Kingston Penitentiary: Canada’s Alcatraz – MY TOUR


Tours through Kingston Penitentiary offer a unique opportunity to go behind the walls of Canada’s oldest and most notorious maximum security prison. Its doors closed in 2013. And now offers guided tours which provide an up-close look at this historical building which predates Canadian confederation.

The first time we went to Kingston in 2013, the Pen was still operating as a maximum security prison.


After some 182 years, I finally got to take a semi-private tour of the formidable Kingston Penitentiary, once home to some of Canada’s worst criminals.

Canada’s Penitentiary Museum

I decided to tour Canada’s Penitentiary Museum located directly across from Kingston Pen.  I was happy that I did as the museum explains the history of Kingston Penitentiary and other correctional centres using displays that incorporate artifacts, photographs, equipment, and replicas. The museum also houses most of the institution’s historical records as well as those of other Canadian penitentiaries, and provides the only penitentiary research service in Canada.

The museum is located in “Cedarhedge”, the former Warden’s residence of Kingston Penitentiary that was constructed between 1870 and 1873.

“The box” — the notorious upright coffin in which inmates were sealed for hours at a time as punishment.  Imagine being confined to this coffin like form of punishment for up to 9 hours?

Below are typical “shivs” or “shanks” which are frequently found in prisons.  These items are illegally manufactured by inmates using materials found in trade shops.  I am not going to lie, I was a bit impressed with their ingenuity.


Shivs and Shanks collected from Millhaven Maximum Security over a 4 year period!

Corporal Punishment


I hate to say it, but this was a creatively brilliant escape.

Mugshot chair from Stoneybrook Institution in Winnipeg, MB.  Mug Shots were first introduced in 1906.  Inmates would place the back of their heads again the round ball.  This was necessary for a usable photo to be taken, given it took longer in those days as the camera exposure was quite long.

Kingston Penitentiary

Kingston Penitentiary (known as KP or Kingston Pen) is a former maximum security prison located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada, between King Street West and Lake Ontario.

For nearly 180 years, Canada’s most vicious called Kingston Penitentiary home.

There were killers, thieves, rapists and drug dealers, and headline-grabbing names, such as The Scarborough Rapist and murderer Paul Bernardo, former colonel Russell Williams, Clifford Olson, the child-killing “Beast of British Columbia”, Wayne Boden: The “Vampire Rapist”, Tim Buck: The general secretary of the Communist Party of Canada was convicted of Communist agitation in 1931. Edwin Boyd: The Toronto bank robber and folk hero was jailed in the 1950s. His story inspired the 2011 movie “Citizen Gangster.”  Thousands served here. The youngest? An 8-year-old 19th-century bread thief.

KP was constructed in 1833–34.  It opened its doors on June 1, 1835 — 32 years before Canadian Confederation, as the “Provincial Penitentiary of the Province of Upper Canada”, it was one of the oldest prisons in continuous use in the world at the time of its closure in 2013.  It didn’t become known as Kingston Penitentiary, or KP, until after Confederation in 1867.

The penitentiary’s carved stone walls and neoclassical-inspired design.  It’s design was heavily influenced by the system in place in Auburn New York at a the time.

Six inmates were accepted when the penitentiary was initially opened. When the first convicts arrived from Toronto in 1835 to serve their time, the new prison was not yet open for business; the inmates had to be held at the county jail for five days.

The original rules for inmates stated that inmates “must not exchange a word with one another under any pretence whatever” and “must not exchange looks, wink, laugh, nod or gesticulate to each other,” with violators receiving the lash.  They were literally not allowed to talk all day.  It was thought that if they were silent and had time to think of their wrongdoings they would recover and would not reorient once they were released.  This just did the opposite, it drove the inmates mad!

Our young guide, shepherds us through the gutted prison. At nearly every turn, a retired guard tells us stories from the facility’s past.

We pass by Private Family Visitation Units: a small row of semi-detached cottages (conjugals) with yards where model prisoners could have barbecues with their kids and catch up with their lovers.


Nearby, there’s a sewer grate where guards would dump confiscated homebrew.

In 1859 – 1861 the centre dome was added connecting all four cell ranges.  The facility consisted of a single, large limestone cellblock containing 154 cells in 5 tiers and some outbuildings.

Guard house under main dome connecting the four cellblock buildings

Below, Vern Thibodeau, a former corrections officer (guard) at KP takes part in our tour telling us about centre block and the infamous “bell” that directed each of the inmates movements throughout the day.  They apparently HATED that bell and it was the first thing to be destroyed during the 1971 riot.

Vern tells us about the three prison riots. The worst, which occurred in 1971, saw six guards held hostage and two inmate deaths over four harrowing days. Several parts of the prison were so badly damaged in the riot that they never reopened as a cell block.

Mail boxes 📦 in the centre block, so they could mail money home, request counselling, ask for school supplies, request a hair cut or file a grievance

We moved onto Range 2G1 (they call cell blocks ranges).  This was a general population wing.  There were two levels to each range and 1 guard area in each section.

The cells originally ONLY measured 29 inches wide by 8 ft deep!  Imagine that, not even the width of a standard sized stove!  The cells remained the same small size until the first major renovations between 1895 and 1906.  Most of the cells have been stripped, but several inmates left their belongings when there were transferred to Millhaven.

The HOLE – solitary confinement – the prison’s dissociation unit.  This is where the they housed inmates for their own protection against the general population or to keep them away from from other inmates because they are deemed dangerous.  The cells in the unit were larger and private. And unlike normal cells, they had windows and air conditioning, because they were confined to their cells 23 hours per day, only allowed yard use for 1 hour.  Their ‘yard’ is not with the general pop yard, they have a very small concrete only area located inside their range.  In case you’re curious, Paul Bernardo’s cell was #4 – I don’t think any Canadian is surprised that he’s in solitary confinement for his own protection.


General population yard – south guard tower in the far left corner.  At the back right, there is a basketball area/nets.  They did have access to weights, but they were eventually removed due to safety concerns.


This is also where Tyrone “Ty” escaped KP.  Conn was 32 years old, serving a 47-year prison sentence at maximum-security Kingston Penitentiary when he staged a spectacular escape on May 7, 1999.

His cunning, patience and ingenuity, coupled with a series of stunning security failures, made the breakout from the Bighouse possible. Conn was the first prisoner to make it over the wall of Kingston Pen in 41 years. He scampered over the east wall sometime between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., strapping and grappling hook he fashioned from a piece of steel rebar.

He made a dummy to act as himself. The crude apparatus was constructed the night before the escape. A shoebox served as torso and paper towel rolls served as an arm and leg.

There was no head.

The limbs and torso were wrapped in towels and hockey pads were placed at the joints.

The dummy was dressed in a T-shirt and track pants. It was positioned in his bunk so that seen from outside the cell, part of the torso and a bent knee and elbow were visible.

The head of the ‘person’ on the bunk wasn’t visible because Conn began using a headboard on his bed several weeks earlier. A guard passing his cell could not see his head.

For weeks, Conn began lying on his bunk in the same position that the dummy would later assume.

The nearest guard tower (the one in this photo at the back of the Yard), a squat observation post at the southeast corner of the prison, had been empty since 11 p.m. the night before. Had a guard been on duty, he or she likely would have had a clear view of the escape in progress, and, armed with a rifle, would have been equipped to stop it. The tower had been unstaffed on the overnight shift for several years, a victim of management budget cuts, despite the protests of prison staff.

After the escape, prison managers reinstated 24-hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week staffing of four perimeter watch towers at Kingston Pen.

Conn’s escape also was successful because two inmate accomplices on his cellblock spent the evening of May 6 moving a dummy in and out of his cell bunk before regular head counts. At the time, Conn was hidden in a canvas shop, assembling his escape gear. The dummy wasn’t discovered until after 7 a.m., when a search of the prison was ordered after a staff member arriving for work noticed the canvas strapping dangling from the outside of the east wall.

Ty Conn’s breakout was embarrassing for senior Corrections officials, who deserved much of the blame for fostering a culture at Kingston Pen that made the escape possible, front-line staff say. The internal inquiry into Conn’s escape and the resulting report documents dozens of security failures at the prison. Many prison workers insist that the final report was a whitewash, meant to protect prison managers and senior Corrections staff. It chronicles the genius of Conn’s escape plot. It does not address one lingering question – who helped him? Police who investigated the escape are nearly certain that an accomplice in a car was waiting outside the prison in a nearby neighbourhood to spirit Conn quickly out of Kingston. That person has never been identified.

“It appears that he ran toward Alwington Place, ripped open an envelope and spread cayenne pepper to throw off the dogs,” Labrash says.

The car may have been parked in the Alwington neighbourhood just east of the prison or perhaps as far east as the Tett complex, adjacent to the prison service’s regional headquarters.

Labrash says there was evidence that Conn ran east along the waterfront to his rendezvous.

The Regional Treatment Centre (RCT) was an independently run facility providing in-house mental health and services to the Ontario regional population.

Work Shop Building – there was a mattress area, a carpentry shop, a fabrication area, tailoring, shoemaking and a metal shop/blacksmithing and right up the stairs – a school. Inmates were paid $5.00 per day to go to school. Which was a relatively high wage. The max an inmate could earn was $6.90 a day. They were able to use his money for canteen items. The higher wage than other work ships was to promote education upon release.

Inside the prison, other men worked in various trades.


What the Dickens?

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 2.17.12 AM.pngCharles Dickens visited Kingston and the penitentiary in 1842, and wrote in his American Notes for General Circulation, “There is an admirable jail here, well and wisely governed, and excellently regulated, in every respect.” He went on: “Here at Kingston is a penitentiary, intelligently and humanely run.” Apparently he wasn’t privy to the brutal conditions prisoners actually endured then. Eight-year-old Antoine Beauche, for instance, was lashed 47 times in nine months for breaking in-house rules that included staring, laughing, whistling, giggling and idling.

Heamingway Visits KP

Screen Shot 2017-07-06 at 2.21.06 AM.pngOn September 11, 1923, on his first day as a reporter with the Toronto Daily Star (now the Toronto Star), 24-year-old Ernest Hemingway was sent to KP to cover a dramatic jailbreak that occurred the day before. His 2,6000-word report detailed the daring escape of five inmates, including burglar Norman “Red” Ryan.  Ryan was caught almost a year later while picking up his mail in Minneapolis. He was sent back to Kingston to face 30 lashings and life in prison.

KP Closes Its Doors

Citing aging infrastructure and rising maintenance costs, the federal Government closed KP’s doors in 2013 after 178 years.  Inmates were transferred to Millhaven Maximum Security down the way in Bath, Ontario.  



T xo


The Tragically Hip – Wheat Kings


Monster Hunt: My Search for the Manipogo Monster


Cryptozoology:  noun:  cryp·to·zo·ol·o·gy  \ˌkrip-tə-zō-ˈä-lə-jē, -zə-ˈwä-\

A pseudoscience. The study of and search for animals and especially legendary animals usually in order to evaluate the possibility of their existence

I’ve always been intrigued with folkloric creatures like Loch Ness, Sasquatch, Chupacabra, Abominable Snowman, Kraken, Sea Serpents, The Mothman, Thunderbirds and Jersey Devil, just to name a few.

Today I am an acting cryptozoologist!  I’ve watched show, after documentary, after movie on these interestingly mythical creatures.  It’s safe to say that I have more than a passing interest in these folkloric, mystical, unusual and surreal beings.

We live in an ideal location – nestled between the Riding Mountains and the Duck Mountains.  We are also surrounded by plenty of lakes, most notably Lakes Manitoba, Winnipeg and Winnipegosis.

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Loch Ness isn’t the only lake with a reputation for a Monster. In North America many large, deep, cold water lakes have stories about sea monsters. These lakes were formed over ten thousand years ago, during the last ice age.

In Canadian folklore, Manipogo is the lake monster said to live in Lake Manitoba.

Today, in search of this elusive sea creature I decided to head out to Manipogo Provincial Park (aptly named after the sea creature).

Lake Manitoba is Canada’s thirteenth largest lake (4,624 km2) and the world’s 33rd largest freshwater lake. There is also a Lake Winnipegosis sea monster called Winnepogo, thought possibly to be the same creature as the lakes are connected. Manipogo is said to travel through inner-channel rivers between lakes Winnipeg, Winnipegosis and Manitoba.

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One of the most well-known sightings of Manipogo dates back to August of 1962.  Two sport fishermen: Dick Vincent of KCND Television (now Global) and his television colleague, John Konefell, spotted a serpent-like creature about 300 metres from their boat.

It was around 4:00 P.M. when the two men began heading back to their camp, suddenly they came along a thin animal, its body bobbing up and down as it advanced. Vincent grabbed his camera and took three pictures of it.  They watched for about 5 minutes before the creature dove back down below the surface. They were able to take a blurred photograph (see photo above). In subsequent years, Vincent denied that he saw Manipogo, and claimed to have just seen “something in the lake”.

Since the late 1800s, people have claimed to see the creature, but no conclusive evidence of the monster’s existence has ever been found.  The local native population has legends of serpent-like creatures in Lake Manitoba dating back hundreds of years.

Today I explore the lake, maybe I can finally prove the legend of Manipogo, Lake Manitoba’s serpentine sea monster!  *I don’t actually expect to see a creature*


And I’m off – on my way to Manipogo Provincial Park in Toutes Aides, Manitoba – distance 101 kms, 1h 10 mins away.



I’ve arrived!  Let the monster searching begin … I’m coming for you Mani!


The Stats

� Classification: Lake Monster
� Size: Reports indicate between 12 – 50 feet in length
� Weight: Unknown
� Diet: Unknown
� Location: Lake Manitoba, however similar reports have come from near by lakes
� Movement: Swimming
� Environment: Glacier Lake

General Description

According to research we’re looking for a creature that fits this general description (I’ve culminated descriptions of the documented sightings):

  • Muddy coloured creature that has many humpsScreen Shot 2017-06-08 at 12.53.58 AM
  • Has a sheep-like head
  • Anywhere from 12 feet to 50 feet long
  • On its head has a single horn, its head is small and flat – looks very much like a dinosaur.
  • Giant serpent-like creature; large creature like a serpent or giant snake; reptile-like beast

Not to be confused with:

  • A floating log
  • A large surgeon
  • A wave
  • Boat wake


The Search

Since the majority of Manipogo sightings happen around Toutes Aides, the Manitoba government decided to name the area’s provincial park after the mythical beast.  The park sits on the far north-western shore of Lake Manitoba, close to where the lake almost meets Lake Winnipegosis.  I explored the lake, in the hopes that I may have been able to confirm the legend of Manipogo.


Northwest shore of Lake Manitoba



I had no such luck on my search for Manipogo today, perhaps next time?  I guess for now, the only sighting I’m going to see is of this artist rendering …

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 6.06.53 PM
Sketch by Louis Bretecher, who saw the creature in the 50’s when he was about 18.

Although there are believers who have no doubt in their minds that something lives in the depths of Lake Manitoba. Skeptics like to remind us that these lakes are known for large sturgeon which can grow up to 2.5 metres, weigh over 140 kg and can live for over 150 years (average life span is 50 to 80 years).


T xo

Fast forward to 31:08 for Manipogo Story

Creepy Canada S02.E04 – Frank Slide Rocks Newman Wine Vaults Trowbridge Falls Charlotte County Court House Manipogo Monster Hopkins Dining Parlour

Published on Sep 25, 2012

Recipe: ‘Shake’ Off That Summer Heat: EASY Homemade Vanilla Coffee Protein Shake

This iced coffee recipe is super easy to make and is loaded up with protein, so you’re getting your caffeine boost and protein all in one. My version uses vanilla-flavored protein powder and has a fairly strong coffee flavour.

Gather Your Ingredients

(makes 1 serving)

  • 1 cup of ice
  • 1 cup chilled strong-brewed coffee (using the cold-brew method, or simply prepare a strong cup of coffee ahead of time and refrigerate)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used Almond Milk)


Product Information 

Creamy French Vanilla Isagenix Isalean Shake: Low-glycemic shake with energy-fueling carbohydrates, good fats, vitamins and minerals, and 24 grams of high-quality protein.

  • Superior branched-chain amino acid profile
  • Active enzymes to help ease digestion
  • Essential trace minerals
  • Natural ingredients with no artificial flavors, colors, or sweeteners
  • No trans fat

Isagenix Premium Blend Coffee:  Infused with Minerals, Green Tea Extract & Coconut Oil.  Slow roasted.  Fairly traded.  100% Arabica Coffee.  Green tea extract, coconut oil and minerals are added to improve both the quality and flavour. The green tea complements the coffee’s natural antioxidant powers, while trace minerals offset acidity and the coconut oil adds a pleasant, buttery finish.


Simply combine all ingredients in a blender (I used a  Nutri Bullet) for about 30-40 seconds or until all ingredients are blended.

If a thicker consistency is desired, simply add more ice.

Serve immediately.






Messages from Beyond: How My Dad Connects With Me

Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 1.36.37 PM

Do you believe in the after life?  Do you believe that your loved ones have a way of communicating with you after they’ve crossed?

Has One of These Ever Happened to You?

  • Have you ever come across a random dime in the oddest of places?
  • Has a song ever come on the radio at the exact moment that you were thinking of that loved one?
  • Have you smelt your loved one’s fragrance?
  • Have they ever visited you in a dream?

Those and more, are signs that Spirit is trying to communicate with you from the other side.

The afterlife is the concept of a world, or the world itself (whether physical or transcendental), in which an essential part of an individual’s identity or consciousness continues to exist after the death of the body.

I’ve never been really sure how I felt about the afterlife and of Spirit visiting after they’d passed but this all changed after I suddenly loss my dad in November of 2014. He was 60 years old, had just retired and had spent the morning at home doing some puttering around, ate lunch and died of cardiac arrhythmia on his kitchen floor all before approx 11:45 AM.  That is literally how your life can change on a dime!

Bottom:  Dad, Uncle Ralph.  Middle:  Uncle Kenny.  Top:  Uncle Serge

Losing a loved one is never easy.  Until my dad passed I had been pretty fortunate that I had never lost anyone that close to me before (I’d lost a few friends, grand parents and my daughter’s Godfather) but no one whose loss would crush and devastate me.  Losing a loved one is hard.  Losing them without warning harder.  Actually, in all honesty, I don’t know if it’s better or worse to lose someone with notice (i.e. being ill and watching them deteriorate) or losing them in one fell swoop.  This I can tell you for sure, if they pass suddenly – you don’t have any final words.  No final I love You’s,  no final good byes, no final it’s going to be ok’s.  They’re just gone.

I tried so hard after dad died to understand what happened.  How a seemingly fit, active man for his age, passed all of a sudden.  I felt guilt over not taking his last call to me.  And, I had so many questions:  Why didn’t you go to the doctor more often?  Were you in pain?  Did you cross quickly?  Are you ok?  And most of all – Where are you?  Why can’t I feel you near me?  

Callous hands told the story
For this small town Southern Northern man
He gave it all to keep it all together
And keep his family on his land
Like his daddy, years wore out his body
Made it hard just to walk and stand
You can break the back
But you can’t break the spirit
Of a small town Southern Northern man

He was always proud of what he had
He said his greatest contribution
Is the ones you leave behind
Raised on the ways and gentle kindness
Of a small town Southern Northern man

Finally death came callin’
For this small town Southern Northern man
He said it’s alright ’cause I see angels
And they got me by the hand
Don’t you cry, and don’t you worry
I’m blessed, and I know I am
‘Cause God has a place in Heaven
For a small town Southern Northern man

~ Alan Jackson  – Small Town Southern Man

TLC’s The Long Island Medium was coming to my hometown in the Winter of ’15, just 3 months after my dad had passed.   I decided to go with a few ladies from high school.  I knew it was a long shot, there was no way that Theresa Caputo was going to sense my father’s presence in a crowd of 7,000+. Even if hearing from my dad wasn’t a real possibility, I thought I could still benefit from seeing her live and in person.  I was right.  Firstly, more than just watching her show on TV, I saw in real time, in real life how she was connecting people to Spirit.  The stories I heard were mind blowing and these people received such peace in hearing from their loved ones.  I now had even more faith in the afterlife and in connecting with those who have crossed over.  The other thing I learned from Theresa is that Spirit is always giving you signs that they are around you, you just need to pay attention.

So I did, I started being more mindful and I started feeling his presence from time to time, just saying “Hi, I’m here”.  Through dreams, feeling sensations or simply hearing a meaningful song on the radio, your deceased loved ones attempt to connect with you after their passing.  

For me, I started finding random dimes everywhere.  Not nickels, pennies or quarters.  Dimes – ONLY dimes!  It became a regular occurrence. When I would go to get in my SUV, I would frequently look down to find a dime on the ground at my feet (either inside or outside).  I would be cutting the grass and find a dime on the lawn! I found a random dime at a hardware store on a shelf.  I would be standing at a store checkout and look down to find a dime lying there. Of course you would expect to find change on the floor in a grocery store checkout line, but it was never a quarter, nickel, or penny. It was always a dime!  It got to the point where I just expected them to show up wherever I went. I was actually disappointed when I would go for a day or two without finding one.  I would pick them up and pocket them and go on.  Then, I started to think it was not just a coincidence.   I finally decided to look on the internet to see if there was any answer to the question, “Why do I keep finding dimes?” I found dozens of stories of people that have shared my experience. Dimes are left as a means of communication, telling you that you are being watched over. Someone from beyond is letting you know that you are not alone and everything is going to be alright.  It’s called “Dimes from Heaven”. So that’s one way that dad is communicating with me.  I have pictures of each dime I’ve found over the last year in random spots.  Below are a few.

The other way I noticed dad communicating with me was through music.  Musical signs can come in the form of a meaningful song being played in your head or a song being played on the radio at an opportune time that is very meaningful to you or their song Screen Shot 2017-07-02 at 1.36.00 PMcoming on.  The very first instance I recognized that dad was trying to communicate with me was about 3 weeks after his funeral.  I was at home and I was cleaning up.  The flowers from his service had wilted and dried and yet I felt a bit guilty having to throw them out.  I took the dove and the embossed sign written with “DAD” and decided I was going to add it to the Christmas tree so he could be there with us in Spirit, if not in person.  The radio was on, and I cried as I took apart the arrangement and as I walked to add the white dove and the DAD sign to the tree George Straight’s song A Father’s Love” comes on the radio ….

 ” …. Daddies don’t just love their children every now and then.
It’s a love without end, amen.” ~ George Straight

I bawled harder than I already was and knew right then and there, that was no coincidence.  Dad was telling me it he was there and it was going to be ok.

I thought about seeing a Medium, but unless they were personally referred to me I was skeptical (not of mediumship but rather of their skillset) and didn’t want to waste my money.  All the while I continued to watch shows on psychic mediums and the paranormal.  I found it interesting even before my dad passed.  Back in the day I loved John Edward – he had a show called Crossing Over with John Edward and Sylvia Browne after seeing her on The Montel Williams Show years ago and the newest one Tyler Henry, his TV show Hollywood Medium is terrific!  One of my personal favourites is Carmel Baird, she’s a Canadian Psychic Medium who has a show on CMT called Mom’s a Medium.  I followed Carmel’s website and had enrolled for regular updates, but, didn’t pursue it any further (to be honest I couldn’t afford her rate and she has an insanely long waiting list).

IMG_0728Now, I’ve always been an believer in fate and serendipity and that things happen for a reason, even if they aren’t immediately clear.  I woke up in March of 2016.  I decided to take a bath before getting my day started and while in the tub decided to go through my emails to clear a bunch out. There was an email from Carmel re: “Sunday with Spirit”.  That day was a Sunday and that day FELT like the right day (I can’t explain it, it just did).  So I clicked the enrol link to see if there were any spots available, there was!  I was in.  It started in an hour, so I rushed to set up my laptop to joint the webinar.

Prior to logging in I sat there with my youngest daughter and talked to dad – I told him that I needed to hear from him today, that it had been too long and I wanted to hear from him and get answers and know that he is ok.  My dad is also a kind of impatient man, lol, he doesn’t do lineups, crowds or traffic.  He’s also the kind of person who doesn’t like the limelight, he prefers to be in the background rather the forefront so I told him that I knew it would be a stretch for him to come through but that I really needed to hear from him today and to please do everything that he could to come through for us.  Then we logged in.

I love Carmel, I love her personality, her demeanour, the way she connects with people and her family is a bit quirky – much like mine.  When she first came on, she introduced herself, how she operated with connecting and talked about the different types of things she could assist you with – it wasn’t just to connect with people who have crossed over.  She could give you guidance on relationships, your health, your career.  I, of course, like most others wanted to connect with someone on the other side.

Everyone enrolled in the webinar’s name was put into a large wooden bowl where she or her assistant selected the name of the lucky ones!  The first reading was interesting, we all got to listen to it and watch Carmel speak with this lovely lady.  If you’ve never been on a webinar before, everyone can see the host but you can only hear the other person and active comments run down the side or bottom of the webinar so others can engage.  It was time for the second reading.  They stirred up the names in the bowl and Carmel had her assistant pull the next name … it was MINE!  I almost lost my mind!  He did it!  Dad came though!  I would get to speak with him, finally!

She connected through to me and unmated my mic and we got started.  She prefaces the call by asking me not to give her details, just to validate facts as they are presented to her.

My Sunday With Spirit Connection with Dad

She says that there is a male Spirit who comes through immediately who has crossed who wants to wants to make a connection.

He says that he was too young to pass and asks if I agree with that, I say yes.  She asks if dad passed quickly or suddenly.  I answer suddenly.  He tells her that even though he passed quickly or suddenly that it had something to do with his health.   I answer yes.  He says to tell me to stop being mad at him for not going to the doctor more often.  He says that there are people mad at him because he didn’t go and get proper health check ups and that he should have gone to the doctor more often.  This is 1000% accurate, I have often wondered this and talked to family members about this.

She asks if he worked with his hands, because he was showing her his hands and they were dirty, he says “I work with these” .  Factual, dad was a mechanic/millwright in a pulp and paper mill.

She asks if he wore a hat all of the time – absolutely, he was seldom without a ball cap on his noggin’ (see feature photo). He says you’ll know it’s me because I have my hat on in Heaven”.  He acknowledges that I have a jacket and a shirt of his that I wear.  I do have two of his jackets, a pair of shorts and a t-shirt of his.

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Me wearing one of dad’s jackets

She asks if dad really liked hockey – the obvious answer is resounding yes, my dad loved hockey!  He was a loyal Leafs fan and loved his local Temisacaming Titans team.  He even billeted a few players.  He tells her that he’s watching hockey all day long in Heaven.  I ask if the Leafs win the Cup in his World – she laughs and says yes (well at least they win in some world lol).

She asks if someone has a tattoo for him – I say it’s me, on my arm. He says for her to tell me “I see the memorial tattoo and this makes me really happy”  He wants you to know that, she says.

I will not miss anything,  I will be at all of these events”.  

She asks whose birthday is in the month of May.  I answer “my brother’s”.  She says that dad is saying “happy birthday, happy birthday, happy birthday” and he asks her to draw balloons for him – she does and shows them on screen so everyone can see them.

He also says “I speak to you through the music, do you hear me through the music, do you know that I am there”?  I of course say yes, as this has happened to me many occasions.  He says that he also sends me eagles, owls and big birds.

She asks if he drove a pick up truck (my dad always drove pick ups).  She says that dad had a really big ego and that wasn’t able to say all of the things that he needed to say while he was alive but now that he is on the other side he is able to say I love you and he’s able to say the things he had a hard time saying with while he was alive.

He says “I wasn’t in any pain, I went to the light very easily and that you don’t need to worry about me, I’m ok”.  What a relief, I’m glad to hear that, dad.

He says to tell my little brother that “I love you and I’m with you and that I’m around you all of the time”

He wants “everyone in the family to know that I am there for them”.

She asks if we have a pit bull or a bulldog (we do, Nash a Levitt Olde English Bulldogge).  He says to tell me that Nash can see him and knows when he’s around.

He ends with “I love you and I’ll always be there for you”, and with that, my 10 minutes with dad via Carmel is over.  But, I take solace in the fact that he is always around me, that he sends me messages of love and support even if he isn’t here in the physical form.  I voice noted the entire call with Carmel, and every so often when I feel I need his presence, I play it.

Just last week, a very poignant sign came from dad, keeping his word that he will not miss any events.  My eldest graduated from University – we were going back to her place after breakfast so that she could get ready.  On the radio comes THE song that my kids most associate with their Pappa – Battle of New Orleans by Johnny Horton.  This is not a radio song, I have never just heard it on the radio, but, as we were scanning for a tune to listen to on the way home – it came on the radio, the day of her graduation from University, a milestone of a day.  Her Pappa was telling her, I’m here Cassandra, I see you and I’m proud of you!

Yes, I actually took a picture of the radio n the car as the song was on.

When your loved ones cross-over into Spirit, they are just as eager to get your attention as you are to get theirs. Countless times, they are attempting to send you signs.  Pay attention 🙏🏻


T xo

Published on Oct 2, 2009

Alan Jackson’s official music video for ‘Sissy’s Song’.



On Genealogy:  Great Scott! My SCOTTISH Roots, Descendants of Andrew McKenzie


Today’s blog #7 on genealogy features my SCOTTISH roots.  Before my AncestryDNA results, I hadn’t spent too much time on this line – it follows my father’s line – through my 3x grand father George Richards’ wife, Cecelia —>  see tree below.

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I assumed we had some Scottish in us given my GGG Gramma’s last name was McKenzie.  But I hadn’t spent all that much time on this line yet.  Not because I didn’t think it wouldn’t be interesting, just that I have my hands in so many different lines at the moment that sometimes I bounce around and forget to go back to a line I started.

Ok, let’s get started ….

Generation 1 

ANDREW MCKENZIE married ELIZABETH (last name unknown).

At this stage I can’t confirm who the immigrant family was.  Was it Andrew and Elizabeth who brought over Andrew or did Andrew Jr leave his family behind in Scotland for Canada?

Generation 2

ANDREW MCKENZIE II was born about 1809 in Scotland. He died on Oct 16 1881 of “Lung Congestion” – likely Pneumonia which he suffered from for a period of 10 weeks. The Death Certificate says he was a “Bookseller” in Almonte, Ontario.

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Andrew’s Death Record – 1881

He married (1) AGNES LECKIE on 21 Oct 1836 in Ramsay Township, Ontario. She was born about 1813 in Scotland. She died on 27 Feb 1875.

He then married (2) JANET GREVILLE TOSHACK on 08 Jan 1877 in Almonte, Ontario, daughter of William and Margaret. She was born about 1821. She died on 15 Nov 1893 in Ottawa, Ontario.

He emigrated from Scotland before 1836, but actual date is unknown.  I am unable to locate any records of his immigration to Canada, but records were not commonly kept during that time frame.  We also know that he was one of the original settlers in Lancaster County, Ontario, Canada.

In 1861 we find him living as the Head of Household in the County of Renfrew, Ontario. The census information notes that he is Scottish,  is a Labourer and is a member of the Free Church. The Free Church of Scotland was formed by Evangelicals who broke from the Church of Scotland in 1843 in protest against what they regarded as the state’s encroachment on the spiritual independence of the Church.


Almonte Gazette, Friday, October 28, 1881: 

OBITUARY: Another old settler has gone to his last rest. Mr. Andrew McKenzie died of congestion of the lungs at his residence in Almonte on the 17th Oct., 1881, aged 72 years. Mr. McKenzie was for over twenty years a *colporteur in the service of the Ottawa Valley Branch Bible Society. In the winter time he visited the shanties in the Ottawa Valley, selling bibles to the shantymen, and speaking to them of Him who came to seek and save the lost. Dreary and long were the journeys he often took, and many were the hardships he endured, and the dangers he escaped as he passed from shanty to shanty. But his work is done, and we doubt not but he has received his Master’s approval, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; yea, saith the Lord, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” 

* A colporteur is a peddler of devotional literature.

The Renfrew Mercury, Friday, October 21, 1881:  DEAD – The corpse of Mr. A. Mackenzie, the colporteur, a former resident of Renfrew, was taken through the village on Tuesday, from Almonte, for interment in Admaston.

Andrew is mentioned in the blog Up and Down the Shantymen Used to Roam, posted on February 6, 2017 by lindaseccaspina.

Note for Andrew McKenzie:  Admaston Cemetery records show Georgina McKenzie Brown, wife of John Brown, born June 11, 1850, died March 4, 1939. It is probable that Georgina is the daughter of Andrew and Agnes since Andrew’s will mentions Georgina Brown, wife of John Brown. The will of Andrew’s second wife, Janet, refers to “Mrs. John Brown”. Georgina’s relationship to Andrew has to be verified but she is included with his children based on the circumstantial evidence in the estate files.

Generation 3

CECILIA MCKENZIE was born on 09 Dec 1851 in Ontario. She died on 12 Sep 1921 in Mattawa, Ontario. She married GEORGE RICHARDS in 1886 in Mattawa, Ontario, son of Ambrose Abraham Richards and Olive Moore. He was born on 26 Jul 1858 in Eardley Township, Ottawa County, Quebec. He died on 25 Apr 1942. Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.15.40 PM

1881 Census:  George Richards, married, 23, born: in Ontario, Scottish, Farmer, Presbyterian. Rosy Richards, married, 19, Irish, born in Ontario, Presbyterian.

The next entry on this census is the family of Donald and Agnes Fraser. We find Cecelia McKenzie living there, with her sister Agnes, at the time. She and George likely knew one another and married after the death of his first wife, Rosy.  Cecelia was employed as a Seamstress.

Their son, Ambrose Richards was born in 1885 (according to his death certificate), however Cecelia and George were married in 1888.  Some 3 years later, was he born out of wedlock?

Generation 4

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Ambrose driving the grinder & Cecelia McKenzie – Richards Farm abt 1914

AMBROSE RICHARDS (B: Dec 12 1887 – Mattawa Ontario, D: 1957 – Mattawa Ontario) m. BRIDGET ANGELINA MULLEN (B: Jan 3 1887 – Vinton, Québec, D: April 10 1976 – Témiscaming, Québec) on 20 Nov 1912 in Sacre Coeur Parish, Sturgeon Falls, Nipissing, Ontario.

Of interest, Ambrose converted to Roman Catholic from Presbyterianism – apparently to marry Lina as he was baptized only 10 days before they were married.Godparents were Denis Leaghy & Mary Brown.

He was baptized Catholic on 10 Nov 1912 • Sturgeon Falls, Ontario, Canada.  

Screen Shot 2017-06-25 at 11.32.53 PM.pngGeneration 5

BENJAMIN GEORGE RICHARDS (B: Feb 10 1916 – Sturgeon Falls Ontario, D: June 17 1977 –Montréal, Québec) m. SARAH ANN LEE (B: Dec 7 1922 – Meltham Mills, Yorkshire England, D: March 1993 – Montréal, Quebec)

Refer to my blogs on the LEE family and Pte. Benjamin Richards for details about my grandparents.

Generation 6

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PATRICK JAMES RICHARDS (B: Jan 15 1954 – Témiscaming Québec, D: Nov 18 2014 – Témiscaming, Québec) m.  MONA ROSE LAMOTHE (B: Jan 20 1956 – Bonfield Ontario, D: —-)

Generation 7


~ A thread will tie an honest man better than a chain a rogue – Scottish Proverb


T xo



On Genealogy: The LEE Side of Me …

Hello all!  Happy Thursday!  It’s a soggy, dreary and wet one out there as I write today … ever so fitting as today’s blog entry #6 focusses on my English roots and follows my paternal grand mother’s, father’s side.  I haven’t written exclusively about them yet, but, I have mentioned my Gramma Sally in preceding posts.  This blog entry follows, the LEE family line in Yorkshire, England.

The LEE’s were a hard working, blue collared bunch.  They lived primarily in the little towns and hamlets of Yorkshire and worked mainly in factory jobs.  Meltham Mills was known for its many textile mills back in those days.

The large majority of them lived on Shady Row in Meltham Mills.  Shady Row was a row of properties built in Meltham Mills for the employees of the Jonas Brook Bros. mills (which I have confirmed is where most of the males worked based on census results). It was a co-op community.  Census returns indicate that there were a total of 60 houses.  At the time of the 1841 Census, 57 of the houses were occupied, with a total of 339 people were residing there (averaging nearly 6 people per property).

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1929 map – Shady Row is highlighted in green. It was still in existence in the late 1940s, but had been demolished by 1965.
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Shady Row (highlighted in green) can be seen in this aerial photograph from 1926, by which time the rows of housing were hemmed in by the mill buildings

Sarah Ann Lee

Screen Shot 2017-12-16 at 9.35.54 PMWhen Sarah Ann Lee, affectionately known as Sally, was born on December 7, 1922, her father, Joseph, was 26, and her mother, Ellen (née Plant), was 30.

She was born in MELTHAM-MILLS, Yorkshire, England, a village and a chapelry in Almondbury parish, W. R. Yorkshire. The village stands ¾ of a mile E of Meltham, and 3 WSW of Berry-Brow r. station. The chapelry comprises parts of the townships of Meltham and Honley.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 12.19.06 PMI’ve located her birth registration in England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005, for births registered the first quarter of 1923.  I have not been able to locate her actual birth record as of yet.  I need to confirm her actual  year of birth as there is a discrepancy  from what I have been told i.e. 1922 and the historical records confirming her registration in 1923.  

Her father Joseph Edward passed away in 1930 in England at the age of 34 and her mother Ellen Ann passed away on May 9, 1936, at the age of 44.  So, she was orphaned at the tender age of 13.

She married Benjamin Richards on June 20, 1945, in Agbrigg, Yorkshire, England, at the age of 22 while Benny was there on military service during WWII.

Transcribed excerpt from Grampa’s military record:

June 20 1945:  Married with permission to Miss Sarah Ann Lee in Agbrigg, Yorkshire, England.

Agbrigg is a suburb of the city of WakefieldWest Yorkshire, England.

Per Grampa Benny’s military records her address as next of kin is noted as 4 Pick Hiss Rd, Meltham Yorkshire, England. Since she was orphaned at 13, what happened to her?  I am wondering if she was living with her sister, Mary at this time.  What did she do from 13 to 22?  Who did she live with?  Did she have another boyfriend before grampa? Did she work?  I literally cannot locate any records of her for this period of time …  How did she and grampa meet?   

As we know, Gramma was a war bride.  She arrived at Pier 21 in Halifax in 1946, which is Canada’s equivalent to the USA’s Ellis Island in New York.  I was able to locate her in the Canadian Wives Bureau records and have just have written to the Department of Immigration for a true copy of her arrival documents, which will likely contain the passenger log and her Canadian naturalization documentation.

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Sarah sailed to her new home on the RMS Aquitania, a Cunard Line ocean liner built in Clydebank, Scotland. The ship was launched on 21 April 1913 and sailed on herScreen Shot 2017-06-22 at 11.56.16 AM.png maiden voyage to New York on 30 May 1914. Aquitania was the third in Cunard Line’s “grand trio” of express liners including the RMS Mauritania and RMS Lusitania, and she was the last surviving four-funnelled ocean liner. Widely considered one of the most attractive ships of her time, Aquitania earned the nickname “Ship Beautiful”.  In her 36 years of service, Aquitania survived military duty in both world wars. After completing troopship service, the vessel was handed back to Cunard in 1946, and was used to transport war brides and their children to Canada under charter from the Canadian government. This final service created a special fondness for Aquitania in Halifax, Nova Scotia, the port of disembarkation for these immigration voyages

I understand she that took the train from Halifax, NS to Mattawa, ON where Grampa met her and they carried on to Témiscaming QC by train (there were no roads leading into town at that time) to live with Lina  (Angelina – Benny’s mother/Sally’s M-I-L) in Lumsden.  This was stated in documentation twice.  Once in Benny’s military records on discharge and in Sally’s document from the Canadian Archives which I obtained earlier this week.

Excerpt from Benny’s military records:

” … Richards married in England and expects his wife to join him in a few months.  They can live with his mother until they secure a house through the paper company, who are building homes for returning service personnel”.

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The Canadian Wives Bureau log is hard to read due to poor quality  “B-66965, Pte B.G.  RICHARDS, Sarah A.  19 Pickmill Rd, Meltham, Huddersfield, Yorks”. In the section where is says Address in Canada – last column –  “Mrs. L. Richards (M/Law) Temiskaming P.Q.”

Sally and Benny had seven children during their marriage (Christine, Malcolm, Ralph, Gwendolyn, Rosemary, Patrick, Kenneth).  She had 7 children in 9 years.

She was an avid knitter and puzzler (no she didn’t like to puzzle people, she enjoyed working on puzzles 😉),  I remember she would make them when I would visit her in Verdun, QC.  I’m told that she was also a teetotaler – I had no idea what that term even meant until 2:05 PM.  Def’n as per Wikipedia: When at drinking establishments, teetotalers (or teetotallers) either abstain from drinking completely, or consume non-alcoholic beverages such as water, juice, tea, coffee, virgin drinks, mocktails, and alcohol-free beer.  So, she didn’t drink.  She apparently ceased drinking alcohol after getting a little too tipsy one evening on rye (It’s ok gramma, haven’t we all?).

In connecting with my uncle Kenny and my aunt Gwen (I wish my dad was still alive so I could ask him some if this) –  they moved in to 102 Anvik Avenue (in Témiscaming) in or about 1955.

At that time Témiscaming was a company (CIP) town and the company owned everything including the homes. The company sold the houses in or about 1972, Sally and Benny bought theirs. The row house was tiny.  4 rooms total (living room, kitchen, 2 bedrooms, 1 washroom). It was only 2 stories, no basement. Aunty Gwen remembers them digging out the basement until they hit a big rock … they were able to move the furnace down there.  Only the front bedroom had closet space … Grampa built one in the back room for the 3 girls … that and a double bed.  The bathroom had a toilet and bathtub … no sink.  They were 9 living there – 7 kids,  2 adults.  There was also an enclosed, unheated back porch.  The whole space was about 600 sq ft.  The address was originally 502 Elm Ave, but the Dutch Elm disease killed all the Elm trees ands the town renamed it Anvik Ave and renumbered the houses….. the number became 102 instead of 502.

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102 Anvik is the unit on the right hand side with the brown door (📷: circa May 2013)

FYI:  The Canadian International Paper Company (CIP) was a Montreal based forest products company.  The mill in Témiscaming was originally built by the Riordon Pulp and Paper Company, later bought by CIP. When CIP wanted to close its mill in this one industry town, the employees formed Tembec to take over the operation. Tembec was sold just last month (May 2017).  It agreed to a takeover offer from Rayonier Advanced Materials in an $807-million (U.S.) deal.

Her husband Benjamin George passed away on June 17, 1977, in Montréal, Québec, at the age of 61. They had been married 31 years.

Gramma Sally ending up selling the house to Lucien Bernard for $6,000 in 1978 and moved to Verdun, Québec to live with her daughter Gwen, son-in-law Serge and her grandkids Marc and Caroline.

She passed away in March of 1993 in Montréal, Québec, at the age of 70 years of cardiac and renal failure resulting from complications of Diabetes Mellitus.

I was pregnant with my oldest, Cassandra, at the time that Gramma passed.  It was a tough weekend as my Grand Mémère on my mom’s side and Gramma Sally on my dad’s side passed away 2 days apart and at 7 months pregnant I had to trek up North to attend both funerals on the same day – in different provinces – thankfully Témiscaming and Bonfield are only about 1h10mins apart.

She is buried alongside her husband in Témiscaming, QC – how fitting of a tombstone footer,  “A small corner in a foreign land, that is forever England”

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***I have decided to keep the bios of her lineage to a minimum.  I just have too much information and photos to add to this to make it easy to follow***

Joseph Edward Lee and Ellen Ann Plant

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.41.20 PM.pngJoseph Edward Lee was born on August 24, 1896, in Batley, Yorkshire, England. Batley is a town in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Batley is a very old town in the West Riding of Yorkshire. It was mentioned in the Doomsday Book in 1086 and was listed in the 1379 Poll Tax.

When he was born his father, Tom, was 27 as was his mother, Hannah.

His brother George Victor was killed in action on November 4, 1915 in France and Flanders in WWI.

He married Ellen Ann Plant in December 1918 in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England when he was 22 years old.

He died as a young father in 1930 in England at the age of 34.  I am looking for a cause of death – I suspect he was ill because the census records indicate that they moved from 33 Shady Row where they had lived for many years to 6 Shady Row, in 1930 – the same year he died.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.41.41 PMWhen Ellen Ann Plant was born on May 10, 1892, in Honley, Yorkshire, England, her father, Tom, was 29, and her mother, Sarah, was 31. Honley, a village in West Yorkshire, England. It is situated near to Holmfirth and Huddersfield, and on the banks of the River Holme in the Holme Valley.

She was baptized on Dec 10 1892 at St Mary with Brockholes, St George, Yorkshire, England (Honley).

April 2 1911 – the census notes that her family lives at 4 Oldsfield in Honley. She is single & 19 y/o. She works as a Cotton Frame Tenter at a cotton factory. A frame tenter works in the Spinning Room & looks after spinning frames. Her father must have died as her mom is noted as being the head of the household.

She died on May 9, 1936, at the age of 43. It is said that she passed from Dropsy. We know that the term Dropsy is no longer used in today’s medical terms – it’s an ol’ fashioned term to describe the presence of generalized swelling, but you just get or die from edema without some etiology – usually it was due to acute decompensated heart failure. Prior to the twentieth century, heart failure was known as Dropsy.  I’ve seen this Dx come up in a few other death certificates throughout my family tree journey.

Tom Lee & Hannah Crabtree

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.43.13 PMWhen Tom Lee was born in 1869 in Liversedge, Yorkshire, England, his father, Samuel, was 43 and his mother, Martha, was 45. He married Hannah Crabtree on January 26, 1889, in Batley, Yorkshire, England.

In the April 2 1911 census he is noted as Married; Head of House. There were 9 people living in a 4 room dwelling at 3 Shady Row Meltham Mills, Meltham. He was working as a Bobbin Maker. MIL Sarah Crabtree lived with them as she is widowed (72). The census notes of 8 children; 6 were alive & 2 dead.

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.43.30 PMHannah Crabtree was born in 1869 in Hull, Yorkshire, England, to Sarah Ann Pickles, age 30, and William Crabtree, age 40.

She was imprisoned on Aug 25 1890 for obscene language at HMP Wakefield.  Sentence Imprisonment or Servitude Released on August 29, 1890.  She was jailed along with mother Sarah Ann Crabtree.  I am making the assumption they got into an argument and used threw in a few F bombs lol

Samuel Lee & Martha Lee 

Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.44.34 PM.pngWhen Samuel Lee was born in January 1826 in Holmfirth, Yorkshire, England, his father, William Lee, was 26 and his mother, Mary Raine, was 22.

He was baptized on 26 Mar 1826 at Holmfirth, Holy Trinity, Yorkshire, England.

Samuel Lee married Martha Lee in Almondbury, Yorkshire, England, on February 9, 1845, when he was 19 years old.  Marriage records indicates that Samuel was a is a  Bachelor, employed as a Spinner and that Martha was a Spinster. They marked their signatures with X’s so that tells me that they were unable to write.

They lived in Honley, Yorkshire, England, in 1851 and resided at 65 Dean House. He and Martha and Harriett and Sarah Ann are all living here.  He was employed as a Spooner.  As a Sponner he would work in the Spinning Room and would operate one or more usually two facing each other, spinning machines, each with many spindles, to make thread. Because the floor beneath spinning machines was soaked in the oil from the cotton, spinners usually worked barefoot. Spinners normally employed their own piecers and paid them directly. A spinning mule might have up to 1200 spindles from end to end and be nearly 100 yards long. A spinner would be paid according to the amount of thread produced.

On the 1881 census they lived in Batley, Yorkshire, England.  They were living at Temperance House at 175 Wilton St. He is living with Martha, William (who is working as a Clogger –  i.e. made wooden shoes “clogs”, in England they were usually leather with thick wooden soles) and Tom who is in school. They also have a boarder staying with them. Sam is working as an Eating House Keeper (would an eating house keeper mean someone who owned a cafe or was just managing it?)

He died in 1901 at the age of 75.

Martha Lee was born in 1824 in Honley.  The marriage record indicates that Martha’s Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.44.42 PMdad’s name is John Lee. He and William both worked as Weavers.  So her maiden name is Lee as well?

Martha is absent from the 1901 census leading me to believe that she passed away between 1891 and the 1901 census. In this census Sam is listed as widowed and is living with William Brown (75) and Martha Brown (75).

William Lee & Mary Raine

William Lee was born in 1800 in Newbiggin, Durham, England. He married Mary Raine Screen Shot 2017-06-22 at 9.46.22 PM.pngon March 4, 1821, in Middleton in Teesdale, Durham, England. They had ten children in 21 years. He died on May 17, 1883, having lived a long life of 83 years.

In the 1851 census they are living in Holwick, Yorkshire, England  He is listed as Head of Household. He is working as a Lead Miner. He has some of his grand children living with them (not sure whose, two have last name Lee and the other Longmire).

In the 1871 census, we find them in Wooldale, Yorkshire, England, they are residing at 6 Muslim Hall. They have a visitor, Joseph Broadbent, age 26 who is a Grocer’s Assistant. William is still working at 70 as a Wool Weaver.

In 1881 we find him living in the Hamlet of Holwick, Yorkshire, England.  Marital Status: Widower. He is a retired lead miner and farmer.

Mary Raine was born in abt 1800 in Yorkshire, England, died in October 1874 when she was 74 years old.

I haven’t been able to trace the line back any further than this for the time being.  I’ll keep on searching.


T xo

On Genealogy: My Genetic Ancestry DNA Results Are In!

maxresdefaultI know I already posted a blog today.  But, as I was walking out the door, I got an email from Ancestry that my DNA results were in and I had to check them stat!

If you’ve been a regular visitor to my blog, you’ll likely know that I’ve been working hard on my family tree and tracing my roots.  I’ve come across some interesting finds along the way, some of which I have posted, others whose blogs I continue to work on and others which I continue to dig into the past to verify facts.

About DNA Testing:

genealogical DNA test is a DNA-based test which looks at specific locations of a person’s genome in order to determine ancestral ethnicity and genealogical relationships.  AncestryDNA utilizes some of the latest autosomal testing technology to revolutionize the way you discover your family history. This service utilizes advanced DNA science to predict your genetic ethnicity and help you find new family connections. It maps ethnicity going back multiple generations and provides insight

I chose to use AncestryDNA since I already use their services for my family tree.  The AncestryDNA test analyzes your entire genome—all 23 pairs of chromosomes—as opposed to only looking at the Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA (which makes other types of tests gender specific). Your autosomal chromosomes carry genetic information from both your parents that’s passed down through the generations.

Genealogical DNA tests do not give information about medical conditions or diseases.

The Process:

Taking a genealogical DNA test requires the submission of a DNA sample. The process of DNA testing is fairly simple and relatively inexpensive, I paid $129.00.  The DNA kit was sent to me via Ancestry, at which time I did a spit test (accumulated my saliva into a tube, to the fill line).  Once that was completed, I put everything back into the self-addressed stamped box and mailed it to Ireland for processing.

On May 10 2017, they acknowledged receiving my sample, and that they were sent to the processing lab on June 13 2017.

Today, I was finally notified that my results are in … I have been waiting a little over two months for this!   I haven’t looked at the results on my account yet.  I have a pretty good idea of what to expect because of all of the work I’ve been doing on my family tree lately, but, I’m going to take a gander here and see how close I am when I read the results.

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My Presumptions:

British and French: I know that we have roots dating back the to the 1500/1600’s coming from France and Britain, so I am expecting to see some of those genes appear in the results.

I also know that we have some Scot, Irish and perhaps Nordic blood.  The Norman DNA may show up as Scandinavian of some sort.  I am assuming this because the line I am tracing at the moment indicates that there was some land purchases made by one of my ancestors from William the Conquerors half brother, and Nord, British mixing was common at the time.

I also know that we are Native American because I have posted on that already.

The percentages and other lines however, that I am unsure – so I am very curious about this.

The Results:

Ok, let’s see how close I was.  And, the results are …. Drum Roll PLEASE …..

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My ethnicity estimate shows where my ancestors came from hundreds to thousands of years ago. calculates it by comparing my DNA to the DNA of a reference panel of people with deep roots to specific places around the world.


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Genetic Communities show where my family probably lived in the past few hundred years. Ancestry created these by identifying groups of AncestryDNA members who are genetically connected to each other.

Overall Thoughts: 

On ethnicity estimate:  Very surprised that it did not pick up an First Nations, since I have lineage to prove it and I have my Algonquin status 🤷🏻‍♀️

Also, surprised that I am as much Irish and Scandinavian as I am, but at least that tells me I’m on the right path as I’m doing my research.  I did see reference of a few of my family members immigrating from Ireland including my great grandfather – so maybe there are a few more?

I’ve found no traces of Italian, Greek, Spanish or Portuguese in my tree as of yet.  I’m shocked by the only 9% French, as I have been able to trace my tree to Quebec and then back to France.

On genetic communities:  It was bang on!  The French settlement in Beauce and Montmorency are accurate with the ‘very likely’ as is the English in Yorkshire – that’s where my Gramma Sally was born before moving to Canada as a WWII War Bride in 1946.  My whole on the LEE side is from Yorkshire.

Well this was an interesting little genome experience that I am sure will help on the further discovery of my roots.


T xo







On Genealogy: My Quaker Connection; Descendant of John Milk, British Colonial America, 1662

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Today’s blog on genealogy #5 is on the lineage of the Milk family.  This surname has long been associated with the county of Norfolk, England, where it appears about twenty-two times in proportion to each 10,000 of the population of that county.  There, throughout history, it has been associated with small landowners.

This is was interesting line to research and write about as I never imagined having anyone in my lineage trace back to Colonial America, never mind some who resided in Salem, Massachusetts during the Witch Trials.


The surname MILK first appeared on record in America in 1662 with the mention of John Milk of Salem, Massachusetts in the town vital records where he was appointed as Cowherd for the town of Salem and then was chosen to chimney sweep.  Screen Shot 2017-06-04 at 6.19.18 PM.png

In Colonial America in 1662, The Massachusetts Bay Colony’s charter was accepted by England as long as they extended the vote to all landowners and allowed for freedom of worship for Anglicans.

The home of John Milk was listed in “(Rambles in Old Boston, by Rev, Edward G. Porter, 1887, p.288.) It was built some fifty years earlier than the Paul Revere home some 300 feet away across a little Square from the corner of Sun Court and Moon Street, just south of the Old North Church and North of Faneuil Hall “the Cradle of Liberty” near Milk Street.


John Milk I  (B: 1640 Norfolk, England, D: Nov 26 1689 – Salem, Massachusetts) m. Sarah Weston (Wesson) (B: 1656 – Salem, Massachusetts, D: 1685 – Salem, Massachusetts) on m. 3 APR 1665

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From the Massachusetts, Town and Vital Records, 1620-1988

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John Milk I died on Nov 26 1689.  The following is his Last Will & Testament:

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FIRST Generation

John Milk II: (B: Jan 8 1668 – Salem, Massachusetts, D: 1720 Boston, Massachusetts), shipwright, married:

(1) Elizabeth Hempfield (1670 – 1707), daughter of Edmund Hempfield of Salem, on 20 Aug. 1689.

Children of first marriage

  • John Milk, b. abt. 1690, died young
  • Job Milk

(2)  Mary Scolly (Scolby) at Boston, 30 Oct. 1707, who subsequently married Francis Hudson abt ******

Children of second marriage:

  • John Milk III, b. 23 June 1708/09, m. Jane Marvin (Marvel)
  • James Milk, b. 31 Jan. 1710/11, m. (1)Sarah Brown ; (2) Mrs. Mollie Peering
  • Mary Jane Milk, b. abt. 1713

My lineage follows the marriage to Elizabeth Hempfield (B:  Jan 8 1668 – Salem, Massachusetts, D: 1707 – Salem, Massachusetts).

The below excerpt talks about their homestead and surrounding buildings.


Close-up of 1700 map showing John Milk lot in yellow (located on current day Washington St somewhere around Federal or Bridge Streets)

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SECOND Generation

Job Milk I (B: 1695 – Salem, Massachusetts, D: 1778 in Little Compton, Newport County, Province of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations) m.  Abigail Devol (B: 1695 – Newport, Rhode Island, D: 12 Jul 1719 – Dartmouth, Massachusetts) on July 12 1719 in Little Compton, RI.  Abigail was the daughter of Johnathan + Hannah (née Audley).

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Note: The association and acceptance by the Quakers of the time, imply that Job Milk and his family were probably Quakers. Although there are no known records of this, it is recorded that Phineas Chase, who lived close to Job Milk, and was father to two of Job’s sons-in-law was a Quaker.

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Footnote:  Some information has been borrowed in part from: History And Genealogy Of The Milk-Milks Family – October 15, 2011 by Grace CroftLee MilkGrace Irene Barnhart.  This information was only borrowed for the sake of completing an accurate family portrait of my lineage to the Milk family as early settlers and not for any wage or profit.

THIRD Generation

Job Milk II (B: April 17 1725 – Dartmouth, Massachusetts, D: 1804 – Dartmouth, Massachusetts) m. Amy Fish (B: Oct 29 1729 – Dartmouth, Massachusetts, D: Belkshire, Massachusetts).  He married Amy Fish 2 Nov 1746 at Portsmouth, Newport, Rhode Island.  Amy Fish was born at Dartmouth, Bristol, Massachusetts 29 Oct 1729 daughter of Thomas Fish and Mercy Mary Coggeshall .

They were the parents of 9 children:
Benjamin Milk born 1747.
Sarah Milk born 1749. 
Job Milk born 1751.
Mary Milk born 1752.
Jonathan Milk born 1755.
David Milk born 1757.
Cabel Milk born 1759.
Thomas Ambrose Milk born 1761.
Amy Milk born 1763.

FOURTH Generation

Sarah Milk (B: 1749 – D: Eardley,) m. Dudley Moore (B: 1747 – Nine Partners, Duchess, New York,  D: 1815: Eardley, (Hull) Québec). They married at Saratoga, New York .

Dudley Moore’s parents were Jedediah Moore and Dorothy Begnell (I’ll get more into the “Bicknell” story in another blog).

They were the parents of 9 children:
Sarah Moore born Abt 1769.
Jedediah Moore born Abt 1771.
Dudley Moore born 8 Aug 1773.
Roger Moore born Abt 1774. 
Benjamin Moore born Abt 1776.
Martin Moore born Abt 1779.
Job Moore born Abt 1781.
David Moore born Abt 1783.
Rebecca Moore born Abt 1785.

FIFTH Generation

Roger Moore (B: 1775 – Rutland, Vermont, D: 1860 – Napean, Ontario) m.  Sarah Hicks (B: 1775 – New York,  D: Nov 27 1872 – Québec)

SIXTH Generation

Olive Moore (B: Sept 10 1821 – Napean, Ontario, D: 1871 – Eardley, Québec) m.  Ambrose Richards (B: Feb 27 1816 – Quebec,  D: Jan 9 1864 – Eardley, Québec)

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SEVENTH Generation

George Richards (B: July 26 1859 – Eardley Quebec, D: April 16 1942 – Mattawa Ontario) m.  Cecelia McKenzie (B: Dec 9 1851 – Renfrew Ontario, D: Sept 13 1921 – Mattawa Ontario)

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EIGHTH Generation 

Ambrose Richards (B: Dec 12 1887 – Mattawa Ontario, D: 1957 – Mattawa Ontario) m. Bridget Angelina Mullen (B: Jan 3 1887 – Vinton, Québec, D: April 10 1976 – Témiscaming, Québec)

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NINTH Generation

Benjamin Richards (B: Feb 10 1916 – Sturgeon Falls Ontario, D: June 17 1977 – Montréal, Québec) m.  Sarah Ann Lee (B: Dec 7 1922 – Meltham Mills, Yorkshire England, D: March 1993 – Montréal, Quebec)

TENTH Generation

Patrick James Richards (B: Jan 15 1954 – Témiscaming Québec, D: Nov 18 2014 – Témiscaming, Québec) m.  Mona Lamothe (B: Jan 20 1956 – Bonfiled Ontario, D: —-)

ELEVENTH Generation

MOI – Tina Rose Richards

I found this helpful when trying to better understand the difference between the Quakers, the Pilgrims and the Puritans.

Pilgrims: A small group of people arrived in the New World from England on a ship named the Mayflower. They landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts. Back in England, everyone had to belong to the Church of England. The Pilgrims did not want to belong to the Church of England. They were seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. 

Puritans: About 10 years later, a large group of people called the Puritans arrived in the New World, also from England. They believed everyone should belong to the Church of England or be punished. They left England and came to the New World because they believed the Church of England needed to be purified. In their opinion, the Church was embracing too many Catholic beliefs. They settled in Boston. They practiced religious intolerance. They wanted to be part of the Church of England, but they wanted the church’s beliefs purified. 

Alike: Both groups spoke English. Both groups arrived from England at about the same time. Both groups thought of themselves as Englishmen and were loyal to the King. Both groups came to the New World because of their disagreement with the Church of England.

Quakers: There was another religious group in the colonies called the Quakers. They also disagreed with the Church of England. Many Quakers left England for the New World. They settled in Pennsylvania in the 1600s. There, they practiced religious freedom for everyone. People were free to believe what they wanted and talk to God in their own way. People from all over Europe poured into their communities, seeking religious freedom. The Quakers believed that violence was not the way to solve problems. The Quakers were known as “The Friends”.



T xo

Featured Image Photo Cred: Map of Salem Village in 1692 physical features, and the dwellings of prominent and important residents in Salem during 1692.

‘Napalm Girl’: The Day I Met Kim Phúc

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 5.29.07 PMThe photograph is one of the most well known photographs of this era.  That of a little girl fleeing the horror –  she is running naked on a road after being severely burned by the South Vietnamese napalm attack.  On June 8, 1972, Kim’s village of Trang Bang came under attack by South Vietnamese planes, which mistakenly dropped napalm on a Buddhist pagoda in an area where the North Vietnamese were infiltrating.

This photo (feature image credit: AP Photographer Nick Ut) was featured on the front page of The New York Times the next day.

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Kim Phúc, after an aerial napalm attack on June 8, 1972. 

I  got to hear the girl in Associated Press photographer Nick Ut’s Pulitzer Prize winning photograph at a speaking engagement. Kim Phúc whose name I never knew when I saw those photos as a teen, but whose life touched so many, came to speak at my daughter’s high school, Père-René-de-Galinée in Cambridge, Ontario about her journey.

Phan Thi Kim Phúc stood on stage, at the front of the audience, near a projection screen and spoke to an intimate group of high schoolers and parents who came to hear her story of survival, tragedy, strength and perseverance.  After hearing her saga and story, I was so impressed by her courage and determination.  She talked of her struggle, her physical and emotional pain and that of forgiveness.

She spoke of how she was told that her burns were so severe that she probably would not survive; third degree burns covered half of her body. After a 14-month hospital stay and 17 surgical procedures including skin grafts, she was able to return home. It was only after treatment at a renown special clinic in Ludwigshafen, Germany, in 1982, that Kim was able to properly move again.

She tells us that the other children in the photo running with her are her brothers and cousins.  Phan Thanh Tam her younger brother, lost an eye.  Phan Thanh Phúc, her youngest brother and Kim’s cousins Ho Van Bon, and Ho Thi Ting. Behind them are soldiers of the Vietnam Army 25th Division.

She also tells us that they were burning and that she thought her clothes were hanging off of her only to realize that it was her flesh falling and bouncing off her back, arms and legs as she ran.  She spoke of the tremendous amount of pain.  “The pain was unbelievable. I would pass out”.  Napalm burns at eight hundred to twelve hundred Celsius and it burns deep under the skin.

She talked about her skin being so tight on her body and that she found some relief in the shower. She talked about how she wanted to wear short sleeve blouses like other girls and that she thought she would never have a boyfriend.

I recall her talking about being accepted to medical school in Saigon.  Her government thought she should be a war symbol for the State and said that they tried to control her.  She went to Cuba in 1986 to study and where she remained for 6 years, all the while being watched by the gov’t, she was never free and compared herself to a bird in a cage who longed for freedom.

While studying in Cuba, she met Bui Huy Toan (Tom). In 1992 they married.  They honeymooned in Moscow.  They made a secret plan to defect. Friends said it was possible to defect on the return flight to Cuba from Moscow in Gander, Newfoundland. They hid in the bathroom during a routine refuelling stop in Gander, and were granted political asylum to remain in Canada.  They had nothing, all of their luggage continued on the plane to Cuba, she only had a purse and camera, but she was free.

Screen Shot 2017-06-19 at 6.53.55 PMShe spoke of forgiveness and of releasing the anger/emotional pain.  In the article The Story Of Kim Phuc, Napalm and Vietnam by Roy Berger, October 25 2015, she is quoted as saying “ … before you can have hope you have to forgive. Love your enemies. Bless them” and “I cannot hold hatred in my heart. Free from hatred. I forgive. I do not forget”. That is very much what she expressed at her speaking engagement to us, in Cambridge.

With this the crowd comes to its feet in applause.  What an amazing story, and what an amazing woman! I am so happy that I got to hear and meet this most courageous woman, her story was truly inspiring!

Footnote:  Kim started the Kim Foundation International as a way for her to give something back in return for all the help she received. It also provides a means for her to promote peace and forgiveness.

The pic I took of Kim’s WELCOME to PRDG (sorry, it’s cut off)


T xo

I Was In An Earthquake: Dominican Republic 2003

centro_comercialIn September of 2003, we decided to take a family vacation to the Dominican Republic.  It was our 1st destination family trip ever.   I was excited for a week of relaxing, switching off from work, and enjoying the sand and sun.  The kids were extra excited as they had never been anywhere except for Quebec to camp at my dad’s trailer.   We stayed at the Occidental Allegro Playa Dorada in Puerto Plata.  The week long, all inclusive, vacation was from September 21 to September 28, 2003.

It was a long day, we were up at 3:00 A.M. to get to Pearson International Airport in Toronto for our 6:00 A.M departure.  After arriving in the DR, spending the day exploring the grounds, having dinner and enjoying the nightly entertainment, we decided it was time to call it a day. We were officially zonked after an exciting first day of fun in the sun!

Quoting from my scrapbook of 14 years ago:

“I went to bed around 11:15 PM, after all it was a long 1st day and we were up at 3:00 A.M. At around 12:45 A.M. I heard what sounded like a huge jetliner coming toward the hotel.  It was a loud unforgettable roar/rumble.  As I was getting up to look out the patio doors (to my left), the hotel began shaking.  Items in the bathroom, and on the counter were falling to the ground, the toilet slammed shut, the bed was rolling away from the wall.  While the earth was shaking, the power went out … it was pitch black”.

I was in bed reading for a while and had just taken off my glasses and set them on the floor beside the bed and shut my eyes.  It hadn’t been more than 10 minutes or so when I heard the rumble, it was like nothing I had heard before, all I can do to describe it is liken it to the loud thunder of an airplane that is really close ….  like right overhead.  I actually thought that a plane could have been ditching into the Atlantic because we were close to the airport and it was THAT LOUD!  That’s why I got up to look out the patio doors.  The shaking went on for a whole 40 seconds!  The floor shook hard as I tried to stand. A surge threw me backward. I was the only one awake before the quake hit.  Everyone else was sleeping.  They eventually woke with all of the ruckus.  I couldn’t work out in my mind what was happening at first, but, eventually I knew we had to get to a doorway.  By that time, the ferocious shaking had stopped and all of the noise and movement was replaced by an eerie silence.

I ran to the door of the room to see what was going on, I opened it … blackness.  Eventually the emergency lighting came on.  I called the front desk, and in my broken Spanish asked “tierra tiembla?” (it’s a good thing French is very similar to Spanish), the front desk clerk’s only response was “si”.

Shaken (because the last thing you expect to be in while you’re on vacation is to be in an earthquake),  we got out of our jammies, locked up our valuables (I have to admit, we did grab the bottle of rum though) and headed toward the front lobby.  Some people stayed in their rooms, but my gut instinct was to go down to get off of the second floor and out of the room because we didn’t know the extent of the damage to the hotel or how big the initial aftershock would be.  Some people were gathered by the “action” pool (not to be confused with the “quiet” pool because there is one)  so we went there, grabbed some chairs and made our way to the lobby exit.

It was a strange atmosphere; everyone crowded there at 1:00 in the morning’ish, nervously chatting and laughing. The 1st aftershock hit at around 1:06 A.M.  The 2nd one, which felt a bit stronger, hit at 1:30 A.M.  We were sitting in our plastic chairs which we borrowed from the pool deck.  They swayed as the earth rumbled, pieces of the clay tile fell from the roof, the awning crumpled and frightened tourists and hotel staff ooooh’ed as the ground moved under our feet.  I have to admit, it’s a really, really, really weird feeling when the earth rumbles below you; all I could imagine was a crack opening up beneath us and being swallowed.

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We weren’t given much information other than most of the Northern Coast was without power.  No one knew the magnitude nor where the epicentre was at this point.   To me being me, these were vital statistics – I’m thinking “I NEED to know where the epicentre is”.  Is it in the mountain range behind me or in front of me in the ocean?  It matters!”  I don’t think anyone other than myself was worried about the possibility of a tsunami!  I don’t know if watching too much NatGeo is a blessing or a curse.

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Poor Cassandra, all of the rocking and rolling made her sick to her stomach.  Meanwhile, Emma proudly shows off a 5 cent peso she found during all of the ruckus!

I decided to make a call back home to Canada and spoke with my best friend, at the time, Miranda.  I told her what had transpired and to look online for information and that I’d call her back, because truthfully, I thought she’d probably get information faster back home than we would there in the DR.

After waiting a while for instructions and as the aftershocks continued throughout the night (although milder),  we were told that we’d have to spend the night outside, because the hotel had to be cleared for re-entry by the military to ensure it was safe for we tourists. So, we gathered up some chaise lounges and some blankets and slept under the stars. That wouldn’t have been half bad save for the 1000’s of mosquitoes and mosquito bites we endured!   The poor kids were covered head to toe in bites!  At around 7:30 A.M. we decided to go back our room and tried to get a bit more rest before starting our 1st full day.

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You’ll note the mountain range in the backdrop of the photo I took

Later that morning, I asked our Air Transat Rep, Freddie, what the scoop was.  He explained that the quake had caused an extensive amount of damage in town to the homes, structures and roads.  He explained that the epicentre was near a mountain range, behind the hotel, about 6 miles south of Puerto Plata.  The mountain range is the biggest mountain system in the DR and connects all of the Caribbean islands, including the lesser Antilles. There are two major fault lines that run through the island – The North Hispaniola Trench and The Septentrional Fault Zone, both of which are active.

The damage to the hotel was minimal; some cracks in the walls, broken roof and floor tiles but otherwise not too much else.  They obviously build them sturdy since they’re ocean front and are susceptible to hurricanes.  The water that day was dark and murky from being churned the night before.

I had asked our Air Transat Rep if he wouldn’t mind getting me a local paper to bring home.

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I asked Freddie how his home made out, not good.  It had all but nearly collapsed and his belongings ruined.  It was much the same for most of the staff at the hotel that we had befriended.  To think that they had ensured all of that just a few hours earlier and still came to work in the morning.

Turns out the earthquake was a strong 6.5 on the Richter Scale and was felt over most of the country and caused significant damage in the cities of Puerto Plata and Santiago.  It was felt as far as Port-au-Prince, Haiti and even Puerto Rico some 220 miles East.  The 1st aftershock we felt measured 4.1 and the 2nd which I said felt stronger, it was, it measured 5.1.

The Richter scale:

Average effect of a 6.0 – 6.9 magnitude earthquake:   Damage to a moderate number of well-built structures in populated areas. Earthquake-resistant structures survive with slight to moderate damage. Poorly designed structures receive moderate to severe damage. Felt in wider areas; up to hundreds of miles/kilometres from the epicentre. Strong to violent shaking in epicentral area.

The first signs of damage that the quake had caused was the first time we left the resort to go horseback riding on the mountain.

Other than the odd aftershock or 20 (actually I just verified online that there were over 200 aftershocks in the days following this quake!), the rest of the week was awesome.  The sun was out, the weather was gorgeous and the water was warm.  The kids had a blast horse back riding, participating in Kids Club, mini disco, swimming in the ocean and making new friends.

Here are the last 2 pages of my scrapbook, (I was big into scrapbooking back then), which documents our departure day.

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Some people have asked me “what does it feel like to be in an earthquake?”.  If you’ve never experienced one, it’s hard to imagine the ground moving, and you moving along with it.  It’s a very unusual sensation that isn’t easy to describe.    

Looking back, now that we are safe obviously, it’s a cool experience that we get to share.  I can also now take in, the extent of the damage that this quake actually caused.

Take in the entry in the graph below “09/22/2003 – Puerto Plata, Santiago, magnitude 6.4, 36 km, deaths 3” – but look at the total damage graph!  The most damage caused by an earthquake to date in the DR.  Also, I note that for some reason it was downgraded to a 6.4 from a 6.5.

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I’ll chop that one up for the books that’s for sure!


T xo