Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Good and Bad of DNA and French Canadian Ancestors

Sarah Marion Mclean of Coll, Scotland and Richmond Quebec, my husband's great great grandmother. This is a tintype I found and cleaned up a bit in Photoshop. Sarah was born in 1824 and lived to 1912, (speaking  only Gaelic)  but her genes were passed down because my sister-in-law, born 1944, her daughter, born arond 1970 and her daughter born about 2000, look like her. 

But, the scientific evidence says otherwise. My husband has only 60 centimorgans of DNA from this woman and her husband, John Mcleod of Isle of Lewis, Scotland and his first cousin has almost 200 centimorgans. This first cousin is the one who  should look like Sarah! You can read all about the family here, The Nicholson Family Letters on Kindle.

The best thing about being a French Canadian genealogist is that family trees are relatively easy to do,  that is if you can read French and decipher messy handwriting.

The Drouin Collection online lists most of the French Canadian Catholic marriages and by consulting that wonderful resource you can trace your family going backwards in time.

Every church marriage notice gave the names of the parents of the bride and groom, with the mother's maiden name.

Ok. These records can be hard to read, even the ones written in stylish cursive.

 Also, French Canadians of the past arbitarily changed their names.  On my tree Michel Hubou became Michel Hubou dites Tourville and his daughter only Charlotte Tourville, and I'm not sure, but I think that name changed to Courville when a branch of the clan went to Massachusetts.

(I say this because I have a number of 'close cousin' 4th to 6th generation matches on Ancestry with Courville, a name I do not have on my tree.)

Anyway, I know my tree is OK is large part because I have 80 plus hints or places where the dna evidence is backed up by tree evidence.


That's where it can be fun, all right!

 Then there's the downside of having French Canadian ancestors. We're all intertwined. Everyone came from the same 5000 people, 10 generations back.

 I read that three Gagnons came to Quebec and spawned the bazillions out there.

Being from Quebec, I can easily spot a French Canadian name. That's a plus when sleuthing out Quebecois ancestry.

 And the same names come up all the time - and then these ancestors move to the US and their names become anglicized, Thibeault to Tibo, Laurendeau to Lorando.

Yes, French Canadians were a diaspora long before 1976.  On the Ancestry database there's a stronger concentration of French Canadians in Massachusetts than in Quebec :) Also Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont and, yes, Maine. Remember that infamous "Canuck Letter." If you don't watch All the President's Men again.

I see that Tremblay is the most common French Canadian name.( J.C Tremblay, one of the first Canadian hockey players to wear a helmet.) Fine, I don't have that name on my tree, not yet. But the next two are Gagnon and Roy and, guess what, my grandmother was a Maria Roy and her mom was a Melina Gagnon.

This fact really mucks up the works for me.


Oy! According to another tree, a sister and brother from the Crepeau family (my grandfather) married another sister and brother from the Forget Depatis family in the 1800's. Or maybe not. This is my good-looking side. How does that screw up shared DNA??


As for those fancy centimorgan estimates, iffy tools at best, they are fairly useless  for French Canadians. I think, anyway.

A man I share 10 centimorgans with has four people on his tree that match with people on my tree . This man is 100 percent French Canadian and has a complete tree.  I am half French Canadian and have about 100 of say 500 (for 10 generations) done.

And, he matches in four places, all in the 7th to 8th cousin range.

His 10 centimorgan DNA match is one one thread, so the genes have been passed down only from one of these ancestors or one yet to be identified. DNA is darned capricious.

My other 80 or so Quebecois 'hint' matches are mostly 7th to 8th generation, while the centimorgans shared usually indicates a closer match. Why? Is this because I share DNA elsewhere (as a French Canadian) or are centimorgan estimates useless for assessing individual relationships on anyone's tree, because they are averages, only good over many, many people?

I went onto my husband's Ancestry account, to see how DNA worked with no known French Canadians in the mix. (My hubby and I share 7 centimorgans, over two places, though.)

As it happens,  he has a first cousin there, a person he knows, of course, his mother's brother's daughter.

Another relation is there, with whom he shares 60 centimorgans, correct for a third cousin and, yes, she is a third cousin, descended from John McLeod and Marion Mclean (above) of  Scotland and Richmond, Quebec.  We asked. (Read all about my husband's Richmond, Quebec family on this blog.)

The weird thing, this woman shares 194 centimorgans of DNA with the my husband's first cousin. How can this be? 194 centimorgans is just on the outer rim of what is possible for 3rd cousins, I read online. (Maybe it's true.) It's as common as, say, having only 2 centimorgans at 3rd cousin.

I contemplate this puzzle and then I think of my intermixed, messy French Canadian side, and wonder, "How in the heck can I find my ancestors?" chromosome browser or no chromosome browser. (Is this 194 centimorgans on the Mcleod/Mclean ancestor shared between the mother's and father's side of this first cousin's tree? That's a possibility.)

Sometimes I think it's just as well to look at family photos, to see resemblances, and guess from there.  I find myself dividing my ancestors into 'good-looking side' and not so good-looking side to make sense of it all. Rather shallow of me, but hey.

Go to Genealogy Ensemble for advice on how to make the most of Drouin and other resources to track your French Canadian ancestors.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Jewish French Canadians and DNA and Me.


I have complicated heritage for a typical half French Canadian half Yorkshire kind of gal. Why? This is Gedmatch's Eurogenes algorithm.


There is a lot more to your ancestry than your maternal and paternal lines, although geneticists seem fixated for some reason on the paternal lines, that can only be determined through male lineage.


Family trees have many branches, If I go back 10 generations to France on my maternal tree I get over 500 people and 7 filles de roi, minimum.

On top of that, I've had my DNA done on Ancestry.ca, which has brought up more questions than it answered, as per usual.

I'm half French Canadian and half British -right outta Yorkshire - and Cumberland and Northumberland.

As expected, I have a huge number of French Canadian cousins on Ancestry, including 86 people who match with my dna and my tree.  Most are American. Yes, I can see that many, many people in Massachusetts and Michigan have French roots, never mind Louisiana.

I expected to find a fair bit of Native America, but I've come out with quite a lot of European Jewish on my chart, a surprise, until I examined my mother's French Canadian heritage in more depth.

Her dad's a Crepeau and her Mom's a Roy.

A few surprise words on my  MT lineage test, going back to Fille de Roi Eva Perron from Normandy.

My mother always said that Crepeau meant "curly-haired" which seemed appropriate as she had curly hair and her father had curly hair and my brother has curly hair.


I couldn't see why Crepeau meant curly-haired - it sounded more like 'grey skin' to me, but after doing my tree on Ancestry, I can see that the first Crepeau to land in Quebec was a Crespeau from Poitou Charentes, Loire.


My mother had curly hair, which she hated.

Crespeau, apparently means curly-haired. I found  info on the Net that suggests Crespo may be a Spanish Jewish name.

 Crispo, apparently, is from Sicily and that makes more sense when I see my Ancestry Ethnicty chart which gives me lots of Italian, Caucasus and Middle East, the stamp of many Sicilians.

(At first, I attributed this to the Normans, who held Sicily and a part of Turkey in 1100 AD. Most French Canadians are from Poitou Charentes or Normandy and Brittany.)

I can't do my mother's paternal Y lineage, only her brother could and he's been dead for 60 years.

Oh, well.

But, I have done my mother's maternal line, already knowing that her furthest ancestor in Normandy is a Lily Rodrigue, (daughter of fille de roi Eva Perron) if I've done it right from the Drouin collection and other Ancestry charts.

Rodrigue is certainly of Spanish extraction.. and my MT trail is very Sephardic as well as Azkenazi.

The truth is, French Canadians have Jewish roots. I'm not unique.


Jules Crepeau had curly hair which he tamped down apparently, in 1913 at the time of his first civic scandal. Jules was Director of City Services in Montreal in the 1920's.

From Nos Origines website.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Border Reivers and the Sarmatians


My Eurogenes 36 wheel from Gedmatch above and my husband's below. I always knew I was a more complex person ;) but as for him being more French, pas de chance!




Although I learned about Hadrian's Wall back in elementary school, I never heard of the Sarmations, whose Cavalry guarded the wall back 2,000 years ago.

I knew my father spent his childhood in Carlisle, Cumberland, with relations, and I remember asking him why he didn't steal a piece of the wall as a keep-sake.


Today, I've learned more about my DNA and realize the Sarmations (and the Wall) probably play a part in it.

When I first had my autosomal DNA done on Ancestry, I was stunned to see 20 percent Caucasus in the ethnicity.

I realized it was all a soft-science and very speculative, but, still, none of the so-called cousins on the French Canadian side had any Caucasus to speak of,  and there I couldn't find my Yorkshire side among the cousins with any certainty.


I had my husband do his DNA, he's half Scottish half English, and he had little Caucasus.  So, I had my brother do his DNA to prove I was indeed a Nixon from Cumberland by way of Yorkshire. (The results aren't in.)

Today, my brother emailed to ask me if his spit had arrived at Ancestry (not as yet) and I did a little digging and stumbled upon some evidence that I am a Nixon, a descendant of Border Reivers of Cumberland.

It's on a  Border Reiver DNA website mounted in 2009 and last updated in 2014, and it discusses how some Border Reiving families are perhaps descended from the Sarmations.

I had assumed form a while that my Italian was from the Romans soldiers who built the wall, but apparently they didn't mix with the locals, believing them to be sub-human or something. Ha Ha.

Hmm.

And I wasted 100 dollars on my brother's test. Oh, well.

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~donegalstrongs/dnareivers.htm

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Country Fairs 1910-2017


A sumptous prize-winning quilt at the Williamstown Country Fair (August 11-13, 2017) 

Moose, beaver, poutine, maple syrup and Mr. Dressup. This is supposed to be a joke, but the display at the Canada pavilion at the 1900 Paris Exhibition wasn't all that different. It included Pelee Island wine, tho.

"Won many prizes for her baking and crafts." So reads the line after Margaret McLeod Nicholson's name in the seven page McLeod family genealogy.

Margaret (1854-1942) was indeed a very fine baker and cook, who never gave out her recipes without leaving out an ingredient, but there was much more to her.

She was a fiercely protective mother, a devoted wife through thick and thin, a new woman, a feminist and a suffragette sympathizer.

She also had a bit of the olden ways about her, taking an interest in what her dreams told her.

I discovered all this when I found the 1000 Nicholson family letters. I have published the letters and a number of quasi fictional books based on them, two about the Canadian Suffrage Movement.


But, today, it was her baking and crafts I was thinking about.  You see, I visited a Country Fair in Williamstown, Ontario. Although the place is near where I live and nearer where I talk my pets to the vet, I have never been in the lovely LITTLE town.

And I can't recall attending a country fair, anywhere. I think that back in 1970 I went to a fake 'Country Fair' in the Chomedey section of Montreal, where I saw an enormous bull sitting in a pen. A city girl, I had no idea how big bulls could be.

This Williamstown fair, the oldest annual fair in Canada, was sprawling, and full of fun and good things, even a bull or two.  It was a beautiful day, too.  While my husband watched a tug of war between 10 teams of burly men, I looked at the shiny antique cars on display (more throwback to the 60's)and visited the large crafts section to see the prize winning fair fare circa 2017.


Prize winning baked goods. I hope they don't go to waste.


 A Model T Ford from 1924. Probably not too different  from the ones from 1911.

Model T Interior.  Bare-bones. 

A Ford circa 1911, a model that might have cost as much as a nice house, say 2,000 dollars. And they didn't have credit back then. My Nicholson letters reveal that the 'motorcar'  were a big deal in the 1910 era in Richmond, Quebec. The Nicholsons couldn't begin to afford one, but Mr. Montgomery, next door, bought one in 1909 and even upgraded in 1911.




1960's T-bird interior.  


The lure of the sound of bagpipes led my Highlander husband  (with me following) to the dance competitions. My knees ached just watching. The Nicholsons and McLeods are his family. 



How now curly-haired cow. Heritage variety. I could have bought some chickens or turkeys ....or a Shetland pony!

Norman Nicholson (1850-1921) was not a farmer. He was a merchant in hemlock bark in 1899 when he signed this certificate. The hemlock industry would soon collapse and he'd worked in various jobs, inspecting ties on the Transcontinental Railway and overseeing the building of the Richmond, Quebec Post Office, until his death in 1921. He never had the money to buy a car, even a Model T!

Margaret McLeod Nicholson 1910. She did not like the new-fangled automobile. She thought her neighbour foolish to buy one, but she happily went on car rides with anyone who had an auto. (The one exception being in 1921 when she went to vote for the very first time. She couldn't wait for her ride, so she walked to the polls.) Perhaps she protested about autos in her letters to make her husband feel better about not being able to afford an auto like his many friends and family members.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Paris 1928, McGill and Boiled Dishes


Edith Nicholson, 1913 with sister Flora.


Ah, Paris, 1928.   The center of the artistic universe.   Sigh. Paris between the wars. F. Scott Fitzgerald, Cole Porter, Gertrude Stein. Henry Miller and the down-and-out George Orwell.

And let's not forget Edith Sophia Nicholson.

Yes, my husband’s great Aunt Edie, born in 1884 in Richmond, Quebec to Norman Nicholson and Margaret McLeod,, spent half of July and all of August 1928  in City of Lights  -and I have two of her letters to prove it.

Alas, Edith never passed into Gertrude Stein’s legendary salon to rub shoulders with future art legends. Her visit to Paris was of the more conservative kind, but interesting in its own way. She was on a student tour, acting as a chaperone.

Aunt Edie was no boho artist. She was a teacher, the “wise and sympathetic” Tutor-in- Residence at The Hostel at McGill University, a place where the female physical education students boarded.
Aunt Edie was a culture-vulture, all right, but of the prim and proper variety.  In a letter she writes “I try to go into the Louvre as often as I can. It is so wonderful to see the original pictures we have always loved. A French artist took ten of us on a tour of the Italian paintings.”

(See no mention of the Impressionists .)



Edie in the 1920's,  I assume from hair-do and Mrs. Ethel Hurlbatt, the Warden of Royal Victoria Women's College at McGill from 1911 to 1928.  Hurlbatt was ill in 1928 and that may be why Edith got to go to Europe, taking her place.  They look alike. Scots.


As a chaperone, Edith had to attend three hours of morning  lectures with her students. She also ate meals, speaking only French, with them.  “Well, one must make an effort.”

There were many guided tours, to Versailles, for instance, “We were  lucky to see the fountains playing.” and to a Chateau in Chantille, “A wonderful place filled with treasures.” The group attended a ceremony at the tomb of the unknown soldier, in the presence of the British Ambassador. Edith had the honour of placing the wreath.

Edith and two other teacher-chaperones were guests at a luncheon hosted by a Monsieur and Madame  Roy, “such lovely people” where she has two long talks with a Mrs. Lapointe, the wife of the Chief Justice of Canada.

As one might expect the food was very good.  “At luncheon we had cabbage and sausages, a boiled dish that was delicious, with crusty bread (no butter except for breakfast and then only one little pat) then veal chops and green peas and for dessert stewed peaches. The French take such care with every dish. The way they cook the food seems to bring out the best in it.”

(It’s hardly likely Edith would have been treated so well at the Stein salon, which was famous for its casual informality.)

Paris, in the summer of 1928, was hot. Edith remarks upon it in both of her letters. “I am staying in today. The heat has been intense.  Some people are quite played out.”

Luckily, her digs at 33 Boulevard des Invalides were cool and comfortable. “This is quite an interesting place we are staying at. The LycĂ©e (means school) is surrounded by a high wall which encloses this building and a beautiful garden with flowers, trees and walks. And adjacent the grounds of the Rodin Museum.”

From what I can see on Google Earth,  the white stone building at 33 Boulevard des Invalides is still there, and it still houses a school.  I checked, and the building is just a 20 minute walk away from 27 rue Fleurus,  where Gertude Stein lived!

In fact, back then, had Edith taken a walk with her student charges to Le Jardin de Luxenbourg, and that’s pretty likely, (she does mention a walk to Champ de Mars, 20 minutes in the other direction) she might have passed right by the famed salon, and, maybe, even bumped shoulders with a  bohemian artist or wine-soaked patron.


Then again, if she had, it wouldn’t have been anything to write home about, right? Pablo Who?

Monday, July 31, 2017

Cannibalism, Conscription and Mme Defarge-like Clicks


Toronto Suffragists March in Washington in 1913. 
Constance Hamilton, the leader of a provincial assocation, walked behind Mrs. Flora Macdonald Denison and Dr. Stowe-Gullen of the Canadian Suffrage Association.  Hamilton soon mounted a coup against Denison and started her own National Equal Franchise Union, that didn't do much during the War, but in 1917 she used her position to act as a spokesperson for Canadian women.


Well, in 1916, a year before he was forced to call the infamous Conscription Election, Premier Borden of Canada called for 500,000 new recruits.

The population of Canada in 1917 was 8,000,000.

I did the math, looking at the Census figures, and, yes, 500,000 men would have meant about every able-bodied man from 14 to 35 living in the country.

And if you figure they weren't allowing foreign born or people of colour into the forces, well...

In very early August, 1917, the P.M. Borden's Government  held a rowdy Win-the-War meeting in Toronto,  where the key women's societies were invited, but with only two days notice, apparently.

The newspaper accounts of the event make it sound very much like a religious-revival meeting, with testimonials and tears and no shortage of hysteria. Did you know Prussians were cannibals?

Torontonian Constance Hamilton, of the National Equal Franchise Union, a national suffrage organization she started just before the war and which never really got going, used her position to give a keynote speech, saying she didn't want an election.

But, she was all for conscription.  All the women of Canada were for conscription she said, perhaps overstating her authority to say so.

According to the Toronto Star report, you could hear the Mme Defarge-like sound of knitting needles clicking all through the meeting. (Women knitted socks for the men at the Front.)

I used this scene in  Service and Disservice,  my ebook about the iffy involvement of the Canadian Suffragists in the Conscription election of 1917.

It's the follow up to Furies Cross the Mersey, about the British Invasion of Suffagettes to Canada in 1912/13.

The fact is, the female leadership of Canada demanded Conscription even before P. M. Borden and the Canadian Government.


Constance Hamilton

They gathered some 2,000 ladies at this Toronto Win-the-War meeting, some accompanied by their limbless husbands and sons, to make a point: we (Protestants) have suffered enough. Forget recruiting: conscript other people's sons.

Oddly, at the very same time, the Premier of Ontario took out a half page ad in the newspapers saying he needed 100,000 men to bring in the crop in Ontario.

(A little problem, here, obviously.)

Constance Hamilton tried to figure it all out by starting a women's agriculture committee on the National Council of Women.

She had previously been head of the Immigration Committee, a subject she got interested in when she lived in BC and in Winnipeg with her husband, L.A. Hamilton, a legendary surveyor who had a street in Vancouver named after him.

They had no children together. She had no one fighting in the war.

I have to wonder what Mrs. Hamilton thought about the 'cannibal' accusation. She was a from a wealthy Yorkshire family and had spent time in Leipzig studying music and piano.

She even started a Bach Society in Toronto.

The day before thisWin-the-War meeting, Premier Borden sent a telegram to Mrs. Hamilton and to the leaders of I.O.D.E. and the National Council of Women asking them to poll their national memberships to this out: if women were allowed to vote, would his coalition party win an election.

At the August 2 meeting, Mrs. Hamilton met held a powwow with the ladies in the company (perhaps) of Arthur Meighen, Borden's right hand man, to seal this rather undemocratic deal.

Telegrams were sent out and the answer came back: "NO, You would not win the election if all women had the vote." So, in the 1917 election, Borden ended up giving the vote only women with close relatives fighting in the War,  with his highly-controversial War Time Elections Act.

Constance Hamilton loudly and proudly defended the War Time Elections Act in the Press. The President of the other (more legitimate) Canadian Suffrage Organization, Dr Margaret Gordon, called it a "Disenfranchise Act" in the press.

Gordon wondered in the Press why women with men in the war were so keen on seeing other women send their men to die in war.

It was a good question, and it was answered by a mother of soldiers giving a speech at the Win-the- War meeting.

"If more men went to war it would improve the chances of our own men coming back," she said.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

What are the Ties Between Skating Superstar Barbara Ann Scott and Louis Riel?


1900 Canadian Who's Who

I've written a lot about John Naismith Greenshields, of Danville  Quebec,  who successfully defended both Louis Riel and the Megantic Outlaw Donald Morrison.

Greenshields was a graduate of St. Francis College in Richmond, Quebec where  all the children of Norman Nicholson went to high school in the 1880's, or Academy as high school was called back then.

Before 1900 St. Francis was affiliated with McGill University. Norman Nicholson was on the Board of St. Francis at that time.

As I've written here and elsewhere, Norman Nicholson, my husband's great grandfather, was very invested in the 1889 murder trial of  Donald Morrison, perhaps managing his defence fund.  Did Greenshields enlist him or was it the other way around? Hmm.

 I have some documents related to this infamous E.T. event. I wrote about it here on Matthew Farfan's Eastern Townships Heritage website.

Here's a link to my own earlier post all about Mr. Greenshields.

I even put a fictional bit about the man  in my novel Threshold Girl, based on the Nicholson Family Letters from 1908-1913. I have Greenshields flirting as a very young man with Margaret McLeod, my husband's great grandmother from Kingsbury, Quebec, who was very, very pretty and who worked as a youth as the first telegraph operator in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Young Margaret McLeod of Kingsbury, Quebec.


Why not?

Lately, inspired by these Nicholson letters and the books I wrote about them, Threshold Girl, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, Furies Cross the Mersey and Serivce and Disservice, I've grown my own family tree and even taken an Ancestry DNA test.

Edith Nicholson, circa 1914 (when she was a teacher at St Francis College in Richmond) possibly posing at the college with some profs.

I'm half French Canadian, with no relations in th E.T that I've found as of yet.

And, lately, poking about other people's trees on Ancestry.ca  for more info about my husband's tree, I fell upon the famous Canadian figure skater, Barbara Ann Scott of Toronto, born 1928, to see that her paternal grandmother was an Agnes Schuyler Greenshields of Danville, Quebec.

Danville is near Richmond.

I checked and, yes, it appears that Agnes is John Naismith's sister and that makes her the sister of the more illustrious RAE Greenshields (see below).

So, it follows that Barbara Ann Scott, Canada's figure-skating sweetheart, was (very likely) the great niece of this illustrious English Quebec QC and industralist and newspaper publisher, now all but forgotten except here on my blog and in my e-books, available on Amazon Kindle

I wonder if this is common knowledge. Let me check the Internet ::::time passing:::::Nope. When you enter the search terms Barbara Ann Scott and Greenshields, all that comes up is other people's family trees.I haven't been able to find a biography of the famous Canadian athlete anywhere, which is odd. She was the Gretzsky of her era, a super-celebrity, talented and beautiful.

John Naismith Greenshields doesn't have a Wikipedia page, but he is written up in French here, as an illustrious Quebecker of the past.  His brother and partner RAE Greenshields, who rose to be Chief Justice of Quebec and Chancellor of Bishops, and Dean of the Faculty of Law at McGill, does have a Wikipedia page.  Donald Morrison and of course Louis Riel do have Wikipedia pages.