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

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.


Connection Made 126 Years Later

It has been slow going for me to link a letter I found in my grandmother’s papers to living family members, but guess what? It has happened.

Yesterday I logged onto Ancestry and on the home page, there is an interesting notification that shows up if someone edits a record you have saved to your tree. A note appears telling you a change was madeScreen_Shot_2019-08-03_at_6_02_32_PM

I quickly clicked on the person’s name to see why they would make a change to this record. And from there I was able to message them asking if they were researching the Brock family from Hackney, England. I had little hope of hearing a reply, you know how it is, but reply they did! And I have been on top of the world ever since.

Back story

I have been researching the Brock’s almost since I started working on my family tree. It all began with a letter found in my grandmother’s papers. And it meant going to the Family History Library and ordering records in. When the 1881 census for England came out on CD I bought it, just to find this one family. Slowly the puzzle unraveled. There they were four people living at the address 93 Glenarm Rd. in Lower Clapton, but they were all listed as siblings, there were no parents. Time and research filled in the blanks. I was happy to realize that these children including the letter writer Martha Brock, were writing to their uncle Richard Lee Norton who had settled in Quebec City in 1854, my great great grandfather.Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 4.51.12 PM

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snips of the letter written in 1883

Now back to present and me checking my email constantly with hope.

Later in the evening, I received the reply and to be honest, I was sort of scared to click the email in case it was another, “no, not my family, just a collateral line…”. But I couldn’t help myself and it was kinda that message BUT and this is huge, he knows descendants of the family!

They may not be as interested in the family tree as I but they have been found! I am not sure what they are going to think about some Canadian who has been working on their family tree for over 20 years but as they live in New Zealand so I am guessing/hoping it’s gonna be ok!

A huge shout out to my new favorite Britt who made a small correction to a record, replied to my message, and sent me a copy of the handwritten family tree. He has given me a Christmas present in July.

Title: I am counting the connection lost from the date Richard Norton died in 1893 in Quebec City.

Richard Lee Norton’s 200th Birthday

Today marks the birth of Richard Lee Norton in Norfolk, England, my great great grandfather. His father Jeremiah Norton was a shipwright who likely was away from home for months at a time, and his mother Elizabeth Sharp kept the house running. The family lived in Kings Lyn, Norfolk but also seem to have connections to Great Yarmouth where many baptisms took place.

Richard was not baptized until he was 10!

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13 Jan 1830 Richard (born June 1819) Jeremiah & Elizabeth Norton, Shipwright

The records of his shipping career have been hard to find and that is likely how he ended up marrying a Canadian girl. In 1854 at St. Andrew’s Church he was joined in marriage to Hannah Pozer Jeffrey and they made Canada his home.

Between 1854-1877 they had eight children, their second oldest Thomas Lee Norton’s baptism in 1857 refers to Richard’s livelihood, stating he was a Captain of the steamer Montmorenci.


Baptism of Thomas Lee Norton in 1857 in Quebec City mentions his father Richard being a Captain of the Steamer Montmorenci

Richard’s life appears to be fairly uneventful as I have not found an abundance of records of the family in Canada other than the usual baptism of children, census records (except 1881), and if a photograph of Richard exists I have yet to find it. Only one of Richard’s children predeceased him, Alfred in 1879.

In 1893 at the age of 74 Richard passed away, his obituary was in the Quebec Morning Chronicle

Oct 30, 1893
Norton – On the 28th instant, Richard Lee Norton, snr., aged 74 years and 4 months.
The funeral will take place from his late residence 444 St. Augustin St., this (Monday) afternoon, at 2 o’clock, to St. Matthew’s Church, and thence to Mount Hermon Cemetery. Friends will please accept this invitation.
Montreal, Brooklyn, Chicago and London, Eng. papers please copy.


Peter J Jordan standing beside his in-law’s headstone in Mount Hermon Cemetery, Quebec City. In Loving Memory of Capt. Richard L. Norton Died Oct 29th 1893 age 74 years also his wife Hannah Pozer Jeffery died Jan 20th 1917 age 83 years Erected by their daughter Carrie Norton Jordan

My most burning question about Richard is his career, I have checked Lloyd’s Register for Ship Captains, as well sent emails to many places for mariners records in Canada, I am unsure of why he is not mentioned at all.

An overview of Richard’s siblings.

Richard had five full siblings and one 1/2 sibling, I hope to be able to connect with descendants of them all.

His siblings:

1) William Jeremiah Norton b.1806 in Kings Lyn, Norfolk.
2) Mary Ann Norton b.1811
3) Lee Thomas Norton b.1816 worked as a Mariner, moved to London and married Rebbecca Garrard and later Mary Boughton. As far as we know he never had children.
4) Martha Norton b.1822 married Robert Brock and lived in Lower Clapton, Middlesex. She had 4 children and died in 1877.
5) Edward Norton b.1825 first went to sea in 1839 as a boy. He is 5″3′, dark brown hair and hazel eyes. He also has for marks – EN on right arm. Has not served in the Royal Navy but has been in foreign service. When unemployed resides in London according to records. (from his mariner record)

His 1/2 sibling Samuel Wright’s family ended up in Australia and DNA has reconnected us!

My hope is to get to Kings Lyn and Great Yarmouth in the future to explore the areas where my Nortons lived.

Happy Birthday great great grandpa Richard!

St. Andrew’s Society, Quebec City

On my recent trip to Quebec City I was reminded that the section of the cemetery my 2x great grandparents are buried in is a section labeled St. Andrew’s Society.


An initial search on Google brought up a list of St. Andrew’s Societies, but little on the Quebec City branch. Internet Archive offered a bit more as I was able to find the Constitution of the Society scanned on their site. The constitution consists of 22 pages and explains the requirements to be a member, you need to be a Scotsman or their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren as well the date of formation of the Society, Nov. 13, 1835, and various goals of the Society. There is also a list of the officers at that time.

The Pistard search feature on the Quebec Archives website located a St. Andrew’s Society fonds. The description of the records state the collection has correspondence, minutes, and financial records of the Society. The Society disbanded in 1977.

I believe it likely that membership to the Society was through my great grandmother Caroline’s grandfather, Robert Jeffrey who was born (somewhere) in Scotland in 1796.

I did not get to the Quebec Archives on my trip but reviewing what is held in this collection will be on my list for my next visit. Maybe, just maybe I will find information about my family in the records.


St. Andrew’s Church, Quebec City



Mount Hermon Cemetery, Sillery, Quebec

On a recent trip to Quebec City I made two trips to Mount Hermon Cemetery to pay my respects to relatives.

There are various members of the Jordan and Norton families laid to rest there. A cool aspect was realizing I had a record at home of the purchase of the headstone for Richard Lee Norton and his wife Hannah Pozer Jeffery by their daughter Caroline (Norton) Jordan.

The receipt for the stone did not have a location, but it was signed by HW Treggett and I knew that the Treggett family had been in charge of the cemetery. A look at the Mount Hermon website and found that the Treggett family managed the cemetery for generations, spanning the years 1865-2014. And sure enough according to their website HW Treggett was in charge when my great grandmother made her purchase in 1931.

JORDAN, Peter stone receipt Mount Hermon(?) 1931

I do not have a picture of Caroline with the headstone but I think she would have been quite proud to have seen the stone installed at the cemetery. Her husband Peter Jordan is pictured standing by the stone many years later, likely c1960.

If you suspect you may have ancestors buried at Mount Hermon, BAnQ website has a searchable index covering the years 1848-1904.

JORDAN Peter Mount Hermon Cemetery

In Loving memory of Capt. Richard L. Norton Died Oct 28, 1893, aged 72 years also his wife Hannah Pozer Jeffery Died Jan 20 1917, age 87 years. Erected by their daughter Carrie Norton Jordan

and me Aug. 2018IMG_6357

IT’S ALL THERE IN BLACK & WHITE Sorry, still doesn’t mean it’s true

Digging into the family tree often leads to more questions than answers. This time I found the answer.

Long before Library and Archives Canada started adding their WWI soldier files online I was systematically ordering the records of family members. (On a side note these records are a treasure and the fact that they are going online for free is is a true gift to family historians).

My family was a very patriotic bunch and I have an archival box dedicated to the 30 plus military files I have collected on my relatives.

Back to the subject at hand. After having collected the service files for my close relatives I started on cousins. George Norton was on the list, having located his service file I proceeded to order the record. After weeks of waiting it arrived in a large envelope in the mail. Dissecting WWI service files is a little tricky but Glenn Wright’s book – Canadians at War 1914-1919, A Research Guide to World War One Service Records is endlessly helpful for gleaning all you can from these records.

What caught my eye other than the fact that George was working as a bartender was a form I had not come across in other service files – Screen Shot 2018-07-27 at 7.38.47 PM

George stated that he was his mother’s sole support and that he had two other brothers serving in the military.

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The last line states that he has two other brothers in active service. What? Two brothers? I knew of one brother but not a second. I went back to my tree to try and see what I had missed. George did have two brothers Ernest, whose WWI file I already had and a brother Robert who was born in 1906. Robert would have been too young to serve, so did I miss a child in my research? A look through the records I had collected and I didn’t think so. Maybe George was telling tales? I left it alone, not sure I could solve it.

Newspapers to the rescue. I found this article in The Gazette for Montreal and it mentions George and TWO brothers!

Norton clipping WWI

The Gazette, 14 March 1917

How did I miss Alfred? Well, Alfred was not their brother! He was their cousin, but obviously, he was raised and thought of like a brother.

Alfred does have a sad story. Four of his siblings died in infancy, his mother died when he was 10 years old, and he and his remaining siblings were farmed out to different households.

It seems Alfred was raised by his uncle George R. Norton and wife Sarah Arnold and raised in Montreal. He obviously was one of the family.

Another news clipping recently located in The Gazette tells of a tragic end for his father Thomas Norton’s life. Thomas was working in lumber camps and ended up with frostbite, losing one foot, and gangrene attacking the other one in 1926. Alfred had to make a statement to the police upon Thomas’ death, this statement, as well as the coroner’s report, was published in the paper.

And although Alfred was a fantastic soldier earning the Miltary Cross his life came to a quick and tragic end. He was working as a doorman at the Montreal Athletic Association when he was found one morning by members. Alfred was just 48 years old, his cause of death was syncope, which is in definition is fainting so not likely his actual cause of death, but sufficient in 1930. Alfred left a widow Elizabeth Johnston and no children.


The Gazette, April 5 1930

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The Gazette, April 8, 1930

What have I learned?

Really many things, family sticks together, Alfred was taken in by his Uncle and grew up with his cousins, which led them to consider themselves, brothers. I am comforted knowing that without his real parents, Alfred was in a loving home and well thought of and embraced by his cousins. Most importantly as a family historian, I have learned to take all the information I find and butt it up against what the records are telling me. Any discrepancies could be a clue to a hidden gem.

Yup, even in our families you will find FAKE NEWS!

Alfred Lee Norton 1900 8 yrs old Quebec Canada 2.

The only photograph I have of Alfred c1900

The Inkwell and the Captain

It’s a simple item, an inkwell that was given to me a few years ago by my great uncle. He said it was an inkwell that had belonged to his grandfather Richard Lee Norton and he used it on his voyages.

Richard was a sailor/seaman born in 1819 in Great Yarmouth, England. His father before him was a shipwright and his brothers all went to work on ships. Richard must have been sailing to Canada where met a Quebec girl Hannah Jeffery. Their wedding took place at St. Andrew’s Church, Quebec City in 1854.

In 1857 his son Thomas was born but Richard was away on the steamer the Montmorenci. Although being listed as a seaman, Captain, and mariner on many of the records, I have yet to find information about his sailing career.

So I treasure my inkwell and hope to find more of the story of the inkwell and the captain.


Quebec TipTypes

A photograph is a glimpse into the past

Amy Johnson Crow and her #52ancestor challenge have us picking a favorite image this week.

This is not an easy task because I have a wide range of photographs from various family lines. I decided to pick from the pictures I have of unknown people.

This image is a tintype, without a doubt I believe it was taken in Quebec because of the clothing. I have calculated the date of the image to be anywhere from 1870-1900. I cannot attribute it to any family members, but believe it is from the Norton or Jeffery families who lived in Montreal and Quebec City. The children are absolutely adorable.


Unknown family members, likely the Norton/Jeffery family who lived in Quebec City and Montreal.


I couldn’t help but add this picture, also a tintype. I believe it to be the same boy as in the above picture.

If you have a clue about who these children are or the dates of the tintypes I would love to hear from you.