Migration

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.

Fitzgerald, from Ireland to Hastings Co., Ontario

A reader is looking for information on William Fitzgerald (born in Ireland about 1816) and his wife Ellen (born in Ireland about 1813). The couple emigrated from Ireland, and came to Hastings Co., Ontario in 1843. One of their sons, John Fitzgerald, married Mary Ann Hickey in 1864. Many of the family are buried at St. Ignatius R.C. Cemetery in Maynooth, McClure Township, Hastings Co., Ontario.

Any information would be greatly appreciated.

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.

A 9-year-old boy who died “of the disease of Irish emigrants”

This was posted on Facebook, by the Institut généalogique Drouin (but the screencap below is from ancestry.ca: Quebec, Vital and Church Records [Drouin Collection], 1621-1967). It is the burial record for a nine-year-old boy named Henry Gill, “décédé de la maladie des émigrés irlandais” ([who] died of the disease of Irish emigrants):

Burial record for Henry, 17 September 1847, St-Louis de Lotbinière, Québec.

Burial record for Henry Gill, 17 September 1847, St-Louis de Lotbinière, Québec.

“La maladie des émigrés irlandais” (the malady, or disease, of Irish emigrants) was, of course, the dreaded typhus. For a brief account of the typhus epidemic of 1847, see History – 1847: A tragic year at Grosse Île (Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada).

The priest did not have the names of the boy’s parents (“fils legitime d’un père et d’une mère d’ont nous n’avons pas avoir les noms”/”legitimate son of a father and a mother for whom we have not acquired the names”), but he noted that Henry Gill was the brother of Patrick and of Catherine Gill. A commenter at Facebook notes that Henry Gill and his siblings Patrick and Catherine were the children of John Gill and Mary Lynch, and links to a database of Les orphelins irlandais arrivés à Grosse-Île en 1847-48 (Irish orphans who arrived at Grosse Île in 1847-48), where the Gill children can be found at Reg. Nos. 176, 178, and 177.

Kind of amazing to see these records online, and to see people commenting, and cross-referencing, and cross-linking to other records and databases.

Parents of James Edward Sullivan?

James Edward Sullivan was born about 1866, apparently at or near Potsdam, St. Lawrence County, New York. He died in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada on 7 February 1931.

His Ontario civil death record records his birthplace as Potsdam, NY, and lists his parents as Jeremiah Sullivan, birthplace Ireland, and Ellen Sullivan, birthplace Ireland.1

At some point in his early life (childhood? adolescence? early adulthood?) James Edward Sullivan migrated west, to East Grand Forks, Polk Co., Minnesota. Here he met Anna (“Annie”) Moran, a daughter of Alexander Michael Moran and Mary Ann Leavy, and one of the six of their twelve children who moved from Huntley township, Carleton Co., Ontario to the Grand Forks area (Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota) in the late 1870s to early 1890s. James Edward Sullivan and Annie Moran married in Polk County, Minnesota on 26 June 1894; and the first two of their five children (Henry Joseph Sullivan [1895-1952] and Charles Alexander Sullivan [1896-1949]) were born in Minnesota.

  1. Was Sullivan both her maiden name and her married name? or was it, as I suspect, only her married name?

Peter Robinson Settlers in Huntley township

Peter Robinson settlers in Huntley township, Carleton County, Ontario [Upper Canada], 1834. The names below can be found on the passenger lists for the Hebe and the Stakesby (from Cork to Quebec, 1823).

Transcribed from:

Return of a portion of the Irish Emigrants located in the Bathurst District in 1823 and 1825, by Peter Robinson Esqr, and who are now entitled to receive their Deeds, the lots having been inspected by Francis K. Jessup in 1834.1.

Township of Huntley:

NameHalfLotCon
NameHalfLotCon
James FORRESTWest2011
William WELCHEast2011
Timothy FORRESTWest2111
Timothy KENNEDYEast2111
Charles SULLIVANWest2311
Jeffery DONOGHUEEast1510
James WHITEEast1710
Michael CRONINWest1810
James ALLANEast1910
John KENNEDYWest1910
John KEEFEWest1910
William GREGGWest169
William WHITEWest209
James MANTLE2710
Thomas BOYLEN.W. 4 [quarter] 24 10
S.W. 4 [quarter]2510
Thomas BRISTNAHAN Senr.West219
Thomas BRISTNAHAN Jnr.East2010
  1. Upper Canada Land Petitions 1835, RG 1, L 3, vol. 435, R Bundle 19, petition 23c: microfilm C-2746

Upper Canada Land Petitions Online

I can’t believe these documents are now online (and have been online for a couple of months, apparently — John Reid posted about this on 14 January 2012). Not just the index to the petitions (which index was put online around September 2010, I believe), but now the digitized images of the petitions themselves. 327 microfilms (over 82,000 entries, and thousands upon thousands of pages of text), now readily available to anyone with an internet connection.

Two of my direct ancestors (both 3x-great-grandfathers) can be found on the same page, three lines from the top and five lines from the top, respectively (click image below to see larger version):

  1. Denis Killeen, Irish Emt [Emigrant], Township of March, Concession 3rd, S.E. [Southeast] 1/2 of Lot 11, 100 acres.
  2. James Morin [Moran], Irish Emt [Emigrant], Township of Huntley, Concession 1st, N.W. [Northwest] 1/2 of Lot 11, 100 acres.

Upper Canada Land Petitions, Perth Military Settlement (RG 1, L 3, Vol. 421), Microfilm C-2739, Petition 70, p. 70h.

Actually, perhaps my above “readily available” was a tad hyperbolic.

Irish (also English and Scottish) Origins, Canadian Sources: William Pigott’s enumeration of Fitzroy township (1851)

Here are my Moran ancestors in the 1851 census of Huntley township, Carleton County, Ontario (Canada West):

James Morin household, 1851 census of Canada West (Ontario), Carleton County, Huntley, p. 85, lines 44-50.

James Moran (here Morin), Farmer, born Ireland, religion R. [Roman] Catholic, age 54 at next birthday; with wife Margaret [Jamieson], also born Ireland; and children Thos [Thomas], James,1 Mary, Margaret and Alexander (my 2x great-grandfather, who married Mary Ann Leavy), all born Upper Canada.

Place of birth “Ireland” (no Irish county specified) for Irish emigrants to Canada is pretty much the standard for the 1851 (and 1861, 1871, and so on) Canadian census enumeration.

  1. James Moran, son of James and Margaret Jamieson, had recently died, at the age of 27. His death is listed under column 30 (Deaths during year 1851), with cause of death recorded as “collara” (cholera).

Co. Armagh, Ireland to Leeds Co., Ontario, Canada: Some RC Marriage Records

Looking at a run of marriages recorded from 1852 to 1858 in the parish register for St. Edward’s Roman Catholic Church, Westport, Leeds Co., Ontario, the Armagh presence in North Crosby (Co. Leeds, Ontario) is very much in evidence. Of the six marriages recorded for the year 1852, for example, five of the six identify either the bride or the groom (or both the bride and groom) with a native parish in Armagh. The most frequently cited Armagh parish is that of Forkhill.1

Many of the names below can be found in Kevin Murphy and Una Walsh, A Famine Link: The ‘Hannah’ — South Armagh to Ontario (Mullaghbane Community Association, 2006). Some of the names can also be found in the township map of North Crosby (from  Leavitt, Thadeus W. H. History of Leeds and Grenville, Ontario [Brockville : Recorder Press, 1879]), available online via the Canadian County Atlas Digital Project (McGill University). Also see this Westport, Ontario, Canada page at Bytown or Bust.

I have only included marriages where one or both parties are identified with Co. Armagh. Other Irish counties cited in the marriage register for St. Edward’s, Westport (for the same period: 1852-1858) include Cavan, Clare, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Louth, Mayo, and Wexford.

  1. Note that Forkill/Forkhill is a civil parish. The corresponding Roman Catholic parish is that of Mullaghbawn.