Cousins Are THE Best

An amazing email arrived in my inbox from my cousin Nancy. The title of her email was “Do you have this one??”

In the email attachment was a photograph of my 2x great grandfather William Jordan.  This picture is the same one in a booklet done by the Royal Canadian Artillery in the 1930s for their reunion. Her picture was clear and uncropped.

The picture on the left is from my cousin and the picture on the right is the one I copied from the booklet, what a difference! The military medals are so much easier to see in her picture!

You never know what family pictures are waiting for discovery at your cousins’s house.

So I will say it again COUSINS ARE THE BEST!

Thank you Nancy, oh, and keep them comin’!



My Military Ancestor, Edward McMahon USA Civil War

Day 8 of the 11-day Military Challenge

Edward McMahon was born about 1837 in Clare, Ireland. He traveled to Canada with his parents and seven siblings at the tail-end of the potato famine.

Upon arriving in Canada their mother Margaret McNamara died and the family temporary lived in Sherbrooke, Quebec where they are recorded on the 1852 census. While in Sherbrooke they lost another family member, 8-year-old Matilda McMahon. The McMahons family split up after that, brother Michael settled in Windham, Norfolk Co., Ontario, Edward went to the US and  Cornelius, the father and it is thought the rest of the siblings went to Normanby, Grey Co., Ontario.

Edward joined the army and was with the 10th Regiment of the US Infantry and took part of the Utah Expedition. He served with them from 1855-1860 and joined up again to fight in the US Civil War. Edward was a member of 72nd Ohio Volunteer Unit, K Company and attained the rank of Captain. His pension file also reveals that on June 9, 1862 he was sent out to Memphis under the command of General Stergis and was taken prisoner by the Confederates near Oklahoma. He was taken to Andersonville Prison and upon the discovery that he was a Commisioned Officer was sent to Macon, Georgia, then to Charleston and lastly to Columbus, S.C. It was when he was a prisoner at Columbus that he made his escape after being a Confederate prisoner for 6 months.

Edward’s account of his escape –

whence I finally made my escape by passing the sentries upon a dark night I escaped from Columbus in the month of November 1864 and arriving the Blue Ridge Mountains into North Carolina and entered the Union lines near Knoxville East Tennessee on or about Christmas 1864

During all this time nearly two months I was nearly naked and without shoes or proper food and having to travel at night and lie hidden during the day exposed to snow and rain and frost…


Edward McMahon Captain of 72nd Ohio Volunteer Regiment, K Company

Edward thankfully survived and the accounting of his experience was recorded when he was applying for a pension.

Edward married in New Orleans to Bridget Maroney / Mahoney on March 28, 1867 and eventually, they made their way back to Canada, settling at Normanby Twp. Edward was a farmer in Normanby and he and his wife had 7 children.

It took quite a bit of effort for Edward to receive his pension, he ended up having to travel back to Ohio and track down fellow soldiers who gave affidavits for his application.

Edward died at his daughter’s home in Lockport, New York on June 20, 1920. His body was returned to Normanby to be buried by his wife in St. Peter’s Catholic Cemetery in Ayton, Ontario.

MCMAHON, Edward obituary


Featured Image of Andersonville Prison from Wikimedia Commons

Not Coming Home – Leslie George Jordan WWII

Day 7 of the 11-day Military Challenge

Leslie George Jordan was born in England to Rose Davis and Canadian John Brown Jordan. His Father John had served in WWI and it is likely during this time that he met Rose, who was a WWI widow of John Peters. Before marrying Rose, John would first have to divorce his Canadian wife, no record of the divorce has been found.

After WWI John worked in England for the Imperial War Graves Association, in 1921 his son Leslie was born. Leslie grew up in England and it is possible that did not meet his Canadian 1/2 brother and sister, Syd & Bea.

At the outbreak of WWII it is not surprising that Leslie signed up, he became a Flight Sergeant Observer with 108 Squadron.

In 1942 Leslie was in Egypt where he and others had the task of bringing Liberator AL577 plane to England. The plane left on March 15th with nineteen men onboard, the flight was going well until they encountered a storm. Liberator A577 crashed near Dundalk, Ireland killing fourteen people, Leslie was amoung the dead.

Most of the information about Liberator AL577 was found on the site WWIINI Archives and Foreign Aircraft Landings in Ireland – WWII.

Leslie is Remembered with Honour on the Brighton (Downs) Crematorium.


I found a tribute video on Youtube for the people killed on AL577, but I was sad to see they, like me, did not have a photograph of Leslie.

Leslie’s parents returned to Canada where his father John passed away in 1958 and was buried at Cataraquai Cemetery in Kingston, Ontario, his mother Rose Emma Mathews Davis died in England in 1979.


Jordan, John B & Rose

Leslie’s parents John Brown Jordan and Rose visiting family in Montreal


My next step is to try and track down the people mentioned in Rose’s will in the hopes of finding a photograph of Leslie.


*Featured Image from Wikimedia Commons of 36th Bombardment Squadron B-24 Liberator in Adak Alaska.

Souvenirs of War

Day 6 of the 11-day Military Challenge

My grandfather John M. Dever was a Signaller during WWI and he came home to Montreal with a few souvenirs from his time in overseas.

DrawingDever John WWI drawing

DEver John drawing back

France Oct 26/18 Picked up a few yards from the front line.

I have often wondered about the artist and the subject but I have not had any success finding information about either.

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If you have any suggestions I would love to hear them!

Postcard in German –

Dever, John M. Postcard - German pg.1

A post to the Genealogy Translations Facebook group gave me some answers –

“Out of Love” is the front of the postcard

?hausen, June 1, 1918.

Dear brother, it is in very good health that I take the quill to write you a postcard. I’m quite fine and hope that the same is true for you. Mother sent you a postcard, too, on May 31.”

The address was a little more difficult, so with possible errors –“Kasimir Gollensteiner”,  (Fussersatzabteilung, 2.Batterie), can’t read the third line. Fourth line says “Deutsche Feldpost”, German military mail.

Dever, John M. Postcard - German pg.2

Poster – Another interesting item he returned home with is this poster which he wrote on the back “I took this off of a wall of a room in a chateau in Tilloy a few days before we captured Cambrai.”

Dever John WWI poster

Google translate tells me the poster reads

The enemy is listening! Caution on the phone!

I am grateful to have these items of my grandfather’s.


My Military Ancestor – Alfred Lee Norton

Day 5 of the 11-day Military Challenge

Alfred was born in Sorel, Quebec in 1888 to parents Thomas Lee Norton, a baker and his wife Esther Douglas, joining siblings Thomas Lee and Alyce May. Four more children were born after Alfred but only one of his younger siblings survived.

When Alfred was ten he lost two family members, his newborn brother Arthur died in February and six days later their mother Esther died as well. After losing their mother things became tough for the Norton children, the 1901 census reveals Alfred’s sisters living in an orphanage while Alfred is nowhere to be found.

Alfred Lee Norton 1900 8 yrs old Quebec Canada 2.

The only photograph I have of Alfred.

At the age of 26, Alfred signed up for WWI on 26th September 1914 at Valcartier, Quebec. It wasn’t his first military foray, he had previously served for three years in the 8th Royal Rifles and two years with the QOCH (Queens Own Cameron Highlanders). At the time of enlisting Alfred had hazel eyes, brown hair and was standing a tall 5’7″, his occupation is a clerk.

Alfred sailed out on the S.S. Andania and served in England and France.

It was during the battle at Ypres that Alfred earned the Military Medal with the 14th Infantry Ballalion when he showed –

persistent devotion to duty at all times since the Regiment arrived in France. This man has shown good ability and has several times carried up ammunition under heavy fire. His conduct under fire in the Ypres Salient has been splendid especially on May 25, 1916, in tending wounded under shell fire



Military Medal

After the war, Alfred returned to Montreal where he went back to working as a clerk. He married Elizabeth Walker Johnson in 1930 at the St. Giles Presbyterian Church.

Alfred’s heath may have suffered from his war service as he died suddenly at the age of 42 with no children.

Alfred is buried in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal, Quebec.

Alfred Norton headstone


Resources –

Veterans Affairs Canada – Medals and Decorations

LAC – Military Medals, Honours and Awards, 1812-1969

Featured image –  S.S. Ardania from the Wreck Site 


Tracing Your Canadian Military Ancestors

If you have any military ancestors in Canada it is likely that you are aware of the indexing of the WWI Soldier’s service records by Library and Archives Canada. They are over 1/2 done and the last update took us to the surname Russell.

Here a few other resources that can be investigated to help you in researching your military ancestor.

1) Commonwealth War Graves Commission – this site contains records of Commonwealth soldiers who were killed and buried overseas, including Canadian soldiers.

2) Veterans Death Cards is an underutilized resource when researching your WWI soldiers. These cards are not in a searchable index but are arranged alphabetically. Select the surname and scroll through until you find who you are looking for. It is not a complete listing but worth your time to check this resource. What is written on the card varies but you may find the soldier’s Reg, number, date of death, location and name of a surviving relative.


A screen-shot of the Veterans Index card page

3) Navy – again Library and Archives website is the go-to, you can request the 1910-1941 service files for the Royal Canadian Navy – thanks to Dianne Seale Nolan’s comment below I have adjusted this information. Diane also informs us that the Navy service files are not yet available online at LAC, only the index to the Ledger Sheets. With the info contained there, you can request a copy of the ledger sheet (13 cents but I wouldn’t bother, same info is in file) and a copy of the service file

4) Canadian Soldiers killed in WWII is available on Library and Archives website. If you have an Ancestry subscription ($$) you can view the full files.

5) Book of Remembrance – a page is turned once a year on the seven books memorializing Canadians killed in a war. From the site –

The seven Books of Remembrance commemorate the lives of more than 118,000 Canadians who, since Confederation, have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving our country in uniform. The names inscribed in the Books of Remembrance can also be found in the Canadian Virtual War Memorial.

Museum & Archives

Do not over look searching for a Museum/Archives in the location where your ancestor was living. Many of them have memorial projects to honour soldiers who fought.

Alberta – South Peace Regional Archives is located in Grande Prairie and their project is to commemorate all the soldiers from the South Peace with a biography.

British Columbia – the community of Chilliwack’s Museum & Archives has an on-line memorial to their WWI and WWII soldiers honoured on their website Chillwack Museum and Archives

Manitoba – Hamiota Archives created a Wall of Remembrance back in 2016 that has the names of 750 soldiers.

Newfoundland – The Royal Newfoundland Regiment has an Archives dedicated to that Regiment.

Nova Scotia – The Yarmouth Museum and Archives houses newspapers from various years that would likely have reported on soldiers activity.

Nunavut – This Canada’s newest Territory and was not created until 1999. Nunavut Archives is who you would contact to inquire as to what is in their holdings for your veteran.

PEI – A search for ‘soldier’ on the Prince Edward Island’s PAROS collections database results in 116 photographs and 22 textual items.

Quebec – Have you ever wondered if your family took part in the battle on the Plains of Abraham? The National Battlefields Commission has a searchable index of soldiers who took part in 1759-1760.

This is a database of the French and British army soldiers in Québec in 1759 and 1760. There are 11,358 entries, 4,079 for French and 7,279 for British fighters.

Ontario – The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa has created a database of Canadian militia personnel not born in Canada.

Saskatchewan – The Melfort Museum and Archives states they have in their holdings

a large archive of photographs, documents, history books, record books and oral histories available for genealogical research.

it may be worthwhile to see if their holdings include soldiers if your family lived in the area.

Yukon – A search at the Yukon Archives on-line revealed a picture from the 1940s of a soldier standing in the snow and they have may have more in their holdings.

This is a small sampling of what different museums and archives are doing to honour our veterans.

Other Sites Dedicated to Soldiers

Historic Canada has a page dedicated to Black Canadian Soldiers.

There is also a website for researching your Aboriginal Soldiers in the World Wars in Canada 


Other sites with mentioning are the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and The Canadian Military Heritage Project.

This is a drop in bucket, there are numerous sites that contain information about Canadian soldiers. Dig in and enjoy researching and honouring the veterans in your family!

*Featured Image – Tomb of the Unknown Soldier found on Wikimedia Commons


Going Digital with my Genealogy Filing

I began researching my family tree when printing everything was the norm, but it is time for me to review my files and purge the excess.

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Today and for many days in the future I will be going through each of my genealogy files one at a time, assessing the information, digitizing, and hopefully throwing away a lot of paper. My digital files have so much room and don’t take up space in my house!

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A screenshot of some of my digital files

I have been wanting to attack this for what seems like forever and I finally have the time to focus on this part of my genealogy life.

I have decided the best approach is to start with the first file in my file cabinet and depending on the content I may only get through one a day. To keep me on task I plan to start a tracker in my genealogy journal.  I love journaling!

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The goal I am setting for myself is to work through a file a day or depending on my schedule a minimum of seven files a week. It will be interesting to track how long this project will take!

I am hoping this project will clear up a lot of space in my file cabinet but I may also make some new discoveries as I review the paper I have collected.

I am quite excited to get started and look forward to sharing my progress!