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Dictionary of Family Biography – John Patrick Cuddy

John Patrick Cuddy, Dublin, c. 1885
John Patrick Cuddy, Dublin, c. 1885

John Patrick Cuddy (15 April 1830 – 12 January 1896) was the son of Patrick Cuddy and Nappy Foy of Swinford, Ireland. He was one of at least four children of the couple.

Very little is known about John’s early life in Swinford. There is nothing specifically to indicate an education, or occupational training. He first appears on the record as a passenger on the George Washington, arriving in New York in April of 1852. From the date of his arrival, and judging from the period he left, he was a part of the larger famine migration (which is considered to be between 1847-1852). Certainly county Mayo, where Swinford is located, was hit very badly by the famine, and the area was in the midst of economic trouble when he left.

In 1853, John Patrick Cuddy, clerk, married Jane O’Sullivan at St Patrick’s Church in Montreal. By this time he had already established himself in Montreal, having leased a building a building on St Mary’s (now Notre-Dame Est) which was promptly burned in the fire of June 1852. He must have arrived with some kind of savings considering how quickly and easily he was able to establish a business in Montreal.

Why Montreal? From the baptismal records of his children it is evident that he had family and friends from the Swinford area already in the city. Michael Morley, a merchant on St Mary’s (and godfather to one of his daughters) was married to an Ann Cuddy. Another neighbour, originally from Sligo, and a merchant on the same street, later married his wife’s sister. A number of Irish merchants from his neighbourhood acted as godparents to his children, or witnesses to each others’ marriages. His sister also lived in Montreal, although it is not clear when she settled there.

City directories for Montreal list John Patrick as a dry goods merchant on St Mary’s at different addresses. In the 1860s the family moved to Berri Street, first as tenants then as owners of 34 Berri, then 37 Berri (now the site of the Catholic School Board building). This was an up and coming neighbourhood, being built up with fancy townhouses. A number of very prominent French Canadians had moved to the area. It is clear that John Cuddy, was by this point, was a prosperous businessman, and a leader of his community.

In 1871 he signed a petition (with his brother James) for the construction of a Catholic church to serve the English-speaking faithful near his home. It became St. Mary’s. Funnily enough, all the major religious milestones in his family – baptisms (children – grandchildren), marriages and funerals (including his own) were held at St Patrick’s Church. He was also a member of the St Patrick’s Society.

With his wife Jane O’Sullivan he had eight children: Mary Helen (27 March 1854 – 1 August 1925); Honora Catherine (aka Nora) (2 October 1855 – 17 February 1939); Margaret (April 1858 – 19 Jan 1952); John Patrick (28 May 1860-29 June 1944); James Thomas (13 June 1862 – 15 May 1933); Francis Edward (28 January 1865 – 2 September 1869); Sarsfield Ludger Emmett (26 March 1868 – 25 October 1941) and Teresa Veronica (aka Tess) (21 February 1870 – March 1953).

In 1878, he is listed as a dry goods merchant, and a partner with M. Hicks. His daughter Mary married Matthew Hicks in 1876. This was likely then his son-in-law then with whom he did business. By the 1880s his large list ofproperties appear in the city tax rolls. He had property around his old neighbourhood, St Laurent and Griffintown. On his death it was said in newspaper reports that he had amassed a fortune of $ 150 000.

During his life he kept steady contact with his hometown of Swinford in Ireland. There are several accounts of visits made there, starting in 1860 when he returned with his wife’s sister, Catherine. The image used in this biography was a souvenir of another trip, signed and dated Dublin 1887. He also owned land in Swinford according to records in 1856.

When talking with another historian about these frequent trips to Ireland another reason besides nostalgia or business was suggested. During the last half of the nineteenth century Ireland was in political turmoil, and the Fenians, a revolutionary group, were active at this time. They fought for an overthrow of British rule in Ireland, and were active in Canada and the United States as well. A number of members of the St Patrick’s Society of Montreal were sympathetic to this cause. Perhaps John, also a member, was running between the country with information or money. It can be thought he was sympathetic seeing as he named his son Sarsfield after an earlier Irish revolutionary. There is no evidence however to indicate his political views either way.

So far the image presented from the traditional genealogical sources has been of an ‘immigrant made good,’ and certainly that is an important aspect of his life experience. However, an accidental discovery has deepened the story of John Patrick Cuddy.

Sometime in September 1895 John Patrick Cuddy took some shears and attacked his brother James (who fortunately was not injured). He was arrested and committed as a lunatic at the Longue Pointe Asylum. At his committal his family stated that he had had a drinking problem over the last fifteen years, and as a result had become a lunatic. (These are the terms used in the documents and typical for the era).

At this time four of his adult children lived with him and his wife Jane in their home on Berri St. the circumstances in the home described by his family at the committal, and at the subsequent trial when Cuddy challenged the legal decision of insanity, sound horrendous.

Cuddy believed that his family were trying to poison him – every day he would prepare his own food. Even the young Irish maid they employed was prevented from cooking for him. He would frequently wander the house, going into his childrens’ rooms, watching them as they slept. During the previous year the family testified that they had been forced out of their home several times by Cuddy’s actions. It had been when his wife Jane decided to move out that he had attacked his brother, who was helping her. His doctor, Sir William Hingston, described him as a bully, but that his behaviour had worsened following an illness two years past. He had suffered a paralysis on one side of his body. His doctor blamed it on his alcoholism, although the symptoms do have similarities with a stroke.

Cuddy amazingly enough won his court case, which is exceptional for the period. The judge decided that Cuddy was sane and not dangerous, saying that essentially he was master of his own home, and that his wife should seek a legal separation instead. The children, all adults, were portrayed as being rebellious to their father’s strict rules. The headline in the Montreal Daily Star was the most striking : ”Mr Cuddy Not Insane.”

John Patrick Cuddy’s freedom was short lived. He was released from the Asylum the 31st December 1895, and he died 13 January 1896. He was buried at Cote des Neiges, under a very grand monument.


Nootens, Thierry, Fous, Prodigues, Ivrognes : Famille et déviance à Montréal au 19è siecle

Obituaries- Montreal Gazette, Montreal Daily Star

Court accounts – Montreal Gazette, Montreal Daily Star

Cuddy v Sullivan, Court documents, BANQ-M

Archives of the St Patrick’s Society of Montreal, Concordia University

Archives of the Archdiocese of Montreal

Registres de Notre Dame de Montreal

Kilconduff Parish registers

Griffiths evaluations

Montreal City Archives – tax rolls

Montreal City directories

Canadian Census 1881-1891

Sherry Olson

The Social Season, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Standard, 22 November 1919, page 22

The past week has been a very full one in the social world for, although there have been few really big affairs, any number of smaller functions have taken place. Dinner dances, bridges, supper dances, and teas, for visitors and for debutantes, have been the order of the day and followed each other in quick succession; with several weddings of interest both in and out of town in which society was interested. The weeks ahead are crowded with engagements, dances taking first place. Indeed, it appears that no matter what an entertainment starts out to be it inevitably ends in a dance.

The dance at the Windsor last night under the auspices of the Rupert Brooke Chapter of the IODE was a very delightful affair, and particularly noticeable was the large proportion of young folks among the eight hundred or so guests present. Dancing was carried out in the Windsor Hall to the music of an excellent orchestra, while the adjoining corridor was used as a sitting-out room, and supper was served in the Rose Room. The gowns were particularly attractive, and when dancing was in progress the result was a perfect kaleidoscope of color. The proceeds of the dance are to be devoted to the War Memorial Fund of the Daughters of the Empire and the Osborne Home for Soldiers’ children, under the management of the Montreal Soldiers’ Wives League.

One of the most important dances of the season is the Saint Andrew’s Ball, to be held as heretofore in the Windsor Hotel on Monday, December 1st, for which arrangements are nearing completion. The various committees are using every endeavour to ensure the success of the event and everything possible which will make for the comfort and pleasure of the guests is being done. The list of patrons and subscribers – lengthy and distinguished one, and so much interest is being taken in the affair that it promises to equal if not eclipse even the brilliancy of the Saint Andrew’s Balls of pre-war days.

Halloween – Montreal, 1880

Montreal Gazette, 30 October 1880, page 5.


Twenty-fifth annual concert of the Caledonian Society

The beautiful new Queen’s Hall contained a goodly audience last night, the occasion being that annual event which never fails to excite interest not only among the descendants of Auld Scotia, but amongst our citizens generally, the Halloween Concert of the Caledonian society. The entertainment provided on these occasions has always been a good one, but that of yesterday evening was perhaps of even a higher class than any which have preceded it. The presence of Mr LH Frechette, the poet laureate of the French Academy, added greatly to the pleasure of the evening, but even without that incentive to attendance the eloquent address of the Rev Dr Stevenson and the admirable musical and literary programme provided were in themselves sufficient to repay the audience richly.

Shortly after 8 o’clock the strain of “Hail to the Chief” were heard, and headed by the pipers in Highland costume playing the inspiring air, the President and guests entered and took their seats on the platform. Mr Robins, President of the Caledonia Society, took the chair, and amongst the invited guests around him we noticed Messrs FB McNamee, President of the St Patrick’s Society; Mooney, Irish Protestant Benevolent Society; Wilson, Irish National Society’ Mr LH Frechette, Mr H Gault, MP; MP Ryan MP; Thos White, MP; Alex McGibbon, CO Perreault, Vice-consul of France; WO Munderloch, German Consul; Rev Mr Fleck, Rev AJ Bray, Rev Dr Stevenson, Mr H Beaugrand, Prof Moyse, Mr WS Walker, Mr Porteous, GTR, and others.

The Programme

Owing to unavoidable circumstances Miss Schemir of New York was unable to appear. Mrs E Otis Rockwood, at a short notice, very kindly her place and in such a manner as to win the decided approval of the audience. Miss Maggie Barr’s singing of Scotch ballads was delightful, and thoroughly justifies the appellation given her on the programme of “sweetest of Scottish ballad singers.” Mr Stuart played his violin solos capitally, Mr Mather Porteous sang with much taste, and Mr Maitland proved himself a good Scottish vocalist. Mrs T Chas Watson read well, as she always does, and was deservedly applauded, and Mr Hilton acted most efficiently as accompanist to the singers.

The programme as a whole was as follows, the addresses, which appear at intervals, being subjoined:-

President’s Address.

Song – “Gae Bring my Guide auld Harp Anee Mair”….. Riddell.

Mr Maitland.

Song- “Robin Adair,” Burns.

Miss Maggie Barr

Song – “thy Sentinel Am I”…. Watson

Mr Mather Porteous

Song – “Caller Herrin”….

Mrs E Otis Rockwood

Violin – Selection of Scottish Airs…

Mr Stuart

Reading – “Henry of Navarre” …Mucaulay

Mrs T Charles Watson

Address….. Louis Honore Frechette, Esq

Song- “Auld Scotland, I love thee”….Park

Mr Maitland

Song- “Doun the Burn, Davie Lad” …Crawford

Miss Maggie Barr

Concertina Solo (by Special Request) – Mr Maitland

Song- “Jamie” …. Molloy

Mrs E Otis Rockwood

Song – “A Warrior Bold”… Stephen Adams

Mr Mather Porteous

Reading- “Curfew Must not Ring To-Night”

Mrs T Charles Watson

Duet – “A Crooked Bawbee”… Burns

Mr Maitland and Miss Maggie Barr

Song- “A Man’s a man for a’ That”… Burns

Mr Maitland

Auld Lang Syne

God Save the Queen

The President stated that night which though not Halloween, was yet in the arrangements of that concert representative of Halloween, had always been looked forward to by the members of the Caledonian Society with considerable interest, and not only by them, but by all classes of their Scottish citizens and not merely on account of the talent always brought forward in producing a successful gathering, but also by reason of the old songs of the old land, with their grand old melodies, wakening memories of the various phases of social life in their father land. The power of reawakening that which had been embalmed in the memories, those pleasing associations, were linked with these Halloween concerts, and they ministered in a pre-eminent degree to the delight of their Scottish people, as was evidenced by the enthusiasm which they displayed at the songs of their native land, the scenes of their childhood and their youth. Throughout the programme for that evening’s concert, whether readings, or music, English or Scotch, there breathed the genuine spirit of poetry, for the Scottish people recognized the power of the poet, for the influence of the poet over the social life of nations had been in the words of Louis Honore Frechette (loud cheers)- “Everywhere had the poets marched in the forefront of the great social movements which had lifted humanity from the pre-historic obscurity to the promised land of modern civilization.” In addition to their usual monthly meetings, they had three festivals; one of the Burns Anniversary, when they had in addition to the Scottish haggis and other viands so amply supplied by the host of the St Lawrence Hall, songs and sentiments, and addresses from the Rev James Roy, the Rev AJ Bray, and Professor Moysey of the McGill University. The second was their annual gathering for the games, at which the Governor General, the Lieutenant-Governor, the ex-Lieutenant Governor, Mr Macdonald, Mayor Rivard, and many other leading citizens were present, and seemed to be quite pleased to be present, and seemed to be quite pleased to be present, so that they seemed to be all.” Auld John Thompson’s bairns.” (Applause). Their third celebration was that of Halloween, which they were then celebrating. Their society had lost nothing of its prestige but rather gained in its influence. Although national in its name, it was not concerned with either bigotry or uncharitableness; it recognised neither caste nor class, for with it “the rank is but the guinea stamp, the man’s the go’und for all that.” (Applause) Any true hearted honest citizen of Scottish descent had access to their society, and he was going to say “If he be Jew or Gentile, bond or free, Barbarian or Scythian.” They recognized no sects in religion, no parties in politics in the qualifications for membership; neither Catholic nor Protestant, neither Jacobite nor Hanovarian; they could sing with the Ettrick Shepherd or Bonnie Prince Charlie for the love of the music and of the poetry, but they also could say with Robert Burns that he who, in certain emergencies, “would not sing God Save the King, should hang as high as the [illegible].” (Applause) But they were blamed by some people as being so swiftly clannish; the Caledonian Society was the most cosmopolitan society in the city; they had upon their platform from time to time English, Scotch and Irish orators, and one of the Englishmen about two years ago, at their Burns Anniversary delivered one of the most eloquent addresses that every yet delivered on a Caledonian platform- he referred to the Rev Dr Stevenson (applause) and they had these that night as a [illegible] who once possessed this land, one whom the most gifted sons of France had delighted to honor, the poet laureate by the French Academy, Mr Louis Honore Frechette (Loud applause). They were proud to have him with them there, both as a Canadian and as a Frenchman. In the old war times France was oftentimes the ally of Scotland, and in these times of peace, and in this land of Canada they should join hand in hand with their French Canadian fellow citizens in the common cause, that cause which was stamped in the history and literature of Scotland and of France, and on the pages of the political religious and social history of Canada. (Applause) Let the sons of Scotia emulate the poet Laureate of the French Academy, and stand in a noble rivalry of intellectual achievement; let them also seem with him to make classic ground of this Canada of ours, and let them pray that come it might as come it would, the day when “man and man the world o’er shall brithers be and a’ that.” (Loud applause.)

The President introduced Mr Frechette in a few cordial words.

Mr L Frechette, who was loudly applauded, then spoke as follows:- Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, although far from being equal to the task imposed upon me, I nevertheless feel in duty bound to offer my thanks to the officers of your association for their courtesy in inviting me to address a few words to this distinguished and brilliant assemblage. It flatters one, personally, and as a French-Canadian I feel particularly gratified. It is not customary with our national and literary societies to invite persons of different origin- unless it is as officers of sister societies – to take an active part in the programme of a celebration like this. The exception made in my favour this evening, is not of course due to my personal merit and ability; but I see in it a most encouraging symptom for the future; a consoling evidence that the four races who have been called by providence to work the destinies of this great and beautiful country of ours, are every day more and more impressed by a spirit of union. (Cheers) I see in it a peremptory proof that we understand better and better every day that patriotism makes it a sacred duty for us to live and work together as one great family, if we want to enter seriously the path which leads to public prosperity and national grandeur. (Cheers) It shows that some of us, at least, foresee the inevitable fact that sooner or later one day will come in Canada when there will be no more French, English, Scotch or Irish, but only one gallant people called the Canadian nation. (Loud Applause) Not that any one of us, ladies and gentlemen, will have to repudiate or forget the glorious traditions of his Mother country. Oh! No! we can never be too proud of the luminous track which our respective forefathers have left in the history of the world and civilization. It would be a crime not to remember it. But that national pride, so noble and so natural, must become for every branch of the Canadian nationality a source of generous emulation. All the good and sound qualities which characterize each of them must, like different precious metals, amalgate together in a strong and brilliant ensemble, which will become as the soul and distinctive feature of the new community whose foundation we have been entrusted with. (Cheers) And, ladies and gentlemen, no better ground could have been selected for an illustration of this desirable fusion than that chosen to-night – the literary and artistical ground. This is a field where all nationalities can proclaim their heroes, and boast of them freely without wounding the feelings of other people; for the great writers and the great writers and the great artists never shed blood, and never founded their fame on the humiliation of others; but devoted their lives to raise the imperishable but peaceful monuments to the genius of their race and humanity at large. Victor Hugo, Walter Scott, Burns, Byron, Thomas Moore, Dante or Schiller; these heroes –although bearing so strangely the stamp of their Mother lands- do not exclusively belong to any of them, but their glory is a legacy of which every nation of the world has a right to claim a part. A great poet, a great artist honours his native country, but his works and genius are cosmopolitan, and belong to humanity. All the greatest literary men of the world were more or less humanitarians and humanists. (Cheers) Take Robert Burns for instance. No one more than the sublime peasant of Ellisland ever so vividly reflected the character of lofty independence, of noble generosity and patriarchal hospitality which so highly distinguish the sons of old Scotland – the sons of old Scotland.

“Famed for martial deeds and sacred song,”

As the poet says ; the proud nation, who, as the post says again,

“Will not be, nor have a slave!”

No one did ever so boldly sing the world-renowned valour of the brave Highlanders, whose claymores so undauntedly defended the soil of old Caledonia that it is the only corner of Europe which the Romans, masters of the rest of the world, never succeeded to conquer! (Loud Cheers) Listen to these lines, so energetic in their pleasant humour:-

Thus bold independent, unconquered and free,

Her bright course of story forever shall run;

For brave Caledonia immortal must be,

I’ll prove it from the Euclid, as bright as the sun;

Rectangle-triangle the figure we’ll choose,

The upright is Chance, and Old Time is the base;

But brave Caledonia’s the hypothamuse;

Then ergo shall match them, and watch them always!

And yet Robert Burns, the patriotic ballad singer, whose noble inspirations are so strongly impregnated with the characteristics of Ossian’s native mountain, Robert Burns himself “allowed” to use an expression of our great Lamartine, “his patriotism to extend beyond races and frontiers.” And of this I want no further proof than his particular affection for the French language. French quotations and sayings are to be found at almost every page of his beautiful letters to Thompson, Ainslie and others of his friends and especially in his autobiography addressed Dr Moore. Nay, we read whole lines in French in his poetical epistle to Major Logan, which everybody is acquainted with. (Cheers) but there is nothing astonishing in the fact that the great singer of “Bonnie Jess” in his love for humanity, had a small preference for France, the sister of Scotland by origin, and her constant friend by tradition. In many a page of history do we find the two nations hand in hand on the same battle field, rivalling in peaceful and courteous tournaments, and commenting their fraternal union by royal marriages and court festivities – from the day when John Balliol and Phillippe le Bel ranged their chivalry in one phalanx under the walls of Dunbar, till the date when the son of the old Scots, who was to be James I, crossed the channel to receive his education at the Court of Charles V; from the hour when James V led to the altar Marie de Lorraine, widow of Louis I d’Orleans to make her Queen of Scotland, down to this romantic and sad period when the beautiful daughter the unfortunate Mary Queen of Scots left the shores of Normandy singing –

Adieu, plaisant pays de France

Pays que je vois tant cherir,

Berceau de mon [illegible] enfance

Adieu, te quitter s’est mourir!

(Cheers) This touching sympathy between the two countries ha d its echo in the minds of the most celebrated writers; and if France [illegible] of having always been foremost in the rank of nationalities her [illegible] scholars of all kinds, her sister, Scotland, although hardly one sights in population has nothing to envy her, when she can register on the tablets of human genius names like those of Walter Scott, Campbell, Hume, McPherson, Smellet, Armstrong, Blair, Thompson, Ramsay, Hunter, MacLaurin, Gregory, Robert Burns, and so many other great minds, who have made their country illustrious in all branches of knowledge. (Applause) Some people may say the Scotch are proud. They have a right to be proud. And I know of no greater virtue than national, even personal pride, when understood in the right sense of the word. Yes, Scotchmen are proud, but when we recall to our mind those heroic deeds of the Scots of old Normans and Saxons, the marvellous campaigns of William Wallace and Robert Bruce; when our memory dwells upon those romantic times of Richard, the lion-hearted king; when we dream of those legendary heroes, Ivanhoe, Robin Hood, Cedric the Fair, and of all those chivalrous characters exhumed from the darkness of old traditions by that great magician, Sir Walter Scott, we cannot by acknowledge that no pride is more legitimate than theirs. (Cheers) Let us all be proud, ladies and gentlemen; proud of our origin, of our race and mother countries. But before all, let us be proud of our beautiful Canada, the land of our birth, or the land of our choice, who has had her brilliant history also, and whose future destinies are still more brilliant, if – as I said in the beginning of these remarks- we are all ready to walk shoulder to shoulder in the right path! This will be done, I know it, ladies and gentlemen. A circumstance like this is a step in that direction. If we only understand our interest, we shall be a great and glorious nation; and our children will glory over the fact that they can retrace their origin to a set of patriotic men, who, forgetting the strifes of the past, Fontenoy, Bannockburn, Waterloo and the Plains of Abraham, heartily united their energy and good sentiments towards one generous sand noble aim- the happiness of their common country. I thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your kind attention and your indulgence for my broken English. (Long and prolongued applause.)

The Rev Dr Stevenson then addressed the gathering in an admirable address. He said that their society had hit upon the right thing in bringing together to celebrate Halloween all the varied elements of the Dominion; they had heard one of the beautiful French nationality, one whose musical French nationality, one whose musical voice and eloquent words had given a thrill to their Canadian patriotism. He was there as an humble representative of England; the Scotch element was plentifully represented, and as to the Irish that also was represented, because they were said to be fond of a practical joke or a bull, and they were celebrating Halloween when it was not Halloween at all. (Laughter) But they were blending on that occasion the various nationalities, as they were told by Mr Frechette to do, and he hoped it was an omen that out of blending a glorious nationality would grow, that would be better than any one of the races of which it was composed. In regard to Halloween he might say that Halloween was Burns, for Burns had allowed the inspiration of Halloween to rush through his veins, and mingle itself with his very blood. The Scottish nationality had expressed itself upon the history of the English speaking race in a marvellous way, the reason being that the country was classical in the noblest and truest sense. It might be said of Scotland as Dr Holmes said of England, that one-half of her dust had walked and rested on the poets, the heroes and the prophets. Scotland seemed to him to be filled with the shadows or the ghosts of the past had gone far to make the Scotch people what the Scotch people were to-day. Very strange people, too, they were in many of their characteristics, but they had written their names upon the history of the literature and enterprise of the world. In literature there was the glowing and the glorious name of Robert Burns. What gave him the hold he had and always would have upon the hearts and the imagination of men? Was it not that he was a free born product of the associations of which he spoke, the poet who had brought the world into contact with the poetry of human life? There was not a department of human thought that these associations had not touched; take Scott, who had lit up the whole country with a halo of romance, who had made Loch Lomond and Loch Katrine his own; then there was Campbell who seemed to have been somewhat neglected of late, but who was one of the sweetest singers of his time and who also sang to the tones of liberty, the advancement of the human race, and the progress of great and glorious ideas. Then in the realm of profounder thought, they had David Hume of whom Gibbon said regarding him as a historian, that “every sentence he read filled him with mingled emotions of despair and admiration” – despair, because he could not hope to equal the marvellous and matchless style, and the admiration at its wonderful beauty. Then he was, in many senses, the father of modern philosophy, for Reid, Stewart and Hamilton were his followers; and in antagonism to him had arisen Herbert Spencer and Stuart Mill. Further he had also given rise to Cousins and Renen in France, to Kant, Hegel, Schelling in Germany, and Scotland had a right to claim him as being the “father of them all.” In enterprise also the Scotchmen were ever foremost. This was due, he believed to the firmness of the Scottish character, to its invincibility of will. This was shown in the case of Livingstone , whose ashes were in Africa, but whose heart was in the grand sanctuary of the nation, as it ought to be, Westminster Abbey. That grand history which had been an inspiration in the past might be an inspiration still. He was glad to see their fellow countrymen Mr Frechette and to have listened to his wise words, they [illegible] the distinguished honor that he had received. They consisted of various elements, it was true, but every great nation had consisted of various elements. Was it not a sure and certain sign that there was a great future in store for this people? Here we had the sons of fair and beautiful France, France that sung the sons of poetry that hung around her flag the lilies of romance and of chivalry; here we had the sons of green Hein and “the harp that once through Tam’s Hall the soul of music shed “should shed it here is a happier generation; then we had the English race with its great governmental powers, wisdom and forethought. All those united on this soil of Canada would blend into something more beautiful and noble, he would not say greater than the past, but which would be the child of the mighty past and would win victories for enlightenment, liberty, human progress and the well-being of the future race. (Loud Applause)

Laurin & Leitch Engineers and Contractors, Montreal – the story so far

Laurin and Leitch

will leitch laying pipes

Laurin and Leitch Engineers and Contractors was a partnership between James Laurin and William Christopher Leitch (my great-grandfather). It was founded in 1903, and their offices were at 2075 Union and then 5 Beaver Hall Square. They were in business until William’s death in 1924.

I have tried over the years to ascertain the type of work, the scope, and success of the business by researching the archives at Hydro Quebec and the city of Montreal, as well as other sources as the have been handy.


There were certainly involved in building sewers on the Island of Montreal, Laval and the south shore. Apart from a great photograph of “Will Leitch laying pipe” from a cousin (undated) and another image of men on machinery, I have found several mentions of the company in the city archives and in the records of the construction of the power plant at the Rivières des Prairies.

  • In 1914 the company bid for the contract to build a filtration plant in Toronto, which they did not win.
  • According to a biography of William Leitch in the book “Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board,” the company had built
    • 25 miles of pipe for Montreal Water and Power
    • 50 million gallon reservoir for Montreal Water and Power and the 100 miles of pipe attached to it
    • Walter filtration plant Montreal Water and Power
    • Sewerage and waterworks for the town of St Louis
    • Paving in Montreal (which I also saw at the City of Montreal Archives)
    • Traffic bridge over the Richelieu between St John’s and Iberville
    • Ottawa overland pipeline
    • Montreal Tramways work
    • Water filtration plant for St John’s QC
    • Stone crushing plant – the largest in Canada
  • A bid in 1922 for a provincial bridge at Beauce – did not win the contract


According to the website for the Centre de Nature de Laval, the site had been a quarry owned by Laurin and Leitch in 1915. They sold it to the Montreal Crushed Stone Company in 1916.

I have also found a map, dated 1968, which places a quarry “Laurin and Leitch” in St Vincent de Paul (Laval). The name clearly lived on after the company.

Misc. Tidbits

  • They owned a ship called “Laurin and Leitch no 6” in 1918. I am not quite sure what it was used for, nor what kind of boat it was, but its presence on a database is interesting.
  • St Denis Sub-Station for the Montreal Tramways Company had Laurin and Leitch as their general contractors – this was in an ad for a roofing product.
  • The company purchased a locomotive built at Lima Locomotive Works, which they got after 1910, and then sold in 1919 to Schroeder Mills and Timber in Pakesley, ON.
  • I was contacted in 2006/7 about the company by a researcher for the Canadian Dictionary of Biography , who planned to write an entry for James Laurin, and wanted more information about the company… still not published

From this evidence it is clear that the company was fairly successful and did a diverse business from sewers to plants, bridges to building.

And then there were the tokens….

Last week I got an email from Martin Légaré, who is a metal detectorist. He frequents Pointe Calumet, QC, a lovely leisure area near Montreal. He had found some tokens with the name “Laurin and Leitch” on it. He had googled it and found my blog. (I love my blog!) It appears that the company might have had some kind of event for employees there, and had tokens made for prizes, or food, or something. He sent me two tokens.

laurin and leitch tokens

Did I mention that I love my blog!


Archives de Montreal, 2236 2ieme Serie – Lettre 26 July 1912, Laurin & Leitch to Controllers City of Montreal

Debats de l’Assemblee Legislative 15e Legislature, 1iere Session, 25 January 1922

Toronto Daily Star, 16 April 1914, “Steel Filters Correct thing, Says Mr Harris,” pg 1

Montreal Gazette, 4 May 1924, “WC Leitch Dead” pg 20

Official History of the Cornwall Cheese and Butter Board by HM Stiles, 1919

Ville de Laval – Centre de la Nature de Ville de Laval- website

Carte toponymique de la region metropolitaine de Montreal, Ministere des Terres et Forets du Quebec, 1968.

Biographical dictionary of Architects in Canada 1800-1950 – Vanier, Joseph Emile

Construction, Vol XI no 1, Jan 1918, pg 239 “Barrett Specification Roofs”

Gazette Officielle de Quebec, 24 March 1923, Vol 55, no 12, pg 852 (2006)

Dictionary of Family Biography – John Kevin Corley

John Kevin Corley (14 May 1890 – 1 March 1969) was the son of Timothy Anthony Corley and Margaret Cuddy. He was their second child, born while the family was still living in Swinford, Ireland. By about 1895 the family had moved to Montreal, his mother`s birthplace.

Jack was educated at Loyola College and then spent some time at McGill University, although he did not complete his degree.

He married Iceland native Anna Magnusdottir in Winnipeg, Manitoba on the 2nd of March 1923. It was her second marriage, the first ending in divorce. They had two daughters: Margaret Anna (1925) and Nora Theresa (1929). Margaret`s tragic death in 1930 as a result of her toboggan hitting a tree, left her parents grieving for many years.

For a time after their marriage they lived in Winnipeg, where Margaret was born, but moved to Montreal in time for the birth of Nora in 1929.

According to some sources, he was associated with Acme Steel since 1910, and appointed Vice-President in 1923. He was also associated with his father’s company of TA Corley & Sons, which in a city directory is described as Importers and Manufacturers agents. The company appears to have persisted long after Timothy’s death in 1920.


Who’s Who in Canada, 1938-9

Montreal City Directories, 1936-45

Census of Canada, 1911-21

Kilconduff Parish Registers, Swinford, Ireland

Marriage registration, Province of Manitoba

Complete references available upon request.

BIFHSGO – Ayrshire Genealogical Sources

On 12 September 2015, I will be giving a presentation/ group meet up on Ayrshire Genealogical Research and have gathered my thoughts and what I have found on the subject here for ease of access.


My interest in Ayrshire stems from my Leitch relatives, who were from Saltcoats/Ardrossan, in Ayrshire.

Saltcoats is a port town situated in the district of Cunninghame, and is often refered to as the Threetowns because of its close proximity to Ardrossan and Steventson. They are now administered to together, and there is no visible divide between Ardrossan and Saltcoats.

Because my family left in 1832, a lot of the resources available to researchers are not particularly helpful – such as the census. The parish registers are however available at Scotland’s People (West Register House/ Scottish Archives). They are not regular or complete, but some exist.

I have a sneaking suspicion that my emigrating ancestor was actually Baptist, further complicating my research on them. A work in progress.

My research to date in Ayrshire records has been limited to the church registers, wills and newspapers for the region. I consulted these onsite in Edinburgh, when I lived there. I also went to the local library at Ardrossan and consulted the material there. They had a few original documents such as a religious census taken in 1831 by the local minister, and some local histories which were helpful providing context to the life of my kin there.

The local and family history Library in Ayr is considered a good resource – they have local newspapers from 1803, directories (postal directories are also available online, maps, photographs, and other special collections. (

There are a number of family history societies in the district:

List of parishes in Ayrshire:











Dalgain (Som)





















Monkton & Prestwick


New Cumnock

Newton-upon-Ayre (St Quivox)


Old Cumnock

Prestwick (Monkton)

St Quivox & Newton-upon-Ayr

Som (formerly Dalgain)






Of course, for Scottish research the first place to go is Scotland’s People, but Ancestry does have some Scottish material which can help out researching your Ayrshire family…..

On Ancestry:

Ayrshire Census & Voter Lists

There are no Census & Voter Lists collections unique to Ayrshire.
View other Census & Voter Lists collections related to Ayrshire. (7)

Ayrshire Birth, Marriage & Death

Ayrshire, Scotland, Parish and Probate Records 41,994
View other Birth, Marriage & Death collections related to Ayrshire. (7)

Ayrshire Military

There are no Military collections unique to Ayrshire.
View other Military collections related to Ayrshire. (3)

Ayrshire Immigration & Travel

There are no Immigration & Travel collections unique to Ayrshire.
View other Immigration & Travel collections related to Ayrshire. (5)

Ayrshire Newspapers & Publications

There are no Newspapers & Publications collections unique to Ayrshire.
View other Newspapers & Publications collections related to Ayrshire. (4)

Ayrshire Pictures

There are no Pictures collections unique to Ayrshire.
View other Pictures collections related to Ayrshire. (2)

Ayrshire Schools, Directories & Church Histories

There are no Schools, Directories & Church Histories collections unique to Ayrshire.
View other Schools, Directories & Church Histories collections related to Ayrshire. (13)

Ayrshire Wills, Probates, Land, Tax & Criminal

Charter chest of the earldom of Dundonald, 1219-1672 37
Dundonald, Scotland Charter Chest, 1219-1672 20
View other Wills, Probates, Land, Tax & Criminal collections related to Ayrshire. (14)

Ayrshire Reference, Dictionaries & Almanacs

There are no Reference, Dictionaries & Almanacs collections unique to Ayrshire.
View other Reference, Dictionaries & Almanacs collections related to Ayrshire. (6)

Ayrshire Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers

There are no Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers collections unique to Ayrshire.
View other Maps, Atlases & Gazetteers collections related to Ayrshire. (4)

Ayrshire Stories, Memories & Histories

History of the house of Ochiltree of Ayrshire, Scotland : with the genealogy of the families of those who came to America and o 447
Annals of Ayr, 1560-1692 0
County of Ayr – In Ayrshire 0
View other Stories, Memories & Histories collections related to Ayrshire. (76)

Image of Saltcoats pools by G Leitch 2007
Image of Saltcoats pools by G Leitch 2007

Gregory Consolidation from the Tammany, Montreal’s Theatre Royal, 1869

Montreal Gazette, 5 August 1869, page 2.



Thursday, 5th August

Positively last three nights of the

Gregory Consolidation, from the Tammany, New York

Drawing their stay of six weeks upwards of 300,000 person witnessed their performances.

Miniature Circus

Dogs, Monkeys, Ponies and Goats

The Gymnasium

The Aerial Acrobats

The Spiral Ascension

Wonderful Comic Pantomimes

The Original Punch and Judy


Mlle Gertrude in her wonderful Parlour Entertainment of Educated Animals.

The latest New York sensation

The Men of the Air

With their astounding summersaults while FLYING IN THE AIR

On Saturday, Family Matinee, at half past two o’clock.

Private boxes $4.00; Dress Circle 50c; Family circle 37 1/2 c; P1 25c.

Doors open at 7 ½; performances to commence at 5 ½ precisely.

Seats can be secured, without extra charge at Prince’s Music Store.

Dictionary of Family Biography – James Arthur Cashion

Biography – James Arthur Cashion

James Arthur Cashion (10 May 1859 – 19 March 1936) was the son of Daniel Cashion and Jane Burton of Cashion’s Glen, Ontario.  He was one of nine children.  Daniel Cashion was a farmer, and a descendant of the original white settlers to the area.

Not much is known of his early life in Glengarry County.  A biography of him stated that he was educated at the common school – likely the Williamstown School (which is now the Glengarry Nor’Wester and Loyalist Museum).  According to the 1900 US Census, James immigrated to the United States in 1877, and was by that time a naturalized US Citizen.  The 1920 Census says he was naturalized in 1885.

It appears that James’ permanent home remained in Los Angeles, but he also held property in Phoenix, Arizona.  His brother Angus emigrated in 1888 and eventually settled in Phoenix and was a rancher.  James is listed in various Phoenix city directories as the President of the Reid-Cashion Land and Cattle Co.  The 1920 census calls him a rancher, while living in Los Angeles.  It is possible he did business in Arizona with his brother.

However, James’ main occupation was a railroad builder.  In 1889, he was superintendent of construction for Grant and Macdonald, in 1901, and Vice-President and Manager of Grant Brothers Construction, and Vice-President and director of Hibernian Savings Bank.  In the Who’s Who on the Pacific Coast it states that he “has constructed railroads in Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, California and Old Mexico.” Some sources state that Cashion, Arizona (near Phoenix) was named after him, while other sources say it was named after his brother Angus, who lived in the area.

He married Jessie N McDonald (or McDonnell) the 24 December 1900 in Ventura, California.  Together they had two children: Jean E (1903) and James A (1907).  James Arthur died in March of 1936, and his wife Jessie followed him in April that same year.

On Jessie’s death, her estate was inherited by her daughter Jean Flanagan, but it was contested by her son James.  He alleged that his mother was not capable of writing her will as she was incapacitated by drink at the time.  The California courts ruled on what was ultimately a truly sad family amongst siblings, that Jessie was not of sufficient mental capacity when she signed the will in 1934 because of drink.


Who’s Who on the Pacific Coast, 1913

US Federal Census, 1900-1930

California Court of Appeal, 22 July 1938

St Mary’s Church Register, Williamstown

Phoenix City Directories, 1920, 1923

Obituary, Jessie Cashion, 15 April 1936

Canadian Census, 1881

Full citations available on request!

Guise-Cutler-Windham Correspondence from the British Library!

So here is the sum total of correspondence between the Guise-Cutler branch with William Windham (1750-1810). These letters come from the William Windham papers at the British Library. I will try and add some context to these letters, particularly the relationship between the people mentioned in the letter, and those who are writing to William.

First I have to say that I am a wee bit disappointed that the only letters that survived to be collected after Windham’s death into this collection are begging letters. I sincerely hope that there existed at some point letters to him that did not ask for anything, and just wished him well. They didn’t survive, nor did his responses the letters. The result is a skewed view of their relationship – but five letters cannot be all there was.

Letter number 1 from Sarah Eliza Cutler to William Windham dated 23 April 1795. Sarah was the daughter of his natural sister Elizabeth Windham Guise, so she was Windham’s niece. She is writing on behalf of her husband the Reverend John Cutler, who was the headmaster of Sherborne School in Sherborne, Dorset.

windham 3

ADD 37914, f. 145

Dear Sir

The anxiety of a Mother who wishes to bring up a family of small children with decency & credit, will I hope plead my excuse, for troubling you with this letter. Mr Cutler, who has been in orders eighteen years, & who served his Majesty three years, in the East Indies, on Board the Hero, as Chaplain to Sir Edward Hughes’ Fleet, has now literally nothing in his profession, not even half pay, as a Navy Chaplain; which I believe is customary. Our present income, arises from the school at Sherborne, in Dorsetshire, founded by King Edward the 6th; when we came to it, there was not a single boy, we have now 50, but schools are fluctuating, and uncertain, of course we are in a very anxious situation. If therefore you Sir, could among your numerous and powerful friends, procure any small piece of Ecclesiastical preferment, for Mr Cutler, both me & my children, would be ever bound in gratitude to you for it; & I flatter myself, that Ld Ilchester, Ld Digby, our County members, & all the

[page 2]

Neighbouring gentlemen, would speak of my Husband in a manner that would not disgrace your recommendation. I will not intrude further on your time, than to beg your pardon for the liberty I have taken, & to spare your, that I am with the greatest sincerity,

Dear Sir,

Your affectionate &

Most obedient

Humble servant

S Eliza Cutler


23 April 1795

Letter number 2 is a testimonial sent to Windham concerning the worthiness of the Reverend John Cutler, and how he deserves a reward. It was likely sent by John Cutler to his wife’s uncle. It is dated 1797.

ADD 37877, f. 209

We the undersigned do testify that the Rev John Cutler AM Master of Sherborne Grammar School, in the County of Dorset founded by K Edward VIth is a man of strict integrity, indefatigable industry, and of tried abilities. We have heard much & from indubitable authority of his merit as a Master, and of his work as a man of moral character, and undoubted loyalty: and that he has sent many excellent scholars to both universities. He has also serv’d his King and Country as Chaplain of Sir Edward Hughes’ Fleet in the E. Indies in the years 80-81-82 and 83, and was discharged for his services. He has been near 20 years in orders, is an old AM has five sons to bring up and has no Church Preferment whatever.

County of Dorset

Dec 16th 1797

Signed Rivers

Francis John Brown

William Morton Pitt

Francis Fane

Letter number 3 is a letter from the Reverend John Cutler to William Windham, asking for an ecclesiastical living – ie a church with income which he can hold in addition to his work as a headmaster. This is a letter basically to his wife’s uncle, begging for more of an income reflecting his own merits, and those of his wife and children. He also ends the letter with a statement saying Windham’s sister Mrs Guise is present, but he has not told her about writing this request. Might mean she would disapprove. I certainly would have – the letter is much!

windham 1

ADD 37915, f. 214


I should be extremely unwilling to intrude upon you at this time, if the LvσζΚδΠ μεζϦП ϴϵos [approximation of characters in letter – likely Greek] did not compel me. When I had the honour of delivering you some years ago the testimonial of my character, signed by the Lord [Illegible] & the two Members for the county, I could not have supposed the reigning Minister could have neglected an old servant of the Crown, one who has served well of his country in war, in church & state. In case, you might not have had a proper opportunity of introducing my name & character, I take the liberty of enclosing you a copy of it. Believe me, Sir, I find it difficult to exist – as I am at present greatly in debt for the necessities of life. And how can this be otherwise, with an income of 60 per An; badly paid. Pardon me, Sir, I do not mean to be troublesome, but when I find myself surrounded with a large family of children, which I can not decently support by my labours- your goodness of heart, your sensibility, your humanity will pleas my excuse. I should humbly suppose, that the circumstance of my having been to Cambridge Mr S Phillips, who his this present year has won the University Prize, would claim some attention from the Minister or Chancellor, I should fondly hope that my having bled for my King & Country

[page 2]

I for tho’ Chaplain with Sir Edward Hughes, I was severely wounded in an action off Ceylon I would at least give me some claim to the smallest of his Majesty’s preferment. With your kind condescension, Sir, I should suppose this might easily be brought to pass either with the Minister or Chancellor, or even both.

May I humbly hope, that you will take this my humble request into your consideration, & let me not, when my claim is greater on my King & Country, than of most men existing – sink into the grave unrewarded, forgotten and friendless – let me not, when I eagerly & humbly stretch out my hands for some small ecclesiastical gift, after having been in orders 24 years – let me not say, that I must be still doomed to find – nihil, prater plorace.

Mrs C is worthy of a better fated sending her respects. Mrs Guise is with me, but she knows nothing of my writing this.

I am, Sir, with unfeigned respects your most obedient & faithful humble servant

John Cutler

King’s School



June the 11th 1802.

Letter number 4 is perhaps the best letter in the bunch. It is not really a begging letter. I think perhaps its author Elizabeth Guise, William Windham’s natural sister, was not particularly comfortable about writing it. It concerns a Mrs Lukin who has asked for money from Mr Guise (Richard Guise, choirmaster – Westminster Abbey). The Lukins were related to William Windham, his mother was married to a Mr Lukin before she met his father. Elizabeth was likely raised with the Lukin children when Mrs Lukin became William Windham senior’s mistress, not long after her birth. It is unclear to me who the Mrs Lukin referred to in the letter is specifically – is she the wife of one of William’s brothers, or a wife of one of his nephews? Likewise, the Mr Lukin mentioned in the letter could be a brother, a nephew, a cousin?

windham 2

ADD 37913 f 58

Dear Brother,

I think it right to inform you that Mrs D Lukin called here Thursday on account of her annuity, and was much disappointed when Mr Guise referr’d her to Mr Lukin. I hope he has committed no error in doing so, he having understood you, that business was delegated to him. As I am now troubling you on this unpleasant subject, will say further, that Mr L has taken no notice about repaying Mr G who is quite in doubt whether you would approve of his calling on him, or waiting to hear from him. Mrs D Lukin has rec’d of Mr G Sep 29 1798

                         Feb -24 1799

                        Feb-25 1801

                         Mar 3-1802

                         Apr 7- 1802

                       March 24 1803

I am most particular because when M L paid him the £60 he [illegible] his having made his sister so many payments as he had done, at that time.

[page 2]

Mrs Cutler who is with me, unites in respectful love to you and Mrs Windham

I am Dear Brother,

Your affectionate sister,

E Guise

2d Jan 1804

Letter number 5 is a letter from Sarah Elizabeth Guise to her uncle William Windham. In it she mentions the death of a Mr Lukin, who I believe was his cousin, and who held the living on Felbrigg Estate. While the letter starts off well, it degenerates into yet another begging letter. She asks that Windham let her husband Rev John Cutler have control of the Felbrigg living while Mr Lukin’s son who is destined to ultimately receive it, is a minor. I find it tacky to on one hand sympathise with the death, while on the other use it to your advantage. Nonetheless she does finish the letter talking about her mother, and how she will be moving to Bath, which she did. Elizabeth Guise was now a widow, losing her husband the year before. She died in Bath in 1810.

ADD 37916, f.111

Blandford Place, Pall Mall

10th Nov 1807

My Dear Sir

It was with the greatest concern, that my Mother & myself head of the death of Mr Lukin & most sincerely sympathize with his family in their heavy affliction. You will I trust excuse the liberty I am about to take, in supposing his son is designed to succeed him in his Norfolk preferment, & so I apprehend he is not of age to take it, saying that should you approve of Mr Cutler to hold it for him, he would think himself honoured; & having no preferment whatever, there would not be any of those impediments which frequently occur where a clergyman has living of his own. I have been here this past ten days, visiting my Mother in clearing her

[page 2]

house; & we mean to leave town this evening for Sherborne where she means to stay a short time with me & then it is her intention to settle at Bath. She desires her love to you, & kindest respects to Mrs Windham & Mrs Lukin, and when she is a little settled, she will write to you & give an account of herself. I will beg you to present my best respects, & believe me to be

Mr Dear Sir

Your grateful

And affectionate humble servant

S Eliza Cutler

Summing up, the begging came from the Cutlers, who desired that John Cutler have some sort of extra income, an ecclesiastical living. While Sarah Elizabeth tells her uncle that because he has no living in 1807 he would be able to serve, it seems unlikely that he would have. When he did finally get a living, in 1815 (5 years after Windham died) he did not serve there, but continued at Sherborne, and finally retiring in London. His living at Patney, Wiltshire was run by someone he hired from his income as minister. It was only after his death in 1833 that they saw their assigned minister in their service.

I get that he had a big family, and he didn’t make that great a living as a headmaster. He was likely entitled to a pension of some sort for his service in the Navy, so there is that sense of entitlement. And how fortuitous that his uncle by marriage was Secretary of War! There is no evidence that Windham actually helped them.

Molson’s Ale is good for you, Montreal, 1919

Montreal Daily Star, 4 November 1919, page 7




Water quenches thirst – but the ordinary drinking water is not pure.

Milk is satisfactory when pure – but are you sure of the purity of the milk you buy?

Tea contains tannin and coffee contains caffein [sic] – two drugs injurious to the system, so scientists say

Molson’s Ale is absolutely pure – purer than spring water or the best fresh milk you can buy.

Scientists, the world over, have testified to the food and tonic value of a perfectly brewed ale such as Molson’s.

It is pure. It is wholesome. It is delicious. It is good for you.

Be sure to get Molson’s when you order. All dealers have this popular bottled ale. Look for the familiar label and Crown stopper.

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