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Random Historical, Social and Cultural Moments

Titled Bookie Recoups Fortune War Wiped Out, London, 1920

Huntingdon Herald, 30 Jun 1920

Titled Bookie recoups fortune war wiped out

London – June 30 – England’s first titled bookmaker, Sir Miles Talbot Stapleton, whose fortune was wiped out during the war, has made a profit of nearly $100,000 during the present racing season, according to Jockey club gossip.

Sir Miles, who served in the infantry during the war, began “making a book” at the beginning of the present season.  His success has been phenomenal and he has amassed enough to retain his beautiful country seat, Grey’s Court, Henley-on-Thames. 

His wife, Lady Doris Stapleton, holds the distinction of being the first titled Englishwoman to star in a British made film production.

Wm Radam’s Microbe Killer, 1892

Montreal Gazette, 29 Aug 1892

The Greatest Discovery in the World

Wm Radam’s Microbe Killer

The only remedy known that removes the true cause of disease from the system without injury to the person, hence it cures all diseases.

All diseases are caused by microbes, which are living germs in the blood, and these microbes cause inflammation, fermentation and decay. In vain have the best scientists heretofore sought for an agen to destroy these microbes in the blood without killing the patient.  This medicine has been known but six years, yet.

Thousands of persons will testify to its wonderful powers

We invite the closest investigation

Kittson & Co Gen’l Agents – Province of Quebec, Province of New Brunswick

185 St James street, 2312 Catherine street, Montreal

Wholesale and Retail

Marriage Cuddy Corley, Montreal 1886

Gazette, 4 Aug 1886

Mr Timothy Corley of Swinford Ireland, was married to Miss M Cuddy, daughter of Mr John P Cuddy, of this city, at the Bishop’s Palace yesterday.  His Grace Archbishop Fabre officiated, assisted by Rev Fathers Moran and Donnelly.  After a wedding breakfast at the residence of the bride’s parents, the happy couple left for a trip through the Western states.  The wedding presents were handsome and valuable.

From the McCord Museum –

Photograph | T. Corley and lady, Montreal, QC, 1886 | II-80961.1

Home from the front, Montreal 1918

Montreal Gazette, 21 Dec 1918

Montreal Men Due Back on Sunday

Big Party of Veterans Left Halifax on Friday Morning

List of those coming

Parties from other ships expected to arrive on Christmas Eve and Christmas day

It is expected at Military headquarters that a large number of Montreal troops will arrive here some time on Sunday from the Regina, which docked at Halifax on Friday morning. The Regina brought several hundred returned officers and soldiers from overseas, including a large party for Montreal.  Definite instructions as to the arrival of the military specials had not been received at military headquarters yesterday.

Following are the NCO’s and men expected to arrive here from the Regina:

Gnr William C Leitch

Holes of Montreal, 1915

More images from the collection of my great uncle, William Clair Leitch. Images of infrastructure work in Montreal, mostly aqueduct, built by Laurin and Leitch.

Cannot identify these men either – who are they?

The Corley Family Plot, Montreal, 2021

The Tale of a Family Plot

As a child I was well aware that my dad’s family had a cemetery plot.  I had never seen it, but it was a ghost haunting many of the interactions my immediate family had when dealing with some of his cousins.  Late one night one of my father’s cousins phoned the house (quite drunk) and talked to my mother about the plot – telling her that we should dig up my grandfather from the plot because he was not a “Corley”.  He had married a Corley, but he should go to the Leitch plot.  Another cousin was just angry that my father had control of the plot when he wasn’t a Corley, despite the fact that his parents were buried there, along with his grandparents.  My father ignored these suggestions, naturally. As I got older, I also noticed that there was this concern that there wouldn’t be enough room for them in the plot, if the residents already there remained. I envisioned it as some kind of weird contest – whoever dies first wins….

I found all of this talk about burial, plots and removals rather bizarre, and somewhat dark.  I was resolved as an adult to see this amazing space that some of the cousins were so fixated on.  I also wanted to know more about the plot, and why it took such emotional space in the larger family.

The Plot

Gravestone of Corley family plot at Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery, spring 2008

The Corley family plot is located in the Notre-Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal.  This cemetery, opened in 1854 and serves as the largest catholic cemetery in Montreal.  The plot was purchased in 1920 by my great-grandmother Margaret Cuddy Corley.  It was purchased after the death of her husband Timothy Anthony Corley, and he was the first burial there. 

The plot is located in section B of the cemetery, a central location, which has a number of rather elaborate monuments, including the “Monument des Patriotes.”  But the Corley monument is not elaborate at all.  It lies as a flat stone with the names of Timothy and Margaret engraved in the stone, and picked out in lead.  To the left of the main monument is a flat granite stone with the name of my grandfather Hugh James Leitch on it, with his wife Irene Corley’s below.

Family and Settlement

I think that what is most striking about the purchase of the family plot was Margaret’s decision to buy it in Montreal.  At the time of Timothy Anthony Corley’s death in January of 1920, the family was living in Winnipeg, MB. Timothy had been there off and on for over twenty years, but Margaret only moved there permanently in 1916.[1]

Timothy Corley had been, since the 1890s, a travelling salesman or representative (commercial traveller in some other sources, Commission broker in his obituary).  He generally represented Montreal firms in selling their products (tobacco frequently), and he did his business largely through the western parts of Canada, although occasionally he also visited Quebec City to conduct his business.  Canadian newspaper hotel and arrivals sections are testimony to the amount of business travel Corley did.  It appears though that his main market was in Manitoba, and while there he created the firm TA Corley and Sons, incorporating his sons Timothy and John into the business in the 1910s.  He rented accommodation in Winnipeg, and the family lived at Chelsea Court at the time of his death.

Photocopy of an advertising paper for Montreal Chocolates, from the collection of Nora Corley Murchison.

Margaret’s family were established for the most part in Montreal.  Her sisters Mary Hicks, Honora and Theresa Cuddy, and her brothers Sarsfield and John Cuddy all lived in Montreal.  Her brother James had moved for a time to St Paul, MN, then back to Montreal, and then to Los Angeles, CA. All her siblings, and her parents are buried in Notre-Dame des Neiges Cemetery. Her marriage to Timothy in 1886 took her to Swinford, Ireland, where Timothy was from.  He operated the “Corley Hotel” in that town as well as the owner of a drapery and grocery business.  Their first two children (Margaret and John) were born in Swinford, but they sold up and moved to Montreal in 1892. There they had two more children, Timothy and Irene, and the children appear to have had all of their education in Montreal. 

Unpacking the Plot’s History

When Timothy died in Winnipeg in 1920, the local newspapers all covered the death and funeral.  Corley was seen as a resident of the city for over 25 years.  His residency in the city was based on his presence there for business, but as seen by city directories and the census, he was also considered a resident of Montreal.  But this is muddy.  In the 1901 Census he was enumerated in both Winnipeg, as a lodger in ward 4, and as the head of the household on Cadieux Street in Montreal.  It is clear that with the move of his wife to Winnipeg in 1916, that the main home was in Winnipeg when he died. Margaret remained a resident of the city up to at least 1922, and then returned to Montreal.[2]

His funeral was held in Winnipeg on the 3rd of February, 1920 at St Mary’s Cathedral. He was not immediately buried as the ground was still frozen.  Most Winnipeg papers said that he would be buried in Winnipeg in the spring. And this would all follow usual custom of burying people where they died.  The transport of a person to a place outside of the region was unusual.  Cost and convenience were factors in this practice.

But ultimately this is not what happened.  In May 1920 Margaret Cuddy made a series of payments which formed the purchase of lot 282 Section B from the Fabrique of Notre-Dame, which operated the Notre-Dame des Neiges Cemetery in Montreal. She signed an agreement with them which gave her the plot in perpetuity, and also made payments for the maintenance of the plot.  She paid $450 for the maintenance of the grass in perpetuity on May 14th, $8 for the burial of her husband on May 15th, $675 for the plot itself on the same day, and another $408 in May 1921 for the balance owed for the plot. This is a significant investment for her to make ($1541).[3]  I went online and found a website which calculated the value of a USD over time (so not completely accurate) to use as a guide to the actual value in present dollars of the sum Margaret spent to create the Corley family plot, and the sum is $20,408.77.[4]         

Margaret erected the large flat stone which marks the plot, and had hers and Timothy’s name placed on it.  In her will (dated 1942) she stated specifically her wishes for the plot:

“I wish to be buried beside my beloved husband, Timothy A Corley, in the Notre-Dame des Neiges Cemetery at Montreal, lot no 282 Section B, and direct that my name and the date of my birth and death be put on the ledger stone under my husband’s inscription in the same leaded lettering.

I direct that the deeds of the said Cemetery be given to my daughter Irene Virginia Corley, wife of Hugh James Leitch, and that she shall have the right to name by her will as her Successor to said cemetery lot such of my other children or my grandchildren as she may desire.” [5]

In a previous will dated not long after her purchase of the lot she expressed the intent for the burial plot:

“Each one of my children, their husbands or wives, or grandchildren shall have the right of burial therein and the names inscribed on side panels of said Ledger Stone in same style and leaded manner as original and size of letters same.

That no one shall have a right to build or place thereon a monument sacred to the memory of any other individual unless by the consent of my daughter Irene V Corley or in case of her death by Timothy Patrick Corley, or a successor they shall name in turn; their word shall be final.”[6]

From her testamentary documents it is evident that she saw this plot this as the final resting place for all of her children and many of her grandchildren.  It would appear that she trusted that her youngest daughter Irene would be the best person to administer the plot, and do so in a manner which at least matched hers.  That in her last will she removed the part about style of monument, erection of other monuments, and who could be buried there, is interesting, as is the removal of her son Timothy’s name as next in line to control the plot.

Style of commemoration

When Margaret buried her husband, she placed a flat marker on the grave, with engraved lettering and lead fill. This was a specific style chosen, but one that is unique for the section in which it was placed.  Considering the investment made in the plot from its purchase and maintenance, she was not opposed to spending money on the plot. She did not however choose to build large.

Wide view of the plot of 282B with the surrounding monuments, Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery, Montreal

Section B, where the Corley plot is located is also the section where Margaret’s sister Mary Cuddy Hicks is buried. The Hicks family monument is very large, and elaborate.  It lies about ten feet from the Corley Plot.

Hicks Family Monument, section B, Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery

Another family member buried is B section, perhaps 20 feet away, is Margaret Cuddy’s aunt, Catherine O’Sullivan Wright, and her family.  It too is a large monument with steps leading up to it from the roadway below.

Wright Family Monument, Section B, Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery

I was curious to see if these family plots all so close to one another were deliberate choices made by the family to buried close to one another.  I went into the Cemetery office and asked about the timing and placement, and found that B section had opened around 1912, and the fact that these families were placed near one another was more a factor of time of death of several members of the family rather than deliberate choice.  As you can see from above, Catherine’s husband Patrick Wright died in 1917, and so she purchased a plot for the family at that time.  Mary Hicks’s husband Matthew Hicks died in 1913, and at that time a plot was purchased (the cemetery confirmed that the plots were purchased at the time of the first burial).  Margaret might have been pleased that she was choosing a plot hear family, but she was constrained by the availability of parcels opened for use.  Notre Dame des Neiges opened sections gradually, and tended to fill them before opening new ones.

As I stated earlier, most of Margaret’s family are buried at Notre-Dame des Neiges.  The rest of her siblings, some of their children, and her parents are buried in the Cuddy family plot which is located at Section E, number 8. It too is a massive monument, with names and decoration on all four sides. 

Cuddy Family Plot, Section E, Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery

If we consider these monuments erected by Margaret’s family as representatives of a family burial tradition, as they were erected and conceived by those who raised her or were raised with her, in the same city, faith and culture, then massive grave stones were the norm.  The same can be said of the Corley family, who were buried in Kilconduff Cemetery, near Swinford, Ireland. Timothy’s father’s monument is the highest in the cemetery, placed on the top of a hill, on top of a vault owned by the area’s landowner, Brabazon.  Patrick Corley, who died in 1875 is buried there, as is his wife Mary Groarke, and his daughter Anne O’Dowd.

Corley Family Plot under the highest monument, against the Brabazon Crypt, Kilconduff Cemetery, Mayo, Ireland. The pink marble obelisk is that of Patrick Corley, while the large white (now black) marble to the right is that of Anne Corley O’Dowd. Family plot is located in front of arch, and surrounded by an iron fence.

It is clear then, that Margaret Cuddy was not greatly influenced, or concerned with what other people were doing in terms of commemoration.  She had a clear idea of how she wanted the monument to look, and did everything in her power to ensure her wishes were carried out.

Family Space

Once created the family plot was meant to serve as a place for the Corley immediate family to be buried.  Margaret Anna Corley, Margaret and Timothy’s 5 year old granddaughter was the second person to be interred in the plot.  She died in 1931.  Her name was not added to the gravestone, although that clearly was Margaret Cuddy’s intention when she purchased the plot.

Corley Family Plot with flower cross signifying where Margaret Anna Corley was buried in 1931. Photo from the collection belonging to her parents John and Anna Corley.

Margaret Cuddy Corley was laid to rest beside her husband in 1952, and her name was added as requested onto the monument.  She was followed by her son-in-law Hugh James Leitch in 1961.  His wife Irene Corley had a monument put in for him.  When I asked my father about why he had a separate monument when no one else did, he said that his mother wanted him to have something, as he was not a Corley.

Gravestone of Hugh James Leitch, in 282B, Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery.

Irene was buried there in 1964, her brother John Kevin in 1968, and her sister Margaret Conmee in 1973.  John’s wife Anna Magnus was laid to rest next to him and their daughter Margaret in 1971.  Margaret Conmee’s daughter Gwen was laid to rest there in 2001, and my parents were laid there in 1999 and 2004.  

It is interesting to note that none of the family now live in Montreal now, and that has meant that when some of them passed, they have chosen to be buried elsewhere.  Timothy Corley, Margaret and Timothy Corley’s son, is buried in Toronto, with his wife.  Margaret Conmee’s other children are buried elsewhere, her son in Elliot Lake, and her daughter Maureen in Ottawa. The connection perhaps to the family plot is not as strong now that the earlier generations have passed.  The pointed conversations about the plot which peppered my childhood memories of my family (70s and 80s) have long passed, as have the cousins who started them.  But it is evident that the Corley family plot was an integral part of the family’s identity, and its connection to Montreal.


[1] Montreal Gazette, 9 November 1916, page 3.

[2] Winnipeg Tribune, 9 Oct 1922, page 14 – Margaret’s sisters Honora and Theresa visited her in Winnipeg in Oct 1922, and were noted as guests in the Royal Alexandria hotel.

[3] Receipts and contract for plot 282 B, Notre Dame des Neiges Cemetery from personal collection.

[4] https://www.in2013dollars.com/us/inflation/1920?amount=1541

[5] Last Will and Testament, Margaret Corley, dated 15 Jun 1942.  Margaret died in 1952, and this was the will employed.  Personal collection

[6] Will and Testament, Margaret Corley, dated 4 Sep 1920, BANQ Notarial Documents act number 7387, Napoleon Theoret, Notary.

The Largest Pig, Well Head Tavern, 1865

Birmingham Daily Post, 7 Dec 1865

For sale, the largest pig in existence; upwards of 10 feet long.  – To be seen at the Well Head Tavern, Franchise Street, Perry Barr.

Holes of Montreal

Images of Atwater in 1925 from the collection of WC Leitch. Work of Laurin and Leitch?

I went on google maps to try and place where these images would have been taken. Atwater and Centre do intersect, but there is now a traffic circle which leads Centre to also connect to other streets. But as you can see from the first image there is a clear view to the train tracks, which relates to the area, being located out of my google image to the left and down.

Atwater Avenue and Centre Streets – location of Laurin and Leitch work in 1925. Sattelite image from Google Maps

Nut and Celery Salad, 1907

I saw this recipe when I was looking for something else, and I was intrigued.

Hollis Times, 8 March 1907

Nut and Celery Salad

Take one cupful of walnuts and blanch them by covering with boiling water and allowing to stand ten minutes, then chilling them in ice water and drying them with a towel. Cut into inch pieces sufficient white celery to make one pint, mix with the nuts, add one tablespoonful of chopped parsley.  Marinate with French dressing, and garnish with the blanched tips of celery.

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