Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Workday Wednesday: The Mounties Check Abraham Berk's Work History


My favorite Canadian genealogy angel just received and scanned more than a dozen pages from the naturalization files** of my great-uncle Abraham Berk (1877-1962), for which I am very grateful.

Abraham was the older brother of my paternal grandfather Isaac Burk (1882-1943). Both were trained as cabinetmakers before leaving their homeland for Manchester, England and then North America.




Abraham originally received his Canadian citizenship in Montreal Circuit Court on February 25, 1910. He then applied for certification of Canadian citizenship in 1944, during WWII.
Abraham Berk in 1946

Happily for me, Abraham listed an exact birth date (March 15, 1877) and an exact birth place: "Gorzd, Kovno, Russia" which was part of Telsiai and is located in Lithuania, near the border with Germany.

As part of the certification process, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police conducted a confidential investigation to determine whether Abraham was an upstanding candidate for citizenship.

According to this report, Abraham reportedly "worked as a carpenter at the shipyards at Hochelaga for six months. He then worked at the Angus Shops for two months and has worked for several Construction Companies all over Montreal. At present he earns his living by doing odd carpenter jobs."

By the time Abraham applied for this certification in 1944, he was 67 years old. His brother Isaac had died the previous year. Two years after he was certified as a Canadian citizen, Abraham--the patriarch of the family--attended the New York City wedding of his nephew, Harold Burk (my Dad).


** It's not difficult to make such a request, but only people who live in Canada can receive these files, after filling out forms and sending $5. You can review the process here. I expected a lengthy wait due to a backlog of requests but the papers arrived only 8 weeks later

UPDATE: I originally misread the report and mangled the name place of Hochelaga. Thanks to wonderful reader Anna, I corrected it in the post and added a link to a history.

4 comments:

Anna Matthews said...

I believe that the shipyards were in Hochelaga. It was once a separate village on the island of Montreal. After the municipal mergers about fifteen years ago that changed. (One island, one city - Une Ile, Une Ville).

Marian B. Wood said...

Anna, you have eagle eyes! Thank you for correctly interpreting what the Mounties wrote. I updated my post and linked to a page about Hochelaga. Now I can envision my great uncle working there!

Wendy said...

This document is so different from anything I have seen. But then I have no family from Canada.

Marian B. Wood said...

Wendy, I also was surprised to see a "confidential" report as part of the file, but since this is my only ancestor who was naturalized in Canada, I had no idea what to expect. Turns out I learned some new things about my great uncle. Thanks for reading!