Touring Glengarry: Alexandria “The Centre of Glengarry”

June 27, 2012

Alexandria is spread over each of the four historical townships of Kenyon, Lochiel, Charlottenburgh and Lancaster.  It is now home to the North Glengarry Municipal Hall as of 1998.  You will not find any history at their website.  You will not find individual city identities.  There is other useful information however like a list of churches in the area.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Glengarry,_Ontario  Somehow I feel I have not really found the essence of Alexandria! 

Maybe some Christmas lights will help:  http://www.alexandriafestivaloflights.com/index.html

I left the Glengarry Pioneer Museum and headed east on Hwy #24 – Dunvegan Road.  The road was straight as an arrow meeting up with Hwy #34.  I turned south.  It was a good highway, my kind of highway.  The traffic was light and it gave me time to enjoy the scenery.  It is very beautiful, green and lovely.  I wanted to stop and take photographs but that might have been dangerous because of the trucks.  Trucks are good they mean commerce.  

Welcome to Alexandria

According to Yahoo Answers there are 40 cities in the world with the name Alexandria and others think that there were 70 at various times throughout history.  I usually think of the one in Eygpt.   Alexandria once named Priest Mills was given that title after the Right Reverend Alexander Macdonell according to John G. Harkness in “Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, A History, pg. 285.”

A proper water tower

I drove past the Sacre Coeur Catholic Church which is right on the main avenue through the town.  Someone was doing some maintenance on one of the bright red doors.   There is suppose to be a cemetery associated with this church but I did not search for it because of limited time concerns.  The church is lovely and amazing.  The spires in Ontario just make me pause with wonder. This is very nice: 

http://www.alexandria-cornwall.ca/diocese_sept_032.htm

Sacre Coeur Catholic Church

Across from it is the St. Finnan’s Catholic School but no sign of the church of the same name.  This confused me but then I did find the St. Finnan’s Catholic Church and cemetery at 70 St. Paul St.

St. Finnan’s Roman Catholic Church

This church is impressive. 

A side view of St. Finnan’s

A plaque of tribute to Harriet (Kennedy) MacMillan 1756-1839 in St. Finnan’s cemetery. (Click and it will open larger, then click your back button to return to this blog.)

In Memory of…

Broken stones by the side of the church, yet the grounds are so well kept.

Broken stones

The cemetery is very large so you need to have help in finding a tombstone like a transcription publication. 

The St. Finnan’s Cemetery

I will upload more photographs of this cemetery when I have completed my posts for this trip.  I will let you know when.  I was touched when I visited this cemetery. 

The cemetery at St. Finnan’s

UPDATE 7/9/2012:  The link below is to additional photographs for this cemetery.  Some are overview others are individual tombstones. 

 

St. Finnan’s RC Church & Cemetery

The entrance to the branch library that is in Alexandria.  It is part of the S.D.&G. County Libraries and is in the western part of the city over in an industrial complex. 

Alexandria Branch of the S.D.&G. Libraries

It is very nice inside.  The website for the S.D.&G. Libraries for the United Counties of Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry:  http://www.sdglibrary.ca/   When you use their online catalogue you cannot ask for a specific location when you search, so you have to click on the Availability button under the title.  Once you do it will open and tell you where that particular book is housed and in what branch of this library system.  Some genealogical books are circulating books other are not.  I would start at the Cornwall Public Library in Cornwall and try the Cornwall History Room first where some of these titles are consolidated.  Otherwise, plan a lovely drive in the country to the branch library of your choice.

Alexandria’s Branch of the S.D.&G. Libraries

These photos are just for fun.  We all need storage and of course I would be interested in anything with Glengarry in the title.

A little storage Glengarry Style

And security: 

A little security Glengarry style.


Touring Glengarry: Dunvegan & The Glengarry Pioneer Museum

June 27, 2012

Looking south in Dunvegan, Pioneer Village to the left

My visit to the Glengarry Pioneer Museum was on Tuesday morning June 5 at 10 am.  I emailed them to make an appointment.  They hours are limited so you do need to plan in advance.

Here is their website: http://www.glengarrypioneermuseum.ca/gpm/

I left my lodging in Cornwall and proceeded to take care of some errands and as usual it takes longer than you think.  I drove up Brookdale Avenue and continued north on Hwy #138.  At Cornwall Centre Road this highway jogs for a little bit and then turns north again on St. Andrews Road. 

My mind was blown when I came up to the top of this rise in the road and saw for the first time the church and cemetery of St. Andrews West.  The light and the setting was amazing.  It would have been too dangerous to stop and take a photograph because of all the trucks.  I would be back!  This is lovely:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/rdb466/4809053720/ 

Or take a look at this picture, not bad of St. Andrews Church and the intersection in St. Andrews West:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:St-Andrews-West_ON.JPG

I turned at Monkland onto Hwy #43 and stopped at an Esso gas station.  Just when you are in a hurry you are faced with a customer asking for phone cards.  I gassed up the car and the exchange was still going on when I returned.  It was a bit of time before I was able to pay for my purchase. 

I was late, it was already past 10 am.  I focused on the road and turned left at Greenfield Road Hwy #30.  There is supposed to be the St. Catherine of Seinna RC Cemetery in Greenfield but I do not remember seeing it as I zoomed by.  Greenfield was a surprise with more buildings than I expected. 

Panic began to settle in and I thought I had missed Dunvegan but alas I was silly.  I saw a bunch of trees in the distance and there it was the Glengarry Pioneer Museum began to materialize as I came closer.  I was ticking off the roads like Kenyon Concession 7, and Kenyon Concession 8.  Dunvegan is in what called Kenyon Township but is now North Glengarry.  It was situated north of Charlottenburgh Township which is now South Glengarry. 

One stop shopping!  I LOVE IT.  The Glengarry Pioneer Museum on the southeast corner of Hwy #30 and Hwy #24 and on the opposite corner the Kenton Presbyterian Church and cemetery. 

The Glengarry Pioneer Museum and Village is a wonderful treat.  There is a parking lot on the east side of the visitor building.

Glengarry Pioneer Village Visitor Centre

You enter through the door on the right and they have a lobby area filled with books, maps and artifacts.

The lobby of the visitor centre – Glengarry Pioneer Village

The offices are up the stairs and so is the research area.  I was greeted by an enthusiastic young man who took me to the second floor an introduced me to everyone.  They led me over to the table in the back and showed me where the books were located.  They had looked at their family histories but didn’t have any McDonells?  So I gave them one of my McDonald booklets for their collection. They were all friendly and helpful.  I happily set to work looking through their collection.  I asked questions and one of the assistants made me a map so I could find the Bethune Thompson Manor in Williamstown.  I am most appreciative of their kindness and time.  Thank you.

I was particularly interested in

  1. The Churches of North Glengarry, by the North Glengarry Heritage Group.
  2. Lochinvar to Skye 1794 to 1987, by Madeleine McCrimmon and Donaldson R. MacLeod.

They have a great many books on sale.

Their books for sale

If you look closely you can see there is a space in the center of the bookcase.  It was a copy, one of four left, of the Dictionary of Glengarry Biography, by Royce MacGillivray, published in 2010 by the Glengarry Historical Society: http://www.glengarryhistoricalsociety.com/GHS/Welcome.html

It is copy #214 and signed by the author who lives in England.  Well it isn’t there anymore for I paid for it and brought it home.  It is very heavy and caused me problems because of it’s weight. Go here to learn about this book:   http://www.glengarryhistoricalsociety.com/GHS/Publications.html  There is a subject index at this link, just scroll down.  Apparently they are starting a reserve list for the 2nd printing. 

After I finished up with their collection, I wandered the village, which in my opinion is very good.  I have been to many of these kinds of pioneer villages and this was very well done.  It is much older about 1830 as I was told.  They kept offering to really show me around but I had many places to go and many things to see. 

The front side of the visitor center

The village and the cemetery

On the opposite corner from the village was the Kenyon Presbyterian Church.

Kenyon Church

Next to the church was the graveyard.  I have more pictures of this cemetery which I will upload when I finish posting for this trip.

UPDATE 7/8/2012:  Below is a link to more photographs of this cemetery.  These are overview photographs only because of limited time.  It is to help you get an idea of what the area looks like and what the church and cemetery are like. 

Kenyon Presbyterian Church & Cemetery

I was learning that it was not that hard to get around in Glengarry.  The roads are mostly straight, smooth and paved.  It was a beautiful, warm and muggy day.  Now which way should I go?

Shall I go left or right?


Touring Glengarry: Williamstown

June 26, 2012

At various times during my tour, I explored Williamstown.  At the corner of Bridge St. and John St. in the heart of the town you can find your way easily.  Just read the sign post. 

Williamstown’s sign post

Hwy #17 and Hwy #19 cross in the center of the town.  Hwy #17 goes east to west, while Hwy #19 is north to south.

The Raisin River

The Raisin River meanders through the town and you cross over it at the McDonald Bridge.

McDonald Bridge

You can shop in the A. L. Macdonald Grocery.

Shopping anyone!

If you are hungry you can have good comfort food at the Ye Old Bridge Cafe and chat with the locals, which is on the left in the photograph above.

Are you hungry?

You can wander the streets and enjoy the houses.  

Love the color!

Yes, that is the surname McDonell on the sign.

Another lovely home

Visit St. Mary’s Church on Hwy #19 south of the bridge.

St. Mary’s Church, Williamstown

You can wander the cemetery next door to the church. 

Notice the celtic tombstone symbol

UPDATE 7/8/2012: Here is a link to more photographs of this cemetery. These are overview photographs to give an idea of what the location is like.

 

St. Mary’s RC Church & Cemetery

You can get a little nostalgic when you see the old municipal building for the Township of Charlottenburgh empty.

The empty township building

This is the historical marker that is located by the Nor’Westers & Loyalist Museum.  It tells of the history of the Township of Charlottenburgh.  (Click and it will enlarge, just hit your back button to return to this blog.)

Historical marker for the Township of Charlottenburgh

Or visit the Glengarry Celtic Music Hall of Fame  http://www.glengarrycelticmusic.com/index.php

Sign for the Glengarry Celtic Music…

Of course there is one more location you must visit and that is the Bethune-Thompson House.  I did not find it the first day I was there so when I returned the following day I was prepared.  I give thanks to a nice person at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum who drew me a map on college rule paper. This house is set back so it is not visible from the main road.  To get to the house you drive down this road that is much like a driveway.  I did this and came to one of the two historical markers and stopped.  I didn’t want to invade the privacy of the people who currently live there.  http://www.ontarioplaques.com/Plaques_STU/Plaque_Stormont35.html  Yup, I backed up till I could turn the car around. 

The Bethune Thompson House, privately owned

Before you leave Williamstown you should stop and look at the Raisin River one more time:

The Raisin River again


Touring Glengarry: The Nor’Westers and Loyalist Museum

June 26, 2012

The Nor’Westers & Loyalist Museum

The Nor’Westers and Loyalist Museum is in Williamstown.  I visited this museum on Tuesday June 5, 2012.  I had emailed them to make an appointment and they were gracious enough to give me an open time frame for that afternoon.  Please visit their website and enjoy the pictures.  You cannot take photos. 

Here is their website: http://www.norwestersandloyalistmuseum.ca/NWLM/Welcome.html

I knew where they were in Williamstown because I went looking for them after my visit to the Glengarry Archives.  They are located on Hwy #17 which crosses Hwy #19.  You go west along John St. almost to Bethune St. and they are on the corner of John and Bethune. 

A Plaque about the Northwest Company

I parked the car and was walking around to the front when I found two individuals, a woman and a man.  I introduced myself and the woman recognized me and told me that the young man would be leading my tour.  I gave her a printout of the descendancy of my family since I really don’t know if they were Loyalists. 

The young man started the tour with the Loyalist history of the area.  It is on the first floor.  He told me that Sir John Johnson landed in Cornwall near the Civic Center on Water’s Street.  So that is why I have been trying to find that plaque and I did.  See my post “An Overview: Dundas, Stormont and the city of Cornwall, Ontario.

They had the most amazing map showing the lots and names along the St. Lawrence.  I recorded the information on my cellphone’s voice recorder:  Map dated 1786 created by a Patrick McNiff

This website has a listing of the names on that map. http://my.tbaytel.net/bmartin/eastern.htm  Apparently this is a very popular map.  

The United Empire Loyalists Association of Canada:  http://www.uelac.org/

The docent lead me up the stairs to the 2nd floor were he began to talk about the Nor’Westers or the North West Company.  So far I have avoided digging into the fur trade but I just might have to.  So this was a good way to give me a shove.  Here are some links for more information:

http://www.canadahistory.com/sections/eras/britishamerica/northwest.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_West_Company

The fur trade is not new to me.  I live in Washington State and it was a big part of our history.  Fort Vancouver is a living history museum and it is really very well done.  It makes you open your mind to a different way of life.  At this museum the amount of fur pelts was not as much as was presented at Fort Vancouver.  http://www.nps.gov/fova/index.htm 

My tour was complete and I found a book in their gift shop for $20.00:  Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry, A History 1784 to 1945,  by John G. Harkness, K.G.  Yup, it will weigh a ton to take home but I am pleased.

I enjoyed my special tour very much and the docent did a great job.  Go visit it is worth it.

A full front view of the Museum


Touring Glengarry: Glengarry Archives & the Sir John Johnson House

June 26, 2012

Ever since my Aunt Miriam wrote in her notes that Archibald McDonell, my great-grandfather, might have come from Glengarry, Ontario I have been fascinated.  So I have tried to learn as much as I can about the history and the area of Glengarry.   The information below implies that he grew up in Glengarry…hmmm?

Archibald & Glengarry, Ontario

I begin my tour with the Glengarry Archives which is housed in the Sir John Johnson House in Williamstown in what was Charlottenburgh Township and is now part of South Glengarry.  I had emailed and made an appointment at 10 am on Monday, June 4, 2012.  They are not open very many hours so it is wise to contact them before you go for a visit.   Here is their official website:  http://www.glengarryarchives.ca/

I began my tour from Brookdale Avenue in Cornwall.  There is a roundabout and then you have to watch closely or you might be on your way to New York and cross that big bridge.  I did good for my 1st time and made my way down 2nd Ave E. to Boundary Road (Hwy 44). Crossing Boundary Road, I was officially in Glengarry.  I turned right and came to Hwy 2 and drove along that amazing section of highway.

I think I fell in love with Hwy #2 in this area east of Cornwall. Do you think this is what caught the fancy of our ancestors?  This section of Hwy #2 is right along the St. Lawrence River?

The St. Lawrence and Hwy #2

I drove through Glen Walter and turned left at Summerstown heading north on Hwy #27.  The weather was a little stormy.  I turned onto Gore Road and immediately encountered a gravel road.  There were houses along this road.  There were fields stretching to my right and it was so green.  I could barely keep my eyes on the road because it was lovely.  The sky was dark and threatening and it was pouring rain.  I wanted to stop but I had an appointment to get too. I turned north on Kraft Road and it too was gravel.  It took me to Hwy #19.  I went to the right and came to Williamstown.

Williamstown welcomes you!

The book by Dorothy Drumbrille “Up and Down the Glens” truly came to mind.  I wish I had more time to absorb her stories and understand them. I obtained my copy at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.  So far I have not found a copy online that you can read.  They are for sale at various online book websites.

Ms. Dumbrille wrote affectionately and romantically about Glengarry County in 1954.  Her book was charming and nostalgic.  As I drove through Williamstown I can understand now.  It is quiet, lazy, sweet and gentle. It is old and steeped in history.  I was charmed and delighted.

Looking southwest from the Sir John Johnson Manor

I made my way to the Glengarry Archives.  I followed the signs.  I turned onto Williams St. which lead me to the Sir John Johnston house. You enter from the rear of the house and drive around to a parking lot.  You could drive up to the front of house but something told me not too.

Sir John Johnson’s Home

It was about 10 minutes to 10 am so I just enjoyed the beautiful setting and read the presentation boards:

The plaque outside the Sir John Johnson House

Next to it was another presentation board with additional information:

A little more about Sir John Johnson

They also provided a map of the area explaining how it use to be (click the photo and it will enlarge, click your back button to return to this blog):

The area today!

At exactly 10 am a car drove up to the front of the house.  It was Penny.  She is the person who you email when you wish to contact the Glengarry Archives.

As usual when you first enter an archive it is a little disorienting.  I spent most of the time talking to Penny and explaining my family history.  I gave her a copy of my McDonald booklet.  At one point she consulted the Internet and found this blog.  I was touched.

For some reason when you tell a person that you are researching McDonell/MacDonald/Macdonnell etc. they laugh.  After awhile Penny started to shake her head at all the McDonell’s in my family line.  I was relieved that even she would find it all frustrating and confusing just like I did.  I usually get a knot in my stomach.  Well it was obvious that I had more work ahead of me to try to figure out about Archibald McDonell and his wife Mary McDonell (yes she was a McDonell too).  Mary’s parents Alexander John and Ellen (McPherson) McDonell.

I had left a seed and hopefully it will germinate and grown. I really didn’t expect them to give me a full family history.  It is not going to be easy to find that one piece of information that will connect my family.

Sometimes amazing things happen.  There was a map on the wall in their book area and I was coveting it.  Penny had found it at a real estate office and just pulled it off the wall and gave it too me.  WOW!  I love maps and this was wonderful because it would help me to tour Glengarry.  I have that map and will treasure it.  It reads:  Compliments of Royal LePage, M. Jean Cameron Real Estate Broker.  What a great idea, I never thought of a real estate office having maps.

I am grateful to Penny and Alicia for their interest and help and I thank them for their time.

I couldn’t believe that I had been there a full two hours but it was time to go.

What you see when you exit the Sir John Johnson Manor


Cornwall Community Museum!

June 25, 2012

The Cornwall Community Museum is located in Lamoureux Park in Cornwall, Ontario. From the online articles it looks like they have a lot planned for this summer. 

http://cornwallcommunitymuseum.weebly.com/

The volunteer at the Cornwall Public Library told me were it was located and she explained that it has the holdings of the Stormont, Dundas and Glengarry Genealogical society which was defunct.  It was disbanded and no longer operating in the area.  This is the 2nd Genealogical Society that has shut down, the other being the Glengarry Genealogical Society.   

Map of the park

This You Tube video is about the park:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sR-p8cDoq4  It was done in 2008 but it is very good.  The museum is featured about 4:09 minutes into the video.  Since I did not take any photos, why I don’t know, probably tired.  I found parking in the Park about York Street. 

I entered the museum, signed a register and maybe paid a fee, and was taken through the big door at the back and down some very steep and long stairs into the basement of the museum.  It was a big room with a large table in the middle.  The air in the room was cool and refreshing.  I pretty much sat in the chair provided and relaxed. 

A lady was working diligently and the man was reading.  He consulted with the lady at the computer that was in the room. He said to that it was an index. 

I gave him a copy of my McDonald booklet and he accepted it and said something like he was afraid it would get lost. That was not encouraging. 

I went over to the stacks and found an assortment of books, histories, booklets and more.  There were at least two section about 6 feet of bookcases on both side. I do not know if they have a finding aid for their collection.  That would be nice. 

My suggestion is if you are diligent and willing you might give it a try.  I would contact a Lily who is apparently the past president and suggested by the volunteer at the Cornwall Library.  She might be able to describe the contents of this archive.  I also have the name and information of the volunteer that was at the table.  Contact me and I will provide their emails.  I have not asked permission and think this is the best idea.  This archive looks like it is only open in the afternoon on Wednesdays. 

I had left my booklet so I was content.  I returned to the outside and it was very sunny, beautiful and warm.  Someone was having fun on the river.

Zoom Zoom


A Gem in the United Counties of S.D.& G: La Généalogie et archives SAINT-LAURENT Inc.

June 24, 2012

La Généalogie et archives SAINT-LAURENT was a great find in the Cornwall area.  Do you ever do a genealogical happy dance.  Well I did!

Here is their website and do spend some time:  ttp://genealogieetarchivessaintlaurent.ca/

UPDATE: August 5, 2014 – THEY ARE MOVING to the Cornwall Public Library basement and it is in progress, maybe by September 2014???  I am so excited for them. 

They are located at 124 Anthony Street in Cornwall.  You need to be either on 2nd St. E. or Hwy 2 to find Anthony St. Let’s take it from 2nd St. E.  Go east from the Cornwall Public Library about 16 blocks to get to Anthony Street.  Turn right and go south on Anthony Street past 1st St. E., Walton St. and almost to Easton Ave.

This genealogical society is in housed in a school building and it is big.

The Genealogical society – The Sign out front of the building they are located in

You enter these doors go straight ahead to the hallway and and turn left.

Through these doors to the genealogical society

Continue down the hall and turn right:

Enter the Saint-Laurent genealogical society

I almost didn’t go and visit.  The minute I walked into the room I knew I had arrived in genealogical heaven! A very large room to the right and another to the left filled with records!

More Records to the left!

Me among their collection.  Notice how happy I am!

Me and their collection

Rick greeted me and pulled some items from the shelf.  Thank you Rick.

Lillian arrived and he introduced me.  Lillian gave me a tour explaining what they had in their collection and took this photograph of me.  Thank you Lillian.   Note that the Ontario holdings are right behind me on the bookshelves to the left in the picture above.  The rest I believe is Quebec and maybe a few other locations.

Lillian said they focused on French Canadian research but accepted anything about the local area.  I gave them a copy of my McDonald booklet based on this blog and they were very excited.  It does cover Pontiac Co., Quebec.

We took a little time to see if we could find the marriage of my great-uncle John McDonnald to Julia LaCour in Pontiac County, Quebec.  I was explaining the problem we were having with too many names for Julia. I described that the name “Record/Ricard” was carved on her tombstone.  My cousin and I knew her maiden name as LaCour.  It was even more complicated by a 4th potential maiden name of Tebeau.  Lillian said the name LaCour in French.  The sound she made in French makes it very possible that the name was misinterpreted by the stone cutter or mispronounced.  She studied these big blue marriage books for LaCour and they were only showing LeCour.  No luck for John and Julia which is what I have been getting in my searches.  It was worth a try.

Unfortunately my stay was not long enough.  I could see that I needed more time to dig into their holdings.  People were milling about and coming and going.  It was a lively place.  One man and woman were having quite the discussion in  French across from me.   It was great!

Please be advised that the Glengarry Genealogical Society and the Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Genealogical Societies are no longer operating in the area.  They are a things of the past.  This is not a good situation.  However,  this society is specifically geared toward genealogical research. There is hope.

ATTENTION:  If you have family whether English or French Canadian who settled in this eastern area of Ontario or Vaudrieull and Soulange, then I ask that you consider giving a copy of your family history to this genealogical society? To be sure they will accept it, call or email first and ask.  I did and I am glad I stopped by for a visit.

Here is their address again: La Généalogie et archives SAINT-LAURENT: 124 Anthony St., Cornwall, Ontario K6H 5K1 Phone: 613-932-1320 and their email: saintlaurent@cogeco.net

I would like to thank them for their time, interest and help.  Frankly, this was one of only a few organizations that gave me a tour and made me feel welcome on my whole trip to Ontario and Quebec.  GOOD JOB!


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