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One key difference is that Belgium had very few population census. But instead maintained a registre de la population, which is continuously maintained and contains a lot more info than a census (date of arrival into town, date of departure or death, town where they came from or moved to, etc.) If available for the place you're researching, it's extremely valuable for 19th century research.
Most registers are also available on FamilySearch where they are sometimes easier to search. Again, it varies from town to town so if you don't find what you're looking for on one site, try the other.
I'm all too familiar with records that only mention the country of origin of migrants. If he was married or had children while in Canada, see if those records contain any additional information. You may also check the Ellis Island records as many European migrants to Canada transited through NY.
Also, search for the last name in this site and other genealogy sites to see where it is most commonly used and focus on those towns first. You can get a full list of Belgian towns (old and new) at https://fr.geneawiki.com/index.php/Belgique
The change of country name might suggest a border town. The border between the 2 countries has been adjusted over time, but to my knowledge not during that time period. It could of course just be a census error. I admit I have not done much research in Flanders.
He was a priest actually (possibly ordained in Nova Scotia, but no record of his ordination thus far found), so no children. He actually ministered in three Canadian provinces (covered by two dioceses), and before that, he was a Trappist monk (I have already written to the two monasteries in Belgium involved in the establishment of the Nova Scotia monastery, and they have found no record of him in their archives, unfortunately). So that too limits my possibilities. His name was Felix Van Blerk/Van Blerck. There are plenty of Van Blercks/Van Blerks born in Netherlands, but I have yet to find a son named "Felix" or a Van Blerk family in Belgium. Just finished 400+ pages of index from Flemish Brabant and Antwerp to no avail. Thanks.
I found a few leads in MyHeritage.
Name Felix Von Blerck
Birth Circa 1831
Arrival 1891, Prince Edward Island
Document type Immigrant Record
Accession # 9996487774
Gale Id 3216461
Source publication code 2605.2
Source Passenger and Immigration Lists Index
(Age matches census, but this means he might have travelled and this would not be his initial arrival)
He apparently had a settlement renamed after him:
While the original Trappists came from SaintSixte and Westmalle, they brought in monks for the entire country.
Partial list of Belgian Trappist abbeys:
But nothing on his life outside of Canada...
I have all this information already, and have already written and received answers from Westmalle and St-Sixte of Westvleteren where I inquired concerning him. They could not find him in their archives in either place. He was sent to the new Trappist monastery in Tracadie, Nova Scotia, where he was possibly ordained a priest, then left the order to become a parish priest in Nova Scotia, and afterwards in Prince Edward Island and Quebec.
According to my records of censuses found:
1871 Molasses Harbour (later named Port Felix in his honor), Nova Scotia: 40y, it says he was born in Holland
1881 Lot 5 (Bloomfield), Prince Edward Island: 50y, it says he was born in Belgium
1891 Lot 5 (Bloomfield), Prince Edward Island: 60y, it says he was born in Belgium.
I do know he traveled back to Europe a couple of times during his pastorate in Bloomfield: in 1888 (returning to Canada on the Steamship Sardinian) and as you indicate again in 1891.
He must have retired right after this very early 1891 census enumeration as I located him in London in late April/May of that year... then in 1897 in Herefordshire (Western UK). He stayed there a year and then I presume left the country, probably returning home to Belgium, where he died in some unknown location. Wish I knew more as I am in the middle of writing an article on his life and ministry in Canada.
Three Thoughts I'd like to share :
1) Is the surname "Felix" his real surname ? Many religious people choose a other surname than the "legal" one
2) He was born 1830-31 : this could be the cause of the confusion between Belgium and the Netherlands --> the belgian revolution occured in 1830 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belgian_Revolution)
3) Here are two searchengines : one for Belgium https://search.arch.be/en/zoeken-naar-personen ans one for the Netherlands https://wiewaswie.nl/nl/zoeken/
The name VANBLERCK seems to be a lot more frequent in the Netherlands than in Belgium
Thanks for your insights. We must be thinking along the same lines as I too asked those very same questions in what I have written up thus far.
1. I believe his first name was Felix. I specifically asked at the monasteries if they had a brother Felix. Neither of them did. So I presumed it to have been his baptismal name. Additionally, I found the name of a Brother Felix in an article on the monks in Nova Scotia quoted in a letter by one of their abbots, so I could be wrong. This is why I wrote to the monasteries in Belgium on the first place to determine this.
2. I knew of the Belgian revolution of 1830 between the Catholics and Protestants, and read the very same Wikipedia article you suggest, before setting down to write up what I have written thus far, if but for some background to this search.
3. I have gone through many of the decennial tables in Belgium to no avail, and some of the Dutch registers in Noord-Brabant, and agree that it seems more Dutch than Belgian, but it was the Belgian monks who sent recruits for their founding in Nova Scotia. At this point I am thinking the good father just doesn't want to be found, coming from obscurity and returning into the obscurity of history.
Thanks for your thoughts, Dennis
Although the "VAN" names have a dutch/flemish origin, they are present throughout the country and you may have to expand your search into the French speaking regions.