Remembering those that Served in WWI & WWII

Many Canadian families have at least one ancestral relative that served in the First and Second World Wars. Through my family research, I have discovered that my family has many soldiers that served with either the Canadian Forces, or the British Forces.

With the release of all the WWI files at Library and Archives Canada, researching your First World War Veterans has become incredibly facilitated. The first part of the project had images of Attestation records uploaded, and the bulk of the remainder of the individual Canadian Soldier Personnel Records have been scanned and added to the collection. The UK Archives have also been scanning and uploading their records to their Archives website as well.

From the UK Archives, I downloaded the service record of my Great Grandfather Matthew Connor who served with as a Trumpeter and Gunner with the ‘A’ Battery (Forfarshire) of the 256th Brigade, 2nd Highland (51st) Division out of Dundee Scotland. After reading through his military record, I went back to the UK Archive site, and ordered a copy of the War Diary for his Division. The detail of the Division’s activities is incredibly useful for understanding the movements of my ancestor throughout his time in service. I was also able to find information and photographs for his Division on the Forces War Records website.

LAC has mainly uploaded service files for the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (CEF). Home Defense was not included. For another of my other Great Grandfathers James J Mahaffey who served as Home Guard (and was also a Trumpeter), patrolling the St. Lawrence River (From Prescott to Cornwall), much of the file has been lost for the ‘D’ Squadron of the 4th Hussars, and little is known about the unit during the First World War. A partial pay list and receipts collection has survived. [There is a small blog post about the Squadron on the Cornwall Community Museum site].

There are many other websites available that have histories of military Divisions where a researcher can learn at least a rudimentary amount about their Relative’s placements, or have dedicated lists of those that lost their lives during the conflict.

World War II records are still protected under privacy laws, and but are available if requested to direct descendants of soldiers that served.

This is a short list of the individuals that I have found to date. I still have an enormous amount of research to do for each one, but for most, I have at least the basics, thanks to information available on-line.

WWI –

  • CONNOR, Matthew ~RFA – 2nd Highland Bde/51st Div, ‘A’ bty. (635077)
  • CORDES, Herman ~CEF – 257th Btn. (1102317)
  • CORDIS, William ~CEF – 257th Btn. (644573)
  • CURRAN, David G ~BA – Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers/1st Btn. (44264) *KIA
  • CURRAN, Samuel J ~BA – Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers/1st Btn. (24193) *KIA
  • GERARD, Hubert D ~CF – 94th Regt. (2700323)
  • GERARD, Joseph W ~CF – 94th Regt. (2700322)
  • LALONDE, Arthur J ~HD/CEF – 59th Btn, 253Rd Btn., C.A.M.C (1090063/455819)
  • MAHAFFEY, James J ~HD – 4th Hussars, ‘D’ Squadron (NPAM)
  • McNAUGHTON, John ~CEF – 48th Highlanders, 15th Btn (27376) *KIA

WWII

  • CAWKER, Thomas R ~RCN
  • FOUNTAIN, Joseph R ~CF
  • LALONDE, Alexander J ~CEF
  • LALONDE, Arthur J ~CAF
  • McHAFFIE, James JF ~CF
  • McHAFFIE, Robert JJ ~CF

 

I hope to add further posts for these individuals once I have more detailed research to flesh out their stories.

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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!

 

OGS Conference 2017 Day 2

OGS Conference 2017 – Day 2 – Workshop Day!

The morning was spent with Jane E. MacNamara Think Like a Genealogist: Creative Research Techniques to Help You Follow the Right Ancestral Trail”. Jane went through some trial documents to show us how to make the best out of each piece of information on varying types of documents from Passenger Lists, Church Transfer Papers, Collections of manuscripts and Death Certificates. The intention was to think about other resources any small piece of extra information gleaned could be used to find a new research avenue. Not just to find new resources, but think more deeply about each resource.

We spent the afternoon with Kirsty Gray Using Family Reconstruction to Break Down Brick Walls”. While she’s a lot of fun, she’s also a tough teacher encouraging attendees to start thinking hard on research goals and get cracking! She was all about really digging into detail and filling out as many of the siblings branches as possible to create a richer family community in order to broaden parameters. Kirsty also had us analyzing documents in order to ask questions to determine potential resources to refer to in order to collect all the details possible. She also talked about varying levels of Reconstruction – how deep and broad to research. And then of course, Organization, and reaching out for Help.

After that was a “First Timers” gathering where I got to add another ribbon to what is now starting to look like a small collection. (I haven’t gathered nearly as many as some other crazy ribbon people I’ve seen!  ;P )

And then Opening Ceremonies with some words from Dr G. Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and Keynote Lecturer Journalist Dave Obee.

Dr. Berthiaume spoke about all the current projects in the works at LAC, and all the new ones soon to come. So much work has gone into the digitization of the WWI CEF records being copied and uploaded for all Canadians to access.  There are plans to carry on the digitization of resources and incorporate co-operative scan projects with the public using applications that LAC is developing for that purpose, which generated a lot of excitement from the full theatre.  His understanding of the importance of Family History Research to Citizen Genealogists, and passion to connect people to those resources and tools was wonderfully acknowledge by Mr. Dave Obee.

Mr. Obee spoke at length on the topic of Immigration. With acknowledgment to our presence at Algonquin college on traditional First Nations lands, considering, briefly immigration from the perspective of those experiencing the newcomers. He shared his own family’s experiences emigrating from various other places into Canada. Their stories, their dire hardships, and their points of view about being in Canada. “Push and Pull”. He reminded all of us, that as Genealogists, we, probably more than anyone else, should be fully aware of what immigration Means. There are events and forces and reasons behind every family leaving their homeland for another. We need to acknowledge how those events continue to cascade. History doesn’t stop at the Immigrant with a straight line through descendants, but instead, ripples. Suffice it to say, Mr. Obee delivered a powerful lecture that was broadly appreciated.