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Missing in Siberia: A Ukranian Story

The name of my immigrant ancestor was Andre Semlanoi and he was my grandfather. He spoke French, English, Ukranian, Polish, Russian and German. He was born in 1916 in Kharkow in the Ukraine on a farm. It was hard for him because he lived on a farm. So it was rural, not urban.

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Artefact: Mortuary Card

In 1932 the communists took over the Ukraine and took all the land away from the people.Seven million Ukrainians died. Andre’s father, my Great grandpa Paulo Semlanoi, lost his farm and was sent to a Siberian prison. Another word for where he was sent in Siberia is the Gulag. There were more than eighteen million people that went to the Gulag from 1929 to 1953. My great-grandfather’s crime was owning land. People were sent to Siberia because the government wanted to take their land away.

My grandpa Andre was 16 years old when his father was sent to Siberia. Andre and his sister Halyna were sent to a communist prison school! That was the last time my grandpa saw his sister. After five years great-grandpa Paulo returned from Siberia but he couldn’t come within 100 kilometres of his old farm.

Finally, it was 1937 and my Grandpa Andre went into the Russian army. He was taken prisoner by the German army and then he escaped and went to the French resistance army. He lived in France after the war until 1952. Then he came to Canada. Andre left all of his family behind and did not keep in touch with them and it was very hard for him.

Andre came to Canada by sea. He travelled by a boat which is called an ocean liner. On this voyage he was alone. He was sad and alone. He met other Ukranian people and became friends but then he had to go on.

Andre came here to live in Canada and to also find a job. He did not care what he did for a living. He just needed money for food and shelter. He chose Canada because he wanted a new start in life. When he came to Canada he started off in Toronto, then he settled in Montreal for a couple of years and after that he moved to Ontario where he spent the remainder of his life.

My grandfather died on January 1st and his funeral was on January 5th, 2008.

Author: Sparky829

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A Rose By Any Other Name …

In his article on the De La Rochelles, Eric explained that his surname has changed many times through the years.

Choose one of your family surnames and give examples of the different ways it might be spelled.

Mrs. Theriault

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Related Links:
“You like po-tato and I like po-tahto!” Pt.1<

My Lemieux Ancestors

I looked up my ancestors on the BMS2000 site. The BMS is a site where we can get marriage, birth and death records so we can find out, for instance, the year when people got married and who they got married with. It also tells the father’s and mother’s name. We can also find out where they got married and probably also lived. I knew my grandparents’ names (Andre Lemieux and Yolande Lefrancois) and from that I found my great grandparents names, their parents names etc.

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Mortuary Cards

These are the mortuary cards of my great-grandparents Adelard Lemieux and Juliette Lapointe.

Mortuary cards are given to people who come to the funeral. They are used as something to remember a loving family member.

On mortuary cards we can find out when the person died, at what age they died and who they were married with. Some mortuary cards also have little messages to comfort the sad family members. Sometimes there are even appealing pictures, again to comfort the family members.

Artefacts: Mortuary Cards


Author: Jaques

GEN TIP: Mortuary cards are not official documents but they’re a great place to start when looking for death dates and approximate birth dates.

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Mortuary Card from Mrs. Theriault’s Great-grandfather

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The de LaRochelles of St-Victoire, Quebec

I chose to do my project on the Larochelles because my dad once told me that we originally came from France and had been in Canada for more than 100 years, so this interested me. I was also interested to find out how my ancestors made a living in the 1800s and the early 1900s. I found out this information in the 1881 and 1901 census and in the BMS2000 database. 

1881 Census
In 1881 the French origin family of the Larochelles was living in Quebec as a household of 9 people. The family lived on a farm with four children. One of the children (Victor) was already working with his dad on the farm. According to the census, Israel was “en voyage”. I think maybe he was on vacation or maybe he was a merchant who was travelling. The children’s mom – Victoire Larochelle – didn’t have an official job. Maybe she stayed home to take care of six year old Jean Baptiste.

1901 Census

During the 1901 census the Larochelle family had grown even more than in 1881. The family still lived in the rural area of St-Victoire. In 1901 the Larochelles were still a farming family. I used to think that the head of the household, Victor, came from Europe but I later on found out on the 1901 census that he was born in Quebec.

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1901 Canada Census, Ste-Victoire, Richelieu, Quebec

BMS2000 Database

I also now know from the BMS2000 database that Victor Larochelle and Victoria Peloquin got married on February 11th, 1890 in Ste. Victoire. Victoria’s name on the census is Larochelle because it was the custom for a wife to use her husband’s surname. Six years later Elise Larochelle was born. Elise was Victor and Victoria’s first child and then in 1901 Victoria gave birth to Charles. 

The de LaRochelle Name

I was very surprised when I was finding information because my surname (de la Rochelle) has changed many times. For instance, I found it listed as: Larochel, Larochelle and De Larochelle!

Sources: Coming Later This Week (post under construction)

Author: Eric

GEN TIP: Here are some reasons why surname spellings change. 1.Your ancestor – or the person filling out the document – was uneducated or unfamiliar with the name and made a mistake. 2. The name was changed so it would be easier to pronounce. 3. The name was translated. For instance, Meunier = Miller 4. Sometimes Quebec priests deliberately changed spellings to differentiate between two families. 

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The Amranis in Canada

My father, my mother and I traveled from Morocco to Canada. My father came from Goulmima in southern Morocco and my mother came from Mohamedia in northern Morocco. We speak Berber and Arabic (as well as

couscous16English). We came by plane to Canada. We came here because it was an adventure for us. We could come because Canada wanted immigrants and had a good procedure. Our first destination in Canada was the city of Edmonton, Alberta and we landed on October 18th, 1998.

Traditional Moroccan Foods

In our family tradition we eat a lot of couscous. What is couscous you may ask? It is a very small round north-African pasta. It is made from durum wheat. In couscous we do not put tomato sauce as in Italian pasta. Instead we put a sauce called marka. Marka is made out of beef or lamb, olive oil, vegetables such as carrots, turnips, zucchini and squash and spices such as ginger powder, black pepper and saffron. To make the couscous we use a special pot called a keskas or couscousier in French. We use tablespoons to eat the couscous. We usually make couscous in Morocco each Friday for lunch because on that day Muslims go to the mosque to pray at noon. When they finish praying they go home to eat couscous and they invite friends or family.

Photograph, Amrani Family

The meat and vegetables are placed in the bottom - couscous in the top.

For special occasions like weddings and baby showers we make pastilla. Pastilla is made with filo pastry, chicken, eggs, roasted almonds, sugar and cinnamon. All the ingredients are formed into a layer and wrapped in the filo pastry. Continue reading