Sordid Tale of the Steamer The Montreal

A group of immigrants arrived on the shores of Quebec aboard The John Mackenzie. It had sailed from Scotland, its passengers full of anticipation and excitement, the date June 26, 1857. The 250 passengers upon their arrival to Quebec City disembarked only to find their way onboard The Montreal, heading to the next stop on their journey, Montreal.

There were up to 300 passengers onboard The Montreal when a fire broke out near the boiler. The two lifeboats quickly filled and were swamped. With limited choices, people remained onboard as long as possible before jumping in the water, many ended up with severe burns. It is estimated 248 people died in the incident.

I came across information on The Montreal when researching a relative, Robert Andrew Jeffrey. Robert is mentioned in the newspaper as he helped in the recovery of the bodies. What an incredibly grim task.

The Montreal Herald And Daily Commercial Gazette, Thursday, July 9, 1857 col. 3 reported that

“…of the bodies recovered, one hundred and thirty have been picked up by a boatman named Robert Jeffery, who is well known to be a strictly honest man, and who went up to the wreck in the same Steamer as the Mayor, on the night of the occurrence; the remainder of the bodies have been recovered by Michel Barribeau, Joseph Belieau, and the Water Police.”

Reports following in the newspaper condemn the recovery of the bodies claiming thefts of the victim’s belongings as rampant. The Commercial Gazette’s article is defending the recovery process of the victims as other newspapers reported that

“Quebec is the head quarters of two sets of the greatest scoundrels and ruffians on the face of the earth, crimps and immigrant runners.”

and that “…crimps have been reaping a rich harvest by robbing the bodies of the dead”

The victims were mostly laid to rest in Quebec City.

A partial list of passengers was found here – List of passengers

More information on The Montreal can be found here – Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Robert A Jeffery The Montreal 1857

Clip of the article from the newspaper mentioned above

The newspaper was accessed through the BAnQ website where the full article can be found.

 

 

1926 Census – When? No One Knows

The 1926 census has had many of us waiting for any word on when we will have access from Library and Archives Canada.

A look at the Library and Archives Canada website and a small paragraph indicates that it is going to be quite some time before we will be browsing through the 1926 census records.

They plan to have:

“the data from the census available on our website; in the coming months we will be in a better position to estimate a release date.”

What a disappointment. They do not even have an estimated release date? They can’t even guess?

LAC was able to plan a finish date for the WWI digitization project, why not this? It seems poor planning on their part that they couldn’t offer the public more information.

We waited until the allotted date and we get nothing…I for one am quite disappointed in LAC.

The waiting continues.

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Uncovering Dad’s Ethnicity Without Dad

So much buzz in the DNA world with DNA Day sales yesterday, and then 23andMe allowed Ancestry uploads, well only if you live in the USA but still it created some excitement.

This had me review the reports at 23andMe, years ago I had my brother take their DNA test, as I like to fish in all the pools. I recently tested my mother at that site as I wanted to take advantage of some of the utilities they provide when you add in a parent. My dad passed away in 2008 and I did get his DNA tested at Family Tree DNA but I cannot add his DNA to any site that doesn’t allow uploads.

A feature that people have been talking about at 23andMe is the Ethnicity tool which is quite good if you have a lot of mixture in your ancestry. Our family is mostly Irish and it is a broad category at 23andMe but there are some cool things you can see, even if you have only one parent tested.Screen_Shot_2018-04-26_at_1_52_44_PM_1This view shows that my mother and my brother and would like me to connect my father, which I cannot do.

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This next view shows my mother’s ethnicity on the right and what’s left over, so my dad! A very exciting thing for those that cannot test one parent.

*this is not a complete picture of Dad, it is the portion of DNA from dad that is passed to my brother.

Another interesting thing 23andMe does is break it down where on your Chromosome these pieces of ethnicity are showing up.

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And if you click on say the French/German in the table on the right it will highlight that portion of the chart – Screen_Shot_2018-04-26_at_1_53_44_PM

So my brother’s itty-bitty French-German ancestry appears for him on Chromosome 12. If I have someone who matches him at that spot I could explore the fact that they may fall into our Stickle line.

This is a fun exercise that I can also take a step further by downloading the ethnicity report and adding it into DNA Painter.

And it has made me decide to take a 23andMe test to see my comparison with my mother and brother.

PS. 23andMe is having a sale on kits right now, buy two and get the third one free in time for Mother’s Day!

Fairview, BC is No More

As with most genealogists, a trip for me anywhere is an opportunity to do some exploring in your family tree.

My kids are away this weekend swimming and no parents other than chaperones it meant a free weekend for my husband and me. With our corner of Alberta still blanketed in snow, we decided to find some better scenery. A trip to Osoyoos, BC was planned, an oasis to our eyes after so many months of beautiful but never-ending white landscape

Yesterday we landed in Kelowna and with a free-schedule, I convinced him to wait for the Kelowna Library to open before heading to our destination. I had some Harrop family members in the area and I wanted to see what I could find. It took 20 minutes to look them up in the newspaper on microfilm.

Microfilm reader at the Kelowna Library

Microfilm reader at the Kelowna Library

 

Next stop was Oliver. I have written before about my mom’s ancestor James Stewart who ran a store in Hedley, BC from 1908-1920 (approx. dates) but before James was in Hedley his store was located in the town of Fairview, BC. I had not tracked down where exactly the community of Fairview was located on previous visits. A quick stop at the Visitors Centre in Oliver and we were on our way. We were directed to follow the Fairview Road that cuts through the heart of Oliver (and right past the Oliver Archives I might add).

We traveled up the windy trail and found the Kiosk that marks the spot on the landscape where this mining town had once thrived.

The Fairview information Kiosk and the amazing view

The history of Fairview and the area was told on the panels. Fairview was a booming mining town that boasted to be the biggest city north of San Francisco in its heyday (the early 1900s).

A map of Fairview showing the location of some of the businesses

 

The history told at the kiosk describes a thriving community until the gold “played out” around 1906. A great reason for my 2x great uncle to close up shop and move to the next booming mine town of Hedley.

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Location of the Fairview Presbyterian Church stood at the old Fairview, BC townsite

 

 

A short 20 km drive down the road and we had arrived at Osoyoos, a favourite place for us to visit.

And last night I was enjoying our spectacular view from our balcony in Osoyoos.

Last Day of Our Mom & Daughter Road Trip

We spent time at the Flamborough Archives located in the Waterdown Library. Here we were helped two wonderful volunteers who brought out land books from the back shelves. We found the entries for William Stewart who was on Con 5 Lot 5 & Lot 8. As well we looked up the McGowan family whose connection to us is through William’s wife Mary Loftus. Other surnames on the radar were Kenny and Doyle so we had a look at them as well. All these families lived on the Brock Rd. in West Flamborough, Wentworth Co. This area had such a heavy concentration of Irish settlers and that it was dubbed “Little Ireland”. The 1840s-1850s  when the William Stewart’s family was living in the area means there are few records to be found outside of census, church and land records but it was great to visit the Archives after communicating via email over the years.

Another stop on our adventures was to pay respects at the grave of John McMahon. John was a deaf-mute who I wrote about, a brother to Michael, Cornelius and Edward he spent over 30 years institutionalized in the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital. A chilly walk through the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Section ‘S’ left us saddened that John’s his final resting spot was not marked.

It felt so important to me to make this journey to remember him.

We also made sure to visit what remains of the Hamilton Psychiatric Hospital John’s home for so many years. (here we tried out the selfie stick, I think we need some lessons)

 

The trip has been fantastic, met family, toured Ontario and most importantly spent an amazing week one on one with my mom!

Shoutout goes to my husband who is at home managing work and kids. I am guessing he is already planning his next golf trip!

Cheers!u3%t3T6ZSUGvE0pH6JKrEA

 

Searching For a Hidden Cemetery

Our day began with a drive to the Wellington County Archives near Fergus, Ontario. I wanted to see what information they may have on a Stewart family what was living in Ermosa (DNA is pointing me to a possible Stewart connection). The Grey County Archives is only open on Saturdays so we will miss visiting it.

The Wellington Archives is located in a beautiful building and after a summary of their holdings from a staff member I did some light research. I was happy to see they had some records from Normanby Township where mom’s family was from. I showed her the 1861 census index and she enjoyed looking at the different places people were born, mostly Scotland and Ireland.

We had lunch in Elora and after looking around we decided we loved his little town that has so much character. If I am ever back this way I will definitely be staying at the Historic Elora Mill which is being restored at the moment and is supposed to open later this year. The town is full of cute shops and the town has a wonderful feel, I would love to see it in the summer.

Our next plan was to find the elusive Orchardville Cemetery, this is my third trip to Grey and I still had not stopped there. This turned out to be a bigger deal than we had anticipated. Before searching for it we stopped at the Ayton Library to get directions, again we had wonderful help from a staff member and left feeling confident we would not have a problem.qVpvHqpsTvyMIXnHCLrE0g

We used our Sat Nav to get us close, which told us to pull over along the highway and walk, we believed it, a bit of a mistake. After wandering around and not seeing anything we headed back to the vehicle.

Feeling rather determined we stopped at three houses to ask directions…no luck. Back to the map, reviewed what Sat Nav was saying and I had an idea. I opened up my Find-A-Grave App. I was happy to see that the person who had uploaded the Orchardville Cemetery photos had also added photos of the road signs near the hidden turnoff.
YES!
We drove a little further up the road and recognized the sign from the App. I pulled over, and we walked to the top of the hill easily spotting the big white cross and headstones in the distance.
I finally was at the resting spot of Michael McMahon (1806-1856), my mother’s great great grandfather. Also mentioned on the stone is his grandson Michael McMahon (1854-1872), Cornelius’s oldest son.

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Michael Sr. & his grandson Michael McMahon

Michael Sr.’s son Cornelius also has a headstone in this cemetery and likely is his final resting spot, although his name is on a headstone in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Ayton.

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Cornelius McMahon’s headstone

I am not sure why but most of the headstones in the Orchardville Cemetery have been gathered and placed side-by-side in a cement slab.

We celebrated our success by treating ourselves to some food and wine!

Road Trip Progress

Yesterday traveled Toronto to Delhi 149 km

Met mom’s third cousin for the first time and stayed in the McMahon home that is 118 years old. The famous Irish welcome we were granted was followed by quick-witted conversation, offers of food and a warm place to sit by the crackling fire. We were quickly at ease with our newly met family; the conversation and stories flowed, soon followed by bursts of laughter. A sense of ease and comfort that can only be identified as the familiarity of family.

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McMahon family home built in 1900

 

Followed by hours spent happily scanning their enormous family collection of pictures/documents

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One of the 3 bins of family pictures and documents they have preserved + a very long evening of scanning = genealogy heaven

 

Today began with a visit to La Salette Cemetery to pay our respects to my mother’s great-great uncle Michael McMahon and many of his descendants buried there

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Mary Stewart with her cousin John McMahon at Michael McMahon’s headstone in La Sallete Cemetery, Norfolk

 

Followed by a 166 km drive to our next stop at Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Ayton, Ontario. This is where my mother’s paternal great-grandfathers are both buried, William Stewart (1804-1883) and Cornelius McMahon (1824-1893). As well her paternal great-grandmother Sarah McCue/McHugh (1825-1915) and her great aunt Sarah Culliton (1866-1925).

Words cannot convey how amazing it has been the last couple of days. Connecting my mother with her McMahon family and seeing her standing beside the final resting place of people that she did not know the names of before I began my genealogy journey.

*featured image is the interior of the La Salette Catholic Church in Norfolk County, Ontario