11 April 2017

~ Terry ~

Not long before Christmas my dear friend Terry Punch wrote me a message that was a far cry from the genealogical comments we regularly shared. And the message was a bit weak in the boisterous humour we normally exchanged. He told me he was dying.

And so it came to pass today, April 11th. To the sorrow of so many who benefited from his extensive historical and genealogical knowledge of Atlantic Canada. A long list of awards and honours and books bears witness to the influence of this man whose passion encouraged so many. In 2010 Terry was named a Member of the Order of Canada, the only genealogist to receive this country's highest honour. Others will provide the impressive listing of achievements. 

Terrence Michael Punch, it's terribly difficult to write anything about losing you as a friend. But I had a few months to tell you about that. I will so miss our shared sense of humour.

May Sister Merciless of the Yardstick weep ... and may St. Angus see you safely to rest.

Peace, Pamela. My deepest condolences. 

05 April 2017

TARTAN Day 2017

Prepare to wear it!!

According to the Sons of Scotland Pipe Band, 15% of Canadians claim Scottish heritage (with the Irish claiming a close 14%). http://www.sospb.com/tartan-day-celebrations.html

April 6th marks Scotland's Declaration of Arbroath in 1320. It was the great statement sent to the Pope of Scotland's national independence, signed by the nobility and ranking clergy. The history around the document is more complicated (and fascinating) than I can present here, but its significance endures. Echoes of "Flower of Scotland" at any Scots gathering will never die.

Canada's 150th birthday makes Tartan Day even more special. St Andrews Societies in various cities feature ceilidhs. Community celebrations take place across the country; for example, in Fergus, Ontario, twinned with Blairgowrie, Scotland. As if their summer Fergus Scottish Festival and Highland Games isn't enough, each Tartan Day they hold a downtown celebration worthy of their forefathers. Festivities begin with a morning kilted kilometer run around the town (kilts mandatory!); all afternoon Celtic music plays in downtown pubs and eateries, with wandering storytelling, pipe bands, heavy event demonstrations ... a little piece of Scotland in the heart of Ontario!

Personally, I have New York envy ... a whole week! Tartan Week! With a mega parade! This year the Grand Marshall is Tommy Flanagan, star of the TV series "Sons of Anarchy" (last year led by Sam Heughan aka the hunky Jamie Fraser of "Outlander" fame).

© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman

30 March 2017

Ten Years Blogging

Like some long-term bloggers, I experience a posting slowdown ― not for lack of subject matter but the focus of interest shifts back and forth. It's quite a few years since I retired from researching for clients. In that time I have tackled a great deal of personal family research. The family projects never end. And my filing cabinets, physical and mental, contain plenty of genealogical material I can still explore, review, research, and commit to written posts or journal articles.

This year I will not be renewing my Certified Genealogist® credential. Mainly because without new client work and having already used many family research problems in past renewals, I am too lazy to devote the required time for a meticulous but oh-so-worthwhile procedure. So I'm resting. In a manner of speaking. Thirty-eight years I have proudly held this credential and owe so much to the Board for Certification colleagues who encouraged and supported me. Serving as a BCG Trustee with the likes of ~ name-dropper alert! ~ Helen Leary, Elizabeth Shown Mills, the late Joy Reisinger, Donn Devine, Ron Hill, Christine Rose, Tom Jones and many more, was an education in itself. I salute you all who continue to foster and mentor and educate.

On 30 March 2007, I was a fledgling blogger being tutored by my patient child. The concept was such a novelty we didn't even think of creating an inventive, catchy name for it. What you see is pretty much what you get due to her confidence in me.

On 30 March 2017, I just completed one of my marathon flight days, homeward bound from Casablanca. Only twelve hours flying time this trip, not counting airports. (Why is it I can't seem to get a direct flight to my destinations? Rhetorical question.) At some point, the latest adventures will pop up on my other love, CamelDabble TravelBabble (now there's a name for a blog). 
... Couldn't resist ...

Once a writer, always a writer. Whether it's genealogy or travel or crime fiction, it might slow but it won't stop.

© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman

09 March 2017

Bagpipe Day

Someone decreeth March 10th is Bagpipe Day. Or it may be in June. Others say Bagpipe Appreciation Day is different altogether. Whenever ... any excuse for waxing sentimental about tribal memory, sez I. It’s in the DNA: I had to post.

Rescued from a cached page that apparently appeared at one time in a forum on Canada At War:
The bagpipe is the only musical instrument deemed a weapon of war because it inspired its troops to battle and instilled terror into the enemy. The skirl of the pipes stirs men's and women's souls and its power and influence in battle as in life, is measurable.
The effects of the pipes on friend or foe are legendary crossing all cultural, geographic, economic and historical barriers. An examination of the origins and development of the pipes, their use among the ancient Celts and in modern warfare and life reveal their true and enduring significance.The origins and history of the pipes is interesting as the world has known the pipes in one form or another for more than 5,000 years. Bagpipes were invented when people found they could make music by blowing into a hollow reed and eventually the idea of harnessing a bag for a reservoir of air evolved. References to pipes are made in the Pharonic literature of Ancient Egypt, the Ancient Holy Land Scriptures. During the days of the Roman Empire there are numerous references to the pipes being played and in fact it is widely believed that Nero himself played the pipes and that Rome fell to the sound of the pipes, not the fiddle as previously thought. It is quite probable that the Romans brought the pipes to Scotland during their invasions.[1]

I can attest to the international life and love of the pipes. A favourite moment, being serenaded in the ancient Roman city of Jerash by members of the Jordan Armed Forces. I wrote longer on bagpipes and camels and military tradition: https://camelchaser.blogspot.ca/2016/05/military-and-police-camels.html.


© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman

[1] "The Piper's Toast," http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:XORtfJN0OggJ:www.rcmpvetspei.ca/resources/Documents/The%2520Piper%27s%2520Toast.doc+&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca.

04 March 2017

One Lost Loyalist

It seems there are no idle moments in the life of a family historian. From time to time I pick up on an item that sends my curiosity skittering off on a tangent. This is akin to the well-known genealogical principle that you cannot search a newspaper for a death notice without being distracted for hours by pages of local gossip, police reports, lurid adverts, and legal notices ("she left my bed and board ...").

Loyalist Trails is a regular newsletter from the United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada (UELAC), loyally put together each week by Doug Grant, UE. Anyone, member or not, can subscribe to it: http://www.uelac.org/Loyalist-Trails/Loyalist-Trails-index.php. One of my distractions, in the Loyalist Trails edition of 15 January 2017, was the following bit from Stephen Davidson's "Mother Goose. Loyalist Style. Part Two of Two":
Interestingly, there are compensation claims for three loyalist bakers who all once tended ovens in Boston prior to the revolution. Benjamin Davis described himself as "a baker in government service" who had made himself "very obnoxious" to the rebels. He was one of 1,100 loyalists who fled when the British forces retreated to Halifax from Boston in March of 1776. When Davis attempted to sail to New York City that summer, patriots arrested him and imprisoned him for twelve months. By 1783, the loyal baker had settled in Halifax.

Is this the same Benjamin Davis that I know? ... First of all, men with the same or similar name do appear in Loyalist references ― references that may conflict in a detail of place or date or spelling (ask anyone who has struggled with identifying the likes of Crysler or Hough or MacMillan men). In this case, "settled in Halifax" sounded like a definitive statement: that the man had reached his permanent destination.

My Benjamin Davis was in York Township (now part of Metro Toronto) at least by 1796 when he received the Crown patent for a property at what would become Weston village. He was peripheral to the family being studied at the time and was not investigated per se. Benjamin and his wife Elizabeth were childless; at some point before 1813 they more or less adopted John Porter, a son of that scallywag George Porter, about whom I've written ad nauseam.  

I did know that when Benjamin died in 1817, he bequeathed to John Porter a large piece of land on the Humber River with the proviso that he care for the widow Elizabeth until he was twenty-one (John was born ca.1800 in the Town of York). In gratitude, I expect, John changed his name to John Davis Porter thereafter.

Would a baker settled in Halifax pack up his family and his business to migrate to Upper Canada? What could confirm or invalidate the two men being one and the same person? Off the top, land petitions (and/or other land documents) might reveal the prior residence or origins of the man who appeared in Upper Canada. Death or burial records for Nova Scotia and Halifax in particular could show if Davis the baker died there.

Beginning as purely online searching, Library and Archives Canada's "Upper Canada Land Petitions 1763-1865" database had nothing for a Benjamin Davis. The index is quite comprehensive and the petitions are digitized although it's a bit of a roundabout hunt to find a specific document. The index also includes petitioners' names from a series of correspondence called Upper Canada Sundries.

The Nova Scotia Archives has indexed and digitized surviving death records 1864-1877 (there's a long gap until the series resumes in 1908). I found a Benjamin Davis age 98 who died 14 September 1874 of old age in Liverpool, Queens County.[1] He was born in Wales and the informant, Alfred Fraser, did not know the names of his parents. Also, Benjamin's occupation was not filled in.

Several things nullify this being the man Stephen Davidson mentioned. The Halifax baker was portrayed as active and practising his trade in Boston in 1776; that is the approximate year the Nova Scotia man was born (if his age is accurate) and virtually eliminates his being the Loyalist baker. Liverpool in Nova Scotia is obviously not Halifax, although there's a chance a move had been made to the town on the south shore, some 150km from Halifax, one scenario being an elderly man going to live with a caretaker. "Born in Wales" is an interesting addition. This Benjamin could have emigrated to Canada or the United States at any time during his long lifespan; he could have come as a British soldier, or as a child with his parents, or at any age.

The likelihood is strong that more than one Benjamin Davis lived in Nova Scotia. A man of this name was part of a group petition in 1785 at Digby, requesting 5,000 acres each at Bay of St. Mary's near Port Roseway (petition was "approved").[2] It's most likely the baker died before Nova Scotia began keeping regular vital statistics. I delayed searching for the baker's potential marriage in Massachusetts for the time being.

As for the Upper Canada man, one armchair source quickly led to another. Merely viewing the index to Filby's massive Passenger and Immigration Lists 1500s to 1900s showed more than one Benjamin Davis milling around in early Ontario.[3] Keith Fitzgerald's Ontario People 1796-1803 based on the district Loyalist rolls has a Loyalist reference.[4] That source is no doubt the basis for a "Benjamin Davies" listed in the UELAC Loyalist Directory (http://www.uelac.org/Loyalist-Info/Loyalist-Info.php) with no details.

Turns out my Benjamin Davis had history with both Sir William Johnson and Butler's Rangers.[5] Lt.-Col. Smy's remarkable compendium of Butler's Rangers tells us more about Benjamin Davis. In brief, he was the son-in-law of Nicholas Phillips Sr., UE, from Pennsylvania. Before the war, Benjamin had 150 acres on the Mohawk River near Sir William; he served throughout the war, ultimately as a sergeant, in various capacities; he was granted land on the Humber River, York County, in 1796. To illuminate Davis' service record, Col. Smy clearly accessed a great deal of cited manuscript correspondence and memorials in the British Library, Library and Archives Canada, and the Archives of Ontario.

And yet ... no Upper Canada land petition? Strange. Benjamin was eligible for a substantial land grant ― which he did receive but apparently without the usual process. There are indeed land petitions from his wife Elizabeth Phillips Davis in the above-mentioned index. I expect his marriage took place in the Town of York, logically where New York boy met Pennsylvania girl. Benjamin also submitted a memorial to the claims committee for his and his wife's losses of American property. So a number of land-related and other sources could be explored.

A random exercise? A fool's errand? ... leading to several men of the same name. Let me be plain: this is not an exhaustive study for Benjamin Davis of York Township, York County, Upper Canada. Going on to fill out his portrait with original documentation is not particularly my story to tell. And yet, here is a Loyalist with no children, no descendants to speak for him. It makes me wonder if other Loyalists without issue are still equally obscure. Comments ~ naturally ~ are always welcome.

[1] "Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics, Deaths 1874," digital image, Nova Scotia Genealogy (novascotiagenealogy.com), Book No. 1814, p. 67, no. 79, Benjamin Davis.
[2] "Nova Scotia Land Papers 1765-1800," database, Nova Scotia Archives (archives.novascotia.ca/genealogy/nova-scotia-land-records).
[3] William Filby, Passenger and Immigration Lists 1500s to 1900s, database, Ancestry (ancestry.com).
[4] Keith Fitzgerald, Ontario People 1796-1803, database, Ancestry (ancestry.com).
[5] William A. Smy, An Annotated Roll of Butler's Rangers 1777-1784 with Documentary Sources (Friends of the Loyalist Collection at Brock University, 2004), 76.

© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman

07 February 2017

Hostages to Fortune ~ not a book review ~

Peter C. Newman. Hostages to Fortune, the United Empire Loyalists and the Making of Canada. Toronto: Simon & Schuster Canada, 2016.

Peter C. Newman is not an academic historian, he is a "popular" historian. His treatments of history are frequently infused with dramatic and verbose flourishes; this one lacks the footnote references of a more academic historian, relying largely on other authors as sources. No revelations here in previously well-examined material. Newman is successful because as a good storyteller he knows how to stir sentiment and appreciation for his subject. How will Loyalist family researchers view his new book? (In that vein, please ... save me from summaries of the book's contents masquerading as reviews.)

Rather than attempt a real book review myself, not being a true historian nor qualified to speak to the military aspects of the conflict, I recall an interview with Newman almost two years ago that raised some questions or issues for me (in the second half of the post).[1] Would they appear and/or perhaps be resolved in this long-awaited book? Some of the issues seemed to tinge the Loyalists with wimpyness. Was I defensively over-reacting? The quotes below are from that interview. Here's how those concerns go down now:

Quote: "Newman said that hundreds of books have been written on the Loyalists but almost all of them focus on genealogy – who begat whom – and not the adventure of their exploits."
My prior comment: What has Newman read, or not read, amongst the Loyalist literature? "Almost all of them" are genealogical in nature? Whoa. Numerous historians (and genealogists) may disagree.
New comment. Ironic, isn't it, that Newman chose to use a Jarvis family as his main device to tell the Loyalist saga? And it works, insofar as it goes.

Quote: "The Loyalists were tortured and killed during the American War of Independence when the Americans turned on anyone loyal to the King. Tarring and feathering was the torture of choice, Newman said."
My prior comment: "Loyalists were tortured and killed" — but hey, they did fight back and returned the favours.
New comment: That, and other comments, had given me an impression that Newman would somehow dwell on a portrayal of shamed, saintly folks who crept away, unresisting, to another land. No. In the book, he plays quite evenly with action and atrocities on both sides. And possibly read my mind: "Strong in spirit and dedicated to the concept and reality of duty, the Loyalists were brave in the face of long odds, clearly demonstrating that they were anything but wimps." (225)

Quote: "A religious, self-effacing people, the Loyalists spurned the chest-thumping bravo of the Americans and developed styles and attitudes that are very much like the Canadian personality of today, he said."
My prior comment: "Religious" and "self-effacing" are extremely broad, sweeping adjectives. No doubt many of them were perhaps one or the other, perhaps sometimes both at once. Were they more "religious" than their foe? What connotation does "self-effacing" conjure?
New comment: Were those two descriptors implying something the Patriots were not? Let's be real and remember that all ranks of society, all manner of faiths, native-born in the colonies or immigrants, both sides had every human virtue and failing. As for self-effacing, it's true we Canadians today are not known for chest-thumping. Apparently we are known for a widespread penchant of saying "Sorry." Should I even ask if that characteristic is inherited from the Loyalists? Oops, sorry ...

"Instead of settling disputes with guns and violence, the Loyalists preferred to argue things out and reach a consensus, he said."
My prior comment: As for "guns and violence," ask military historian Gavin Watt. Did the Loyalist corps not strive to give as good as they got? Or is Newman time-shifting several years down the road to political issues?

New comment: Picky me. But when did the Loyalists do that amongst themselves, in matters that would incite impulsive others to weapons? During the war? In their refugee camps? On the evacuation ships? What kind of disputes is he referring to? Okay, okay, I will stop.

Well, let's face it. An interview is not a book. The book. Newman succeeds again, in my opinion ... in a lightweight way, covering ground related many times before (familiar to Loyalist descendants). Although he extends his mandate to the War of 1812 and beyond, he includes little on Aboriginal resettlement apart from the expected Brant family mentions. And curiously, in a very large bibliography, how could merely one of Gavin Watt's books be present?

He gets the job done, the tales told; his easily digestible manner will capture popular imagination, much like Historica Canada's Heritage Minutes. I look forward to potential book reviews by perhaps Mary Beacock Fryer UE or Peter Johnson UE.

[1] Wayne Lowrie, "Literary Lion Has Den in Gananoque," 6 April 2015, Gananoque Reporter (http://www.gananoquereporter.com/2015/04/06/literary-lion-has-den-in-gananoque : accessed 31 May 2015).

© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman 

23 January 2017

McFadyens in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

This post is based on my article "From Isle of Coll to Cape Breton" in Vol. 33, No. 3 (2015) of Nova Scotia Genealogist. That issue of the journal was published last month (December 2016) in a catch-up project after an editorial hiatus.

The presence of several McFADYEN families in nineteenth-century Cape Breton does not indicate the Scotland origins of most. Curiosity led me to explore whether the others have kinship to my Donald "the soldier" McFadyen, or indeed if any also came from the Isle of Coll in the inner Hebrides of Argyllshire. Genealogical sources in both regions are limited or incomplete; alternative influences are authored works, local history, and customary naming patterns. I use the generic spelling McFadyen unless I am citing or referring to a document.

Basically, what I know about my Donald "the soldier": He was born about 1773 on Coll[1] and emigrated to Cape Breton in 1828 with wife Flory McLean and some children,[2] settling at River Denys. His parents are not verified since three Coll families in 1776 had an underage Donald.[3] For reasons beyond the discussion here, the most viable candidates are the couples Lachlan McFadyen and Flora McLean or Angus McFadyen and Mary McLean.
A page from the "1776 List"; NAS, CH2/70/1
As for "the others": Two single men came to Cape Breton sooner than my Donald. Alexander McPhaden aged twenty-two arrived in 1821.[4] Early on he is described as a tailor.[5] MacDougall says Alexander was the brother of Donald McFaden who was aged twenty-eight in 1825.[6] In his petition for a land grant, that Donald McFaden refers to his brother but does not name him. When that Donald died at Malagawatch without recording a specific birthplace in Scotland, his parents were said to be Lauchlin and Catherine.[7] Searching in Coll sources yields no appropriate baptisms and matching parents for the two men, based on their given ages, but the recorded events are not comprehensive.

Donald McFaden married Mary Ann Calder and settled at Militia Point near Malagawatch; Alexander married Margaret McQuarrie and settled at Lexington near Port Hastings.[8] Both men named their eldest sons Lachlan; both had daughters called Catherine. MacDougall’s History outlines at least the first generation of their descendants.
River Denys area, Cape Breton
 A third man, a Laughlin McPhaden applied for Cape Breton Crown land in 1821, having arrived that year, aged twenty-four and married.[9] Further records show that Laughlin and his wife Mary McLean had a son Archibald baptized in 1829 by a visiting cleric at Malagawatch.[10] It's unknown if this was their first son, i.e. possibly named after the paternal grandfather. A marriage for the couple has not been found 1795-1822 in any Old Parochial Registers on ScotlandsPeople and I find no later information about him.

I wrote a post regarding a Neil McFadyen whose father and family allegedly came to Cape Breton in 1827.[11] Neil was convicted of, and hanged for, a murder in Pictou County in 1848. However, the inquest revealed the family was from Coll's sister island, Tiree.

Finally, a Roderick MacFadyen settled, date unknown, in Cape Breton’s River Denys area. His death record in 1877 shows he was born Island of Coll and his parents were Lauchlin and Catharine.[12] His reported age at death infers a birth year of 1804-05 but his 1871 census age implies 1807.[13] Roderick/Rory married another Mary McLean and apparently did not apply for Crown land, purchasing someone else’s grant.[14] Describing him as a tailor, MacDougall says, “So far as we know, Rory had no relatives in this country.”[15] And yet, his location was a mere three lots away from my own ancestor Donald “the soldier.”[16]
Crown Lands Map Cape Breton; Donald the soldier's son Hector is shown upper left, Roderick's son Neil is lower across the river
The memoir of a Collach relocated in Australia says that two McPhaiden brothers from Totamore on Coll "went to America" in 1822.[17] Perhaps they sailed on Commerce of Greenock, as some historians assert it sailed that year (among other years).[18] Does this make a connection between these two brothers, Donald and Alexander, to the Cape Breton McFadyen brothers whose birthplace is unknown? Here, I am omitting research done in several directions but their ages do not necessarily match and all else is unsubstantiated indirect evidence.

Also in my (lengthier) article, I showed a correction to Roderick's parents. Coll historian and editor Nicholas Maclean-Bristol believes that the Roderick who died in Cape Breton in 1877 was born to Lachlan McPhaiden and wife Catherine Macdonald in Totamore, Coll.[19] However, the parents of the child Roderick baptized on Coll in 1804 were Lachlan McPhaiden of Grimsary and wife Catherine McKinnon.[20] The same couple had another son Roderick baptized 25 May 1807 — possibly indicating the first child so named had died. Either way, there seems to be no other Roderick from Coll to match the man who died in 1877.

McFadyen house, River Denys
Roderick McFadyen’s potential relationship to my Donald the soldier or other McFadyens in Cape Breton remains a mystery. Roderick is clearly a generation younger than my Donald who did not have a known connection to Grimsary (or Totamore, for that matter) on Coll. The household-heads-only 1861 census tells us Roderick had five males and four females in his household, i.e. probably four sons at that time.[21] MacDougall mentions just four sons, adding that only Neil survived at the time of the book’s publication (1922).[22] In 1871, Lauchlin age twenty-four and Roderick age twenty-three were at home with sister Katy age twenty-six and two younger girls.[23] The names Lauchlin and Katy (Catherine) accord with Highland naming practice especially if Lauchlin was the oldest son. The family stone at Malagawatch cemetery shows the fourth son Allan of about the same age as Lauchlin.[24]

While oral tradition, written or spoken, may be a useful source in the absence of much original documentation, its probability as facts ranks lower on the credibility scale. Reliance on compilations and accounts of secondary information demands critical examination and caution about conclusions. I would be more than pleased to hear from any relevant McFadyens.

[1] The National Archives (TNA, Kew, England), WO25/527, Regimental Description and Succession Books, 91st Foot, 2nd Battalion, Pvt. Donald McFadden; Family History Library microfilm 0859630. Additional information came from Gerald Hamilton-Edwards, letter to author 11 October 1976, citing TNA, WO12/9319, General Muster Books and Pay Lists, 91st Foot, 2nd Battalion.
[2 “List of passengers in the Ship ‘Saint Lawrence’ ...,” J.L. MacDougall, History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia (1922; reprint Belleville, ON: Mika Publishing, 1972), 126-131.
[3] “1776 List of the Inhabitants in the Island of Coll Decr 2nd 1776” is found in Coll Kirk Sessions, National Records of Scotland (NRS), CH2/70/1/. The new Presbyterian incumbent that year compiled a list of every resident and their locations on the island to test catechism knowledge. Children under the age of seven were considered too young to be tested but they were listed. Both couples mentioned had an underage son Donald.
[4] “Cape Breton Island Petitions 1787-1843,” database, Nova Scotia Archives (http://www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/virtual/land/ : accessed May 2008), Alexander McPhaden, no. 2754; citing Nova Scotia Archives (NSA) microfilm 15798.
[5] Nova Scotia census 1838, Inverness County, Canso Township, 19th page, Alexander McFadden; Library and Archives Canada (LAC) microfilm M-5220.
J.L. MacDougall, History of Inverness County, Nova Scotia (1922; reprint Belleville, ON: Mika Publishing, 1972), 177.
[6] “Cape Breton Island Petitions 1787-1843,” database, Nova Scotia Archives, Donald McFaden, no. 3053; citing NSA microfilm 15799.
[7] “Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics, Deaths 1864-1877,” digital image, Nova Scotia Archives (https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com/ : accessed May 2008); Donald McFadyen, 10 June 1869, Inverness County, register no. 1810, p. 36, no. 132.
[8] MacDougall, 177.
[9] “Cape Breton Island Petitions 1787-1843,” database, Nova Scotia Archives, Laughlin McPhaden, no. 2755; citing NSA microfilm 15798.
[10] St. John's Presbyterian (Belfast, Prince Edward Island) baptisms, 1823-1849, Archibald, son of Laughlan McFadden and Mary McLean “basin of River Denny,” born 13 February 1829, baptized 3 September 1829; LAC microfilm C-3028.
[11] http://brendadougallmerriman.blogspot.ca/2010/09/mcfadyen-part-13-murder-circumstantial.html.
[12] “Nova Scotia ... Deaths 1864-1877,” digital image, Nova Scotia Archives (https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com/ : accessed May 2008); Roderick McFadyen, 28 February 1877, Inverness County, register no. 1810, p. 142, no. 44.
[13] 1871 Census Nova Scotia, district 203, Inverness, subdistrict D14, River Dennis, division 1, p. 21, Rory Mcfaden (age 64) household; LAC microfilm C-10565.
[14] MacDougall, 497.
[15] MacDougall, 496.
[16] MacDougall, 497. Also “1861 Census Nova Scotia,” digital image, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 9 January 2016), Inverness County, polling district 14, abstract no. 2, line 31, Roderick McPhaden.
[17] “Donald Mackinnon, 'An Account of the Island of Coll and Its People',” West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 17 (November 2011), newsletter of the West Highland and Island Society for Historical Research (HebrideanHistory.com).
[18] Colin S. MacDonald, “Early Highland Emigration to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island,” Collections of the Nova Scotia Historical Society, Vol. 23 (1936).
[19] Maclean-Bristol's Note 25 attached to Mackinnon, 'An Account of the Island of Coll and Its People',” West Highland Notes and Queries, Series 3, No. 17 (November 2011).
[20] Roderick McPhaden, baptism 24 August 1804; Coll Kirk Sessions, NAS, CH2/70/1/. The session minutes are mixed with baptisms and marriages beginning 1776. Marriages 1776-1819 and Baptisms 1776-1820 have also been transcribed by Ian Scott on Isle of Coll Genealogy (www.collgenealogy.com).
[21] “1861 Census Nova Scotia,” digital image, Ancestry.ca (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 9 January 2016), Inverness County, polling district 14, abstract no. 2, line 31, Roderick McPhaden.
[22] MacDougall, 496-7.
[23] See Note 14.
[24] Nancy MacDonnell, transcriber, Malagawatch Cemetery, Inverness County, Cape Breton GenWeb (http://www.capebretongenweb.com/Cemeteries/cem105.html : accessed 10 January 2016).

© 2017 Brenda Dougall Merriman

21 December 2016

Another McIntyre

In the prior McIntyre post regarding a search for the family and origins of my great-great-grandmother, Margery McIntyre (born ca. 1786), I neglected to mention a further candidate. What I did mention then was that a James and an Ann McIntyre on the River Rouge Road near St. Andrews East, Quebec, were the likeliest suspects ― if not old enough to be Margery's parents, then potentially close relations. Another man seemingly of Margery's age also came into focus.

On 7 September 1802 Laughlan McIntyre, a ship carpenter, married Margaret McIntyre at the Anglican Church in Quebec City.[1] He signed the register before witnesses Angus McIntyre and James McDonald. He stated his age as twenty-nine years (born ca.1773). Note the witness Angus, a name that occurs in the children of John Cameron and wife Catherine McIntyre (but not among Margery McIntyre Fraser’s). One of my questions: was Laughlin a carpenter on a ship, or a carpenter at the port engaged in building ships?

Then Laughlan McIntyre was a witness at the 30 October 1807 baptism of Allan, son of John and Catherine (McIntyre) Cameron from “Carrion” [Carillon], Quebec.[2] We don’t know if the event took place in Montreal or St. Andrews East (the St. Gabriel minister did visit St. Andrews sometimes). Laughlin's signature at both times looks identical to me.

Born within a few years of each other, Laughlan’s connection to Catherine McIntyre seems evident but he became quite elusive after that. I could not find him in Lower Canada (Quebec) census returns 1825, 1831, and in the two Canadas 1842 and 1851 (trusting the indexing) but his age made it debatable whether he lived until 1851. Thinking of carpenters and ships, where was the flourishing shipyard of the era? — Kingston, Upper Canada.

The Governor Simcoe built 1793 at Kingston as a merchant schooner. By C.H.J. Snider, Toronto Public Library reference PICTURES-R-486. Retrieved from Ship the "Governor Simcoe" (PICTURES-R-486), CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28133956
Yes. A search revealed children of Loughlin/Lauchlin/Laughlin and Margaret McIntire being baptized in Kingston: John, 7 August 1803; Donald, 5 August 1804; Mary, 31 August 1806.[3]

The couple was still there in March 1810 when they were sponsors, along with a Margaret Cameron, at the baptism of Abraham Greely’s son. At Laughlan’s first appearance on record there, in 1803, an author’s note says he “became a member of Lodge no. 6 A.F. & A.M. in 1806.” Therefore it’s fairly clear he was living in Kingston in the first decade of the nineteenth century and probably later. His presence at the 1807 baptism in Quebec seems to have been a family visit rather than his own residence.

Nothing further has been found to date. If this is the same Laughlan, he is not in the index to Kingston’s Cataraqui Cemetery transcript, nor did he leave a will or estate file there. A Captain John McIntyre of Portsmouth (just west of Kingston) died 24 July 1849 age forty-two[4] and his wife Isabella Fraser died 27 July 1874 age sixty-seven;[5] possibly John was Laughlan’s son. A Donald Malcolm McIntyre is apparently also in Cataraqui Cemetery but details are absent. Transfer records for Masonic Lodge members at that early date do not seem to be available, in case Laughlan had again moved.

The cluster of McIntyres in Pittsburgh Township (just east of Kingston) does not show any likely points of connection; the oldest family members there in 1851 are Hugh (ca.1791) and Archibald (ca.1801).[6] 1842 census returns for Pittsburgh have not survived.

The search for Laughlan stalled. And what about Margaret McIntyre, his wife? Did any of their children take to carpentry or a marine life? What about their marriage witness, Angus McIntyre? Then Christmas happened. Great excuse for a break ...

[1] “Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967, digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 17 March 2015), McIntyre-McIntyre marriage 1802; Anglican registers (Quebec City).
[2] “Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection) 1621-1967,” digital image, Ancestry (www.ancestry.ca : accessed 5 March 2012), baptism Allan Cameron, 1807; St Gabriel Street Presbyterian Church (Montreal, Quebec).
[3] A.H. Young, The Parish Register of Kingston, Upper Canada, 1785-1811 (1921. Reprint Global Heritage Press, 2003), 107, 110, 118, 132.
[4] Thomas B. Wilson, ed., The Ontario Register, Vol. 5 (1981), p. 170; citing Globe (Toronto) 31 July 1849. Further details about Captain John are not forthcoming in Cataraqui (Kingston) cemetery or burial records.
[5] Cataraqui Cemetery Comprehensive Index, (Kingston, ON; Kingston Branch OGS, c1996) shows Capt. John McIntyre and Isabella (Fraser) in Cataraqui Cemetery Section 17E; the transcription gives death information for Isabella. Cataraqui Burial Registervolume 1, 1853-1875 (Kingston, ON; Kingston Branch OGS, c1987) p. 66 #2793, Isabella (Fraser) McIntyre age 67, b. Scot, res. Portsmouth, buried 28 July 1874, minister Dr. Snodgrass, Cataraqui Cemetery E.
[6] 1851 Canada Census, District 9, Frontenac County, Subdistrict 73, Pittsburgh Township, p 93, Hugh McIntyre household and p 47, Archibald McIntyre household; Library and Archives Canada microfilm C-11721.

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

17 November 2016

Freedom, Latvia

Latvia has a number of commemorative days to mark its historical struggle for freedom, but November 18th is the most important of all. Ninety-eight years ago, the country proclaimed itself an independent republic despite ongoing military action. After the dark days of Soviet occupation, full independence was once again established in 1991. The Proclamation of 1918 remains the proudest national holiday.

Each part of the small country plans special joyful activities. In Riga various parades and festive events take place, notably focused on the Freedom monument. Evening torchlight processions and fireworks complete the celebrations.

Pray that Putin keeps his hands off this prospering, vibrant land on the Baltic Sea.

Photos: BDM 2013
© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

09 November 2016

Remembrance 2016

In 2015 I was privileged to visit another of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries ― Groesbeek in the Netherlands. In years past, I had spent a day at El Alamein in Egypt.

Groesbeek is located near the German border in a lovely, hilly section of Gelderland province. Most burials here are of Canadian soldiers and airmen who died in the Battle of the Rhineland (1945). The Dutch have a special, continuing affinity with Canadians; my visit was shortly after the celebrations of their annual May 5th Liberation Day (Bevrijdingsdag).

On the memorial wall: Pro amicis mortui amicis vivimus (We live in the hearts of friends for whom we died). Part of the memorial wall:
"These walls bear the names of the soldiers of the British Commonwealth and Empire who fell in the advance from the River Seine through the Low Countries and into Germany, but to whom the fortune of war denied a known and honoured grave. 30th August, 1944 - 5th May, 1945."

We spent a long time in the rows of white markers, paying tribute to the dead. Most were identified but some were not. Many graves had touching messages from Dutch school children. Sometimes the family of the man provided an inscription. One stood out for me (see below the cross):

"Some day we'll understand"

Do we – yet? Will we ever understand such carnage? Will we ever understand how to avoid destroying each other?

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

19 October 2016

Book: The Spyglass File

Nathan Dylan Goodwin. The Spyglass File. UK: CreateSpace, 2016.
With his most recent book, Goodwin has more than surpassed himself in the Morton Farrier, Forensic Genealogist, series. In fact, Spyglass was so absorbing, so well-crafted ― and I don't say that frequently about any crime book ― I'm convinced it's an equally compelling read for a non-genealogist. Morton's new client Barbara is an adoptee who tracked down her now-deceased biological mother, Elsie, but wants to fill in the missing war years around her birth. Our hero dives into an impressive number of record sources with ease ― some familiar, some esoteric, including many relating to the Second World War. He's putting together pieces of Elsie's wartime life but the larger picture eludes him.

Goodwin uses cleverly paced flashbacks for Elsie to tell her own story that never quite answers the consuming questions: who is Barbara's father and what happened to him? Elsie's soldier husband Laurie is a prisoner of war. She joins the WAAF to work in the Wireless Service because of her German language skills ― long days and nights listening to aircraft transmissions, translating, reporting. The daily grind of service women and pilots, the bombing raids, the contemporary clothing, habits, entertainment, and real-life locales are meticulously brought alive. But it's much more complicated than that.

Morton would not be Morton if he were not attracting a sinister element. Someone does not want him delving into Elsie's life. His mind is partly occupied by his impending wedding to police officer Juliette as he labours over the often strange or surprising documents he uncovers. And he's painfully aware of his own unsolved adoption secrets; sensitive information hidden by family members is much harder to come by.

Readers will seldom find a better or more challenging plot. Only one small paragraph appeared corny to me (to use the 1940s vernacular), out of place in the overall feeling. Just as his protagonist did, the author undertook a huge amount of research preparation. In particular, it was a fascinating treat to learn so much about special WAAF contributions to the war effort.

My apologies to the author for a delayed review; delighted to see colleagues reviewing and fans being acquired. Please bring Morton and Juliette back again!
See nathandylangoodwin.com;

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman 

11 October 2016


REMEMBRANCE DAY 2016 is coming. A month away.

What better way to prepare and commemorate than by joining the Royal Canadian Legion? Or a veterans' organization of your choice?

Whether you are a member or not, you can POPPY shop by simply creating a sign-in account:

Disclaimer: I have no monetary or ulterior motive for promoting a worthy cause.

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman

17 September 2016

Will George Porter Get His Due?

Giving birth to another post about George Porter has been protracted and painful. The "former sergeant of militia" and Town of York carpenter has long been a pet research peeve for me. Various research avenues were explored on this blog (see "George Porter" on the Labels list at the right hand side of this blog) for his mysterious origin and disappearance. Details about the man do not have to be repeated here.

Foundations; The Globe and Mail
When excavations on King Street East, Toronto, revealed "Toronto's first house" George came to haunt me yet again. That was 2013, uncovering the foundations of Berkeley House, once-grand residence of the Small family. The media picked up on it with glee over John Small's social prominence and his infamous duel in 1800.[1] Yes, John Small ― clerk of Governor John G. Simcoe's executive council ― constructed the home; but little was made of remains of the log "fishing cabin" within its walls.

The log house was built by George Porter who sold it to Small on 31 August 1795.[2] As construction continued for a new seventeen-storey building where The Globe and Mail will be the major tenant, my unease grew that John Small would get credit for "Toronto's first house." In 2015 I contacted the Globe with information about George and my hope that the historical artifacts would have public space. I was assured by the editor that "something related to the history of the site" would be displayed in the building lobby. That answer did not quell my fear that George would be ignored.
D.W. Smith Papers, see Note 2

I was beginning to feel like an advocate for a forgotten man, not necessarily even an upstanding citizen: one who apparently abandoned his wife and four children by 1800. Then again, John Small was not entirely a paragon of virtue in his work habits.[3]

351 King Street East design; First Gulf
Only recently did I locate the Stage 1 Archaeology Resource Assessment about the property, prepared for the developer by Archaeological Services Inc. (ASI).[4] It has a most excellent summary of how the Town of York was created and detailed discussion of the particular property's subsequent history. With some relief, I learned that their researchers had indeed found the documentary references to George.

What they didn't say or emphasize was that Small was more or less forced to live in the purchased log house for some years; surely it was a bit more comfortable than a fishing hut or cabin. Title to the property was delayed while the government sorted out its overlapping reserve where the parliament building was to be built.
It was discovered that, by accident, Porter had been granted land that had been intended for use as part of the Government Reserve. The house was allowed to remain standing, partly on account of Porter's "improvements," but also on account of the fact that the premises had been purchased by Small who was such an influential member of the government. [italics added][5]
Small clearly chose to expand around the log house as the "central core" rather than build a separate home. For unknown reasons his son Charles Coxwell Small in the 1840s again preserved the basic log structure when making additions.
Berkeley House; attributed to Owen Staples circa1912, based on a drawing circa1888, based on a sketch by Mrs CC Small 1830; Toronto Public Library

Questions remain, of course. I ask myself why George? On his 1793 plan of York, why did deputy surveyor Alexander Aitken choose to put carpenter George Porter, of all people, in possession of Lot 1 Block 1? Were the men friends? It almost smacks of a kind of favouritism. After all, more important figures would expect prime town lots along this main street, men figuring in Upper Canada's administration and commerce.

Also, should I take issue with the "fishing cabin" moniker? The phrase "as a fishing hut" in the Report is in quotation marks.[6] I cannot find a specific reference to whom might have said it, other than the AIS Report. George Porter consistently called it "my Log House."[7] So did John Small refer to a house.[8] The AIS report cites four sources for the paragraph in which "fishing hut" is used. None of them ― the published Simcoe Papers, Peter Russell's edited letters, Firth, Mosser ― use that term.
See Note 2.
John Small, Upper Canada Land Book F, pp. 359-361 (1805); Library and Archives Canada microfilm C-102. 

The log house certainly predated 1795, possibly back to York's founding in the summer of 1793, and is what the ASI Report calls "unquestionably the oldest dwelling house within the Old Town of York."[9] Are they referring to Berkeley House or the "fishing hut"?

Altogether, George was in York for a relatively short time in a modest occupation, whereas John Small was a firmly planted member of the establishment ... whose name does history remember? Who will get credit for "Toronto's first house"?

[1] John Allemang, 7 October 2013, "Archaeologists find link to 200-year-old scandal under new Globe home," The Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/toronto/archeologists-find-link-to-200-year-old-scandal-under-new-globe-home/article14719339/).
[2] A true copy of the sale document is in the D.W. Smith Papers, S126, B6, p. 229, Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library. Edith Firth in The Town of York 1793-1815 (Toronto: Champlain Society/University of Toronto Press, 1962), 223, cites the Ridout Papers at Archives of Ontario (AO) for the same information.
[3] "John Small," S.R. Mealing, Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online (http://www.biographi.ca/en/index.php).
[4] Archaeological Services Inc., Stage 1 Archaeology Resource Assessment of 333 King Street East (https://www1.toronto.ca/city_of_toronto/city_planning/community_planning/files/pdf/333king_archaeological.pdf). Hereafter ASI Report. "333 King Street East" refers to two buildings including the relevant property at 351 King East.
[5] ASI Report, 14.
[6] ASI Report, 13. The paragraph in which "as a fishing hut" is quoted cites Cruikshank 1931:241, Cruikshank 1935:100-101, Firth 1962:223, and Mosser 1984: 5, 13 without a footnote to the specific phrase. Neither Firth nor Mosser (York, Upper Canada, Minutes of Town Meetings and Lists of Inhabitants 1797-1823) use the term. The first two are collections of papers and letters of Governors Simcoe and Russell edited by A.E. Cruikshank for the Ontario Historical Society and the references to Porter do not mention the structure.
[7] D.W. Smith Papers, S126, B6, p. 229, Baldwin Room, Toronto Reference Library.
[8] See Note 2, and Land Book F image above.
[9] ASI Report, 13.

© 2016 Brenda Dougall Merriman