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The first burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Metchosin: Lillian Margaret Helgesen

Lillian (or Lilian) Margaret Helgesen was born in Metchosin, British Columbia in 1875. Lillian was named for her mother, Lillian Margaret Calhoun (Colhoun, Colquhoun) of Ireland. Her father was Hans Lars Helgesen of Norway. Hans and Lillian, my great-great-great grandparents, were prominent Metchosin pioneers. The couple had seven children, but only four lived to adulthood. Despite birth and baptism records being readily available for this timeframe, I was able to locate neither for Lillian. She was likely born at the family’s home, Sherwood, almost certainly with the assistance of local midwife Mary Ann Vine. Young Lillian was just 8 yearsContinue reading “The first burial at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Metchosin: Lillian Margaret Helgesen”

Cowichan Families: Alfred Sutton and Margaret Alexander

Alfred Sutton was born in pre-confederation Ontario (Canada West) to parents both from England. Margaret Alexander, whose parents were Scottish, was born in Australia. Her family were early settlers on Vancouver Island, having arrived at Esquimalt in 1860. At the time of the 1881 Canada census, he was 26 and she was 28. Alfred was a carpenter, and the couple did not yet have children. Also residing with or near them was Alfred’s cousin, William John Sutton. Alfred and Margaret, both Anglican, were married in British Columbia on 29 Jun 1880. The location of the marriage isn’t specified on theirContinue reading “Cowichan Families: Alfred Sutton and Margaret Alexander”

Accidental Improvements: The Angus Carmichael Fraser family of Vancouver

While attempting to accomplish something entirely unrelated last night, I stumbled upon the family of Angus Carmichael Fraser and his wife, Annabella Smith. After a bit of research I realized that this was a prominent Vancouver family, and that Angus and Annabella had eight daughters who married, all born in British Columbia. There was very little information on their Wikitree profiles, which were last updated years ago. Well hello, rabbit hole… The Frasers, previously of Quebec/New Brunswick, arrived in Vancouver before Vancouver was Vancouver. They had ten children, all daughters. Angus was involved in the logging and lumber industry forContinue reading “Accidental Improvements: The Angus Carmichael Fraser family of Vancouver”

Cowichan Families: William Kingston and Norah Keller

William Kingston and Norah Keller were both born in Ireland. At the time of the 1881 Canada census, he was 40 and she was 29. William was a farmer, and the family were Church of England members. They were residing with their four young children: William, 8, born in Ontario; Lucy, 5, born in Ireland; and Charles, 3, and Frances, 1, both born in British Columbia. William and Norah were married in Toronto in 1871. Norah briefly returned to Ireland, where daughter Lucy was born. William, who was deaf, eventually chose Cowichan for the family to settle, as apparently itContinue reading “Cowichan Families: William Kingston and Norah Keller”

On this day: The marriage of Calvin McKinney and Roena Gilmore

On this day 183 years ago, 7 Jan 1838, my 4x great-grandparents Calvin McKinney and Roena Gilmore were married in Cole County, Missouri. Calvin was born in Tennessee. He was a son of James McKinney and Sarah Gouge. Roena was born in Missouri. Calvin and Roena lived and farmed in Texas County, Missouri, where they raised a large family. Calvin died sometime between 1860 and 1870. Roena did not remarry. She lived to age 88, after having been a resident of Texas County for 58 years. Only one child, son Meldon, survived her. I’ve been developing a research page toContinue reading “On this day: The marriage of Calvin McKinney and Roena Gilmore”

The first burial at St. Peter’s Anglican Church Cemetery: Edwin Thomas Jordan

Edwin Thomas Jordan was born in Gloucestershire, England in 1842. His parents were Joseph Jordan, a bricklayer, and Mary Ann Rees. Edwin resided in South Hamlet, Gloucester with his parents and older brother, Charles. By the age of 19, Edwin was working as a bricklayer. Sometime after 1861, Edwin and Charles emigrated to Vancouver Island (which became part of British Columbia in 1866). On 22 Nov 1866, Edwin died in Cowichan of consumption. He was just 24 years old. It is not clear if Edwin ever married or had children. His brother Charles remained in the area and eventually marriedContinue reading “The first burial at St. Peter’s Anglican Church Cemetery: Edwin Thomas Jordan”

(The Rest of) Cowichan’s Families are coming to Wikitree

Yesterday I began a new research project… kind of. This will be a casual sort of endeavour where I’ll do what I can, when I can. I’m excited nonetheless. For several years now I have been researching the prominent and pioneer families of the Cowichan Valley area of Vancouver Island, British Columbia – specifically Duncan, including Maple Bay, Cowichan and Quamichan. I’ve decided to take this research to a more thorough level. My plan now is to go through the 1881 Canada census, and add as many Cowichan families as I can to Wikitree, where I am a volunteer andContinue reading “(The Rest of) Cowichan’s Families are coming to Wikitree”

Happy 120th Birthday, Grace (McKinney) Tryon

Today marks the 120th birthday of Grace Margaret McKinney, who was born in Missouri on 2 Jan 1901. Grace was a younger sister of my great-grandfather, Maynard. Their father, George, was a great-grandson of Texas County pioneers James McKinney and Sarah Gouge. After George passed away, mother Eliza remarried and most of the family emigrated to Saskatchewan, Canada. Grace married Ray Wesley Tryon in Great Falls, Montana on her 17th birthday. Some of the details provided on the marriage license were incorrect, most notably Grace’s age, which was recorded as 18. (We can be certain that Grace was born inContinue reading “Happy 120th Birthday, Grace (McKinney) Tryon”

Happy 200th Birthday, Janet Flett

Pioneer Janet Flett was born in Orkney, Scotland on 1 Jan 1821. She married her cousin, John Flett, in London in 1854, and emigrated to Vancouver Island in 1855. Their family eventually settled and farmed on Herd Road in Maple Bay, British Columbia. In honour of Janet’s birthday, I spent some time researching her history and updating her Wikitree profile. I didn’t actually know, at first, that it was her 200th birthday. Janet’s headstone, which I photographed last August at the Maple Bay Pioneer Methodist Cemetery, has her date of birth recorded as 1 Jan 1823. However, several sources pointContinue reading “Happy 200th Birthday, Janet Flett”

New addition to my library: Methodist Church on the Prairies, 1896-1914

One of the genealogical tasks that has brought me the most joy has been building my family research library. My most recent addition showed up two days before Christmas. Mail has been moving slowly these days, which probably goes without saying, but the timing made it feel like a little gift from the universe. The book is Methodist Church on the Prairies, 1896-1914, written by George Neil Emery and published in 2001. The title is self-explanatory; it is an examination of the social and cultural effects of the Methodists’ missionary work in the Canadian prairies during the turn of theContinue reading “New addition to my library: Methodist Church on the Prairies, 1896-1914”

Nobody from nowhere…

Did you grow up learning about your family’s history? Did you sit on Grandpa’s lap, hearing his tales from the war? Did you pore over Grandma’s photo albums from her childhood? Were your parents helpful and honest when (or if) it came time for you to submit your family tree as a school project? If so, well, full disclosure, I’m more than a bit jealous of your experience. I have this memory of seeing Ancestry ads on television when I was a teenager. Even then, decades ago, something stirred inside me: grief and loss. I felt excluded and prematurely defeated.Continue reading “Nobody from nowhere…”


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