Monthly Archives: January 2011

The Iceman Cometh

My great-grandfather John James Lahey, teamster for the Kingsbury Ice Company. 

Son of John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen; and husband of Bridget Loreto Killeen (daughter of Patrick Killeen and Bridget Galligan). With four of his five daughters. From left to right: my grandmother Mary Catherine Lahey, and her sisters Margaret Hilda, Mary Laura, and Evelyn Agnes. Photograph taken in the early 1920s, on St. Francis Street in Ottawa.
lahey_johnjames_anddaughters.jpg

Canadian Census: (A Few) Religious Designations/Abbreviations

One of the most useful bits of information that the Canadian census can supply is that of the religious affiliation of your ancestor(s). This is worth knowing not only as an interesting and sociologically significant detail about the life of your ancestor, but also as a guide to further sources (church records, cemetery records, and so on).
However, you may come across an entry in the Religion column of the Canadian census that doesn’t immediately make sense to you, perhaps because the enumerator used an abbreviation that is no longer in common use, or perhaps because he used his own version of a shorthand designation.
For example, you may come across an ancestor, let’s say born in Upper Canada of Scottish origin, whose religion is listed as FC. What does that FC mean? The FC stands for Free Church, or Presbyterian. Or it may be FK, for Free Kirk (Scottish for Church, also Presbyterian). Or perhaps you’ll find an ancestor, born in Ireland and therefore of Irish origin, with religion listed as English. That English refers to the Church of England, which means that your ancestor was enumerated as an Anglican. Or maybe your ancestor was born in Ontario of Irish origin, with religion listed as C. Rome. C. Rome stands for Church of Rome, or Roman Catholic. 
Library and Archives Canada has a very brief list of religious abbreviations here. The Ontario GenWeb Census Project has a more extensive list of religion codes here.
Here are a few of the abbreviations/designations that I’ve come across for Catholic, Anglican, and Presbyterian:
Roman Catholic:
Catholic
R. Cath.
Catholique
RC
Church of Rome
CR [for Church of Rome]
Papist (actually, I don’t think I’ve seen this in the census, but I’ve certainly seen it in a couple of Ontario civil records).
Anglican:
Church of England
C of E
CE
English
England
Anglais
Presbyterian:
Church of Scotland
Free Church
FC
Free Kirk
FK
Scotland
Scottish

Details, Details (Cause of Death Uncovered, or at least Strongly Inferred)

Like most people who get hooked on genealogy, I’m attracted to the detective work aspect of the enterprise. A clue here; a detail there; another hint here, which, combined with a few previously discovered clues and details, finally provides a solid lead; and then: bingo! a nice little nugget of documented and verifiable information, which may then serve as a clue for some other discovery; and on (and on!) it goes.

It’s very easy to overlook a relevant detail, though.

Alias = Otherwise

If you come across a female ancestor described as “[Surname] alias [Surname]” in the parish register, you should certainly not assume that your great-grandmother led a double life, or had some sort of involvement with the cloak-and-dagger world of international espionage. While we now tend to think of an “alias” as a false name assumed for dubious, if not criminal, purposes, within the context of the parish register, it meant nothing so exciting or intriguing as that. It just meant “otherwise,” or “otherwise called/otherwise known as,” and was a way of recording a woman’s name with reference to both her family/maiden and her married surnames.
From the parish register for St. Michael’s, Corkery (Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario), the burial record for Margaret Jamieson, widow of James Moran, listed here as Margarette Jameson alias Moran. She died 12 July 1882 (her Ontario civil death record lists the cause of death as “Weakness”), and was buried at St. Michael’s RC Cemetery at Corkery, Huntley township on 14 July 1882, with her sons Thomas and Alexander Moran serving as burial witnesses:

jameson_margaret_burial_stmichaelscorkery_1882.jpg

The inverse of “[Family or Maiden Name] alias [Married Name]” is of course “[Married Name] née [Family or Maiden Name]” (which in the above case would be Moran née [born as] Jameson), which is the formulation that you will probably most often see.

Catholics in Arnprior: Which Registers to Search?

Searching the early Roman Catholic parish registers for your Ottawa Valley ancestors can be a bit confusing, at least until you get a sense of the lay of the land. Basically, if you want to find all relevant baptismal and marriage records for your family, you’re almost certainly going to have to search more than one register, and probably at least a few.
Before the formation of regular, local parishes, many Catholics in the Ottawa Valley were served by travelling missionary priests, who made periodic visits to a given village or township to perform baptisms, marriages, and less frequently, burials, and who then recorded the performance of these sacraments in any number of possible parish registers, sometimes many miles away from an ancestor’s address.