Saturday, May 27, 2017

Prosaic Prose, Animals, and French Canadian Genealogy

The white bread world of 1940's Canada.


The UK author, Walter de la Mare was my favourite poet in my childhood because of the poem, Silver, in my fifth grade reader, Wide Open Windows.Wide Open Windows was most every Protestant (or Jewish) Canadian's reader in the fifth grade.

"Slowly, silently, now the moon,
Walks the night in her silver shoon."

I've written about the Canadian Reading Development Series on this blog before. In recent years I've collected all the books in the series. Well, the final 11th grade book I didn't need to buy. I found it in a cupboard at my inlaws' house. It had belonged to my brother-in-law, who is 10 years old than me. It featured coloured plates of Group of Seven paintings.

Yes, this academic series was used across Canada from the 1940's to the 1970's. I used Wide Open Windows in 1964 in an austere school in a brick building in Snowdon in Montreal. (Well, most schools, like prisons, were built for containment and visibility.)

No doubt, I read some of the stories in Wide Open Windows but only remember the poems, because the stories are, well, prosaic. Dull. Even back in elementary school, I enjoyed quality writing:  Dr. DoolitttleThe Black Stallion, and King of the Wind, a brilliantly written  Cinderella story about the first Arabian stallion.

The stories in Wide Open Windows have no oomph, but I suspect they were edited for reading level and to remove anything remotely controversial.

 The stories are mostly boy-centered but featuring a lot of animals to appeal to the girls. They are white-bread and rural.  They are Canada in the 1940's. The copy I have is from 1967, a school in Manitoba.


The first poem in Wide Open Windows is called Canadian-born as in "I'm proud to be Canadian-born." That says it all.

Another poem I remember well is Lone Dog about a mad dog. It made me sad. A poem I don't remember at all is French Pioneers. It is about French Canadians. I am half-French Canadian but this poem didn't have any animals, I guess, so I found it boring.

Today, I've done a great deal of my family tree on Ancestry and Gedmatch, which is not hard to do if you are French Canadian.  Like the people mentioned in the unattributed poem, I come from Normandy, or my genes do.

"They came here, they toiled here,
They broke their hearts afar,
Normandy and Britanny and Paris and Navarre."

Navarre? It should read Poitou, but that doesn't rhyme. Still, my son had Basque in his genes, so maybe...

Back then, in the 1960s', I assumed Walter de la Mare was French. He wasn't. Yesterday, I found someone on Gedmatch with his Dad  in their tree and checked to see if we shared any DNA. We don't. Walter de la Mare is from Kent. My Dad was from Yorkshire.

My father's maternal grandfather, a Primitive Methodist Minister from Northumberland, apparently wrote a book of devotional poems, but it's lost to history.

Anyway, later on my favorite poets were e.e.cummings and W.B. Yeats and Dylan Thomas.  But, I still like Walter de la Mare.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Pink, Pillar and a Sephardic Side Discovered.


I'm feeling really bored, as I await my husband's Ancestry DNA, although I enjoyed the Blue Jays game, with all the guys dressed up so pretty in pink for Mother's Day (and breast cancer awareness)and Pillar's walk off home-run. Now, the team is pretty well where they were last year and the year before. Everyone can stop freaking out.

My husband's spit in the laboratory, supposedly.  When I had my DNA done, it took only two days in the lab, but who knows.

I've been looking over the results of my French Canadian mother's Full MTDNA analysis from Family Tree and figured out that all the Sephardic Jewish connections are probably because of Lily Eva Rodrigue, born 1599 in  Haute Normandie, grandmother of Francois Boivin, the fille de roi (I think) who came over to Quebec in the early 1600's.

My autosomal test said I'm 2 to 9 percent European Jewish.
Church at Garrigal. 

Otherwise, my mother's maternal line seems all that it should be for a French Canadian whose ancestors came from Normandy France and the Charentes, Pitou district: close connections in Canada and France, more distant connections in England and Norway - and Italy, especially Sicily (the Normans) and Austria and Germany and Switzerland, Greece and Spain...etc.

Even further back, connections in Morocco and Algeria.

That's if I'm reading the data right.

I have no interest in finding my relations on that side. I'm 1/2 French Canadian. We're all related!

But, I couldn't do the Y DNA test, for the male line. I'm a girl. (NOT FAIR!)

My father was a Yorkshireman and Ancestry doesn't have much to offer descendants of Yorkshireman. I had to use GEDMATCH to eke out a few bits of shared DNA from those quaint little North of England towns if they still exist, or crossroads places, if they don't. (Witton Le Wear, Durham is a cross roads. Helmsley is a thriving touristy market town (not far from Castle Howard of Brideshead Revisited fame) and Alston, Cumberland, once a thriving place, has seriously downsized.

I discovered that a pioneer family from my home-town, Hudson, the Viponds, came from Alston, Cumberland in the late 1700's, straight to Vaudreuil- Soulanges, Quebec.

I wonder if these Viponds mined lead, like my ancestors did. Probably. They attended the same 'dissenting' church at Garrigal. Some of them, anyway.  Of course, as I've mentioned here in the past, Alston was the location  of a broad social experiment. The town had a good school, library, and organized leisure. So, it is not surprising that my ancestors from Alston became socialist, social reformer religious types.

Anyway, the Sephardic and Azkenazi Jewish part of my Mom's heritage is, to me,  the most interesting part of it all.

My Mom had no idea.  I wonder if I am representative of most French Canadians? Probably


Thursday, May 11, 2017

Exotic and Expensive North Yorkshire.



I am quite enjoying watching All Creatures Great and Small on YouTube, this terrible, ugly, cold Spring in Quebec.

I'm on season 2.

I see that, for some strange reason, it was deemed a children's show for the Primetime Emmy's. Pretty crazy.

Sure, All Creatures has a lot of animals, and no swearing, but  the protagonist is a grown-up. The main characters are grown-up and the situations are very realistic, naturalistic, one might say.

The show is  not heavy-duty like my current favorite Call the Midwife, although very similar when it comes to all the birthing issues ;) and James seems to save most of the animals, but really, a children's show?

I'm watching the program because I am researching my ancestry, half from Yorkshire.

I've never been to Yorkshire or to the Dales. I intend to go to the Helmsley region, sometime in the future, but the hotels are expensive for the most part and I can't figure out how I'll get around once there, since I don't want to drive around on the 'sinister' side of the road.

Using the databases, I am trying  to figure out who I am related to out there (all the ususal names are in my tree, I can see from the era censuses). And, when I find a name and a distinct "house," I look that up too.

(Gosh! The high prices of homesin  rural Yorkshire!)

The picture at the top is the view from a fine house where an ancestor, a Nesfield, I think, lived.  This Nesfield must have been a richer person to reside there.. Most of my ancestors seem to have been farm labourers.

My father was called Peter Nesfield Forster Nixon, so it was obvious he had a Nesfield ancestor. I just had to figure out who.. It was his father's grandmother.

Ann Nesfield.
My genetic heritage through the prism of Dodecad on Gedmatch. Which part is my mother's?Which part my father's? I think the Caucasus bit is from my Yorkshire Father.

Nesfield is a rare name, and it is found only in Yorkshire, I believe.  There are few Nesfield matches on Gedmatch, so I can't see if I share genes with anyone with such an ancestor posting their DNA there. If what I read on the Internet is right, this Nesfield family has Norman heritage, as they are  named after a place.

My mother, being French Canadian, has lots of Norman genes, too, of course. So, it can get complicated for me.

I share genes with descendants of Richardsons  and Boyes and Wilsons, etc. etc.  so I guess I am a Yorkshire girl.

I don't look like my father, so I'm not 100% sure.  Many of the locally-hired bit actors playing Yorkshire farmers sure do look like my father, though. His father's Nixon line dies with a non-parental event around 1800 and continues as Neesam, another Norman name, I guess. His second great grandfather took his mom's name. She was Hannah Nixon.

This website started out about my husband's Isle of Lewis Scots - Richmond, Quebec ancestors, at the turn of the last century.

While researching their story, I discovered something. At that time, 1910, Canada was looking for farmers from other countries to farm wheat out West. Some xenophobic Canadians wanted only Yorkshiremen to come, but that didn't work out. These British farmers were too set in their ways, apparently, to deal with the winter cold, etc.

Eastern Europeans, with their bright clothing, settled the West, to their dismay.

From what I can see on All Creatures Great and Small, Yorkshire farmers were rather exotic, too, in their way.