Canada’s Boy Soldiers in WWI & WWII

At the November 2017 meeting for the Leeds-Grenville Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS), former editor of “Legion Magazine: Canada’s Military History Magazine“, Mr. Dan Black gave a very interesting talk about under-age soldiers from all across Canada who served during the WWI and WWII.

 

Some of the young men came home after their tour of duty, but many that didn’t. He read excerpts from two of the books he co-authored with John Boileau, describing their time in the field, and also read from some of the soldier’s letters home to their families and loved ones. For a few of those boys, their mother’s went through great effort to try to persuade the authorities to release their sons from service and send them home.

A great deal of research went into detailing the lives of these under-age soldiers, and Mr. Black shared information about the resources he accessed in order to do it – one of the main repositories accessed was Library and Archives Canada (LAC). He also spoke about some of the more challenging aspects of targeting his subjects due to the fact that their enlistment papers usually had false dates of birth. Many of these boys enlisted at the young ages of 15 and 16, there were some that were even younger. He told one particular story about a young man who enlisted not only under age, but under his elder brother’s name, which cause some difficulties when the family received a telegram expressing the regrets of the loss of their son.

The first book “Old Enough to Fight: Canada’s Boy Soldiers in the First World War” has a forward written by Lieutenant-General Romeo Dallaire. And the second book “Too Young to Die: Canada’s Boy Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen in the Second World War” had its forward  written by General John de Chastelain.

These books are an incredible resource for researchers of Canada’s Military History during the two World Wars, and for those that have general interest in newly researched and published aspects of those two conflicts.

I thought one of the most poignant aspects of the talk was when he was describing the Estate Forms that had to be filled out by the families of the deceased soldiers – usually by their mothers. Reading each of the files diligently filled out in their hand must have been a very intimate and moving part of the research.

Mr. Black spoke briefly on the next book currently in the research phase which will also be focused on a little known aspect of the First World War, to be written and publication expected for 2019.

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Author – Jean Rae Baxter

I recently attended the 49th Charter Meeting of the Colonel Edward Jessup Branch of the United Empire Loyalists’ Association of Canada, in Grenville County, Ontario.

The Guest Speaker for the meeting was Author Jean Rae Baxter, a former teacher and Loyalist descendant.

Her topic was supposed to be about major Canadian historical figure Lieutenant Governor John Graves Simcoe, but due to the lack of a projector, she had to improvise and instead, gave a wonderful talk about her Loyalist themed book series.

Ms. Baxter spoke about having to teach historical literature during the 1970’s to a population of students of which about 85% were descended of United Empire Loyalists, and a bus load more of students attended from the nearby First Nations Reserve. She recalled that at the time, she was given ‘classic’ books written about the early time period by American authors with a clear disdain for the Loyalist population and First Nations People during the American War of Independence.

So, she set out to fix this particular problem.

Jean wrote ‘The Way Lies North’ (2007) in response to the need for responsible historical fiction to tell the story of the Loyalists from a Canadian point of view.

This was the first book in the “Forging a Nation” series, for which a sixth book is being written.  The series examines the stories of White Loyalists, Black Loyalists and the First Nations Peoples who were all affected by the violence and uprooting of the American Revolution.

During her talk, she read excerpts from each of the 5 novels currently published in the series. And each one, beautifully written, gave a very clear sense of what the Loyalist populations were experiencing, embodied in the main character of the story. The series is written in teen-aged perspectives for Young Adults, but should be enjoyed by a broader audience.

Ms. Baxter has also written a literary murder mystery novel, and many short stories.

CAN*CON 2017

This year’s CAN*CON returned to the Sheraton Hotel location in Ottawa’s downtown business core, 13-15 October 2017.

As always – the programming was fantastic with at least 5 tracks to choose from, plus signings, readings, Blue Pencil Cafe and Kaffeeklatsches! Author overload!

Friday afternoon kicked off with 4 workshops on offer, of which I attended 2: “Policing 101: How to Get The Law Right In Your Story” with Sgt. Pat Poitevin recently of the RCMP, and “Weather that Works: Worldbuilding for the Serious Writer” with The Weather Network’s Mark Robinson. Both presenters were informative, charismatic, and energetic!  Although, the suggested interpretive dance performance by Sgt. Poitevin would have been highly entertaining!

Some of my favourite panels of the weekend include:

Dealers’ Room:  This year I purchased books from Karen Dales Shadow of Death” and “Thanatos” from The Chosen series, the first of which – Changeling and Angel of Death I had bought at last year’s CAN*CON. I picked up a copy of Editor Dominic Parisien’s The Starlit Wood” anthology for my daughter.  Bundoran Press had a table set up where attendees could chose a complementary book to take home – I chose “Disintegrate” by Neil Godbout.

The panels cut a wide swath of topics from Writing Mechanics and Business to Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction and all inter-related sub-genre topics, preparing for NaNoWriMo through on to Diversity and Inclusivity.  Aside from the great programming, CAN*CON’s other strength is the effort  organizers put into making sure the Convention is welcoming and comfortable to everyone.

As always, I’m already looking forward to CAN*CON 2018! 😀

BIFHSGO Conference 2017 : England, Wales and Methodology~

September 29 to October 3 – The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) held their annual conference at The Ben Franklin Place in Nepean Ontario, with themes of England and Wales and Methodology Research.

Friday started with concurrent workshops in both morning and afternoon sessions. In the morning I attended “The Manorial System and How to Use Manorial Records” with Celia Heritage and after lunch break, at the nearby Royal Oak, I attended “Maps and Mapping” with James F.S. Thomson (Associated with the Toronto Branch of OGS) where I learned a ton about where to find old maps and what fun things I can do with them! Both workshops were excellent with detailed handouts of resources to follow up on.

The conference opened with keynote talk by Glenn Wright called “Another Bloody Englishman! Britannia in Red Serge, 1873-1920” which was an interesting history of the North West Mounted Police which had strong ties to England.

Saturday, Session 1 Plenary by Celia Heritage “Beyond All Reasonable Doubt” followed by a coffee break with delicious snacks and a visit to the Marketplace where I perused old maps, books and postcards. Throughout the day, I attended “Buried Treasures: The Parish Chest” with Paul Milner – which was fantastic and is based on Paul’s publication of the same name. “Researching in English and Welsh Records Offices” with Celia Heritage was a very useful hour spent mostly discussing how to prepare yourself for a visit to the repositories and get the most out of your time. The lecture was ‘homework’ heavy, stressing the importance of looking at research guides available on the repository’s website and that also FamilySearch.org had incredibly useful research guides for most areas in the world. The last panel of the days that I attended was “Occupational, Guild and Freedman Records” with Paul Milner.

Sunday’s panels were: “Using Death Records to Break Down Brick Walls” with Celia Heritage, “The English Probate System” with Paul Milner and “I’ve Lost My Ancestor Before 1837” with Celia Heritage.

The Plenary talk to end the weekend was given by Paul Milner entitled “My God, Nobody Told Me!” was poignant and touching and a wonderful way to end a genealogical conference, challenging everyone to share their findings with family and write histories before the knowledge is lost.

Saturday and Sunday ran two tracks of lectures, so I haven’t listed everything from the schedule. All of the lectures were recorded which have been edited and made available in the Members section of the BIFHSGO website along with their respective handouts – with the exception of Friday’s 4 workshops. I encourage anyone interested to become a member – the lectures are all fantastic!

Every session I attended was full of relevant information, interesting and entertaining, and very often inspirational. I came home with so much information on how and where to find materials to search, I wanted to search all the things as soon as possible. It was a genealogical candy store overload!

With access to a research center and well-stocked market place, there were always things to see and do during breaks. I came away with a sweetly priced AncestryDNA kit and some old detailed maps of Dublin and Manchester. I was a little slow to GlobalGenealogy ‘s vendor table that had the books on ancestral occupations, where the “Textiles” copies sold out.

Biggest Take-Aways that everyone stressed:

  1. Not everything is on-line – despite the millions of records being uploaded daily on numerous on-line repositories, it is the tip of the iceberg of what is actually archived.
  2. Be Methodical in your research – planning and recording documentation and sources.
  3. Read research guides for every resource you plan to access in order to have a full understanding of what the materials are that you’re searching for as well as available coverage.
  4. Compile and Share your findings.

I’m looking forward to the BIFHSGO Conference 2018 Themed: Scotland!

RTC 2017

I’m way late in blogging post-conference about RTC 2017, which was August 3-5th 2017 at the Kanata Inn & Suites, Kanata Ontario.

It was a great time as usual, I enjoyed the writer workshops Thursday afternoon and the Author readings that evening. Some of my favourite panels involved Barbara Devlin, Debra Cooke and Anna Markland discussing Historical content, which is my real passion. But, again this year, there were so many wonderful authors in attendance, generously giving out books, and bracelet charms and loads of swag – Thanks for all the cool earrings Deb Cooke!.

The dinners were fantastic – the food is always really tasty! My table-mates were author Carey Decevito and her close friend, and some fellow Ottawa writers that are close friends with author Angela Stone who also sat with us when she wasn’t flitting around the dining hall socializing! (If you ever need a sex educator – Angela is the woman for you!  She’s incredibly knowledgeable)

This year, my take home of free books included books from: Zoe York, Katie Ruggle, Eliza Gayle, Anna Markland, Coreene Callahan, and an anthology edited by Jerry L. Wheeler. I missed out on Barbara Devlin’s “Black Morass” give-away, due to the crushing crowd, and my inability to actually find her table in time to get a copy.

I bought 3 books – another by Claire Delacroix, “The Crusader’s Bride” which is the first book of the Templar series, “Triad Blood” by Nathan Burgoine, and an Anthology compiled and signed by all the members of Anna Markland’s writing group for ‘Canada 150’ called “Dreams and Promises”.

 

Ticket purchase for RTC 2018 has already opened and most of the dinner tickets have sold out, but there is still event space. I finally had the foresight to get in early with ticket purchase and room booking, so I’m excited that for RTC 2018 I’ll be settling in with my closest girlfriends for this awesome event! It’s always a great time –  ORWA member  Eve Langlais and her crew always put so much effort into making sure everyone has a blast!

Check out the RTC facebook page for regular updates.

BIFHSGO 2017 (September Meeting & Conference)

 

Tomorrow morning, Saturday September 9 2017, BIFHSGO (British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa) will have their first meeting of the Fall session after summer break. Speaker John McConkey’s topic will be “The Sinking of the SS Portsdown” from 10am to 11:30am at the Ben Franklin Place, Ottawa Ontario. There will be a SIG (Special Interest Group) – BIFHSGO Writing Group following the lecture. The Scottish Genealogy Group will be meeting Saturday September 23. Times and locations are on the Meetings page of their website, as well as a listing of other SIGs affiliated with BIFHSGO.

Annual Conference! –

Also coming up this month is the Annual BIFHSGO Conference from 29 September to 1 October, also at the Ben Franklin Center, Ottawa Ontario.

“Learn about English and Welsh family history and genealogy research methodology. Our Marketplace will be open to visitors”

This will be my first time attending and I’m pretty excited about this conference, especially the seminars leading into the conference itself.  Friday will feature a City of Ottawa Archives Tour.

The speakers include: Celia Heritage, David Jeanes, Gillian Leitch, Marnie McCall, Ken McKinlay, Paul Milner, James. F.S. Thomson and Glenn Wright. I’m really looking forward to visiting the Marketplace!