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Interesting blogs for genealogists

by Christine H - 3 Comment(s)

Blog

Since I write a blog, I like to read blogs by other people and organizations. (Any of you who have attended my “Cool Internet Tools for Genealogists” have heard my confessions about my never-ending blog list). So when I come across something new, I like to spread the word. So it was very big news for me that Library and Archives Canada is piloting a new blog < http://thediscoverblog.com/> This site is going to be a goldmine for Canadian genealogists. Library and Archives Canada is our essentially our ‘national memory’. They collect information on the country and its people. The resources it holds are extensive and includes materials that every genealogist needs. For example, you want to find an obituary for Uncle Joe who died in a small town in Saskatchewan. You think there might be a newspaper but for the life of you, you can’t find it in Google News or any of the other online sources. Calgary Public Library doesn’t have it so what do you do? Well, you can hire a researcher to find the obit, you can ask the local library if they will do a lookup for you or you can check the Library and Archives “Canadian Newspapers” database to find out what the newspaper for the small town in Saskatchewan was called, see if it is available from them on microfilm and place an interlibrary loan request for the appropriate date through your local branch. How would you know that? Well, it’s in the LAC blog.

Or say you want to order a copy of your grandfather’s military service record. Can you do that? Yes you can and the LAC Blog tells you how. I suggest that every person who is researching Canadian genealogy have a look at this blog. I am so glad that they launched it because every time I show a new genealogist the wealth of information held by LAC, they are astonished. And the blog provides a great introduction to not just what is in the collection, but also how to get at the information in the collection. Did you know that if you need a copy of a document and ask for a digital version, you are helping to build the digital collection at LAC? Whenever it is possible, LAC repurposes the digitized image for their online collection. So, you help yourself and others at the same time. How could this be any better?

So, while we’re on the topic of archives and blogs, I want to introduce you to the Smithsonian Archives blog. http://siarchives.si.edu/blog/start-new-year-right-tips-archives (I warned you about my blog addiction). Most people have heard of the Smithsonian. It is a huge collection of museums, archives, galleries, and research institutions which are known the world over. What I know about the Smithsonian is that when I am looking for information on the preservation of data in its various formats, I turn to them. They are world leaders in the field and, best of all, they make the information available to the public in terms anyone can understand. The posting that the link above will lead you to is particularly pertinent to people who collect things (as most genealogists do). It gives pointers on how to organize and preserve the “stuff” that has become part of our lives including digital photographs and email. It also has links to other blogs that discuss similar topics as well as a link to the Smithsonian’s Flickr feed which includes some stunning photographs ranging from hatching frigate birds to exploding stars. So, Happy New Year – now get back to work on your family tree!

We Are 100 Years Old!

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

CPL Archives 103-01-01

Alex Calhoun and Staff working in an office in City Hall, 1911

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL_103-01-01

This is a very big year for the Calgary Public Library. It is our 100th anniversary. On January 2, 1912, the new public library in Central Park opened its doors to the public. It was a very exciting time for the City. Not only did we get a brand, new Carnegie library, but many other projects were started or completed in the early part of the second decade of the new century. City Hall had just been completed. As matter of fact, while the new library was being built, Alexander Calhoun worked out of an office on the top floor of the new city hall building, alongside the Health Department. As part of the celebrations of our centennial, we will be launching a new photograph collection from the Calgary Public Library Archives. These photos span the entire history of the Calgary Public Library and all its branches. The photos included with this blog post are from the earliest collection, dating from prior to the library’s opening and just following it.

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Empty shelves prior to opening, 1911

Calgary Public Library Archives CPL_103-23-01

The library was a beautiful building both inside and out. Marble staircases led to the second floor (they are still there). There were two mahogany trimmed fireplaces on the main floor. The back of the building curves gracefully and include an expanse of windows that look onto the park. Its setting qualifies it as one of the best situated libraries in the city. The recent revitalization of the park has only enhanced the beauty of the setting. The restoration that was done on the building in 1976 maintained much of the beautiful interior and exterior detail, so the library and its surrounding park constitute one of the gems of Calgary’s inner city. If you haven’t seen it, you must come and attend some of the centennial programming that will be going on in the library. Keep checking the website for details.

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Calgary Museum Room in the New Library, 1911

Calgary Public Library Archives, CPL_103-26-01

What did you do on Christmas Day?

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

 

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Mission Hill, up which they ran

Postcards from the Past, PC 142

Christmas day is usually a time for family and friends. Some folks volunteer to serve dinner to those who are less fortunate. But how many of you ran a marathon? In Calgary, starting in 1906, the Calgary Herald ran a road race outdoors on Christmas day. The 1906 event was led by Cappy Smart, the fire chief, who was described as “no mean athlete.” And for every year following, except the year he was in hospital due to an automobile accident, he started the race by firing his pistol. The dates of the race changed over the years, but in 1911, it was run on Christmas day. The race started and finished at the Herald offices and ran up Mission Hill and under two of the ‘subways’ under the railway tracks. It was won by Alex Hepburn- a recent immigrant from Scotland- who ran the 6 mile plus race in 34 minutes 57 ½ seconds.

 

Map of Calgary Herald Road Race

Map of the 1911 Calgary Herald Road Race

From the Calgary Herald December 23, 1911

This was a very big deal, with competitors coming from all around the country. It was also another way for Calgarians to beat Edmontonians at something or other. It was started by the publisher and editor of the Calgary Herald, J. J. Young, to prove that such races could be run in Calgary during the winter. I have read accounts of baseball games being played in January in Calgary (with the comment that a nice breeze kept the day from getting too hot) but all of us who live here know that it can be either extreme. And so it was in 1937 when a cold snap forced the cancellation of the event. From '38 tyo '40 it was held on Remembrance day and in 1941 it was moved to Thanksgiving. It's last run was in 1950 but in 1970 the race was revived and run at Heritage Park in July. Are we getting softer?

Anyway, I did not perform any athletic feats on Christmas day, unless eating is a sport. Here's looking at 2012 - our centennial year.

Merry Christmas

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 152

Merry Christmas Postcard showing Carnegie Library, Calgary, 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 152

I like to look in the newspapers and see what was going on in Calgary in earlier times. This is becoming more of a habit now that the library is celebrating its anniversary next year. Now I have a legitimate excuse to be reading the paper (albeit from 1912) at work. I think that newspapers provide an interesting window into the world of our ancestors. What I have generally found is that we are not so very different. Sentiments around Christmas have not changed over the years – well, maybe we’re more crassly commercial than our Edwardian ancestors – no I take that back. Have a look at the some of the newspaper ads of the time and you will see retailers shilling all kinds of goods to be purchased for the Christmas season. I even have one posted over my desk: “Give your horse a Christmas present”. Another favourite of mine is “Don’t Blame Your Wife…if she doesn’t appear as attractive as when you were courting her. It’s because you don’t buy her nice little presents of Jewelry as you used to do.” So a visit to C. Campbell Welch, Jeweler and Optician, will solve your problem, gentlemen.

Newspaper ad 1910 Herald

Advertisement from Calgary Daily Herald, December 23, 1910

I like this one, too, for Hennessey Brandy. Perhaps we can see where the temperance movement got its inspiration: “Suppose someone is taken ill at night and you had promised to get Hennessey Brandy but ‘forgot it’…Will you risk precious lives by being caught unprepared?” Interestingly enough, you probably could have gotten a prescription for brandy during prohibition, as medicinal use was not illegal. So, stock up, and prepare for the worst. And of course, have a Merry Christmas, brandy or no.

Ad from Calgary Daily Herald, Dec 23, 1910

The Barron Building: Art Deco in the Oil Patch

by Christine H - 2 Comment(s)

Barron Building courtesy Judith Umbach

Barron Building, 610 8th Avenue SW

Photo by Judith Umbach

It seems hard to believe, but there was a time when there wasn’t much office space in Calgary. When the oil strikes of the 1940s were made, companies set up shop in old hotels and run-down office buildings. Very little building had been done in Calgary since the depression and it seemed likely that the administrative offices of the hordes of oil companies would have to be established in that “E” place (Edmonton – the capital, for those of you outside of Alberta). That was not how Jacob Bell Barron imagined the future. He saw the opportunities offered by the oil boom and started building. The Barron Building (called the Mobil Building, for its tenant, from 1958 to 1969) was the first of the office towers erected in the wake of the Leduc discovery. It was a different kind of office building to what we are used to. It was mixed use, combining a movie theatre, retail space, office space and J.B.’s magnificent penthouse and rooftop garden. The garden, complete with a lawn for J.B.’s dog Butch, won a Vincent Massey Award for excellence in urban planning.

When the building was built, it was considered something of a risky venture. The outcome of the oil strikes could have been a boom or a bust. Barron was willing to take the risk and, not just that, build a building that was almost exuberant in its details. The architects, Stevenson, Cawston and Stevenson used a step-back design, popular in the 1930s, that allows for more sunlight to come to the street and also for terraces on the roofs of the projecting floors. The theatre, while reflecting J.B. Barron’s interest in the entertainment industry, was not unusual in mixed-used buildings. The methods used to construct the building were cutting edge as well. They used Q-floor construction which is strong, but light, and allowed the electrical and ventilation to be run in the floors. This allowed for maximum flexibility in the placement of room partitions. The strip windows were also a first in the city.

We are developing a greater appreciation for buildings from the mid 20th century and the Barron is an outstanding example of this Moderne style and valuable for the pivotal role it played in bringing the oil industry to Calgary.

Barron Building by Judith Umbach

Barron Building

Photo by Judith Umbach

News for French Canadian Genealogy Researchers

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

Front page of Tanguay

Front page of Tanguay's Dictionnaire généalogique ...

Ancestry.com recently announced that they have added a very valuable resource to their collection. The Dictionnaire généalogique des familles canadiennes depuis la fondation de la colonie jusqu'à nos jours by Father Cyprien Tanguay is the resource for people researching French Canadians. It is often called just “Tanguay” (a sure indication that it is important!) and includes information about the founding families of French Canada.

In its paper incarnation Tanguay is 7 volumes plus supplement (it sits in our genealogy collection at 929.3714 TAN). It is the product of a lifetime of research and data collection by Fr. T. whose passion for genealogy led him to archives and churches in Quebec, the Maritimes, Ontario and the U.S. The result is a massive collection of pedigrees that, in some cases, takes the families back to their place of origin in France.

This collection is arranged by the surname of the male head of the family and can include dates and places for major life events as well as the names of children and their spouses. The collection is, of course, in French, so searches should be in that language. And, as with any compilation on this scale, there can be errors, but it is still one of the best resources for French Canadian research. And the nice thing about the collection as it appears in Ancestry is that there is a transcription of the page. This can be very helpful when looking at documents such as this one that were published in the 19th Century. The print isn’t always as clear as we would like. Its availability as a database also means that you will be able to search all the names in an entry, not just the head of household’s.

Ancestry also has several other great resources for searching French Canadian roots, including the Drouin collection (see, another source known only by the compiler’s name). These databases can be accessed through the library subscription to AncestryLE at any branch of the Calgary Public Library.

We also have other great non-database resources for those researching their French Canadian ancestors including an index to Quebec land grants, the Drouin collection on CR-ROM, the aforementioned Tanguay in paper form, as well as a number of very good guides to doing French Canadian research, including Miller’s Manual. 1886560471 You can find them in the catalogue by searching ‘Quebec genealogy.’

Le Pere Lacombe

Postcards from the Past, PC 1597

PC 1597

Horses, horses, horses

by Christine H - 1 Comment(s)

PC 324f

Guy Weadick, Organizer and Manager of the STAMPEDE, 1912

Postcards from the Past, PC 324f

The Calgary Stampede has announced its plans for the big centennial celebration in 2012 and I am thrilled to say that the party will include “Together we create” which will showcase the horse. It is only fitting that these magnificent animals will play an important part in the Stampede Centennial.

I love horses. They have always been the highlight of the Stampede for me. I’m not really a midway fan and though I enjoy the spectacular stage shows and all of the hoopla that goes with the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth, it is always the horses that draw me to the grounds. I try to catch the heavy horse and cutting horse competitions and I always visit the barns to see who is there. I am a city girl, and have never owned a horse (or really wanted to) but I do appreciate the intelligence and the grace of these big animals. I heard a man once describe them as being like big dogs, meaning that you develop the same kind of bond with a horse, that they are loyal and loving and smart. That certainly has been my experience of them.

While cruising through our postcard collection here, I came across a series of wonderful postcards showing Alberta Slim (Eric Edwards), Canada’s Yodeling Cowboy. The photos show Slim and his horse Kitten (named for his beloved childhood pony) who, it is said, could tell fortunes and perform any number of tricks (see the photo below). In addition to the photos, we have Alberta Slim song books in our Local History collection.

More trivia: Did you know that we have a national horse? The Canadian is a breed that had its origins in the horses that were sent to Quebec by Louis XIV in the 17th Century. The breed was used to develop other North American breeds such as the Morgan and the Tennessee Walking Horse. It is a multi-purpose breed that was used in logging, pulling coaches and for riding. Strong, smart and easygoing (just like the rest of us Canadians) it was named the official horse of Canada in 2002. I saw this beautiful breed at Horse Haven at the Stampede last year (See, I do spend a lot of time in the horse barns). Let’s celebrate the horse!

Alberta Slim and Kitten

Postcards from the Past, PC 1559c

PC 1559c

Heritage Roundtable : New Uses for Old Places

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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East Calgary (National Hotel in centre)

Postcards from the Past, PC 908

The Heritage Roundtable is taking place this week. The topic will be Adaptive Re-Use which is conserving older buildings by finding new uses for them. The meeting will be at the Temple B'Nai Tikvah, 900-47th Avenue SW. beginning at 7:00 pm (doors open at 6:30)

Adaptive re-use is recycling on a grand scale and can be a new lease on life for buildings that can no longer serve the purpose for which they were built. There have been some notable successes in Calgary. The Palace, once a movie theatre, is now a nightclub; The Lorraine, built originally as an apartment block is now an office building and the King Eddy, once a fairly notorious hotel, is poised to open as the centerpiece of the Cantos National Music Centre. There are other projects afoot and we will be hearing from some of the driving forces behind those projects. The speakers will be:

Howard Bell, a member of the renovation team that converted a church into Temple B’Nai Tikvah

John Kerr and Philip Dack on plans for the historic National Hotel and livery barn in Inglewood

Shara Rosko, Director of the John Snow House, which has been converted to a resource centre by the New Gallery.

Reid Henry, President and CEO of cSpace Projects, on the plans to turn the sandstone King Edward School into an “Arts Incubator”

This promises to be yet another deeply interesting evening. I always coming away from these events marvelling at the dedication of the heritage community and filled with optimism for historic preservation in this city. If you would like to join us, you can register at http://www.calgarycommunities.com/events.php (use the drop-down menu to find Roundtables – Heritage New Uses for Old Spaces – and fill in the form. There is no charge for attending the Roundtables)

And if you’d like to see pictures of some of Calgary’s heritage, built and otherwise, visit our Community Heritage and Family History Digital Library (under Books & More on our website)

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King Edward School (photo taken in 1967)

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, AJ 0458

'Bob Edwards has left us - gone over the hill'

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

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Bob Edwards' Residence, 919 4th Avenue SW

Alison Jackson Photograph Collection, photograph taken 1968

On this day in history we lost a unique voice in Alberta journalism. Bob Edwards passed away on November 14, 1922, due to a leak in his heart (as reported in a special edition of The Calgary Eye-Opener) Likely the cause of death was pneumonia, possibly from influenza, possibly from his particular relationship with alcohol, to borrow a phrase from my sister-in-law.

Whatever the cause of his death, Edwards’ passing left a huge hole in the journalistic world. Never a “just the facts, ma’am” kind of journalist, he wrote scathing and often libelous articles criticizing politicians and social figures. He had a biting wit and a “forcibility of expression” as was stated in one of the many eulogies printed in the Eye Opener. His wit and forcibility of expression often got him into trouble and more than once he was taken to court to defend his words against charges of defamation.

But he was funny! It is well worth the time to read the Calgary Eye Opener. It offers a different perspective on staid old Calgary. Nothing escaped Edwards’ eye. One of my favourite articles is from the Eye Opener of July 15, 1905: “The Edmonton Fair Association this year featured the climbing of a greasy pole, on the top of which was hung a five dollar bill. Every little while the Edmontonians do something to indicate that they don’t think the world expects very much of them.”

He was something of a paradox, however. He was highly critical of politicians, but in the end, he became one, joining the Alberta Legislature as an MLA in 1921. (Maybe that's what killed him.)

If you'd like to read about Bob Edwards, you can find an article in the Dictionary of Canadian Biographyavailable online through our E-Library under History and Genealogy. Or you can read the excellent "chrestomathy": Irresponsible freaks, highball guzzlers & unabashed grafters : a Bob Edwards chrestomathy : in which are collected extractions from the Calgary eye opener, Wetaskiwin free lance, The channel (Boulogne-sur-Mer, Fr.) & other estimable broadsides helmed by the late R.C. Edwards, M.L.A. : fact, gossip & fiction for readers of the English language the title of which neatly expresses the style and "forcibilty" of Edwards' journalistic style, or you can read the brilliant biography by Grant MacEwan, Eye Opener Bob. These are all available at the Calgary Public Library. I also highly recommend that you read the Eye Opener itself. It can be read online at the Alberta Heritage Digitization Project website www.ourfutureourpast.ca. Select Early Alberta Newspapers and then use the drop-down menu to choose Calgary. It is also digitized at Peel's Prairie Provinces. We also have the paper on microfilm in the Community Heritage and Family History Room at the Central Library and we have paper collections of articles as well. Drop down and visit and we'll introduce you to the wit and wisdom of Bob Edwards.

Lest we Forget: Researching Military Ancestors

by Christine H - 0 Comment(s)

PC 1478

IODE War Memorial in Memorial Park

Postcards from the Past, PC 1478

The Military keeps excellent records. Some of them they won’t let you see, but some of them are rich with detail for the family historian. We are privileged at Calgary Public Library, to be included in a project with Library and Archives Canada called ‘Lest we Forget.’ The aim of this project is to commemorate those who gave their lives in the service of their country. Students are given the opportunity to use primary source material (some of those wonderful records created by the military about their men and women) and tell the story of a member of Canada’s Armed Forces who died. Students can get the names of people they would like to research in a number of places – on cenotaphs, in the Books of Remembrance (http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/collections/books) the Virtual War Memorial http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/collections/virtualmem) or through the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (http://www.cwgc.org/debt_of_honour.asp?menuid=14)

There are also resources for research closer to home. Many schools have plaques dedicated to their students who served in the military; churches also have memorials to their members who died in war. I have found lists of the war dead in company histories and in the histories of towns and communities, many of which we have in our Community Heritage and Family History collection. And that is just the beginning.

The next step in the students’ research is to look at the personnel records of their chosen person. These are available online at Library and Archives Canada for members of the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War I ( http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/cef/index-e.html ) and can be requested for those who died in World War II. Of course there are other military service records, many of which can be viewed at the Central Library (for example, some mercenary soldiers came to Canada after the American Revolution and put down roots. We have lists of these soldiers in our genealogy collection – weird, eh?)

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Of course there are tons of other records that can be accessed if you have military ancestors. You can find out some of what is available for your own research in the following sources:

Canadians at War, 1914-1918, a research guide

Index to Canadian Service Records of the South African War

Tracing your Army Ancestors

And that doesn’t even begin to touch the resources that are available for “putting the flesh on the bones” so to speak - the resources that can tell us what it was like to serve in the war. These are available online and at the library. We have an extensive collection of books and resources relating to the Canadian military. There are also resources at the Military Museums, the Regimental museums and the University of Calgary.

If you are a teacher and are interested in having your class participate in the “Lest We Forget” program, please contact me, Christine Hayes, at email

If you are interested in learning more about researching your own military ancestors, keep our Family History Coaching program in mind. On the last Saturday of every month (except December) from September to June at 10:00 we have two coaches from the Alberta Family Histories Society on site to help genealogists with their questions. We also have knowledgeable staff available at all times to help with any and all questions related to genealogy (and anything else Humanities related)

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Six Soldiers in Calgary, 1916?

Postcards from the Past, PC 569

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