Tag Archives: Langevin

Only Child searches for Dad’s history

Only child's Dad when he worked for the railway

Only child’s Dad when he worked for the railway

I am trying to piece together my late father’s history – his ancestors and his life in Toronto before I came along. Not too easy when Dad was born in Montreal and the family moved to Toronto when he was a child.

A year ago I began this quest – one of my cousins had started a trace on the Langevin (and Verey – the latter her direct family connection, not mine) ancestry on www.ancestry.ca. I’m not on there yet but one of my friends is and she offered to do some checking there. She found my cousin’s partial family history and also an anomaly – further digging by my friend found another last name (maiden one) for my paternal grandmother. Which is the correct one?

I am not close to my Dad’s side of the family and it has been over five years since I talked to some of my cousins. But I emailed the family genealogist using an old email address. You guessed it – the email bounced back as no one at that address.

However, life jumped in, including dealing with the horrible boarder living here last year, house and house-related problems, plus one pleasant thing – finishing rewriting my first mystery novel Beyond Blood (published fall 2014 – Warning: plug coming. See my publisher’s website www.bluedenimpress.com for more info and my other blog www.sharonacrawfordauthor.com).

As 2014 drew to a close and 2015 rushed in, I feel much urgency to continue on this quest for Dad’s history. I have been spending some Saturday afternoons at the Toronto Reference Library looking in old City Might Directories to find where Dad lived and to try to nail down when the Langevin family did move to Toronto. (I had some idea what street so that was a start.)

And found myself on a very enjoyable but puzzling journey.

Picture me sitting at a table on the library’s second floor with Might Directories piled up in front of me. The shelves where they are stored are behind me, but I can only carry four books at a time. It is difficult with my health issues to get down to the floor to pick out the directories on the bottom shelf but I am compelled to do so.

You are not allowed to photocopy the contents – not a copyright issue but the delicate nature of the pages. These are old directories, circa early 1900s (Dad was old enough to be my grandfather) and the pages are amazing. Almost like parchment with back to back pages which appear glued together. Back then, the “technology” did not allow for any other way to do this. The print is around the same size as print telephone directories, perhaps a smidgeon larger. With my bad eyes and old glasses I have to use a small magnifying glass to read the type.

It is worth it – this going back and forth from the street listings to the name listing and I finally find my late grandfather. Thanks to my cousin’s information on ancestry.ca I now know his first name. But another Langevin surfaces in the Might Directories – a Charles Langevin and I have no idea where he fits in, except my grandfather and grandmother and their offspring lived with him for a few years. My grandfather (Eugene Langevin) shows up in the street address listing at some point and then in a later year, Charles has disappeared. Then my aunts and uncles and my dad show up living at the same addresses, including my cousin’s great grandfather (she is a cousin once removed to me). And it lists where they worked and the position they held. The listing criteria seems to be it didn’t matter if you were male or female as long as you held a job.

I find my father not only worked as a clerk at Canadian National Railways but that previouslyhe worked with the Grand Trunk Railway before CNR gobbled it up. I finally find where his office was located – as I suspected right in Union Station in Toronto. One of his brothers, Uncle Paul also fought in World War 1, which I never knew. The directory has him still at the address but they classify him as “away on service.” And yes, he came back from the war. I also discover the Langevin family moved to Markham St. (where my cousins, their parents and my late maternal grandmother lived when I was a child) many years earlier than I suspected.

Then I get carried away and start to trace my mom’s time from when she moved to Toronto from the family farm near Mildmay, Ontario. Not sure which year so I’m working back from 1938 the year before she and Dad married. The address she lived at then (renting in a house) is in the area of Toronto where she and Dad lived when they were first married. Next investigation is to find out if the addresses are the same. An old photograph I have might give me the answer.

I can see my memoir will need some changes.

And I finally realized why I am compelled to do this family history investigation now. 2015 (November) is the 50th anniversary of Dad’s death.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 in happier times

Only Child and her late dad on the veranda of 139 in happier times

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Filed under Beyond Blood, Beyond the Tripping Point, Canadian National Railway, Dad, Family, Hereditary, Libraries, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Nostalgia, Only child memoir, Railways, Research memoir writing, Toronto

Only Child on mother’s dresser drawer and inheriting personal characteristics

Only Child with her parents in saner times at her grandfather's farm

Only Child age 11 with her parents at her grandfather’s farm

Do we inherit our personal characteristics from our parents? Or is it all environment or a little of both? The experts seem to be undecided, some research even pooh-poohing the genetic aspect. See the excellent Psychology Today article online at http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/under-the-influence/201307/do-genes-influence-personality.

Lately I seem to be subconsciously following in both my parents’ genetic footsteps as I try to sort through the aftermath of a difficult 2013 and move forward. Until the last few days when I had sort of an extended “aha moment.”

I realized I was using my mother’s logical and practical modus operandi to budget my finances, to organize my days (both for work and other) and stay on track. What put the light bulb in my head about this was remembering Mom’s simple basic files in a dresser drawer in her bedroom. Nothing fancy but it kept her on track with her finances. She also seemed to have a plan in her head about what she did – whether sewing clothes for me, knitting, gardening or cooking and baking. Even after Dad died and her health went downhill she still retained some of this organization practical skill to keep her going. Until we actually were moving out of the house I grew up in – but that’s another story.

Mom came from a mixed bag of right brain and left brain ancestors. As the name suggests, the Strauss side members were artistic – music, painting, crafts – and not too practical. The Schefter side members were very practical and business-like. I think Mom inherited mainly that side – particularly from her father, my Grandfather Charlie – although Mom’s sewing, knitting, gardening, and even cooking bordered on the creative side.

I can’t knit to save my life but I spent a number of years quilting by hand and sewed all my maternity clothes back in 1977. Now to get me to mend anything is a big deal. Then there is my writing and gardening. The latter is definitely inherited from Mom, but the gardening environment I grew up in plays a big role too.

Besides the Strauss influence I need to go to my Dad’s side of the family – the Langevins. There is a Langevin, a novelist who lives or lived in Quebec province. No idea at this point if I’m related to him. To my knowledge my Dad didn’t get involved in artistic endeavours, although I have a vague memory that he once did some painting (the artistic kind). I do know he was a terrific house painter and he did spotless and creative painting jobs inside and outside our house. That wasn’t his profession, though. He was a time-keeper for Canadian National the railway company and became obsessive about being on time.

I’ve inherited that time-obsessiveness. I also seem to have inherited some of my parents’ temperaments. Both Mom and Dad worried a lot so I have that one big time. Dad had a short fuse and so do I. Mom thought things out a lot and so do I.

Where does that leave me? Yo-yoing in my approach to life?

Maybe that’s a good thing – combine both sides of the fence to get you through life. Whether it’s hereditary or environment or both, plus what you can bring to your life yourself from all experiences – good and bad can help you in living. From the bad (among other things) you can learn what to kick out of your life. From the good, you can learn what works and how to apply it in future. I know – good and bad are relative to each individual.

And the reference to the Langevin side of my family? One of my goals this year is to dig up (not literally) all my dad’s ancestors. Dad was born in Montreal, Quebec. I have the book Finding Your French-Canadian Ancestors to get me started and the Internet searches it suggests. Maybe even a trip to Quebec City and Montreal, Quebec later this year.

I’m saving my money for that one – using this unique weekly plan posted the end of 2013. Check out http://www.digtriad.com/news/article/263861/1/52-Week-Money-Challenge-Save-About-1400-In-2013  There is a link to a chart for those of us mathematically challenged so we know how much to put in the “kitty” each week.

What do you think about where we get our personal characteristics?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Genealogy, Hereditary, Uncategorized