Friday 1 May 2020

A to Z Challenge 2020 - Reflections on my A to Z about Occupations

My reflections on the Blogging A to Z Challenge

As usual, I didn't decide to do the challenge until the last minute - I guess that's how I get my inspiration. When I have too much time, I over think it. This is my third time, I seem to be joining in every second year! 

The theme of Ancestor Occupations was fun and interesting to do. It made me really think about what my ancestors did for a living, day to day, and how to find out more about it. And to think that when I started down this genealogy road I though all my ancestors were "just farmers". 

I thank all who visited my blog for their support and kind comments. I enjoyed following other genealogy bloggers to see what interesting posts they come up with for all the letters, especially the hard ones. 

Congratulations to you all! 

Thursday 30 April 2020

A to Z Challenge 2020 - Z

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge is to post everyday (except Sunday) in the month of April 2020 starting with the letter A and going all the way to Z. My theme is...
Ancestor Occupations 


Z. The last letter and the next generation.

I was wondering what occupation I was going to write for the letter Z when one of my daughters said "Ahem! Mom!! Does it have to be an ancestor?  You have four daughters that worked at a ZOO!!"
Oh!  Right! 

We lived in Hemmingford, a little village south of Montreal and not far from the border to New York. It was great when Parc Safari opened in 1974 as it gave students a place to work in the summer. My sister also worked there during the summer when she was in college.

I got quotes from all four girls about their time working there. I couldn't find a photo of Cindy in her uniform, dang! But her friend had drawn a cartoon of them in Cindy's yearbook. 

I actually quite enjoyed working at the Parc. I had some fun times. I was there from 1989-92 (15 to 18 years old). 

My friend and I always had fun working together. One time it had been pouring rain and got cold and most of the people left the park, but we stayed open. We started having a “snowball fight” with the snow cone ice. We started getting a little crazy and started shrieking and laughing and since it had been raining, one side of our canvas cover was closed. So we couldn’t see who was coming. All of a sudden from around the corner comes one of the owners and he looked angry and said to us “Give me one good reason why this should be happening right now?!?” We both just stared at him all stunned and embarrassed. We didn’t answer him. He walked away. We giggled and laughed and then cleaned up. A little while later our boss came by to tell us to close up and said something about the big boss seeing is throwing ice. She just said “you shouldn’t do that” we said we knew. And that was that. 
Cindy was working there during The Great Escape of 1989

I worked there for 4 summers from 1990 to 1994 (15 to 19 yrs old). 

First two summers were in the "Restaurant" section. I was mostly at the candy shack by the stadium where we sold ice cream, nachos, popcorn, snow cones and cotton candy. We had to sell snow cones at the shows (4 times a day, 2 at the stadium and 2 at the Theater in the Woods which was a magic show). I hated every minute of it! We had aluminum trays that hung around our neck and they would be loaded up with 12 to 18 snow cones. They were expensive and they melted fast. Sometimes the juice would saturate the paper cone and melt down my leg. There were always wasps flying around and I was stung 3 times over that time.

After 2 summers of that I asked if I could be transferred to Admissions. I liked working in the booth, taking admission payments and sometimes I had to stand between the cars that were lined up before they paid to sell them animal food and other souvenirs (colouring books, hats, etc). One time before we opened an Ostrich got to our side of the Texas gate. I had just put my cash in and looked up and there it was staring at me! I called it in (thank goodness we had phones in our booth!) They initially didn't believe me and said it was impossible or thought I was looking at it way off in the distance on the other side of the Texas gate. They finally sent someone to see and realized I was right! Took 6 grown men to get that Ostrich back where it belonged.


I worked there from 1993-97 (15-18 years old). They changed the uniforms from the yellow and red to navy and teal.

I started out at the “Stade” (stadium) the first summer, selling cotton candy and popcorn and ice cream, and trays of sno-cones during the shows.The next years I worked in “Zumba” near the pool. We sold cotton candy, popcorn and sno-cones.I did break relief also at the Theatre restaurant, in the deer park and on the elevated walkway (my favourite).One time I was getting a ride home with friends but was finished first so I had to wait for them. Near Care’s restaurant (the Stade) was the elephant ride where my friend worked. I was sitting on the exit stairs of the platform chatting with my friend and sharing my popcorn with Churchill (the elephant) and she sneezed on me.  Ever been sneezed on by an elephant? Not cool.


I worked at Parc Safari in 1994 at age 15. My uniform was way too big.

I stood at a little cooler and sold Haagen Dazs bars out of it. No chair or stool, no umbrella to block the sun. People constantly came up to me to complain about the price but never bought any (as if my 14 yr old self had anything to do with setting the price). $3 for an ice cream bar. You could walk 20 ft from there and buy a huge ice cream cone for $1.75! One day I’m pretty sure I was getting heat stroke from standing in the sun all day next to that cooler. After taking crap from multiple people about the price of ice cream bars my boss came up to me yelling at me for not smiling enough. Two seconds later, the owners who happened to be touting the park that day came up to us and said I should have an umbrella to shade me, and maybe a stool to sit on. My boss says “I was just saying that!” (She wasn’t). Another time it was pouring rain, people were fleeing the park like mad. Here comes the boss and I’m thinking she’s going to lock the cooler and let me go home. Nope, she gave me a garbage bag to wear as a raincoat. I quit.

And there you have it, the experiences of four teenage sisters working at the Zoo in the late 80s to early 90s. The kids were paid an average $6/hour, sometimes working pretty long days, especially in full swing of summer. I asked them to put at least half their paycheck in savings and they could spend the other half. 

Wednesday 29 April 2020

A to Z Challenge 2020 - Y

The Blogging from A to Z Challenge is to post everyday (except Sunday) in the month of April 2020 starting with the letter A and going all the way to Z. My theme is...
Ancestor Occupations 


John Thomson Tait was my paternal great grandfather, born 1863 in Liverpool and lived in Bath, Lancashire. 

When he immigrated from England to Montreal in 1865 he started working as a porter, then a foreman for Canadian Pacific Railway. 

Canada Car Co opened a railcar manufacturing plant in 1905 along the Lachine Canal in Turcot (St.Henri) Quebec, then a village within the city of Montreal, beside the Grand Trunk Railway Turcot Yard. John started working there as a Yardman, then quickly became Yardmaster.

BAnQ, Fire Plans of Montreal

Yardmaster is a railway term for a supervisor. He does the work, and also checks on and supervises the work of the yardmen.
John Tait was in charge of the making of cars for passenger trains for the Grand Trunk Railway, though Canada Car also made freight cars and streetcars. At this time the cars were made of wood.

Wooden first class Grand Trunk Railway passenger car c.1907

Their customers included the Grand Trunk Railway, Canadian Northern Railway and Montreal Street Railway. In 1909 Canada Car merged with two other companies and became Canadian Car and Foundry. Soon after they made steel cars. They were the largest car builders in Canada.

On the 1911 census John stated that he earned $960 a year and had a life insurance policy of $2000 for which he paid $24. 

In 1925 at the age of 62 John semi-retired and worked as a store clerk for General Electric. John Tait died in 1931 at the age of 67.


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