Saturday, 31 December 2016

My Ancestors at Canada's Confederation

With 2017 being the 150th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada, the genealogist in me wondered about the lives of my ancestors in that year.  Some were already living in the land about to become a country, some were probably contemplating emigration and perhaps some had never heard of what was to become the Dominion of Canada!  What follows is a list of my ancestors and where they were in 1867, how old they were and anything else I know about what they were doing.
  • Great Grandfather William Simms was turning 13 years old and lived with his family in County Antrim near Carrickfergus, Northern Ireland.  He was second eldest of 8 siblings living with parents Henry and Jane.  Thirteen years later, he would marry and move to Canada to farm  and raise a family at Mountain, near Ottawa.
  • Great Grandmother Agnes McAllister is still a bit of a mystery to me but I think she would have been 8 that year and lived in Antrim as well.  I believe her 11 year old brother Ephraim came to Canada and settled in Alberta around the same time she and William Simms left for Ontario, in 1880 but don't know of other siblings or who her parents were.
  • Great Grandfather James Sinclair would have turned 10 years old that year and lived on the island of South Ronaldsay in the Orkney Islands of Scotland.  He, two sisters and a brother lived with their farming parents William and Jane.  Sixteen years would go by before he would follow his Uncle James Garrioch (Garrick) to Canada, never to return.    
  • Great Grandmother Elizabeth Henry would be almost 11 and farming with her family in Hibbert Township in Perth County, Ontario.  Nine years previously they had emigrated from Troqueer, Kirkkudbrightsire in Scotland.  By 1867, parents William and Mary had 2 more girls and 3 boys.  William Henry would only live 11 more years and then the Widow Mary and her family of 11 would leave for Blanshard, Manitoba in 1882.  One wonders when or if news of the naming and formation of the new country "Canada" would have reached the family.  
  • Great Grandfather William George Kinnaird was turning 6 years old and lived with his younger brother and sister along with 4 step siblings from his father's first marriage. George Chester and Mary Ann Kinnaird were farmers in Kitley Township, Ontario.  There is no proof but Mary Ann may have been a single mother of the brood of 7 in 1867 as she remarried to Thomas Levi Cummings in 1868. 
  • Great Grandmother Margaret Carruthers lived in Dundas County near Ottawa and would have been coming 3.  Along with parents Andrew William and Jane, there were 2 brothers and 1 sister in her family at that time.  I believe the Carruthers were farmers although I have read references to Andrew William being a teacher as well.  
  • Second Great Grandfather John Milne would be 14 that year and likely lived with his parents Lewis and Annie.  He had 11 siblings but no doubt some of the older ones would have been out living and working on their own.  They farmed a small croft at Bogbain, near Keith in Aberdeenshire in Northeast Scotland. In six years he would marry and in 1911, John would follow some of his children to emigrate to Canada. 
  • Second Great Grandmother Ann Robertson was almost 14 in 1867 but I don't know anything about her home or family yet.  She died in Scotland 29 years later, after having nine children with John Milne including my great grandfather Alexander.
  • Second Great Grandmother Maggie Duncan would see her 14th birthday that year in Aberdeenshire, Scotland with parents William and Helen and 7 siblings.  Nine years later she would marry in nearby Ythan Wells and go on to have a family of five including their eldest, my great grandmother Jeannie.  Family lore says she died in England in 1905 but I've not found any confirmation yet.  
  • Second Great Grandfather James Jamieson would celebrate his 12th birthday in 1867 but beyond that I don't know much about him.  He was born in Marnoch, Banffshire, Scotland.  On his daughter Jeannie's wedding invitation in 1897 his widow was called " Mrs. W.D. Jamieson".  He had a son who was also given the same initials, William Duncan Jamieson.   
So much has happened in the past 150 years and the last country-wide centennial celebration in 1967 left many lasting legacies in our communities.  I hope that 2017 will do the same and instill the same pride in a next generation of Canadians.  I do wonder if there will be a snappy little song this year like Bobby Gimby's Canada song that sticks in our heads in 2067!    

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Christmas Eve Shopping 1944

This old receipt from the Simms house helps me imagine my Grandmother Mary, Christmas eve shopping for her family 72 years ago in 1944.  One stop shopping for gifts, candy, and even the wrapping paper for less than ten dollars! It sounds like so little but the Inflation Calculator online says that would be the equivalent of $131.23 today.   Her husband Alex  had died a little over 3 years before and there were 5 children to buy for.  Bob would have been 28 years old, Doris was 23, Gwen 21, and the twins Dorothy and my dad Donald were 12.

It would turn out to be the last Christmas of WWII but of course they wouldn't know that at the time. Rationing was in place for items like meat, butter, sugar, tea and coffee as well as gasoline, alcohol and silk. Being farmers, they produced their own meat and butter but had to use government issued coupons to purchase other restricted goods. The United Store in Oak River was Glinz's Store, run by Harvey and Mona Glinz. His brother, Art Glinz had retired from store keeping in 1943 but I recall him with his long-bladed speed skates whipping around the skating ice in the 1960's and 70's.

Simms Siblings in studio photo taken for their mother for Christmas on December 10, 1949.
Bob and Don in the back.  Doris, Dorothy and Gwen in front. 

The back of the receipt supplies a Kitchen Reminder - a list of popular shopping items for humans and their livestock of the time. I had to look up some (Apples - Evaporated, Glauber Salts, Junket, Oilcake Meal, Mapleine, and Mucilage) and others just made me cringe (Gopher Poison, Rat-Nip and Sulphur Flour).  It never ceases to amaze me with the things I can learn and imagine from one old piece of paper!