Saturday, September 20, 2014

Sympathy Saturday: Gathered for a Funeral

Jacqueline Desgroseilliers with her sisters and their aunt at her father's funeral
Jacqueline (left) with her sisters and their paternal aunt Flavie (centre, back), 1960

My grandfather Eugène died 54 years ago today on 20 September 1960. He had recently turned 60, and had been unwell for some time. When his younger daughter Jacqueline (my mother) visited him earlier that summer, he told her that it wasn’t the same ‘unwell’ feeling he had when drinking (“C’est pas la boisson”, he said), but something different.

One day that September, Mom got a phone call from her sister Madeleine. She “just about broke down” when Madeleine told her their father was very ill, in hospital with cancer.

After leaving me in the care of my paternal grandparents at home in Timmins (I was only two years old and Dad was working), Mom, Madeleine and a few of their Desgroseilliers relatives who also lived in northeastern Ontario left for Sarnia. They drove all night, a journey of about 963 km (about 597 miles), that Mom still remembers as “a really bad night”. The next day, they were met by Mom’s sisters Mariette, Simone, Normande and Jeanne d’arc, who lived near their father.

Arriving at Sarnia General Hospital, Mom and Madeleine realized just how ill their father was when he didn’t recognize his daughters, even though Madeleine gently told him “Poppa, c’est Jacqueline…”.

A few days later, while Mom was resting at her sister Simone’s home, Eugène passed away.

A requiem high mass was held three days later at St. Thomas Aquinas church on 23 September 1960. Mom, her sisters, as well as their father’s surviving brothers and sister and various relatives, were present.

Jacqueline Desgroseilliers with her sisters at their father's funeral in 1960
A blurry photo of sisters in mourning; left to right:
Simone, Mariette, Jacqueline, Madeleine, Jeanne d’arc and Normande, 1960

Eugène was laid to rest next to his Juliette, who predeceased him in 1948, at Our Lady of Mercy cemetery in Sarnia.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, September 19, 2014

52 Ancestors: #38 Arline Deschatelets and Her Estimated Date of Birth

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 38th week of this challenge, I chose Arline Deschatelets (1844/47-1923).

Arline is my maternal great-great-grandmother and is number 29 in my ancestor list.

She was one of the eleven children of Joseph Deschatelets and his wife Angélique Caillé, who married in 1835 in Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Terrebonne County, Quebec. [1]

I don’t know when or where Arline was born; I haven’t found her baptism record and civil registration didn’t exist in Quebec at this time. Despite my searches, her baptism doesn’t appear in the parish records of Ste-Anne-des-Plaines (where her parents married), in St-Jérôme, Terrebonne County (where her three immediate siblings were baptized), or in Montebello, Papineau County (where her next sibling was baptized). I also checked nearby parishes like Grenville, Montpellier, Chénéville, St-Sixte, St-Emile de Suffolk, Plaissance, Papineauville and Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix, all without success.

Despite this shortcoming, I turned to other records to provide approximate dates of birth for Arline. Here’s what my calculations based on those records look like in a table format:

Table estimating birth year for Arline Deschatelets

I adapted my table above on a similar one I saw a few years ago in Emily Anne Croom’s Unpuzzling Your Past. [2] (I was waiting to get Croom’s book from the library to help me complete my article, which is why Arline didn’t appear in Week 37 like I had originally planned.)

Without Arline’s baptism record to tell me when she was born, the best I can have is a birth range for her. Therefore, based on census, marriage and burial records, Arline was born between 6 April 1844 and 4 April 1847 (using the earliest and latest calculated years in the table).


1. Ste-Anne (Ste-Anne-des-Plaines, Quebec), parish register, 1835, p. 3 recto, no entry no., Joseph Pinault [sic] – Angélique Caillé marriage, 19 January 1835; Ste-Anne parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 25 March 2008).

2. Emily Anne Croom, Unpuzzling Your Past, 4th ed. (Cincinnati, Ohio: Betterway Books, 2001), 105.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday’s Child: Alma Desgroseilliers (1904-1907)

Little Alma Desgroseilliers was only three years and six months old when she died. [1]

Alma Desgroseilliers with her brothers Eugene and Arthur

Alma with her brothers Eugène (left) and Arthur (right), about 1906.

She was the third child and eldest daughter of Albert and Clémentine (Léveillé) Desgroseilliers.

Born on 14 January 1904 in St-Charles, Ontario, Alma was baptised “Alma Fabiana” three days later in St-Thomas Apôtre church in nearby Warren. [2] Actually, I’m not sure if her godparents brought her to Warren (taking a newborn out in winter doesn’t seem prudent), or if Father Nayl travelled to St-Charles to baptise Alma, and then once back in Warren recorded the details in his church’s sacramental register.

In about 1906 or early 1907, Alma’s parents and her elder brothers (Eugène, my maternal grandfather, and Arthur) moved to Cobalt, northeast of St-Charles, near the Ontario-Quebec border. I don’t know what prompted my great-grandfather Albert to relocate his young family there, but perhaps it had something to do with silver being discovered in Cobalt in 1903. [3] Neither his daughter's death registration nor her burial record indicate what kind of work Albert did at this time. (He had been a farmer in St-Charles.)

Alma, who had been ill with bronchitis for one week, died on 6 July 1907 in Cobalt. [4] She was buried there in the cemetery the next day; her father was present. [5]

How sad it must have been for Albert, Clémentine and their sons when they returned to live in St-Charles in the spring of 1908.


1. “Ontario, Canada Deaths, 1869-1932”, digital image, ( : accessed 20 January 2012), entry for Alma Degrossalier [sic], 6 July 1907; citing Archives of Ontario, Registrations of Deaths - 1869-1932; Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario; microfilm series MS935, reel 131.

2. “Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1907”, digital image, ( : 20 January 2012), entry for Alma Fabi[ana] Desgrosellier [sic] (written as Desgrosellier, indexed as Desgrciellier), 14 January 1904; citing Archives of Ontario, Registrations of Birth and Stillbirths – 1869-1904; Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Archives of Ontario; microfilm series MS929, reel 174. Also, St-Thomas Apôtre (Warren, Ontario), parish register, 1901-1967, p. 12 verso, entry no. 6 (1904), Alma Fabiana Desgroseilliers baptism, 17 January 1904; St-Thomas Apôtre parish; digital image, “Canada, Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1747-1967”, ( : 20 January 2012).

3. Wikipedia contributors, "Cobalt, Ontario", Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (,_Ontario&oldid=611476989 : accessed 16 September 2014).

4. “Ontario, Canada Deaths, 1869-1932”, digital image, ( : accessed 20 January 2012), entry for Alma Degrossalier [sic], 6 July 1907.

5. "Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923," digital image, FamilySearch (,220997602,220997603,221004101 : accessed 20 January 2012), Timiskaming > Cobalt > St Hilarion > Baptisms, marriages, burials 1906-1910 > image 26 of 113, entry for Alma DesGroselliers [sic].

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Church Record Sunday: Jeanne Massé’s Unexpected Death

Burial record of Jeanne Massé in 1764 in Detroit
Burial record of Jeanne Massé (1764)

It’s not very often that I find causes of death stated in my ancestors’ burial records, but I recently came across a noteworthy example.

Jeanne Massé and her husband Michel Campeau are my maternal ancestors. Both were baptized in Montreal in 1677 and 1667, respectively. They married there on 7 January 1696 and raised a family of eleven children. Michel died in 1737, while Jeanne survived him by twenty-seven years, dying on 4 September 1764 in Detroit. She was buried there the next day in the parish of Ste-Anne. [1]

Jeanne’s burial record is most interesting, thanks to the officiating priest Bocquet, who provided more than the required amount of details for such a sacramental record. A copy of that record is seen above, while below is my translation:

“The year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred sixty four, the fifth of September was buried in the cemetery of this church, the body of Jeanne Massé, widow of the late [sieur] Michel Campeau, during his lifetime [bourgeois] of this town, residing [in] Saint Jacques road, died yesterday suddenly; [in a] state of infancy, in which she had fallen for more than three years and her age of approximately ninety years, having hide from all the symptoms which would have caused suspicion the approach of her death. The said burial in presence of the [sieurs] Saint Bernard, [son-in-law] of the deceased, Chapoton, Rocour and many other relatives and friends which the principals have signed with us.”

Jeanne, who was 87 years old and not 90, had been afflicted with dementia for more than three years. Despite her condition, or perhaps because of it, she managed to conceal ill health to the point that her death was unexpected to those who knew her.


1. Ste-Anne (Detroit, Michigan), parish register, 1760-1781, p. 606, no entry no. (1764), Jeanne Massé burial, 5 September 1764; Ste-Anne parish; digital image, “Early U.S. French Catholic Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1695-1954”, ( : accessed 26 August 2014).

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, September 12, 2014

52 Ancestors: #37 Louis Hotte, landowner

Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has issued herself and her readers a challenge for 2014. It’s called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks”, and as Amy explains, the challenge is to “have one blog post each week devoted to a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, an outline of a research problem — anything that focuses on one ancestor”.

For the 37th week of this challenge, I chose Louis Hotte (1844-1923).

Louis is my maternal great-great-grandfather and is number 30 in my ancestor list. (I’m skipping ancestor no. 29 and saving her for next week.)

Born on 17 April 1844 in Grenville, Argenteuil County, Quebec, Louis was the second child of Jean-Baptiste and Archange (Sigouin) Hotte. [1] He had an older brother and six younger brothers and sisters.

Louis was the first of his parents’ children to marry when he wed Marguerite Lacasse on 27 March 1864 in St-André-Avellin, Papineau County. [2] He and Marguerite had eleven children – six sons and five daughters, including Olivine, my great-grandmother – born in Ripon and Chénéville in Papineau County.

While searching for records about Louis at, I found one in the “Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s”. [3] His entry shows that he received some land in Chénéville (then called Hartwell) in 1885. I haven’t looked into this grant, but when I do, I might have to look elsewhere than what the source says, because first, the “Archives of Ontario” are in Toronto (Library and Archives Canada are in Ottawa), and second, I’m not sure why the province of Ontario has records from the province of Quebec. I’ll hopefully untangle this mystery one day. Here’s a screenshot of Louis’ entry in this database:

Screenshot from

Louis died on 20 December 1923 in Chénéville. [4] He was predeceased by his wife Marguerite in 1907 and some of their children.


1. Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs (Grenville, Quebec), parish register, 1839-1854, p. 7 verso, entry no. B26 (1844), Louis Hottes [sic] baptism (written as Hottes, but indexed as Hottin), 28 April 1844; Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 27 March 2008).

2. St-André-Avellin (St-André-Avellin, Quebec), parish register, 1864, p. 49 recto, entry no. M6, Louis Hotte – Marguerite Lacasse marriage, 27 March 1864; St-André-Avellin parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 27 March 2008).

3. “Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s”, database, ( : accessed 11 September 2014), entry for Louis Hotte. This screenshot has changed from when I first viewed it on 11 July 2009. At that time, the fields “Place, “County” and “Province” were in a different order, and there was a “Comments” field (now not present) before “Source”.

4. St-Felix-de-Valois (Chénéville, Quebec), parish register, 1914-1933, p. 171 verso, entry no. S32 (1923), Louis Hotte burial, 22 December 1923; St-Felix-de-Valois parish; digital image, “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967”, ( : accessed 26 March 2008).

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Monday, September 08, 2014

Ray Belair (1931-2014)

Another link with the past was broken today when my Uncle Ray, age 83, passed away this morning.

Born on 19 January 1931 in Montreal, Quebec, Ray was a younger son of Fred and Julie (Vanasse) Belair. He was my late father Maurice’s only surviving brother.

Ray (left) with Maurice, 1950s

As a young man, Ray left his parents and his home in Timmins, Ontario to seek his fortune in western Canada. He arrived in British Columbia about 1950, where he found logging work in and around Hope, a small community about two hours east of Vancouver.

In August 1952, Uncle Ray married local girl Emily Murphy. They had two children, my cousins Janet (known as Jenny) and Leo.

Uncle Ray was instrumental in getting my father to move to B.C. in 1979 to work with him. They formed a joint business in which they built logging roads, mostly in the Boston Bar area north of Hope. Accordingly, Dad packed up his belongings, put up our family home for sale, and drove ahead of us to get started. We followed Dad within a few weeks, after our house was sold.

Ray with his family, 1960s

In October 1980, Uncle Ray lost his wife Emily, to whom he had been married for twenty-eight years. Their daughter Jenny died in February 2011.

After working at logging and road-building for most of his life, Uncle Ray retired in September 1997. His sister Joan and her son André made the trip to B.C. to help Ray celebrate.

Uncle Ray is survived by his son Leo and his family, including a new little great-granddaughter, as well as his sisters Joan and Darlene of Ontario, Canada.

We will miss you, Uncle Ray. Rest in peace.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Maritime Monday: S/S Lake Southwark and the Dimovsky Family

Steamship Southwark
S/S Southwark [1]

Earlier this year, I wrote a couple of articles about Dimovsky families who immigrated to Canada in the late 1890s. They were Doukhobor pacifists who left Russia, seeking a life free from religious intolerance. For a brief explanation about how Doukhobors came to be in Canada, see Family History Through the Alphabet – S is for …

Today’s post is the third and concluding article in this 3-part series. Part 1 (those who arrived in January 1899) is available at Maritime Monday: S/S Lake Superior and the Dimovsky Family. Part 2 (those who arrived in June 1899) is available at Maritime Monday: S/S Lake Huron and the Dimovsky Families.

September 9 (tomorrow) marks the 109th anniversary of the S/S Southwark’s arrival at Quebec City. The ship’s manifest, which is complete, shows one group of people, surnamed Dimovsky. These individuals consist of Danila Dimovsky, with presumably his wife Anna and their young daughter Agafia. [2]

The Southwark departed Liverpool, England on 31 August 1905. On board were 649 passengers, 182 of whom were “Doukhobors exiles from Yakutsk, Siberia”. [3] This “second wave of Doukhobor immigration” lasted from 1902 to 1906. [4]

Upon the ship’s arrival in Canada on September 9, a small group of Doukhobors (but not Danila, his wife or their child) were quarantined, some until October and others until mid-November 1905. [5]

Like the other Dimovsky families about whom I’ve written in this series, I don’t know if or how Danila, Anna and Agafia are related to my husband. (Dimovsky is a spelling variation of Demofsky, later Demosky, later still Demoskoff.)


1. Photo of S/S Southwark (built 1893), digital image, Norway – Heritage ( : accessed 18 January 2014).

2. Steve Lapshinoff & Jonathan Kalmakoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928 (Crescent Valley: self-published, 2001), 110.

3. Lapshinoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928, 110.

4. “Index to Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists”, Doukhobor Genealogy Website ( : accessed 18 January 2014), “Arrivals in 1902-1906”.

5. Lapshinoff, Doukhobor Ship Passenger Lists 1898-1928, 110.

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Funeral Card Friday: Cecilia (Vanasse) Potvin

Cecilia Vanasse Potvin memorial card
Front of card

My great-aunt Cecilia was the elder sister of my paternal grandmother Julie (Vanasse) Belair. I didn’t know Aunt Celia (as she was known to her family) until I was studying at university in Ottawa where she lived. I used to visit her and Uncle Clem at their apartment on Empress Avenue, which happened to be across the street from St-Jean-Baptiste church where my Dad was baptised. I loved talking with her about my Mémère Julie, who died when I was young. After my family moved to British Columbia, we got to see Aunt Celia once or twice on our vacations back east. I was very sad to hear of her death, knowing that I lost another link with the past and my grandmother.

Cecilia Vanasse Potvin memorial card
Back of card

Copyright © 2014, Yvonne Demoskoff.