One of the notes on Duncan D. MacDonald’s charts about Alexander McDonell and Janet caught my eye before I headed out on my trip to Canada in September 2014. He wrote that they were buried in Stark’s Corner. It was on Sheet 2-A, Chart 13 of his Part IV Collection of charts book.
I was at the Quebec Family History Society in Pointe-Claire, Quebec looking at their cemetery records for Pontiac County, Quebec and the volunteer pulled this three page typed paper and I got real excited. This society has a great collection of cemetery records for Quebec.
I have been all over the Stark’s Corner Cemetery records at the Ontario Genealogical Society and also at the Quebec Family History Society and there is no record of any McD’s in this cemetery located in Clarendon Twp., Pontiac Co., Quebec. This is also not a Catholic cemetery.
Source: Stark’s Corner Community Cemetery, including Stark Family Cemetery, Stark’s Corner United Church Cemetery also known as Stark’s Corner’s Presbyterian Church Cemetery. Recorded August 1991 by Robbie Gorr, Lot 20 A Range 3.
Here is the link to the Grave Marker Gallery for Starks Corner with tombstone pictures. There are no McD’s listed.
Well…when the volunteer at the Quebec Family History Society pulled this manuscript, I knew it was Alexander and Janet…
Source: St-Alexandre Des Chenaux Roman Catholic Cemetery (also known as Ste-Melanie de Clarendon Roman Catholic Cemetery). Lot 24, Range 1, Clarendon Twp., Recorded May 1992 by Robbie Gorr. The title is: The Lone Sentinel of the Past:
Try the Grave Marker Gallery for photos:
This is a story of neglect and abandonment. This cemetery was abandoned and subsequent owners have plowed up the area. It is estimated that 100 wooden crosses were once there. There is now only this one lone sentinel, obelisk left. As far as the article indicates there are no records. The chapel that was there did burn down but the article states that a transfer of the church and cemetery to Portage Du Fort occurred, and Hwy 303 was built bypassing the area.
These are the grandparents of Janet, who married Ronald son of Alexander John McDonell and Ellen McPherson. This is the Lundie McDonald connection.
The east side reads of the tall stone reads:
Alex McDonell died Jan. 1, 1842 AE 88 Yrs
his wife Janet died Jan. 14, 1847 AE 84 yrs.
The south side reads:
Their Son Ranald drowned July 18, 1854 AE 68 yrs.
This article reads:
“In 1840 Alexander McDonell donated an eight acre plot of land for a Roman Catholic Chapel and cemetery to be built, the nearest at that time being at Calumet Island.”
“The mission of Ste-Melanie continued to be served by the incumbents of Calumet until 1854 when Father Bouvier completed the construction of the stone church…at Portage Du Fort and opened a new cemetery. The log chapel and cemetery at Clarendon were abandoned…The chapel is said to have burned down…”
“When the chapel (finally) was built, it was alongside the road which ran from Aylmer to Portage Du Fort. That road was abandoned in favour of the present Highwy 303 which runs between Portage du Fort and Shawville, nearly a mile to the north of the chapel site, thus making the cemetery a long distance from any public road, out of sight from passerby and inaccessible on private land with the permission of the owners.“
Another comment made in the article is the name was changed because of another St. Alexandre cemetery at Sandpoint?
I followed out one of the sources listed:
“Lone Sentinel of the Past” by S. Wyman MacKechnie from Ottawa Branch News, Volume XIII, Numbr 1, January-February 1980.”
It is of course the magazine of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Family History Library had copies and I found the article in a very tightly bounded volume, FHL Book 971-384 D25o V. 13, No. 1, Jan/Feb 1980. This is a reprint from the Shawville Equity, September 28, 1977 with minor changes by the author.
I found it interesting that in this version the Ottawa Branch News, it was a brother-in-law of Alexander’s that pooled his land with Alexander for the purpose of the chapel and cemetery, not just Alexander donating land as the 3 page manuscript suggests. This individual received the land from his services in the Battle of Waterloo. I would like to see the Shawville Equity Article just to see what was really written.
In 2012, when I was touring the Upper Ottawa area and driving from Renfrew city to Portage Du Fort to Shawville, I went right by there on Hwy 303 several times and could have sought out this tombstone. I was trying to identify cemeteries with McD’s in them in the area and I was all over the internet and cemetery books but this one I missed. I have realized since I came home and did my 2nd tour of Canada that I did not extend my searches wide enough but then I didn’t have a lot of time.
Here are the other sources in the article and I have not been able to find online versions probably due to copyright:
Highways of Destiny, A History of the Diocese of Pembroke, Ottawa Valley Canada, by Rev. Wm. C. O’Dwyer, 1964.
Clarendon and Shawville, by J. Lloyd Armstrong, Dickson Enterprises, Shawville, 1980.
Lift Up Your Hearts, A History of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pembroke, by Rev. Joseph C. Legree, 1988.
If anyone knows this cemetery, has photos and is willing to share, please contact me and leave a comment