Mary Catherine McPhail and John Hardigan

When Mary Catherine McPhail was born on May 7, 1867, her father, John James McPhail (1838-1879), was 29, and her mother, Catherine Ann (née McIntosh) (1845-?), was 22. She had four brothers and two sisters.

Ontario Marriage Record (image via

Mary Catherine married John Hardigan on September 12, 1887, at St. Andrew’s Roman Catholic Church in St. Andrews, Stormont, Ontario, Canada.

John Hardigan was born in Ireland on April 12, 1860, the son of Thomas Hardigan (d before 1891) and Mary (née McDonnough) (1826-1895).

They seven (known) children over 14 years:

  • John Andrew Hardigan (1888-1953)
  • Clara Hardigan (1890-1893)
  • Annie Gertrude Hardigan (1892-1957)
  • Thomas Alexander Hardigan (1894-1898)
  • Mary Marcella Hardigan (1895-1966)
  • Clarisse Preston Hardigan (1897-1897)
  • Catherine Isabella Hardigan (1901-1983) married Christopher James Gough (1896-1932) and Edward Arthur Abbey (1897-1965)

John Andrew was born on November 30, 1888 and baptized at Ste. Anne Church in Montréal, Québec on December 2, 1888.

Baptismal Record, Ste. Anne Church (image via

Clara Hardigan was born on August 25, 1890, and baptized at St. Patrick’s Basilica in Montréal on the 28th.

Baptismal Record, St. Patrick Church (image via

In 1891 we find the family on the Canadian Census in the St. Laurent Ward of Montréal. We find John and Mary with John Jr., aged 2, and Clara, aged 8 mos. John Sr. is working as a labourer.

1891 Canadian Census (image via

On May 27, 1892, Annie Gertrude Hardigan is born. She’s baptized on the 29th at La Nativité-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie. Mary’s sister Margaret is named as the child’s godmother.

Baptismal Record, La Nativité-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie (image via

Young Clara died on January 14, 1893. She is buried at Notre-Dame-Des-Neiges Cemetery. The death record suggests her name was “Clarice Ann.” The burial was not located in the cemetery records.

Burial Records, Notre Dame (image via

Thomas Alexander is born on February 3, 1894 and baptized the next day at La Nativité-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie. Mary’s sister “Bella” (Isabella McPhail) is noted as the child’s godmother. (Author’s note: the baptism of each of the children within a few days of their birth suggests that there may have been more children who did not survive past a few days.)

Baptismal Record, La Nativité-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie (image via

On October 11, 1895, Mary Marcella Angela Hardigan is born. She is baptized on the 13th at Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil.

Baptismal Record, La Nativité-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie (image via

A second child is named Clarice Preston Hardigan, born January 5, 1895, also at Notre Dame. It’s possible she’s given the same name as her sister as she’s born nine days before the second anniversary of her sister’s death. Archie McPhail, Mary’s brother, is named godfather.

Baptismal Record, La Nativité-de-la-Bienheureuse-Vierge-Marie (image via

Author’s note: it’s interesting that the six children born so far were baptized at four different churches—the last three at the same church. This likely indicates that the family moved fairly often initially and then settled near Notre Dame.

Sadly, little Clarisse died on September 25, 1897. She is buried, likely with her sister, at Notre Dame cemetery.

Burial Records, Notre Dame (image via

Just over six months later, on April 27, 1898, Thomas Alexander dies as well. He is buried with his sisters.

Burial Records, Notre Dame (image via

Catherine Isabella Hardigan is born on January 16, 1901, and baptized at Notre Dame on the 19th.

In 1901, the family is living in the Saint-Jacques ward of Montreal. John’s occupation is listed as a chauffeur. and we find his immigration date listed as 1880 from Ireland. We also see Mary, (John) Andrew, (Anne) Gertie, Marcela, and Catherine. Also in the home are Mary’s mother Catherine (Cate), and her sister Margaret.

The 1901 Census offers an anomaly—another child named Thomas, when Thomas Alexander has already been buried for two years. And unlike Thomas Alexander, this child is three (Thomas Alexander would have been seven). This Thomas also appears in 1911. No birth or baptismal record has been located. The census not only seems to suggest that “Thomas” was born before Thomas Alexander’s death (it would be highly unusual for a family to name a second child Thomas before the death of the first one) but it also gives a birthdate of April 30, 1897. As Clarice was born in January, if the date is correct, he can’t possibly be Mary’s child.

1901 Canadian Census (image via

John Hardigan died before the next census, on April 27, 1911, at the age of 51. He is buried at Notre Dame cemetery.

We find the recently widowed Mary living at Maissoneuve in Montreal with Andrew, Anne, Marcella, Catherine. Neither Mary’s mother nor her sister are still living with the family on this census.

On this census, in addition to the mysterious Thomas from the 1901 census, a child named Gerald appears for the first time, aged 17. No baptismal record has been located, and no further records are found. Similarly, there is also a child named Philip born in 1902. I’ve checked the 1902 and 1903 registers for his baptism with no luck. And given there are no other records to link him specifically to Mary and John, I’m reluctant to do so.

1911 Canadian Census (image via

Mary Catherine died on October 8, 1939, at the age of 72.

Burial Records, Notre Dame (image via

Are you related to this family? Do you have photos or stories you’d be willing to share? Please contact me using the comment form below or find me on Facebook! Want to know where this family fits in my tree? Check out the Index!

Main Image Credit: St. Patrick’s Basilica (via Tango7174 on Wikimedia)


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AG Knapper

I’ve been researching my tree for over twenty years…and I’ve found some easy branches, and some gnarly ones…

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