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"My Gift to You Is Remembrance": My Gaspesian Roots

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My Gaspesian roots come from my great grandmother Melvina Chedore Maskrey. She was born in 1865 at L'Anse Au Gascon to Alexander Chedore and Maria Flowers. I had never known anything about my Gaspesian roots until 1985 and I didn’t even know where the Gaspe was in Canada. I started doing genealogy twenty-seven years ago before the birth of my own child. Even though I never met my great grandmother I am proud to say that she had a connection to the Gaspe and I have met many wonderful people and I was able to visit that region of Canada.

My great grandmother’s father died in 1877 when she was twelve years old. I know she was on the census of 1880 in the household of her brother William Philip Chedore along with her mother and siblings. I have been unable to locate her on the 1891 census although I know she left the Gaspe for Lennoxville. She worked for the Baker family as a chambermaid and we believe it was in Lennoxville that she met and married her husband Thomas Maskrey.

Thomas Maskrey was from Derbyshire, England, and had arrived in Canada in 1885. My great grandparents lived out their lives in Lennoxville. They were Anglicans. They bought a home and lived on Main Street Lennoxville. My great grandmother died in 1932 after breaking a hip. My great grandfather died in 1948. My mother never knew any of them. I knew simply a name “Melly Chedore,” as my grandmother Catherine Maskrey had lived with them.

I don’t think I had much interest in family history until I lived in England and was having my own child. In 1987, I was able to visit Lennoxville where my mother’s family had resided. I went to the local cemetery called Malvern. I knew my grandfather was buried there as my grandmother had erected a headstone. He was killed in an automobile accident in 1934 and she went back to Scotland taking two of her three children. It was my mother who went to live with a wonderful couple in Massachusetts. My mother had been to the cemetery once in 1953 and told me where to find it. However, the area had grown and I had a lot of difficulty finding the headstone. My own child was four years old running up the rows of headstones calling for “grandpa, where are you?”

The sexton saw us wandering and asked us who we were looking for. I gave him the name Maskrey and he looked up on his index card and led us to the area. He showed me my grandfather’s headstone and told me there were others with the name Maskrey buried there. He looked down at my feet and I was standing on the unmarked graves of both my great grandparents. At the age of thirty-four I could not erect a headstone but I had promised that someday I would be back and I would erect that headstone for them.

Sixteen years passed and my husband asked me what I wanted for my 50th birthday and I told him I wanted a headstone for my great grandparents in Canada. Through the kindness of strangers, I was able to contact a company in Lennoxville and the headstone was erected. I live in Colorado and again a stranger who walked in the cemetery took a picture for me. Melvina Chedore and Thomas Maskrey now have a headstone. My great grandmother had been forgotten by members of her family because many of us had moved from Canada. She had three sons, Charles, Harold and my grandfather Arthur.

Charles’ family stayed in Canada, Harold’s family moved to Massachusetts, Florida and Georgia. My grandfather’s family moved to Scotland and the United States. Because of the headstone I have erected, and because of my genealogy, Melvina Chedore of Gaspe will not be forgotten. When I found the area that marked their graves I remember wishing that I could have known something about them. I felt very emotional when I saw the gravesite but could not say or write anything. After I erected the headstone I was able to put down on paper what I felt about my great grandparents, particularly Melvina Chedore. I was able to visit the Gaspe in 1995 and I am very proud of my Gaspe roots. In September, I will be visiting Jersey Island and I will also feel the connection to the Gaspe through Melvinas ancestors the Ahiers.

Connection:

We never saw each other, nor did you ever know me.
We have a connection through the ages. I hope that you would like me.
I know you would be surprised to find that I was so interested in your lives.
If I had a wish it would be to spend an afternoon with you looking and listening
to every word you said.
I would have asked so many questions that would have made you laugh.
I would have listened to your voices and heard the stories that were so familiar to you but to me would have been so precious.
We have a connection though.
Your gift to me was life.
My gift to you is remembrance.