Saturday, April 23, 2011

Marriage Certificate of our Great Grandparents - Grant

This marriage certificate was provided by our dear cousin Lionel Lauzon.  Thank you again Lionel.  It is the marriage certificate of our Grant Great Grandparents.  Should I keep adding, "Great Great to some"?  

If you have lived in Glengarry long enough you will know that everyone had/has a nickname, hence our Great Grandfather was "Sandy", but his name is "John Alex Grant" on the certificate.  

Here are the details of the marriage certificate:

Notice the "McDonald" and "McGillis" lineage of our Great Great Grandparents.

Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927 for John Alex Grant

Image is not available online.
name:John Alex Grant
event date:09 Dec 1871
event place:Lancaster, Stormont, Ontario
estimated birth year:1849
father:Arch Grant
mother:Isabella Mcgillis
spouse:Isabella Mcdonald
spouse's age:25
spouse's estimated birth year:1846
spouse's father:Charles Mcdonald
spouse's mother:Mary Mcgillis
registration number:
film number:1862694
digital folder number:4529099
image number:00158

Granddaughter's Visit Grandparents Grave

My sister, Betty Lee, and I had a chance to visit our Grandparent's grave in St. Andrews, West, Ontario in April 2011.  These were our father's parents.  

In this video my sister fondly recalls our Grandmother, Lillian (nee Phillips, born in Cockermouth, Cumbria, England). Our Grandfather died very young.  James Leonard died of a massive heart-attack, although he had sustained a severe head injury during WWI.  Our father referred to his father as, "Number 1 on the gun" (in reference to WWI).

We had a great day remembering our relatives; the people who have influenced our lives directly and indirectly.

Warm regards,

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Family, MacDonell

St. Andrews West Cemetery in St. Andrews West, Ontario is the final resting place of James L. and Lillian F. MacDonell (nee Phillips), parents of Colbourne MacDonell (Colborne on his birth certificate, but he perferred the "u").  You should be able to locate the grave site with this video.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Diary of a Mad Project Manager, Part 2

Diary of a Mad Project Manager, Part 2
by April MacDonell


2. Monday, November 8, 2010

The shop door swung open and, for a moment, the sounds of hooves, hawkers and boots being ingested by mud and excreta leapt into the sooty enterprise on Jermyn Street.   Vivian stared at the unnervingly colossal silhouette in the doorframe before it descended the step.

“How pleasing the air is here.  Excuse me for saying, but outside I can barely breathe without retching. I cannot understand why your shop is not crowded with citizens hiding from the offence,” said the silhouette.

“Thank you, Sir.  Our savonnerie and parfumerie is the constant comfort of many,” said Vivian looking skyward into a face.

“I can imagine. Ah, but I am here not to escape the fetid London streets, but to purchase a concoction for a lady.  Can you help me find a special potion?” solicited the face now exposing eyes, brow, nose, and lips.

“Please tell me about your lady, Sir. Do you know whether she prefers floral, oriental, citrus, or wood scents?” asked Vivian thinking his lady must adore citrus because his eyes were the colour of Persian lime.

“Ha, I am befuddled,” he said, seeming both perplexed and amused.   “I think she may like floral and citrus, but I am not certain.  Can you choose?”

Vivian opened the Spanish mahogany showcase, and ably chose three contenders, Lavender, Limes and Stephanotis.  With the speed of a magician’s hand Vivian dotted three handkerchiefs with each perfume and handed him one to try.

“This is Limes,” Vivian said as she watched him lift the handkerchief to his strong face. “The citrus notes burn away and a refined floral-musk arrives. It is neither sweet nor heavy.  In the end it becomes airy with only faint echoes of the original top notes.”

“This is Stephanotis,“ declared Vivian, handing him the second sample and accidentally touching his hand. “Stephanotis signifies constancy in marriage and is a wedding flower. This is my most loved. I am wearing it…”

Without warning the small distance between them was breached as he bent his face to Vivian’s neck gently pursuing the scent on her skin, tenderly inhaling it, and her, into his lungs when he found it.  “I’ve chosen,” he breathed inaudibly…

Unseated commuters teetered like Russian dolls along a jerky stretch of track; my stop must be next.  There is always one great teeter before I totter off the train toward ‘that place’. Sadly, I must pack Vivian, the colossal silhouette and the less-than-halcyon nineteenth century away for another day and another journey. “Don’t do anything careless until I see you again Vivian,” I yell into my backpack.

While I was being washed up the street with the great corporate masses, I recalled the challenges (read train wrecks) of the previous week.  It was a week so farcical I ended up inventing my own game of tallying buzzards for each failed attempt to jumpstart the project.  I would be their dinner if I didn’t watch out. 

Here is a recap:

The Project Steering Committee were invited to a Friday, November 5, meeting to review and approve the Preliminary Project Scope Statement−even though the review should be against the detailed Project Scope Statement (i.e., not preliminary). But we know the CIO wants a realistic finish date and not a S.W.A.G so I bent the process brutally. The committee needs five days notice and a stable document to read so they may prepare ahead.  They will be lucky if they get two days notice.  In truth, I wanted to thrash the process because I felt the stakeholders and project owner (our CIO) should review and approve this document. But this is another gripe and it could fester for a while longer. 

But wait, the Preliminary Project Scope Statement document was incomplete, so I could not push the “Send” button on their November 5, Steering Committee invitation. So I asked a Project Administrator to set up a meeting with the Project Team Members (also stakeholders) where the goal was for them to provide data to complete the Preliminary Project Scope Statement. I asked the Administrator to invite specific team competencies to build a comprehensive perspective. 
  • Business Modelling, Subject Matter Experts and Business Analysis Leads,
  • Architecture, Development, Database Administration, and Data Modelling Leads
  • Quality Control, Quality Assurance, Configuration Management, Help Desk/Support and Technical Writing Leads
  • People Change Management, Project Governance, Marketing, Legal and Sales Representative, with the
  • Sponsor, Project Administrator and me, the project manager.
Within seconds the Project Administrator emailed asking who represented these groups (give me real names, it read); told me there were NO meeting rooms until November 5; and asked where the document was filed.  Does this qualify for a Buzzard or was it mean of me to presume the Project Administrator knew this?

Thereafter I spend hours in the Project Management Office digging through org charts, old responsibility matrices and playing phone roulette to nail the project who’s who, all because the Project Team details were missing everywhere.  I sent the Project Administrator answers via email with directions to use the CAFETERIA as the meeting place. I received a return email, “Gone for the day.”

Ok, so I would send the invitation myself. Easy peasy, click, click it was sent.  Now I needed to quickly reserve a room for the Steering Committee meeting. Meeting room acquisition is a combat activity strewn with winners and battered losers.  The losers use the cafeteria.  Sadly, you cannot send Steering Committee members there.

Meeting rooms were named after great thinkers, so I checked Spinoza, Descartes, Copernicus, Aquinas and Cicero for availability on November 5.  Aquinas was available for three hours (auspicious I hope). I filled in the boxes and pressed the magic button and then read, "The operation failed. Unable to directly book a resource for this meeting." Sweet. The Project Management Office has not given me permission yet. So now I must send an email to the Project Administrator to do this. Death by a thousand cuts.  Buzzard One.

I arrived early the next day. I counted sixteen responses from the Project Team.
  • 10 Declined, including the Sponsor, one wrote, “Do you have the right Jason Smith?”
  •   5 Tentatively Accepted
  •   1 Accepted with a note, “What project is this?” and
  •   3 No response, excluding myself. 
I hoped against hope that the business analyst, development lead and marketing representative would accept.  “I will bribe them,” I said aloud. Less than 25% of the invitees to complete a preliminary scope, I mused. I can hear a buzzard swooping.

The invitees arrived and circumnavigated the cafeteria like lost tourists while looking for a quiet corner big enough for five.  With coffee in hand and 10 minutes late, we started the agenda with introductions, meeting purpose, and goal and then began working on the Preliminary Project Scope Statement.  Everyone I had hoped would attend accepted including the Technical Writing Lead. 

“Let’s start with the Project and Product Objectives, then move to the Product/Service Requirements and Characteristics,” I instructed.

“Before we get into that, I would like to ask why I was invited to this meeting,” said the Marketing Rep. “I don’t usually get involved in project meetings.  Why am I here?”

“You were invited because the product we’re to build, as you know, will likely require a marketing program with multimedia describing the problems the software addresses, its benefits, a list of features and the technical requirements needed to install the solution.  Additionally, we might discover we need translation. We need to determine this early and plan for it,” I said casually pointing to a marketing package for an existing product.

“Oh, you mean like this?” said the Marketing Rep. trickling several glossies across the table.  I picked one up and was bowled over to read the name of our yet undeveloped product in the title and the titles of all the content before us.

“Is this real,” I posed “Or is it lorem ipsum dolor sit?"

“No, it is absolutely real,” said the Marketing Rep. “I should imagine you can gather at least 50 percent of your content for the Preliminary Project Scope Statement from this material.  Isn’t that good news?”

“Yes, I am sure it is, but still I am puzzled about how you were able to create a marketing package without the approved Scope Statements, Project Charter, Business Requirements, Project Plans and other project inputs?” I said looking into the eyes of the bemused Business Analyst, Developer and Technical Writer.

“Well, we had to.  The product has already been sold to a client in Germany and we have also committed to a demonstration at Comdex next November. It was the prototype that sold them,“ said the Marketing Rep. sheepishly. Buzzard Two.

“Um, Um, Um, so you are saying that there is already a delivery date for Germany? And what prototype are you referencing?”  I was feeling the heat rising to my skull.

“Yes, there is a delivery date.  The prototype looks really convincing, but there is no code behind it, it was built using Visio with dummied up forms,” the Marketing Rep’s head was nearly beneath the table now. I was struggling to keep my composure. Buzzard Three and Four.

Then almost in unison the Business Analyst, Developer and Technical Writer said, “We are still working on another project.” Buzzard Five.

I worked twenty hours between Tuesday and Wednesday to complete and fortify the Preliminary Project Scope Statement using the marketing package and expert judgement. On Wednesday afternoon I was able to finally press the “Send” button to invite the Project Steering Committee to the November 5 meeting in the Aquinas room. I apologized for the reduced lead-time.  

The sky was almost completely black. There were just a few patches of light where their wings did not touch.  Give me strength.

Diary of a Mad Project Manager, Part 1

Diary of a Mad Project Manager, Part 1
by April MacDonell


1. Monday, November 1, 2010

I am still in my dishevelled Monday bed, ruminating on whether I have the will to go to work.  My eyes feel like they are attached to tent stakes and bat idiotically when I try to open them. I squint into the dawn and lift my head to see why I feel like Gulliver, supine and pinned.  My cats, all four, flank my ankles and hips and have stapled me to the bed so that I cannot get up. It seems they do not want me to go to work either.  Is this a sign?

I do not want to disturb their furry peace, so I stay supine and contemplate whether I have a sore throat, cold, Yellow Fever, bubonic plague or any cause to stay home, away from ‘that place’.  I feel dishonest, but my soul can only take so much inanity.  My thoughts run all over the place, procrastinating my decision.  I practise talking as if I have a cold.  I find advice called, “How do you Fake A Cold? ” on Yahoo Answers on my iPad nearby (

The cats’ fall off the bed, thump, thump, thump, thumps as I pivot my legs over the edge, ready to push off to the bathroom.  I have decided.  I am going to work and will abandon the cosiness of my beasts, my bed, and the ultra trashy novel on my nightstand.  “Oh, dearest bed how can I leave you when last night I was wrapped in your warm embrace?”  I said.  I am off to project manage a new information technology project that is in its early planning phase.  My bunny slippers are off.

I arrive at ‘that place’ with a Tim fix in my fist.  No puerile Grande, two-pump Vanilla, Non-Fat, Extra Hot, Latte for my palate.  I plunk myself down in my cubbyhole and begin to unfurl the initial project schedule, which I had published across reams (well almost) of 11x17 paper with geriatric font.  The geriatric font will help me peruse the veracity of the schedule, the Gantt Chart and Network Diagram, before the 10:30 am “Schedule Build and Review Meeting”.  The truth is in the detail.  However, I will not be taking this chart or diagram to the meeting because a few project team members, some of whom are Project Managers, have trouble reading Gantt Charts or Network Diagrams so I will be simplifying  (read dumbing-down) the visual presentation.  This makes me want to chew off my arm.  But, in earnest, it is my job to communicate information clearly, concisely, transparently, honestly and as audience appropriate as possible, even if it means more work for me.  Thump, arm falls to floor.

I had just joined this project a week earlier and the Project Sponsor had already pinned me to the wall for the project’s finish date.  I diplomatically conveyed that it was too early to give anything more than a SWAG, Sweet Wild Ass Guess, since neither the Project Charter nor the Preliminary Project Scope Statement were complete or approved.  Other critical inputs were also absent.  Without these project artefacts as inputs, I guarantee low estimate accuracy.  It would be irresponsible to provide an immature estimate to a CIO without a long list of assumptions and caveats, especially for a high-risk project like this.  I also knew this date would be the only date the CIO would remember.  This SWAG finish date would stay in the CIO’s memory like an OK Ranch livestock brand or a tattoo from The Tat Shack.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass for all that crap, just give me the finish date,” said the Sponsor tersely.

“If we wait for an approved Preliminary Project Scope Statement, then I know the estimate accuracy will increase due to a better project definition,” I said, my eyes holding his agitated gaze.  “If we deliver the estimate too early we can expect the highest classification of uncertainty, even if we add contingency.”  I did not reinforce this statement by mentioning the unapproved Project Charter.  The temperature in the room was already hot enough.

“When will the Preliminary Scope Statement be approved?” the Sponsor asked reasonably.

“The Communication Plan hasn’t been created, so I don’t know when the Project Steering Committee officially meets.  Can we not initiate their first meeting and conduct a Preliminary Scope walkthrough to acquire approval?”  I proposed.

“Do what you have to do to get the CIO off my back.  I don’t care how, just do it,” the Sponsor said leaving the room.

“Oh, and do not overwhelm this project with process,” spewed the Sponsor before slamming the boardroom door.

“I sense another limb dropping,” I said sotto voce.

By this time I was doing the pee dance, so I aimed my feet toward the plumbing and marched onward contemplating which clown name best suited the Sponsor.  How about "Bumbo the Clown" since Bozo was already taken?  When in the lavatory, I decided to profile my first week on the project:

  1. Sponsors, Steering Committees, CIO’s, or Clients will always request a project finish date as soon as the Project Manager’s foot crosses the threshold.  In fact, they will likely choose a finish date.  Of course, many regulatory projects already have a legislated finish date and require reverse planning.
  2. Project Sponsors have multiple accountabilities and may be responsible for additional programs and/or projects as well as other duties as required.  They are usually under pressure.  They may not have the most practical understanding of project management tools, techniques and benefits.  They may test and resist Project Management practices thinking they are a waste of time.
  3. Project Managers are responsible for pointing out project success risks, that is, risks that might hinder the success of the project.  The Project Manager needs to convey quick, candid feedback to the Sponsor.  The Project Manager may have to repeat this candour. The Project Manager is not a “Yes” person.
  4. Projects require “process”, especially high-risk projects.  It is the Project Manager’s duty (together with the company’s project policies) to pick the right processes to offset the project’s risk and to make the chosen processes as painless as possible to execute.  If the Sponsor said, “Do not overwhelm the project with process”, then justwhelm it.
  5. Problem Solving is an invaluable capability.  Always provide options to your Project Sponsor.
  6. No one understands how the CIO remembers the SWAG finish date, and not the Project Manager’s name. 
It is almost 10:30 am.  I must hustle to the “Schedule Build and Review Meeting” that I am chairing.  With a slight edit to Pam’s words on HBO’s True Blood, “Blah, Blah, Project Emergency Blah.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Samba, Samba, Samba

Robin and I enjoy having a bit of fun.  Since Robin travels frequently, sometimes this fun is imaginary.

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Family, More details

Thank you cousin Lionel (Lauzon) for providing more and more detail about our families.

The details in Lionel's email provided an outline of the family tree, with focus on the Alexander and Donald Grant limbs at this time. Jamie and David MacCulloch's research on the full tree was demonstrated at last year's family reunion. That was a lot of work and a lot of detail. We are a very big family as I am discovering.

Below is Lionel's email, with a few additions by me. We will happily correct errors or omissions.

Hello April:

I have been questioning Meme for information about the family history.

As you know our Great Grandparents Alexander (Sandy) Grant and Isabelle (Bella) MacDonald moved to Alexandria with their seven (7) children:
1. James
2. Elizabeth (Lizzie)
3. Margaret
4. Annie
5. Donald
6. Alexander (Alex), and
7. Angus (Dooley)

Your Grandfather, Alexander (Alex) moved to Montreal circa 1916 and lived at 1402 St. Antoine St. near Lucien St. with his wife Lillian (Lilly). They had four (4) children:
1. Isabel (Isabella?, Florence Isabel)
2. Peter
3. Raymond, and
4. William

Peter married Yvette Dufore and had two (2) boys and two (2) girls:
1. Michel
2. Diane
3. Susanne, and
4. Pierre

Raymond married Norma Brault and had three (3) girls:
1. Gail
2. Carolyn, and
3. Sandra.

William married and divorced, no children.

Isabel married Colbourne MacDonell and had two (2) boys and two (2) girls:
1. Betty Lee
2. George
3. Robert and
4. April Ann

Donald moved to Montreal with his wife Josephine St. Jaques and their family and lived a few houses over at 1538 St. Antoine St. They had seven (7) children:
1. Sybil 
2. Francis 
3. Lawrence 
4. Sally
5. Archie 
6. Reynalda (Rae), and
7. Lorraine 

At some point in time Alexander (Sandy) and Isabella (Bella) Grant took a trip to Montreal to buy some tools and visit the family. They were staying at Donald’s house when Sandy took sick and died. Bella was blind and stayed with Donald and his family.  

I hope you find some of this interesting.