My father’s family tree. With maple leaf icons for those born in Canada, shamrock icons for those born in Ireland:
Credits: All papers and elements from TheShabbyShoppe. Font: Mrs Eaves.
View the Family History Scrapbook.
“Could you look up Mary Hogan?” asked my dad’s cousin Aggie. “I think she may have been,” and this added sotto voce, as if, even after so many years, there might yet be something to hide, “a Home Girl.”1
A Home Girl?
At the time, I knew next to nothing about the Home Child movement, the child emigration scheme which saw over 100,000 children sent from Britain to Canada between 1869 and 1930. And yet, I must have already encountered the term somewhere, because the “Home Girl” designation immediately made some sort of sense to me. I imagined an orphan: an orphan from England? (though Hogan is an Irish surname, obviously, and from the description provided by my father and his cousin Aggie, Mary Hogan certainly sounded Irish).2
Well, I had heard of the “Barnado Boys,” of course. Indeed, I had no doubt first encountered the term as a young girl, when I avidly devoured Lucy Maud Montgomery’s series about Canada’s most beloved (though fictional!) orphan girl ever. As a childhood devotee of “Anne with an e,” I had read of Marilla Cuthbert drawing a line in the sand at the thought of a Barnardo Boy, or, in a phrase which captures the casual racism of the time, a “London street Arab.”3
My father and his cousin recalled Mary Hogan from their childhood as a somewhat elderly and somewhat eccentric fixture on the Burke family farm: not quite a blood relation, perhaps, but no mere “hired girl,” either, and “almost family” through affinity and through sheer length of tenure: apparently she had been with the Laheys and the Burkes since forever.
Well, since at least as far back as 1891, at any rate…
…Let’s have a bloody good cry.
And always remember: the longer you live,
The sooner you bloody well die.
My dad, dying of cancer, singing “Isn’t It Grand, Boys.”
They broke the mold.
My dad loved life; and family; and food; and drink; and song: he loved life, he loved it all.
He had a big heart. And he loved life: he loved it all.
As a younger man, when he was hale and hearty, he had a beautiful singing voice too. And he knew so many songs!
He taught us some of the old Irish ballads, and some of the newer Irish tunes too (yes, I can sing ‘The Dutchman’ from start to finish, without a cheat sheet: thanks, Dad!), and some Canadian folk songs, and a couple of dear old French Canadian numbers, as well. He taught us to always have a ‘party piece’ or two with which to entertain the company.
Here his voice had weakened, and he couldn’t remember all the lyrics, so my sister got the lyrics up through google, but he had trouble reading them from the screen. But as sick as he was here, he was game, he was ready to sing, and still his voice rings true.
When I get a chance (which won’t be until after Christmas), I’m going to post an entry about searching the Tithe Applotment Books for various ancestors. I think I have found my Lahey ancestors, for example, who emigrated to Upper Canada from Killycross Upper, Ballymacegan, Lorrha, Tipperary.
But for now, just a brief post to note that the Tithe Applotment Books (one of the most important census substitutes for Irish genealogy) are available online at two different locations:
The National Archives of Ireland’s The Tithe Applotment Books: About the Records is well worth reading.
And as Goad’s Insurance Plan of the City of Ottawa makes clear (click thumbnail preview, left, to see larger image), she grew up almost in the backyard of St. Patrick’s (then a church, now a basilica), at the corner of Kent and Nepean Streets.
Now, in this particular instance, I didn’t need a map to tell me that my grandmother had lived near St. Pat’s: having grown up in Ottawa, and having attended Mass at St. Patrick’s many times as a kid,2 I already knew that Gloucester between Kent and Lyon was very close to the corner of Kent and Nepean. But the fire insurance map provides a striking visual representation of the proximity of her wooden frame house at 308 Gloucester to the stone church at 281 Nepean.
When I wrote Part I of “The Queen vs. Kelly,” I had no idea what had happened to John Kelly after his release from the Dominion Penitentiary in May 1842. Nor did I have any expectation of finding him, once I had determined that he did not return to March township.
According to family lore, he had “gone to the States,” which certainly didn’t sound too promising. The States covers a vast territory, of course, and with a common surname like Kelly, and the even commoner forenames of John, Mary (his wife) and Ann (his daughter), searching for this family seemed like looking for a needle in a haystack. I did do a search of the 19th-century US federal census returns, but (not surprisingly, as it turns out) came up with nothing.1
It was while searching for another record (unrelated to the Kellys and the Hourigans, as a matter of fact) in the parish register for the Mission at Mattawa that I happened upon the burial record for Mary Hourigan, who was buried as “Mary Horrigan, Dame John Kelly:”
Thomas Lanctot [here spelled Langtoe] is found in the household of Thomas Burke and Mary Ann Lahey in the 1901 Canadian census (Ontario, Carleton, March, p. 2, family no. 15). He is listed as “Adopted,” with racial/tribal origin French, and birthplace “O u” (Ontario urban, as distinct from “O r,” Ontario rural). His age is given as 15, with year of birth 1885 and day and month of birth unknown.
About a year earlier, on 14 June 1900, Thomas Lanctot had made his Confirmation at St. Isidore (South March), with his age given as 14 and his parents listed as “Thomas Burke, Adopter” and “Mary Ann Lahey, Adoptress” (Click thumbnail preview [right] to see larger image). Also confirmed at St. Isidore on 14 June 1900 was Margaret Devine, age 11, whose parents were also listed as “Thomas Burke, Adopter” and “Mary Ann Lahey, Adoptress.”1
Margaret Devine is also listed as an “Adopted” child in the 1901 houshold of Thomas Burke and Mary Ann Lahey (see census image above): Margaret Devine [here Devin], born Ireland 12 July 1886, year of immigration to Canada 1897.
My dad with his sister Rosemary (right) and a Lahey cousin (left), in some part of old Ottawa (Sandy Hill? the Glebe? Ottawa South?).
Early-to-mid 1950s here, and my dad and his sister in their late teens to early twenties. The three people in this photo probably now look a bit older than they actually were, owing to the tailoring of their (not formal, not dress-up) clothing. No sweatsuits, no leisure suits, no blue jeans or dungarees here, but these folks weren’t on their way to the ballroom, either: I believe this is what was once meant by “sports clothes” (no, not yet polyester slacks for men who hit the golf courses in Tampa, Florida) or “sporty casual.” Great shoes, in any case.