Report on the 2011 November Reunion

Well, look what I found among my drafts for posts …

Haha .. Never managed to post it! But as with most things genealogy .. “Better late than never!”

Our reunion was a great success! With all that has been going on since, I haven’t had a chance to talk about the day.

It was a great chance to meet relatives who didn’t know one another! And we did bring together quite a crew of descendants of Matthew O’Connor and Mary Doyle. And yes, we had a birthday cake in their honor, thanks to cousin Sharon!

My sister Margo (who was unable to come) was hoping that we could find some relatives from the Cadieux side. And we did! Our cousin Neal (his grandmother was Belle Cadieux) joined us and we were thrilled that he brought along some photos to share too.

I had been doing some research at the Arnprior & McNab Braeside archives and came upon a host of photos from our Frood ancestors. Maybe our 2012 reunion will have someone representing the Frood or Watt families.

Turns out that we still have some cousins from my father’s generation in the Ottawa area, which was a great and happy surprise  Matthew O’Connor and Mary Doyle’s next to last child was Emmett (my grandfather’s brother). His daughter Marion, who coincidentally lives not far from the site of the reunion, joined us! What a thrill to catch up with her and that part of the family. Her sister Rita lives in Oklahoma and brother Desmond in the Ottawa area. When I visited with her on the Sunday following, she showed me a letter to our grand uncle Msgr. O’Connor from FDR, asking his advice.

Family of another of my grandfather’s brothers, Stephen, were represented, too! Richard wasn’t able to join us, but his brother stopped by, and was interested in the details of the tree. He got to meet some new cousins, too!

Connie, representing the Delaney branch, was also with us. Her grandmother was Mary “Minnie” O’Connor (my grandfather’s sister; daughter of Matthew & Mary) who married George Delaney.

Gary Allen has been doing research on the Irish in the Ottawa Valley. He joined us for the family names, and discovered a connection to the family through Isidore Cadieux, brother of my great grandfather David!

Cousin John is very knowledgeable on the O’Connor tree, having done most of his research before we had internet sources, so he knows the original sources and details well. He was a great resource for those with questions about the O’Connor and Dolan lines.

Cousin Sharon is also well versed in the O’Connors and Dolans. She too was a go-to person for questions. …and she helped with the cake and refreshments.

We had a really great morning together. It was a great chance to connect to family we had only seen as names on the family tree, but have now had a chance to meet and enjoy. So many commented that it would be nice to do this each year, that we are working on the dates for 2012.

I’m hoping to find some representatives of the Wilson and McEwan lines who could join us.

Tracking Voyageurs Ancestors

Tracking voyageurs ancestors can be a challenge.

My Cadieux ancestors settled in the late 1800s along the Ottawa River in the villages of the Pontiac QC area. The census returns made it clear that they were voyageurs — fur traders. While it was fascinating to discover they were part of that most interesting history of the North American continent — fur trading — how to find out the actual details?

A nice blog that details one person’s research on their voyageurs ancestors is Habitants and Voyageurs.  Its author shares her experiences and helpful techniques in gathering information, and time saving ideas on gathering, copying and saving research information.

The Hudson Bay Company was the royally chartered organization with rights to exploit the fur trade across most of what is modern Canada. Information on its employees, its contracts, and its trading — as well as details on the North West Company, which it acquired — can be found in the Province of Manitoba Archives. This is a rich resource of original documents as well as summaries and biographies prepared by archivists in the process of their work and studies.

I had no luck tracing my Cadieux voyageurs through the Hudson Bay databases. But I hit pay dirt when I consulted the Voyaguers Contracts database!

VoyageursDatabaseENThis database is the result of a 20 years of extracting data from reports of the archivist of the Province of Quebec and microfilms of the Protonotaire Montréal Greffes de notaires fonds — the records of the notaries who witnessed and recorded contract agreements. The initial database was started by Alfred Fortier, executive director of the Société historique de Saint-Boniface (1990-2002).

This became the starting point for a more ambitious project undertaken by Dr. Nicole St-Onge of the University of Ottawa and Dr. Robert Englebert of the University of Saskatchewan, assistant director of the project. This project was a component of the National Research Initiative of the Métis National Council.

The Voyageur database comprises some 35,000 fur trade contracts signed in front of Montreal notaries between 1714 and 1830. It is currently the single largest collection of data regarding the contracts signed by men of the Montreal fur trade. The information collected from the contracts includes: family names, parishes of origin, hiring company, length of contract, destinations, advances and wages, supplies, conditions of hire, the name of the notary, date of signing, and miscellaneous notes. The database is also available in French.

For a little of the colour of the voyageurs’ life, a nice short excerpt from the Appleton Journal, A Voyage with the Voyageurs is worth a read (available from archive.org as a PDF download).

LibraryArchivesCanada has a resource page. A number of materials are available for research at the archives.

The Metis Nation of Ontario has information on the marriage of fur traders and native peoples. This page provides material on fur trading, but also has links to other valuable resources.

Local and area archives

Thanks to the internet, it is easy to discover local and area archives collections. As I’ve suggested before, doing an internet search for the area you are interested in joined with the term “history,” for example “Pontiac County Quebec history” can lead to a treasure trove of information. Sometimes a similar search with the term “museum” is also helpful.

Today, many local history groups have websites, and most will tell you in detail about their collection. And if they don’t, there is most often an email address you can use to inquire. I’ve found that, despite the abundance of material on the internet both free and pay-per-view, there is nothing quite like the trip to the archives or museum.

In May, I took the hour and a half trip from Ottawa to Shawville QC, to the Pontiac County Archives, looking for ancestors in my Cadieux and Wilson families.

The highlights of the Pontiac collection include:

  • The Crown Land Grant Book, 1763-1890 for Pontiac County;
  • Pontiac County census records, 1842-1901;
  • Papers of Pontiac County government and its municipalities;
  • Township valuation rolls from the various townships;
  • Papers of the Pontiac Pacific Junction Railroad;
  • An extensive collection of photographs, drawings and maps;
  • Papers of the Pontiac Women’s Institute;
  • Information on the Orange Order and other Pontiac societies.

Frequently it is the unexpected that you encounter that is also helpful for further research. I discovered in the clippings file for Quyon, an article on businesses in Quyon that reported details taken from the 1857 “Canada Directory” published by the predecessor company of Dun & Bradstreet. (You can download a pdf version from one of my favourite sites — archive.org — using the link.)

When I went hunting through it later, I found it a valuable resource. For most towns and villages in Upper and Lower Canada, it provides a listing of the principal business owners and local citizens. I found there a record of my ancestor David Cadieux, listed as owner of a wagon-making business in Quyon QC. In a later edition I found the Renfrew ON business he worked for later on. Before this trip, I was unaware of the Canada Directory.

I found the valuation rolls helpful too. Pontiac Archives has the original handwritten documents. They were invaluable in locating my ancestors and their relatives. This is a good example of documentary evidence not available in  BanQ — the Quebec National Library and Archives (they actually offered these items to Pontiac Archives when they were ‘cleaning out’ their shelves! Lucky they were around to accept them!) and unlikely to ever be digitized and placed online. Only a visit would make their valuable information available. One more argument for the importance of local archives and history societies!

Venetia Crawford, Pontiac ArchivesMy invaluable guide and helper was Venetia Crawford (pictured). Turns out she was one of the founders of the archives back in 1985! She explained the collection and assisted me in finding various items, sharing along the way some of her own researches and interests.

This is another reason why the trip to the local archives is invaluable: the living resources found in the dedicated volunteers who know the collection and the local history, and can save you from wasting time and direct you to the most helpful resources. Always a wonderful thing to find someone who is as interested in your research as you are!

“Bravo!” to Venetia, Pearl McCleary, Annie Gamble, Elsie Sparrow and all involved in founding the Pontiac Archives, which is presently run entirely by volunteers.

 

An Irish Ancestor … through our French line!

Tadgh Cornelius O’Brennan of Montreal — via Ireland and France — is my ancestor … through my Cadieux family line!

Genealogy is very truly the study of real history.

After Cromwell’s victory in Ireland, he published surrender terms in 1652 allowing Irish soldiers to go abroad to serve in foreign armies not at war with the Commonwealth of England. Most went to the Catholic countries of France or Spain.  Cromwell’s aide Sir William Petty estimated their number at 54,000 men.

So probably began the travels of Tadgh Cornelius O’Brennan. When he arrived in France, the French had no ear for Irish accents or names, and not able to read or write, he became known to them as “Tec Corneille Aubrenan”!

We suppose that when the opportunity to join the settlers in New France came, he jumped at it. Thus he became almost certainly the first Irish settler in New France. The year of emigration is uncertain, but signed contracts show he was at first an unlicensed fur-trader — one of the coureurs des bois (literally, ‘runners of the woods’).

But by 1661 he was already a farm worker on the land of Urbain Tessier. In fact, he was kidnapped that year by the Iroquois, and returned some 7 months later.

To turn New France from simply an exploration into a colony, King Louis XIV was convinced to send dowries for women who would move to New France and marry. The women were call Filles du roi, daughters of the King, because like a father, he was giving their dowry.

When Tec heard that the ship with the first group of Filles du roi was stopping first in Quebec City before Trois Rivieres and then Montreal, he headed off to Quebec City — to find a potential wife. At Quebec City, on September 10, 1670, Fille du roi Jeanne Chartier, daughter of Pierre Chartier and Marie Gaudon of Paris, married ‘Tecq Aubrenaue,’ son of Connehour Aubrenaue and Honorée Iconnehour (probably Connor O’Brennan and Honora O’Connor), of “Diasony,” a small village in Ireland.

Newlyweds Tec Aubry and Jeanne Chartier settled on a farm at Pointe-aux-Trembles on the island of Montreal, then later moved to Lachenaie, north of the island. By the time of the 1681 census, they owned 5 farm animals and 5 acres of land.

The couple had 7 children. The youngest, François, had 14 of his own. Our family descends through his son (Joseph) François, who married Marie Jeanne Boutellier. Their great grandson Louis Aubry’s daughter Elizabeth (Eliza) Aubrey married Antoine Cadieux. (Antoine himself was a descendant of another figure at the beginning of Ville Marie — Montreal. I’ll write about him another time.)

Now that’s some history!

Sounds Like …

One of the surprises in family history research is the way surnames — last names — change rather fluidly across time. It seems, also, that in the early 1900s it was common to give a first name as an way of honoring a relative … and then use a second name. There are a number of charts online for “Irish” “Italian” and “Scottish Naming Patterns” for that time period.

But it’s not just names that end up being freely interpreted! I remember the ON census taker in the middle 1800s who renamed a township … North Gower became North Gore (spelled like it is pronounced!).

Which leads to the answer to the Lila Cadieux Young and George Milton Young Great Saskatchewan mystery!

D S Fischer, of Medicine Hat AB (not far from Whiskey Creek) solved the mystery.

Our friendly 1916 census taker must have heard someone say “Whiska Creek” and decided it was an accented version of “Whiskey” Creek … so the 1916 census record placed several hundred people in “Whiskey” Creek!

Whiska Creek does still exist! It’s rural municipality 106, with offices of the Reeve (Mayor) in Vanguard SK. It’s population (2006) is 520 and its 329 square miles are mostly farmland.

A Mystery: Where is Whiskey Creek, SK?

George Milton Young and his wife Lila Cadieux Young married in 1911, and apparently headed out to homestead on the Prairies soon after. George’s obituary says that they were in Saskatchewan until 1919. Until recently, I had no idea where they had moved. But finding them in the 1916 Census of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba lessened the mystery only a little bit. George and Lila appear on the microfilmed census in a roll labelled for the Swift Current, SK, area.

George and Lila Young on a Whiskey Creek, SK, census page

Great! Under ‘Place of habitation’ they are residing in ‘Township 12, Range 10, Meridian [W] 3, Municipality Whiskey Creek.’ The Saskatchewan Archives confirms that paperwork for this property was filed by George Young. A large 1929 map of the Province, with survey grids, shows the 12-10-3 block on a spur of the Canadian Pacific Railway, but with no town or village name indicated.

The National Library and Archives in Ottawa has only one reference to Whiskey Creek: a 1937 CPR railwayman’s accident report. Otherwise, every other source, even published province directories from the time period, as well as the University of Saskatchewan Library catalogue and their archives, return no information about a Whiskey Creek!

See the June 6, 2011 post for the solution to this mystery!

George Milton Young and Lila Cadieux Young

My grandmother’s sister, Lila, married George Milton Young in 1911. I heard the stories of their traveling out West to homestead. And I remember, sometime in my growing up, that we received a newspaper clipping of their Wedding Anniversary celebration (50th in 1961? 60th in 1971? Not sure.)

Photo: Horses outside Grande Prairie, Alberta, ca. 1920.

In my research, after their wedding, I lost track of their whereabouts. My sister Margo and I were talking about them, and between the two of us we came up with some small tidbits of information. Thanks to research by Natalie Edwards of the Alberta Genealogical Society’s Edmonton branch, the pieces started to fit together.

After living in Saskatchewan from 1914, George and Lila moved on to a homestead in the Peace River area of Alberta. After almost a decade (1919-1926) of a very rough life on their homestead, they moved into town. George took over the Bayhen Livery and Feed Barn.

Their departure in 1941 was chronicled in a newspaper article. The reasons are unclear: the economic times? the difficult lifestyle? “Their leaving is like the disappearance of a landmark,” the reporter wrote.

My Mom had simply remembered that Lila insisted they move into town. But in fact they left Grande Prairie for Ottawa: Lila by train, leaving Grande Prairie and stopping in Edmonton to visit friends; George taking a carload of horses to sell in Ottawa.

“It is not easy to leave a country where during twenty years we have made so many loyal friends. As far as I know at present, I expect to carry on in the horse business. It is quite possible that I will return in the Fall and pick up a carload of horses, ” George told the Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune reporter.

It seems that they both did return (in that Fall? later?), and eventually stayed. On his marriage license, George had listed his occupation as “horse dealer” (as had his father Thomas) and that was how George made his living. His obituary explains that “Mr. Young was well known in the early years for his buying and selling of horses, and operating a livery stable in Grande Prairie.”

Lila died February 24, 1975, age 84, in Grande Prairie. George died the following year, April 24, 1976 in the Auxiliary Hospital, Grande Prairie, age 91. Both are buried in the Grande Prairie Cemetery.