Tag Archives: Berkman

Friday Seven – Chilly in the YVR Edition

seven-quick-takes-friday-2-300x213

  1. This pretty much sums up the week:
    IMG_1823
  2. My sister was here this week for a medical conference, and my elder son arrived for a visit as well. It’s been lovely to see them both and to check out some new-to-me restaurants (Cactus Club Cafe, Nuba, Joe Fortes) as well as a meal here at the condo. Fran heads back east today on the train, and Alex is here for another week or two.
  3. Charlaine Harris's Dead Until Dark
    Photo credit: Wikipedia

    My four month reading challenge is winding down at the end of November. I’ve got two novels to finish up by the 30th: Dead Until Dark: A Sookie Stackhouse Novel by Charlaine Harris (the first of the Sookie Stackhouse series) and Story of Blanche and Marie by Per Olov Enquist. The first is a vampire novel and fulfills the task to read a book set in Louisiana. It’s not the sort of book that I would normally read, but it’s entertaining and light. I picked up the second book in Stockholm and it fulfills a task to read two books set in the same watershed. I’ve chosen the Seine and this book is set in Paris.

  4. The trash sorting system in this building is intricate. Unlike in Toronto, where all the recyclables go into one bin, we have to separate everything here including paper into “dry newsprint” and mixed paper (magazines, junk mail, writing paper, phonebooks, cardboard). No styrofoam or plastic bags, and only plastics labelled 1,2, and 3). I haven’t figured out how to return beer, wine, and liquor bottles yet, and milk bottles go back to the grocer. There is compost for the building, so that’s good.
  5. Our extended family meals are starting to go here.
    rozchastthanksgiving
  6. Last Saturday, Z and I had lunch with a colleague of his and her partner. She is Jewish, from Odessa, and when she heard that my ancestors were also from there, was interested in getting together. We had a lovely time, and it has spurred me on to try to break through some brick walls on my Berkman research.
    Baron de Hirsch - De La Savane Cemetery, Montreal.
    Baron de Hirsch – De La Savane Cemetery, Montreal.

    My great-grandfather was Myer Berkman (b. 1863, Minsk), who was married to Adela (d. bef 1909), for whom I do not have a surname. My grandfather was David Berkman (b. c 1888, Odessa; d. 1956, Hawkesbury, ON). David had a sister Sadie who married Samuel Rubenstein in Lachine, QU in May 1909. They went on to live in Hawkesbury and have nine children. I have recently been in touch with one of Sadie’s descendents and I hope to get a chance to meet him next time I’m in his city.
    I continue to pour over JewishGen, a very comprehensive set of databases, but records are scanty, language and transliteration make names difficult to find, and I still dream of hiring a researcher to see what can be found on the ground in Ukraine, Belarus, and Lithuania. I’ve also done DNA testing, but I really need to get my brother to do it as well as we need the male line to trace paternal genes.

  7. How awesome is this?

    “About to take a Selfie with Medal of Freedom co-recipients Barbra Streisand and Steven Spielberg at the White House. OMG! I’m so excited!” — Itzhak Perlman (posted on Facebook)

    Itzhak Perlman, Steisand, Spielberg

 

That’s all folks! Keep warm. Enjoy your leftovers, my American friends. More quick takes over at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

Friday Seven

  1. Heading to a Syrian wedding today: the sacrament is this afternoon in Woodbridge and the party tonight in Etobicoke at the Edessa Banquet Hall. I won’t know many people there, but my partner-in-crime is getting less patient with loud music so it likely won’t be a late night.
  2. For a complete change of pace, we’re heading up to Wyebridge (near Midland) tomorrow morning for a Goddard family reunion. I think it’a actually referred to as the “3G” annual event, for Goddard, Gear, and Graham families. I’m looking forward to meeting some new-to-me cousins and fleshing out my family tree. Our hosts are Stephen and Frieda Goddard. Stephen is my mother’s first cousin, the son of her uncle Percy Goddard.
    Doug Townsend, Stephen and Frieda Goddard
    Doug Townsend, Stephen and Frieda Goddard

    I blogged about another branch of my Goddards here. Two brothers emigrated to the Barrie, Ontario area (John in 1970 and William in 1871). I descend from William and the branch at the link descend from John.

  3. For my book challenge this quarter (my booklist here – I won’t read them all, but it’s a goal), I’m reading a memoir by Vladimir Nabokov called Speak, Memory: An Autobiography Revisited. It’s achingly beautifully written, and I’m doing a slow, close read to enjoy it. Here’s a snippet, a memory of a young Nabokov sitting on the veranda while his nanny reads french novels to him.

    From "Speak, Memory" by Vladimir Nabokov.
    From “Speak, Memory” by Vladimir Nabokov.
  4. For my Toronto readers: I just discovered an interesting website called Tabs Toronto. It sends automated alerts any time key words that you select are identified in city government records. You can do a search and then decide whether you’d like an email alert based on it. I’ve registered for my street name, neighbourhood name, and local BIAs. It’s a great initiative intended to improve civic participation.
    TABS
  5. Every since we moved in to our house seven years ago, we’ve known that we had issues with poor air circulation (basement too cold, second floor too hot). We finally got around to having an HVAC professional in to look at our system and he gave us some good advice about improving our duct work, and noted that our AC had been incorrectly installed, effectively blocking the path of air in to the ducts. (Or something.) Our furnace maintenance people had told us that our furnace was on its last legs, and so we took the plunge and replaced both furnace and AC. What a difference. We can actually feel cool air coming out of the ducts in our upper floor. He also recommended that we put a shade or covering of some kind on the large skylight in our stairwell so that’s the next job.
  6. My last post on my Berkman ancestors got a lot of hits, and I’m hoping to get in contact with some cousins. In the meantime, I finally scanned this business card of my grandfather David’s fur company. He moved back to Ontario in the early 30s and had some retail businesses. More about that soon.

    D Berkman Fur Company
    D Berkman Fur Company
  7. My book club had an excellent discussion of Donna Tartt‘s The Goldfinch last Sunday. It got pretty high ratings for the group (average 8/10), a surprising amount of sympathy for Boris, and totally expected love for Hobie. We also sniffed at the critics who looked down their noses at the accessible writing.  We met on the patio at the lovely Grenadier Restaurant in High Park (well, the food is fine but the venue is lovely) and will meet there again next month when we move to non-fiction with The Massey Murder: The Maid, Her Master, and the Trial That Shocked a Country by Charlotte Gray.

We’ve got a long weekend here in Ontario so Sunday and Monday are going to be read-and-relax days. On Tuesday, I’m heading to Ottawa to see my mother and some friends, and then back on Friday.

Leave me some love in the comments!

Mining (a document) for genealogical gold.

I started my family history journey 30 years ago, specifically when I became interested in the Jewish side of my ancestry. I knew very little. My father (Franklin) was an only child, and both he and his mother (Vera Elstein) had died by then. Plus, his parents (David and Vera) had divorced when he was quite young and no information about his biological father was ever forthcoming. I knew from David’s marriage certificate that his father’s name was Myer Berkman (b. Minsk) and that his mother’s name was Adela. Her surname was not particularly legible but my best guess is Vaskoboynik.

At some point, I requested death information from the Province of Ontario and got a computer generated extract with the basics: name, date of death, parent’s names (no maiden name for mother). At the time, I’m not sure that one could request a photocopy of the actual death certificate and that it contained much more information of interest to genealogists.

Death Extract, David Berkman
Death Extract, David Berkman

Note the typos (“BERKHAN”, “BECKMAN”), the place of death as Cornwall, and undetermined marital status.

A few weeks ago, I submitted an online request and received the full statement of death.

Statement of Death for David Berkman
Statement of Death for David Berkman

It sent me off on a research journey and I seem to have discovered a branch of my family of which I was not aware.

The first thing I noticed was that David didn’t die in Cornwall as per the extract, but rather in Hawkesbury Ontario, and that his place of permanent residence was the (now demolished) Manitonna Hotel in Brockville. Originally a furrier, he had also been a merchant in ladies wear and millinery. So I supposed that he might have had a store in Brockville. While I was driving through the town on my way home from Montreal, I dropped by the Brockville Public Library and perused their business directories from the 1950s but couldn’t find him there.

Manitonna Hotel. Brockville Ontario
Manitonna Hotel. Brockville Ontario

The marital status field was not filled in, but the name of his ex-wife Vera (my grandmother) was there. I also noticed that the informant on the certificate was described as a nephew. This would imply that he had at least one sibling. Unfortunately, the signature of the informant is illegible.

I noticed from the certificate that he had been in Hawkesbury for a month when he died, and that he hadn’t worked for much of the previous year. So maybe he was living with this nephew. I did a Google search for [berkman hawkesbury] and the first hit was a Sadie (Berkman) Rubenstein (born Russia), who gave birth to a number of children in Hawkesbury after marrying Samuel Rubenstein in Montreal. And then I remember the legal matter.

In going through my father’s papers with my mother a number of years ago, I found an agreement dated 1957 between my father (Franklin Berkman) and a Frank Rubenstein (living in Kingston), regarding David’s estate. There seems to have been some issue with the settlement of the estate and my father would have been his father’s next of kin.

Back to Ancestry.ca and I find Samuel and Sadie Rubenstein’s first child was named Frank. The place of death address on David’s certificate was their home in Hawkesbury.

Sadie had (I believe) nine children. I spent some time finding marriages for (some of) them, births of children, death dates, etc. And it would appear that I have some second cousins living in Montreal. I used a couple of newspaper sites to search for marriages and obituaries. Here’s an example of one for one of Sadie’s children, Helena.

Helena Rubenstein wedding

This experience underscores the importance of locating original documents when doing genealogical research. I was able to discover an entire clan based on a couple of addresses and names, and the word “nephew”.

Wednesday’s Child: Carole Orloff

Lillian Elstein was my grandmother Vera’s sister. Lally (as she was known) was born in Winnipeg in 1909. She married Conrad Orloff, an actuary, at the age of 20 and had two children, Warren and Carole.

Lally, Carole, and Warren Visiting family in Winnipeg, Aug 1937. (Winnipeg Free Press)
Lally, Carole, and Warren, Aug 1937. (Winnipeg Free Press)

Sadly, Lally and Carole were killed in a car accident in 1940 outside of Kansas City. The following item appeared in the Winnipeg Free Press shortly after the funeral service.

Winnipeg Free Press - June 13 1940
Winnipeg Free Press – June 13 1940

Mother and daughter were buried side by side in the Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, Winnipeg.

Grave of Lilian and Carole Orloff, Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, Winnipeg
Grave of Lilian and Carole Orloff, Shaarey Zedek Cemetery, Winnipeg

On a happier note, I have recently connected with Lillian Orloff Spencer, Warren’s daughter, and I very much look forward to meeting her in person some day.