M.C. Moran

First Man Born in the Township [of March]? (Patrick Killeen/Killean)

As noted in an earlier entry (“Where Was Patrick Killeen Born?”), different sources give a different birthplace for Patrick Killeen (1820-1890), son of Denis Killeen and Mary Ahearn. While his Ontario civil death registration lists his birthplace as Ireland, several other sources (including the Canadian census returns of 1851 and 18611) give his place of birth as Canada. Most interestingly, in a history of Ottawa published in 1927, A.H.D. Ross wrote that “the first white child born in the Township of March was Patrick Killean, whose father, Denis Killean, was in Captain Monk’s employ.”2

The Ottawa Journal, Friday, 22 July 1887, p. 4.

The Ottawa Journal, Friday, 22 July 1887, p. 4.

Here is another source which claims that Patrick Killeen/Killean was “the first man born in the township [of March].”

It is an item published in The Ottawa Journal (Friday, 22 July 1887), with little tidbits of news (note the emphasis on agricultural news) from South March:

Mr. Patrick Killean, who is now sixty-eight years of age, and the first man born in the township, has forked over forty tons of hay this season for Mr. Boucher, and Paddy is just as fresh as ever.

So does this mean that I can conclude with absolute certainty that my great-great-grandfather was born in Canada, in the township of March? No, not really. Not without a baptismal record (a civil birth record will not exist, since civil registration, both in Ireland and in Ontario, Canada, did not begin until decades after his birth). But it certainly offers convincing evidence that Patrick Killeen himself understood himself to have been born in March township (and I’m pretty sure, though not absolutely certain, that he was right about this).

  1. I have not yet found Patrick Killeen in the 1871 and 1881 Canadian census returns.
  2.  A.H.D. Ross, Ottawa: Past and Present (Ottawa: Thorborn & Abbott, 1927), p. 39. Ross may have been relying on Mrs. M.H. Ahearn, “The Settlers of March Township,” Ontario Historical Society, Papers and Records, vol. 3 (Toronto: 1901; reprint, Millwood, New York: Kraus Reprint Co., 1975), pp. 98-99.

Aside

Ancestry.ca is currently reporting “11 days til’ 1921!” I take it this means 11 days until the 1921 Census is indexed and searchable by name.

Da’s Rosary

So I was diving off the raft at the McConnell place, up at Little Cedar Lake (Lac aux Cèdres, en français, near Maniwaki, and God sue me, people, but I’m too lazy to look up the French html accent codes) when I thought I saw my cousin Michael on the shore. Michael, who was supposed to be in Ottawa, so of course I already knew. I was 11 years old at the time. I swam to shore, and “It’s Da,” said Michael, but of course I already knew. I kicked a stone with my bare foot, and I was glad to feel that it hurt, because nothing could ever hurt me again like Da leaving me like that.

He was not demonstrative, was not Da; he was quite canny and cagey in his loyalties and affections. But once when I was very, very young and he had had a few and was playing his fiddle, I was his girl.  His “wee darlin'” he once called me when I was four or five years old, and this I still remember.

He died at St. Patrick’s Home on Riverside Dr. in Ottawa, which I’ve only recently realized was meant as “a House of Refuge for the Irish Poor,” which was run by the Grey Sisters.  But I guess I always knew what it meant, even when I was very young.

There was this old man Sammy at St. Pat’s, who used to shuffle down the hall toward us, and  my sisters and I, we felt embarrassed to see him, with the unthinking conceit of the very young; but our father said, “Have a bit of decency!” He was an old man, was Sammy, and his parents off the boat from Galway or Mayo or one of those places, and then who knows how or why he ended up at this “House of Refuge”?  He used to reach out toward us with this ghastly grin on his face, and offer us some humbugs.

The smell of stale tobacco, and of humbug candy that had first softened and then hardened into a faintly acrid but cloyingly sweet aroma. A musty old missal, well-thumbed, and Da’s rosary, of jet-black beads that I thought of as so masculine when I was so very young.  A man’s beads.  There is nothing like that in the world anymore, where religiosity is now coded as feminine.

“She’s got a good head on her shoulders,” my grandfather once conceded of me, and higher praise I’m sure I will never know.

It is a true sorrow to grow old and die, because you have to leave the ones you love; but better to have a grandchild who refuses to forget you than to be consigned to the dustbins of history, surely?

The face of Sammy shuffling down the corridor, and the jet-black beads of my grandfather’s rosary.

Catherine Frances McGlade, age 2

Or probably not quite 2 years old. My mother was born 10 October 1939, and I’m guessing this photo was taken in the summer of 1941. So she would have been about 21 or 22 months old here.

This photograph was taken at Mississippi Lake, Carleton Place, Lanark County, Ontario, where my mother’s family had a summer cottage.

My mother Catherine Frances [McGlade] Moran (10 October 1939 – 22 December 2012), with my maternal grandmother Delia Lucie [Derouin] McGlade (18 July 1902 – 13 January 1999):

Delia Lucie Derouin (1902-1999)  with Catherine Frances McGlade (1939-2012)

Delia Lucie Derouin (1902-1999) with Catherine Frances McGlade (1939-2012)

My mother was the youngest of six children, all born between April 1932 and October 1939. So my grandmother, pictured above in 1941, gave birth to 6 children in the space of 7.5 years! No twins; no multiple births. She was a force of nature, was Nana Dee. And she lived to be 96.5 years. Sadly, my mother did not enjoy the kind of longevity that her own mother had achieved. She died at the age of 73, of a particularly virulent form of (invasive lobular) breast cancer.

John Alexander Moran, age 15

John Alexander Moran, 6 September 1934 — 14 March 2013

My father at age 15.

I believe this photo was taken in the Gatineaus. My grandfather worked for the Gatineau Power Company; and for at least a couple of years, when my dad was a teenager, the family lived in company housing in the Gatineau region. “But how did you get to school?” I once asked my father (I knew he had gone to school in Ottawa, at St. Patrick’s College [which was a high school, btw]).  “Oh, I got there,” he replied. “But how?” I persisted. My dad claimed he used to hitchhike.

John Alexander Moran, age 15

John Alexander Moran, age 15

The romance of my father’s childhood: the strictness of the adults (parents, priests, and various other guardians and caretakers), combined with the freedom they accorded him (‘you hitchhiked to school?!’). As a child, I was fascinated by this apparently paradoxical mixture of repression and liberty (which was typical of a working-class Irish Catholic upbringing in the 1930s and 1940s, I’m pretty sure): the strictness sounded like something from another era, but so too did the freedom. And my father’s memories of his childhood, as recounted by him to me and my sisters, are now a part of the memories of my own childhood.

When it comes to family history research, I’m all about evidence-based standards of genealogy (exhaustive searches; careful assessment of sources; accurate citation; and so on and so forth). But it’s the romance of the family stories that led me to the research in the first place.

Research Tip of the Day (Oral History Interviews)

If you read genealogy ‘how-to’ books, ‘researching your family history’ guidebooks, advice for oral historians, and so on and so forth, you’ve no doubt already come across this very obvious, but very important, piece of advice. But the advice (or admonition) is so important, I believe (and I speak from bitter, regretful experience), that I think it bears repeating:

Don’t wait.

Don’t wait too long; don’t save it for a rainy day; don’t wait until it’s too late to conduct an oral history interview with an elderly relation who might (and who almost certainly will, if you listen carefully) supply valuable information; colourful anecdotes; or just a sense of the ‘pastness’ of your family’s past. Do it now. Or, if you cannot do it now, do it tomorrow. And perhaps you should have done it the day before yesterday? (Believe you me, I speak from bitter, regret-filled experience).

Do not wait.

Don’t think, ‘Well, I really should interview Aunt Mildred one of these days,’ and then put it off until some point in the distant, seemingly infinite and limitless future. Yes, Aunt Mildred at age 86 seems as hale and hearty as a woman half her age, and has been known to drink a much younger man under the table. She’s a real force of nature, is Aunt Mildred, and such a character! I really should try to interview her one of these days.

Don’t wait. Do not wait until “one of these days” is a day late, and a dollar short.

Your elderly aunt, however impressively sturdy and young for her age, is but mortal, after all, and her time on this earth is finite and limited. Call Aunt Mildred today, or at least tomorrow morning, to set up an interview. Don’t risk depriving yourself (and your family) of the information and the insights that your aunt might have to offer; don’t risk depriving Aunt Mildred of the chance to reminisce, and to regale you with stories of times past, or perhaps to finally set the record straight. Do not wait to talk to Aunt Mildred. Talk to her now, or tomorrow morning, or perhaps the day before yesterday.

(The above example of “Aunt Mildred” is almost [almost!] entirely fictional, and devised for illustrative purposes only [or almost only, at any rate]. When I get a chance, I will post about an actual, real-world example of the ‘don’t wait’ approach to oral history interviews. In this, I will speak from experience).

 

The 1921 Census of Canada

is finally available, though not yet indexed by name.

It is now available free of charge at ancestry.ca (but without index by name, so you need to know where your ancestors lived in order to readily find them). According  to John Reid of Anglo-Celtic Connections (who always has the latest scoop on anything related to the LAC), it will be available at ancestry.ca with “a geographic index only,” but “Ancestry [ancestry.ca] is working on a name index to be available to their subscribers this fall, and made freely through LAC after three years.”