Category Archives for History Worth Remembering

Did you know Library and Archives Canada has a podcast?

The latest Library and Archives Canada podcast just came out April 7. It features the rise of the British Flying Service and how that new technology affected the Battle of Vimy Ridge.

In the early days of flight, you had to expect to crash,” says Bill Rawling, historian and author of the book Surviving Trench Warfare and one of the experts interviewed in the podcast. “And the idea was to see how far, how high you could go before the aircraft would fall out of the sky and they’d have to drag you out of the wreckage. Now, you’re talking about something that when it crashes, you’re going 30 kilometres an hour and you’ve come down from 30 feet and it’s all wood and canvas and it just falls apart around you. And in fact, it’s like a big crunch zone in a car. So, but yeah. You have to expect—Billy Bishop, you know, probably Canada’s most famous pilot ever, when they adopt new aircraft—the Nieuport 17—there were hard landings, as they were called, as he’s learning how to operate this aircraft. And a hard landing may well mean damage. So how many of these hard landings were actually crashes?”

If you have an ancestor who served in the British or Canadian military, this episode will give you lots of ideas of their roles during the war. It also features descriptions of some of the other experts who participated in this, the world’s first industrial war.

This is the first of two podcasts featuring Vimy. The Episode is called Beyond Vimy: The Rise of Air Power, Part 1.

Library and Archives Canada Podcasts Appealing to Genealogists

The Library and Archives Canada  has been podcasting since 2012. Other episodes that might appeal to genealogists include:

 Sifting through LAC’s Cookbook Collection

Hiding in Plain Sight: The Métis Nation

And perhaps the most useful one for any genealogist,

Digging Into the Past: Family History in Canada

To see the entire collection, refer to the main podcast page.

Four Generations Grow up in Weston

Granny, nanny and my mom on the porch in Weston

Granny, nanny and my mom on the porch in Weston

One of my earliest memories has me travelling by bus to the Weston library with my mother, grandmother and great grandmother. For some reason, the Carnegie Foundation in New York provided a grant to build the stunning structure in 1914 despite its Ontario location along the Humber River.[1]

I’ll always be grateful.

Recent visits to the location feel peaceful somehow, as if several generations of residence in that spot left traces in my DNA.

Our family moved to Weston sometime between the 1871[2]  and 1881[3] censuses and stayed there until the late nineteen sixties.

An Irish ancestor at last!

The 1871 census shows great granny’s mom Kezia Charlotte McMaster, who was then 12 years-old, living with her family in 130 Mono Cardwell. Her mother was a 54-year-old Irish immigrant named Ann McMaster. Other family members included 24-year-old Andrew, 20-year-old Alexander, 16-year-old James and 14-year-old Ann Eliza.

Summer wedding

Seven years later, at the age of 22, Kezia married 38-year-old John Paul Charboneau on a summer day in August. The marriage licence describes him as a Francophone Church of England man working as a cooper building barrels and utensils out of wood.

Their son Paul, my great great great uncle, came along on March 13, 1888.[4]

His sister Charlotte, my direct ancestor, was born in Orangeville seven years later.

Charlotte and Arthur

I don’t know how they met, but great grandma Charlotte married British Immigrant Arthur Johnson in Weston on February 9, 1917.[5] Before the wedding took place, they had to sign a “degrees of affinity” document to confirm that they were not blood relatives.

Like her mother, she was 22 years old at the time.

The wedding took place close to her home on Cross Street. His parents, William Johnson and Mary Young attended, as did hers. Their witnesses were Albert and Aimie Johnson who lived nearby on Fife Avenue.

Given their last names, it’s likely these witnesses were also ancestors.

Charlotte and Arthur remained in Weston from then on. Their daughter, her daughter and I all grew up in the village.

The couple only left Weston in their nineties to move in with their daughter in Midland during the last decade of their lives.

 

Sources:

[1] http://welcometoweston.ca/about-weston/history-of-weston, accessed February 22, 2017.

[2] Canada Census, 1871,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M47F-Q6P : 13 November 2014), Kezia Mc Master in household of Ann Mc Master, Mono, Cardwell, Ontario, Canada; citing p. 40, line 10; Library and Archives Canada film number C-9959, Public Archives, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm 4,396,686.

[3] Canada Census, 1881,” database, Library and Archives Canada film number C-13249, Public Archives, Ottawa, Ontario; FHL microfilm Reference: RG31 – Statistics Canada, Item Number: 3601574.

[4] Canada Births and Baptisms, 1661-1959,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/F2F8-X6G : 27 November 2014), Keziah Macmaster in entry for Paul Charbonneau, 13 Mar 1888; citing Toronto, York, Ontario, 13 Mar 1888, reference cn 901245; FHL microfilm 1,872,230.

[5] Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927,” database with ages, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:278P-XTC : 10 April 2015), Keziah Mcmaster in entry for Arthur Johnson and Charlotte Charboneau, 09 Feb 1917; citing registration , Weston, York, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 2,130,929.

Why Profile Your Ancestors

I’ve just published a video outlining why I profile my ancestors. In brief, it says that genealogists who take time to write stories about their ancestors ask better questions, are able to frame their research in time and place, and communicate well.

This is the first video in a series. To get them in your inbox, sign up for my Notable Nonfiction list and select the Profile Your Ancestor group.

Final Letter to Mr. Baldwin

The final letter to Mr. Baldwin seems so impersonal, despite a handwritten signature.

The RCAF officer signed only his initials “AAG” on the January 4, 1947 letter to John Ansley Baldwin.

AAG signature on Baldwin letter

 

May I again, at this time, offer my sincere sympathy at the loss of your son.”[1]

The initials seem to bely the sentiment expressed, but keep in mind that “AAG” had to write many such letters to parents. As casualty officer for Air Marshall Robert Leckie, Chief of the Air Staff from January 1944 until August 1947, AAG had to write to many parents of the 17,397 airmen who died serving with the Canadian Air Force during World War II.

In this instance, AAG was writing to the father of Flying Officer Air bomber John Moody Baldwin, the navigator on a flight flown by pilot William Coates. Baldwin went missing almost three years earlier—on March 25, 1944—when his plane went down during air operations in Germany with the RCAF. At that point, the 23-year-old had been an air bomber for two years.

This letter was the news firmly announcing his definite death to his family.

“The report from the Missing Research and Enquiry Service in Holland states that the aircraft in which they were flying crashed at about 12.30 A.M. on the 25gh March near Luyksgestel which is located approximately 12 miles South South West of Eindhoven.”

The letter, which was sent to 838 Concession Street, Hamilton, Ontario, goes on to say that the remains of the seven airmen were buried in the General Cemetery, Woensel, Eindhoven. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission indicates that they are now buried in Plot KK. Coll. grave 28-31.[2]

The letter was addressed to John Moody Baldwin’s father. An accompanying death certificate issued by the Province of Ontario identifies his mother as Margaret Moody. Both were born in Ontario.

 

 

[1] Baldwin, John Moody; Library and Archives Canada, RG-24, volume 24791, letter J24527 (RO, No. 10. Section), dated Ottawa, Canada, January 4th 1947.

[2] Veteran’s Affairs Canada, http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian-virtual-war-memorial/detail/2617623, viewed on May 23, 2016.

Enjoying the Story of Westmount

A-View-Of-Their-Own-the-Story-of-Westmount

I began looking for traces of the Huguenots that my grandmother always told me were in the family. First, I looked for anyone born in Blois, Orléans, Paris, Rouen or Tours France sometime after the Affair of the Placards. These are the towns in which people posted signs questioning Catholic dogma overnight on October 17, 1534. The incident set off the reformation and eventually led to hangings and mass migration of Protestants out of France.

Unfortunately, my genealogical records don’t extend far into France during the 1500s, so that research will be for another day.

My journey through the Hurtubise side of my family, however, led me upon a wonderful history of Westmount called A View of Their Own: The Story of Westmount, written by Aline Gubbay in 1998. The little guide introduced me to several early maps of Montreal I hadn’t seen before, Montreal’s Mohawk name “”Kawanote Teiontiakon” and a hint about how some of my distant ancestors lived. Gubbay describes the geology of Montreal in a way that allows you to really imagine how things used to be.

The western part of the island was distinguished by a little mountain Westmount — some 600 feet high, formed by an outcropping of a larger rise, Mount Royal. Iroquoians had discovered that the slope of the little mountain, facing south-east, was sheltered from the strongest northern winds, a factor which, together with abundant water from the mountain springs, made for a richly fertile soil where they could cultivate their traditional crops of beans and corn. (p 11)

My ancestors get a small mention on page 15:

One by one the families arrived, settling along the Indian trail now given the name of Côte St. Antoine. They included names such as Des Carries (sic), Prud’homme, Leduc, Pierre et Jean Hurtubise, and St. Germain.

(Fascinating how Gubbay missed the French word “et” in her paragraph, something I frequently do in my texts. Bilingualism can be quite troubling sometimes.)

She continues:

Most of the men were artisans, recruited from towns of northern France for their skills as stonemasons, millers, brewers, but they soon acquired the new skills necessary to clear and cultivate the land. In winter, after the land had been cleared, the trunks of the trees were gathered, carried down to the water and lashed together on the rim of a frozen lake, Lac St. Pierre. When the ice melted in the spring the lumber was floated through a short inlet to the St. Lawrence River and rafted along the shore for sale at Ville Marie, now renamed Montreal.

If you have Clarks, Dawsons, Dionnes, Elgins, Enslies, Hays, Hendersons, Lighthalls, Mackays, Monks, Murrays, Newnhams, Ohmans, Parés, Shearers, Smithers or Timmins in your family, you’ll find gems about their lives in this book. If you appreciate reading about the Town of Westmount, the borough of NDG or Montreal history, this is definitely a story you’ll want to discover.

At only 151 pages, A View of their Own: The Story of Westmount is a quick and easy read. Gubbays smooth writing style and her use of many anecdotes make it entertaining as well. I highly recommend it.

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