Sympathy Saturday ~ John McGinnis

Obituary of John McGinnis (Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin 14 Oct 1937)

Obituary of John McGinnis (Collingwood Enterprise Bulletin 14 Oct 1937)

John McGinnis was the 3rd Great Grandfather of my husband.  Son of Irish immigrants and born in Flos, Ontario, Canada on 3 Aug 1857. John was a fisherman much of his life.  He moved to Collingwood, Ontario with his parents at the age of 8.  He married his French Canadian wife Mary Jane Burgie 28 Dec 1877 and proceeded to have 8 children, one of whom became a ship’s captain.  John was obviously well-loved and respected and his fellow fisherman nicknamed him “Daytime” due to his early rising!  He was a member of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic church in Collingwood and it is in the St. Mary’s Cemetery he was laid to rest joined two years later by his wife Mary Jane.  He died in Oct of 1937 at the age of 80 years.

Headstone of John McGinnis, his wife Mary Jane, and his son Chares. St. Mary's Cemetery, Collingwood, Ontario

Headstone of John McGinnis, his wife Mary Jane, and his son Chares. St. Mary’s Cemetery, Collingwood, Ontario

I have yet to determine the name of John McGinnis’ mother and to trace his ancestors into Ireland.  His father’s name was also John McGinnis (born abt.. 1818).  Ah yes…another Irish brick wall!


Sympathy Saturday ~ Uncle Jean-Marie

Jean-Marie Loranger 1947-1963

Jean-Marie Loranger 1947-1963

My father was one of twelve children.  A typical French Canadian family of Northern Ontario, prolific and poor!  What I always found humorous was the symmetry of the family’s composition: a tidy six boys and six girls.  My dad would tell stories of his childhood home.  A room for the boys and one for the girls, children sleeping like match sticks tightly packed in a bed with one or two sleeping perpendicular at their feet.  But that perfect symmetry was disrupted in January of 1963!

It is not enough to say with a dozen who misses just one?  Each child has unique value and as parents it is the greatest of losses losing a child regardless of how many there are “to spare”.  I would venture to say the loss of her son, Jean-Marie, was probably the most difficult trial of my grandmere’s life.

The Loranger Family before the birth of their youngest child.

The Loranger Family before the birth of their youngest child. Jean-Marie appears to the far left (my dad just behind him peeking over his head).

Jean-Marie Loranger, born 31 May 1947, was walking home when he was hit by a car and killed 19 January 1963 in Larder Lake, Ontario.  He was 15 years old! Only two years younger than my father, I think my dad felt the loss in a very real way for it was through him that I learned of Jean-Marie as I was growing up.  Dad had a photo of his brother and had told us of the accident. Similar in age and the eldest of the boys, I imagine they were not just brothers but friends!   My son will be 15 this summer and the thought of such a family tragedy is truly unbearable!

Though I was born over a decade after my uncle’s death and I did not know him I feel a connection.  Perhaps it is  through the stories of my father, perhaps it is the effect of a photograph on an impressionable mind, but I remember Jean-Marie in my soul.  I picture him in my mind’s eye–traipsing through the bush with my dad, skipping rocks in the water, teasing and taunting his sisters.  There is possibly a chemical or biological connection to our ancestors that allows us to know and sense things about them regardless of having never met them!

Jean-Marie's Headstone, Kirkland Lake, Ontario

Jean-Marie’s Headstone, Kirkland Lake, Ontario

Jean-Marie is buried in the cemetery in Kirkland Lake, Ontario.  I am hoping to find a newspaper article detailing the accident from the Temiskaming newspapers in the future.
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Monday Madness ~ Little Bouts of Insanity

A photo of the devastation from the Hailybury fire of 1922 "Haileybury 1922" by Russell Photo - Haileybury Heritage Museum (Virtual Museum Canada (online source)).

A photo of the devastation from the Hailybury fire of 1922
“Haileybury 1922” by Russell Photo – Haileybury Heritage Museum (Virtual Museum Canada (online source)).

I think we all have a little story of madness…either we have experienced our own bouts of temporary “insanity”, or we have had encounters with others experiencing their own madness.  While reading a local history book article written by my father’s cousin regarding my Grandmother’s family I had to chuckle about a horrible story of madness.  Yes, I did chuckle but only because the outcome of the story was a happy ending and the story seemed so unbelievable.

Having lost everything in a great fire which had engulfed their community, my Grandmother’s family went to stay with a neighbour.  It was there that the neighbour lady who was suffering a mental illness took my Great-uncle Anicet and tried to stuff him into the wood stove! I have included the quote of this tale  which I have translated from the original French:

Joseph Beland and Dorilda Boulay, my grandparents, left their home town (village of birth) Ste-Ursule in the county of Maskinonge, in 1917. They came to establish themselves with their four children in the promised land of Nedelec, in the Temiskaming. Their children: Dorilda age 5, Francoise age 4, Arthur age 3, and Paul-Emile age 1. They were not rich and they settled the land and, as most of us know, the farm land of Nedelec is rich in stones (full of stones). But grandpa had the heart to overcome this challenge and give his offspring a good life in this rather wild area called Temiscaming. The 22nd of August 1918 Gerald was born, followed by Bernadette in 1920. The 8th of August 1922 Anicet was born; this was the year of the great fire in Hailybury. The family lived peaceful days in their humble dwelling, when a neighbour arrived running to tell them to get out of the house quickly as the fire was heading their way and was close. It must be said that literally the fire ran the fields and, as it was a very dry autumn, it burned everything in its path. Grandma picked up her small children and ran to the neighbours who gave them a place to stay. The neighbour lady (the lady that lived there) suffered from a mental illness and at one point she seized baby Anicet, to put him in the wood stove. But because of her watchful eye and maternal instinct, grandma saved her youngest. The great fire proved to be a terrible ordeal for the Beland family. They lost everything but the clothes on their backs. The neighbours were generous, but they too were suffering from the disaster. In 1934 they moved onto a farm in Belle-Vallee, To situate you it was the land of Phillipe Goudreault.

An excerpt from an article written by Diane Beland printed in “Raconte-moi ton histoire: Belle-Vallee et Judge 1909-2009”

Having read this vignette what touched me was that my dad’s cousin knew this story only through narrative tales told by her grandparents.  Her father Anicet had only been a baby at the time of the event.  I called my dad to talk about this story and he reiterated the tale.  He had heard this story too from his grandparents and from his mother, Bernadette (my grandmere).  It is often those little bouts of madness which live on in a family’s oral history!
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Church Record Sunday ~ Quebec Church Records a Great Start if you Have French-Canadian Heritage!

St. Anne 85One of the most amazing advantages of being French Canadian is the wealth of records available.  The majority of these records are courtesy of the Roman Catholic Church.  These are essential to my genealogical research, so much so that I use them daily and have links to the collections on my Ancestry home page.  As a genealogist you know how trying it is to be confronted with a shortage of records but in French-Canadian research it is almost overwhelming, dates and names swirling endlessly in my head.  It may take years to sift through each church record thoroughly!

Sample page of baptisms.  My 5th Great Grandfather's baptism is listed at the top, Pierre Cote, Jan 1724

Sample page of baptisms. My 5th Great Grandfather’s baptism is listed at the top, Pierre Cote, Jan 1724

The Droin Collection is a collection of French-Canadian vital records and genealogical information collected by the Institut Généalogique Drouin.  There are six databases within the collection:  Quebec, Vital and Church Records, 1921-1967, Acadia French Catholic Church Records, 1670-1946, Ontario French Catholic Church Records, 1747-1967Quebec Notarial Records, 1647-1942Miscellaneous French Records, 1651-1941 and even Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records, 1695-1954, These are available with a paid subscription on Ancestry.

Marriage Record Sample Page (Marriage of my 5th Great Grandfather Pierre Cote and Barbe Riopel his second wife is on this page).

Marriage Record Sample Page (Marriage of my 5th Great Grandfather Pierre Cote and Barbe Riopel his second wife is on this page).

Though most of these records are church records two copies of each of these records were made at the time of the event one for the civil government and one for the parish. The Droin Collection is made up of the Civil government copies.

Death and burial record Page . (Again Pierre Cote's entry is on this page from 1803 L'Ange Gardien, Montmorency, Quebec).

Death and burial record Page . (Again Pierre Cote’s entry is on this page from 1803 L’Ange Gardien, Montmorency, Quebec).

Another collection which stems from Quebec church records which I use daily is the Quebec, Genealogical Dictionary of Canadian Families (Tanguay Collection), 1608-1890 (Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes (Collection Tanguay), Québec, 1608 à 1890). Though this is a genealogical dictionary which lists early French-Canadian families it was written by a priest, and genealogist in his own right, Cyprien Tanguay based primarily on parochial records but also other archival records.  His seven volume work contained several errors and some gaps or omissions but ultimately it is one of the greatest French genealogical publications and projects–I’d venture–ever produced by one individual!  His life’s devotion to this genealogical work has continued to provide a fabulous foundation or starting point for French-Canadian genealogists such as myself!  There are also many later supplements available which have made corrections to Tanguay’s original work and additions.  I have found the majority of my work from Tanguay has been quite accurate as I back it up with other documents, so I do tend to find it a reliable and verifiable source but just as any “copied” work you must bear in mind the possibility of error!

An excerpt from a page in Tanguay.  Notice it is alphabetical and then by marriage date.  A few of my Beland ancestors appear in this excerpt.

An excerpt from a page in Tanguay. Notice it is alphabetical and then by marriage date. A few of my Beland ancestors appear in this excerpt.

Looking for the parishes in Quebec? I have recently stumbled upon a wonderful clickable map of Quebec’s Catholic parishes at Genealogie Quebec.  This is free to use, though the site Genealogie Quebec is a subscription site.

You must also remember that the majority of these church records will be in French.  As a Canadian I have a decent command of the language and as a French-Canadian I have relatives like my dad, aunts, uncles, and grandmother who can always aid in any difficult translations.  If you are struggling with the French I would recommend using Google translate to find key terms and dates in French that may assist you or join a French genealogy group like a Facebook page for French-Canadian Genealogy or Quebec Genealogy and ask for assistance. Contact me, maybe I can help!

I am admittedly no expert in French-Canadian genealogy but I have however gained a great deal of experience during my years of research and I am always learning more.  There are a wealth of record sources, but always consider the importance of church records for those vital facts: vital dates (births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials), names of parents, spouses, and sometimes family members as witnesses.

Dive into your French-Canadian gene-pool today!

Surname Saturday ~ Rivard “dit” Loranger, “dit” Lavigne….”dit”…”dit”…

Tourouvre, Normandy, France

Tourouvre, Normandy, France

Studying genealogy crosses into uncharted cultural territory on occasion and it is extremely important that one understand nuances of that culture’s history in order to be effective in one’s research.  Though I am a smattering of this and that culturally climbing out on my maternal branches, on my paternal line I am always climbing out of a French-Canadian limb (well with a First Nations twig or two)!

I make the French-Canadian distinction based on my family’s long history in the new world.  Since the 1500s and 1600s my ancestors have been clearing and plowing, portaging and trapping, trading and building, and–let’s face facts–fraternizing and procreating in the land they called New France!  Prior to their lives here in Canada the majority of my paternal ancestors trace their origins back to Normandy, France.

One of the Rivard homes in Tourouvre, Normandy, France (Quite rundown in these more recent photos)

One of the Rivard homes in Tourouvre, Normandy, France (Quite rundown in these more recent photos)

French-Canadian genealogy can be both challenging but also extremely rewarding.  The records available to French-Canadian family historians abound thanks to the diligent record keeping of the Roman Catholic Church however if one is not familiar with the cultural anomaly of the “dit” name then all hope is lost!

When I began my research I knew that the surname Loranger had at some point in history been changed from the surname Rivard.  This was how it had been explained to me by family members.  It wasn’t until I encountered the transition between names that I was confronted with the “dit” name and the change in name became clear.

“Dit” is a form of the French verb “dire” which means “to say or tell”.  In this instance it means “said” as in “said individual”.  The “dit” name–as we have termed it–is in a loose sense a  sort of nickname or alias.  In actuality, it is more similar to the Scottish and their clan names, meant to make the distinction between various branches of a family line.  Truly there are many origins to the dit names used in French Canada and the explanations are almost as varied as the names themselves. Many were originally the “nom de guerre”, a troop name grouping military members, the origins of others truly did approach the origns of nicknames–names based on an aspect of appearance, or based on the place from which the family came.  In the case of the dit name Loranger it is said that perhaps it referred to a supporter of William the Orange but more likely a reference to red hair!  In later years the original surname was often dropped to be replaced by the “dit” name or the “dit” name was simply dropped by others.

Regardless of the origins and understanding of the “dit” name as long as one is aware of their existence there are now very helpful charts to decipher the puzzle of connecting one name to another!

Names of Canadiens baptized in St. Aubin, Tourouvre, France

Names of Canadiens baptized in St. Aubin, Tourouvre, France

My name Loranger was the dit name of my 8th Great-Grandfather, Robert Rivard dit Loranger, the youngest son of Pierre-Nicholas Rivard and Jeanne Mullard of Tourouvre, Orne, Basse-Normandie, France.  Robert Rivard dit Loranger arrived in New France/Canada in 1662 at the age of 24. He was granted land and he married Madeleine Guillet, the 14 year old daughter of a Filles-du-Roi, in 1663.  Madeleine also happened to be his brother’s niece. Robert and Madeleine had 13 children.

Robert had followed his older brother Nicholas Rivard dit LaVigne, already arrived in New France in 1648, and who–in a confusing web of family connections–is also my 8th Great-Grandfather. Robert and Nicholas were both landowners in New France but Robert was not one to sit still.  He cleared land in half to time of others and decided to venture into the fur trade. First signing with the “Company of the North” in 1689 at the age of 50 he decided to partner with friends and relations in 1695 to create their own fur trading business known as the “Compagnie Royale”.

Nicholas Rivard dit Lavigne had been a captain in the militia in Cap-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec. Nicholas Rivard dit Lavigne`s dit name referred to his title “Sieur de La Vigne” after his mother’s property “Clos de La Vigne” in Tourouvre, France. A road sign marks the location of this property today.

Sign today marking the Tourouvre Property of Jeanne Mullard.

Sign today marking the Tourouvre Property of Jeanne Mullard.

I have to fight the urge to run off on a tangent here describing the exploits of these amazing men and their families but I am losing sight of the focus: Surnames!  While several descendants of Robert Rivard dit Loranger carried on the Loranger dit name and then eventually dropped Rivard, others introduced new dit names which were adopted as surnames, and–as though things weren’t confused enough– still others kept the original Rivard surname.  The descendants of Robert Rivard hold the names: Rivard, Loranger, Feuilleverte, Bellefeuille, Despres, Montendre, and Maisonville.  The descendants of Nicholas Rivard now may hold the surnames: Rivard, Lavigne, Lacoursiere, Lanouette, Preville, LaGlanderie, Dufresne, and Giasson.

If you are of French-Canadian origin and bear any of the above surnames then “Salut! Mes Cousins!”  It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance!
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Those Places Thursday ~~ The Plains of Abraham, New France

"The Death of General Wolfe" by Benjamin West (1770)

“The Death of General Wolfe” by Benjamin West (1770)

My French-Canadian ancestors arrived in New France in the 1500s and 1600s. As I traced my paternal ancestors back further and further I admittedly felt my Canadian patriotism kick into high gear. Discovering that my ancestors were among the founding families of New France, clearing land, trading furs and establishing trading companies, in a harsh new environment has instilled in me a sense of pride in their fortitude and endurance.

As a Canadian student I remember studying the tireless travel of the Coureur de bois through endless wilderness, the arduous journey across the ocean to New France to establish settlements where only forest existed before, and the battles for territory in this new country between the French and the British but at the time I had no idea how attached my family had been to all these experiences, events, and places! Pivotal places as the Plains of Abraham are tied indelibly to the French- Canadian roots of my paternal family tree!

A depiction of my 9th Great-Grandfather Abraham Martin by artist Charles Huet

A depiction of my 9th Great-Grandfather Abraham Martin by artist Charles Huet

The battle of the Plains of Abraham was a defining battle in the Seven Years’ War.  It was the 13th of September 1759, and British Troops, lead by General Wolfe, ascended upon Marquis de Montcalm’s French forces upon the Plains of Abraham after scaling the cliffs at L’Anse-au-Foulon (near Quebec City).  The Plains of Abraham were on a plateau at the summit of Cap Diamants.  A force of 4500, the British stretched across the great expanse of the Plains of Abraham.  Montcalm rushed a response in a battle which meant a defeat for the French and resulted in the death of both leaders–Montcalm and Wolfe!

Named for my 9th Great Grandfather, Abraham Martin, the Plains of Abraham are today recognized as a key battleground in the history of New France and marked a turning point for British control in North America.  Abraham Martin was born in France in 1589.  One of the earliest settlers in New France he arrived with his wife Marguerite Langlois and her family in 1620. He and Marguerite had 9 children together. He was a ship’s pilot on the St. Lawrence and a deep sea fisherman, known as “Pilote du Roi” (the King’s Pilot).  He was granted 12 acres of land on the outskirts of Quebec City in 1635 by the Company of New France, and was then gifted another 20 acres ten years later by Sieur Adrien Du Chesne, a naval surgeon.

The intriguing and somewhat contradictory story of Abraham Martin is one I shall reserve for a future post!  Many French-Canadian’s can boast of him as an ancestor of their own!
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