle marriage, 10 October 1814.

4. To learn more about the required contents of ecclesiastical marriage records in the province of Quebec from its origins to the present day, see, for example, Gérard Bouchard et André LaRose, “La réglementation du contenu des actes de baptême, mariage, sépulture, au Québec, des origines à nos jours”, Revue d’histoire de l’Amérique française 30 (1976); online archives, érudit ( : accessed 20 August 2009), 67-84, particularly p. 80.

5. St-André-Avellin (St-André-Avellin, Quebec), parish register, 1865, p. 168 (stamped), entry no. S.6, Joseph Cahier [sic] burial, 10 June 1865; St-André-Avellin parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 31 October 2010). Also, St-André-Avellin (St-André-Avellin, Quebec), parish register, 1867, p. 291 (stamped), entry no. S.23 Angélique Gervais (dit Oulle) [sic] burial, 1 June 1867; St-André-Avellin parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 31 October 2010). Note: Angélique appears as Angelique Gervais Dit Aulle in Ancestry’s burial index.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.