Tag Archives: family history

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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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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More Than a Year’s Worth of Effort…It Is Here!

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The event I set as the goal of my running career so far is almost here-Dan, my mom, and I leave for the Dopey Challenge in less 40 hours! Dan and I have to get through one day of work tomorrow (January 6th) before we head up to Calgary to catch our red-eye flight to Toronto, where we will then catch a flight to Orlando. My mom leaves on Tuesday AM, and if all our flights are on time :::fingers crossed::: we arrive within one hour of each other!

At the start of this journey, I talked about how I was made for this race. I have had the picture below posted a couple times, and it’s currently both my cover photo on Facebook and background on Twitter:

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The year was 1988. I am almost four years old. I am sprinting up the driveway after running up the hill with my dad. I am sporting a Walt Disney World shirt, a gift from my Uncle Chuck & Auntie Debbie. I had not been to Walt Disney World yet. Little did I know, that after 1 trip in 1991, I would become an addict.

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Disney World became our family vacation destination. The three of us took six fantastic trips together as a family, the last being in Spring 2003.

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My dad suffered a fatal heart attack the following Spring, on April 25th, 2004. My life and my mom’s life were turned upside down. I turned my energy to running, and ran my first half marathon on May 1st, 2004. I haven’t stopped running road races since.

I needed to find a way, a suitable way, to honor my dad. It was time. I was finally able to handle the loss, and knew honoring him was my last step. Running and Disney….that had to be the combination. I set out on January 2013 ready to raise money for heart disease research…setting up fundraising accounts with American Heart Association and Heart & Stroke Foundation. I blogged about my running and races and Disney World and family memories. I signed up for more races in 2013 than I ever have done in my life—I ran 22 unique races over the course of this year! And most importantly, I signed up for the Dopey Challenge, which is to be held on January 9-12, 2014, during WDW Marathon Weekend.

I was meant for this race. My whole life. I never knew it until this past year. This week, when I step into the Walt Disney World Resort with my husband and my mom….I will be ready to run…more than ever….my dad will be with me too.

Je Me Souviens! To Infinity & Beyond!

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If you are interested in donating in memory of my father, Andrew A. Lammers, please click on the “Charities” tab at the top of the page, and follow the links to my personal fundraising pages with American Heart Association or Heart & Stroke Foundation. Every little bit helps and is appreciated more than you know!

How Do I Sum Up 2013?

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There is that. That picture is worth a thousand words.

While this is a mix of finisher medals, placing medals, and challenge medals….they all share in common that they are some pieces of special bling I earned during 2013. I registered and competed in 21 unique races so far in 2013.…I say “so far” as I will be doing race 22 tomorrow when I run the Brita Resolution Run 5km with my good friend Kelly! The mix of races I ran this year weighted heavily on half marathons, along with some 10kms and unique distance 10-miler and 35 km trail races. I also got snatched into the whirlwind that are Spartan Races, where I completed 3 Sprints (5km), 1 Super (14km) and 1 Beast (21km) which earned me a coveted Trifecta Tribe medal!

Those aren’t the only important numbers of 2013.…I went into the year with a two year old half marathon PR of 1:54:19, from Woody’s RV Half in Red Deer 2011. I wanted to break that sometime during this year! While back in Wisconsin for Easter……First race out, I hit 1:52:53….holy crap.….I was hoping that wasn’t the peak! I went on to break this NEW PR three more times during 2013! My best ended up occurring up in high elevation-ville of Lethbridge, where I ran a 1:41:07 at the Bare Bones Half! I never thought I would now be setting my sights at sub 1:40!

More numbers…..1155 & 1621. These are the dollar amounts I have fundraised so far for the Heart & Stroke Foundation (Canada) and the American Heart Association, respectively. I began this fundraising journey at the start of 2013, with the roll-out of this very website. My year would be devoted to running more races than my previous years, and all races would be ran in memory of my father, Andrew Lammers. This April 25th marked the 9th year since his passing. He was only 51.

While the medals are the tangible item I can now hold in my hand to reflect and remember the races of this year, there is much more that I have gained by competing in this ridiculous number of events. The personal bests…the fundraising goals being met and surpassed…the new race experiences….doing it all for Dad…….and now it’s one week until I leave for the culminating event of the year….the Dopey Challenge….2013 has been an amazing year. I can’t wait for the start of 2014!

In the Spirit of Christmas…I am Going to Talk About Santa…

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….but not that Santa…..
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While this site is dedicated to my dad, running and Disney, if I were to stray a bit on the family history side of things, I would hit other parts of family. And with that, I am letting myself stray for a moment and appreciate my Grandma Stengel. While Grandma Stengel may not have been around in my life as long as many other peoples’ grandparents (she passed away when I was 3 years old) she is someone who I treasure and recollect back at the moments I was able to spend with her.

Let’s start by noting my Grandma’s first name was Santa. For real. Santa. Middle name Maria. My grandma is Santa Maria Stengel. And before being married she was Santa Maria Basci. Her parents are both direct off the boat from Sicily and that is my direct, blatant connection to the Deep South of Europe. I have so much to learn family history-wise in regards to my dad, that the details of my maternal Grandmother could take me another lifetime…I know my Auntie Susie has already begun to collect family letters between my grandparents during WWII, and she longs for a visit to Sicily,…so hopefully in my future, I can head this way too.
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I have been a clinger and possessor of old photographs….much thanks to my mom inheriting all the old family photos. These were all in old cardboard boxes and albums deep in my parents’ basement, and I am glad I was a freak of a child who spent hours on end just sorting and staring through old photos from the 40s and on….if not, I would have never found these gems of Grandma:
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My Grandma Stengel was a strong woman—she raised my mom and her two younger sisters on her own after my Grandpa passed away from a heart attack when he was 50. My mom was 15 at the time, and her two younger sisters were 9 and 10, respectively. My mom helped out a lot and took over a maternal role in the house, helping raise her two younger sisters. My mom and her sisters are still incredibly close—I was fortunate enough to live most of my life only two blocks away from Auntie Debbie and my cousins, and got to visit Auntie Susie and her family tons.
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My Grandma passed away from lung cancer at age 67. She, like many people from her time, over-used and never quit smoking cigarettes. This was the cause of my Grandma Lammers’ death also, close to the same time too. I am glad I have photographic memories and stories to hold on to of time I was able to spend with Grandma Stengel.

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You have to take a look back in order to take a look forward…

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My dad was born on June 7th, 1952. That is according to his Quebec birth certificate. But according to Sister Janis Philip, my dad was born on June 8th, 1952. And his name was Luke.

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Handwritten letter for my grandparents from one of the Sisters at the orphanage

We can make a safe assumption that my dad was most likely born from an unwed Catholic girl. She was probably sent away from home after finding out she was with child, had my dad, and went back home like nothing happened. That seems to be the trend in this era and location. My dad spent his early years at La Creche St-Vincent de Paul. 680, Chemin Ste Foy, Quebec City, Quebec. It no longer exists, though I have found information regarding the orphanage online, through a museum located in Quebec City. http://museebonpasteur.com/Anglais/5_1_exhibitionandactivities.html

On May 24, 1954, my grandparents received a letter from the Catholic Home Bureau. “Dear Mr. And Mrs. Lammers: La Sauvegarde De L’Enfance has informed us by mail that they have selected a child for adoptive placement in your home. The child is a boy, born June 7, 1952….” My grandparents picked up my dad somewhere around the beginning of July 1954, as the next telling document I have in my possession is the “Application to File Petition for Naturalization in Behalf of Child.” This document was filed when my grandparents were able to legally have my dad become a naturalized US citizen.

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The “…seal of the court is hereunto affixed this 25th day of April in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and fifty-eight…”
My dad died 46 years to the date, on April 25th, 2004.

My grandpa says in the “Statement of Facts for Petition for Naturalization” (11) Said chid was lawfully admitted to the United States at Port Huron Michigan on July 4, 1954, on the automobile. (12) Said child is now and has been in my (our) legal custody for at least 2 years, since July 2, 1954 and has resided in the United States continuously immediately preceding the date of this application since July 4, 1954. It is very cool to see that my dad was not only taken from the orphanage shortly after turning 2 years old, but that he officially moved to the United States on the 4th of July!

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Images and articles from my dad’s naturalization ceremony in Beloit, Wisconsin.

I find all this history of my dad’s first 5 years hard to fully grasp. He never really remembered much of his early years, so he wasn’t ever one to have things to share with me. The newspapers, letters and photos we have were found at my Grandpa’s house after he passed away in 1995. My Uncle Ed, my dad’s brother, also had some important documents that have since been passed down to me. He is the only one who has the stories to tell, as he was there with my dad from the start. All of these priceless documents link together the young life of an orphan, whose life may have been very different if my grandparents had not adopted him.

I have dabbled with trying to find out information regarding my dad’s birth parents…it seems next to impossible. I have spoken to some people in Quebecpeople involved with the Church, government, workers at the Good Shepherd Museum...It seems that the adoption records in Quebec are under lock and key. I am a bit selfish, as I wish to find this information so badly now. My dad never wanted or cared to know about his birth family. With his heart disease being explained by doctors as simply ‘genetics’ I wish I could know about his family history. Maybe someday something will come to surface. Until then, I have these documents to cherish as they are an important piece of my dad’s past.