Saturday, 31 March 2018

In Your Easter Bonnet

Easter hat, 1902. Image via.
Attention Ladies! When attending church services tomorrow, let us not be envious of the gorgeous Easter bonnets of others...

Source: Exeter Times, 27 March 1902, page 2.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Milward Taylor "Mel" Culbert: a memoir by Terry Culbert

Culbert Family History presents a memoir of Mel Culbert (1920-1958) lovingly written by his son, Terrence Patrick "Terry" Culbert. 

Mel Culbert holding his son, Terry, with wife, Mary Elizabeth (Patrick) Culbert

MILWARD TAYLOR CULBERT  (My father / me Da)  by Terrence Patrick Culbert

I lost the greatest male influence of my life when I was only sixteen years of age. That person was my father Milward Taylor Culbert, known affectionately by friends and relatives as Mel or in my case, Dad! Dad was one of six sons born to my grandparents Myron and Effie Culbert on their 100-acre farm just north of Lucan, Ontario. Poplar Farm as it was called had been in the Culbert name since 1840 when John and Mary Culbert immigrated to Upper Canada from Tipperary, Ireland.

Milward Taylor "Mel" Culbert. Born 29 May 1920 on the Culbert homestead near Lucan, Ontario to parents Myron Manford Culbert & Effie Pearl (Taylor) Culbert.

I was born in 1942 during the Second World War. My father was a radar technician in the RCAF (Royal Canadian Air Force) and because of a severe case of nose bleeds, dad was grounded. He was retrained as a draftsman and transferred from Trenton to a base on Avenue Road in Toronto.

Mel Culbert and his son, Terry
After the war, dad, mom and I moved to the south-western Ontario city of London where dad took up his old job as a clerk in a dry goods store on Dundas Street. At this point my sister Dana Elizabeth was born.

Still in his twenties, dad became restless; he obviously required more stimulation in his career. He became a travelling salesman for Irwin Toys out of Toronto with London and the Bruce Peninsula being territory.
The longing to be his own boss never left him and he began the next stage of his life, opening a very successful business in the Village of Lucan, sixteen miles north of London.

Mel Culbert's Dry Goods Store on Main Street, Lucan was in this building during the 1950s. In more recent times, the building housed this art gallery and florist's shop. Mel and his family lived above the right hand side of the store.

Dad’s store was similar to a country general store or a small department store with a men’s, women’s and children’s sections. He sold clothing, cosmetics, toys, candies, yard goods and rubber boots. He also employed two village women full-time: Mrs. McFalls and Mrs. Young.

I was taught by dad how to keep the store neat and tidy, how to put price tags on the various items and how to be polite while waiting on customers. For these new skills, I received an allowance.

Dad was extremely hard working, sometimes very strict with sister Dana and me, but always loving. With his tall, slim physique, blue eyes, sporting a neatly trimmed moustache with blonde curly hair, dad was adored by many of the village women. One such woman, the mother of my best friend, would enter the store carrying a loaf of freshly baked bread for him and he would burst out in song each time with: “June is busting out all over.” Rubenesque June would smile from ear to ear.

Dad was a member of the Lions Club, the Masons and a Boy Scout leader. He and my mother were at loggerheads as to which denomination I should be christened. Dad finally won and at the age of twelve, I was baptised along with a couple new-borns in the United Church. Very embarrassing moment in my life.

Dad was a huge supporter of my artistic skills and was instrumental in getting me into art school in London, Ontario. In the apartment above our store, I would wake up in the middle of the night with an idea for a school project and have to put it on paper right then and there. Dad seeing the light shining from beneath my bedroom door would enter with a smile, suggesting I get some sleep. 

Drawing and painting all my life, interrupted only to work in the world of television news for 42-years, art became a reality for me. At the age of sixty I retired and began painting full-time with my fabulous partner Barb Hogenauer; sharing studio space together on Amherst Island, Ontario for ten years and as of March 15, 2018, five years in Prince Edward County, Ontario. Thank you dad, for believing in me.

Mel Culbert and his son, Terry
My dad was very ill for many years. I never knew him to complain. He died in 1958 at the young age of thirty-eight. He never really got to know his youngest daughter, my kid sister Mary Jane as she was just a year old. Mom and dad were building their dream home at the time of his death. He never saw it finished. Sixty years later, I still miss him.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Welcome, Descendants of Henry Culbert & Margaret Wall!

Henry Culbert (1837-1920) was the first of John Culbert & Mary Ward's children to make his home outside of the Lucan-Biddulph area. Henry and his wife, Margaret Wall purchased a farm just east of Ripley, Ontario. They would eventually retire to this town.

Known today as the "Hub of Huron," Ripley is located in the heart of the Township of Huron-Kinloss in Bruce County.

We'd like to welcome the descendants of Henry Culbert who are reading the Culbert Family History blog. 

I'm looking for photos of Henry and his descendants. If you have photos and/or stories to share of Henry, his six children, his grandchildren, his great-children (and on down the line) please get in touch with me.

Not sure if you're a descendant of Henry's? The names of his children and their spouses may ring a bell for you.

Henry Culbert's six children and their spouses:

John Silas Culbert & Elizabeth "Lizzie" Needham
Joseph Henry Culbert & Edith Swalwell
William Edward Culbert & Rachel Harris
Mary Marilla "Mame" Culbert & James Needham
Thomas Ezra Culbert & Sarah Ann Berry
Ellen Rebecca "Nellie" Culbert & Robert William "Bill" Johnston.


Monday, 26 March 2018

Chronicling the Culbert Family

The Culbert Family History blog belongs to all the descendants of John Culbert & Mary Ward; not just me.

Headstone of pioneers John Culbert and Mary (Ward) Culbert in St. James Cemetery, Clandeboye, Ontario. Photo by their great-great-granddaughter, Mary Jane Culbert.

So far, it's only been my words you've been reading on these pages. As much as I love the sound of my own voice, it's time we heard your voices too. 

That's why I'm asking you to submit your memories of a favourite relative

You can write as much or as little as you wish. Even a few sentences will do if you don't have time for more. Include a photo or two, if possible. 

If your relative is still living, please get their permission first. 

To find my email address, click on "view my complete profile" under the "About Me" heading in the right hand margin of this page.

I've already received a few memoirs and will be publishing them soon!

Friday, 23 March 2018

Mary (Ward) Culbert: The Mother of Us All

Meet Mary (Ward) Culbert (c1812-1888): a pioneer of Lucan-Biddulph, Canada...

Mary (Ward) Culbert. Photo courtesy of Phil Culbert, her great-great-grandson.

Mary is truly the mother of us all for without her, we Culbert descendants wouldn't be here today.

So what do we know about Mary?

She's listed as a "farmer's wife" on her death certificate but that title doesn't do justice to her story; one of unending toil as our founding mother. And she accomplished her endless tasks dressed in the restrictive women's garments of the times!

She was born around 1810-1812 to in Kings County, Ireland (known today as County Offaly.) Her father, Joseph Ward was a brick maker there and it's said that John Culbert went to work for Mr. Ward. Whether or not that's how John Culbert met Mary Ward, we don't know. 

We're guessing that John and Mary wed around 1828 when she was about 16-18 years old. Babies soon followed. Eleven babies, to be exact! Her first five children were born in Ireland; the following six, in Biddulph Township, Canada.

Mary's father is said to have died of cholera on the voyage to Canada in 1840, along with Mary's infant daughter, Emma. Mary's mother, Susanna Ward survived the trip and lived to the age of 86.

Mary suffered another loss when her brother, William Ward died the first winter in Canada, age 22.

What awaited John and Mary in the New World was brutally hard physical labour. They would have worked from sunrise to sunset; building a well to provide fresh water, clearing the forested land to construct a small log house and barn, buying and tending to livestock, building much of their own furniture, making their own clothes, making candles to provide light, making soap, chopping wood to provide fuel for the fireplace which was their only source of heat, canning preserves,  never-ceasing cooking, cleaning and household chores... the list goes on. I don't know about you but I get tired just thinking about it.

It was a hardscrabble life without the benefits of electricity, running water, power tools, modern appliances, or indoor plumbing. 

Her husband, John's work would have been primarily in the fields and the barn. Mary's work wasn't confined to the house; she would have been expected to contribute some time in the fields and the barn, as well.

This isn't Mary but milking the cows was just one of her many daily chores.

It's understood that Mary controlled the finances in the family and was very capable in this role.

John & Mary built a somewhat larger log house with a second floor in the 1850s. Nonetheless, Mary wouldn't have had any privacy. Not only did John and Mary have a large brood of children, they had Mary's mother and other elderly relatives living with them in what was a small space, by today's standards. Mary's cousin, John Ward lived in a one-room shack on the property. Mary baked his bread, and did his washing and mending. Her aging cousin, William Dobbs had his own farm yet boarded with the Culberts so that Mary could do his cooking, cleaning, mending, and general care.

Mary would have been in her late 40s when the last of her eleven children was born. These were all home births, as was customary at the time, and often without assistance from a midwife or doctor. 

Mary's granddaughter, Ethel (Culbert) Gras described Mary as "a sweet and kindly person" who "retained the headship of the house for many years."

Another granddaughter, Hulda May (Culbert) Carscallen said Mary was a fine influence on her, and had a good deal to do with developing her curiosity and stimulating her eagerness to learn.[2]

Hulda said that Mary (Ward) Culbert was the chatelaine of the household until her death on 12 October 1888.

Mary (Ward) Culbert's death notice published in the Exeter Times on 17 Oct 1888.
This death notice (above) is testament to her popularity in the community and states that "her remains were followed by a large concourse of friends to St. James burying ground." A longer obituary published in the same newspaper on October 25th says, "Mrs. Culbert was highly esteemed by her neighbors."

For details on Mary's final resting place at St. James Cemetery, Clandeboye, see my post, here.

In spite of the harsh conditions of pioneer life, the unremitting hard work, and the lack of creature comforts, Mary (Ward) Culbert laid the foundation for future generations of Culberts to enjoy prosperity. We, your descendants, are indebted to you.

I believe that never was a country better adapted to produce a great race of women than this Canada of ours, nor a race of women better adapted to make a great country.” — Emily Murphy

[1] Taylor, Grant W., A History of the John Culbert – Mary Ward Family and Their Descendants  1828 – 1995” Volume 1. Branches 5-6-7-8-9, page 5.
[2] Lapp, Eula C., China Was My University: The Life of Hulda May Carscallen, Agincourt, Onario, Generation Press, 1980, page 8.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Why Did the Culberts Leave Ireland?

Why did the John Culbert-Mary Ward family leave Ireland? The short answer is: we don't know.

1939 map of Great Britain & Ireland. Image found on eBay.

It wasn't the Potato Famine that caused them to leave their homeland. The Culbert family arrived in Canada in 1840, five years before the famine began.

It's surmised that "the likely reason for leaving Ireland was that country's deteriorating  economic conditions coupled with the availability of cheap land in Upper Canada. They would also have expected an improved economic outlook there for John and Mary's children. In addition they had friends who already were homesteading in Biddulph Twp. which was being settled predominantly by the Irish."[1]

Let's address these possible reasons for leaving Ireland, one at a time:

1. Deteriorating economic conditions in Ireland:

The map below indicates the level of poverty in Ireland in 1841, the year after the Culbert family left the country...
Source: IrelandStory

We don't know the Culbert family's financial status in Ireland. It's said that John Culbert worked as a brick layer for his father-in-law. 

An elderly relative (name unrecorded) asked where the Culbert family lived and he replied, "on Colonel Draught's." As yet, I haven't discovered the identity of Colonel Draught but this indicates that the Culberts may have been tenant farmers.

The Culbert family left Ireland at a time when many people were poor tenant farmers, renting land from rich, absentee landlords. Many farms were owned by English gentry who seldom set foot on Irish soil and relied on middlemen to collect the rents. Farms were split up, becoming smaller and smaller so that farmers could no longer make a living or feed their large families from their small patch of land, especially as rents continued to increase.

Decades after the Culberts left Ireland, landlords turned to evicting tenants. Landlords found it was more profitable to use their tenants' properties as pasture rather than renting out the land to families.

This period of agitation saw armed police and British soldiers using battering rams to break down doors and forcibly evict Irish tenants from their homes...

Image from the collection of Maggie Blanck.

2. Availability of cheap land in Upper Canada:

The Canada Company played a big role in promoting Canada to the Irish. This large land development company assisted emigrants by providing low fares on ships, inexpensive land, and tools and provisions to get the settlers started in the New World.

One Canada Company agent in particular was successful in bringing the Irish to Biddulph Township: Colonel James "Big Jim" Hodgins, the first white settler in that township.

Image via Robert Passmore.

 3. The Culberts had friends who already were homesteading in Biddulph Township:

Irish families often settled in Canada in groups, and were later joined by friends and relatives from the old country. It's said that John and Mary Culbert had friends named Rollins (or Rawlins) from Ireland who had moved to Canada prior to them and lived near the property they purchased. The Culbert family stayed with the Rollins/Rawlins family until they built a log house of their own.  

So, to recapitulate, we don't know the reason the Culbert family left Ireland but it's likely that the above three factors all came into play.

[1] Taylor, Grant W., A History of the John Culbert – Mary Ward Family and Their Descendants  1828 – 1995” Volume 1, Branches 5-6-7-8-9, page 2.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

My Cousin's Removed! Is He Ever Coming Back?

You've probably heard the term "first cousin once removed" and wondered, "Does that mean my cousin has been banished from the family?" Happily, no, it doesn't. 

Let's use Phil Culbert and his son, Brad as examples.

Phil Culbert (left) and Brad Culbert (right)

A first cousin is the child of a sibling of one of your parents. In other words, a first cousin is the child of your aunt or uncle.

Phil Culbert (above) is my first cousin because his father is my uncle. Phil's father is my father's brother.

Is everybody clear on the concept of first cousin? Then let's move along.

A first cousin once removed is the child of your first cousin. Or the reverse. A first cousin once removed can also be the first cousin of one of your parents.  

Brad Culbert (above) is my first cousin once removed because he is the child of my first cousin, Phil Culbert. 

Got that? Good, because there will be a quiz. Just kidding.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Kissin' Cousins

Canada's first Prime Minister, Sir John A. Macdonald married his cousin, Isabella Clark.

But is it legal to marry your cousin?

Terrence Patrick "Terry" Culbert kissing his cousin, Victoria "Vicky" (Culbert) Schloendorf 

The surprising answer is yes![1]

Some religious institutions don't support cousins marrying cousins but civil marriages are legal in Canada. 

Note: Despite their obvious affection, cousins Terry and Vicky are not married to each other.

[1]The Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act, S.C. 1990 , c. 46 outlines the law regarding marriage between related persons.  Section 2 states that: persons related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption are not prohibited from marrying each other by reason only of their relationship, but no person shall marry another person if they are related lineally, or as brother or sister or half-brother or half-sister, including by adoption.  A marriage between persons who are related in this manner is void.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The saying goes, "Everyone's Irish on St. Patrick's Day." For the Culbert Family, it's true!

For our first St. Patrick's Day here on the Culbert Family History blog, we've chosen a face familiar to many of you...

Terry Culbert enjoying the water of life: Jameson Irish Whiskey.
Photo by Brian Little.

Terrence Patrick "Terry" Culbert (born 13 May 1942) is the great-great-grandson of John Culbert & Mary Ward (and he's my beloved big brother.)

Raised in Lucan, Ontario near the Culbert homestead, Terry is no stranger to his Irish roots. He's visited the Republic of Ireland twice and the same for Northern Ireland. 

Don't you agree he could be the poster boy for Tourism Ireland?

But enough about Terry. After all, we'll be hearing plenty more about him in future and right now, we've got some celebrating to do!

Join us in raising a glass on St. Patrick's Day to Culbert descendants near and far. Sláinte!

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The Pluck of the Irish

Many who settled in Lucan-Biddulph, like John Culbert & Mary Ward, hailed from Ireland. 

Scuffles were not unusual occurences in the area, as observed in this incident from 1896 on the 3rd Concession. The Culbert homestead was not far away, on the 2nd Concession...

Source: Exeter Advocate. 26 March 1896.

Mr. Mountain was "an Irishman, and well up to collar and elbow." Collar-and-elbow is a style of wrestling native to Ireland. No doubt it came in handy for life in the New World when "seedy-looking tramps" could come knocking at your door at any time of day or night.

You had to be able to defend yourself in those days as it wasn't unusual for fights to break out. But I quote Terry Culbert, "Culberts are not fighters, they're lovers!"[1]

[1]Culbert, Terry. Lucan: Home of the Donnellys. Renfrew, Ontario: General Store Publishing House, 2005, page 16.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Richard Revis "Dick" Culbert (1940-2017): Legendary Mountaineer

A man of many talents, Dick Culbert was a legendary mountaineer, explorer, geographer, geophysicist, Doctor of Philosophy, author, poet, and photographer. 
Dick Culbert, 1969 on the first (and only) winter ascent of Mt. Waddington.
Photo by Barry Hagen
He was born Richard Revis Culbert on 24 April 1940 in Winnipeg, Manitoba to Frederick Campbell Culbert and Margaret Rachel (Sanders) Culbert. 

Dick with his mother, Margaret and father, Fred. Courtesy Carole (McLeod) Cox. 

Dick displayed a natural curiosity from early on...

Dick (left) c1941 with his cousin, Carole McLeod. Courtesy Carole (McLeod) Cox.
According to his obituary, "He was deeply curious about the world: the last book he read was about string theory."

Dick was only three years old when his father's plane was shot down over Germany in 1943 during the Second World War.

At age three, he moved with his mother from Winnipeg to West Vancouver, British Columbia. In his teens, Dick joined the BC Mountaineering Club and the rest is history.

Glenn Woodsworth (pictured below) is writing a biography about his friend, Dick Culbert. I'll let readers of the Culbert Family History blog know when the book is published.

Mountaineers, Glenn Woodsworth (left) and Dick Culbert (right), 1964 on Desperation Peak in the Falls River area of the Coast Mountains of British Columbia, Canada.
Photo by Barry Hagen.

As the sixties gave way to the seventies, one climber surfaced as an unstoppable force in the Coast Mountains: DICK CULBERT.[1]

1960-1975 was "The Culbert Era in the Coast Mountains."[2] 

Mountaineer Chic Scott called the 1960s "Culbert's Decade," noting that by the time Dick had reached his mid-twenties, he was already a legend in the climbing community.[3]

Described as the quintessential mountaineer, Dick was known for his uncanny route-finding skills and an almost super human ability to climb. 

Dick made several hundred first ascents, some of which have become classics; others so formidable they were never again attempted by others.

He enrolled at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 1958. In 1963, he graduated with a B.A.Sc. in Geological Engineering (in the Geophysics sub-programme) and in 1971 he obtained his PhD in Geophysics.

Dick spent decades working in remote parts of the world. In his travels he photographed and catalogued thousands of images of flora and fauna that can be seen on his Flickr account and at DixPix.
An Andean Condor (Vultur gryphus) above the Futaleufu Valley in Chile. Considered the largest flying bird in the world. Photo by Dick Culbert.

Dick is the author of two mountaineering classics, “The Climber’s Guide to the Coastal Ranges,” and "The Alpine Guide to Southwestern British Columbia." The former has been described as, to this day probably the finest achievement in mountain guidebook writing ever accomplished.

He is also the author of a book of poetry, "The Coast Mountains Trilogy: Mountain Poems 1957-1971" (Edited and with an introduction by Glenn Woodsworth. Vancouver: Tricouni Press, 2009.)

In the mid-1970s, Dick retired from climbing. He began building a series of hiking trails, the longest being the now very popular Mount Elphinstone Summit Trail on BC's Sunshine Coast.

In 2011, despite being fitted with an artificial knee, he came out of retirement for another ascent. At age 71, Dick returned to Squamish, BC to climb the Shannon Wall route he pioneered, now known as Skywalker.

Dick Culbert climbing Skywalker in Squamish, BC, 2011, age 71.
Last November, I asked Dick if he'd be heading to Chile again to visit his daughter, Kayla for Christmas. He replied, "I wish I was heading south, but alas I am in an end-game with cancer and will not likely be traveling again."

Dick Culbert died peacefully at his home in Gibson's, British Columbia on 23 May 2017, age 77. He is survived by his wife,  four children and eleven grandchildren.

A few days before Dick's passing, his son, Vance took this photo from Dick's balcony.
Dick & his son, Vance Culbert on Mt. Tantalus, British Columbia.

Dick was by all accounts a humble man but I think you'll agree this creative and passionate Culbert descendant deserves our praise.

Photo of Dick Culbert courtesy of his son, Vance
Richard Revis "Dick" Culbert's Family Tree:
John Culbert & Mary Ward (great-great-grandparents)
Richard Culbert & Jane Fairhall (great-grandparents)
George Arthur Culbert & Jean McLeod Campbell (grandparents)
Frederick Campbell Culbert & Margaret Rachel Sanders (parents)

[1]Quote from: Passion for Mountains, produced by the British Columbia Mountaineering Club, directed by Bill Noble, 2007.
[2]Canadian Mountaineering Anthology:Stories from 100 years on the edge by Bruce Fairley (1994)
[3]Pushing the Limits: the Story of Canadian Mountaineering by Chic Scott, Rocky Mountain Books, Calgary, 2000

Monday, 12 March 2018

Flying Officer Frederick Campbell Culbert (1910-1943)

Who was Culbert Lake in Manitoba named after? Frederick Campbell Culbert, the great-grandson of John Culbert & Mary Ward.

Photo of Frederick Campbell Culbert courtesy of his son, the late Richard Revis "Dick" Culbert. This photo was taken just before Fred headed off to war.
Fred's son, Dick told me that naming lakes in honour of fallen soldiers is a long-standing tradition in Manitoba.

Fred Culbert was born 17 June 1910 in Waskada, Manitoba to George Arthur Culbert and Jean McLeod Campbell.

He married Margaret Rachel Sanders on 2 January 1939 in Regina, Saskatchewan. They had one child: Richard Revis "Dick" Culbert, born 24 April 1940.

Left to right: Margaret Rachel (Sanders) Culbert, Richard Revis "Dick" Culbert, Frederick Campbell Culbert. 1942.
Photo courtesy of Carole (McLeod) Cox.
In 1934, Fred joined the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and served with the force in Winnipeg until 1941. He enlisted with the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) on 24 November 1941 and headed overseas in October, 1942.

On a cloudy, moonless night just before midnight, the crew of the 408 Squadron Halifax II took off from their base at RAF Leeming in Yorkshire, England. Their operation? To bomb the oil refineries of Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

In the early hours of 26 June 1943, their plane was shot down.
Fred Culbert died, age 33.

He is buried in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery near Kleve, Germany in Joint grave 12. D. 1-2. 

Photo of Reichswald Forest War Cemetery by Dennis Peeters.

His citations include the 1939-45 Star, the Air Crew Europe Star, the War Medal 1939-45, and  the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and clasp

Fred was posthumously awarded RCAF Operational Wings in recognition of gallant service in action against the enemy. 

Frederick Campbell Culbert's name is inscribed in the Second World War Book of Remembrance in the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, Ottawa.

Frederick Campbell Culbert's name on page 150 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance.

Each morning at 11:00 a.m. during a ceremony, one page of the book is turned. Every year on March 29, the book is turned to page 150: Fred's page. 

He is also commemorated on the Canadian Virtual War Memorial and on the World War II Honour Roll located inside the Chapel at the West Vancouver United Church, West Vancouver, BC.

Flying Officer Frederick Campbell Culbert. Photo courtesy of his niece, Carole (McLeod) Cox.

Frederick Campbell Culbert's family tree:

Ancestors of Frederick Campbell Culbert:
John Culbert & Mary Ward (great-grandparents)
Richard Culbert & Jane Fairhall (grandparents)
George Arthur Culbert & Jean McLeod Campbell (parents)

Descendants of Frederick Campbell Culbert & Margaret Rachel Sanders:
Richard Revis "Dick" Culbert (1940-2017) (son)

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.[1]
[1] Verse from For the Fallen. Poem by Robert Laurence Binyon.