M.C. Moran

Meetcha for lunch?

“Meetcha for lunch?”

I used to work at a bookstore at the corner of Bank and Slater. Corner of Bank and Sparks is where I used to meet my father for lunch. And it was just a given that we’d first go to St. Pat’s Basilica (corner of Kent and Gloucester) for the lunchtime quickie Mass (22 minutes, tops: the lunchtime ecclesiastical special!). And then we’d find a chip wagon, or maybe go out for falafel.

What’s a little bit odd, or perhaps just a little bit noteworthy, is that it didn’t seem strange to me at all that before you go for food, you go to Mass. It’s a Catholic thing, I suppose. My father had a sentimental attachment to St. Patrick’s, and for very good reasons, no doubt: the very first record of a marriage in the register for St. Patrick’s is that of his great-grandparents John Lahey and Margaret Jane Killeen. “We were there,” as the current approach to history as imaginative presence would have it; or, at least, our ancestors were there.

My father, Ottawa born and bred, knew the city like the back of his hand. How I wish he could take me on just one more lunchtime tour! after Mass at St. Pat’s, of course, and then maybe we’d head south down Elgin St., or perhaps due west down Wellington.

Ireland-to-Canada emigration: from which port?

According to historian Timothy J. Meagher (The Columbia Guide to Irish American History), Liverpool was the point of departure for the vast majority of Irish emigrants to both Canada and the United States, at least during the Famine period:

Even most of the Irish bound for North America, however, first went through Britain, more specifically Liverpool. By the mid-1840s, over 90 percent of the Irish going to Canada or the United States went through Liverpool and over one million Irish passed through the city between 1847 and 1853.1

And how did these Irish emigrants get from Ireland to Liverpool, before embarking on their journey to the New World? By steam ferry, before crossing the Atlantic by sail. “It was not an easy trip,” writes Meagher. Indeed.

Was Liverpool the main point of departure to North America for pre-Famine Irish emgrants to Canada? This I do not know (but I suspect Liverpool was also an important port for Ireland-to-Canada emigrants from the 1820s to the early 1840s).

  1.  Timothy J. Meagher, The Columbia Guide to Irish American History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 75.

Slow-to-no blogging for the next month or so

So many half-finished drafts of blog entries (about 5 or 6, I guess), so little time. And, eh, I just noticed that I didn’t post anything at all for the month of August. And I am very much behind in replying to emails and feedback posts. No excuses, just apologies.

Currently feeling a bit swamped by teaching and by other writing projects. Hope to get back to the blog in October.

Go west (and then north), young man

dad frobisher bay

(Click on the above image to see a larger version of the .jpeg file).

My dad, John Alexander Moran (right) at Frobisher Bay, late 1950s.

He said that he just went out west, presented himself to the office of the geological survey, and they hired him — by telling him to buy several items, including these boots and jacket, and then to come back for transport.

Best blog pseudonym ever

Pierre_François_Xavier_Charlevoix

Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix (1682-1761), French Jesuit traveller and historian. Wikipedia Commons.

P.-F-X., for Pierre François-Xavier de Charlevoix (1682-1761), blogs at Charlevoix: Blogue de la Nouvelle-France – A Blog About New France.

Pierre François-Xavier de Charlevoix was an eighteenth-century Jesuit priest, voyageur, teacher, and historian who is best remembered for his Histoire et description générale de la Nouvelle France (1744). He is considered one of the first historians of New France.

It’s great to see him circulating in the twenty-first-century blogosphere!

Link

Canadian historical newspapers online: a great collection of links at Kenneth R. Marks’ The Ancestor Hunt.

French Canadian “dit” names

Here is ancestry.ca’s record listing for the baptism of Marie Cleophie [Cléophée] Cheval, daughter of Joseph Cheval and Marie Louise Goneau:

marie cleophee chevalditstjacques baptism

And here is ancestry.ca’s record listing for the marriage of Cleophes [Marie Cléophée] Cheval to Pierre Dubeau, son of Pierre Dubeau and Louise Poirier dit Desloges:

marie cleophee chevalditstjacques marriage

Note that an ancestry.ca user has supplied a correction to “Cleophes Cheval,” and that this corrected name of “Marie-Cléophée Cheval” is included in ancestry’s search results. Never a bad idea to submit a correction, if you’re reasonably certain that your information is more accurate than what is currently listed at ancestry.

And here, finally, is ancestry.ca’s record listing for the burial of Cleophee [Marie Cléophée] St Jacques:

marie cleophee chevalditstjacques burial

marie cleophee chevalditstjacques burial textThe actual burial record1 (see image at right, and click on the image to view a larger version) identifies her as “Cléophée St Jacques wife of Pierre Dubeau.” What happened to the surname Cheval? and where did that surname St. Jacques come from?

If you didn’t know anything about French Canadian “dit” names, and if you also didn’t know much about Catholic record-keeping, you might assume that the priest had omitted the surname Cheval because the deceased woman was identified by the name of her husband; and you might further assume that St. Jacques was the surname of a previous husband (previous to Pierre Dubeau, that is). But of course both of those assumptions would be wrong.

For Catholic records, the standard practice was/is to identify women by their family (or maiden) names — which is one of the reasons why Roman Catholic parish records are so extremely valuable to genealogical researchers.

And the reason why Marie Cléophée Cheval was also known as Marie Cléophée St Jacques is that she carried a surname with a “dit” name: Cheval dit St. Jacques.

More on “dit” names

French-Canadian “dit” names are a fascinating, often charming, and potentially highly informative naming practice that can certainly make your record search more complicated. Was your ancestor’s name recorded as Cheval dit St. Jacques, for example? or as just Cheval? or perhaps as just St. Jacques?

If your search for a French-Canadian ancestor is coming up cold, you should consider the possibility that your ancestor had a “dit” name by which he or she was also known or called. (The “dit” of French and French-Canadian dit names means “called,” but in English would have the connotation of “also called,” or “also known as.”)

Fortunately, there is a fair bit of information on “dit” names on the internet. See, especially, the American-French Genealogy Society’s collection of French-Canadian surname variants, dit names, and anglicizations.

I also recommend “The nicknames and ‘dit names’ of French-Canadian ancestors,” at the Library and Archives Canada Blog.

  1.  Ste. Elizabeth (Vinton, Pontiac Co., Québec), Register of Births, Marriages and Burials, 1875-1882, Sepult. Cléophée St Jacques, image 26 of 54: database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 26 July 2014), Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.

GRO Indexes now temporarily unavailable

A few weeks ago, I posted a link to the GRO Indexes at IrishGenealogy.ie. And a week or two after that post, the indexes became “temporarily unavailable.” There is no indication, yet, of when they will be back online.

Update:

And it looks like “temporarily” is going to mean “for a very long time.” Apparently the website had to be taken down because it included information not only on dead people, but also on living individuals. See Claire Santry’s Privacy concerns close civil registration indexes site” and Chris Paton’s “RIP: GRO Ireland’s credibility (2014-2014)”.