Monthly Archives: April 2014

Quest in Quebec City, Part II

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The post below is a continuation from two days ago. It is my recap/reflection on the experiences I had while in Quebec City!

On Thursday, April 24th, we arrived at Musee Bon Pasteur. I was looking forward to this visit—the second floor was advertised to have an exhibit featuring the orphanage my dad was born at! When my husband and I walked through the doors, the receptionist did not know any English. Dan spoke with her to let her know I did not speak French; she then asked if we wanted an English-speaking guide. I am very appreciative that they had an English speaking guide in the facility, because visiting the museum would not have been the same without Sister Claudette’s guidance!

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Sister Claudette met us and gave us an overview of who the Sisters of Good Shepard are, and how they were formed. The story is quite incredible, and I encourage you to go to Musee Bon Pasteur and read about how this group of women found each other. She knew we were most interested in the items on the second floor, so after her 15 minute overview on the history on the first floor, we headed upstairs.

This is where everything came out. She first asked to see what information I had with me. After pulling out the envelope with the ominous “680 Chemin Ste Foy” address on it, she quickly told us why we were confused when we went their yesterday—-because it’s actually at 1210! The addresses had shifted over the years! She gave us a postcard with an old photo of La Crèche St Vincent de Paul so we could use it when we went back to find 1210 Chemin Ste Foy.

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We then looked at the handwritten letter together, and Sister Claudette then had a surprise for us. The sister who had signed the letter was a very prominent Sister at La Crèche, and there was a photo of her on that floor of the museum! Sister James Philip had signed that letter in 1954! Below is a picture of the letter next to her photo—these items are displayed on the original baptismal font that was used at the original St. Patricks! This font was used on my dad’s baptism on June 10th, 1952, three days after he was born (we know this because of the statement on his baptismal abstract which was produced in 1957; we can only assume, and Sister Claudette agreed, that this abstract was needed by my grandparents for when he went through his American Citizenship)

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Lots of other artifacts were on site for viewing in the museum. There are pictures, which reminded me of yearbook photos, of the doctors and sisters who were at La Crèche during certain time frames. There are also pictures of the children being looked after. Sister Claudette said these photos were taken in the 1950s

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Sister Claudette then explained to us more about the timeline of my dad’s adoption. He was born on June 7, 1952, and we knew from original paperwork that he was adopted and brought across into the US on July 4, 1954…this approximate two-year window is important. She explained to us that when a woman gave birth at La Crèche, the choice was to sign the child over for adoption right away, or wait a maximum of two years. In those two years if she felt fit to take care of the child on her own, or in some cases if she had then wed the father and came back, the child would be reunited.

My grandparents worked with the help of Catholic Charities in Illinois to set up an adoption. The Catholic Charities sent a letter in May 1954 that a boy had been selected for them. They drove up to La Crèche to meet my dad. I would love to know if photos of this occasion had existed somewhere in my grandparents hands, but they moved so much all over the world they may have been lost. One thing I should have assumed but was never certain was my dad’s birth name. We knew it was Luke, as written on the old envelope. But that was the English spelling. Sister Claudette confirmed that the name on the “Alien Registration” form that was used when moving to the US was his given name—Luc Parent. This was not chosen by the birth mother, though. We learned that the doctors and Sisters had a list of generic first names and last names they went through and gave to the children. So my dad was given Luc Parent!

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It was an amazing visit. Absolutely memorable. I will never forget it! We learned so much in that short time at the museum. Plus, there is still a chance to learn more. Later that day, Dan phoned a number given to us by Sister Claudette. It was for Centre Jeunesse-Centre for Adopted Youth. There’s an outside chance they will let me provide my dad’s information for the archives, in case anyone from his birth family has tried looking for him. This is something traditionally the adopted child must do, but we may as well try. Problem was, we called twice, and the person on the other line had horrific English, and Dan’s French was just as bad. An English speaking worker was supposed to call us back by yesterday but hasn’t. I will tackle this feat over the next few weeks.

And 1210 Chemin Ste Foy? Well, we went the following day. On April 25, 2014, we walked the two miles to La Crèche St Vincent de Paul. My dad had passed away exactly 10 years before on April 25, 2004. How did I feel?—rejuvenated.

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Quest in Quebec City, Part I

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Oh wow. Where do I start? I am still trying to take everything in from our amazing trip out East to Quebec. I am going to share the family history highlights we uncovered on this trip, but also try to keep this post short. The post will be broken up into two parts, and I hope the pictures will speak for themselves.

If you have read my blog before, you now know my dad was an orphan from Quebec City. He was born on June 7, 1952, at the La Crèche St Vincent de Paul, a home for children born to unwed mothers. I have always wanted to go to Quebec City so I could be immersed in the surroundings, and hopefully get some answers in the process.
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The first we did upon arriving in Quebec City was trek from the Via Rail station to our hotel. During the trek we passed St. Patricks Church—I knew this name from all my years of looking at the papers we had of my dad’sthis was where my dad’s baptismal abstract was from! We went in and spoke with an incredibly friendly receptionist. She informed us that the original church burned down and all that remained was the front. An active St. Patricks church in Quebec City does exist, but it is not the one from the 1950s. The old building inside was rebuilt and now houses a cancer research centre. She was trying her best to help us with finding any thoughtful information. She told us to come back tomorrow, as she wanted to get us a name of a fellow who knew a lot of history of the church.

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The next day we stopped back at the former church, where the receptionist had a piece of paper for us with contact information for C. Robert McGoldrick. We thanked her greatly, and on we went to 680 Chemin Ste Foy, the address I had stared at so long on an old 1950s envelope. This address was that of the orphanage!

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The walk to the “site” of the orphanage was about 2 miles. When we got closer to where 680 was, I started getting excited. But then, there was nothing. No 680. Just a green space between a giant apartment building and some townhouses. This was not big enough to house a whole orphanage…I was so confused. Had it gotten torn down and part of the land was built on? Nonetheless, we took a picture and moved on to phone Robert McGoldrick.

Robert answered and Dan spoke with him briefly. He told us to look up Saint Sacrament Parish, on the corner of Holland and Saint Croix. Even though the original St. Patrick’s burned down, he said any documents that may have been saved would be here. This was a lot to take in! What could they have there?

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We now headed back 2 miles to Old Quebec where something very exciting was waiting—a museum with an exhibit featuring La Crèche St. Vincent de Paul. This is Musee Bon Pasteur (Good Shepard Museum). I had found this museum while searching things online some years ago. This was where I had to go. This was where I would find answers!….

Part II to be posted tomorrow….

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Watch Out Quebec—-Here I Come!

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Being a student and now a teacher, I always have been fortunate enough to have the luxurious week off called “Spring Break.” Lots of people go on crazy Mexico vacations, cruises, or down to Panama City Beach. I either went no where, or to Disney World. I realized this a few days ago when thinking of this blog post—three of my trips to Disney World were taken during Spring Break. One in high school, one in college and one while being a full-fledge teacher. It’s about time I go somewhere different during Spring Break!

I have always wanted to go to Quebec City; my dad was born there and I wanted to look up some family history, be a part of where he was born. In the last years, I tried looking at flights and possibilities during our February break, but the cost was something Dan and I could not take on. I bought a little Quebec City Guide book from Chapters and dreamt of going in the future. I kept looking through the old papers I have of my dad’s adoption, the handwritten letter from the nun, and the envelope with the address of where La Crèche St. Vincent de Paul once stood….680 Chemin Ste Foy, Quebec City. And finally, this fall, I was able to put our trip into official action, using my Air Miles to book us a round trip flight out of Lethbridge to Montreal.

Dan and I are flying into Montreal on Monday, staying for two nights, taking Via Rail out to Quebec City for three nights, then back to Montreal for our final night. I asked Dan this morning what he is most excited about, and he answered “the fact we don’t have every night planned out.”

Usually I am very type-A and over planned. That is best exhibited on Disney trips when I have dining booked 180 days in advance, rides booked on FastPass+, and I am on blogs multiple times a day. For this trip, after making the flight reservations, nothing else was booked until January. That is when I found the wicked deal on Via Rail for two reserved coach seats—-$133.38 round trip!

On April 5th I decided to give Priceline a try. I tried holding out as long as I could, wanting to wait as close to our departure as possible so I could get the best deal. I bid on three hotels successfully—in Montreal, we will be staying downtown at Le Centre Sheraton Montreal and Intercontinental Montreal. In Quebec City, we will be right in the heart of Old Quebec, as the Hilton Quebec. I was able to get hotels at $100, $95 and $94 a night, respectively. I am very pleased with the rates!

We have two dining reservations set while in Quebec City, both at restaurants within walking distance. On the Wednesday night, we will be at Cafe St. Molo, which is rated #30 out of 1130 restaurants in Quebec City. It serves traditional French cuisine in a casual atmosphere. The other restaurant I chose is Le Saint-Amour, which is more of a fine dining location. It looks absolutely gorgeous, the menu looks to-die-for and it is ranked #5 in the city! Along with these restaurants, we plan on eating as much random pub food as possible, and will also be trying any and all microbrews we can get our hands on. We have already been instructed to go to Dieu de Ceil in Montreal for their beer, and we will also talk to locals for their recommendations. We love good food; we really do. So I can’t wait to take part in these dining experiences!

Another planned activity was set last week, after the NHL playoff schedule came out. The Montreal Canadiens have game 4 of the playoffs in Montreal on Tuesday night, so we were able to get tickets! I have been to MLB, NBA and NFL games, but never an NHL game. Dan hasn’t been to an NHL game in a solid 10 years, and the fact we will get to see one of the original six teams during playoffs is very exciting! Timing just worked out in our favor!

I have many other things saved on Trip Advisor, as far as local attractions worth seeing, pubs to go to, etc. None of these events are booked or set in stone…just in the back of my mind! We are planning on spending an afternoon walking to those addresses in Quebec City that I have, and also going to the Musee Bon Pasteur, a museum that has an exhibit featuring the orphanage. I have no idea what to expect in regards to my emotions…will I be a bucket of water upon landing in Quebec, since this is a trip I have wanted for so long? Will the waterworks not begin until officially arriving off the train in Quebec City? How am I going to hold it together on April 25th, which marks the tenth anniversary of my dad’s passing? I have waited so long for this trip, and I have no doubt in my mind it will deliver….a memorable week is about to take place! Je Me Souviens!

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Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race-Race Recap!

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April 12th, 2014, marked the 41st annual Lethbridge 10 Mile Road Race. I ran this event last year for the first time, (you can find that recap here) and really enjoyed it. Last year, this event marked the first time I ever placed in my age group-2nd place! For the first time since high school, I had actually felt like an athlete! Going into the race this year, I knew I wanted to beat last years time (1:23:14) and also attempt to still place in my age group.

I had also been quietly promoting this event at school to students, as they do a 4 mile event also. Runners Soul awards a school participation award and a high school challenge trophy. Four of my cross country athletes registered for the event! I met with them before my 9:00 am start time to chat and get them fired up to run in the ridiculously gross weather. Their event began at 9:20, so I told them we would meet up afterwards during awards.

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The wind was cold, the snow flurries were blowing, the air was crisp–for me, it was perfect running weather! It could have been worse! Pouring rain, sweltering heat or as cold as it was a few weekends ago during my Run For L’Arche in Calgary…those would have all been worse. I left the start line with a burst of energy and determination-here goes nothing!

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The course is out-and-back, taking the 10 milers down Scenic Drive to Lynx Trail, which leads you down into the river bottom. Runners would wind through the river bottom adjacent to the Old Man River, and eventually turn around once you near the High Level Bridge. The course was the exact same as last year, so I knew what I was getting myself into. As I proceeded onto Scenic Drive, I met up with fellow Marathon Club member Bob H. I have ran with him at club before—he really books it during training runs with his daughter in the jogging stroller!—and also most recently saw him at the Coaldale 5km. He ran a 1:22 last year and told me he also wanted to beat that time. I figured following him while I could would be a good pacing strategy for me! I made sure I always ran on the inside “lane” when we were side by side, because as I have said before, my 5’3″ stature doesn’t always provide the best stride length. I need to hug the curve when possible!

After the first three miles, I had ran a 6:50, 7:39 and 7:31. I was booking it, and Bob even mentioned the crazy idea that I could get a 1:15:00! I was thinking that as we descended into the river bottom, and for a moment got discouraged as a handful of people plowed past me. I am very hesitant going down this hill, as I know how steep it is. It is over half a mile downhill, and if I were to go too fast my legs would be feeling it and hurting once I hit level ground. When I made it to the bottom of the hill, I made a conscious effort to lengthen my stride and make up ground. I was able to catch mostly everyone that passed me on that downhill. I then set my focus forward to make it to the turnaround.

At the 5 mile turnaround, I felt great about my position and pace. I was able to see at that moment I was actually the 2nd place female runner! I knew I needed to keep my pace down in the valley, and really give it on the hill back up to Scenic. Before hitting Whoop-Up Drive, I saw my fellow teacher and her husband running to the turnaround. It was a great energy boost to see Amie and Morgan! When I reached the 6 mile mark, and the hill climb was my next obstacle, I had ran a 7:01, 7:23, and 7:24.

Hill training is a necessary evil. I don’t like it, I don’t think anyone really does, but man does it pay off. I have done this hill so many times before on training runs and races that I knew what beast I would be tackling. At the midway point where it flattens out a bit I even picked up my pace the best I could. I kept my head up and made it up that hill with a slight smile on my face, as I knew that now I was back on Scenic Drive and the last three miles would feel easy compared to that incline. My seventh mile clocked in at 8:52.

Even though the hardest climb was done, the last three miles had to still be tackled with gusto. I didn’t want to lose my pace, so I kept my head forward and focused on that goal. I ran mile 8 and 9 at 7:43 and 7:24. The 7:24 was a huge confidence boost because I was able to get back near to my most consistent pace times. During the last mile I knew I wanted to hold my position, but also knew I could get that glorious 1:15:00! I used everything I had left as I wound through the College grounds to the finish line, running my last mile in a time of 7:03! I finished the race not only beating my time from last year, but clocking in at a 1:14:49! I was shaking with adrenaline as the volunteer took my timing chip off my ankle-I was overjoyed!

Two of my students were on the side of the finish line stretch, and I heard them cheering when I came down, so I went over to see how their race went. They both agreed it went well, but they hadn’t seen the results yet. When we headed inside, we ran into one of the other kids, who felt really great about his race. After finding the results for the four mile, it was awesome to see that all four of the kids did fantastic! The youngest girl in our group, Morghan, had improved her time since cross country season by a lot! Bacho has been running a lot on her own after school since cross country season and also had done the Moonlight Run, so she was quite pleased with her time too! Both Kristin and Tyler, cross country athletes who went to Provincials with our team in October, earned age group awards! Kristin placed 2nd in 16-19 females and Tyler also earned a 2nd in the male 16-19 category! The young man who captured first in his group was actually a cross country athlete at the College, and he came over after Tyler’s race to congratulate him, and was surprised Tyler was only in grade 10.

We found Amie just before the 4 mile awards, and sat as a school for the presentations. It was inspiring to see all the young kids out there doing the 4 mile event! The youngest age category was 10 and under, and there were 21 kids in total! Looking at the results, the number of kids participating that were 19 and under totaled 41! Kids made up 28% of the four mile event field! Awesome!

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The part of the awards that almost had me cry (honestly…I’m emotional) was when Shawn from Runners Soul announced the high school team challenge winners. They had started this award back in 2011, and every year the trophy went with Medicine Hat High School. He made this clear in his presentation of the awards and then made it very clear that it was staying here in Lethbridge this year! Winston Churchill High School had claimed the title! The crowds’ support of our WCHS kids was incredible, and it made me extremely proud to be a “northside” teacher.

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The 10 mile awards followed. I accepted my 1st place medal for my 20-29 age group, and then anxiously awaited my overall award. I had never placed overall before this! At Moonlight Run this year I narrowly missed out an overall award, finishing 4th out of all females. I finished 2/65 in my gender today, and earned $150 as my prize money. Not going to lie, and I am not ashamed to admit it, but I cashed that cheque at Scotiabank so embarrassingly fast after the event. I also called my husband to inform him I was making us dinner reservations at Miro Bistro that night and the dinner was on me!

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Today the sun is out, the snow is melted, and it is above freezing. There is no wind. The weather is perfect for a Sunday afternoon in April. To the average person in Lethbridge, yesterday may have looked like a terrible, rotten, no-good, very bad day. But I think it was pretty much perfect-I’d give it an 11 out of 10.

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Spring Cleaning 2014-Some Things You Can’t Get Rid Of

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Last weekend, my husband and I participated in my annual “Purgapalooza”, AKA Spring Cleaning. I don’t know how we acquire so much crap between two people, but we definitely downsized. Value Village reaped the benefits of our clothes that don’t get worn, books that don’t get read, and other knick-knacks that we had for no reason. It feels good to Spring Clean—I get a sick satisfaction from it.

But with any deep cleaning and reorganization comes random unexpected reflection. For instance, I reorganized all the photo albums in our house and it’s great to look through old photos. I also streamlined some of my final boxes of stuff from back home in Wisconsin, and seeing my old Nintendo set with all the random games made me smile. But, there was one special thing I found that caught my eye and caused me to have very memorable flashbacks-Pass the Pigs.

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What is this? Well, it’s a travel game from Milton Bradley. My parents bought me it sometime in the mid 90s. It’s basically a dice game, but with rubber pigs. My dad and I got a kick out of it. I remember us playing it poolside at various hotel pools, like the Pioneer Inn in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, or various Embassy Suites. See, my dad rarely used his sick days and personal days and I believe he could bank them to be used later on. So there would be some weekends that my parents and I would just drive out of town to an Embassy suites for a night or two, just to go do something. We’d swim, we’d hit an outlet mall, maybe mini golf, we’d enjoy the appetizer happy hour and cooked-to-order breakfast. And my dad and I would play these silly travel games.

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The thing that made me smile the most when I found this game was the fact that there still is a score sheet attached from the last game I played with my dad. Apparently I beat him, 61-55 points. Who knows if we were even playing it correctly, or if I was cheating keeping score. But seeing this score sheet makes me happy. I plan on always keeping that piece of paper, and I plan on always keeping this game. Pass the Pigs survived Purgapalooza 2014.

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