Canadian Records

1836 petition of inhabitants of Bathurst and Ottawa districts

As I mentioned in my previous post, there is now a huge amount of LAC (Library and Archives Canada) material at Canadiana.org’s Héritage website. This material includes 94 digitized microfilm reels of LAC’s Upper Canada Sundries (RG 5 A1), 1766-1841 series. Héritage describes the series as follows:

This series is part of the Civil Secretary’s Correspondence for Upper Canada and Canada West. It consists of letters, petitions, reports, returns and schedules, certificates, accounts, warrants, legal opinions, instructions and regulations, proclamations and other documents received by the Civil Secretary of Upper Canada, 1791-1841, together with copies of some documents of 1766-1809, made for reference purposes.

As every aspect of Ontario life was covered in the correspondence, there is much to offer for those interested in Ontario’s early history. There is also much material of genealogical interest: character references, land and settler petitions, family histories, licenses, pardons, requests for war losses compensation, etc.

– About the Records, Upper Canada Sundries, 1766-1841, Héritage (http://heritage.canadiana.ca/support/sundries)

The Upper Canada Sundries collection does include some finding aids, on microfilms C-9822, C-9823, C-9824, and C-9825. See the above-linked Canadiana.org page for more information on how to search the series.

And for some really good advice on how and why to search the Upper Canada Sundries, also see The Olive Tree Genealogy Blog (here, here, and here).

Did your Bytown area ancestor sign this petition?

That the cost of transmitting a Prisoner from Bytown to the Gaol at Perth is at least Five Pounds Currency, and that of 17 Prisoners confined in that Prison during the Quarter ending in September 1835, 13 were sent from Bytown.

– Petition of inhabitants of certain districts of Bathurst and Ottawa for division of their district, with Bytown as the capital of the new one, 18361

On microfilm C-6892 (images 1239-1252), there is a petition, dated [December?] 1836, of some (male) inhabitants of certain townships in the Bathurst and Ottawa districts. The petitioners were asking for the formation of a new administrative district, with Bytown as its capital, so that they would no longer have to travel to Perth, L’Original, and Cornwall to attend the King’s Bench and Quarter Sessions; and so that, as the above quote explains, they would no longer have to pay the costs of transporting prisoners from Bytown to the Perth Gaol. The Ottawa district townships are given as: Gloucester, Osgood [Osgoode], Cumberland and Russell. The Bathurst district townships are given as: Nepean, Goulburn, March, Huntly [Huntley], Torbolton, Fitzroy, Packenham [Pakenham], McNab, Horton, Ross, Westmeath and Pembroke (these last four would later become part of Renfrew County).

1836 petition inhabitants bathurst lahy

From image 1247 of C-6892. See footnote 1 for full citation.

There are hundreds of names on the 1836 petition. If you think your ancestors might have been in the Bytown area by 1836, you might want to check this document.

Here is a page with many March Township names (see image at right, and click on image to view a larger version). I have highlighted the names that are especially of interest to me: John Lahy; James Lahy; Mathew [Matthew] Daly (husband of Ellen Killeen and son-in-law of Denis Killeen); Pat Quinn (son of Catherine Lahey and her first husband Patrick Quinn); Patrick Lahy; Michal [Michael] Quin (son of Catherine Lahey and her first husband Patrick Quinn); Michael Hourigan (son of Mary Lahey and Timothy Hourigan); Daniel Lahy (second husband of Catherine Lahey); and D. [Denis] Killeen. The name at the top of this page is that of Hamnett Pinhey, a large landowner and politician, and a leading member of the local elite.

And speaking of prisoners being transported from the Bytown area to the Gaol at Perth: It’s a bit odd to see the name Michael Hourigan followed immediately by that of Daniel Lahy, knowing the similar fate that awaited these two men. In November 1837, Daniel Lahey would be killed by his brother-in-law James Lahey; in April 1841, Michael Hourigan would be killed by his brother-in-law John Kelly (see The Queen vs. Kelly). And yes, both James Lahey and John Kelly were sent from March Township to the Perth Gaol (James Lahey ended up back in March, apparently having been acquitted of the crime; John Kelly served a sentence of one year’s hard labour at the Dominion Penitentiary in Kingston).

From image 1245 of C-6892. See footnote 1 for full citation.

From image 1245 of C-6892. See footnote 1 for full citation.

What percentage of adult male inhabitants of the above-named townships can be found on this petition? I have no idea. But I’m not sure that every name is that of an adult male. At image 1245, a page with many Huntley Township names (see image at left, and click on the image to view a larger version), I see the name James Morin (James Moran), but I also see a James Mourin, a Thomas Morne and an Alexander Morne. Could these two Mornes be James’s sons Thomas Moran and Alexander Michael Moran, who were about 14 and 6 years old, respectively, in 1836? and might one of the two James Morins/Mourins refer to James’s son James Moran, who was about 12 years old at the time? I am reasonably confident that the family of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson was the only Moran family in Huntley Township at the time. I am also somewhat confident that James Moran could not sign his name: my question “Did your ancestor sign this petition?” should really be “Is your ancestor listed on this petition?”

The petition can be found at images 1239 to 1252 of microfilm C-6892; the first page of names is at image 1242. A typewritten list of these names can be found in the finding aid, Upper Canada Sundries Finding Aid C-9824, images 388-395.

On Ontario’s early districts and counties, see the online exhibit The Changing Shape of Ontario at the Archives of Ontario website. Here is Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1826; and here is Upper Canada (Ontario) in 1838.

  1.  Petition of inhabitants of certain districts of Bathurst and Ottawa for division of their district, with Bytown as the capital of the new one, December 1836, Upper Canada Sundries, RG 5 A1, vol. 173, pp. 94966-94967, LAC microfilm C-6892; database, Canadiana.org, (http://heritage.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.lac_reel_c6892: accessed 11 July 2014), images 1239-1252 of C-6892.

Early Ontario Protestant parish registers online

The partnership between Library and Archives Canada and Canadiana.org over the next ten years involves the digitization, indexing and description of millions of personal, administrative and government documents. It will triple LAC’s digital content on the Web, and allow Canadians to access tens of millions of additional images regardless of where they live, at no charge.

– Library and Archives Canada Blog, Fruits of the Library and Archives Canada and Canadiana.org partnership starting to appear online

LAC has recently added a huge pile of digitized microfilms to Canadiana.org’s Héritage website. Unfortunately, many of these record collections lack finding aids, or even brief explanations of what can be found on a reel.

There are, for example, many parish registers on these digitized microfilms. But as Ken McKinlay points out, “Unfortunately the descriptions of what is on each microfilm is very brief and usually only from the first record set … and there may be MANY record sets on a single microfilms” (“More LAC Parish Register Microfilms,” Family Tree Knots). 

Take, for example, Parish Registers: Ontario: C-3030.

The About page for this digitized microfilm contains no description beyond “Parish Registers, Ontario.”

Here is what can be found this microfilm:

  • Images 5-120: Ontario, Perth, Presbyterian Church, Register of baptisms and marriages 1817-1857
  • Images 121 – 171: Ontario Rideau Circuit Methodist Church, Register of Baptisms, 1824-1843
  • Images 175-319: Ontario, Sandwich, St. John’s Anglican, 1802-1827, Register of baptisms, marriages and burials, 1802-1827
  • Images 321- 462: Ontario, Williamstown, Presbyterian Church, Register of baptisms and marriages, 1779-1810
  • Images 464-515: Ontario, Williamstown, Presbyterian Church, Register of baptisms, marriages and burials, 1811-1817
  • Images 517- 610: Ontario, Osnabruck and Lunenberg, Presbyterian church registers, Baptisms 1852-1909, Marriages, 1860-1900, Deaths 1906-1909
  • Images 611- 726: Ontario, Eastern District, Marriage register of Church of Scotland, Lutherans, Congregationalists, Baptists, Independents, Methodists, Menonists, Tunkers, Presbyterians or Moravians, 1831-1865
  • Images 727- 1076: Ontario, Johnstown District,  Marriage register 1801-1850 [various denominations, marriages registered with the Clerk of the Peace, Johnstown District]

In other words, Parish Registers: Ontario: C-3030 contains an extremely valuable collection of late-eighteenth and nineteenth-century Protestant parish registers.

More on Signs of Catholicity

In Signs of Catholicity, I linked to a blog entry by Gilles Cayoutte of Le chercheur nomade/The Nomadic Researcher, concerning the Catholic burial of an unknown man who had drowned in the St. Lawrence. In this burial record, the priest explains that he had performed the rites of a Catholic burial for this unknown man, because the body or person of the man had displayed sufficient signs of Catholicity (des signes suffisants de catholicité).

It turns out that Gilles Cayouette has more, much more, on signs of Catholicity. In an earlier blog entry, Les registres de l’état civil et les signes de catholicité, Cayouette refers to a number of examples of Catholic burial records of unknown persons, where various signs of Catholicity (which is to say, signs of membership in the Roman Catholic Church) had been discovered, which signs were thought to warrant a Catholic burial.

Among these signs of Catholicity:

  • un chapelet (a rosary)
  • une croix ou un crucifix (a cross or a crucifix) 
  • un scapulaire (a scapular)
  • un livre de prières (a prayer book)

I have no doubt that, when someone entered the home, however humble, of a 19th-century Catholic family, that someone could find evidence of Catholicism. But how many 19th-century Catholics carried with them, on their own persons, and at all times, at least one or more “signs of Catholicity,” such that, were they found dead, and the body unidentified, someone could make a confident judgement of “Roman Catholic”?

It is an interesting question, I think.

Signs of Catholicity?

One of my favourite genealogy blogs is Gilles Cayoutte’s Le chercheur nomade/The Nomadic Researcher. I cannot remember how I first found this blog, but it must have been while google-searching for something related to Quebec RC parish registers. Gilles Cayoutte mostly posts examples of records from (mostly Roman Catholic) Quebec parish registers; and he has a talent for finding quirky records: records where there is something a little bit unusual or unexpected, or perhaps something that is unusually poignant.

Taken as a whole, the blog demonstrates just how much information can be gleaned from close attention to the church records. But its most intriguing examples often raise more questions than answers.

For example, here’s one that caught my eye: the burial (22 April 1845, parish of L’Assomption de Berthier) of an unknown man who had drowned in the Saint Lawrence River/le fleuve Saint-Laurent. The priest writes that he had buried the body of an unknown person, of the masculine sex (le corps d’une personne inconnue, du sexe masculin) in the parish cemetery, and he notes that the body displayed sufficient signs of Catholicity (des signes suffisants de catholicité) to warrant a Catholic church burial.

Sufficient signs of Catholicity!? Well, unless the poor man was found with a crucifix around his neck, I’m at a loss to account for such signs. My guess is that he looked more French-Canadian than Anglo- (perhaps because of clothing? or some other marker of occupation that was associated with French-Canadians?)

Le chercheur nomade/The Nomadic Researcher is written in French, but Cayoutte always posts a brief summary of each entry in English.

Occupation: Married Woman (Canada Voters Lists, 1935-1980)

During the 1930s Alex and Annie operated a small grocery shop in their home on Armstrong St. In the depths of the depression my father, who was a railroader, got very little work and we were often short of cash. At those times our credit was good and we could always get the essentials at the Morans. There were lots of card games and visits to and fro. Uncle Alex was also a fiddle player and he and Aunt Em Delaney played for dancing and entertainment.

– Emmett Patrick Sloan, Memories of the Morans (2007)

Ancestry.ca has an extremely useful database of voters lists: “Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980.” These lists can be used as a census substitute of sorts, although of course they only include adult citizens (age 21 and over until 1970, at which point the voting age was lowered to 18). They can help to discover and/or verify addresses, and they may also provide some useful information on occupations.

But as with the Canadian census (and the US federal census, for that matter, and the UK census too), these voters lists tend to erase evidence of occupation for married women. Well, perhaps “erase” is too strong a term? it suggests an act of commission, when what we are dealing with, arguably, is an act of omission.

My great-grandparents Alex (Alexander Michael) and Annie (Anna Maria Benton) Moran had a grocery store, a small “mom-and-pop” operation at the front of their  house on Armstrong St. Here they are in the 1935 List of Electors (Victoria Ward, City of Ottawa), with my grandparents Allan Jerome Moran and Mary Catherine Lahey (here listed as Mrs Allan [W] [= Wife], married woman) listed just below:

Alexander Moran, Carleton, Ontario, 1935. Ancestry.ca: database online. Original: Library and Archives Canada; Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; Voters Lists, Federal Elections, 1935-1980; Reel: M-4739.

Notice how Alex and Annie’s “mom-and-pop” operation has become a “pop” operation in this document: Moran, Alexander is listed as a “grocery store proprietor,” while his wife Annie (Mrs Alexander, [W] [= Wife]) is given the occupational designation of “married woman.”

Heritage Passages: Rideau Canal history

A new online exhibit

If you have Irish ancestors who were in the Bytown (Ottawa) area by the late 1820s, you should certainly check the McCabe List (which I wrote about in this entry).

And if you’re lucky enough to discover an ancestor on the McCabe List,1 you may want to learn more about the Rideau Canal and its construction.

Heritage Passages: Bytown and the Rideau Canal is an online interactive exhibit which presents the history of Bytown “from the arrival of Colonel John By in 1826 to the incorporation of the City of Ottawa in 1855.” The site makes use of extensive archival materials to explore the social, cultural, economic and political dimensions of the construction of the Bytown Locks, organizing its material under such headings as Military, Disease, Labour, and Community.

The section on Disease includes some fascinating material on malaria (which was known as ague, swamp fever, and lake fever). Malaria is now extremely rare in Canada and the United States, and most people now see it as an exclusively tropical disease. But during the construction of the Rideau Canal, malarial outbreaks were common, and the disease killed hundreds of men, women, and children. Even Colonel By himself contracted malaria! The malaria section includes “A Personal Account of Malaria” from John McTaggart’s
Three years in Canada (1829).

The section on Community explores some of the tensions between different groups (French, English, Scottish, and Irish), whose political, economic, and religious rivalries could sometimes erupt into violent clashes. See, for example, the subsections on Brawling Bytown, Lawlessness, and Conflict and Struggle — early Bytown was a very different place from the staid and peaceful Ottawa that it would become. Not surprisingly, “it was the impoverished working-class Irish who were generally held responsible for the disruption of the peace, though it is uncertain whether such accusations were based on fact or on negative cultural stereotypes.” It should be noted that the worst period of violence (1835 to 1845) came after the construction of the Rideau Canal, when unemployed Irish vied with French Canadians for jobs in the timber trade.

Heritage Passages: Bytown and the Rideau Canal is a great example of how the internet can be used to offer a deeply sourced and multilayered form of public history.  

  1. I say “lucky” because to discover an ancestor on the McCabe List is, in most cases, to find the Holy Grail of Irish genealogy, at least for that ancestor and his family: you will get the name of a county and a parish, and perhaps also the name of a town or townland within that parish.

Currie/Curry or Corry, from Fermanagh to the Ottawa Valley

A reader is looking for information on a family who emigrated from Co. Fermanagh, Ireland to the Ottawa Valley in the early- to mid-19th century. The family name was Currie/Curry or Corry, and the forenames were Patrick, Frank, Thomas, and Christopher. They apparently left Ireland with the Lunney family who settled at Pakenham (Lanark Co., Ontario).

The Lunneys were in Canada by the mid-1830s: on 24 January 1836 (Notre Dame, Bytown/Ottawa), Edward Joseph Lunney (son of Patrick Lunney and Rose Reilly) married Johanna Mantle (daughter of John Mantle and Ellen Hourigan).

Any information on this Currie/Curry/Corry family of Fermanagh would be much appreciated.

Scarlet fever deaths in March Township, 1870-1871

You know you’re a census geek when you find yourself reading the “Nominal Return(s) of Deaths” from the Canadian census returns.

The “Nominal Return of the Deaths within the last twelve months” (1871 Census of Canada, Ontario, Carleton County, Township of March) for the Township of March records twenty deaths in the township for the period roughly covering April 1870 to April 1871 (census enumeration officially began on 2 April, 1871, and the schedule of deaths was to cover the past twelve months).

Of these twenty recorded deaths, I count three adults, and seventeen children.

I am counting James “Houricane” [= James Hourigan, son of Thomas Hourigan and Mary Moran] as an adult, though he was only eighteen years of age when he died, in October 1870, apparently of “Inflammation on the Lungs.” In oral family history, as recorded, for example, by Peter Alexander (“Alec”) Lunney (see “‘My Maternal Ancestors,’ by Alec Lunney”), James Hourigan’s death has been attributed to the Great Fire of 1870. While his death did not occur on the night (the night of August 17, 1870, that is) of the Great Fire, perhaps his “Inflammation on the Lungs” was a result of injuries sustained through exposure to the fire? Or did James Hourigan’s untimely death, coming so soon after the dramatic event of the Great Fire, get mixed in with accounts of the fire, so that it was (mistakenly or confusedly) handed down as a result of that fire, when it was the result of some other cause entirely?

Three of the deaths (one adult, with two of his children) were undoubtedly the tragic result of the Great Fire of 1870. John Hogan, aged 35, and his sons John (aged 9) and Richard (aged two months) were “Burnt to death on the night of the great fire of the 17 of August.” A ghastly incident. I’m sure I have come across an account of John Hogan’s desperate, and unsuccessful, attempt to save his two young sons — in a local history, perhaps? At the moment, I cannot remember where.

In addition to James Hourigan and John Hogan, the other adult death was that of Mary Williams, who died of “Dropsy” in June 1870, at the age of 33. 1

Nominal return of deaths in March township

Nominal return of deaths in March township

So: three adult deaths, at least one of them the result of Great Fire of 1870 (but possibly two, if James Hourigan’s “Inflammation on the Lungs” was fire-related), and two childhood deaths also the horrible outcome of that fire. The remaining fifteen deaths were those of children, several of them infants, and most of them very young.

A Michael (here given as “Michel”) Moran died of “infantile debility” at the age of one month (no connection to my Morans of Huntley Township that I know of, by the way).

At least eight of the children died of scarlet fever (or “Scarlet Feaver,” as written above). And some of the deaths are not attributed to any recorded cause: for “Disease, or other cause of Death,” there is just a blank, with no information supplied. But some of these blanks immediately follow upon ditto marks for the cause of “Scarlet Feaver” — perhaps more ditto marks were implied, so that even more of the deaths were the result of scarlet fever? In any case, of the fifteen childhood deaths that can presumably be attributed to childhood illness (and not to the dreadful calamity of the Great Fire), over half (at least eight) were reportedly the result of scarlet fever.

Scarlet fever (a highly contagious bacterial infection) was once a horrible scourge, but thankfully is no longer: “once a very serious childhood disease,” it is now “easily treatable” by antibiotics.

So many childhood illnesses that used to run rampant, unchallenged and unchecked, through villages and towns and communities, and carry off too many infants and children in their wake: now readily treated, or easily prevented through vaccination.

  1. On “dropsy” (= excess fluid buildup) as a “symptom rather than a cause of a disease,” see “Dropsy, and Researching Other Archaic Medical Terms” at Kim Smith’s Dead and Gone.

Researching a Canadian Soldier of World War I

If you’re researching an ancestor who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War, two posts by Ken McKinlay (Family Tree Knots) are well worth consulting: “Resources for ‘A Soldier of the Great War: A Research Case Study’”  and “They Served Canada But I Want to Know More.”

Via Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.