Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: My First Birthday

Yvonne Belair on her first birthday

I celebrated my first birthday (July 30, 1959) with my cousins in their backyard. A cake with white icing is barely visible on the little table. From left to right are Carol, myself, André, and Diane holding Pauline. They are the eldest children of Joan, my paternal aunt and godmother.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday’s Faces from the Past: Our Dog Lady

One afternoon after work, Dad came home with a German Shepherd. I still remember that day even though it was 43 years ago on July 24, 1972.

Belair family dog Lady
Lady, ca 1973

My family loved animals, particularly cats, with dogs coming in a close second. We had many cats over the years (mostly called Minou and Tiger) and a couple of dogs, but we hadn’t talked lately about getting a new pet, so it was a surprise to see Dad with a dog. We excitedly asked him all kinds of questions, like did she belong to someone and how long could she stay with us. (We were already hoping we could keep her!)

Dad explained that she had been abandoned in a pit at his work site. She was friendly when he and a co-worker fed her bits of their lunches. A day or two later, the dog was still around, so Dad figured she didn't have an owner. That’s when he decided he couldn’t leave her alone anymore and brought her home to us. We loved her immediately and named her ‘Lady’.

Within a short time, Lady thrived in our care. She was a Shepherd-cross and kind of small and slim. She returned our affection in abundance and proved to be a loyal companion. I suppose Lady was closest to Dad, because he was the one who saved her and first showed her kindness. Whenever Dad was at the kitchen table doing paperwork or chatting on his CB, Lady would lay quietly at his feet. She never moved until he did.

Lady’s attachment to my little brother Raymond, who was only two years old at the time, was just about as strong. She was protective of him and was his shadow whenever he was outside playing in the yard. The most remarkable thing I remember about her, though, was how she and Raymond were in sync. For instance, if we couldn’t find Raymond (he was never far from home at that age, usually a few doors down at a friend’s house), we’d ask Lady, “Where’s Raymond?” and off she would go find him. The reverse was true, too: if we couldn’t find Lady, we’d ask Raymond, “Where’s Lady?” and off he’d go find her.

Raymond Belair with family dog Lady
Raymond with Lady, ca 1973

As much as she was happy, calm, and obedient, Lady had a different side to her that manifested itself on rare occasions. If anyone raised their arms at or near her, no matter how innocently, she would cower in fear. It got worse when a neighbour teenage boy would come across Lady in the back lane between our houses. He had a habit of talking loudly and waving his arms about as he walked. Lady would become agitated and bark at him. When we told Dad, he thought she might have been hurt or mistreated by a previous owner.

Lady loved just about everybody who came into her sphere, except for that boy and one other person – our mail carrier. He was a summer student worker, probably in his early 20s, tall, with lots of curly red hair. Lady got to know his routine and what time he’d drop off the mail in the morning. She would stand at the front door inside the house or come from the back to the front yard (on her leash) and wait for him. As soon as she spotted him, she’d bark with fury. It never occurred to us to keep her occupied and away from the front door in the morning, but we soon did after we got a phone call from the post office telling us we would lose our home delivery if we didn’t keep our dog away from the carrier.

About three years later, Raymond and I developed allergies and asthma and we assumed it was because of our dog. It was therefore with heavy hearts that we decided that Lady couldn’t live with us anymore. Dad had a friend who lived on a large property outside of town who agreed to take her. We missed Lady very much, but if we couldn’t have her, we reasoned that at least she would benefit from having a lot of space to roam and explore.

Belair family dog Lady
Lady, ca 1973

We still talk about Lady with great affection to this day.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Maritime Monday: S/S Lake Superior and the July 1899 Doukhobors

Steamship Lake Superior

On 20 July 1899 – 116 years ago today – the Lake Superior arrived at Quebec City. The steamship had left Liverpool, England twelve days earlier and carried 670 passengers that included a small contingent of Doukhobors. [1]

Unlike the first groups of exiled Doukhobors who had immigrated to Canada in the previous months (including my husband’s ancestors), these 12 families from Elizavetpol and Kars provinces in Russia consisted of “Doukhobor military personnel detained in Russia until their terms of military service expired”. [2]

Their surnames were Goncharov, Golubov, Panferkov, Popov, Salykin, Slastukhin, Sukhorukov, Zhuravlev, and Zybin. [3]


Image credit: Photo of S/S Lake Superior (built 1884), digital image, Norway – Heritage ( : accessed 8 January 2014).

1. Steve Lapshinoff & Jonathan Kalmakoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928 (Crescent Valley: self-published, 2001), 106.

2. Lapshinoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928, 106.

3. Lapshinoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928, 106.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Marthe Quitel’s 1665 Abjuration

A few months ago, I wrote about my maternal ancestor Marthe Quitel (ca 1638-1722) in 52 Ancestors: #40 Marthe Quitel, a Calvinist fille du roi.

At that time, I mentioned how she came to Canada in the summer of 1665 to seek a husband. In preparation for marriage, Marthe renounced her Protestant faith and became Roman Catholic.

Today (17 July) is the 350th anniversary of that renunciation (abjuration in French).
Abjuration record of Marthe Quitel
Marthe Quitel’s abjuration record (Généalogie Québec)

The image above shows the abjuration record, copied from the 1665 original. [1] Here are my transcription and translation of that record.

Transcription of Marthe Quitel's abjuration record:

Translation of Marthe Quitel's abjuration record:

1. “Registres du Fonds Drouin”, digital images, Généalogie Québec ( : accessed 6 July 2015); “Registre des abjurations d’hérésie depuis 1662 jusqu’a 1757”, p. 9, entry no. 9, Marthe Quitel abjuration, 17 July 1665.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Wedding Wednesday: Liard – Janvry (Belair)

This Friday (July 17) marks the 110th anniversary of Délia Janvry dit Belair’s first marriage. She was my paternal grandfather Fred Belair’s elder sister.Born in April 1885, Délia married Charles Liard on 17 July 1905 in Ste-Cécile, the R.C. parish church in Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Quebec. [1]

Marriage record of Charles Liard and Delia Belair 1905
Liard – Belair marriage record (Généalogie Qué

The marriage record, seen above, is in French. The officiating priest, J. Eug[ène]. L. Limoges, vicar of Ste-Cécile, recorded that two banns of marriage were announced (published) during Sunday Masses and that a dispensation was granted for the third bann. Charles is described as the fils majeur (son of age) of his parents Xavier and Félanise [Phelonise] (Moreau) Liard, residents of Ste-Cécile parish. For her part, Délia is described as the fille mineure (minor daughter) of her parents Pierre Janvrie [Janvry dit Belair] and the late Angélina Meunier, also of this parish. There were no impediments to the marriage. The young couple received the nuptial blessing in the presence of Charles’ father Xavier and of Pierre Janvrie, as well as plusieurs autres parents et amis (many other family and friends). Three people signed the sacramental register: Délia, a woman named Claire Gauvreau (possibly her friend, who married the following month), and Pierre Janvrie. This Pierre is not likely Délia’s father, but instead her eldest brother, also named Pierre, who was literate. [2] I’ve never seen my great-grandfather Pierre’s signature, because he didn’t sign or was unable to sign his name in his family’s baptism, marriage, and burial records.

After Charles’s death in 1918, Délia married widower Isaïe Brazeau in March 1919 in Ste-Cécile parish. Isaïe, who was twice mayor of Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, died in 1954. Délia died on 30 December 1972 in Hull, Quebec.


1. Ste-Cécile (Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Quebec), parish register, 1899-1908, folio 131 (recto)/p. 262 (stamped), entry no. M.15 (1905), Charles Liard – Délia Janvrie [sic] marriage, 17 July 1905; Ste-Cécile parish; digital image, “Le LAFRANCE”, Généalogie Québec ( : accessed 9 July 2015).

2. Ste-Cécile (Ste-Cécile-de-Masham, Quebec), parish register, 1899-1908, folio 165 (recto)/p. 330 (stamped), entry no. M.8 (1907), Pierre Belair – Elisa Barnabée [sic] marriage, 9 July 1907; Ste-Cécile parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection, 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 27 April 2010). Délia’s father Pierre was present at her brother Pierre’s wedding. The priest noted that only the bridal couple could (and did) sign their names in the sacramental register.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

François Desgroseilliers’ 1783 Baptism Record

Today – 15 July – is the 232nd anniversary of the birth of my 4x maternal great-grandfather, François Desgroseilliers.

Francois Desgroseilliers 1783 baptism record.
Louis François Desgroseilliers's baptism record (

He was born on 15 July 1783 and received the names "Louis François" at his baptism that day in Montreal’s Notre-Dame church. [1] The officiating priest, Ch. Ecuier, noted that the infant was born vers midi [about noon] and that his godparents Pierre Migneron and Marie Celeste Caillé, who were present, declared they could not write their names.

François, as he was known as an adult, was the eighth of thirteen children of Joseph Prosper and Charlotte (Lunegand) Desgroseilliers, who married in 1772 in Châteauguay, now a suburb of Montreal.

When I first researched my mother’s ancestors, I found François’ date of birth of 6 March 1782. I didn't make a note of where I got it, but believed it was the correct date. (It never occurred to me to think it might be incorrect.) Years later, I came across a family tree (either on a personal website or in a public tree at Ancestry) that said François was born on 15 July 1783.

I decided to check Joseph Prosper and Charlotte’s family file in an online database. I was surprised to find two sons similarly named: François and Louis François. [2] The François born in 1782 died when he was six months old in August 1782. [3] He was therefore not my ancestor.

I made a beginner genealogist’s mistake: I assumed that the François I had originally found was the only one by this name in his family. I didn’t take the time to compare the information against other documentation, such as his baptism record. I also didn’t look for a death or burial record in case he had died young.


1. Notre-Dame (Montreal, Quebec), parish register, 1781-1785, p. 185 recto, no entry no. (1783), Louis François Desgroselliers [sic] baptism 17 July 1783; Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 January 2012).

2. “Dictionnaire”, database, Programme de recherche en démographie historique (PRDH) ( : accessed 211 January 2012), Joseph Prosper Bouchard Dorval Desgroseilliers – Marie Charlotte Lunegent Beaurosier, Famille no. 48279).

3. Notre-Dame (Montreal, Quebec), parish register, 1781-1785, p. 86 verso, no entry no. (1782), Francois Dégroselier [sic] burial 31 August 1782; Notre-Dame parish; digital image, “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 11 January 2012). The priest recorded that François was interred in the cimétière des pauvres [in the paupers’ cemetery] in the presence of his parents.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

52 Ancestors 2015: #28 – From Rouyn, Quebec to Nobel, Ontario

I’m participating in “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks: 2015 Edition” by Amy Johnson Crow of No Story Too Small.

For the 28th week of this challenge, I used the optional weekly theme (Road Trip) to describe the journey my mother and her family made when they moved from Quebec to Ontario when she was a young child. Mom doesn’t have any memories of this trip, but her sister Madeleine does. A few years ago, Aunt Madeleine wrote her recollections for me and I quote from them in this article.

In the spring of 1940, my Desgroseilliers grandparents, Eugène and Juliette, lived in Rouyn, a mining community in the boreal forest of northwestern Quebec. Eugène, who was 39 years old, was unemployed after working as a chief of police for a number of years.

Rouyn-Noranda in 1937
Rouyn-Noranda, 1937 (

Canadian Industries Ltd. (CIL) had recently opened a new plant on the site of a former WWI explosives factory in Nobel, a village located just north of Parry Sound, Ontario. Eugène decided to try his luck with CIL, which manufactured explosives and munitions. He was soon hired as a guard with the company. Before returning to Rouyn, Eugène bought some property outside of Parry Sound. With the help of friends, he built a two-story home for his family. His elder daughter Madeleine described it as a “shell of a house”.

After borrowing a car, Eugène returned home. His elder daughters had just finished school in June. Madeleine remembered how her father “loaded us all with only our personal belongings for the long drive back to Parry Sound”. Eugène, wife Juliette (39), and children Mariette (12½), Madeleine (11), Simone (9½), Jacqueline (6½), Gaston (5), Normande (3), and Jeanne d’arc (2) were “jammed in a car plus boxes”.

Map showing route from Rouyn-Noranda to Parry Sound
Route from Rouyn, Quebec to Nobel, Ontario 

The journey of about 426 kilometres (about 265 miles) took a few days. Madeleine recalls that the car had “a couple of flat tires on the [way]”. One of them happened “just on the outskirts of North Bay” in Ontario. She and her sister Mariette “walked to [the] nearest garage” to fetch an attendant to repair the tire. The family finally arrived at their new home late in the evening of “a real hot day in July”.

It must have been a great relief for my grandfather Eugène to find a job after being out of work. A regular paycheck was a blessing, but the change in environment was a culture shock. The family exchanged Rouyn, a largely Roman Catholic Francophone community, for Nobel, a mainly Protestant English-speaking village. My aunts and uncle had known only parochial schools, Juliette spoke no English, and she and Eugène were separated from family (they both had brothers who lived near them).

Nobel turned out to be an unhappy place of residence. Less than a year later, six year old Gaston died following a car accident after a day of fishing with his father.* I’ve always wondered if the tragic loss of his only surviving son had something to do with my grandfather moving away from Nobel and relocating his family to another town within a few weeks of Gaston’s death.

* I’ve written twice about Gaston on my blog: Wednesday’s Child: Gaston Desgroseilliers, A Brief Life and Mystery Monday: Gaston Desgroseilliers’ Cause of Death.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sports Center Saturday: Salmon Fishing in British Columbia

My father Maurice loved to fish. The earliest memories I have of him and his favorite sport go back to the mid-1960s when I was 6 or 7 years old. I can still see Dad cleaning his latest catch, doré (pickerel), in our backyard. I don’t know where he went fishing on that occasion, but it probably wasn’t too far from our home in Timmins, Ontario.

Maurice Belair with a BC salmon

I think Dad’s first opportunity to fish for salmon was during his vacation to British Columbia about 1965. He came to visit his only brother Ray, who moved to B.C. in the early 1950s. The above picture shows Dad proudly showing off the salmon he caught that summer.

After we moved to British Columbia in 1979, Dad had many opportunities to fish. On his days’ off from trucking, he’d take his favorite rod, walk to the river’s edge (our house on Willow Street was only three or four blocks from the Fraser River), and find himself what he’d hope would be a good spot. Unfortunately, Dad never caught a salmon here. In the winter, he liked to ice fish in nearby Kawkawa Lake, about a mile east of Hope. He’d wake early, make a thermos of coffee, load up his gear, and drive to the lake to meet his buddies. He wasn’t always successful, but when he did reel in a little fish or two, he proudly came home to give Mom his catch of the day.

Maurice Belair and Albert Desgroseilliers with a BC salmon

This picture, taken in July 1989, shows Dad with Mom’s cousin Albert Desgroseilliers. They went fishing in Albert’s boat in Porlier Pass, located between Valdes and Galiano Islands, near Vancouver Island. Dad kept his “Tidal Water Sport Fishing Licence” (which cost him $3.50), on which he recorded that he caught a Chinook salmon that day.

A year later, Albert invited my parents and my husband and I for a weekend at his home near Vancouver. We arrived Friday afternoon, had a BBQ supper, and then spent the evening talking with Albert and his wife Rosa. Mom reminisced with her cousin (their fathers were brothers), while I asked questions about Albert’s family to add to my genealogy files. The next morning, Albert (who has quite a sense of humor) made bacon and eggs for breakfast. Michael, who was an ocean-fishing newbie, didn’t realize he shouldn’t eat such a hearty meal and felt ill during the hour-long ride on choppy waters. Dad and Albert were ok, but Michael soon lost his breakfast. The day wasn’t a total disappointment, though; the trio eventually caught a salmon.

Dad fished until the last year of his life. In June 1995, he paid $5.35 for an annual “British Columbia Non Tidal Angling Licence”, above. The “Conservation Surcharge Stamp” that appears on the licence (lower left corner) indicates that he paid the required fee that allowed him to keep a caught salmon. Try as he might, my father never managed to catch the elusive Fraser River salmon.

Copyright © 2015, Yvonne Demoskoff.