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


Kingston and the Cataraqui Cemetery – A Special Visit

June 22, 2012

Kingston’s Water Tower

Before I left Kingston, I had to make a visit and pay my respects.  Since I don’t know what McDonald family I am related in Ontario, I do have to make sure I acknowledge all McD’s in all is various spellings.

My goal was to visit Sir John A. MacDonald at the Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston.  There are many websites that describe this man but I think I will send you here.  The Canadians call him Sir Johnny:  http://www.canadahistory.com/sections/politics/pm/johnmacdonald.htm

I entered the Cataraqui Cemetery from the side off of Sydenham Road.  I had a map of the cemetery from a newspaper handout I found at the OGS Conference – “Special Advertising Feature – Cataraqui Cemetery Celebrating 162 years as Kingston’s Historic Garden Cemetery.”  I passed Christ Church and followed the signs to his gravesite.  There is a sign on the opposite side of Oak Ave. pointing to the gravesite.  The map in the flyer had grave site as #9 and that helped.  It is a very large cemetery. 

Suggestion:  I came up Princess Street and went up Sydenham Road and entered the side of the cemetery.  I suggest you turn from Princess onto John Counter Blvd. then a quick left onto Purdy’s Ct. then right onto Purdy’s Mill Rd.  Then you enter from the front gate where the big stone Pillar’s are.  Follow Maple Ave and turn to the right onto East Ave and around to Oak Avenue.  The grave site is almost to West Ave.  Look for the sign below, remember I came from the opposite direction so it would be on your right if you come in the front gate.

The Entrance Sign to Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston

This is the sign pointing to the opposite side of the road toward his grave.

Sign pointing to the grave Sir John A. Macdonald, Cataraqui Cemetery

This is what you see as you approach:

Looking toward the grave site area – Sir John A. Macdonald

Sir John Alexander Macdonald’s tombstone which is surrounded by a black wrought iron fence.  I did not see where I could open the gate to get closer.  I suppose for many people could eventually cause damage. 

Sir John A. Macdonald’s Tombstone

Sir John A. Macdonald and me!

I will add more photos later and provide a link to them showing more of his gravesite when I get my posting done for this trip.  I am almost there.  I have to admit that I am and was affected.  I am not Canadian by birth but my parents especially my mother’s side came from Canada and on my father’s are his father’s family. 

An Overview of Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston

Earlier I had been in the downtown area of Kingston and had seen a historical plaque of another very well-known MacDonell.  The Bishop Alexander MacDonell 1762-1840.  Roman Catholic Bishop of the diocese of Kingston. The plaque was next to the house he lived in while in Kingston.  I did not stand back and take a photo for I was in a hurry to get to Anglican Diocese office for my appointment and still in my car.  This link below will explain the plaque better.

http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMEJVM_BISHOP_ALEXANDER_MACDONELL_1762_1840_Kingston

Plaque for Bishop Alexander MacDonell

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexander_Macdonell_(bishop) I will be visiting other plaques and will come back to share more about this amazing man. 

The clock was ticking and it was time for me to head for Cornwall to the east.  I headed down the main street – Princess and through downtown Kingston.  

Princess Street, Kingston, Ontario

I crossed over the bridge taking Hwy 2 east.  The bridge is called the Lasalle Causeway Bridge and it crosses the Cataraqui River which is the southern part of the Rideau Canal:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Salle_Causeway 

I was soon driving through and under arches that were part of the Canadian Forces Base.  This was my first notice of anything military in Canada, although in Petawawa there is another Canadian Forces Base.  I did not venture from Pembroke up to Petawawa to investigate.   I think I saw Royal Canadian Airforce Signs.  My dad would have loved that, remember the title of this blog:  The Man Who Lived Airplanes.  Very impressive. 

My next milestone was the town of Garanoque where I would leave Hwy 2 for the 1000 Island Parkway.  It was time to become just a tourist.

UPDATE:  July 7, 2012:  Here is a link to more photos that I have taken of Cataraqui Cemetery in Kingston.

Cataraqui Cemetery

Arnprior: Albert Street Cemetery!

June 15, 2012

Alexander MacDonnell settled at Sand Point which is just north of Arnprior passed Braeside on the Ottawa River.  The house still exists that he built and I did see it for I drove up to Sand Point to see why he would choose that area to settle.  It is a little hilly.  The Ottawa River was beautiful and close.

Before I did this little side trip in the car I stopped at the Albert Street Cemetery.  It was just up the street from the Arnprior Public Library.  I took John St. N. up to Victoria and turn right over to Albert Street.  You cannot miss the cemetery.

Albert Street Cemetery Overview

WARNING!  Be careful of the roads into this cemetery, they stop and you have to carefully back up.  One road stopped at a very precarious place.  This is the south side of the cemetery.  It is situated north to south on Albert Street and right by the river.  There is a main entrance up the road at the north end which I advise you take instead of an earlier road.  Trust me!

My goal was to find the graves and tombstones of Alexander MacDonnell and his family.  The publication of this cemetery has a map and so does the online Gravemaker Website – Here is the link to the tombstones that were photographed and a map which is there at the top in the summary pages. 

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~murrayp/renfrew/mcnab/albert/index.htm

The Albert Street Cemetery is very large and I encourage you to have some way to identify the tombstone that you wish to view like the publication of this cemetery or online sources.   

The McDonell Family Plot in the Albert Street Cemetery, Arnprior

Alexander’s tombstone

It wasn’t to hard to find the graves of Alexander McDonell (not spelled MacDonnell) and his family.  I will posted more photos later from this cemetery when I get the opportunity.

While I was studying the graves and photographing them this creature came out of the trees lining the edge of the cemetery.  At first I thought it was a beaver but then maybe it was a ground-hog.  He didn’t look very good, like he was old.  He marched through almost the whole cemetery and was a little concerned about me but I kept my distance.  He headed for this fence and to the left was what looked like a parking lot and not a really good idea.  He thought the better of it and went into the trees and down the hill and disappeared.  He was not going to be the only animal I saw this trip.

UPDATE 7/9/2012:  Here is a link to the set of the photographs for this cemetery.  There is a publication for this cemetery, see above for the online version. 

 

Albert Street Cemetery, Arnprior, Ontario

Hwy. 148: The Quebec Side by the Outaouais River

June 15, 2012

Bryson, Grand Calumet Island, Campbell’s Bay, Litchfield, Vinton and Waltham are only a few of the towns and hamlets along Hwy. 148.  This highway follows the Ottawa river or Outaouais River as it is called in Quebec.  To my ear it is pronounced “Ootaway.”

I was following the gently curving highway when I saw the most curious thing.  A church without a spire?

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, in Vinton

You really can’t tell in my photograph but the spire is missing.  It actually is situated on the ground next to the church.  Apparently they are doing repairs.  It looked so strange to see this short square castle like tower. The church is one of the many wonderful stone churches in Canada.  Even I can tell that faith really is what settled Canada.  There is a most amazing cemetery next to the church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

The Cemetery by St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Vinton, Quebec

More of the cemetery, St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Vinton, Quebec

I continued on my way and came to Mansfield-et-Pontefract and Fort Coulonge.  A very curious amalgamation of two cities?  I didn’t dally to figure it out.  I turned left following the signs pointing to Fort Coulonge and past a huge cemetery on my left.  I came to Rue Principale and followed that along the Coulonge River.  This road took me to the “Félix Gabriel-Marchand Bridge.  I stopped puzzled?

Marchand Cover Bridge, Fort Coulonge, Quebec

After a little passage of time, I observed cars driving across this very long covered bridge from either side.  I reviewed the signs posted at the entrance and there was nothing saying I could not drive across.  So I did.  What a kick!  It was not flat but wavy so the car when slightly up and down as I drove across.  It was one lane so apparently the honor system is in place and if you spy another car on the other side you either go or give way.

The entrance inviting me to drive across the Marchand Bridge

The Outaouais Heritage WebMagazine has an article under Historic Landmarks that states the bridge (pont) is one of Quebec’s oldest.  http://outaouais.quebecheritageweb.com/article/marchand-covered-bridge-pontiac-giant  If you just Google this bridges name you will find a lot of information.

Once across I turned left onto Hwy. 148 and the George Bryson house was easily found on the right side of the road.  It looked like it was about to get a new paint job?  http://maisonbryson.com/index_en.html  I found this webpage which I thought was rather fascinating about the history of this house and a whole lot more:

George Bryson House, Fort Coulonge, Quebec

“The historiography about the Bryson House in Mansfield, Pontiac County, Quebec: http://www3.sympatico.ca/larry.kenney/brysonhouse.html

The Welcome sign for the Bryson House

I didn’t have time to dither so I continued on my way to Chute du Coulonge.  The turnoff is not too far up the road from the Bryson House.  Apparently I did not read the website very well because they charge a fee to enter the park.  http://www.chutescoulonge.qc.ca/aboutus.htm   I have to admit being yelled at in French was interesting. I was making my way to the falls when she stopped me from going any further. I felt bad for the attendant.  There was no one there except me.  So I did not see the falls and do not have photographs.  Check out their website it looks like there a many activities for families.  By the way getting to it is a little odd.  You drive the highway and then you eventually get to a gravel road and the signs are somewhat lacking but eventually you find the big sign telling you that the park is not far.  They do have a good-sized parking lot.

I continued on Hwy. 148 and past by Waltham.  I was tempted to turn into the town but decided I was getting hungry and too tired to really enjoy it.  So I pushed on to Pembroke where I had arranged for lodging.


The Pontiac Archives, Shawville, Quebec

June 13, 2012

It was Tuesday, May 22, 2012 and this was the day I had looked forward to for a long time.  I have been wanting to  visit the Pontiac Archives in Shawville since I knew of their existence.  I was driving from Renfrew to Shawville via Portage Du Fort.  So I would be exploring the area on both sides of the Ottawa river and also learning about the treasures in this archive.

The Best Western was not offering a free breakfast like advertised on the website. I was a little unhappy about that for I had booked with them for this very reason?  So I went into Renfrew on O’Brien Road and came to the Flamingo Restaurant at about 8th.  They had an easy access and big parking lot.  Apparently they have not been rated well online, yet, I had a friendly waitress and a lovely breakfast that day.  I think I was amused by the name and the pink color of the building.  When I travel I like sit down restaurants where I am served or I can get my meal without too much of a hassle. 

Flamingo Restaurant, O’Brien Road

On the way up to Pembroke the day before, I had noticed Storyland Road and knew that was where I needed to turn to take the highway across the bridges to Portage Du Fort.  You can also go via Hwy 653 the Chenaux Road which Storyland meets up with.  When I did come to Hwy 653 I turned right and follow it to Hwy 301.

I had passed Storyland which was not yet opened for the season.  It is tucked into the forest on the left. It is a family theme park.  Here is there brochure:  

http://storyland.ca/photos/photo-archive/StorylandBrochure10.pdf 

There are some very nice views of the area from this road especially where you come to Riverside Road.  You can see across to the Quebec side.  Trying to find an elevated spot from which to view the Ottawa River is not an easy task.  If anyone has some suggestions that would be very nice for others. 

Looking east towards Quebec

The bridge to Portage Du Fort is very different from the one to Allumette Island.  The cars drive considerably slower and you get to enjoy the view.  You are driving across a dam or a series of dams and it gets a little tight in a few places for it is a two lane highway.   There are all these interesting green power structures in various configurations.  My husband who loves electricity would have been in heaven.  

Looking north toward the Ottawa

  

One of the dams across the Ottawa, Portage Du Fort

Once across these dams you come to Portage Du Fort.  You make your way passed the church and turn left onto Hwy 303 and head up past the St. James the Great Roman Catholic Cemetery.  It is  just as you climb a little hill and go almost around the corner and all of a sudden it is there so keep an eye out.

The Welcome Sign – Portage Du Fort

Portage Du Fort – A Church? on the Rue De L’Eglise N.

Here are some overview pictures of the cemetery:

St. James RC Cemetery? I hope?

More of the cemetery in Portage Du Fort

At first I thought the fields stretching out before me as I was driving along were lovely white flowers like clover, but when I looked closer I saw that they were hundreds of Dandelions gone to seed spreading out before me.  It was very pretty as long as you didn’t think about all those spores being introduced into the air.  My husband would have gone crazy! 

You travel along Hwy 303 till you come to Hwy 148 and turn right and Shawville is only about 2 kilometres to the south of this turn.  Here is a video by Duffy about a Trip to Shawville:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sxuBCkO6HM  It is very close to what I did up until he leaves Portage Du Fort.  There are some videos on YouTube about Shawville just make sure you choose Shawville, Quebec.  I found that accessing Google Images was a great way to get some pictures of an area and to orient myself before I went on this trip. 

I followed the lead of the car before and was soon on Rue Centre in Shawville.  It was not easy to spot the turn into the town of Shawville.  It was between some buildings in this shopping area along the highway. 

I found the Pontiac Archives in the Library building.  It was down from the main intersection on the south side of Rue Main in the library or more appropriately, bibliotheque.  I parked on the northern side of Rue Main and walked back to the archive.

Shawville Library, The Pontiac Archives are in this building in the basement

The Pontiac Archives is the repository for all things about Pontiac County, Quebec such as town records, genealogies, local history books, newspapers, maps, church and cemetery records, tax valuations back to 1857, and more. This is their website:  http://www.pontiacarchives.org/

This archive is cared for by a friendly group of volunteers: Elsie, Dorcas, Venetia, Margaret, Gwen and more.  They were very helpful and set about trying to find me information.  I gave them a booklet that was a condensed version of this blog about my McDonald family and the areas that were specific to Pontiac County and also Glengarry County where I think they came from.  It was enough to show where the family migrated to.  It will become part of their current collection.  Blogs are living breathing entities so more information will be added as time goes by but I think what I submitted to them will be good for quite a while and I did reference the blog url.

The main work area of the Pontiac Archives

Café 439 was across the street and it was delightful very nicely decorated. http://www.cafe349.com/en/home.html I had an egg salad sandwich and tea.  The waitresses would take orders in either English or French switching between the two languages with ease.  I live on the west coast of the USA so we do not hear French that often.  This was my first introduction to the real presence of the French language, besides the Quebec road signs.  I know… just indulge me please.  

Cafe 349

The rest of the afternoon I continued to study the Pontiac Archives holdings. Visitors were coming in and out throughout the day.  They do have a finding aid for their holdings that is placed on a small table in the middle of the main work room.  In the back is the microfilm and computer area in another small room.  They have a lunch room toward the front of the area.  So they are nicely set up.  The stairs are little steep but I think there is another access in the back of the area where the washrooms are located. 

More treasures of the Pontiac Archives in thru the door. That room has restrictions on access, just ask!

Venetia Crawford is a local historian, author and impersonator.  She is a volunteer at the archives.  She told me that she had tried view the remains of the Culbute Canal but the trail had lots of nettles and she decided that you would have to get a boat to go to the location of those parts that are still visiable.  My great-grandfather Archibald McDonell was the lockmaster for the Culbute Canal.  I have posted about his involvement with the Culbute Canal in the past on this blog.  This canal is in the channel between Allumette Island and Chichester Township (municipality).  It was abandoned in 1891 which was the last year that Archie had written he was lockmaster on the Canadian Census.  I was reading that there might have been a fire that caused some destruction in 1889. 

Venetia also pulled the municipal township maps which showed all the lots and number for Sheen, Chichester and Allumette.  This made it easy to identify where the lots for Archibald and John are located and hopefully more as I dig in deeper on the land records of the area.

I spent most of my time searching their files for genealogies and obituaries to see if I could find that one piece of information that would link my family to another and point back to Glengarry County.  I may not have been successful but I feel I learned a lot about what was available and what was not.  Of course, I have to review all my findings from this trip and you never know what I may have discovered. 

There had local histories and I studied the ones for Allumette Island and Sheen, mostly.  When they publish a book in this part of Quebec they have to write paragraphs or sections in French and then repeat them in English.  That was very helpful.  That is not always the case for some books are in French only. 

My day at the Pontiac Archives was coming to a close and I was ready to head back to Renfrew.  So I returned the way I came north on Hwy 148 to 303 and through Portage Du Fort.  I stopped at the park where there is a war memorial and a little lake.  There is a restaurant across the street if you are inclined. 

Portage Du Fort honors its military

A big beautiful house in Portage Du Fort

I decided to return to Renfrew.  I had discovered that I could exit into Renfrew by using Bruce Street which is north of the city and winds its way into town passing the St. Francis Xavier Cemetery where Father Joseph E. Et. Arthur Gravelle had been the priest for a number of years.  His fonds s are at the National Archives of Canada and here is a link to a finding aid: MG25-G 271, Finding Aid No. 1180.  He was an avid genealogist and kept records about the pioneers and families in the area of Renfrew and beyond, so you might want to check the contents at the link I provided. 

Time to get ready for the second day of research at the Pontiac Archives.

Portage Du Forts – Palais du Justice (City Hall)


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