Pembroke, Ontario: The Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group & Library

June 15, 2012

It was Thursday, May 24, 2012 and the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Library was open from 12-4 pm (also on Tuesdays 12-4 and the 3rd Saturday of the month).  I had been looking forward to visiting this archive having been a member of the online list for many years.  It would be a special day because I would be meeting a McDonald cousin who happened to be the librarian at the UOVGG library. 

There sign that is out in the back when open!

The UOVGG is located on the southwest corner of Dickson and Maple Street in Pembroke.  They are housed in the basement of the Masonic Lodge which a big building that dominates the corner.  You have to go into the parking lot and look at the back of the building to see the double doors to enter.

The entrance doors to UOVGG

 

The big Masonic Lodge

I went down some stairs and through some doors into this hallway and then I turned right into a large room with tables and was greeted by my cousin Diane Burnett, Librarian.  She said “You must be Bonnie.”  I said “Yes, I am.”

The main research area of the UOVGG

It was not to long before we were talking away and chatting about research.  She is the one who encouraged me to dig further into a John McDonell in Sheen. This is her family.  She had found this very blog and made a comment and that is the beginning of our getting to know each other. 

As a result of her comment on my blog, I did a census study using John and Julia’s daughter Teresa who married a Hugh Downey and went to Saskatchewan.  I traced back and ended up with John’s family.  John is the brother to my Archibald McDonald.  See my posted March 31, 2012 “A Discovery: Archie’s brother John McDonell, living next door in Sheen?”  I had visited the grave of John and Julia McDonell at the St. Paul the Hermit Cemetery in Sheen and posted about it just recently.  Diane is very generous and has given me a print out of her research which will be devoured when I get the chance.

The Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group is awesome.  I was very happy there and realized I probably should have planned several days digging into their holdings but I would content myself with the hours available.  My the time I left I would have a better idea of what they had in their holdings, the knowledge of the volunteers and the visual experience. 

Here is their website which has a lot of information and is very helpful: http://www.uovgg.ca/

One of the volunteers is working diligently on rescuing the McDonald Burying Ground which is between Renfrew town and Cobden from Hwy 17.  It is to the west up the hill on Sutherland Road.  There are only a few stones left in this cemetery.  This website has photographs of the few remaining stones. 

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~murrayp/renfrew/westmeat/mcdonal/index.htm 

At the UOVGG there is a bulletin board as you enter the main work area where they have placed articles and information and further research regarding the McDonald’s who are buried there.  This volunteer who is quite the character and was teasing me about east and west, has just received a grant that will allow him to place a commemorative monument at the site of this burying-ground and more.  I was interested in this Scottish McDonald family but learned they were Presbyterian and not Roman Catholic.  Which is a very important aspect of the research in this area. It will probably be a good six months before the dedication ceremony but I am sure you can contact UOVGG for further information. 

REQUEST:  If you have family that came from Renfrew and Pontiac County, please consider taking a few minutes to submit your family history to the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Society either by mail or via email as an attachment.  Their holdings emphasize Renfrew County but they do have holdings for Pontiac County and other areas as well.  I submitted my family history booklet of the McDonald’s that is a condensed version of this blog, so why don’t you do the same?  

I was asking Diane one of my many questions.  “Why doesn’t Chichester have a history or book?”  She replied because it didn’t have a church.” 

Sheen as the “Crosses and Shamrocks” two-volume booklets about the St. Paul the Hermit and the St. Theresa of the Little Flower (Fort William) churches along with an appendix of family charts of the families of Sheen. 

The Appendix part of this two-volume publication

Allumette Island has the two volumes of the Family and Descendants of L’Isle-aux-Allumettes of which I copied some of the information.  

Book 2 of the Allumette publication

Well, my reply was “Humph!” 

Yes, the wheels are turning in my head.  That has already began to change because of this very blog you are reading.  The townships of Allumette, Chichester and Sheen are featured in these posts. 

I am now officially a member of UOVGG and took home my membership card.  I received a very fat packet of information.  They provided a description of where things are in the library: #1 Quebec Holdings, #2 Family Histories and Biographies, #3 Miscellaneous, #4 How to books, #5 BMD’s, #6 Cemeteries for Renfrew Co., #7 Oversized Books, #8 Census Transcriptions, #9 Renfrew Co. Towns, Townships, Villages, #10-11 Exchange Newsletters, #12 British Isles, #13-15 Ontario Cemetery Transcriptions, #16 Maps, #17 Current Exchange Letters, #18 Pedigree Charts, #19 Computer and databases, #20 & #23 Microfilms and fiche.  Please consult their website for more details.

I am very thankful for all the help and the friendly reception form the volunteers.  I believe I amused them with my USA perspective. HA!

It was quite a busy and crazy four hours at the UOVGG library.  People were coming and going.  I was asking Diane tons of questions and she was trying to find me answers.  As usual time flew by and it was all over before it began.  I am glad I visited.


Monday, May 21, 2012: A Tour of The Upper Ottawa, First Pembroke’s Marina

May 27, 2012

The time had come for me to visit the locations and towns that I had been first introduced to by my Aunt Miriam’s notes back in about 1986.  It was not until 1999 that I finally started the search for my family history.  I started with the McDonald’s in all its various spellings.

The goal for May 21st was to tour Renfrew County, Ontario and Pontiac County, Quebec.  It was Victoria Day in Canada so a lot of places would be closed.  It was sunny and muggy.

These two counties share the Ottawa River.  Renfrew is on the western side and Pontiac is on the eastern.  Here are the tourism websites for these two counties and they are very different in approach and information.  You are going to have to dig to find what you want on these websites.

http://www.bonjourquebec.com/qc-en/outaouais0.html

http://www.ottawavalley.travel/

I headed up Hwy 17 and took a detour onto to Sutherland Road.  I was curious about the McDonald Burying Grounds.  There is not much there according to online sources, probably about 4 stones left.  I didn’t find it.  Well I was to learn it was on the western side of Hwy 17 up Sutherland road to the hill so don’t turn right if you are heading toward Pembroke.

One of the volunteers at the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group is working to clean it up of the poison ivy and to get a memorial plaque and stone placed there.  There is a McDonald family buried there but they are Presbyterian not Roman Catholic something to keep in mind when you are researching.  They are Scottish not Irish origin another factor. In preparing for this trip I learned that a great many Irish came to this area and that includes Irish McDonnells. If you want to learn more about this cemetery contact the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group for information. (See side bar link to the right under Ontario links.

I was not going to dither in Pembroke long because I had a lot of ground to cover.  I would be back later in the week. I took the Greenwood Road into Pembroke so I could get a feel for the city.

The Ottawa River & Allumette Island in the distance

Albert Street is in the heart of the town and I turned right toward the river.  They have a park and a marina at this location.  It was my first introduction to the Ottawa River.  I had only caught glimpses of it as I drove up Hwy 17.

Off in the distance was Allumette Island.  According to my Aunt Miriam, Ronald her father and my grandfather grew up there.  So this was going to be great to finally see this island.

Pembroke’s Marina end of Albert Street

The Marina’s rock jetty and Allumette Island

Looking back towards Pembroke


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