How Has Past Pandemics Affected People in Your Family Tree?

The spread of illnesses is not a new thing for Canada or the world for that matter. When I think of it in reference to my own genealogy there are two instances that I recall reading about an ancestor experiencing an pandemic.

John Tipper who was living in Montreal in 1832 was killed by Cholera. John was a blind, retired soldier from the Royal Artillery, here is the brief mention I have of his passing.

John Tipper cholera Christ Church Montreal 17 June 1832

John Tipper of Montreal, pensioner, died on the seventeenth day of June one thousand eight hundred and thirty-two aged sixty-two years and will be buried on the eighteenth following. Christ Church Montreal 17 June 1832

The other link to the Cholera was the reference to an outbreak in the obituary John’s granddaughter Hannah (Jeffery) Norton.

She [Hannah] was of a very charitable disposition, and was always foremost in alleviating suffering and distress. During the period that Quebec was visited with the terrible scourge of cholera, the late Mrs. Norton took a noble and active part in tending to those who were so unfortunate as to be smitten with the dreaded disease, and notwithstanding her unremitting attention to the sufferers, she was fortunate enough to escape it….

Norton, Hannah P Quebec Chronicle Ja 22 1917

Quebec Chronicle Jan 22, 1917

As Hannah was born in 1832 her involvement in treating Cholera patients must have happened in one of the subsequent outbreaks, likely 1851, 1852 or 1854.

A couple of sites where you can read more information is Heritage Passages or the Canadian Encylopedia for more information on the Cholera that hit Quebec.

Have you found connections to family members surviving past pandemics? Maybe now is the time to document our experiences as we live through this unique time.

For me, my journal entry reads, “…who would have thought that in hearing of Covid-19 and its implications, people ran out en masse and bought… toilet paper?”

*featured image free from Pixaby

Protestant Schools in Quebec City

The question started with “Did my grandmother attend school while she was living in Quebec City?” And it snowballed as it usually does when doing genealogy.

I found a book on the BAnQ (National Library and Archives of Quebec) website about Protestant Schools in Quebec. The book is called “Molding our tomorrows: a survey of the first hundred years of Protestant education in Quebec City, 1846-1946 / made to the order of the Protestant Board of School Commissioners”, by Arthur G. Penny. BA

Not only is it a great resource for Protestant education in Quebec City covering the years 1846-1946, but as a bonus, it also lists students who fought in the South African War, WWI & WWII.

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pg. 75 From the book Molding our tomorrows: a survey of the first hundred years of Protestant education in Quebec City, 1846-1946 / made to the order of the Protestant Board of School Commissioners by Arthur G. Penny. BA 

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pg. 76 From the book Molding our tomorrows: a survey of the first hundred years of Protestant education in Quebec City, 1846-1946 / made to the order of the Protestant Board of School Commissioners by Arthur G. Penny. BA 

And voila! I found two of my Norton relatives, George Beveridge Norton and his cousin Alfred Lee Norton both attended Victoria Protestant School. A quick look in the Directories (again on the BAnQ website)  and found it was located on St. Estache Street.


Another success in my school searches was finding mention in the newspaper of my great grandmother, Caroline Norton. The prize list below was for the Girls’ High School located on St. Augustin Street in Quebec City.

Caroline Norton Quebec Morning Chronicle June 26 1889

Quebec Morning Chronicle June 26, 1889

I am still looking for my grandmother Beatrice’s school but I am happy with the school discoveries so far.

Check out Gail Dever’s guide on researching at the Quebec National Archives website.





‘Fresh Eyes’ Could Be a Genealogy Theme Song

The 1926 census in Canada covered the Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba. I was very excited and counted down to its release. Other than my husband’s family my mother’s grandparents were living in Saskatchewan in 1926. We all know that census is a wonderful resource, adding context and details to our ancestor’s lives.

I easily located my mother’s paternal family when the census was released but locating her maternal line had me stymied. Her mother’s name Margaret Wilma Harrop who would have been 14 years old and my mother’s grandfather William Harrop would have been 76. I had searched using every variation of the surname Harrop I could think of, nothing. I also tried browsing through the census records for Balcarres where I know the family resided. Again, no luck.

Sometimes, a person needs to walk away and leave the research and then come back for a second look with ‘fresh eyes’. So this is what I did. Recently I again did a search for the surname Harrop at Library and Archives Canada website in their census returns, I even tried searching Harr* but with so many results I was quickly discouraged.

And here is where the fresh eyes come in. Every record, every news article has the family living in Balcarres but I decided to check where they were living in the 1921 census. The location of their farm at 1-21-12-W2 was listed in the census in the Twp. of Abernethy in the District of Melville…WHAT?? I have never heard of this place, the family went to church in Balcarres, the kids attended school in Balcarres, but the census located the family in the District of Abernethy.

Ok, so obviously this is something I had completely overlooked but that can happen. I went back to the Library and Archives website, looked found that Abernethy was district 39 and after scrolling through this town I found them! They had been transcribed as having the surname HARROF.

Harrop family 1926 census, Abernathy, Melville district sub dist 39

William & Rachel Harrop with their children Walter, Dorothy, Wilma and hired hands Anthony Nicholson & Trassey Spool. Living in the Twp. of Abernethy in Saskatchewan, 1926

I hope this gives you hope and hints on locating your family in the sometimes tricky census records!


More tips on Searching in On-Line Newspapers

I keep finding new nuggets about my ancestors in newspapers. Lately I have been spending time researching my Harrop family and I thought I had done a thorough job searching but I am still finding new things.

Here are four ways I search through newspapers:

  1. Names: Starting with the name variations William Harrop, Wm Harrop, Bill Harrop, W. Harrop. Then I will move on to his children, Dorothy, Walter & Margaret, using variations of all their names.
  2. Locations: narrow the search by locations Canada, and narrow further by the newspaper. This is good initially but keeping it broad to Canada has helped me find other tidbits. Although William did not live in North Carolina, his first wife did and I have found many details by extending my search to that area.
  3. Place: William lived in Balcarres so I can search for this location and find the news of the area. Also by broadening the search this way I can sometimes catch articles that mention my ancestor that wasn’t picked up when I searched for a name. Indian Head, Saskatchewan was close to Balcarres so if your ancestor lived in a small place search for a community close by. Newspapers often cover nearby events and news from the surrounding communities.
  4. Date: If I know a specific date an event occurred narrow down the search for the newspaper closest to that event. Take the time to read the paper in case the event is missed using the other searches.
  5. Mentioned twice: Make sure you take note of how many times the surname appears in the paper. You may catch the death notice BUT there is sometimes a full obituary or details of the funeral located in the same paper which can be missed.

My searching that turned up my next clue was using ONLY the surname and no location. I browsed through the search results and low and behold and I found that Mrs. Harrop, William’s wife and wrote to her newspaper back in North Carolina about her honeymoon and her trip to Canada. With land opening up in Western Canada I am sure there was a great interest to farmers back in her home town.

Caroline Mascot (Statesville, North Carolina) 11 Nov 1897 pg.3
A Letter from Canada
The Trip From North Carolina to Canada By A North Carolina Lady
For the Mascot:
Perhaps a few brief notes of our trip to the far West and of the great wheat country would be interesting to some of your readers. My husband, little daughter and myself spent 24 hours in Asheville looking over the principal parts of the city. Then we bid adieu to the Old North State, the home of my childhood and the land of my nativity, and started for Knoxville, Tenn. Then to Cincinnati and on to Indianapolis. Then to Chicago and of course we spent some time in that great city, taking in some of its modern magnificence. Our travel was on one of the most rapidly moving express trains, hence we had very little opportunity for observation along the lines, but a glance was sufficient to convince one that the farming through that portion of the country was very systematic. From Chicago we started for St. Paul, Minn., one of the greatest Western cities of the United States. We spent quite awhile there, taking in the wonders of the West.

At 7:30 p.m. we started for Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, a distance of 709 miles which was made in 13 hours. Time passed swiftly by until we crossed the line for Canada. We find some of the most refined, educated, industrious and congenial people here. It is highly complementary to come in contact with such people in the wild West. Winnipeg is fast becoming a second Chicago. It was chartered in 1875, and now has 40,000 inhabitants, with all the modern advancements. It is beautifully situated on the Red river of the North and is the centre of railroads from all points. We spent 24 hours in this flourishing city. In the forenoon we were driven to some of the leading places in one of Canada’s latest styled carriages, drawn by some of her finest horses. In the afternoon we took the street cars and took in four of the most lovely parks. They are grand, especially in the evening when illuminated by electrical lights.

The wheat crop here is supposed to be equal to last year’s in both quality and quantity. It requires 20 cars for the daily shipment of wheat from Indian Head. There were 700,000 bushels shipped from this point last year. We have had snow amply sufficient for cutter-riding, but it has all disappeared, and we are now having fine weather. Your paper is always looked for with great anxiety.
Mrs. Wm Harrop
Indian Head, North West Territory Canada, Nov. 3rd.

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Caroline Mascot (Statesville, North Carolina) 11 Nov 1897 pg.3


I found this postcard of Winnipeg in the 1890s on the Prairie Towns website which is a great place to find postcards of Western Canadian towns and cities.

There are not too many times that a person finds out how their ancestors celebrated their honeymoon in 1897!

Harrop is not the most common of names and I tighten my search parameters when I am looking for names in my tree that are more common.

I hope more Canadian newspapers continue to be added online as the details about our ancestor’s lives are priceless.

Featured Image is the Town of Balcarres in 1909 also from the Prairie Towns website

Why I Follow Genealogy News Bloggers

I have three genealogy bloggers I follow for the most up to date information in the Genealogy world; Gail Dever, John Reid, and Dick Eastman. The benefit of following these bloggers is that I hear what is new in the world of genealogy. They share new databases, database updates, news stories, and general genealogy news. There are other bloggers worth following but these three are amoung my favorites.

My latest discovery was thanks to Dick Eastman’s newsletter. He recently shared in his newsletter that more North Carolina newspapers had been added to DigitalNC AND I found a news article about my great grandfather’s first marriage. I really would have never found out about this update otherwise.

My great grandfather, William Harrop was born in Etobicoke, Ontario in 1854 to parents Lewis Harrop and Anna Eliza Stickle. William was the last of their five children, his father passed away when he was seven, which was followed by the family relocating to Orangeville. William apprenticed as a butcher and volunteered with the 36th Regiment for Peel County and 1891 he was farming in East Assiniboia (Saskatchewan). William was quite a successful farmer and eventually owned a full Section of land. The remoteness of the location meant finding a wife pretty challenging. In 1897 he replied to a newspaper ad posted by a widow living in North Carolina, she was seeking a husband. I am not sure how common this was back in the day and if it was frowned upon? I guess it would be a version of todays dating apps.

Dick Eastman’s mention of North Carolina’s newspaper and instantly my curiosity was sparked. And sure enough, the details of their courtship was revealed.

The Goldsboro Headlight ran the story:

Mrs. Belle Cornelius, of Iredell county, was married at Newton Monday to Mr. William Harrop, of Ontario, Canada, and she and her husband arrived there on the noon train. It seems that there is a bit of romance connected with it, says a correspondent to the Statesville Landmark. Some months ago Mrs. Cornelius advertised in a matrimonial paper for correspondents on the subject of matrimony. The gentleman above referred to answered the “ad” and a correspondence was kept up which soon led to their engagement. A place of meeting was named with the understanding that if they were pleased with each other they were to be married. They met at Hickory, Monday, and I suppose the “looks” were satisfactory, as they drove to Newton and were married. Mrs. C. was to meet and marry another gentleman on the 15th inst., but after her marriage on Monday she telegraphed lover No. 2 that he need not come. I learn that they will make their home in Canada.

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The Goldsboro Headlight, Aug 12, 1897 describes the meeting of Belle (Sherill) Cornelius and William Harrop

I love this story! I knew bits about this story thanks to other newspapers, but I did not know that Belle was the one who put in the ad, about them meeting face-to-face 1 day before they married, and that he was not her only suitor!

After the marriage, Belle and her daughter Flora Belle came to the Harrop farm and called Balcarres, Saskatchewan home for the next seven years. In 1904, the love-seeking Belle passed away, her daughter Flora Cornelius moved back to North Carolina where many of her siblings resided.

Harrop, Isabelle headstone

Sacred to the memory of Isabella M. Beloved Wife of William Harrop died Sept 6, 1904 Aged 50 years and 2 months. Indian Head Cemetery, Saskatchewan

William was widowed for three more years until he married Rachel Hodgins in 1907. I think it fairly likely that they also met through a newspaper ad.

William Harrop & Rachel Hodgins 2

William Harrop with his 2nd wife Rachel Hodgins c1907

Thanks to ALL the genealogy news bloggers and all the work they put in! You are consistently helping me to make new discoveries in my family tree.




WWII Honours & Awards Indexed on Library and Archives Website

Looking around the Military Section of the Library and Archives Canada website I came across a link to a searchable database of WWII Canadian Army Overseas Honours and Awards. For fun, I put in a couple of surnames in the hopes of finding a relative mentioned. You how it is, if there is a searchable database we genealogists go through our list of names in the hopes of a hit.

And BINGO! I found my 2nd cousin once removed and the record had some amazing details! Leslie Gordon Norton, the son of Ernest Thomas Norton & Catherine Whiting was a Regimental Signaller with the Essex Scottish Regiment.

On October 16, 1944, the Company was near Woensdrecht, Holland, the rest of the information comes from the document found in the database:

 “Enemy fire in this sector was quite heavy, and the slit trench which Private Norton was occupying, received a direct hit, killing one occupant and wounding Private Norton and the other two occupants. Private Norton allowed the other wounded men to be evacuated, but insisted on remaining to work on the damaged wireless set and complete artillery fire orders, which he had been transmitting. He remained on duty giving clear and accurate call signs for an hour, despite the intense pain from his wounds and the continual enemy fire, until relief signal personnel arrived.

Private Norton’s calmness, calmness, courage, devotion to duty exceptional, and he was instrumental in maintaining vital communications within the company.”

This earned Leslie the Military Medal.

In 1948 he was married to Margaret Brown.

NORTON, Leslie Gordon engagement announcement

1948 news clipping of my grandmother’s

Have a look at the WWII database at the LAC website and hopefully, you will find a relative listed there too!


More Newspaper Finds at BAnQ

If you follow my blog you will know I have been having an absolute blast searching through old newspaper. The BAnQ (Quebec Archives) site has either made some changes to their search engine, added new papers or I have gotten WAY better at searching!

A few of my latest finds include

  1. a clipping of A. E. DeForest from Brooklyn visiting their cousins in Quebec City, the wife of Peter Jordan. This clipping further solidifies that Margaret Jeffrey who married James Atkins had a daughter Lillian who married Arthur DeForest. Her visit was to Caroline (Norton) Jordan who was Margaret Jeffrey’s niece.
    Liliian & Arthur DeForest visits Peter Jordan family

    Quebec Chronicle, July 17, 1908

    2. a fantastic story of William Jordan being recognized for his long military service. He was presented with a “gold-mounted ebony cane”, I wonder what happened to the cane?

    Wm Jordan long career retires 1905

    Quebec Chronicle Sept 29, 1905

Serg. W. Jordan Honored on Retirement from Service on the Citadel

The members of the Sergeants’ Mess R.C.G.A., assembled together yesterday afternoon to present Sergt. W. Jordan with a gold mounted ebony walking cane as a souvenir on his retirement from the service. Just thirty-four years have elapsed since Sergt. W. Jordan joined the then School of Gunnery at the Citadel, Quebec, having thus served longer than any officer, non-commissioned officer or man in the permanent force of Canada. The Sergt. was one of the first to join under Col. T.B/ Strange after the withdrawal of the Imperial troops from Quebec in 1871. The late Col. C. E. Montizambert was the second in command at that time. This non-commissioned officer served in the Northwest rebellion and wears the medal of that campaign; also the long service and good conduct medal. At present this veteran is represented in the permanent corps by two sons, one Q.M.S. Instructor at an early period in his career.

 Nevertheless, the old soldier is hale and hearty and retires with the earnest wishes of his comrades that he may live for many a long day to come to enjoy the munificent pension of 62 cents per diem, and thus serve as an object lesson to the youth of Canada aspiring to fame and wealth.

I wonder if the last few sentences were tongue-in-cheek?

3. This clipping was a great discovery as I did not know about Richard Lee Norton jr.’s military career, nor had I ever laid eyes on him!

Richard L Norton II

Quebec Chronicle, June 23, 1902

Color-Sergt. Richard Norton

Son of the late Captain Norton, of Yarmouth, Eng., was born in Quebec in 1859 and joined the 8th Royal Rifles in 1870, when Lt.-Col. Reeves was in command, and remained in the corps up to the present day, and is one of the crack shots of the regiment, being a member of the Rifle Association from its origin, and was a member of the team that carried off the British challenge shield at Ottawa in 1886 and also a member of the team that won the Gzowski Cup at Ottawa the following year. He also holds the D.R.A. bronze medal, the C.M.R.L. special badge for the aggregate of 1897, P.Q.R.A., also badges for the 1891-93 and 1897, etc., together with having received a first-class certificate from the St. John, P.Q., R.C.R.I. He received the long service decoration May 9th, 1902.

A Color-Sergeant is the equivalent of a Warrant-Officer.

I have really been enjoying my discoveries! Other things I have found are school achievements, sicknesses and on top of obituaries, when relatives acted as pall-bearers at a funeral.


Newspapers at BAnQ

I live 4,000 kilometers away from where I need to do most of my genealogy research and because of that, I rely heavily on what I can locate online.

I often go back to a web site and redo searches, try new variations in the hopes that I will come across something new.

Yesterday I searched the newspapers (again) at the Quebec Archives site BAnQ and had success.

The first article was a death announcement for Caroline (Jeffrey) MacKay. Caroline was the daughter of Robert Jeffery and Elizabeth Tipper. She was married twice, her first marriage was to Frederick Yates / Yeates in 1841. By 1851 they had buried two children and Caroline was a widow. She married a second time to James MacKay in Montreal in 1851. By Caroline’s death in 1885 at the age of 63 she had buried two more children. The only mention in the newspaper of all these tragedies was little notice in the Quebec Morning Chronicle & Commercial & Shipping Gazette in May 1885 of Caroline’s passing.

Jeffrey Caroline d 1885 Morning chronicle and commercial and shipping gazette, 28 mai 1885

At Richmond, on the 20th of May, Caroline Jeffery, eldest daughter of the late Robert Jeffery, Master stone cutter, of Quebec, and beloved wife of James McKay, Esq.

My favorite find was the notice of death of John Tipper. I had been searching for what happened to John for years. What I knew was that he was born in 1803 in Kingston, Ontario to John Tipper & Gertrude Cudlipp. John’s mom Gertrude had died in 1805, John’s father was a soldier with the Royal Artillery had gone blind and had been put to pension. John Tipper Jr. married Catherine Unkles Taylor in Quebec City in 1839, he was a butcher by trade and had one son that survived childhood. His wife Catherine and son end up in New Jersey with no trace of the father. I always wondered what happened to him, and now I know. On August 10, 1849 John died in Quebec. I have yet to find the record in a church for his death or a burial location, but at least I know have a date to work with.

John Tipper d1849

On the tenth inst., aged 46, Mr. John Tipper, Butcher.

One little line with no details other than his age, death date, and occupation, but I was so happy to find this notice yesterday! I did spend some time looking through the church records on Ancestry but so far have not found his death entry. To date I have not found the burial location in Quebec City for John’s parents, some of his siblings and their children, it has been frustrating not knowing where this family is buried. I keep hoping to find one death record that mentions where their final resting place is.

One other small notice that made the paper is John Tipper Jr.’s son, again John Tipper traveling to Richelieu, PQ from New Jersey in 1887.

John Tipper - L'Étendard, samedi 17 septembre 1887

John Tipper – L’Étendard, samedi 17 septembre 1887 M. John Tipper et sa dame, d’Englewood, N.J. sont enregistres an Richelieu

The hunt for the Tipper family continues!



Newspaper Love

A discovery yesterday over at further proved my theory of the connection of descendants of the Jeffrey family from Quebec.

I have written about the Jeffrey family in a series of posts and thanks to a search at the newspaper’s website I have found another link binding the descendants. If you are curious here are the links to my previous posts; Robert Andrew Jeffrey, Elizabeth Jeffrey, Margaret Stockell Jeffrey, Hannah Pozer Jeffrey, Caroline Jeffrey

Yesterday I found the wedding announcement for Lillian Emily Phillips. Lillian was the granddaughter of Margaret Stockell Jeffrey and her first husband George Humphry a ship captain from Devon, England. I have spent years tracking down the complicated lives of the Jeffrey family and this clipping further confirmed the connections I have been making.

The news article was printed in The Standard Union Brooklyn, New York, October 15, 1903. Lillian was married to Arthur DeForest and the newspaper was kind enough to mention the attendees of the wedding. The mention of an imported wedding dress passed down through the mother’s family is so intriguing to me, I would love to find a photograph and hear the story about this dress.

DeForest wedding 1 The Standard Union Brooklyn NY Oct 15 1903

Philips & DeForest wedding The Standard Union, NY Oct 15 1903

DeForest wedding 2The Burroughs and Sutherland family from East Sound, Washington were descendants of Margaret’s second marriage to James Atkins and half cousins of the bride. From Chicago was the Simonds and Milligan families who were descendants of Margaret’s sister Elizabeth (Jeffrey) LapriseDeForest wedding 3G & W Jeffrey would be descendants of Margaret’s brother Robert Andrew Jeffrey of Levis, Quebec.

I am still trying to figure out the connection that Miss G & K Perkins of Cornwall, Ontario has to the couple. I built out their tree and there was nothing obvious to me as to the link.

I have also been using DNA to make connections to these long-lost branches. The enthusiasm amoung the matches about links that tie us back to Robert Jeffrey and Elizabeth Tipper in the early 1800s may not match mine but I am persistent! I have found the descendants of Robert Andrew Jeffrey almost all in the USA are very willing to put up with my requests!

For me, the Jeffrey family research has been a journey of rediscovery. Each person found helps me to piece our family back to a beautiful mosaic of families, countries, loss, and survival.