Cullen Family History and Genealogy

HomeHome    SearchSearch    PrintPrint    Login - User: anonymousLogin   

The Third Generation – Continuing the Tradition





The Third Generation - Continuing the Tradition


The third generation continued the Cullen traditions in Templeton. They were farmers first and timbermen in winter. Toward the end of the 1900s, they also became miners as many mines were established in the Township. The third generation also marked the start of the migration from the family homesteads to urban Ottawa and to a lesser extent, Montreal, the U.S. and other parts of Canada. The migration continued in the fourth generation to the point where there are few, if any, Cullen descendants remaining today in rural Templeton.


This is also the generation where information has become more difficult to obtain and, as a result, there are a number of holes in the family story. Hopefully, additional information will come available as more census and government records are digitized.


At this point, the family history also is more complicated to describe because of the several Cullen lines descending from the second generation. In order to provide story continuity for readers of my direct ancestral line, this chapter deals with my great grandfather John Bernard Cullen, his children, other direct marriage-related lines and John's siblings. Other descendants from the second generation are covered in later chapters.










Ancestors of John B. Cullen and Mary Powers





John Bernard Cullen and Family


In my initial research several years ago, I was intrigued by John B. Cullen. His obituary referred to his accidental death from a falling tree in Boston Creek, Northern Ontario in 1916. Why was he so far from home just after his remarriage the same year? Was it wanderlust, better wages, jumping on the gold and silver fever bandwagon or getting away from an early marriage breakdown? As well, how could an experienced woodsman from Templeton die in the far-off forests of Northern Ontario?


There was little information about John's life to go on except for census data. It is unlikely that he had a public profile like his father. He was primarily a farmer raised in Templeton, spent most of his life there until his 60s when low annual wages and the death of his first wife resulted in him moving to Ottawa. There are no pictures of John or his two wives. Undoubtedly someone has pictures somewhere, but so far they are undiscovered. And ironically, as the reader will soon discover, subsequent research uncovered more information about the circumstances surrounding John's death than about his entire life.


John Bernard Cullen was born July 1, 1852 at his parents farm in Templeton Township. He was baptized on August 26, 1852 at St Francois de Sales, Gatineau Point, and his godparents were his uncle and aunt, John Cullen, Jr. and Ann Jane Crosby[1]. No doubt his proud grandparents, John and Elizabeth Cullen and Michael and Ellen Kennedy, were also present.


John was the eldest son of the family, his elder brother Bernard having died at birth. Nothing is known of his early life except for census data. But we can easily speculate that, as was the custom for the eldest son, helping his father Barney with the farm would have been his key role in the family. Added to this was the fact that Barney was also active in timbering and would have been away much of the winter. So I assume that John matured quickly. He likely went to school in East Templeton or Angers and was bilingual, given the growing French-speaking nature of the neighbourhood. If his penmanship is any indication (see his signature below), he was a good student.


In 1851, as a new born, he was living with his parents and sister, Mary Elizabeth, on the family farm[2]. By 1861, there were two more children in the family and Barney had become an important farmer in the Township[3]. By 1871, at age 18, John is listed as "farmer" in the Census[4] and had joined his father in his large farm operation. In his mid to late teens, he likely started working in the timber camps in the winters, given his family’s background in the business.


On January 10, 1881, John married Mary Powers, eldest daughter of Martin and Annie Power of Perkins Mills. The marriage took place at L’Ange Gardien parish in Angers[5]


Where they settled is uncertain, but in the 1881 census, John, at 29, is listed as a farmer. Oddly, Mary is not listed in the census[6] He was probably farming some of the acreage his father had acquired in recent years, perhaps the land he was later gifted. In the winters he likely maintained employment in the timber industry. Also, there is a possibility he was a miner as there were many mines in operation in Templeton at that time.


In November 1883, his father took ill and prepared for death. On November 12, by notarial document, John was gifted 75 acres of his father's land (a portion of lots 4a and 4b bordering on Lot 5 of Range 4).[7] He would farm this land for about 30 years.


Signature from 1883 notarial document


By 1891, John and Mary had four children, twins Barney and Annie, and Martin and Jim. Daughter Mary Anne had died at age two. In the census of that year, John's occupation is listed as "miner".


In 1901, John was farming 50 acres on Lot 4, Range 4. We don't know what happened to the other 25 acres. Recent family additions were Katie and Tony. Elizabeth had died at age two. At this time, John was a miner as well as a farmer and was earning $200 annually. Sons Barney (19) and Martin (15) were also miners earning $200 annually. All three were bilingual. Curiously, Mary's birthplace in the census that year is shown as the United States and the year of immigration to Canada as 1878[8].


By 1911, Barney had married and left home. John and sons Martin and James were full-time farmers. John was working 60 hours weekly and in 1910 he had earned $400 from his farm. In this census, Mary's entry shows her birthplace as Quebec[9]


Sometime after 1911, Mary died, for which we yet have no record. One would assume she would have been buried in St. Anthony's Cemetery in Perkins Mills, but again, there is no record of this.


On May 16, 1916, John married Annie O'Brien, a spinster, of Ottawa, in St. Brigid's Church[10]. She was the daughter of Michael O'Brien and Bridget Ann McGuire. In Might's Ottawa Directory for 1916, John is shown living at 115 Cumberland Street in Ottawa, which also was the address of his father-in-law.[11]




John and Annie's signatures on their marriage certificate 1916


Until 2007, the only other information available for John was the obituary notice below and his tombstone. Through several pieces of data that have come to light since then, we have been able to determine some of John's activities in his last few years. Early that year, I obtained a copy of John's death certificate, which stated that he had died accidentally from a blow on his head and that he was a miner.[12] Later, we discovered that John's youngest brother Andrew, who in 1901 was farming 73 acres of father Bernard's original land, was, sometime prior to 1910, a mine captain at the Nipissing Mine in Cobalt, Ontario. In 1910, Andrew had earned $1,100 in this position.[13] And finally, the discovery of the book "BOSTON CREEK Golden Echoes of an Ontario Mining Camp" led us to the Ontario Department of Mines' archives and details of the circumstances surrounding John's death.


John's whereabouts from 1911 to 1916 are unknown although for most of the time he was probably still on the farm in Templeton. We know that for at least part of 1916 he was in Boston Creek working in mining. But he may have been in Northern Ontario earlier, drawn by Andrew's experience and the higher wages then being paid in mining. Who looked after his two youngest children is not known.


John died November 7, 1916 at Boston Creek, Ontario, a gold exploration and mining area located on the Temiskaming and Northern Ontario Railroad, a few miles southeast of Kirkland Lake. Boston Creek is also about 30 miles north of Cobalt, where Andrew was living. John was a member of a party of labourers clearing a mining site on the Cullen-Renaud claims property and died when "struck by a falling tree". In the chapter on mining accidents from the Ontario Department of Mines annual report for 1916, John is listed as a "laborer".


The Cullen-Renaud claims were situated on the north half of Lot 1, Range 6 in Pacaud Township, just east of Boston Creek. Surface gold was discovered on this claim sometime in 1915 or 1916. On Page 10 of Peter Fancy's book is the following quote: "Due east again (i.e. from Boston Creek), Messrs McKinnon and Ogilvie of Montreal have formed Peerless Gold Mines to develop the Cullen-Renaud claims in the north half of Lot 1. In charge of eight men, Neil Morrison has them building a log camp, and scraping clear veinlets of quartz throughout the southern part of the property. A test pit showing visible gold has gouged a twenty-five foot hole in the rock."[14]


The Department of Mines report on Mining Accidents in Ontario in 1916 contains the following:


"John Cullan [sic], Canadian, aged 65, employed as a laborer by Alex. McKinnon, was instantly killed by a fallen tree while clearing ground for camps on the claims owned by McKinnon and Ogilvie. These claims are situated on the north half of lot 6, in the first concession of Pacaud Township. The accident occurred about 2:00pm, November 7th.

Cullan with three others had been working since August 20th, 1916, clearing ground and cutting roads. A large birch tree had been cut down, and in falling, struck an old hollow stub of a pine; this stub fell and struck Cullan some time after they had resumed work trimming the birch tree. Evidently the pine stub, being hollow, had been shattered badly, and Cullen worked near it without giving it any examination.

An inquest was held on the 8th instant, by a coroner from Englehart."[15]


The timber industry has always been notorious for its fatal accidents, so John's death was not a rarity. Tree falling is dangerous and accidents in forestry continue to this day. A modern example of a similar death occurred in February 2008 near Gold River on Vancouver Island, where a veteran faller was killed accidentally when a piece of a tree fell from above and struck him. It was the third industry fatality in the year to that date.


Initially I thought that the name of the claim (Cullen-Renaud) was too much of a coincidence not to be family related. Perhaps John had caught gold fever around this time and was in the prospecting game. Or possibly Andrew or another Cullen relative was the original claim owner and John was just a labourer. The Ontario Mines people in Sudbury were kind enough to search their files looking for corroboration. They did not find any records for John, but discovered a number of prospectors named Cullen then working in the area; however, my subsequent census research on these individuals suggests no family connection. So we have abandoned the coincidence of the claim and we are left with the original supposition posed above that higher wages and probably Andrew's relocation and experience provided the draw for John. Also, my father has related that his father told him that John and his new wife were not getting along. Why, we can only speculate. John was a 64 year old widower, Annie a 54 year old spinster. He had moved in with Annie into her father's house. One can imagine the dynamics.



John's body was returned to Ottawa for funeral and burial services. He is buried at St. Anthony of Padua cemetery in Val des Monts. Annie commemorated John's death with a large tombstone. Oddly, she included the phrase "erected by his wife Annie" in the inscription. In all my research, I've not seen such a statement anywhere else. She had no connection that we know of to St. Anthony's or to Templeton.



Annie lived for many years on Cumberland Street. She died on March 7, 1948 and is buried in the O'Brien family plot at Notre Dame Cemetery in Ottawa.




Ottawa newspaper reports 1916        John Cullen Tombstone, St. Anthony of Padua

Val des Monts












1 Regroupement des familles de Saint-Francois-de-Sales de Gatineau 1838-1973 SGO Hull, QC 1988

2 1851 Census Templeton Township District 1 Page 27 line 27

3 1861 Census Templeton Township District 1 Page 436 line 8

4 1871 Census Templeton Township Division 1 Page 23 Line 4

5 Mariages de L'Outaouais (Vol I-II), Pontbriand 1971; Page 121

6 1881 Census Templeton Township Templeton East District 97 Sub-district DD Page 34  Household 141

7 Notarial document No. 1048 dated November 12, 1883, prepared by A. Guy, Notary of Buckingham; signed by Bernard Cullen, Mary Ann; Kennedy and John      Cullen

8 1901 Census Wright District, Templeton U-1 Sub-district, Page 28 Household 245

9 1911 Census Wright District 205, Sub-district 16, East Templeton Page 19 Household 171

10 Marriage certificate

11 The Ottawa City Directory 1916, Might Directories Limited, VolXLIII, Ottawa, 1916  Page 350

12 Ontario Register of Deaths, No. 235, Municipality of Haileybury, Temiskaming County, January 2, 1917

13 1911 census Nipissing District, Sub-district 46, Coleman, Page 15, Household 171

14 Boston Creek – Golden Echoes of an Ontario Mining Camp, Peter Fancy, 2002, Page 10

15 The Department of Lands, Forests and Mines Ontario, Bulletin No. 30, The Bureau of Mines, Report on the Mining Accidents in Ontario in 1916; A.T. Wilgress,        Toronto 1917, Page 28