Gilbert, Ron: My Grandmother is Still a Mystery

Kathleen Bettison Gilbert

My Grandmother is Still a Mystery

By Ron Gilbert

My paternal grandmother, Kathleen Margaret (Bettison/Betteson) Gilbert, is truly my mystery ancestor as she is illusive in the records.

I have her marriage certificate giving location of the ceremony as Bowmanville. On this her parents are stated as Henry Bettison and Ilda Gamlin/Gamblin although the writing is somewhat difficult to read. Also on this document her birth date is stated as January 3,1897 in Lindsay.

I have not found Kathleen Margaret on the 1901 census but there is a Winnifred Battison born Sept 19, 1893 living in Lindsay, listed as the daughter of a John and Mary A. Battison living in Peel County. It was passed on to me by a cousin that my grandmother had a sister named Winnifred so this may be Katherine Margaret Bettison's household. Her father’s name may have been Henry John or John Henry. And the surname on the census could be a misspelling.

On the 1911 census there is a Katie Bettison aged 14 years working as a Domestic in Peterborough for people by the name of Robert and Emma Bell.

During World War 1, my Grandfather Gilbert (Kathleen Margaret’s husband) enlisted in the army in February 1916 at Whitby, Ontario with the 116th Batallion. He was sent to Winnipeg for training and was shipped overseas on the Olympic in October of that year with the 2nd Batallion. Apparently my grandparents had moved to Manitoba because according to his military records, his monthly pay was sent to my grandmother in Rapid City, Manitoba.

The location of this mailiing is significant for, Winnifred Bettison married John Robert Nevin/Nivins in Rapid City, Manitoba. The bridegroom was from Elton, Manitoba. Also my Aunt was born in 1917 in Rapid City and my Dad was born in Transcona in 1919 which I now know is part of Winnipeg. My grandfather had been discharged from the army in January 1919 due to the demobilization of the unit.

Kathleen Margaret nee Bettison, my grandmother, passed away on May 10, 1977 in Oshawa and is buried at St. John’s Cemetery in Port Hope beside my grandfather.

My grandmother was believed to be an Aboriginal woman and I have sought her birth certificate at the Curve Lake First Nations, near Lindsay, the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory in Hastings County and at the Alderville Reserve, sharing the information I have but so far her birth registration has not been found. If anyone reading story this has further suggestions about where to search for this information please contact me at

John M. Gilbert