je me souviens (frustration)

I am now convinced that getting a UK Visa – hell, LIFE ITSELF – would be a thousand times easier if only I wasn’t from Quebec.

Don’t get me wrong – I am proud to be from Montreal and of my heritage; I am just ENDLESSLY FRUSTRATED at how complicated it is to get any official information out of the Province of Quebec. What evil deeds could I possibly do with a marriage certificate from 1910? What havoc could I wreak with a century-old death certificate? How will my figuring out where I came from lead to the ruination of all of Quebec? Obviously, it won’t – but judging by the number of hoops you have to jump through to get anything at all out of the government, one might start to think they’re some sort of sleeper agent with as-of-yet undiscovered powers that could end the world.

Or maybe it’s just me.

I can’t find a marriage certificate for my grandparents. Hell, I don’t know if they ever made it official. I can trace Edith’s family (the right Edith, or at least closer to being right than Fake Edith) from the UK to their immigration to Canada in 1893 via the 1901 census, then nothing until she shows up listed as “Mrs. Edith J Wangzilla” on my granddad’s war records. I literally have no idea what happened to her between 1901 and 1914 (when my dad was born), and after 1917 when my grandfather died.

“But Kimli”, you say. “Surely you can just request the information from the government! Each province has a department that deals with this exact thing!”

This would be where the whole “being from Quebec” thing gets really fucking complicated.

Like most provinces, Quebec allows you to request copies of official documents for a fee. It’s all very simple, really: set up a verified user account, and away you go!

To set up an account, all you need is:

  • Your Social Insurance Number
  • Your Revenu Quebec Access Code
  • Your Notice of Assessment Number

.. yeah, you need to be living and working in the province of Quebec in order to request copies of documents. Because no one would ever leave Quebec, right? Not at ALL. For ANY REASON.

My only option appears to be to fill out a form and mail it off with copies of my personal information and a wad of money and hope that something happens. Unfortunately, this is where my overall lack of knowledge comes back to bite me in the ass: the form wants me to provide the date and location this marriage took place. I don’t KNOW that information. I was hoping they did, which is why I’m requesting it. They can deny me for any reason – spelling a name wrong, missing a date, cheering for the wrong hockey team, Tuesday, a bad mood (they’re allowed to veto genealogy research as a valid excuse for wanting this information) – and it’ll cost me $45 for each stab in the dark I attempt. If I was in Quebec, I could go to an office and get some help, but I’m far away so I can’t. And no one can go for me; they won’t allowed a lawyer or notary to request info on someone’s behalf. Has to be me, and since I’m not the direct child of someone I’m requesting info on, I can be veto’d. But they’ll keep my money!

This is so frustrating. I keep finding awesome things that are no help to me whatsoever – for example, I found the burial announcement for my aunt, who died when she was 3. I had her name wrong the whole time (thanks again, dad’s foggy memory – I don’t care that you were barely two when she died, you’re supposed to know this) – Muriel Hazel Wangzilla was born in December 1913 and died in February 1917 (which was a terrible year for poor Edith Jane – lost her daughter and husband in the same year, then seemingly vanished herself). I found my dad’s marriage record to his first wife, which lists both his parents as deceased. Cool find, but doesn’t help me at all: I specifically need the marriage record of John James Wangzilla to Edith Jane Corn(e)s, and I CAN’T FIND IT. I can’t find my dad’s birth record either, but I’m less concerned about that – mom has the original. I’m working on Edith’s birth certificate, but I also need one for John James .. and getting records out of Nova Scotia is a whole other ranting blog post that I just don’t want to get into.

I now understand why it was so hard to get a copy of my birth certificate out of Montreal. I was correct in my assumption that no one got one – when checking in with other wayward Quebec babies, we all received an official non-official baptismal certificate (or nothing at all if you were a heathen) which is good for exactly squat. I don’t know if I’d even be able to get another copy of my birth certificate if I needed it, so I should probably relocate mine from it’s current hiding spot and into a vault or something.

Quebec, why you gotta be so complicated.

I do not feel so hot. I hope my cold isn’t morphing into something deadly and terrifying, because it would be fucking impossible to get a death certificate issued in my name.

who are you

Shit

Unless this woman got married in the UK to some guy named Herbert Hawthorne and stayed in England long enough to be counted in the 1911 census, then somehow got to Canada and met my grandfather and got married and had babies in 1913 and 1914 .. I’ve been tracing the wrong line in the UK.

There’s another woman with the same name from the UK who, in 1901, was counted in the Canadian census and listed as having immigrated to the correct part of Canada in 1893. This could be the right line, but every time I try to search for her, the records are crossed between these two women. For all I know, the information I have is partially correct (the birth certificate I received for the woman in the image above has a birth year of 1883, not 1884). Most of the information I DO have was researched for me by the amazing Ken in Calgary, and I am forever grateful because he was able to provide a ton of stuff – now I just need to put the pieces together.

What I DO know:

  • All the information I’ve found about my grandfather is correct
  • Every piece of war correspondence I’ve been able to find lists him as “Husband of Edith J. Welsh of 2883 St. Andre St. Montreal”
  • I confirmed my grandmother’s maiden name when I stole my dad’s birth certificate after he died (which I then had to return) and also in a story my dad had written about his early life
  • I really should be working and not looking into all of this right now

I absolutely hate it when I have a mystery on my hands that I cannot solve. It’s rare that my Google-Fu fails me (or I only search for really simple things), and it’s infuriating when it does. At this point, it’s not even about wanting to immigrate to the UK – it’s about getting to the bottom of this once and for all, because it’s pissing me off and few things motivate me more than being pissed off.

I WILL DECIPHER YOU, EDITH CORNES!