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 vot 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.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

DNA, Adoption and Sleuthing out Heritage

Canadian Heritage, the Mountie at Mosaic Canada 150 in Gatineau. The exhibits were beautiful, perhaps thanks to the heavy rains. 


Entertaining ourselves to death. That's what Neil Postman, I think, said about modern life. That's what I have been doing lately.

Well, it is summer and a very, very wet one at that here in Quebec.

I'm not writing much, as I await the launch of a book in November, but I am reading a lot.  The Museum of Innocence right now.  It's a wonderful novel, using a spoiled rich man's romantic obsession to describe Turkey in the 1970's.

It's not a page-turner. I'm going slowly.  I wait for the sun to appear (which is not often) and go out into the yard to read. I move my little spectator's chair around the yard to change my point of view.

My yard is lovely, all right, but the rain is making the trees grow too leafy.

If there's anything wrong with the Museum of Innocence, it's that hearing someone go on and on about his lost love is a bit boring, just like in real life, even if the sad-sack narrator here is inadvertently pithy.

I've also been cooking a lot of new recipes from the New York Times cooking section, trying not to spend too much. Yikes, the price of veggies this wet season!

Small pleasures, when you are not working for pay.

I've also gone back to my recent hobby of fiddling with DNA online.  I had my DNA done in January and was freaked for a few months because the results came in 20% Caucasian (as in Caucasus - Iran) when I'm half French Canadian and half North of England.

On top of that, ALLof  my seven thousand DNA cousins on Ancestry.ca appeared to be of  French Canadian heritage.

For a few months I went berzerk, using bits of DNA on Gedmatch to FINALLY figure out that I am very probably a descendant of Yorkshiremen and people from Northumberland, Cumberland and Westmorland.

These people don't have much of a presence on Ancestry.  They didn't emigrate to North America and they didn't have many children. (Well, the World Wars certainly didn't help.)

The story is all here on this blog. What a history lesson for me.

View from Rye House in Yorkshire, where, supposedly, an ancestor of mine lived.  Most of my Yorkshire ancestors were farmers, the nasty fellows who gave those Vets in All Creatures Great and Small such a hard time.


Being bored, I decided to fiddle with my cousin's DNA, using my new found sleuthing skills. She's adopted.

I think I've figured out who one pair of her great grandparents are, at least.  Irish Catholic. Lots of kids.

My husband's DNA trail is boring. Two first cousins, one on each side, turned up immediately when the results came in. My adopted cousin would have loved to see something like that. I can go through his fourth to sixth cousins, the ones with trees, anyway,  and immediately see where they fit into his tree.

Most are from the Hardy line, the one he shares with General Douglas MacArthur.  This family has been in North Carolina a long time.

My DNA trail on Ancestry, even with a few thousand more people added over the months, continues to confuse me. For instance, I found a DNA  cousin with a Hartley from Colne, Lancashire and a Neesham from Yorkshire, just like I have in my tree. Hooray!

You would think this was proof of my English heritage, but no. Not at all. This person also had an Audet from St-Jean, Quebec, and yes, we share an ancestor, Nicolas Audet, pioneer off the boat in 1600's New France, married to Madeleine Despres, yet another Fille de Roi to add to my collection.  (It's easy to trace French Canadian ancestry as I've written here on this blog. The English tree is likely filled with errors - and, ah, those irksome non-parental events.)

So, I sent an Ancestry DNA kit to my older brother in Denmark to get this confusion over with.

Meanwhile, I continue to play with my cousin's DNA. She is half French Canadian like me, but we share no DNA.

We do share a few cousin matches, though.  One such match, with whom we both share 25 or so centimorgans of DNA, is a guy who is 3/4 German with one French Canadian line.

That French Canadian line is easily traced, of course.  I immediately discovered my cousin's connection to him by using Gedmatch, but mine, that's taking more time.

I'm wondering if it's a WW1 non-parental event. No doubt, those happened.

This DNA stuff is very complicated.



I share a lot of DNA with people with Boyes from  North Yorkshire in their tree.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

WWI and the Canadian Suffragettes: A Murky Tale



You know that movie It's Complicated? Well, I think my WWI era ebook should be titled that instead of Service and Disservice.

Service and Disservice is about the  1917 Canadian Conscription Crisis and the 'iffy' involvement of  the Canadian suffragists,  a follow up to the e-book Furies Cross the Mersey, about the 1912/13 British invasion of militant suffragettes to Canada.

And it's all so very complicated. I don't think even the few scholarly accounts of the event get it one hundred percent correct.  It's complicated because even back then in 1917 people didn't know what was going on.

Lots of people involved lied, too.

When I was writing up the first chapter of Service and Disservice, where Carrie Derick, President of the Montreal Suffrage Association, tells her side of the story, I realized I was missing some critical information, info from the summer of 1917 when Mrs. Constance Hamilton, President of the National Equal Franchise Union, held an emergency meeting of the NEFU in her home to ask Borden NOT to hold an election, because if he did, "slackers from out West and Quebec would get to vote."

In the Toronto press report the Montreal Suffrage Association (a member of the NEFU) sent a statement of support for Conscription, a somewhat hysterical one, quoting from John McRae's war poem.

"Is Canada going to fail? Never. If ye break faith with those who die, they shall not sleep, though poppies grow in Flanders Fields. Canada's honor is at stake. She will not, cannot fail to carry on and keep her word to our brave fighting men and to our glorious dead."


Above, Emmeline Pankhurst, Carrie Derick; below,  Toronto "Canadian' suffragists march in Washington DC, 1913, Constance Hamilton among them as President of the Toronto Equal Suffage League. She would soon start her own 'national' organization.

This struck me as very uncharacteristic of the MSA. Miss Derick was always very careful about what she said to the Press.

For instance, the MSA executive supported Conscription, but called it 'Mandatory Overseas Service', a euphemism. (Later, Derick would say they never supported Conscription, per se.)

So I went over to the Montreal City Hall archives and took a look at the 1917 minutes to learn, as I had suspected, that Derick didn't have anything to do with the bizarre pro-conscription resolution.

 A Mr. Holt and Mrs.Scott received Hamilton's telegram back then and replied on their own, without holding an executive meeting.

Mr. Holt, a lawyer, was the man who had an angry confrontation with militant suffragette and WSPU memeber Barbara Wylie, when she spoke in Montreal in November, 1912.

 Miss Wylie made fun of him from the speaker's platform. A year later, in 1913,  Holt was on the executive board of the newly-minted Montreal Suffrage Association.

Quite a few men, many clergymen, were on the executive of the MSA. No young unmarried women, though. Too 'excitable'.

The importance of all this: well, that 'bogus' statement probably made Premier Borden think that Quebec suffragists would be on-board with a limited suffrage option for women voters if the PM was forced to hold a federal election to get his Conscription Bill through parliament.

Indeed, Mrs. Hamilton, in her press statement for that July meeting, made a point to say the Montreal Suffrage Association represented all the women of Quebec, which couldn't have been farther from the truth.

 In September, 1917,  Borden gave the vote to women only with male relations at the war front.

The Montreal Suffrage Association, led by Miss Derick,  passed a resolution in protest against limited suffrage and sent it to the PM.  Some members of the MSA Board dissented.



Premier Borden, clearly exasperated by this resolution, replied to the MSA explaining his position. "You don't realize the difficult position I am in. Would you want unpatriotic foreign women out West to vote just because they married a Canadian?"

Borden didn't mention Quebeckers in his reply to the MSA, as if they were irrelevant.

Toronto suffragists, who liked to think of themselves as the leaders in the Canadian Votes for Women movement, were clear about their contempt for 'unpatriotic' Quebeckers. It was written all over the National Council of Women Magazine, The New Century.

Derick, living and working in two solitudes Quebec, couldn't be so blunt.


The quote from John McCrae's In Flanders Fields is all very tell-tale.  It was Professor Andrew MacPhail of McGill who reportedly found the unsigned poem in  Europe in 1915, recognized it as McCrae's by the style, and then sent it  on his own to be published. (The story around this is all very sketchy, I think. File under Wartime Propaganda.)

Francis Fenwick Williams, a writer on the Board of the Montreal Suffrage Association, and a woman who would soon speak in favour of Conscription at an August 1917 Win-the-War rally in Montreal, had been MacPhail's secretary for a while, working with him on a McGill Journal.