Autumn Leaves and Family Trees

October 9th, 2006

My close friends know that I am very serious about family tree research. It drives my dear mother quite mad. I grew up on stories of my mother’s Grandma… they are so real and so true and always the same, that I feel like I knew her… and Grandma was NEVER one for looking back… Mom says she would say something like, “Oh, Pat, dear… why would you want to look at things that have already happened, when the world has so much in store for you?”

Somehow, I believe this translates into a strange message that I decode, emanating from my Mother. Genealogy is evil. It may not be that she really feels this way… it’s just that she makes ME feel as though she feels this way.

(and my cold is almost better, so I can't blame the cough drops!)

Recently, while surfing hundreds of thousands of websites, again… I discovered a new site, which lead me to correspondence with a previously un-introduced relative, living in Wales. I know this isn’t a remarkable feat, however, I shall have you know that it is quite exciting when it happens to you… and especially when there is mystery surrounding the family.

Now, this “new” relative, isn’t all that new… in fact, we are of similar age. He is not related to “Grandma” who was on my mother’s maternal side… he is related on my mother’s father’s side. We share a great-grandfather who was born in England around 1856 or 1858… and from there, we have many ancestors-in-common.

My “new-found” relative has been able to fill-in some gaps for me and I have been able to verify many things… including the fact that the family history is totally unbelievable and bizarre…. But then, I’m sure everyone’s is…. Isn’t it?

If I said “flying trapeze” and “ventriloquists”, “conjurers” and “magicians”… “writers” “political activists”… oh never mind…. this is all stuff for other blogs and message boards…

However, some of the information that my SECOND COUSIN (Second cousins are related to each other by descending from the same great grandfather or great grandmother.) was research that had been done by his grandfather.

Really, the most revealing bit of information came from a very interesting narrative, first person that was sent to me. This narrative, was the transcript of a tape recording that was narrated by my second cousin’s grandfather in 1978… and that narrative contained these words…

“in 1973, a niece contacted me, as senior sole surviving member of her father’s family…”

Note: it was kind of sad to know that my grandfather was still very much living at this time and my grandfather was “that” niece’s brother. However, the family seems to have had a knack for being private, perhaps remote, unavailable?

The narrative goes on, “ I thus, rashly, set about the task of researching and creating a family genealogical table of descent. Rashly, yes, I had for the moment forgotten my guiding principle in life and that is “Dictis teneor numquam revertor”, “My word is my bond, I shall never turn back”. Thus having once commenced on a task, I will see it through to the end no matter what the cost in finance or time, within my capabilities.:

Oh my, I thought… this sounds like me! This sounds like my grandfather! This is freakin’ weird…

There’s so much more that I would love to share with you… his narration contains such purple prose! The words are moving, you do not need to be a blood relation to the narrator, to feel the sentiment; both sweet and bemused….

Suffice it to say, with hardly a stone unturned, the narrator had (and here, I will quote) “By the winter of 1973-74 I had completed the Herculean task of recording and tabling no fewer than 500 names of our relatives scattered over four of the five continents and included eight countries…..” and

“In January 22nd 1975 I was 82 years of age and I work up one morning and found that I was living in a thick fog and was unable even to sere May in her bed alongside my own and after many an exhausting test by the specialist it was that I was nearly blind.” And “12 months later, a worse disaster befell. My wife, my close companion since we were young teenagers, before the first world war, and for 56 years my adored wife, died age 80.”

Apparently it was until a year later, that the narrator sat down to do some sorting… and in the course of attempting to do what he could, he accidentally destroyed and erased his notes… and so, in 1978, this man of 85 years, who’s dictum said he must never give up… gave it his best shot from what was left with what was left of his notes and from his memory.

What is so sweet, is that this man’s father had made a dying bequest, that all of his personal papers, collections and memorabilia be destroyed... and for the most part, it was destroyed, by one of his sons. Yet, I could sense in reading that pdf file copy of the narrative, that it was urgent in his mind, that my great-uncle, record some history and some fascinating anecdotal information…

And I thank him... and my newfound Second Cousin, for the things for whatever reason (be it vanity, secrecy, pomposity, anger, fear… or anything else) might have otherwise been held from those of us, who feel it as somewhat of their birthright and bequest.

So I share with my blog today, something from my own experience… and from these special relatives across the pond…

Share stories with your children and grandchildren, reminisce, be curious and thoughtful about the lessons and values passed down to you… respect the mistakes and the wisdom of your fore bearers... they were no different from you… save a little of your history… for it does become a treasure to some and the others are free to ignore it...

And on a more serious note…

Some things that I find helpful for genealogical research are:

· use family group sheets and pedigree charts or a computer program
· contact all living relatives for assistance
· reach out to anyone researching a similar line
· get maps of areas that your ancestors lived in
· get to know the history of the area you are researching
· use common sense when you read information on family history
· make a note and be cautious about information not supported by
dependable sources
· if you have an uncommon name, gather information on anyone, from
anywhere, with that surname
· use solid primary sources, land records, probate, church
records, county records
· make a master copy of all information and print yourself a copy
when you go traveling
· organize your records
· pay attention to little clues your ancestors may have left- this
could mean “family stories” or special family songs,
photographs, diaries, letters… names
· always search surnames with a variety of spellings- many names
slightly change over time and some change quite dramatically
· never give up… take a rest… but never give up

Dictis teneor numquam revertor

Number Games

October 8th, 2006

I am reminded today, again, of Uncle Frank and his love of numbers. From an early age, Butch played games with numbers. He was especially fond of asking the streetcar drivers for extra transfer stubs. These stubs each had a sequence of numbers stamped on them and provided endless hours of number play. As a young child, Frank had a fascination that all of the multiples of 9 added to nine. For example 2X9=18 1+8=9 or 9X8=72 7+2=9.

People are always fascinated with number games. I remember one from 2001 that made the circuit by email:

This is pretty neat how it works out.
This is cool chocolate math!!!!!!!
It only takes about a minute.......
Work this out as you read.
Be sure you don't read the bottom until
worked it out!
This is not one of those waste of time
it's fun.
1. First of all, pick the number of times
a week that you would like
to have chocolate. (try for more than once
less than 10)
2. Multiply this number by 2 (Just to be

3. Add 5. (for Sunday)
4. Multiply it by 50 (being a bit stupid)
I'll wait while you get the
5. If you have already had your birthday
this year
add 1751....
If you haven't, add 1750 ..........
6. Now subtract the four-digit year that
you were
born. (If you
you should have a three-digit
The first digit of this was your original
(i.e., how many times
you want to have chocolate each week).
The next two numbers are your age.


And then….


This really works... try it out. You will need a calculator, or a pencil and paper to do the math, unless of course you can do it in your head.
It takes less than a minute.......
Work this out as you read.
Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out!
This is not one of those waste of time things, it's fun.

1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to have chocolate. (Try for more than once but less than 10)
2. Multiply this number by 2 (Just to be bold)
3. Add 5. (For Sunday)
4. Multiply it by 50 I'll wait while you get the
5. If you have already had your birthday this year add
1752... If you haven't, add 1751.
6. Now subtract the four-digit year that you were born.
You should have a three-digit number...
The first digit of this was your original number (i.e., how many times you want to have chocolate each week).
The next two numbers are ...........

This is pretty neat how it works out.
This is cool chocolate math!!!!!!!

It takes less than a minute...

Work this out as you read.
Be sure you don't read the bottom until you've worked it out! This is not
one of those waste of time things,
it's fun.
1. First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to
have chocolate. (Try for more than once but less than 10)
2. Multiply this number by 2 (Just to be bold)
3. Add 5. (For Sunday)
4. Multiply it by 50 I'll wait while you get the calculator................
5. If you have already had your birthday this year add 1754.... If you
haven't, add 1753 ...
6. Now subtract the four-digit year that you were born. You should have a three-digit number.
The first digit of this was your original number (i.e., how many times
you want to have chocolate each week).
The next two numbers are .........
YOUR AGE! (Oh YES, it IS!!!!!)

Hmmmm… I’d say it’s a mathematical marvel… it only works in that year, unless you add another 1 to 1754 or 1753. Hmmmm… now, I’m no Einstein but….

How many times have you heard someone say that? I’m no Einstein… how about one year out of Albert Einstein’s career?

In 1905, Einstein is 26, a patent examiner, working on physics on his own. After hours, he creates the special theory of relativity, in which he demonstrates that measurements of time and distance vary systematically as anything moves relative to anything else. Which means that Newton was wrong. Space and time are not absolute, and the relativistic universe we inhabit is not the one Newton "discovered."

In March, Einstein creates the quantum theory of light; the idea that light exists as tiny packets, or particles, that we now call photons. Alongside Max Planck's work on quanta of heat, and Niels Bohr's later work on quanta of matter, Einstein's work anchors the most shocking idea in 20th-century physics: we live in a quantum universe, one built out of tiny, discrete chunks of energy and matter.

Next, in April and May, Einstein publishes two papers. In one he invents a new method of counting and determining the size of the atoms or molecules in a given space, and in the other he explains the phenomenon of Brownian motion. The net result is a proof that atoms actually exist—still an issue at that time—and the end to a millennia-old debate on the fundamental nature of the chemical elements.

And then, in June, Einstein completes special relativity, which adds a twist to the story: Einstein's March paper treated light as particles, but special relativity sees light as a continuous field of waves. Alice's Red Queen can accept many impossible things before breakfast, but it takes a supremely confident mind to do so. Einstein, age 26, sees light as wave and particle, picking the attribute he needs to confront each problem in turn.

And, of course, Einstein isn't finished. Later in 1905 comes an extension of special relativity in which Einstein proves that energy and matter are linked in the most famous relationship in physics: E = mc2. (The energy content of a body is equal to the mass of the body times the speed of light squared.) At first, even Einstein does not grasp the full implications of his formula, but even then he suggests that the heat produced by radium could mark the conversion of tiny amounts of the mass of the radium salts into energy.

Sigh… I feel suddenly inadequate!

In Memoriam

October 7th, 2006

On Tuesday, September 26th, 2006, my beloved Uncle Frank slipped suddenly and quietly from this world. James Franklin St Clair-Hughes, in his 68th year, was a member of the Professional Engineer’s of Ontario, the Penetanguishene Legion Euchre Club, St. Margaret’s Bridge Club and the Swinging Seniors. He was an excellent bridge player!

Frankie, or Butch (as he was called when a young boy) was wonderful, adventurous and eccentric his entire life. As we drove to the memorial service, my mother (his eldest sister) recalled some interesting stories of him, as a child. Apparently, even as a lad Butch was serious a lot of the time, he was delighted with spiders and snakes and numbers.

Mom remembers a time when her mother went to put something out in the garbage can and upon lifting the lid, discovered it was chalk full of snakes. Naturally she went squealing to Butch, asking why the snakes were in the can. Butch explained, he didn’t know where else to put them.

Young Frank was a tow-headed cutie and he had the instinctive ability to work a crowd. Mom recalls him winking at women on the streetcar in Toronto, he said it made the women give him such lovely warm smiles. He used to woo an elderly woman on the street. As a toddler, he would inform the family that he had to go visit his “old-lady”. Evidently, she always had some of his favourite cookies.

Frank had a beautiful singing voice, as has most of Mom’s family. He often sang a la Satchmo. Frank adored music, learning a handful of songs on the piano and, more often strumming a banjo or ukulele. He loved to perform!

Frank told jokes and pontificated at almost every opportunity. Sometimes it was difficult to discern the jokes. Other times, he would laugh a most contagious laugh and he would laugh until he cried, wiping tears from the corners of his eyes.

At the memorial service, long time friends called him an “intellectual”, an “entertainer”, a “garage sale junkie” and most knew of his love for animals, children and people with character. For many years, his dog “Rommel” (a miniature daschund) was his constant companion- through business and personal moments, alike. At one time, he had dreamed of being a veterinarian.

He enjoyed time away, in Shawinigan or at his cottage, miles from anywhere- no phones, no electricity, no roads. He says that he once dove off the point and woke up on the beach four days later. The thing is- with Frank, it’s completely possible.

As is the case with a lot of crazy, fun people, Frank’s life had more than its share of heartbreak and sadness. Among other fiascos- he struggled through a number of relationships and marriages, until into his 40s, when he met Madeline. “Maddy” and Frank were together for nearly 24 years.

Frank’s dear friend, Don, reminisced about the difficult time that Frank had, saying goodbye. He remembers Frank standing at his car, with just one more point or just one more joke. I can visualize that, so clearly.

My Uncle Bob (Frank’s little brother), talked about Frank performing back-flips in a condominium hallway while accompanying departing guests to the elevator. He’d often wave huge towels or sheets from the windows or balcony gesturing farewell, too.

Frank was awful that way, on the phone, as well. You’d hang up and then pick up the phone and he’d still be connected, blathering away or laughing hysterically. There is no doubt, this was a man from whom you could expect the unexpected, believe the unbelievable and never doubt the doubtable.

One of my personal and favourite “Frank” stories is about the day that I came home from work, to the apartment I shared with my 1st husband (at Yonge and Steeles, Toronto) and as the elevator door opened, I was greeted by Rommel.

I peeked out into the hall and saw, a bicycle, draped with a dripping jacket and toque… a series of drafting sheets laid out the length of the hallway and Uncle Frank laying on his tummy, a drafting light in front of him, working away. He turned to me and nonchalantly said “hi”. He had dropped in, to visit me… with Rommel and drafting work, on his bicycle from Brampton, in a snowstorm!

You had to love that man.


October 6th, 2006

On January 31st, 1957, Canadian Parliament proclaimed:

"A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed ... to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October."

Canadian Thanksgiving has little to do with the American custom observing Thanksgiving as a remembrance of the Pilgrims. Celebrated as more of a "thanks for successful harvest", the earliest Canadian Thanksgiving holidays have been derived from several sources.

In the late 1500's (about 1578) Samuel de Champlain held feasts, sharing food with the native Indian neighbours. The English explorer Frobisher (later knighted & having an inlet of the Atlantic Ocean named Frobisher Bay, after him) visited what is now known as Newfoundland- he was actually searching for a northern route to the Orient.

While Frobisher didn't find a passage to the East, he was so grateful for having survived the long journey, that he held a formal ceremony of thanks. Future settlers to the area continued this practice and it eventually became part of the culture.

The Seven Years War which began in Europe, spread to the North American Colonies. In 1758, the British launched an attack on New France, taking Cape Breton. By September of 1759, the dying General Wolfe gave orders for 5000 British troops to assemble at the Plains of Abraham (along the side of the St. Lawrence River). They found themselves between two French armies: Montcalm's main army and de Bourganville's force of 2000.

Before Montcalm could attack, the British came under fire from Canadian militia and Indian Snipers from Quebec. Then,apparently, a lack of coordination on the part of the French, caused them to offer retreat after only 15 minutes of horrendously bloody battle which killed or wounded some 1300 men.

The British flag was hoisted over Quebec and by 1760 most of French America came under British rule. In 1763, the French attacked St. John's Newfoundland in their final attempt to strengthen their hold on the colonies, they were unsuccessful. Halifax held a very special Thanksgiving ceremony, that year, to celebrate.

After the Seven Years' War, the reorganization of the colonies was one of the triggers of the American Revolutionary war.United Empire Loyalists who moved up into Canada during this time, brought with them the customs of Thanksgiving cornucopia and pumpkin pie.

In 1879, Canadian Parliament declared November 6th a national holiday of thanksgiving. Over the years, the holiday has been moved to other dates, the most popular being the 3rd Monday in October. After WWI, Armistace Day and Thanksgiving were held on the Monday that fell in the week of November 11th.

In 1931, Armistice day became a separate holiday, renamed Remembrance Day and celebrated on November 11th. It wasn't until 1957 that Parliament proclaimed the day we now celebrate as Thanksgiving Day.

Property Rights in Ontario, Canada

September 23rd, 2006

The Ontario Real Estate Board has been actively investigating, among many other issues, the growing concern of property owners in the Province over infringements of their property rights by mineral and mining prospectors under the OMA.

Mining rights are the rights to minerals located in, on or under the land. Surface Rights refer to any rights of the land that are not mining rights. You can look at this stuff online or by calling 1-800-667-1940. Please note: I highly recommend that the information provided on the maps and links to that site are to be used as guide (the information may be out of date) and that you should seek professional advice with regard to a specific property. The site itself warns: “Ownership of the various rights in land is a legal question that can only be determined through a “title search,” which usually commences at the appropriate Registry Office.”

Another interesting bit of information has to do with: File No. MA 013-98 as it is published at

“L. Kamerman
Mining and Lands Commissioner
Monday, the 1st day of March, 1999.
Mining Lands Patents KRL-13521 to 13526, both inclusive, 14115 to 14127, both inclusive, 14109,
14110, 14534 to 14543, both inclusive and 15908, located on Parcels 5976 and 5977, respectively,
in the District of Kenora (Patricia Mining Division) comprising surveyed Mining Claims KRL-19096,
19097, 19107 to 19112, both inclusive, 29054, 29055, 29059 to 29076, both inclusive, 30055 to
30058, both inclusive, 31823 to 31832, both inclusive and 33200, situate in the District of Kenora
(Patricia Mining Division) hereinafter referred to as the "Mining Lands";
An application under section 79 of the Mining Act in respect of the surface rights located on Werner
Lake Property (hereinafter referred to as the "Surface Rights").
B E T W E E N:
- and -
(Amended November 25, 1998) “

You really need to check out:

here, they talk about:

“The growth-rate of a tree slows as it reaches maturity until it no longer uses the full growth potential of the land it stands on. When this occurs the tree should be cut, since it is preventing the realization of the full growth potential of the site.
Ontario Department of Lands and Forests, 1967(1)
We agree with the [Ontario government's] Green Paper that land should not be allowed to lie idle.
The Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada, 1989(2) “

Have I got your attention?

How about this one:

A lawyer without history or literature is a mechanic, a mere working mason;
if he possesses some knowledge of these, he may venture to call himself an architect.
Sir Walter Scott, Guy Mannering, ch. 37, 1815
In 1992, when I was first appointed as Mining and Lands Commissioner, there was no single publication in existence which provided any sort of overview to explain the current nature of this old and important function. Even tracking down the actual jurisdiction for me or anyone wishing to deal with the Office was a challenge, with responsibilities found not only in statute and regulation but even in an Order in Council, something which was not readily accessible or widely known.“

UPDATE: It’s 2006 and I’m googling my head off… and still having trouble finding an explanation.

This, I do know… with relative certainty:

In Ontario, property rights come from the English common law. Common law is made- up by judges, during court cases- as a decision is made; it is recorded and used as a basis for the determination of future court cases. Under common law, people have the right to use and enjoy their property- they also have an obligation to NOT interfere with their neighbour’s use and enjoyment of THEIR property.

Now, from the perspective of environmental issues… for instance, polluting… it means that nobody can disturb anyone else’s property; during the use of their own property.

Anyone who is harmed this way may seek a remedy in the form of an injunction and reimbursement for damages. The amount of reimbursement is decreed by the courts- this means the court allows this to happen and then decides for how much you just sold your property rights.

The most common violations are: 1) trespass: any invasion of someone’s property, placing anything on someone else’s property. The Ontario Mining Act supercedes the laws against trespass. 2) nuisance: an indirect invasion of someone’s property, doing something intangible that interferes with someone else’s property. Neither a prospector nor the ministry is required to inform a landowner that a claim has been staked on his or her land, and a landowner has only one year to dispute a claim. 3) riparian rights: a property owner whose property is beside a lake or river is entitled to having it flow freely without obstruction or corruption or diversion. The Mining Act supercedes the authority of municipalities in many cases, undermining municipal planning exercises.

How many property owners get the whole story on what their rights are? How many citizens know this stuff? Under the OMA you could find someone digging up your yard and as long as they’ve given you notice and as long as they fix up any damage, they might be allowed to do it! You’d have to appear before the Commissioner of Lands and Mines and provide proof of the damages. Get in line!

Environment Probe has been telling us (for a long time) that “government policies that harm not only Canada's forests, fisheries, waterways, and other natural resources but also the economy.”

Since 2001, the Federation of Ontario Cottager’s Associations has been fighting for changes to Ontario mining regulations. After incidents in and around the Sharbot Lake area, the group has advocated that potential purchasers should be informed, and ready to ask appropriate questions of their lawyer regarding mineral versus surface rights. They have a website, too!

Now, let’s back up to:

“Findings… There is a common law right to those holding an interest in property, which includes an unpatented mining claim holder, to be notified of activities which may affect their rights. Therefore, it would be expected, in the normal course of events, a mining claim holder, or in this case Mr. McCombe, should have been notified of the Application for Provisional Certificate of Approval and had the opportunity afforded by that process to raise any environmental concerns. “

So wait a minute, does that mean that mining claims holders have to be told… but the property owner doesn’t?


:”Evidence and Submissions… Barry McCombe or his agents to be given right to cut for profit or personal use and without cost any timber including pine on the surrendered surface rights."

Huh, timber rights? You mean that the property owner doesn’t always own the right to cut down trees?


“Surface Rights and Mining Rights Under the Mining Act…As we have noticed, minerals are the only resource that can be appropriated and exploited under a title that is obtained from the Crown as the result of one's own acts. Timber rights, oil and gas rights, fishing rights and trapline and outfitting rights are all issued by government only after a discretionary decision to do so.”

Oil rights, gas rights, fishing rights, trapline, outfitting?????? What are people buying?

How many urban dwellers are sitting on property that has some archaic but active limitation to what the owner believes to be his or her rights? How many of them even think about mining in their back yard?

Let me reiterate: Potential purchasers should ask appropriate questions of their lawyer to determine the specific rights that are included in every transaction.