Tag Archives: orphanage

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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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.