Dear friends who have children, or spend a lot of time in their presence (without cowering in fear, like I do): I’m looking for some help identifying the age of these kids. How old do you think the kids are in this picture?
I know who the three older kids are, but I’m trying to identify the baby. It’s either my father, or my father’s older sister, Elizabeth, who died as an infant. If it’s the latter, then this might be the only picture of her that I know of.
I’m tackling more of the Holmes family. I left civilization, today, to visit my aunt in Mississauga (I kid! I kid! Mississauga’s not that bad, especially for someone who grew up in Sarnia). My aunt loaned me a metric buttload of old photos that I’m busily scanning, and we talked about family history.
It’s like a blast from the past, man. I have a copy in my hot little… Documents folder.
I’ve lost a few more hours of my life looking up Houles. Here are the descendants of Pierre Houle (who is, I believe, the first Houle to arrive in Dover Township). The chart’s not complete, by any means, but there are a coupl’a interesting aspects to it.
I’m not exactly sure, but I think I was in high school when I was given a copy of a family-tree-filled booklet called Those Irish Holmes. I’ve only found a few references to it online, and those references suggest that it was published in 1987 (but with a question mark after the date) — I would have been in university in ’87, and I’m sure I had my copy before that. My parents moved during my first year of university, and I never saw the book after that move.
I’ve never really known how the Holmeses arrived in Ireland, but I’ve always known that my Holmes ancestors were Irish. My father strongly identified as Irish; my mother didn’t express any particular affinity with any national origin, although she has a lot of Irish in her with a French streak as well, based on the family tree.
I’ve found enough information from that original book, online, that I can reassemble the fragments I recall about how the Holmeses came to Canada. It starts with the family of Andrew Holmes and his wife Susan/Susannah. In 1845-49, the Great Irish Famine was in full swing. Compounding the problems of the famine was Irish fever — a typhus epidemic that took hold in Ireland, and moved to England.
It appears that Andrew and Susan packed up with 6 of their 7 children (the eldest, Mary Ann, stayed in Ireland with her husband) and sailed off to Canada. I have conflicting information about whether this took place in 1845 or 1847. New York had enacted some legislation with the goal of keeping Irish immigrants out in an attempt to prevent the epidemic from arriving and Canada knew full well that it was going to see a dramatic rise in possibly sick Irish arrivals. The arrival station at Grosse Île, Quebec, ramped up its quarantine procedures and prepared for the influx. Today, there’s a monument on Grosse Île which reads, “In this secluded spot lie the mortal remains of 5,294 persons, who, flying from pestilence and famine in Ireland in the year 1847, found in America but a grave.” One of the names recorded on the memorial is Andrew Holmes, who died in 1845.
On the weekend, I started to suspect that one of the key family tree connections in the Houle line was based on extremely weak evidence. At this point, I’m pretty sure that connection is wrong.
This whole process feels, in odd ways, like programming. I’m reading a document that I didn’t produce, and I’m having to glean from it what the original author was thinking. It’s a lot like reading someone else’s code. “Why did you put that there? What made you think it was important?”
The problem goes back, again, to Pierre Houle. It’s pretty crucial to understand who his parents are. Once he arrives in Dover Township, he and his family are fairly well documented. There are certain circumstantial hints about his parentage available in the documentation:
I think I’ve reached the point of needing an Ancestry.ca subscription. All the good data is in there.
Gervais Houde. Oh, how I hate you. All of you.
My grandmother is a Houle — a name variation of Houde, which happens to be a particularly old family name in Quebec. Apparently Houde is in the top 50 most-common surnames in Quebec, and there’s a particular ancestor, Louis Houde, who came over to New France (aka Lower Canada, aka Quebec) in 1647. (Interesting aside: Wikipedia says that in 1653, the population of New France was 2000, so he was an early settler) He’s a mason by trade and in 1655 he married Madeleine Boucher. Let’s not talk about the fact that he was 37 and she was 13. No good can come of dwelling.
Louis Houde has a son named Gervais Houde (born in 1664) who married Anne Catherine Denevers (that name might derive from a noble title — the Count de Nevers/Count of Nevers. w00t! I might secretly be all noble or something!)
I’ve found the section of Don’s material that has all the old photos of me throughout the years. Eeep. It was a whole other gender ago!
Also some news clippings from when I was in school. There are two newspaper articles from my high school days. It’s funny; I remember the days when the photos were taken, but I couldn’t quite remember the events that precipitated them. They’re both from 1983.
In the first case, there’s a photo of 17 students from grades 9, 10, and 11. I’m one of the grade 11 students. This article related to the University of Waterloo-sponsored math contests: these, I think, would be the Pascal, Cayley, and Fermat math contests (our high school did a lot of math contests). Apparently our scores placed our high school first in south-western Ontario. I, of course, recognized a number of the faces from that photo, including my high school friend and Canadian math prodigy Eric Veach (who’s been at Google for a good while now).
The second photo had to do with a set of computer contests run by the American Computer Science League. If they’re the ones I’m thinking about, they involved a number of exercises (something like six to ten), each done on a different day, where you’d code a program to a spec and the instructor would test your program against some pre-defined test data to see if you got the right output. According to the article, Northern came in 33rd against 346 schools, and 1st in Canada. Interestingly, I remember almost everyone in this photo — even the ones I had little interaction with. Eric’s there, again, and my other close high school friend, Chris Irie, is hanging out in the back row. I think Eric and I are the only grade 11 students — all the others were a year ahead of us.
All this to say, hey, I was there! I kicked ass! I took names! And then I promptly forgot most of those names over the years. Humf.