Week 9 -Females

The theme of 52 Ancestors this week is females, so today I share a bit about my maternal grandmother Alice L’Oiseau Jamieson.

Photo of Alice and Joseph, Kingston, Ontario, 27 June 1953, original held by Tracey Orchard, Brisbane
Photo of Alice L’Oiseau, date unknown, original held by Tracey Orchard, Brisbane

Just Alice

When I started researching my maternal grandmother, one of the first things that fascinated me, was her name. As I learned more about her family, I discovered that her siblings and in particular her sisters, had been named very differently. Each of her sisters had been named following French Canadian naming traditions. There was Marguerite Ann, Mary Rose, Mary Ann, and Delia Mary. When Alice was baptised, she was named Alice… just Alice.

At first, I thought that it was simply a sign of changing times and maybe her mother had decided to break from tradition, but then I discovered Alice was the third eldest, so that didn’t appear to be the case. I was intrigued and I wanted to learn more.

Alice died in December 1966, eight weeks before I was born. Although I never knew her, my research over the years has given me a sense of the kind of woman she must have been. Strength and courage are the first words that come to mind when I think about her.

Alice was baptised in St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, in Kingston, Ontario, Canada on January 26, 1896.  According to Alice’s baptism record she was born on January 13, 1896 to parents Mary Ann Miville and Ulderique L’Oiseau.[1] Both of Alice’s parents were of French-Canadian descent. Mary Ann had been born in Kingston; Ulderique had been born in Montreal.[2]  Alice, was one of nine children.

According to stories passed down from my mother Helen, Alice’s mother Mary Ann was a formidable woman, almost cruel in her treatment of Alice. Ulderique, on the other hand was a kind and loving man who was adored by Alice.

In April 1914, Ulderique enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Forces.[3] Ulderique remained in Kingston to undergo training until May 1915, when his unit departed for England.[4] When Ulderique left, Alice was heart-broken. Not only was her beloved father leaving her, but she would be left alone to face the consequences of a secret she was keeping.

On November 6, 1915 Alice gave birth to a son, Harold L’Oiseau.[5] The circumstances surrounding Harold’s birth remain a mystery. There were no adoption laws at that time, therefore, no records. Was Alice forced to give up her son? That is something we will never know, but whatever the circumstances, one can only imagine the anguish Alice would have suffered having to give up her child.

Following the birth of Harold, Alice continued to live with her mother, and worked at the local cigar factory, McGowen’s.[6] Life for Alice would have been one of drudgery. Not only would she have been expected to help her mother with the care of her younger siblings, but work conditions at the time saw young woman doing eleven hour shifts on the factory floor.[7]

In April 1916 the unimaginable happened. A telegraph arrived informing Mary Ann that her husband had been killed. Alice’s beloved father, Ulderique had been killed during the battle of St Eloi.[8] Alice was devastated by the news.

On December 31, 1917 Alice gave birth to another son. Alice now 21, did not give up her son. According to oral family history, Alice’s mother Mary Ann threw Alice out on the street when she learned of her pregnancy. She was taken in by her younger sister, Mary Ann (Mamie). Although a cruel act, no doubt, this may have been a blessing, as being away from her mother may have been the reason that she was able to keep her son.

Eventually, Alice reconciled with her mother and moved back to the family home. In the 1921 census, Alice and her son were living with Mary Ann at 80 Québec Street.
Alice continued to work at the cigar factory, earning money to support herself and her son.[9]

On October 4, 1922, Alice married Joseph Freeman Jamieson.[10] Alice and Joseph went on to have another 8 children together. The youngest child, a son was stillborn 13 August 1943.[11]

Alice died on January 6, 1966. She is buried in Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston Ontario.[12]


[1] Baptism of Alice Loiseau, 26 January 1896, Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada, Ontario Roman Catholic Church Records, Frontenac, Kingston, St Mary’s Cathedral, Baptisms 1891-1903, p. 134, FamilySearch.com, accessed 01 Nov 2021.

[2]Baptism of Joseph Alexandre Ulderique Loiseau, 7 March 1872, Montreal, Québec, Canada, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection,) 1621-1968, Ancestry.com, accessed 01 November 2021; Baptism of Annie Maville, 29 May 1870, Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada, Roman Catholic, Baptism, Marriages, and Burials, 1760-1923, Ancestry.com, accessed 01 November 2021. 

[3] Service record of Ulderique Loiseau, Canadian Expeditionary Force, Library and Archives Canada, RG150, Accession 1992-93/166, Box 5719-23, LOISEAU U, u.p.

[4] Service record of Ulderique Loiseau.

[5] Birth record of Harold Loiseau, 06 November 1915, Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario Vital Statistics: Registrations of Births Marriages and Deaths, Archives of Ontario.

[6] Digital Kingston, Kingston Frontenac Public Library, “City Directories 1855-1923”, https://research.digitalkingston.ca/records-and-documents/city-directories/city-directories-1855-1923, Accessed 02 Nov 2021.

[7] Susanna McLeod, ‘Without whiskey, cigar sales tumbled’, Kingston Whig Standard, 18 June 2019, n.p., https://www.thewhig.com/news/local-news/without-whisky-cigar-sales-tumbled, accessed 02 Nov 2021.

[8] Peter Gower, ‘Lost on the field of battle’, Kingston Whig Standard, 11 April 2005 news clipping held by Tracey Orchard, Brisbane.

[9]1921 Canadian Census, Library and Archives Canada, https://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/, accessed 02 Nov 2021.

[10] Marriage of Joseph Freeman Jamieson and Alice Loiseau, 04 Oct 1922, Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada, Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927, FamilySearch.com, accessed 01 Nov 21.

[11] Death certificate of unnamed male Jamieson, died 13 August 1943, Kingston, Frontenac, Ontario, Canada, Deaths, and Deaths Overseas 1869-1946, Ancestry.com, accessed 06 Nov 21.

[12] Obituary of Alice Jamieson, Kingston Whig Standard 14 Dec 1966, p. 38, Newspapers.com, accessed 10 Jan 2022.

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