Thursday, June 29, 2017

Lightsabers and Banana Splits and Virtual Reality Family Stories.

My living room, 1964. The marble bust of three kids on the right was the only 'art' in our plain duplex apartment,  if you don't count ashtrays.  My mom had inherited it from her parents, who had been wealthy -or at least wealthier. She later sold it to a friend. Our TV was a 20 inch black and white Westinghouse.

The other day I had my very first virtual reality experience at a place called ColonyVR in Ottawa. My son took me and my husband.

While my hubby played with lightsabers, I immersed myself in Night Cafe, a tribute to Van Gogh, an experience that was simply mesmerizing.

This week, I was inspired to create my own work, by placing a picture of the 10 year old me  in the living room of the upper duplex apartment where we lived  in 1965. (It's for sale). As you can see, I'm no Van Gogh.

The living-room window above looked out on a sunny maple-lined street in the Snowdon area of Montreal.

Our white polyester curtains were always greyish, though, from the lead-laced exhaust of the pink Thunderbirds and red Mustangs idling below.

In the afternoon, you could see a thick cloud of dust in the sun's buttery rays.

(Remember, air in the big cities was very polluted in the 1960's, although there was still plenty of fish in the oceans back then and you couldn't walk from Newfoundland to the Isle of Lewis, Scotland, balancing on plastic water bottles.)

Thanks to the late day sun, there was always an  African violet, purchased from the Woolworth's on Queen Mary Road, on the sill over the radiator.

It was a five room upper duplex, built in the 1930's, with super thick walls that couldn't take a nail, so no pretty pictures graced our messy over-crowded  family home.

(Well, maybe there was a Turner - also from Woolworth's - in the living room.) We had lots of ashtrays, though, of all shapes, colours and all sizes.

I wrote about it in my book Looking for Mrs. Peel.

Most of the duplexes along this stretch of  Coolbrook in the 1960's had brown doors and grey porches, because the same penny-pinching man owned them all and purchased the paint in big industrial batches.

Only a few homes had flowers, let alone gardens, in the front. Indeed, one home, up near Queen Mary had a beautiful, abundant garden that stood in startling contrast to the other homes on the street.

I admired it everytime I passed on the sidewalk, on my way to the Woolworth's, where I wished I had the 39 cents to buy a Banana Split.

The Italian family, a few doors down from us, also put out a few potted plants he likely planted and nurtured himself. No wonder he was furious when my brother knocked one over with a soccer ball.

There was no Costco to buy Frankenflowers back then in the 1960's.

Our one-way street, even back then in 1965, was multi-cultural. My school textbooks may have been all "Dick and Jane" and whitebread but my neighbours were originally from Jamaica, Venezuela, India, Greece, Poland, etc.

Today, these same duplex apartments on it go for half a million dollars - despite the fact they back onto the filthy, loud Decarie Expressway, built in 1965/66.

My old duplex apartment is going for a bit less. It hasn't been renovated like the others.

Despite the lack of beauty in my childhood, or perhaps because of it, I'm a huge fan of the Impressionists (and Post-Impressionists).

I visited the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam about one year ago, where they do not let you snap pictures of the works.  Still, it's a great museum, that tells Van Gogh's story with clarity and  panache.

Right now, I'm also listening to Zola's Oeuvre on  Oeuvre, or Masterpiece, is based on the author's relationship with the artist Cezanne.

Of course, Cezanne, the father of modern art and  a manic-depressive, struggled to get his artwork recognized. He even had problems getting his paintings into the "Salon of the Rejected."

This makes me wonder, "What's the equivalent, today?" What great art of the future is being downplayed by the Bourg..ious..oeus, (I can't EVER spell that word.)

The middle class.

Video games? My son, of course, loves his video games and I, of course, have always found them too violent - and silly and a waste of time.

Last year, though, I asked my boy to dig me out a few non-violent ones so that I could try them out on the PlayStation. I no longer wanted to be a smug Philistine. I also was in in search of some brain-sersize.

He lent me Rayman and Assassin's Creed and Christine and Dark Rain.

It is difficult developing this video game 'literacy' when you are much older. I was all fumble-fingered - so I gave up.

But, now, after this wonderful VR experience in Ottawa, one that made me realize that this medium is supposed to be pleasurable, I can see the future of video games and VR and I want to be prepared for it.

I pulled out my son's video games, which are still in my home, and tried again. And I was a little bit better at it.

No, I don't want to be like those short-sighted Paris critics, who said Cezanne's paintings looked as if a monkey had thrown poop at a canvas.

(Hey, aren't monkeys throwing poop BIG on YouTube? That's what my son tells me.)

 OK. I clearly deserve kudos for being so open-minded ;) I'm also a typical older person who is into genealogy. I belong to a genealogical writing group that meets once a month to write down our family stories.

We've compiled our best stories in a book, Beads in a Necklace: family stories from Genealogy Ensemble, to be published in autumn, 1917.

I was re-reading some of these stories today. If I say so myself, they are pretty amazing, a genuine chronicle of Canadian social history, with a focus on Montreal history.

These family stories are in essay form, combining fiction and non-fiction techniques - as well as photos.

This makes me  wonder whether future genealogists will be taking their family photos and films and videos and turning them into, yes, virtual reality presentations!

OK. Slow down, Dorothy.  One step at a time.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Montreal Area Workshop Fall 2017: Writing Your Family History

Wedding pic. Margaret McLeod and Norman Nicholson 1883, Richmond, Quebec.

Are you part of a Montreal-area community group?

Are some of your members researching their genealogy or otherwise interested in family history? 

Would some of them like to write their unique family stories for a blog, for a book, or for their grandchildren, but don’t know where to begin?

If so, a Genealogy Ensemble presentation about Writing Family History might be just the boost they need.

Genealogy Ensemble groups nine women who have been meeting monthly over the past several years to share stories about their families. The support and feedback they give each other has helped them improve and develop their passion for writing compelling family history. They take turns posting stories to They have just collected a selection of their favourite stories into a book that they can use to inspire others to explore genealogy.  

This one/ two-hour presentation could be given in the daytime or evening between November 2017 and May 2018. Such a seminar would attract about a dozen people.  

Genealogy Ensemble would provide a promotional poster to enhance the library’s efforts in publicizing the event. The presenter would bring a laptop or a USB key with a PowerPoint for use on a projector provided by the library. The presenter will also bring a few copies of Beads in a Necklace: Family Stories from Genealogy Ensemble (Montreal, self-published, 2017) to sell.

Some of the topics to be covered in this presentation:

·         Why write your family history? Stories are the best way to connect family members to their ancestors.
·         Using fiction techniques to tell non-fiction stories.
·         Separating myth and reality and the importance of citing sources.
·         The benefits of forming a writing group: meeting deadlines; limiting stories to 500 words; feedback from the group; polish and publish.

There will be handouts, including writing tips and suggested online resources.

The presenters include:  

Barb Angus, a career educator, is well known among teachers for her workshop presentations on innovative instructional practice. She has travelled extensively and has a passion for people, place, and story. Her natural curiosity ultimately led her to research her ancestors and write about significant events in their lives.

Tracey Arial profiles Montrealers in newspapers, magazines and books. Her work includes I Volunteered: Canadian Vietnam Veterans Remember, Behave Your Way to Project Success and an upcoming book about economic expansion and social wounds caused by World War II. Read her blog at

Janice Hamilton was a journalist and freelance writer for more than 40 years. She is author of numerous non-fiction books, including The St. Lawrence River: History, Highway and Habitat (Redlader, 2006). Her family history blog is

Dorothy Nixon has worked in radio, television news, and as a freelance writer for small and major market magazines and newspapers. Her specialty was education and women’s issues. Her passion, today, is exploring Canadian social history through family stories. 

Saturday, June 24, 2017

ColonyVR, Van Gogh and Labyrinths.

Me last year outside Van Gogh Musuem.

My husband and I decided that we should try to do something new together at least once a week, something we haven't done before, or at least not in a long while.

Well, one of of us decided and the other went along.

"It doesn't have to be expensive," I said. "In fact, it should be on the cheap side. But, that means we have to be creative."

I bought a cheap badminton set the first week. The second week we went to the Aviation Museum in Ottawa.  Then, we visited Ile Bizard, a place we've never been to, even though we've passed it by thousands of time.

"In the summer, our new activity should be outdoors, if possible." I had recommended.

Except that I went and hurt my knee playing tennis - not a new activity.

So, what did we do this weekend?

We did some virtual reality, at a place called Colony VR in Ottawa.  My grown up son had done it for his birthday and really enjoyed it. He wants to eventually get his own device.

Needless to say, I'm not into video games. (I have tried to play some recommended by my son, but find it hard.)

But, virtual reality sounded like fun. I like to use our big screen TV to imagine I'm in, say, Big Sur, or Italy, in the dead of winter, so I'm half-way there.

"Yes, let's try that," I told my husband.

And we did. ColonyVR looks like a place parents bring kids for birthday parties.

I did the undersea experiences, very, very nice and something called NIGHT CAFE where you immerse yourself in a Van Gogh painting.

As it happens, last year at this time I was in Amsterdam and I did visit the Van Gogh Museum, an excellent museum, one of the best I've ever been in.

This Night Cafe Virtual Reality experience was simply beautiful.  The colours!  Here it is on Youtube, but the REAL experience is much brighter.

The Labyrinth film at Expo67, 50 years ago. I saw it only once or twice as there were such long line-ups, but I saw the other signature films many, many times.

Anyway, as soon as my knee heels, we're gonna go biking on the Lachine Canal.

Before that, maybe we'll visit the Museum on Ile Ste Helene, where there's an Expo67 exhibit.

That Expo67 feeling: I got a little dose today, fifty years on.  Expo had cutting edge films, or way beyond cuting edge.

I think this Ile Ste. Helene exhibit at the Stewart Museum -Expo67 A World of Dreams - has virtual reality exhibits of Expo, ir 'immersive exhibits'.  How circular is that?

                  Stamps on an Expo passport. The bright one at left was the Ethiopian Pavilion.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Who Owned the Plaines of Abraham? My Ancestor

Today, for some reason, I got the urge to clean out an Edwardian-era secretary I have in the living room. It was full of crap. I found this pic of my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, at about 24 years old.

I had forgotten about it.

He's very French-looking, no?

The son of a house painter, at the time this photograph was taken Jules had already been 15 years at Montreal City Hall!

He was married in 1901, or is it 1900, to Maria Roy. Maria, the daughter of a Master Butcher, brought a 40,000 dollar dowry to the marriage which allowed him to build a new house on Amherst.

I have two crystal urns that was one of their wedding presents. I have them in the bathroom, as decorations.

Maria's mother, Melina Gagnon Roy, lived with them on Amherst in 1902.


I have just decided to write a book, Montreal 1928, about Jules. In 1928, he was Director of City Services, a big and powerful position.

Jules was involved in numerous scandals that year, too: the  controversy around the 14 million dollars Montreal Water and Power Purchase; the fall-out from the fatal Laurier Palace movie house fire in 1927; and yet another typhoid epidemic.

A couple of years before, Jules'  name had been brought up during the Coderre Commission into Police Malfeasance and Impropriety. Apparently, he was BOSS over the police, telling them what to do.

At that inquiry, a certain Constable Trudeau would testify that my grandfather forced police to look the other way when movie houses made infractions against the by-laws.

Trudeau did  not like children attending movies. "One day, there's going to be a catastrophe," he said. "One day there's going to be a fire and people won't be able to get out."

I suspect this was a threat against my grandfather, on behalf of organized crime. Trudeau was a crooked cop who 'lent' the Chief of Police money on numerous occasions.

Two years later, new populist Mayor Camillien Houde would force my grandfather to resign, and he told a rowdy session at City Hall that it was because 'the people' wanted revenge for all the above issues, none of which had much to do with my grandfather, but hey.

My grandfather would negotiate a huge life pension of 7,500 a year. He had leverage of some kind: that pension would leave him the second highest paid person at City Hall, without having to work!

During the Depression, in 1937, the city would suspend Jules' pension as part of an emergency measure.

Two weeks later, my grandfather would be hit by a car in NDG, not far from his home, driven by an out of work policeman. His leg would be broken.

(I wonder whom he threatened.)

He would die a year later from complications from X-Rays, bone cancer.

 Grandpapa on a City Hall legend. Middle bottom.

 with family
In a tall hat with city alderman on a hunting trip, I think.

Anyway, I've been doing my family tree, and I managed to trace Jules' paternal line back to Maurice Crespeau from Poitou Charentes, France.

His mother, Vitaline Forget's side,  I traced back to Abraham Martin of  the Plaines of Abraham fame, the well-known pioneer or "L'Ecossais" who owned the place where the iconic battle took place.

It's easy to trace the trees of French Canadians thanks to Catholic Church records. I'm having trouble with the Roy line, though. It stalls (or hits a brick wall)at a few generations back.

 I've turned to DNA. I found Maria Roy's birth certificate and see that her Godfather was a Philias Roy. That's a rarer name than her father, Louis Roy.  I went on GEDMATCH and found some people with a Philias Roy in their trees, and, yes, I get substantial DNA matches. The problem is, these trees don't indicate  know what part of Quebec he is from.  I think this Maria Roy line goes back to Le Roy from Britanny, tho.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Why did Camillien Houde Hate My Grandfather?

Well, how cool.

In celebration of Montreal's 375th, Le Nouveau Theatre ExpĂ©rimentale  is putting on a play about Camillien Houde, People's Mayor of Montreal from 1928 to 1950 something.  The play will run August 22, 2017 to September 2.

The play is called Camillien Houde: Le p'tit gars de Ste Marie, the same title as a 1961 bio by Hertel LaRoque.

Camillien Houde is the famously 'colourful' Mayor of Montreal who forced my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, to resign his big post back in 1930.  Grandpapa, a 42 year veteran of City Hall, was Director of City Services.

At a fiery 1930 debate at Montreal City Hall between Houdists and the Leon Trepanier faction, Houde said, "The people want revenge for the Montreal Water and Power Deal, the typhoid and the Laurier Palace Fire."

It's all so very strange.  My grandfather had never been accused in public of having anything to do with the horrible fire.

I'm plunging into my next project, a novel about Montreal in 1928, from two points of view, city politics and feminism. It's a project I have actually spent 15 years researching.

I learned a lot writing FURIES CROSS THE MERSEY, about the British invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in 1912.  In 1914, a certain Edward Beck, journalist, tried to bring my grandfather's career to a halt. He enlisted the Montreal Suffragists to help.

My grandfather will figure large in my new book, with my husband's great aunt Edith, who was Tutor-in-Residence at the Hostel, a woman's residence at McGill.  She had a little job in a little place, but she was connected to the English elite. She stepped out with Miss Carrie Derick, McGill Prof, former President of the Montreal Suffrage Association and board member of the newer La Ligue des droits de la femme, with Therese Casgrain. (Edith was also a member of La Ligue.)

English and French, you see. Trough politics and feminism. Jazz Age fun and Prohibition-Era vice.

But, right now, I need to find this Houde bio. It's available on Abebooks but not in my local library.

Why? This morning, scanning the 1928 Montreal Gazettes I found this  very suspicious article:

Houde was a member of the National Assembly in February, 1927.  The next year, Houde would run for Mayor of Montreal and win, ousting my grandfather's people.

This article suggests that Houde was very invested in the idea of a broad inquiry into the Laurier Palace Fire.


As I have written about on this blog, my grandfather was the first to speak at an initial inquest into the fire, one that, according to the Gazette, aroused little interest. He talked about licenses.

Jules was otherwise involved in the fatal fire, that's for sure, but only in an oblique way, and THAT was never brought up. Read all about that here.

Very soon, there would be a call for a full-blown  Royal Commission into the deaths at the Laurier Palace.

 My grandfather would be called on to testify, once again, along with policemen, parents, church leaders, school principals, movie house owners, etc.

All this testimony would only serve to muddy the waters. The widely-publicized Royal Commission would uncover little of use. No one was found culpable for the fire or for the deaths of the 78 children. (All but one died from asphyxiation, at a crush by the door.)

Still, when all was said and done, Quebec children under 16 were barred from going to the cinema, even in the company of an adult, for 40 years. Yes, 40 years! (Well, the kids found way around it, of course.)

 I must find out: Was Camillien Houde the instigator of this lengthy Royal Commission?

As the testimony reveals (its available online) there was a great deal that was suspicious about the fire. Read the short-version here on my blog.

Most suspicious of all was an incendiary quote  by crooked cop Conrad Trudeau, much earlier in 1925, that WASN'T brought up in 1927, even though the testimony made all the newspapers and was extremely relevant to the 1927 fire. The quote came during testimony at the Coderre Inquiry into Police Malfeasance.

 "One day there's going to be a catastrophe, One day there's going to be a fire (in a movie theatre) and no one will be able to get out."

On the stand, that day in 1925, and without being asked, Trudeau brought up the fact that my grandfather forced the police to look the other way when movie theatres broke the rules. (He had been asked only about coal and scale tipping.) Then Trudeau uttered that prescient quote reported on in the Gazette, left out of other newspapers.

 This 'catastophe' line, I figure, could have been a threat by organized crime  -or someone else-  aimed directly at my Grandfather, Jules, whose brother was Isadore Crepeau, VP of United Theatre Amusements.

Conrad Trudeau, apparently, had lent a lot of money to the Chief of Police, BĂ©langer, but only as a friend. (sic). This suggests he had ties to organized crime.

My grandfather fired Trudeau on the spot, but for another unrelated bribery incident. Juge Coderre laced into my grandfather in his final report also printed up in all the newspapers. Who is this Jules Crepeau who controls the police? he asked.

During the 1927 Royal Commission, Le Devoir newspaper tried to get people to wake up to this two year-old Trudeau testimony,  with a sly hint in the back pages of the broadsheet, pointing to the exact line -date, page, and number  - in the Royal Commission Transcript, but nothing came of it.

What a media literary lesson this has turned out to be

Jules and family in Atlantic City circa 1928..

Sunday, June 18, 2017

McGill Phys Ed 1928 - and Sin City

In June and July 1928, Edith Nicholson, Assistant to the Registar at McGill University and  Tutor-in-Residence at "The Hostel" for female Phys Ed students, visited London and Paris.

She must have gone on official McGill business, because Edith didn't have any money and neither did her family.

I'm writing a book about Edith, who is my husband's great aunt. It'll take place in 1928, the Jazz Age, the Age of American Prohibition. It'll involved my own grandfather who was Director of City Services.

I'm not sure how to go about writing this story. I have some of Edith's letters and the 1928/29 Hostelights magazine, dedicated to her wise guidance. That's a start.

I also found this article in the the September 14, 1928 Montreal Gazette. "Rise of Physical Education Traced."

That year the McGill Female Phys Ed Department welcoming event was covered by the press with an article in the daily Women's Section of the Montreal Gazette, a section that always featured a sketch of a slim girl in a flapper dress and cloche hat. We all know and love that style.

The article quotes Dr. A.S. Lamb, who was the Director of Phys Ed at McGill back then, and Mrs. J.S. Herriott, the Director the Women's Program.  It also quotes Mrs Walter (sic) Vaugh (Susan Cameron Vaughn, actually) who was acting Warden at Royal Victoria College, the Women's College at McGill and pays tribute to the Warden, Miss Ethel Hurlbatt, who was recovering from a heart attack.

(Hurlbatt soon returns to work and suffers another health setback and then she retired. )

The article goes on to name the teachers in the McGill Phys Ed Department, but it does mention Edith Nicholson, Tutor-in-Residence.

Oh, well. Edith may have stepped out with Miss Carrie Derick, famed McGill professor, (so says a 1927 letter) but she wasn't important enough to get a mention in a newspaper article. I'm certain she was at this event. She arrived from Europe on September 7, 1928.

Not important enough. Indeed, when I visited McGill to check out a few boxes containing the fonds of Royal Victorial College, I found her name mentioned but once.

Letter from England. In France, she attended a War Memorial ceremony and was given the honour of placing a wreath at the grave of the unknown soldier.

And she worked there as Assistant Warden in the 1930's to the 1950's!

She also gets no mention in Margaret Gillett's We Walked Very Warily, about the first women (Donalda's) at McGill.

You see, Edith didn't have a B.A. degree, just a teacher's degree -and a provisionary one at that.  She did have good connections, though. All the Nicholsons did.

I know she started her career at McGill in September, 1920, working in the Registrar's Office. (The Registrar was a Dr. Nicholson, no direct relation, but a member of the Clan, no doubt.)

She had been at Sun Life Insurance during WWI, while volunteering with the Navy League and the YMCA's V campaign.

Before that, in 1915, she had worked at Wesleyan Theological  College, on University. She registered an Italian student who she had converted to Protestantism at French Methodist School in Westmount, under a Dr. Villard. She had worked there from 1908 to 1912.

Dr. Nicholson of McGill recommended Edith visit the Bodelian Library at Oxford while in England - and she did. She got the grand tour of the place.  She spent five full days at Oxford. In June, 1928, they were celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first woman's college at Oxford.

Yes, Edith must have gone to Europe on some official McGill business. She went with a Margaret Reid, Isabel Rowat and a Miss Brittain, possibly the same Miss Brittain who was involved with the Montreal Council of Women during WWI.

(It can't be Vera Brittain.)

Why am I writing another book about Edith, after Diary of a Confirmed Spinster,Threshold Girl and Furies Cross the Mersey? Because in 1928, Montreal was Sin City, also famous for being a place where Americans came to party. (The newspapers were full of stories about the increased tourism to Montreal, while never mentioning that it was alcohol luring the tourists.)

In 1925 there had been a public inquiry into police corruption, where the presiding judge, in his final report claimed "Vice spreads its tentacles into every aspect of City Life."

By September, 1928, the same newspaper claimed, the policemen involved in the corruption were still on the job. Either prosecute them or exonerate them, people said.

I read in the Fonds of RVC that there were only four places in the city where these female students were allowed to go, Mount Royal, The Windsor Grill, Morgan's Department Store and the Ritz Carleton.

And, yet, the Gazette article had this in it:

So, what's up?

The Phys Ed Department, Female Side, had students from Montreal, Quebec, every province and 'a few Americans.'

These days, I've read, Montreal is a booming university student with loads of foreign students, one of the world leaders for student-tourism.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Helmsley, North Yorkshire my Posh Ancestral Seat

View from Rye House, Rievaulx, where an ancestor, a Nesfield, once lived.

My Montreal-based genealogy writing group, GenealogyEnsemble, is about to publish a book of delicious, touching and occasionally mischievous  stories about our ancestors. We've chosen a title "Beads in a Necklace" that is also the title of a story within the book.

Right now, we're looking for a venue to have the autumn book launch. Luckily, Montreal has no shortage of heritage venues in which to hold such events.

Even the McCord Museum, on Sherbrooke West, where I researched so much of my story Furies Cross the Mersey, about the invasion of British suffragettes to Montreal in 1912, has a special room for events.

And, right now, the McCord is featuring a "Fashions of Expo67" show.

How perfect!  One of my stories in the up-coming volume is about my British Colonial grandmother, Dorothy Nixon, who visited us for the first and only time that beautiful Expo year.

At our team's meeting a few days ago, I was joking about how I wanted to visit my ancestral seat in the North of England, but I was finding the trip more expensive than anticipated.

How ironic is it, I lamented, that the town where my ancestors toiled as farm labourers, footmen, and delvers in a quarry, is now such a posh destination.

(Rumour has it my great grandfather Nixon also worked in a sawmill - maybe this one, Dunscombe Sawmill.)

The building where the Nixons lived is still there, an austere brick building, but much of Helmsley town is very lovely, no doubt about it.

I can see on Google Earth Abbot's Well cottage, in nearby Rievaulx, where my great grandmother, Mary-Ellen Richardson lived in the 1800's. An online website says the building is worth a million pounds!

Abbot's Well Cottage in Rievaulx, where my great grandmother lived.

And, what do you know? Today, on twitter came a story from the Yorkshire Life webite about How Hemsley has become a Tourist Destination, and how it was recently voted prettiest market town in the UK.

Yes, Helmsley, North Yorkshire has long been a destination for hunters from around the world, but now it is so much more.

No surprise, Abbot's Well Cottage in Rievaulx, where my great-great grandfather, a tailor, plied his trade, is now headquarters for a hunting-tourism company.

So, I guess I had better make those travel plans soon, before prices go even higher.

Alas, I'm not the only one whose ancestral haunt is now a very touristy place, just ask any Italian or Greek Canadian. Oh, I want to go to Italy, too, soon.

My grandfather, Robert, on the 1911 census. He was working as a footman, I'm not sure where. Maybe Dunscombe.

Robert would soon go to Malaya to work as a plantation worker, then Assistant-Manager. During WWI, he would return home to take a wife, Dorothy Forster, born in Middleton-on-Teesdale, Durham, whose dad, John, a Primitive Methodist Minister, had been stationed in Helmsley in 1912. John  was originally from Allendale, Northumberland. His wife, Emma Cowen, was from Crook and Billy Row, Durham.

I've done my DNA on Ancestry, but almost all my 'cousins' there are from the French Canadian side. Not much Yorkshire DNA on that particular platform. Northern Englanders didn't emigrate much, apparently, even if the Captain on Murdoch Mysteries claims to be from Yorkshire.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Corn Tortillas, Wilder Penfield and Changi Prison

I am determined to learn new things, especially if they save me money. 

I tried, today, to make my own tortillas out of corn flour to satisfy the gluten-intolerant in my midst and to avoid paying those ridiculous prices at the health food store.

I bought a huge bag of corn flour from the Chinese grocer for one quarter the price of what's in the health food store.

But, as I had anticipated, making tortillas  isn't as easy as one may think. Indeed, some people use a tortilla maker.

My fish tacos tasted good, though, with my garden-grown coriander that appears to be going to seed. The tops are all feathery.

Even growing herbs isn't as easy as one thinks.

This weekend, for Father's Day, I am making a quinoa and black rice salad, with the black rice, or 'forbidden rice,' I also bought at the Chinese grocery.

I hope the salad is good. The bag of rice I bought is enormous.

This ordinarily isn't Father's Day fare. My husband, like most local men, would prefer a steak and fries.

But, hey.  

My son is a chef, so when he visits I try to do the cooking myself. Everyone needs a break. And, despite the fact I'm hit and miss with meals, my son is always quick with the compliments.

Smart boy.

On the subject of housework (sloppy transition here) I am also in the midst of researching a new book about Montreal in 1928, a follow up to the many other 'family story' books I've self-published on Amazon Kindle; 

I'm trolling the Montreal Gazette's for May and June 1928, when my grandfather, Jules Crepeau, was Director of City Services and caught in the middle of a power struggle between two factions at City Hall, one led by new Mayor Camillien Houde and the other led by City Councilman Leon Trepanier. My grandfather was aligned with Trepanier.

My grandfather would be forced to resign in 1930 by the illustrious Mayor Houde. Trepanier and six other councilmen would try to keep him on board.

The debate at City Hall in 1930 would get very rowdy. Houde's false teeth would spurt out while he spoke.

(I have written all about it on this blog.)

Today, I fell upon  two unconnected articles from the 1928 Montreal Gazette that piqued my interest. 

The following one that is self-expanatory.

And, then,  this one about European women in Colonial Malaya. It's of personal interest to me.

The woman who gave the above talk in 1928 to Montrealers claimed in her speech that European women in Malaya 'lead unnatural lives," because their kids are sent away to school. 

She also said it was too hot to work in Malaya, but that was OK, because there were plenty of Chinese around wanting to work as servants.

 She said playing golf and tennis is about the only thing for a woman to do, outside of socializing.

My grandmother, Dorothy Forster Nixon,  who I wrote about in Looking for Mrs. Peel, was living in Selangor, Malaya in 1928. 

 My father, Peter, and his sister, Denise, six and five years old, respectively, had been sent alway to England  two years before to go to school as was, indeed, the custom.

The siblings stayed with relations during the holidays, aunts and uncles who did not want them around.  Very sad it was for them.

In her 1928 lecture, this British woman, like many commentators, makes it sound as if  women like her in Malaya led a very lazy life. This was an oft-repeated perception. In my e-book, I  explain why they had no choice.

My grandmother, the daughter of socialist Methodists from Northumberland,  who attended a Quaker School, was born to a life of service.

 She took on the job of Secretary of the Kuala Lumpur Book Club in the 1930's and, later, during the War, she was interned at Changi by the Japanese. She became Women's Camp leader for a stint and then was tortured in the infamous Double Tenth Incident.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Emmeline and Earhart, Oxford and McGill - 1928

In June, 1928,  Emmeline Pankhurst - and woman suffrage - was already old news: her death at 70 made only the Page 9 Women's News Section of the Montreal Gazette.

And this despite the fact that Quebec women still didn't yet have the provincial vote.

I'm sure Edith Nicholson, my husband's great aunt, felt sad when she heard the news. She had been an avid fan of the suffragette leader. (Read Furies Cross the Mersey.)

Edith, who was active with la Ligue des droits de la femme, a local suffrage advocacy group,  didn't see the Gazette issue  with the Pankhurst obit.  She was in London, England at that time. I have a June 5, 1928 letter (above) where "DeDe" says she is spending most of her time at Oxford.

 She writes about visiting the Bodelian Library, at the bidding of J. R. Nicholson, the Registar of McGill - and her boss back home. (No relation, though.)

(Another story on the Women's Page says that the fiftieth anniversary of a Woman's College at Oxford, Lady Margaret Hall, is being celebrated in June, 1928. I suspect that is why Edith is at Oxford.  The June 5 letter say she is leaving for Paris the next day. )

Amelia Earhart was the woman everyone was talking about in June, 1928.  Her flight across the Atlantic was making page one headlines and generating a lot of ancillary articles.

Another headline says Miss Earhart finds fame difficult. Hmm. Unlike in Emmeline's case, Miss Earhart's fame has lived on for a very lousy reason.

Emmeline had made plenty of front page headlines in the Gazette just 15 years before, in 1913, when  suffragette militancy was at its peak.

The Gazette shared a newswire with the New York Times in 1913, but the sensational headlines were of the Gazette's own concoction.

The Gazette was decidedly not pro- woman suffrage. The Canadian suffragists were against the sale of alcohol and the Gazette had plenty of booze ads.

In June, 1928 the paper's editors wrote about American Prohibition at least twice. It was still a very hot topic. Montreal was not under Prohibition in the 1920's and American tourism was up because of it!

The biggest local news in the June 1928 Gazette was about the Montreal Water and Power appropriation. City Hall aldermen were debating how to pay for the once-private suburban water works company, purchased a few months  before from a-not-so-secret consortium for a whopping 14,000,000 dollars.

My Grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Director of City Service, would soon lose his job  over this necessary purchase. (Typhoid was a problem in Montreal.)

He was forced to resign by Mayor Camillien Houde two years later.

Somehow the purchase was Grandpapa's mistake. He should have warned aldermen against it. Except he hadn't been at the 1926 meeting where the purchase was finalized.

 Industrial Lorne Webster was the one who engineered this sale to his advantage, flipping the company and making a cool 4 million dollars in a matter of months.  An arbitrator, however, later exonerated Webster of any wrong-doing.

My grandfather, the city's highest paid civil servant in the 1920's, was fired by Houde for other, murkier, reasons.

 Grandpapa had  been around city politics for four decades. Indeed, in 1928, he was feted by his fellows at City Hall for a stellar forty years of service. He was extremely hardworking and very bright, they said. No kidding.

Clearly, my grandfather knew too much and/or he was aligned with the wrong people. (At a City Hall debate in 1930, over whether to accept my grandfather's resignation, Houde said the people wanted revenge, for the Water and Power Sale and for the Laurier Palace Fire. )

Still,  my grandfather privately negotiated an enormous pension  with Houde before agreeing to step down.

In 1937, the City passed a special Depression Era bill cancelling my grandfather's pension. My grandfather must have threatened someone, because he was hit by a car driven by a plain clothes policeman two weeks later. He died from complications from X-Rays the next year.

The 1928 St. Jean Baptiste parade was held in June, according to the same newspaper. Apparently, Houde gave Montreal citizens a half day off.

So, no wonder the streets were so crowded in front of 72 Sherbrooke West, where my grandfather and family lived, when the parade passed.

Here's the picture someone in my family took, way back when. The 1928 date is on the back.

Monday, June 12, 2017

1920's Montreal, McGill Women and the Cross on Mount Royal

The Hostel was the residence of the female Phys Ed students at McGill University in the 1920's.

I know because I have before me their 'novel experiment' for the 1928-29 school year, Hostelights, a 'small magazine' they published for the first and only time.

I have the copy that once belonged to Edith Nicholson, my husband's Great Aunt Dedee. Edith wasn't a student at McGill back then, she was the Tutor-in-Residence - and the little magazine is dedicated to her in thanks for her 'sympathy and wise-guidance."

(I've written a lot about Edith on this blog and in books on Amazon Kindle, Threshold Girl, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster, and more, available here.)

I pulled out  my copy of Hostelights because I am embarking on yet another Nicholson project, about Montreal in 1928, that will also be about Montreal City Hall, where my French Canadian grandfather, Jules Crepeau, was Director of Municipal Services, a huge post.

So, my book will explain Montreal from two very different points of view, English Protestant and French Catholic. The Prince of Wales will be involved. The Laurier Palace Fire, a real game-changer in Quebec, will figure large.  Oh, yes, and American Prohibition will be front and center.

Montreal was one of the few 'wet' cities in North America in 1928, but the New York Times was working hard to prove that Quebec's liquor laws were sensible and very good for the public purse. After all, the song Hello, Montreal was about New Yorkers coming to Montreal in droves to drink, cavort, and spend their money...

Yes, Montreal was sin city back in the 1920's  ("Vice spreads its tentacles in every aspect of city life," explained Juge Coderre who oversaw a 1925 inquiry into police corruption) and the female students at McGill's Royal Victoria College were allowed to frequent only four venues in the city: Morgan's Department Store down the hill, the Windsor Grill  Restaurant, The Ritz Carleton Hotel and Mount Royal. (I assume Mount Royal means the mountain. French and English were fighting over the Mountain in the twenties. The famous cross on Montreal's Central Park was put there in 1924.)

Reading the Editorial in this Hostelights Magazine, written by a certain Mavis Mitchell and her Board, I have to smile.

The recent UK election, where Labour did much better than expected, is being widely touted as reflecting a fight between young and old, new values and old values.

The  more things change, the more things stay the same.

Here's the 1928 editorial that, I think, will provide the underlying theme of my book.

"Nine years ago, a Hostel was opened as a residence for students of Physical Education. Since that time there have been many changes, not  only in the Hostel but also in the government. Perhaps the most important change is in the girls themselves, whose ideas and acts are but a sincere expression of the trend of modern thinking.

The growth of the new age, which has brought with it active participation of women in business and the professional fields, demands of these participants absolute capability and self-reliance, as well as a definite combination of  self-assertion and individual thinking.

The girls today admit the necessity of traditions, as they existed for their predecessors, but realized that these same traditions are inadequate to meet their own problems.

At the present time, girls are making a sincere effort to find themselves to adjust themselves to this new age. In so doing, they are inclined to lose sight of the benefits to be derived from traditions. The older generation, on the other hand, feeling their ideals unappreciated, becomes antagonistic. In order to correct this condition, it is necessary that there be a recognition of the struggle of modern girls to adjust themselves to the new world, and that there be an appreciation of the experienced woman's traditions, which have protected the present girls until they have gained suffience strength to stand alone."

 Edith Nicholson, Assistant Principal at Royal Victoria College in the 1930's and Ethel Hurlbatt, Principal of Royal Victorial College from about 1911 to until around 1930. (The two women look a lot alike. Scots!)

Below, a 1928 letter from Edith, Tutor-in-Residence at the Hostel at McGill at that time, as well as Secretary for the Registrar at the same university, explaining how she has taken over the duties of her ailing superior.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Sarah Churchill, Zadie Smith and Synchonicity.

I am half way through the Zadie Smith novel Swing Time - a great read - so it was with bemusement that I sat down yesterday night to see that the Fred Astaire movie Royal Wedding was on  the Turner Classic Movies Channel.

The fact is, I don't believe I've ever seen that particular movie! I don't think it has played much on TV over the years.

Yes, I've seen the famous dance bits, with the hat rack and the anti-gravity wall dancing, but that only divorced from the movie.

Remember those successful re-wind films, That's Entertainment and That's Entertainment 2? Well, I saw those in the 70's - like most everyone else.

The colourful Haitian bit, well, I think it's been censored over the years, for obvious reasons Zadie Smith explores in her wonderful novel. Maybe I am wrong.

Syncronicity, I guess, is the reason Royal Wedding played last night on the television while I was in the middle of a new book by one of my favorite authors.

But, I swear, I've never before seen Royal Wedding, not once ever.

 Then, there's Sarah Churchill, who plays Astaire's love interest.

 I guess I knew that Winston had a daughter who was an actress but I didn't know she had been given a big showcase role in 1951, dancing with Fred Astaire.

She's a nice dancer.

When Churchill's character first came on screen,   I thought she was Rosemary Clooney, only lankier. It couldn't have been a good thing for her to look like one of the most talented stars of the time, even with her famous name.

Sarah Churchill died in 1967, relatively young.

I wonder  why this movie hasn't been played and replayed ad-infinitum on TV lately, like many of Astaire's lesser movies.

Maybe it's a rights issue.

I wouldn't have watched Royal Wedding last night, being so tired, but the host said it had great scenes.

So, maybe Royal Wedding has played a lot, but I haven't bothered to watch.

Royal Wedding takes place during Queen Elizabeth's coronation, way back when, before I was born.

I didn't know much about Rosemary Clooney, either,  until lately. (Well, except for watching White Christmas every year.)

I was born in the 1950's.

Although a huge star in the fifties, in the sixties, as her famous nephew succinctly put it, she was forgotten.

iTunes and such has brough her a new audience, including myself, who can now appreciate her note-perfect singing.  I love those 40's tunes.

Well, I did have an acquaintance with Rosemary. My parents bought me her "children's album" and I remember loving Teddy Bear's Picnic. Her mischievious vocal stylings are forever etched into my brain.

Rosemary Clooney's photo was on the cover and it displayed her considerable cleavage. I recall in college a male friend of mine remarking on that same cover. It had had some kind of effect on him as a boy.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Montreal 1909, and 1913

 Emmeline Pankhurst spoke in Toronto in 1909 and was given the keys to the city. She did not visit Montreal. However, Ethel Snowden, moderate British Suffragist, visited Montreal in 1909 and said "Mrs. Pankhurst has unleashed a Frankenstein Monster."The Suffragettes in England were beginning to get big headlines in Montreal papers in 1909. The Montreal Gazette shared a newswire with the NYT.

Here's a link to a book, Montreal 1909, by Robert N. Wilkins, out of the small Ste. Anne de Bellevue Publisher, Shoreline Press.

I heard of this book yesterday and was intrigued as it covers part of the same period my Nicholson Family Letters covers.

In 2004 I found a pile of family letters from 1908 to 1919 and transcribed them. Then I posted them online.

Soon, I had researched so much background to these "Edwardian" letters about Montreal and the Eastern Townships of Quebec, that I published them on Kindle.  I, too, used Montreal era newspapers, mostly the Gazette as it is online.

Then I wrote some books of fiction based on the letters, Threshold Girl and Diary of a Confirmed Spinster and Furies Cross the Mersey, about a British invasion of Suffragettes to Montreal in the 1910 era!

Edith and Flora Nicholson posing in their 1913 corsets in their 1913 Eastern Townships Garden

Shoreline Press says of Montreal 1909. "Learn about the day-to-day lives of our civic ancestors over a century ago, what they experienced in teir everyday routine - the good, the bad and the ugly."

The blurb mentions yet another public inquiry into City Hall corruption in that year, 1909.

I covered that a bit in Service and Disservice, my ebook about the Canadian suffragists and their meddling in the Conscription Election of 1917.

My grandfather, Jules Crepeau, Assistant City Clerk, was implicated in a scandal in 1913, one that was meant to bring down French City Hall.

The Montreal Suffragists simply HATED Montreal City Hall. They wanted to 'purify' it. They interfered in the 1910 civic elections by getting the spinster and widow vote out.  A reform-minded English mayor was elected, but only for two years, John James Guerin, a doctor.

My grandfather, aligned with the Forgets and McConnell, survived the 1913 scandal to become the first Director of City Services in the 1920's. See my play, Milk and Water, Scandals, Lies and Cover Ups in Jazz Age Montreal, also on Amazon kindle.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Madame Renoir, Josh Donaldson and Multi-tasking Leisure.

I took this at the Musee D'Orsay last year this time. I like to photograph people looking at art who look like the art.

Can you multi-task leisure activities. I think you can.

Yesterday, I watched the Toronto Blue Jays play the Yankees on television, in my downstairs family room. At the same time,  I perused the first chapter of a coffee table book on the Impressionists.

I've read a number of books about the Impressionists over the years, but I have never read this giant tome, given to me as a gift many years ago.

The book, filled with beautiful plates, bien sur, was first published in 2006. It has a glaring typo in the first paragraph, arists for artists. Oh, my.

It has a picture of Renoir's wife on the first page, the first plate. In the family room, as it happens, I have the same picture up on the wall behind the T.V.

The picture on the wall is mostly blue, the real deal is awash with colour. Hmm. I hadn't realized my print was so faded.

Anyway, as Josh Donaldson, who is something of a work of art himself, hit two home runs, I read about the roots of Impressionism, Manet and Ingres, all stuff I once knew but have forgotten.

One of my favorite all-time reads is the bio of Auguste Renoir by his son, Jean. It's a classic. I recall him saying that the Impressionist movement came about because of chemistry, the availability of more colourful paints.

The book I read last night left that point out. Impressionism is about personal expression, art for art's sake, individuality, social democracy, etc.etc.

The paintings are pretty to look at, too.

I've liked baseball since always, well, since the Expos, and pretty pictures, too.

Just like Auguste Renoir, the new technologies have changed my way of doing thing. I put the game on pause and walk in and out of the room, then scroll to see if the Jays have scored, then go back to see how they scored.

It's not a purists way of watching the grand ole game and a real fan might make fun of me, but then Monet and Manet et al had to fight for their way of seeing as well.

OK. So someone else had done a similar picture with a Classical theme and that was deemed OK? Most women on walls in museums are naked, it has been said. Yesterday's porno is today's art.

Besides, by doing that I can concentrate on two or three very different things at once. (Is that a contradiction in terms?)

I can go upstairs for a refresher cup of coffee or to give the dogs a snack without missing anything.

Yesterday, as I passed back and forth from my place on the family room couch, between strike-outs and striking landscapes, I noticed the flower boxes I have put in the window, with more joy than usual.

Similarly to athletics, you have to 'flex your visual muscles' to get them going, it seems.  The world outside my window, which I usually find so boring, 'the deadburbs' as I often refer to them, seemed so beautiful last evening!

I live in a spot on Earth that the Impressionists might have liked to paint - and one with an appropriate name, Vaudreuil Soulanges.

I'm not sure about the quality of light in our area. The one time I noticed it, it was during a very rare tornado threat. The light was purple.

Anyway, this year we're not getting enough light. It's been a dismal, wet spring. I guess that's why I felt a need, after all these years, to open that coffee table book and take a peek.

The Impressionists would have painted baseball, no doubt, had they the game. They painted horse racing, ballet, tennis.

 Baseball was the ultimate democratic sport: 100 years ago, baseball parks had seats available at all prices.

These days, well, not so much.

Kevin Pillar taken by me last July or August..The Jays lost to Baltimore that evening. 80.00 tickets.

Buck Martinez, the announcer for the Jays, mentioned that the Blue Jays were the only American League team to have reached 1,000,000 in attendance this year, and that despite a terrible start to the season. Lots of money in Toronto.

Apparently, Monet and Degas have Normandy roots, so last night, I contemplated something brand new.

I wondered if I share DNA with any of these masters - and if that's a good thing :)

 I probably do.  I am half French Canadian.

While Osuna was closing it out, I added one other activity to my evening's reperatoire. Prompted by a mention in the first chapter of the  art book, I downloaded the first chapter of Emile Zola's Oeuvre on

It is beautifully read by a woman calling herself "Pomme."

I had listened to the same story before, but I didn't remember this first chapter, where the Cezanne character takes in a lost girl for a night.

Kind of porno-y, the passages where Zola is describing the sleeping girl. Naturalistic porn :) Of course, a lot of Fine Art is actually porno from the past.

Nothing wrong with the view from my window. I'd just rather be in Provence.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Diasporas, US Presidents, and Bits and Pieces of DNA

Nicholsons or McLeods? I'm not sure... Probably McLeods. 

I'm related to my husband. We share 3.4 or so centimorgans of SNP, is that what it's called? on Gedmatch.

When our chromosomes are compared with another tool, there's another 4.5 centimorgan bit that shows up.

Now, most everyone is related if you go back far enough. Apparently, 7 centimorgans is the bare minimum to share if you are -perhaps- related in genealogical time, whatever that means. 500 years or so? 1,000 years?

My husband descends, on his mother's side, from Isle of Lewis Scots who came to Quebec in 1838 (McLeods) and 1851 (Nicholsons) and, on his father's side, it's  England, Wales and Ireland and that includes a Virginia State Hardy line. (My husband's  grandmother was the General Douglas McArthur's first cousin.)

The Hardy history is well-documented; the patriarch was a naval man from Dorset.  So, too, the history of the Isle of Lewis Scots. They were victims of  the infamous clearances. When the latter 1851 group arrived in Quebec, they had nothing but the shirts on their back, and one of the males was wearing a ladies nightgown.

These Lewismen moved to the Maritimes, the Eastern Townships in Quebec, Ontario and the US.

They are a diaspora. That is why my husband has 12,000 'cousin' matches on while I have only 7,000.

I am half French Canadian and half Yorkshire, England.  My Yorkshire side barely shows upon Ancestry and the other genealogical DNA databases and it's not because of the French.

Someone I know who is 100% French Canadian has 24,000 cousin matches on Ancestry. Les Canadiens are a diaspora, too, it seems, although I don't believe our politicians like to see it that way.

Yorkshire people definitely are not a diaspora. Most English immigrants to North America came from the Midlands and Southern England.

There was always work in the North of England, even if it was of the crappy kind, like coal or lead mining. My ancestors did the latter, when not farming or stealing sheep and cattle on horseback.

For a while, I wondered if my biological father was, indeed, the Yorkshireman I always believed him to be. My father, RAF Ferry Patrol pilot during WWII, came to Canada to stay in 1949, a late date for DNA databases. (He had been posted at Dorval, Ferry Command Central, during the War.)

 Sure, I found people on my Ancestry cousin list with ancestors in the pretty town of Helmsley, Yorkshire, where many of my father's people are from, but then these 'matches' also had ancestors in Terrebonne, Quebec, where my mother's people are from.

Talk about frustrating!

So, I devised a method where I looked out for bits of my DNA in people with Yorkshire ancestors with all the right names in the right towns - and it worked.

I am, indeed, a Nixon, descended from the nasty Border Reivers or raiders along the burnt out Northumberland border with Scotland, just like former US Presidents Richard Nixon  and Lyndon Johnson.

So, imagine my surprise, when entering "Nicholson" and "Quebec" into Gedmatch, to try the same thing, I got names of descendants who matched with ME and not my husband, whose grandfather was Norman Nicholson from Richmond, Quebec.

What could that be about?

The Nicholson family letters, 400 from between 1908 and 1919, are the reason this blog exists. I transcribed the missives, studied the background to them, and wrote about it in essays posts for the next 10 years!

I also compiled the letters in a Kindle E-book. And, I wrote other books about the Nicholsons, Threshold Girl, Diary of a Confirmed Spinster and Furies Cross the Mersey.

But, here I was, linked 7.1 centimorgans's worth with a woman descended (perhaps) from a Nicholson born in 1853 in Stornoway, Quebec.

My French Canadian side is not from the E.T., although a branch, the Roys, MAY be from that part of Quebec. (That branch led me to a brick wall, which is strange, as French Canadian genealogy is very easy to do thanks to Catholic Church Records.)

Norman Nicholson and his sisters around 1870, I imagine.

My husband has a piddling 3.3. centimorgan match with the same person.  "This must be a quirky  Quebec-thing," I said to myself.

But, then I checked the person's tree and, well, she appears Scottish and Slovak and German mostly, but with people from Carlisle, in Cumberland.

Carlisle, where my father spent his summers during his school years, back in the Depression, with his aunties.

Where he played amidst the ruins of Hadrian's Wall.

I wrote about it in Looking For Mrs. Peel, available on Amazon Kindle.

My husband likely shares some genes with President Trump, as Donald's mother was a McLeod from Isle of Lewis, Hebrides, although I can see her people were from a different town, Back, and  not Uig, Carnish like my husband's people.

If you read my book, Threshold Girl, you will see that Margaret McLeod, my husband's grandmother, below, was a socialist and not a capitalist, although money - or lack of same -figured large in their life.

I was also intrigued to see that someone sharing DNA with my husband on the Hardy side (most probably) has made a tree that shows that these Virginia Hardys were originally de Hardy from Yorkshire. French Normans, very likely.

And yet another "cousin" with whom my husband shares DNA has compiled a tree that goes back to 1100, showing an ancestor who moved from Normandy, France to Malton, Yorkshire, where some of my own father's ancestors were from.

Go figure!

Many, if not most, French Canadians pioneers were from Normandy. So, I'm related to my husband, all right.  I just can't figure out exactly how.

Margaret McLeod Nicholson 1853-1944