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First Generation Canadians


What is a “First Generation Canadian”?

The term “First Generation” Canadian can be used to mean either the person who immigrated to Canada or their children who were born in Canada.

The definition used here is the one used in a survey, " Becoming Canadian ", commissioned by the Dominion Institute and conducted by Ipsos Reid. They define a First Generation Canadian Immigrant as follows: "First generation Canadian immigrant” refers to those who are self identified as “first” or “second generation” and had immigrated to Canada; “second generation Canadian” refers to those self-identified as “first” or “second generation” and had been born in Canada. (my emphasis)

So, all of the individuals, parents and their children, who were born in the UK and immigrated to Montreal are here considered to be First Generation Canadians. Any offspring who were born in Canada would therefore be second generation Canadians.

The Shill-Bartholomew Family

John Shill

Other than official records, the only source of information available for John Shill, the father of the family, is told by Nell, his youngest daughter, in the oral history recorded on the occasion of her 90th birthday by Peter Waddell. It is not flattering. She talks about his jobs and the effect of his alcoholism on the family.

Ellen Mary Bartholomew

Ellen Mary was ever-present in the lives of her daughters. She acted as chaperone while they socialized with young men, she worked hard, helped them through childbirth, and vacationed with her youngest daughter, Nell.

Marion (May) Harriet Willis Shill

May was already 25 when the family arrived in Montreal in 1908. She got a job right away and married John (Jack) Lee in 1910.

John (Jack) Bartholomew Shill

Jack came to Canada a few months before his mother and sisters to confirm that his father had stopped drinking.

On arrival, he worked at the CPR.

In 1913, he married Florence Whitworth at a Catholic Church in Montreal. By August 1915, Jack and Florence's 6 month old daughter had died and Jack had enlisted for service in WWI.

He was killed in action, May 24th, 1916 and buried in Woods Cemetery, Belgium.

Annie Matilda Elizabeth Shill

Anne was the second one to get a job after arriving in Canada at the age of 16. She first worked in a home looking after children. Then she got in the Bell Telephone Company (The Bell) had a long career with them and she retired in 1951 at the age of 59.

Annie, who travelled widely, left a collection of slides dating mostly to the 50's. She never married and died in 1980.

Herbert (Bert) Edward Shill

The second son, Bert, went to school when he first arrived in Montreal.

In September 1914, he enlisted in World War 1 and was killed in an accident September 21st, 1917 near Barlin, France. Read the testimony and conclusions of a Court of Inquiry which was conducted on October 4th, 1917. Cpl. H.E. Shill was buried in Barlin Communal Cemetery.

Grace Evelyn Margaretta Shill

On the 1911 Canadian Census, Grace was 14 and working as "medicale".

In 1922, she married John (Jack) Henry Hardy and they moved to Ottawa where they raised their family.

Ellen (Nell) Maud Agnes Shill

The Oral History of Nell Waddell is the source of much of the information on which this site is based. The youngest daughter of John and Ellen Mary, my grandmother, Nell was the matriarch of our branch of the family.

On arrival in Montreal, she attended school before getting a job.

As a teen during WWI she was active volunteering in the community and she had the opportunity to further her education to improve her job prospects.

Nell talks of what the young people did for fun in Montreal, her friends and boyfriends, her vacations and her illness at the age of 21.

She tells the story of her marriage, the births of her children, illness and moving to the country (Ste. Rose de Laval).

After the death of her husband, Jim, Nell had to go to work and continued to work until she was in her 80s.

She lived a vital and active life until her death in 1991.

James (Jim) Verner Waddell

Jim Waddell was a soldier in World War 1 with the 11th Army Cyclist Corps and the Military Foot Police.

On arrival in Canada in 1921, Jim worked at a variety of jobs before being hired by "The Bell", where he was involved in several clubs. In the early years, he worked on the cutover from manual to automatic switching for the company.

Later, after his children were born, he helped establish an English School Board in Ste. Rose de Laval. He became President of both the Provincial Association of Protestant School Boards in Quebec and the Canadian School Trustees Association.

During the Second World War, he served in No. 47 (Cav.) Res. Coy. Veterans Guard of Canadian Army becoming II Lieutenant.

Shortly after retiring from Bell Telephone, he passed away, not having realized his dream of travelling with his wife.

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First Generation Family

John Shill Jr born Clerkenwell, London

John Shill


Ellen Mary Bartholomew circa 1904 taken in England

Ellen Mary Bartholomew


John Bartholomew Shill as a boy before coming to Canada

John Bartholomew Shill


Bert Shill wearing uniform in front of House in Montreal

Herbert Edward Shill


Nell Shill Waddell at the beach as a teenager outside of Montreal

Ellen Maud Agnes Shill


James Verner Waddell born Glasgow in 1926 in Montreal

James Verner Waddell