Sometimes miracles do happen when researching in the QCT

Nisbet gravestone.jpg
Photo: Catherine Mills-Rouleau

Sara Tomlin, Amanda Stuart and Juliet Connor came from opposite ends of the earth, England and Australia, to pay their respects at the gravesite of their grandfather, Robert Hawke Nisbet, who died in Quebec City in 1938, and was buried in Mount Hermon Cemetery.

Several years ago Amanda Stuart’s husband Googled “Quebec City newspaper” and, lo and behold, up popped the Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph!

Amanda was looking for information about her grandfather, Robert H. Nisbet, who died in Quebec in 1938. I was put on the case. Perhaps instead of being a chronicler, I should have been a detective.

With the help of another researcher, William Parks, I was able to find Robert Nisbet’s death notice and obituary in the October 31, 1938, edition of the QCT, and a map of Mount Hermon Cemetery indicating the spot where he had been buried. I forwarded the information to Mrs. Stuart, who lives in Blairegowrie, near Melbourne, Australia, and invited her to come to Quebec to visit the grave and enjoy the beautiful city where her grandparents and the family had lived.

Last fall Amanda called me from Melbourne to tell me that she would be here in the spring with her cousins Sara Tomlin (from London, England) and Juliet Connor (from Perth, Australia) who are sisters.

When they arrived in Quebec, we arranged to meet near Mount Hermon Cemetery.

It was a gray morning as we made our way through the cemetery and, although we knew the section in which their grandfather was buried, we didn’t know the exact spot. After about half an hour we found Robert H. Nisbet’s final resting place in an idyllic spot, close to the cliff overlooking the St. Lawrence River. As the three cousins lay flowers on the gravesite, the Angelus bell of nearby Église Saint-Michele rang out.

Sadly, there had been no members of the family at their grandfather’s funeral in 1938. Their grandmother had returned with her three children to England where they were pursuing their studies. The three granddaughters felt gratified, however, that they had come to pay their last respects to the man who had died 79 years before.

As the cousins left the burial grounds I told them that their grandfather’s funeral had been held in St. Michael’s Anglican Church which is just across the street from the entrance to Mount Hermon Cemetery. We noticed that the doors of the church were ajar. I left them as they crossed Chemin Saint-Louis and slipped into the building. They later told me that they found the place delightful with such a warm atmosphere – a truly wonderful place for his last good-bye.

Reading his obituary, it is clear that the 51-year-old was a highly-regarded member of the community. He had come to Canada in the 1920s and for many years had been head of the Woodlands Department of Price Brothers and Company.

Amanda, Sara and Juliet had rented an apartment on Avenue Bourlamaque, a stone’s throw away from where the Nisbet family had lived in The Claridge Apartments. They took photos of the building, walked along Grande Allée, through the Plains of Abraham and into the Old City and were just ordinary tourists in beautiful Quebec City for the rest of their stay.

At a lovely lunch at the Café Conti, as we sipped a glass of wine, Robert Nisbet’s granddaughters thanked me and with a smile, decided that I should have been a sleuth. Had they but known it was a labour of love.

As we said goodbye we all agreed that, indeed, miracles do happen!

Great story. I actually met these ladies as I was there at the Cemetery myself. A distant cousin from the UK had come to see where our common ancestor was buried; our 4th great-mother Catherine McLaren Logan 1783-1873 (yes she was over 100 years old) The ladies were wondering how to find section W so I gave them the map I had printed out.