Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Maintaining a Find A Grave Memorial Page

After I fulfilled two requests for gravemarker photos at Find A Grave today, I wondered if my late father had a memorial and photo. I was surprised to find that he did. I decided to email the original contributor to see if Dad’s memorial could be transferred to me. Within minutes, I got a positive reply. I now maintain Find A Grave Memorial #170621093.

I made sure the info on his page was correct and then added a transcription of his gravemarker. 

Next, I decided to sponsor Dad’s memorial page by paying the small fee ($5 U.S.) to have ads permanently removed from his page. Here’s a screenshot of it: 

By maintaining Dad’s Find A Grave page, I feel like I’m honoring his memory. 

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Which Ancestor Moved the Furthest?

It’s Saturday and Randy at Genea-Musings has issued his weekly challenge to his readers.

Tonight’s challenge is to answer the following question: "Which ancestor moved the farthest from their home?"

My ancestors

Most of my ancestors who immigrated to New France in the 1600s and 1700s were from France, but a few came from England, Jersey, Spain, Switzerland, and Italy. A handful of others were brought to Canada as captives from New England.

I think the ancestor who moved the farthest from his home was Jean-Bernardin Lesage dit Le Piedmontois, no. 1862 in my ancestor list.

Jean-Bernardin, my maternal ancestor, hails from Racconigi, Piedmont, Italy. Born about 1657, he married Marie-Barbe Sylvestre on 8 January 1686 in Neuville, east of present-day Quebec City. Jean-Bernardin died on 13 April 1748 and was buried two days later in L’Assomption, a little to the northeast of Montreal.

My husband’s ancestors

My husband is a second-generation Canadian. His grandparents and some of his great-grandparents came to Canada seeking religious freedom from imperial Russia in 1899. They left their homes in Tiflis (now Tbilisi, Georgia), travelled to the port of Batum on the Black Sea, and then sailed for Canada.

My ancestor travelled a distance of 5,847 km (3,633 miles), while my husband’s ancestor travelled 8,320 km (5,169 miles). What journeys those must have been!

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Church Record Sunday: Marie-Antoinette Chouart and Her Godchildren

Marie-Antoinette Chouart (1661-1731) was the daughter of the famous explorer and coureur de bois Médard Chouart, sieur des Groseilliers. She acted as godmother on several occasions to local French and Aboriginal children.

Stained glass window baptism

The first time was on 1 May 1674 in Trois-Rivières, when Marie-Antoinette was only 12 years old. (She turned 13 three weeks later.) She was godmother nine other times, from 1674 to 1717, when she was 56 years old.

Marie-Antoinette had five godsons and five goddaughters.

All were French, except Louis Ouramanampek, an Aboriginal.

Four of five of Marie-Antoinette’s goddaughters were named after her.

All the godchildren were infants at their baptism. The two exceptions are Marie Antoinette Barabbé in 1674, whose baptism record doesn’t mention her age, although she was likely a newborn or only a few days old. The second exception is Louis Ourmanampek, who was an adult when he received the Sacrament of Baptism in 1674.

Here is the list of Marie-Antoinette’s godchildren:

Godchildren of Marie-Antoinette Chouart

Marie-Antoinette could write her name. She signed seven of the ten baptism records. In the example below from 1697, we can see her beautiful, easy-to-read, balanced signature (indicated by the red arrow): “Marie antoinette choüard”.

Baptism record of Marie Catherine Jolive 1697
Baptism record of Marie Catherine Jolive [11]


Image credit: CCO Public Domain, Pixabay.

1. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Adrien Senegal, Baptême no. 87758.

2. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Antoinette Barabbe, Baptême no. 87762.

3. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Louis Ouramanampek, Baptême no. 87764.

4. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Antoinette Verger, Baptême no. 19435.

5. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Antoinette Lorry, Baptême no. 19451.

6. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Jean Baptiste Delpesche Belair, Baptême no. 19508.

7. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Antoinette Desoye, Baptême no. 19512.

8. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Marie Catherine Jolive, Baptême no. 41812.

9. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Pierre Bouchard, Baptême no. 43009.

10. “Actes”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH), (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 14 August 2009), Charles Reaume, Baptême no. 13993.

11. Notre-Dame (Montréal, Quebec), parish register, 1695-1699, no page no., no entry no. (1697), Marie Jolive baptism, 25 September 1697; Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Le LAFRANCE”, Généalogie Québec (http://www.genealogiequebec.com : accessed 17 May 2017).

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Maurice and Raymond

Maurice and Raymond Belair 1971

Here’s a wonderful photo of my late father Maurice with my brother Raymond.

Raymond looks about 14 months old, so it’s probably July or August 1971.

I think I took the picture (or maybe Mom did).

I have a few vague memories of that day: the weather was good and we obviously decided to take snapshots of ourselves. (There are other similar photos in the series.) Could it have been Dad’s birthday, August 2nd?

He and Raymond posed in the driveway of our rented duplex on the corner of Main (now Belanger Avenue) and Wilcox in Timmins, Ontario.

Whatever the occasion was, I love this picture. Dad is happy, Raymond is so cute, and it’s one of the few examples of them together in a photograph.

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Religious Certificate

My late father Maurice received this document, a Certificat d’Instruction Religieuse (Certificate of Religious Instruction) 78 years ago today, on 18 May 1939.

Religious Instruction Certificate of Maurice Belair

As a Roman Catholic, Dad learned his Catechism at school. (His first teacher was his mother, Julie, who taught him his prayers as a young child.) When it was time for his Profession of Faith, he and the other prepared students went to their parish church, Ste-Agnès (in Fauquier, Ontario), where family, friends and possibly members of the congregation gathered. After Father Arthur Doyon asked the children questions about their faith, they recited the Nicene Creed, a prayer symbolizing our Christian Catholic faith.

The Profession de Foi (Profession of Faith) is “a public act by which personal belief is outwardly manifested in the form of a recital of a creed giving witness to the community of the authentic belief by the person in the teachings of the Church.” [1]

In the early 1970s, the typical age for this Catholic rite of passage was 13-14 years old. I was 13½ when I made my profession of faith in June 1972, but Dad was only 11½ years old when he made his.

The certificate measures approximately 22 cm x 30 cm (9” x 12”). Years of folding has left it wrinkled. Cellophane tape residue remains on a tear (8 cm/3”) in the top right-hand corner. The writing is readable, but faded. I think the certificate was kept rolled up in Dad’s dresser when I was growing up, and at some point, it was put in a frame. Mom gave it to me after he passed away.

In the lower left-hand corner are fields for entering dates of one’s Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, and Scapular. Only the last one, Scapular, is filed out. [2] I know Dad was baptised (1927) and confirmed (1935), but I don’t know when he did his First Communion. Dad and the teacher who prepared the Certificat probably didn’t know the dates, so left those spaces blank.

I have transcribed the text; bold italic passages indicate hand-written portions:

Paroisse de Ste Agnès
Fauquier, Ont.

d’Instruction Religieuse

Nous, soussigné, certifions que Maurice Bélaire [sic]
a subi avec Satisfaction l’examen final sur le catéchisme,
et a fait sa profession de foi et ses promesses de vie chrétienne.
En foi de quoi, nous lui avons décerné ce certificat.
Ce dix-huitième jour du mois de mai de l’an
mil neuf cent trente-neuf.

Baptême le … 19 … 
Première communion le … 19 … 
Confirmation le … 19… 
Scapulaire le 18 mai 1939

(Signed) Arthur Doyon ptre curé

My translation:

Parish of St Agnes
Fauquier, Ont.

of Religious Instruction

We, undersigned, certify that Maurice Bélaire [sic]
has undergone with Satisfaction the final Catechism exam
and has made his profession of faith and of promises of Christian life.
In witness whereof, we have awarded this certificate.
This eighteenth day of the month of May of the year
one thousand thirty-nine.

Baptism on … 19 … 
First Communion on … 19 … 
Confirmation on … 19 … 
Scapular on 18 May 1939

(Signed) Arthur Doyon [parish priest]


1. Reverend Peter M. J. Stravinskas, editor, Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia (Huntingdon, Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division, Our Sunday Visitor, Inc., 1991), 787, “Profession of Faith”.

2. A scapular consists of “two small pieces of cloth, about two and a half by two inches, connected by two long cords and worn over the head and resting on the shoulders”. Stravinskas, Our Sunday Visitor’s Catholic Encyclopedia, 868, “Scapular”. The Scapular that Dad received would have been a devotional one for lay people, not the kind worn by those in religious orders.

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Joseph Desgroseilliers, Accidental Train Death

90 years ago today – on May 8, 1927 – Joseph Desgroseilliers was killed when his car was hit accidentally by a train. He was 59 years old. [1] He was a husband and a father, as well as a businessman and a pioneer of St-Charles, Ontario. [2]

Joseph was the eldest son of Pierre and Flavie (Lepage) Desgroseilliers, my maternal great-great-grandparents. He was born on 20 January 1868 in St-Chrysostome, Châteauguay County, Quebec. [2] An elder sister and eleven younger brothers (including my great-grandfather Albert) and sisters completed the family.

Joseph Desgroseilliers 1927 death registration
Joseph Desgroseilliers' death registration, top portion (Ancestry.ca)
Joseph Desgroseilliers 1927 death registration
Joseph Desgroseilliers' death registration, bottom portion (Ancestry.ca)

Joseph's death registration (bottom portion) gives the cause of death as “Accidental Automobile hit by train”. A local history book of St-Charles, Ontario where he lived, gives slightly more detail in French: “fut frappé par le train no 1, près de la gare de Warren” [was hit by the train no. 1, near the station of Warren]. [3]

Warren, Ontario, Canada
Warren, Ontario

Joseph’s funeral took place in St-Charles’ parish cemetery on 11 May 1927. His brother Albert and his son-in-law Vital Brisson were present as witnesses. [4]

He was survived by his wife Azéline (née Lemieux) and their five surviving children, the youngest one being 13-year-old Lionel.

Photo credit:

Wikipedia contributors, "Markstay-Warren", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Markstay-Warren&oldid=768725791 : accessed 7 May 2017).


1. “Ontario, Canada, Deaths, 1869-1938, 1943-1944, and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947”, digital images, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 7 May 2017), entry for Joseph De Groseilliers (written as Joseph De Groseilliers, indexed as Joseph De Grossillier), 8 May 1927; citing Archives of Ontario, Registrations of Deaths, 1869-1938; Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario; microfilm series MS935, reel 350.

2. Lionel Séguin, Historique de la paroisse Saint-Charles (Saint-Charles, Ont., 1945: 231-232); digital images, Our Roots (http://www.ourroots.ca/ : accessed 18 June 2013).

3. St-Jean-Chrysostome (St-Chrysostome, Quebec), parish register, 1868, p. 2 verso, entry no. B.8, Joseph Desgroseilliers baptism, 21 January 1868; St-Chrysostome parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1968”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 7 May 2017).

4. Séguin, Historique de la paroisse Saint-Charles, 231.

5. St-Charles Boromée (St-Charles, Ontario), parish register, 1909-1967, p. 75 stamped, no entry no. (1927), Joseph Desgroseilliers burial, 11 May 1927; St-Charles Boromée parish; digital images, “Ontario, Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 7 May 2017).

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Church Record Sunday: Charles Gagnon’s 1797 Baptism Record

Today – May 7 – marks the 220th anniversary of the baptism of my maternal 4x great-grandfather, Charles Gagnon.

Eldest child of Charles Amable and Thérèse (née Poitras) Gagnon, Charles was born on 2 May 1797. He was baptised five days later in the parish church of St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, about 60 km (37 miles) north of Montreal. [1] Charles had five brothers (Joseph, François, Jean-Baptiste, Pierre, and Toussaint) and one sister (Marie Marguerite Thérèse, who died young). [2]

1797 baptism record of Charles Gagnon
Charles Gagnon's 1797 baptism record (Ancestry.ca)

My transcription of Charles’ baptism record above (original lineation indicated by / ):

Le sept mai l’an mil sept cens quatre vingt dix sept par nous sous / signé prêtre curé de la paroisse Saint Roch a été baptisé / Charles né du deux du present mois du légitime mariage de Charles / Gagnon habitant de cette paroisse et de Marie Therèse Poitra. Le / parrain a été Charles Gagnon et la marraine Anne Poitra qui / avec le pere ont déclaré ne savoir signer
[signed] Raizenne ptre

My translation of the record (original lineation indicated by / ):

The seven May of the year one thousand seven hundred ninety seven by us under / signed parish priest of the parish of Roch was baptised / Charles born of the second of the present month of the legitimate marriage of Charles / Gagnon resident of this parish and of Marie Therèse Poitra. The / godfather was Charles Gagnon and the godmother Anne Poitra who / along with the father have declared they could not sign [their names]
[signed] Raizenne [priest]

In October 1823, Charles married his distant cousin Marguerite Ducasse, also from St-Roch, by whom he had nine children. He died possibly in 1860 in Russell County, Ontario.


1. St-Roch (St-Roch-de-l’Achigan, Quebec), parish register, 1797, p. 8 recto, no entry no., Charles Gagnon baptism, 7 May 1797; St-Roch parish; digital images, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca : accessed 6 May 2017).

2. “Dictionnaire”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 2 May 2017), Charles Amable Gagnon – Thérèse Poitras Turenne, Famille no. 75859.

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Happy Easter!

Easter Cross

A blessed and happy Easter, everyone! 

Joyeuses Pâques, tout le monde! 

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun -- Where Have You Visited?

It’s Saturday and Randy at Genea-Musings has issued his weekly challenge to his readers.

Tonight’s challenge is “Where Have You Visited?”

Randy tells us that “A meme on Facebook has been circulating about what states, countries and other places you have visited. The average for Americans is 8.” He then wants us to “Copy the list from this blog post and denote your places visited with an X, and add states or countries you've visited not on the list. Then total it up at the end of your list.” When done, we “Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.”

Here are the places I’ve visited (in italic, highlighted in yellow, and with an X):

Alberta X
British Columbia X
British Virgin Islands
California X
Canada X
Castaway Island
Cayman Islands
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
El Salvador
England X
France X
Hong Kong
Idaho X
Manitoba X
Maryland X
Montana X
Nevada X
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York X
New Zealand
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ontario X
Oregon X
Pennsylvania X
Puerto Rico
Quebec X
Rhode Island
Saskatchewan X
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
South Carolina
South Dakota
South Korea
St Marten
St Thomas
Texas X
The Netherlands
United Arab Emirates
US Virgin Islands
Utah X
Virginia X
Washington X
Washington DC X
West Virginia

My total is 23 places: 4 countries, 6 provinces and 12 states (and 1 district).

Copyright © 2016, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Church Record Sunday: Jeanne Petit’s 1733 Burial Record

Born about 1656, Jeanne Petit was originally from Ste-Marguerite parish in La Rochelle, France. [1] She came to New France as a fille du roi in 1672. [2] That September, Jeanne entered into a marriage contract with François Séguin dit Ladéroute, a soldier from Picardie, France. They married the following month in Boucherville, now a suburb of Montreal. [3] Jeanne and François were the parents of six sons and five daughters. [4] Interestingly, I descend from three of those children: Françoise (1674-1751), Pierre (1682-1760) and Simon (1684-1758).

Jeanne died on 29 March 1733. She was buried the next day in the cemetery of St-Antoine-de-Padoue church in Longueuil. For some reason, the attending priest recorded her name as Françoise in her burial record. [5] Many people were present at the funeral: her daughter Jeanne and Jeanne’s husband Charles Patenaude, her son-in-law François Achin (Marie Madeleine Séguin’s second husband), as well as Charles Varri, Charles Truto and others.

Burial record of Jeanne Petit
Jeanne Petit's burial record (FamilySearch.org)

My transcription of Jeanne’s burial record above (original lineation indicated by /):

L’an de nôtre seigneur mil sept cent trente et trois [...] / 30 mars a eté inhumé dans le cimetière de cette paroisse Le corps de / francoise petit, veufve de defunct Francois seguin Dit Laderoute envi / ron quatre vingt dix ans, decedée de hier, après avoir recu [la?] / penitence et extreme onction, en presence de jeanne seguin, pate / notre fille et fils de la defuncte, de francois achin son gendre [de] charles / varri de charles truto et de plusieurs autres qui [ne?] signent 
j. ysambart pr. cure De Longueuil 

My translation of the record (original lineation indicated by /):

The year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and thirty three [...] / 30 March was interred in the cemetery of this parish The body of / francoise petit, widow of late Francois seguin Dit Laderoute approximately / ninety years old, died yesterday, after having received [the?] / [sacrament of] reconciliation and extreme unction, in the presence of jeanne seguin, pate / notre daughter and son[-in-law] of the deceased, of francois achin her son-in-law [of] charles / varri of charles truto and of many others who did [not?] sign [their names] 
j. ysambart [priest of] Longueuil 

Father Ysambart noted that Jeanne was about 90 years old at her death, but she was more likely about 77 years old.

An epidemic raged in the St. Lawrence valley, including Longueuil, in 1733. [6] Many burial records in St-Antoine-de-Padoue’s sacramental register for that year indicate “picote”, aka “variole” (smallpox), as the cause of death for its parishioners, but Jeanne’s burial record does not mention this disease.


1. René Jetté, Dictionnaire généalogique des familles du Québec (Montréal: Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1983), 1041. Jeanne’s age (25) on the 1681 census of New France gives her an approximate year of birth of 1656.

2. Peter J. Gagné, King’s Daughters and Founding Mothers: The Filles du Roi, 1663-1673, 2 vols. (Pawtucket, Rhode Island: Quintin Publications, 2001), 2: 451.

3. Jetté, Dictionnaire, 1041.

4. “Dictionnaire”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) (http://www.genealogie.umontreal.ca : accessed 7 December 2016), Francois Seguin Laderoute – Jeanne Petit, Famille, no. 4015.

5. St-Antoine-de-Padoue (Longueuil, Quebec), parish register, 1731-1767, page no., if any, illegible, recto, entry no. S.18 (1733), Françoise Petit (sic) burial, 30 March 1733; St-Antoine-de-Padoue parish; digital images, “Québec, registres paroissiaux catholiques, 1621-1979”, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org/ : accessed 7 December 2016).

6. Rénald Lessard, Au temps de la petite vérole: La médecine au Canada aux XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles (Québec: Septentrion, 2012), 34.

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun – The Day Your Grandfather Was Born

It’s Saturday and Randy at Genea-Musings has issued his weekly challenge to his readers.

Tonight’s challenge is “The Day Your Grandfather Was Born”. Randy asks us the following questions (in bold).

1) What day of the week was your Grandfather born (either one)? Tell us how you found out. 

I chose my maternal grandfather Eugène Desgroseilliers, who was born on 30 August 1900 in the village of St-Charles, Sudbury District, Ontario, Canada. The 30th was a Thursday. (The website timeanddate.com is very useful at times like this one!)

2) What has happened in recorded history on your Grandfather's birth date (day and month)? Tell us how you found out, and list five events.

Five historical events that happened on 30 August (found at Wikipedia):

- 1464: Pope Paul II succeeds Pope Pius II as the 211th pope.
- 1835: Melbourne, Australia is founded.
- 1896: Philippine Revolution.
- 1918: Fanni Kaplan shoots and seriously injures Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin.
- 1945: Hong Kong is liberated from Japan by British Armed Forces.

3) What famous people have been born on your Grandfather's birth date? Tell us how you found out, and list five of them.

Five famous people born on 30 August (found at Wikipedia):

- 1334: Peter, King of Castile and León (r. 1350-1369).
- 1748: Jacques-Louis David, French painter and illustrator.
- 1896: Raymond Massey, Canadian-American actor and playwright.
- 1919: Maurice Hilleman, American microbiologist and vaccinologist.
- 1927: Geoffrey Beene, American fashion designer.

4) Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook.

My answers are here on my blog!

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

Those Places Thursday: Our Maple Street Home

296 Maple Street North – the only home my parents owned.

When I was growing up, my parents lived in various rented apartments or duplexes in the town where I was born, Timmins, Ontario. Some of these places were small like the upstairs apartment on Lincoln Avenue when I was a few months old and where Mom had to share the clothes washer in the basement. Other places were spacious like the three-bedroom duplex on Main Street when I was a young teenager. This house had a main floor, an upstairs, and a nice, cool basement, where I used to listen to my collection of 45s during the summers.

One evening in late winter of 1972, my parents and I went to see a house they were thinking of buying. It was newly built, awaiting its first buyers. We walked in the front door into a large living room with a roomy kitchen beyond it. There were three bedrooms and a bathroom on the main floor and a small back entrance with stairs that led to an unfinished basement. From the back bedroom window, I saw a large yard. To my amazement, I realized that the snow in the yard was almost as high as the window!

My parents bought this house at 296 Maple Street North and we moved in March 1972, 45 years ago this month. Since it was winter, Dad asked one of his friends who had a front-end loader to ‘shovel’ our backyard. Mom and Dad got the front bedroom, I got the middle bedroom (but no view because my window faced the house next door) and my sister and baby brother shared the back bedroom.

Maurice and Jacqueline Belair
Mom and Dad in our living room, New Year's Eve, 1973

It was exciting to move to a brand new house that was all ours, but there were some adjustments to make. For example, instead of belonging to our parish church on Commercial Avenue, we were now parishioners of the Cathedral in downtown. My sister Marianne changed elementary schools, but I opted to stay at my old school, St-Gérard. However, that decision meant I needed to take a city bus to get to the other side of town for school. There were only three months left in my Grade 8, so it was a small price to pay, and I got to be with my friends and teachers until the end of the school year.

Marianne Belair and Raymond Belair
Marianne and Raymond in our kitchen, ca 1974

In time, Dad made improvements to our house. He and friends built a one-car garage in the backyard (it was handy to the back lane) one summer. He also finished the basement with a family room (panelled in fake knotty pine, no less) and a workshop for himself.

Raymond Belair
Raymond in the front yard next to the evergreen Dad planted, 1974

Other improvements included putting up a white picket fence around the front yard and planting a small evergreen tree in the yard. (Mom used to say, “We planted that tree when Raymond was three.”) For her part, Mom, who loved wallpaper, papered the kitchen (her favorite patterns included ivy), parts of the living room and our bedrooms. She also put in green-patterned wall-to-wall carpeting in the kitchen, because Dad didn’t like the cold linoleum floor when he got up early in the mornings.

Cementing part of the backyard
Cementing part of the backyard, summer of 1977

One winter, Dad decided he had enough of paying high costs in heating, so he got a back issue of Popular Mechanics (Dad was a big reader of Popular Mechanics and Popular Science magazines) from the public library. From the instructions in the magazine article, Dad fabricated a wood-burning stove using sheet steel. Since he was a welder by trade, it was a do-able project for him. He ran a line through the stove that fed the water heater, which heated our home’s hot water. In fact, that wood stove heated our house so efficiently that Ontario Hydro came to our house one day to see if something was wrong, because our bills were so low. One look at that wood stove convinced the hydro fellow that we had a legitimate heat source for our home.

Front yard winter 1978
Front yard, winter 1978. Dad was a CB enthusiast and he
installed a tower in the backyard (seen above the roof). 

We lived on Maple Street from 1972 until the summer of 1979. That year, we moved to British Columbia when Dad decided to give up working as a welder and start a road-building business with his younger brother Ray.

In May 2014, my husband, our son and I visited Timmins. I wanted to see the places where I lived, so one day we drove to as many of the homes that I could remember. The first house we drove by was 296 Maple Street North. It looked about the same as it did when I lived there.

Our old house (front yard), 2014

The fence in the front yard was gone, though, and there was brick siding on the house and a new living room window. The backyard had a fence, but Dad’s garage was still there. By the way, that little evergreen sure grew, didn’t it?

Back yard 2014
Our old house (back yard), 2014

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Famous Relatives: Justin Trudeau

Recently, I was looking for my 6x great-grandmother Barbe Cartier’s burial record. When I did a Google search for other details about her life, I came across Justin Trudeau and his family tree. I noticed the surnames Lalonde and Bray in his ancestry and decided to see if they tied in with my ancestors by those names. They did.

Here is a tree showing how Justin Trudeau, the 23rd and current Prime Minister of Canada, is my sixth cousin once removed through our common ancestor Marie Barbe Dazé, younger daughter of Barbe Cartier (1678-1705).

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

FHL and RootsTech 2017 Report

It’s been two weeks since my husband and I returned home from Salt Lake City and RootsTech 2017. I planned on writing about our experience soon after we arrived, but I was sidelined with a head cold. Two days later, Michael also came down with a cold, so neither of us was in any shape to put our thoughts on paper.

Part I – Family History Library

Holiday Inn Express Downtown Salt Lake City
View of our hotel from the Salt Palace looking south

Ah… the calm before the storm… Michael and I arrived in Salt Lake City in the late afternoon on Sunday February 5. We checked into our hotel, the Holiday Inn Express Downtown, across the street from the Salt Palace.

Salt Lake City
View of Salt Lake City from our hotel room looking north

I wanted to spend 2-3 days at the Family History Library before attending RootsTech. I came prepared with my research binder/tote. It contained my 8-page spreadsheet showing all the books, serials, maps, and microfilms I intended to locate. (Back home, my friend Salli showed me how to create an efficient plan to keep track of my research needs and this pre-preparation paid off.) I also had printed maps of the FHL and knew which floor held what resources.

As soon as we got to the Library on Monday morning, my husband and I were greeted enthusiastically by volunteer staff, who gave us directions to the US & Canada Books floor. Once there, on the third floor, I stood for a moment and scanned the large room. There were staff desks nearby, long tables to work at beyond them, computers off to one side, and at the far end of the room, rows and rows of shelving filled to the brim with BOOKS! I didn’t know if I should laugh or cry – I was that impressed with the amount of books those shelves held. The best part (for me) was discovering the large quantity of material on French Canada (Quebec). I don’t think I’ve seen so many books about Quebec outside of a Canadian library or archive. I set my research tote on a table and then walked towards the 971.4 books. I looked at one, then another, and then one more. It was overwhelming! I wanted to take them all back to the table. Instead, I took a deep breath and chose 3-4 books to start with.

FHL microfilm cabinet
Michael at a microfilm cabinet

Michael and I worked until almost noon and then took a lunch break in the snack room on the ground floor. A fellow genealogist, Lark, joined us there. Lark and I met online recently during a Mondays with Myrt session, a weekly genealogy hangout-on-air. After lunch, it was back to work on the third floor, getting as much done as possible before the Library closed at 5 p.m.

Family History Library
Yvonne (right) with Lark at the FHL

The next day, Tuesday, Michael and I returned to the FHL. We met up with Lark for lunch and then worked for the next few hours. My 7-page spreadsheet grew to eight pages, because I found 14 other books that I hadn’t thought of while back home.

Holiday Inn Express Downtown Salt Lake City
Michael and Yvonne in our hotel lobby

Wednesday was a short day at the Library. We spent the morning catching up on last minute items. After lunch, we walked to the Salt Palace and made our way to Room 155A to hear a panel discussion on “How will DNA continue to disrupt our industry”. It was a good session, but it’s too bad that the speakers – Angie Bush, CeCe Moore and Scott Woodward – weren’t visible to most of the audience because they sat at a table at floor level instead of on a platform or stage.

Part II – RootsTech 2017

RootsTech 2017 sponsors
RootsTech 2017 sponsors above entrance/exit doors of Expo Hall

How would I describe RootsTech in one word? EXCITING! From the moment we entered the Salt Palace and walked past the registration desk, there was so much to take in. There were the food vendors, the endless rooms where the sessions would take place, the Expo Hall, and people everywhere. I wanted to do it all and not miss a thing. It was my first time in Salt Lake City, at RootsTech and at the Family History Library, so I was geared up for a great time. Unfortunately, my energy level didn’t match my enthusiasm level, and I was soon exhausted. I had to scale back my expectations and my schedule. The expression “pace yourself” really applied here.

RootsTech 2017 attendees
Attendees going to and from sessions

There were some hiccups during the four days of RootsTech. For example, I missed out on two sessions, because the small rooms were filled to capacity 20 minutes before the start time. On Thursday morning, I had a bit of an anxiety attack during the keynote address with the Scott Brothers (aka the Property Brothers of tv fame) and had to leave the hall to find some fresh air. I didn’t feel well on Saturday morning and stayed in my hotel room, which meant I missed that morning’s keynote speakers CeCe Moore and Buddy Valastro. I had scheduled an appointment with Coaches’ Corner for Friday afternoon, but it got cancelled because the system double booked people. I was disappointed that I wouldn’t have a chance to ask questions about my 18th century ancestor (Francis Durgey) from New Hampshire. While walking around in the Expo Hall on the day of my cancelled appointment, I decided to drop by the Coaches’ Corner booth to see if there was any chance I could still get to speak to someone. One of the women at the desk was a New Hampshire expert and since no one was in line, she agreed to see me. How cool is that?

Jonathan and Drew Scott the Property Brothers
Jonathan and Drew Scott, the Property Brothers

On the plus side, I really enjoyed all the guest speakers, but was thrilled beyond words to see LeVar Burton on Friday morning. I’ve been such a fan of his since I first saw him in Roots (the tv miniseries) in 1977 when I was a high school student. Forty years later, Mr. Burton proved to be an eloquent, powerful and unforgettable speaker. There must have been more than 10,000 people gathered in the hall that morning. As for the daily class sessions, it was great to hear speakers like Angie Bush, Angela McGhie, Thomas Jones and Joshua Taylor. It was also fun to sit-in on the short talks the vendors gave in the Expo Hall. I particularly liked the ones put on by Ancestry, MyHeritageDNA and Family Tree Maker. Russ Worthington gave such a good talk about the new features of FTM 2017 that I bought FTM 2014.1 and the upgrade to 2017 (available in a few weeks). While at the FTM booth, I won a copy of “Charting Companion 6” (by Progeny Genealogy) which works with FTM.

Chart Companion 6
Pierre Clouthier demonstrating "Chart Companion 6"

The Expo Hall was often full of people, but it had its quieter moments. Some vendors were crazy-busy keeping up with the crowds. Despite the crush of people, I found the company reps gave me their full attention and answered my questions without hurrying me along. While here, my husband and I bought MyHeritageDNA’s test kits and submitted our samples on site. There were also great show specials to take advantage of, so I bought Genetic Genealogy in Practice, by Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne (at the American Ancestors booth) and Legacy 8.0 Deluxe (at the Legacy FamilyTree booth). I managed to visit many of the vendor booths, including the ‘big’ ones (like Ancestry), but I also enjoyed dropping by other booths like Drouin Institute (I chatted with Sébastien Robert, V-P of the DI), Geneanet, Maia’s Genealogy & History Book, Moorshead Magazines, National Institute for Genealogical Studies, and ShotBox.

RootsTech 2017 Expo Hall
View inside Expo Hall

Part III – Evening Events

Monday – Michael and I joined Jill Ball (GeniAus blogger) at the Blue Lemon restaurant. Jill organized a get-together for attendees from the British Commonwealth. Australia seemed to have the largest contingent, but Canada, England, and, I believe, New Zealand were also represented.

Tuesday – Michael and I researched at the FHL.

Wednesday – We attended the RootsTech Welcome Party at the Marriott.

Thursday – We didn’t go to the RootsTech Opening Event (Rodgers and Hammerstein music at the Conference Center), because fatigue had set in and we wanted a quiet night.

Friday – We were back at the Marriott for the MyHeritageDNA After-Party. Lots of people, great games, door prizes, music, karaoke, and even a couple of illusionists who amazed us! Here are some pictures:

RootsTech 2017 MyHeritageDNA After-Party
Welcome sign to MyHeritageDNA After-Party

RootsTech 2017 MyHeritageDNA After-Party
David Lambert (center) and other genealogists performing to karaoke

RootsTech 2017 MyHeritageDNA After-Party
Daniel Schaffer (Master Mentalist) demonstrating an illusion

Saturday – Michael, myself and about 30 or so guests descended on Dear Myrtle’s home for a couple of hours that evening. Got to meet more genealogists, had good food (soup, salad, desserts), and have a chance to relax and talk genealogy one last time before we left for home the next morning.

Peggy Lauritzen and Cheri Passey
Peggy Clemens Lauritzen (left) and Cheri Hudson Passey

Daniel Horowitz and Randy Seaver
Daniel Horowitz (floor) and Randy Seaver (behind, in chair)
Group photo at home of Dear Myrtle
Group photo at Myrt's home

Thank you for your hospitality in your beautiful home, Myrt!

Michael and Yvonne with Dear Myrtle
Michael and Yvonne with 'Dear Myrtle'

Copyright © 2017, Yvonne Demoskoff.