Monday, 27 June 2016

Canada's History : Great War Album

My collection of family history magazines are re-read numerous times, looking for great tips and unusual resources. In the Canada's History issue noted below, I found the story about John Edward Harding especially interesting, as it made me wonder if many British Royal Navy seaman had the same experience . . .

© Penny Allen - taken at the memorial
 alongside the Ypres Canal 2013
This edition of Canada's History October-November 2014 p.48-53 really struck my heart strings.

(The following information is provided courtesy of Canada's History magazine.)  

The magazine's comments: "As a First World War anniversary commemoration project, we at Canada's History magazine asked you, our readers, to send us your families' Great War memorabilia for possible inclusion in a book we are publishing this fall, called Canada's Great War Album." [p.48]

They explained that they continue to collect Canadian First World War memorabilia which is then uploaded to the website in order to share the stories and photos of our honoured veterans with everyone. Please see the link for details and for more information.

Here is a brief look at the men that were highlighted in their article. 

Arthur Frederick Boniface
   This is an unusual family story. Arthur Boniface served in the 13th Canadian Mounted Rifles and was originally from England, where he married Rose Rands (1898). After the war, returning to Claresholm, Alberta, he found his wife involved in women's rights. This was significant, as Rose was friends with one of the 'Famous Five'. They eventually separated. Richard Frogge, Boniface's grandson mentions in the article that "... he could never be reconciled to the changing roles of women..." . Arthur passed away in Victoria, B.C. in 1964 at 90 years.

John Edward Harding
   John (Jack) Harding joined the British Royal Navy in 1914 at 16 yrs of age, but was so affected by the sinking of the Lusitania that he hid his naval uniform under a rock while his ship was undergoing repairs in Halifax and enlisted there and then with the Canadian Army, in the 239th Battalion. He served in France and Belgium, at both Vimy and Passchendaele. Eventually, he received a pardon from King George V and spent the remainder of his life in Toronto where he died in 1978.

          This story has made me wonder how many British seamen deserted, and joined up with the Royal Canadian Navy or the Canadian Army during the Great War. Indeed, what if someone's Royal Navy ancestor just 'disappeared' into Canada in the same way that Jack did?

George, William and John Lomax
   A sad tale of three brothers from Alberta who went off to fight in the Great War, who died within months of each other. William died within months of returning home and his mother died within a few years. The family suspect she was heartbroken. They left their youngest sister, Margaret, who valiantly tended to the family farm in the Calgary area as a single woman. However, she was not able to continue to keep up to the demands of farming but stayed in Alberta.

Robert Mills
   Robert (48th Highlanders) spent five years recovering in Canada from spinal tuberculosis he contracted during the war. He was part of a group of patients at the Dominion Orthopaedic Hospital (DOH) who received experimental treatments of heavy doses of sunshine. This took place on the roof of the hospital, which gave the group the nickname, 'The Rooftop Gang'. Robert was able to complete his schooling while in hospital and married Kathleen Jones, one of his nurses. They settled in Toronto.

William Alfred Tilley
Canada's Great War website [accessed: 06/06/2016] 
William Tilley's photo is quite memorable, as he was a 'Home Child', one of many British child evacuees. William worked on a farm in Ontario, (not a happy experience) and when the war began, he joined up with the CEF at 27 years of age in 1916. His grandson comments that "He was an 'Empire man' to the end of his life."

Canada's Great War Album also includes contributions from Peter Mansbridge, Charlotte Gray, J.L. Granatstein, Christopher Moore, Jonathan Vance, and Tim Cook. The album is for sale on Canada's History website: 
A worthwhile purchase!

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Maritime Libraries - Portsmouth and Gosport

Maritime Archives and Libraries provide very specialised maritime information.
This book is useful for finding maritime resources in libraries around the UK.

The title:
Maritime Information : a guide to libraries and sources of information in the United Kingdom. by Fenton, Briody and Macdonald. 2004. 1901703452

This information is reproduced with permission from the publishers.
Future posts will highlight various archives around the UK.

Disclaimer: as this book was published in 2004, I have tried to update the websites (2016), but internet addresses often change and some organisations may not have survived.


Hampshire Naval Collection
Hampshire County Council Libraries & Information Service
Gosport Library
e: online form
Subject Coverage: Predominantly Royal Navy, but includes world navies; collection reflects Gosport's special association with the development of the submarine, naval aviation, naval ordinance and naval medicine.
Special Collections: Unique file of Gosport editions of 'Hampshire Telegraph and Post' and 'Naval Chronicle' 1939-1956.
Hovercraft Museum Trust : HMS Daedalus
e: online form
Subject Coverage: Hovercraft - all aspects, plans, manuals, archives, photos and film; Cockerell's patents; over 50 hovercraft in store

Institute of Naval Medicine 
Subject Coverage: Naval (medical) history; underwater medicine; survival; thermal medicine; physiology.


The Mary Rose Trust
Subject Coverage: 16th century ships; navigation and ordnance equipment.

Nautical Archaeology Society
Subject Coverage: All aspects of maritime, foreshore (inter-tidal), harbour, underwater, submerged landscapes, submerged settlements, lacustrine, estuarine archaeology.
Special Collections: Archive copies of the 'International Journal of Nautical Archeology'.

© Penny Allen
Portsmouth Central Library 
Subject coverage: Mainly printed books (no archives); some pamphlets, photographs, cuttings, ship photographs cover: any warship and navy (in theory) at any time, anywhere. Strong in biography, R.N. history, ship construction and history, voyages and exploration, First and Second World Wars, 'Navy Lists' 1778 to date. Navy Records Society and other naval periodicals.

Portsmouth Museums and Records Service
City Museum and Records Office
Subject Coverage: Holdings reflect the impact of the navy, army and Dockyard on the people and local economy of Portsmouth.

A strength of the collection is the role of landing craft in Operation Neptune and most notable are the papers of Commander Rupert Curtis, DSC RNVR.
-Development of Mulberry Harbours and the parts played by McAlpine and Sons Ltd. and the Directorate of Transportation at the War Office.
-Late 18th, 19th and 20th century paintings, prints and drawings of naval and merchant vessels.
-Mementoes of famous ships and wrecks, relics relating to Jack the Painter, naval medals and cannons.
-Photographic and postcards of naval and other vessels in and around Portsmouth harbour and general maritime images.
-Service certificates, souvenir programmes and personal letters of naval personnel.

© Penny Allen
Special Collections:
-Crew lists for ships registered in Portsmouth and Cowes, 1863-1913
-Customs and Excise Registers
-Fishing registers, Port of Portsmouth, c. 1930-1970
-Items from HMS Bounty
-Items relating to 1875-1876 voyage of HMS Alert and HMS Discovery and Captain Giffard
-Large collection of work by marine artist W.L. Wyllie, particularly from the years he lived in Portsmouth.
-Large numbers of works on a maritime theme by lesser-known and local artists.
-Letters, logbooks and family papers belonging to Hulbert-Jackson, prize agent
-Letters regarding Spithead Mutiny, 1797, from Lord Howe and other miscellaneous papers
-Letters relating to the Board of Ordnance, early to mid 18th century
-Portsmouth shipping registers, 1820-1870
-Records of the Royal Sailors Rest and the Royal Marine and Naval Orphanage, along with plans,       photographs and postcards of barrack and naval or military groups and events
-Watercolours and lithographs by the Deane brothers, featuring material recovered from wrecks including Mary Rose, Royal Oak and the East Indiaman Earl of Abergavenny.

Portsmouth University - The Centre for Marine Resource Economics (CEMARE)
Note on the website: Now Closed.
Subject Coverage: Multi-disciplinary research into marine resources, especially fish
Special collections: Large FAO collection

Royal Marines Museum
Subject coverage: Naval history, Royal Marines history 1664-date; military history, naval/military social history; barracks/buildings; weapons/small arms; medals; biographies.
Special collections: George Aston papers; 380 personal diaries of Royal Marines; Lewis Rotely letters of Trafalgar

Royal Naval Museum
Subject coverage: Naval biographies; naval social history; naval operational history; navigation; ship information; naval architecture; museology
Special collections: part of the Admiralty Library, including Admiralty Library manuscript collection.  WRNS Historic Collection; 20th Century oral history; Wright & Logan Photographic Collection

Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC)
Royal Ocean Racing Club incorporating Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Cowes
Subject Coverage: Offshore yacht racing.

HMS Sultan Library
Subject Coverage: Aeronautical, marine, mechanical, electrical and electronicengineering; physical sciences, mathematics, computing, anagement and defence studeis - principally in print format
Special Collections: small collection of genearl naval history; collection of works on the history of naval engineering. Archival material relating to the former Royal Naval Engineering College, Plymouth.

The Waterways Museum
Subject Coverage: Transport history: the Aire and Calder Navigation and associated waterways and organisations. Social history of canal and river workers of Yorkshire and their families. Growth and development of the port of Goole. History of shipping in the Goole area; Industrial archaeology of Goole port. Ship and boatbuilding in Yorkshire.
Special Collections: History of 'Tom Puddings' coal-carrying system and boat hoists. Life and work of WH Bartholomew, Chief Engineer for the Aire and Calder Navigation, 1853-1919; Goole Shipbuilding and Repair Yard; Ship models. Cabin of Sheffield-size keel, 1910. Wheldale, 1959 diesel tug.

See also:
Maritime Libraries in the UK :

Aberdeen,  Cumbria,  East India Company,  Liverpool,  ShipwrecksWales

Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Battle of Seven Oaks 1816; Inquiry 1818; Manitoba

While researching on the Library and Archives Canada page, 
I noticed a box at the bottom of the page - Transcribers needed! 
'clipped from the Home page of
Library and Archives Canada' 
Very exciting to see a request for volunteers to transcribe the document relating to the Coltman Report, 1818 - Inquiry into the Offences Committed at the Battle of Seven Oaks. The LAC has digitized all 521 pages of an original handwritten record by William Coltman and it is freely available on this webpage.

Coltman's report investigated the battle between the Hudson's Bay Company and the North West Company, 19th June 1816. It is an important resource for the study of fur-trade war and history of the Métis Nation.

  • Did your family immigrate to the Red River during the 1800s or with Lord Selkirk in 1813-1815?
  • Is it possible that your family was involved in this battle? 
  • Consider volunteering to transcribe an important document that touches your ancestors lives. 

  • There are some criteria for the transcription process, and LAC provides guidelines for maintaining continuity and fluidity across all of the transcriptions.

    This is one of the easiest ways to transcribe online records that I have seen! 
    There is no need to download the image, all of the transcribing can be done on the same page in a box to the right of the image. It has a 'chat box' feel, where you can enter free text in real time. It is also comforting to see a 'Needs Review' comment, which means that there will be double checking of the transcription for accuracy.

    If you don't wish to transcribe, you can still read the document, page by page, thereby gaining an understanding of what happened at la Grenouillière 'Frog Plain'.

    A small collection of resources for Background on Seven Oaks:

    Thursday, 16 June 2016

    Coal Mining, Rum Running and a natural disaster. Southern Alberta 1900s

    Break down your brick walls!

    This post does ultimately highlight one mining community in Southern Alberta, but this short preamble is about an overlooked resource for finding information about families in many Canadian communities. 'Crowsnest and its people' is highlighted below. 

    To celebrate Canada's centennial 1867-1967, towns, hamlets and municipalities were encouraged to publish their histories. A large portion of rural communities in Canada are represented, and this is the key to breaking down your brick walls. 

    © Penny Allen

    Copies of the Alberta histories are available online at Our Future Our Past, provided by the University of Calgary Press along with numerous partners. Many public libraries have print copies as well, especially of those in their local area. Our Roots Nos Racines is titled Canada's Local Histories Online.

    The stories really are a capture of time and place as families recount their personal stories, alongside the histories of their towns. These histories were often provided by a family member who recounted names of senior family members, life in the old country, why they came to Canada and memories of their early days as settlers.

    Often each volume has a very helpful family name index where you can immediately jump to the family and find out details, which may name children and grandchildren, and siblings who lived in England or Europe. Highlights might include: a description of the area; the founding of their town; histories of churches; banks; schools; grocers; businesses and the names of the families who settled there. In recounts of the school histories for example, some books provide the teachers' names, their students, and the relationships between the students (ie: often students later married other students).

    example of addresses in the 
    'Crowsnest and its people'  approx 1979
    This resource will help you to start your research and break down brick walls and is particularly good for finding living relatives from family accounts. However, from a historian's perspective, some of the details may be inaccurate and possibly convoluted truth, so please keep that in mind as you peruse the information.

    The Crowsnest and its people published by the Crowsnest Pass Historical Society in 1979, gives many highlights of families who lived in the Crowsnest communities of Bellevue, Blairmore, Coleman, Crowsnest, Frank, Passburg and Sentinel. (Link provided is the entire digitized book.)

    Some families found their way to the Crowsnest to work in the coal mines from Wales, Newcastle and Yorkshire. Also Italy, Lebanon, Norway, Poland and Sweden.

    Names of some of the families in the book:

    AMATTO, Frank from San Giovanni-in-Fiore, Italy in 1904. (worked for Emilio Picariello as a rum-runner).

    ASCHACHER, Peter Anthony b.1893 Domodossola, Province of Novara, Northern Italy. To Alberta 1920.

    HAGGARTY, Peter from British Columbia

    HAGGLUND, Otto from Sweden in 1913

    GODMUNDSON, Eric from Sweden in 1923

    GRAMACCI, Joseph from Italy, July 1906

    GREENHALGH, Richard b. Tyldesley, Lancashire, England (1888).

    NELSON, Einar b. Oslo, Norway (1882) lived in Utah (1893) came to Canada (1900)

    NERATKO, Victor Antoni b.1903 in Poland. Came to Canada 1924. After he passed away 1968, in 1973 his widow changed her name to Mrs. Joseph Amatto.

    NICHOLAS, Charles from Toola, Lebanon in 1907.

    Thursday, 9 June 2016

    WWI Canadian soldiers in UK Cemeteries

    Last month I spent an enjoyable afternoon at Kensal Green Cemetery in London. It is known as one of the Magnificent Seven in London and it's first burial was in 1833. I was initially looking for Lady Franklin's grave, but found a lot of unexpected surprises!

    Meadow Management - explains what wildlife
    is found in the cemetery and how the meadow is maintained.
    Many graves are overrun, or have disappeared
     into the foliage all together. However, the
    CWGC graves are very well taken care of. 
    I almost walked right past a small very well kept cemetery plot of about 20 or 30 familiar looking white military headstones. Instantly recognizable as a Commonwealth Grave site (CWGC). The tidiness was quite a contrast to the rest of the cemetery which has been allowed to grow into a seemingly unkempt overgrown meadow. But the text on the sign does give an explanation. (A photo of the soldiers' graves will be uploaded later, as I ran out of battery while visiting.)

    The CWGC site notes that there are 28 First World War Canadian soldiers buried in Kensal Green. The soldier's names were very easily found on the CWGC website. 458 records exist for Australia, Indian, New Zealand, Non Commonwealth, South African, United Kingdom.

    Here are some of the names of the 28 Canadian soldiers buried in Kensal Green. Under each soldier's name I have linked to a photo from Find A Grave and his service record on the Library and Archive Canada's WW1 database is hyperlinked on his service number.

    CWGC: John ADAMS, Private 54245
    dob: 28 Dec 1890 Aurora, Indiana  d. 02 Jul 1917
    Find A Grave: ADAMS headstone

    CWGC: Andrew Mackie MACLEAN, Private 477560
    dob: 7 Jan 1892 Troon, Ayrshire, Scotland d. 31 Oct 1916
    Find A Grave: MACLEAN headstone

    CWGC: William George MANNING, Private 172235
    dob: 7 Jan 1881 London, England d. 22 Sep 1916
    Find A Grave: MANNING headstone 

    CWGC: Edward Edmund MURREE, Gunner, C.41567
    dob: 06 June 1890 Yarmouth, N.S. d. 08 Jul 1915
    Find A Grave:  MURREE headstone

    CWGC: Harold Gordon PEARSON, Private, 709867
    dob:  03 Dec 1897 Pearsonville, N.B. d. 02 Dec 1916
    Find A Grave:  PEARSON headstone

    CWGC: George ROBINSON, Private 404595
    dob: 20 Feb 1883 Toronto, ONT. d. 25 Sep 1916
    Find A Grave:  ROBINSON headstone

    CWGC: C D SCOTT, Sergeant 4/22562
    dob: ? ( not found on Service Files First World War) d. 30 Nov 1915
    Find A Grave:  SCOTT headstone

    CWGC: Thomas WAKLEM, Private 443945
    dob: 01 Jan 1870  Virginia City, Newark, U.S.A. d. 22 Dec 1915
    Find A Grave:  WAKLEM headstone shows state as Nevada

    CWGC: Alfred WILLIAMS, Private, 58144
    dob: 22 Aug 1881 Canterbury, England d. 26 Nov 1916
    Find A Grave:  WILLIAMS headstone

    Find A Grave Kensal Green Cemetery

    It is quite easy to find Commonwealth graves on these 3 sites. Canadian soldiers were buried all throughout England and the CWGC site has quite an extensive reach. If you would like to add information to the Find A Grave record about your ancestor, please sign up in order to be able to edit the content. Or, if you prefer, email them a note.

    The Friends of Kensal Green will also answer enquiries. They also have a great publication which I understand is currently being reprinted. The volunteer in the information hut at the Catholic cemetery entrance main gate affectionately calls it 'The Big Book'.

    Title: Paths of Glory: A Select Alphabetical and Biographical List of Persons of Note Commemorated at the Cemetery of All Souls at Kensal Green. FOKGC. London 1997. Typescript.

    Monday, 6 June 2016

    Toronto Genealogy Resources 1840s

     © Penny Allen
    For a fellow #AncestryHour tweeter, I did some research into resources on Toronto in the 1840s. 
    Jan has posted her question on 

    "I am trying to fill out the timeline of tailor George Hindley, his wife Ann/Hannah Drake, and their family between 1841 and 1847 [in Toronto]"

    Here are a few of my suggestions:

    The 1843 directory on Ancestry is available free through the Toronto Public Library (TPL).

    TPL used to have a very good genealogy page and they partner with the Ontario Genealogical Society – however, I could only find a reference to their library blog 

    Jan's thought about researching the directories is a valid one. Why? Because many directories will have an address, names of neighbours (that might be brothers and or sisters) and may also indicate occupations. Some directories also provide an added bonus: a map of the area. 

    I asked Jan: 'Have you pinpointed where in the Toronto area they lived?'. Keep in mind that city boundaries changed many times over the years, often morphing into communities unto themselves.
         Toronto had 5 ‘wards’ in 1834 according to Wikipedia and the outlying areas (if they lived in the 'country') could be anywhere from Richmond Hill to Holland Landing (now Simcoe County) north of the city and also communities to the west. Identifying the clergy who served those areas might be worthwhile - there might be personal diaries of these ministers - which might hold details on families they served. Of course, identifying the clergy also verifies the registry where births, marriages and deaths were recorded.
    I also searched for information about the various Wards around Toronto in that time period and came across this forum: Map of Toronto 1843:
    Historical societies:
    • York Pioneer and Historical Society (a local historical society supporting the communities of Toronto, North York, Etobicoke and King township) 
    • Ontario Historical Society
    • interesting organizations to investigate further research in the Toronto area
    If you hadn’t realized, I’m a keener when it comes to looking into books for answers. 

    Books you need to do genealogy in Ontario: an annotated bibliography. 1996, 2nd edition 2000
    This is one of Ryan Taylor’s, he was a well known genealogist in Ontario (in the ‘80s) who had an important job in the genealogy department at the Allen County Public Library. Unfortunately for the genealogy community he passed away a number of years ago.

    In Jan's post, she also mentioned searching for Land Records: 

    A couple of other sites you must try:
    Oh and have you seen this? T. F. Woods & Co's Canadian Newspaper Directory. Containing accurate lists of all the Newspapers and Periodicals published in the Dominion of Canada and Province of Newfoundland. Published in 1876 in Montreal.

    I even looked in Families, the Ontario Genealogical Society journal for references to articles on Toronto in 1843.  The next time I'm at the Society of Genealogists' Library I might be able to find them in their library collection.

    Keep an eye out for blogs about Toronto History and mine others' research for information. 
    Happy hunting!