While I have long looked up individuals in city directories, I have usually just focused on one person in a very specific time period. I’m usually looking for verification of something I already ‘know’. This time I was trying to solve several mysteries related to the Fee branch of my family tree. So I spent several hours digging through Lovell‘s Montreal city directories.
First, I wondered if I could determine when exactly the Fees arrived in Montreal. I know Thomas Fee (ca1816-1897) arrived in Canada around 1837 and settled in St. Malachie, Quebec. He and his family appeared on the 1871 census in Montreal, but I wanted to see if I could figure out when between 1861 and 1871 they moved to Montreal.
Second, I knew Thomas’ son John and his family had headed south of the border for a period of time around 1880. I hoped to figure out a more exact time period for that event.
Finally, I wondered when John’s son John Everett started working as a machinist and whether he took over the same workshop his father had owned/rented, (assuming of course his father (also a machinist) had owned/rented a workshop).
So, I put aside finishing my biography of John Everett Fee and started digging through the Montreal city directories.
I found a Thomas Fee in the 1869-70 Lovell’s city directory. He is listed as a moulder living at 182 Seigneurs. In the next two directories he is a night watchman. I am not 100% positive this is *my* Thomas Fee but it appears probable as in the 1873-74 directory he apears as a clerk at 182 Seigneuers and John Fee, machinist, is down the street at 261 Seigneurs.
My first new discovery was in the 1874-75 directory where, in addition to John Fee, 34 St. Martin, there is an ad:
By 1876-77, Fee & Glennon is no more and Glennon is no longer in the Montreal city directory. Both Thomas and John Fee are missing from the 1877-78, 1878-79 and 1879-80 directories. Thomas reappears in the 1880-81 directory as a clerk at 430 Richmond, but after that is is gone permanently. If he is, in fact, the ‘right’ Thomas, he would be in his mid-60s and possibly no longer working.
John reappears in 1886-87 as a machinist at 107 1/2 Bleury. There are several address changes over the years and by 1899-90 his business is located at 623 Lagauchetiere. In 1906-07, John‘s shop is located at 107 Lagauchetiere W and his home is 377 Grosvenor in Westmount.
From 1906-07 until 1914-15, that information remains constant. In 1914-15, we finally find Fee JE, machinist, 202 Prudhomme av. John Everett moved to 216 av Girouard in 1916-17, and his occupation remained machinist until 1919-20 when he was listed as an elv eng (elevator engineer). By 1921-22, the listings read:
Fee JE of John & JE Fee 226 Av Girouard
“ John of John & JE Fee 377 Grosvenor av Westmount
“ John & JE , machinists, 107 Lagaughtiere W
The listing was exactly the same in 1922-23. John Sr. passed away in 1922 and in 1923-24 we find the listing for Fee JE, mach, 107 Lagauchetiere W h 226 Av Girouard. This stays the same until 1928-29 when the work address changes to 157 Lagauchetiere. By 1931-32, his home address is 4390 Wilson av and changes again in 1935-36 to apt 11, 1830 Lincoln av. That stays the same until the 1954 directory when he no longer has a business address listed. As he was in his mid-70s at that point, it is likely that he retired. He and his wife moved to apt 1 6254 Sher W in 1959 and he passed away in 1967.
So, did I find answers to any of my questions? It would appear that, providing that actually is the ‘right’ Thomas Fee, he and his family arrived in Montreal around 1868/69, in time to be listed in the 1869-70 directory.
I know that John Everett was born in Montreal in 1878. The fact his father isn’t listed in the 1877-78 directory suggests that, perhaps, John Sr. headed south before the rest of the family. It would appear that they were back in Montreal by 1885/86, in time for the 1886-87 directory. So, while not precise, it does narrow down the timeline somewhat.
Finally, it looks like John Everett enjoyed a rather prolonged youth – we know he was an amateur boxer, rode century bicycle races and was an avid outdoorsmen. He was married in 1913 and his first child was born in 1915, the same year he was listed in the directory as a machinist. What he was doing for employment prior to that is unclear, although he was listed as a machinist in the 1911 census. It is clear, however, that he took over his father’s business location after John, Sr., passed away. At least one mystery has been solved!