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.

one step closer

Dear England,

When can I move in? Can I just put my stuff anywhere? I’m gonna need a shelf in the bathroom; I have a lot of girl potions.

I received my grandmother’s birth certificate in the mail this week. It’s a little sobering to look at – as someone who often feels adrift and without family ties, it’s probably always going to trip me out to encounter my history. I learned that my great-grandfather was a coal miner! That is neat.

Getting the birth certificate was just one small step in this whole “get to the UK” process: I still need to find a way to tie my grandmother to my family. Unfortunately, it’s proving to be ridiculously difficult to get any information out of Quebec and Nova Scotia – my grandfather’s birth certificate would be nice to have, but I NEED my grandparent’s marriage certificate. Seeing as I have no idea when or where they got married (I’m assuming they didn’t have grandparent sex until they were married, so I can safely guess it happened sometime between 1910 and 1912), this is proving difficult. Complicating matters are the other women who share my grandmother’s name – it seems that a lot of babies were named Edith Jane in England in the late 1800s, and several of them had some variation of the name “Cornes” (if not the name itself). Most of the information I can easily access online refers to an Edith Jane Cornes born in the right location, but the year is off by one. If that’s not the right woman, then everything I have is wrong and I don’t actually know where my grandmother was born. It’s all very confusing.

If I want to get to the UK legally and not just as a tourist, I need to prove that:

  • you are a Commonwealth citizen – check!
  • you are aged 17 or over – check!
  • you are able to work and you plan to work in the UK – checkity check check!
  • you can adequately support and accommodate yourself and your dependants without help from public funds – I don’t want your public funds! Let me work!

I have those, so what next? Well, I must show that at least 1 of my grandparents was born:

  • in the UK (including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) – yes, as far as I can tell
  • before 31 March 1922 in what is now the Republic of Ireland – my great grandfather appears to have been born in Ireland, but I think that’s a generation too far removed to qualify
  • on a British-registered ship or aircraft – that would be super cool, but doesn’t apply here

Apparently, I can claim ancestry if my relationship to the relevant grandparent is legitimate OR illegitimate. That makes things easier!

Unfortunately, this is where things get difficult. When I apply for UK entry, I need to include:

  • your full birth certificate – I have this!
  • your parents’ and grandparents’ marriage certificates – um. I don’t know how to get this. My mother MIGHT have her marriage certificate, but I won’t know until I can get my hands on her papers and go through them myself.
  • the full birth certificates of the parent and grandparent through whose ancestry you are applying – I have A birth certificate for a woman I THINK might be my grandmother, but I’m not sure and I don’t know how to verify :(
  • your marriage certificate or civil partnership registration document, if your husband, wife or civil partner intends to join you in the UK – I have this! The real question isn’t “do you have paperwork”, it’s more “will Ed join you” .. that, I don’t know. So far, all of this has been idle wishing. But what if I could do it? What if everything fell into place and I got the papers I need and had a way to get there and a plan and could work and and and? What then? Would Ed come with me? Would I go my own way? Should I stay or should I go? Why DO fools fall in love? Did you let the dogs out?

So many questions.

I wish my dad was around to provide some answers.

And a cream egg. I wish I had a cream egg.