Inquiry--Muriel Ince Michaels

Having Canadian ancestors when you live in the United States can present some tricky challenges. Among these are the strict privacy laws which keep any census after 1921 tightly under wraps. Additional struggles with regards to distance and traveling limitations can make Canadian research some of the most expensive research you can do--especially if you do not know exactly what you need.

My Canadian ancestor is Muriel Ince Michaels. She is one of my paternal greatgrandmothers, Emily Michaels Doyle's mother. In a personal interview I had with my grandmother several months ago, I was able to get some information to make a head start. But I still have a long way to go before I will be able to move on from here.

According to my grandmother, Muriel Ince was born in Nova Scotia. At the time my grandmother was born in 1939, they were either living in Nova Scotia, or had already moved to Toronto. Muriel worked as a domestic in Toronto in the home of a Mrs. Reitman. When my grandmother was born, it wasn't possible for her to stay with her mother, so she was placed in a foster home with a woman named Mrs. Weeks, who raised her. My grandmother was able to maintain contact with her mother, and continued to have a relationship with her throughout her mother's life.

Map of Mount Royal Cemetery
My grandmother had a brother named Richard Michaels, who was raised by an aunt and uncle and Emily was told that he was a cousin who had been adopted. It was only when they were going to their mother's funeral that they discovered that they were actually brother and sister. He died shortly thereafter from his diabetes. He had a wife named Jenny, and two sons, David and Jason.

Muriel died on 2 January 1981, and was buried in Mount Royal Cemetery in Montreal. This fact is the only one I've been able to prove so far, when I found her entry on both the cemetery's website and on FindAGrave. I am still hoping that some kind soul will respond to my photo request for her.

The people at Mount Royal Cemetery actually accept genealogical inquiries, and for $5 (whether that's Canadian or US, it didn't specify) they will search their records and send me whatever they can find on my ancestor. At the very least they will provide me the information on the headstone, and hopefully they will be able to provide me some birth information, or at least her age. They also mentioned that they might be able to offer information on spouse or parents (in the case of children.)

I just purchased her information, even though they may only tell me where she is buried in the cemetery, because at least then I will know for sure not to bother going to the cemetery. It's worth it to me to pay $5 to eliminate them as a potential resource and avoid an expensive trip to Canada. And in the event that they are able to provide me with her age and birth place, this will be enough to allow me to take the next step in my research.

I have the audio transcripts from part of my interview with my grandmother. I haven't decided whether or not to post them because they are personal in nature in regards to many people who are still living, some of which I do not know. In time I may decide differently.

Irregardless, I have waited many years for a breakthrough on this ancestor. Fortunately my grandmother has become more loose-lipped in her old age. She wasn't willing to talk about much of her life or her mother's life beyond giving me her name. Sometimes age can soften people this way, so just because someone wasn't cooperative in the past doesn't mean they will remain that way. It doesn't hurt to ask again after time has passed. You never know what even a little more information can do to finally open up the way for more success.