Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Howard and Normande

Howard Handy and Normande Desgroseilliers on their wedding day in April 1957

Remembering my maternal aunt Normande, who passed away nearly one year ago, and uncle Howard, who married 57 years ago in April 1957.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Tuesday's Tip: Vital Records Aren’t Always Accurate

Author and genealogist Elizabeth Shown Mills has stated that “as researchers, we can take no record at face value”. [1]

That statement is solid genealogical advice, but I didn’t think I would need to apply it to my father-in-law’s marriage registration record. After all, I figured that Pop – as the informant of his own marriage – would provide accurate and reliable details.

Except that I was wrong, because Pop hadn’t been fully accurate on that record.
Marriage registration of Bill and Ann Demoskoff
Bill and Ann Demoskoff's marriage registration (cropped image)

About a year and a half ago, I thought it would be nice to send away for my husband’s parents’ marriage registration. We both knew when and where his parents married, because Pop told us when we asked him many years ago. He said he and Ann married on 1 June 1952 at her father’s farm near Kamsack, Saskatchewan.

When Michael and I told his father that we requested the registration and were looking forward to receiving it, he asked why we bothered to order it. The way he looked at it was since he had already told us when he married, we didn’t need to get it in writing, so to speak.

We received the “Registration of Marriage” record from the province of Saskatchewan in October 2012. [2] Something immediately stood out when we looked at it. The “Place of Marriage” was a land description: SE 1-35-32-W1, only, it wasn’t the description for Ann’s father’s property as we knew it. Her father George’s property was NW 17-31-32-1, and had been since 1918, and still was at the time of her marriage. What was going on? Where had Bill and Ann married?

Michael called his father to ask him. Pop, who was in his mid-90s at this time, gave it some thought, and proceeded to tell his son that he and Ann married in two places.

That detail didn’t make sense to my husband, so he asked his father for clarification. It turns out that the marriage ceremony took place on the Cazakoff family property at NW 17-31-32-1 like he originally told us, but that afterwards, the bride and groom and their guests had the wedding meal and festivities at another location – at SE 1-35-32-W1, where Pop resided as a lodger. In Pop’s mind, his marriage therefore occurred in “two places”. (For some additional information about Bill and Ann’s wedding, see Wedding Wednesday: Demoskoff – Cazakoff.)

The day after their wedding, Bill and Ann drove to nearby Arran, the rural municipality seat, to register their marriage. When he was asked for the “place of marriage”, he replied “SE 1-35-32-W1”, even though that’s where the wedding feast was held, not where the wedding ceremony took place. Now that he was of an advanced age with a somewhat poor memory, he couldn’t explain to his son why he gave the wrong location to the clerk that day in June 1952.

Here’s what I learned from this exercise:

  • Don’t solely depend on a family member’s memory for dates and places of events.
  • Order vital records where and when you can.
  • Check the received records for inconsistencies.
  • Get clarification for questionable details.

And most of all, don’t take ‘records at face value’ :-) 


1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2007), 33.

2. Province of Saskatchewan, marriage registration, no. 001562, William W. Demoskoff – Ann Cazakoff marriage, 1 June 1952; Department of Public Health – Division of Vital Statistics, Saskatchewan.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter!

Easter greeting

A blessed and happy Easter, everyone!

Joyeuses Pâques, tout le monde!

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, April 18, 2014

52 Ancestors: #16 Luchenia Tomelin – Doukhobor Immigrant

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 16th week of this challenge, I chose Luchenia Tomelin (1885-1960).

Family tradition says that my husband’s paternal grandmother Luchenia was born in October 1885 in Tiflis in the Caucasus region of the Russian Empire, now Tbilisi, Georgia. Her birth was probably not registered with the civil authorities, because her parents, Nikolai and Maria (Terichow) Tomelin, were Doukhobors. This pacifist sect’s religious beliefs clashed with the Orthodox Church (they rejected the sacraments and the priesthood) and with the government (they often refused to register births, marriages and deaths, since these events concerned “only the individual and God”). [1]

On 12 May 1899, a group of nearly 2,300 Doukhobors, including the Tomelin family, left the Russian port Batum for Canada, seeking a life free from intolerance. They sailed on the S.S. Lake Huron, and arrived at Quebec City on 6 June 1899. [2]

Two groups of Tomelin families appear on the ship’s passenger manifest. Luchenia’s family group consisted of her parents Nikolai and Maria, her siblings Marfa (Martha), Osip (Joseph) and Maria, her paternal grandmother Anna, her paternal uncles Ivan and Nikolai, and her paternal uncle Vasily, his wife and their three children.

Lake Huron passenger manifest
Lake Huron passenger manifest (portion)

In the above image, which is a cropped portion of a page from the Lake Huron passenger manifest of May 1899, Luchenia’s name is the fourth from the top; she is 13 years old. [3]

Once in Canada, the Tomelin family and the other Doukhobor immigrants travelled by train to settle on lands reserved for them in the North-West Territories, now in the province of Saskatchewan.

Two years later, Luchenia and her parents were enumerated on the 1901 census of Canada living in the Doukhobor settlement Moiseyevo (aka Khristianovka), a little to the west of Buchanan, NWT. [4]

About 1902 or 1903, Luchenia married Wasyl Demofsky, a Doukhobor immigrant like her. The couple’s first child Anastasia, known as Nastya or Tyunka as a child and later as Mabel as an adult, was born in December 1903 or 1904. Four sons soon followed: Pete, Fred, George, and William (Bill), my husband’s father.

Luchenia Demoskoff with sons George and William
Luchenia with her sons George (left) and William (right), about 1917

After Wasyl’s death in 1933, Luchenia lived with her unmarried children. She suffered a stroke in 1938 or 1939, according to her youngest son William. It became progressively more difficult to care for her, especially after her daughter Mabel moved to Edmonton, Alberta. Luchenia’s sons decided she would do better in Mabel’s care, and so she went to live with her and her husband Louis.

In the spring of 1960, Luchenia died in hospital on 28 April 1960; she was 74 years old. Her body was returned to Saskatchewan, and she was buried next to her husband Wasyl in Tolstoy Cemetery near Veregin. [5]


1. John E. Lyons, “Toil and a Peaceful Life: Peter V. Verigin and Doukhobor Education”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 1 April 2014), 87.

2. Steve Lapshinoff & Jonathan Kalmakoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928 (Crescent Valley: self-published, 2001), 49.

3. “Passenger Lists for the Port of Quebec City, 1865-1900”, digital images, Library and Archives Canada ( : accessed 28 March 2014), manifest, S.S. Lake Huron, 21 June 1899, p. 24 (penned), entry no. 1445, Lukeria Tomilin [sic], age 13.

4. 1901 census of Canada, Devils Lake, Assiniboia (east/est), The Territories, population schedule, subdistrict Y-1, p. 10, dwelling 61, family 133, Lucaria Tamelian [sic]; digital images, ( : accessed 31 May 2009).

5. Province of Alberta Department of Public Health, registration of death, no. 08-009495, Lucy Demosky (1960); Division of Vital Statistics, Edmonton.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Bunny

Outside view of bunny art work
Outside view of Bunny

This darling bunny clutching a bouquet of bright tulips was coloured by me when I was in my first years of elementary school. That was between 1963 and 1966 when I was at St-Joseph in Timmins, Ontario, in Kindergarten, Grade 1 or Grade 2.

I assume I did this art work around Easter (bunny and tulips suggest spring-time). It measures 25 cm high by 20 cm wide (about 10” x 7 ½”). The colouring is a bit off in the images (above and below), making it appear yellower and darker than it is in real life.

Inside view of bunny art work
Inside view of Bunny

My teacher – she could have been Madame St-Jean (K), Mademoiselle Dagenais (G1) or Soeur Lorraine Marie, s.a.s.v. (G2) – recorded the letter grade I received for lessons and subjects like Notre Père [Our Father], Conversation, Observation, Compter [counting], Ecriture [writing], and Conduite [behavior]. She also printed my name on the bunny's tummy.

My mother kept this art work with a few other elementary school items for me in an old-fashioned scrapbook. When I re-discovered these childhood souvenirs a few years ago, I was really pleased to see how well they stood the test of time. (There was some minor rust on the bunny’s ears where a staple used to be, and the remains of Scotch tape on its little foot, for example.) I transferred the bunny and my other schoolwork to their own sheet protectors so that they could last even more years.

It’s a real treat to have something tangible from my early years. I’m so grateful that Mom considered these school mementos worth saving.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Surname Saturday: Poznekoff

Polly Cazakoff and Wasyl Poznekoff
Polly (Poznekoff) Cazakoff with her brother Wasyl Poznekoff

My husband’s maternal grandmother was Polya (Polly) Poznekoff (1887-1971), wife of George Cazakoff. I recently wrote about her here.

Polly was about 12 years old when her widowed father Iwan (John) Poznekoff, and her brothers and sisters immigrated to Canada in 1899.

The surname Poznekoff is the English spelling for Poznyakov or Pozdnyakov. It originates from the word poznii or pozdnii, which means “late”. [1]

According to the Doukhobor Genealogy Website, there were “two unrelated branches of Pozdniakovs among the Doukhobors” in the 18th century living in the Russian provinces of Sloboda-Ukraine (Kharkov) and Tambov. [2]

By 1905 in Canada, most Poznikoff families lived in what was known as the North Colony in Doukhobor-established settlements surrounding Arran, Saskatchewan. [3]

Today, Poznekoff is one of the most common Doukhobor surnames in Canada. [4] English spelling variations include Pozdnekoff, Poznikoff, Pozney and Poznikow. [5]

Poznekoff should not be confused with Postnikoff, a similar-sounding Russian (Doukhobor) surname.


1. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 20 March 2014), entry for Pozdnyakov.

2. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website, entry for Pozdnyakov.

3. “Village-Surname Index for the 1905 Doukhobor Census”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 20 March 2014).

4. “Guide to Doukhobor Names and Naming Practices”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 20 March 2014).

5. “Origin and Meaning of Doukhobor Surnames”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website, entry for Pozdnyakov.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, April 11, 2014

52 Ancestors: #15 Ann Cazakoff – How Doris became Ann

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 15th week of this challenge, I chose Ann Cazakoff (1926-1980).
Ann Cazakoff Demoskoff
Ann Cazakoff, about 1942

Ann is the late mother of my husband, Michael. She was born on 11 March 1926 at her parents’ homestead property in St. Philips RM near Kamsack, Saskatchewan. [1] Ann was the ninth child and only daughter of George Cazakoff and his wife Polly Poznekoff, Russian Doukhobor immigrants. I recently wrote about George and Polly for 52 Ancestors; their stories can be read here and here, respectively.

Interestingly, Ann’s name at birth was not Ann. It was Avdoty, a “popular form of Evdokiya”, which means ‘benevolence’ or ‘kindness’. [2]

Ann was known as Avdoty in Russian and as Doris in English. (For a list of Russian to English names among Doukhobor immigrants, see Russian-English Names Cross-Index at the Doukhobor Genealogy Website.)

When she was very young, Ann was sick for “almost a whole year” and “could not sit up in the bed”’. A relative told her mother “why don’t you change her name [… because] Doris isn’t her name”. After her name was changed to “Annie” she got better and started walking. [3]

My father-in-law Bill told this story to his son Michael and I a few years ago. Bill didn't remember too many details, since many years had passed when Ann had originally told him the circumstances of how her name was changed.


1. Province of Saskatchewan, birth registration no. 3076 (1926), Avdoty Kozokoff [sic]; Vital Statistics.

2. “Russian Female Names Among the Doukhobors”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 10 April 2014), entries for “Avdot’ya” and “Evdokiya”.

3. Bill Demoskoff (Grand Forks, British Columbia), telephone interview by Yvonne Demoskoff, 25 January 2011; transcript privately held by Yvonne Demoskoff, [address for private use,] Hope, British Columbia, 2011. Bill spoke from personal knowledge of the time his wife Ann told him why her name was changed.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Vimy Ridge Day

April 9 – Vimy Ridge Day – has been a national day of remembrance in Canada since 2003. It commemorates the Battle of Vimy Ridge in World War I in which “Canadians from coast to coast fought in a battle together [for the first time] against a common enemy”. [1]

Vimy Ridge was “Canada's most celebrated military victory”. It took place 9 – 12 April 1917, 97 years ago. [2]

3,598 were killed in the Canadian Corps during those four days in April. [3] On the first day of battle, there were 7,707 casualties, making it “the single bloodiest day of the entire war for the Canadian Corps, and the bloodiest in all of Canadian military history”. [4]

I won’t pretend to say I know a lot about this important battle, because I don’t, but after reading a few articles, I wanted to post something on my blog as my way of remembering the sacrifice that Canadian soldiers made in those terrible days of the Great War.

Map of North Western Europe during First World War
(Canadian War Museum: The Battle of Vimy Ridge) 

Looking over crest of Vimy Ridge on Vimy Village
Looking over crest of Vimy Ridge on Vimy Village.
(Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-001290)

Canadians advancing through German wire entanglements Vimy Ridge
Canadians advancing through German wire entanglements - Vimy Ridge. April, 1917.
(Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/)

29th Infantry Batallion advancing over "No Man's Land" Vimy Ridge
29th Infantry Batallion advancing over "No Man's Land" through the German barbed wire and 
heavy fire during the Battle of Vimy Ridge
(Photographer: W.I. Castle/Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/PA-001020)

Bringing in our wounded Vimy Ridge April 1917
Bringing in our wounded. - Vimy Ridge. April, 1917
(Canada. Dept. of National Defence/Library and Archives Canada/)

To learn more about the Battle of Vimy Ridge, see the following online resources:

• Canada at War: Battle of Vimy Ridge, April 1917   

• Canadian War Museum: The Battle of Vimy Ridge, 9-12 April 1917 

• The Canadian Encyclopedia: Vimy Ridge  

• Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: Battle of Vimy Ridge 


1. “Vimy Ridge Day Act S.C. 2003, c. 6”, Justice Laws Website ( : accessed 5 April 2014).

2. Richard Foot, “Vimy Ridge”, The Canadian Encyclopedia ( : accessed 5 April 2014).

3. Tim Cook, Shock Troops: Canadians Fighting the Great War 1917-1918, 2 vols. (Toronto: Penguin Canada, 2008) 2: 142.

4. Cook, Shock Troops, 2: 143-144.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.