29 June 2011

City of Ottawa Archives open to the public

I was away at a family reunion, so was not able to make it to the official opening of the new City of Ottawa Archives but it was described in the Ottawa Citizen. However, my first shift as a volunteer came up on Tuesday afternoon, the first day that the Archives was open to the public. The first period of time was spent with the Reference Room staff, going over the new procedures and getting a tour of all the facilities.

There were a number of people when I arrived but few were doing genealogy. However, a lady arrived in the afternoon who was interested in something that was close to genealogy and I was asked to help. Another of our volunteers was there for the training, so we set to work. The visitor was looking for a copy of an Ottawa Journal article on an traffic accident that had killed her childhood friend in the 1960s but she could not recall the exact date. Unfortunately, the Ottawa Journal has not been indexed, so she could have been looking through several years of microfilm reels. Instead, we looked in the Ottawa Branch Cemetery Search Database on our branch website (Cemetery Search) and found that friend was buried in Beechwood Cemetery. A check of the cemetery transcription for Beechwood, showed a death in early September 1966, which narrowed the search down. We set the visitor up on a microfilm reader and she scrolled through to find both the newspaper article and the obituary.

It was now approaching closing time, so I re-shelved some of the items that had been used during the day, said goodbye to the staff and headed out into Ottawa rush hour :-)

26 June 2011

Ontario Timeline June 19 to 25

June 19
1791  The Constitutional Act, which provided the basis of government for Upper and Lower Canada during the next half century received Royal assent.
1793  The Upper Canada legislature passed an act prohibiting the importation of slaves into the colony, the first to do so in the British Empire.

June 20
1826  Nicholas Sparks, one of the founding fathers of Ottawa, purchased - for 95 pounds - 200 acres of farmland in the heart of the present capital in the area now bounded by Wellington, Rideau, Waller, Laurier and Bronson.
1830  William Canniff, physician, author and historian of Upper Canada, was born in Thurlow, Hastings County.
1857  Sir Adam Beck, founder of Ontario Hydro, was born in Baden, Ontario.
1877  The first commercial telephone service in Canada began operation in Hamilton, Ontario.

June 21
1856  The Montreal Company installed a submarine telegraph cable between Prescott, Ontario and Ogdensburg, New York.

June 22
1792  Founding at Adolphustown of Upper Canada's first Methodist Church.
1901  The first public memorial erected in Ontario to honour a Canadian woman was a small bust of Laura Secord, unveiled in the Lundy's Lane Battlefield Cemetery in Niagara Falls.

June 23
1611  The English navigator Henry Hudson fell victim to a mutiny after his vessel Discovery left Rupert Bay. Hudson and seven others were set adrift in a boat and never seen again.
1919  The Gillies Brothers mill at Braeside on the Ottawa River was destroyed by fire.

June 24
1918 First Canadian airmail flight took place between Montreal and Toronto with a refueling stop at Kingston. Pilot was Captain B.A. Peck in a JN4 Curtis aircraft.

June 25
1891  The first horseless streetcars rumbled through Ottawa in a five-tram cavalcade.
1976  Toronto's CN Tower formally opened.

24 June 2011

War of 1812

Battle of Beaver Dam 25 June 1813

This was not a battle like Chippawa or Lundy's Lane, more like an affair or skirmish.
Laura Secord overheard the Americans talking and what she heard made her take about a 19 mile circuitous route to warn the British. Most of us have heard of Laura Secord but not about the person to whom she gave that information
The person she told was Capt James FitzGibbon of the 49th Reg't.[General Brock's Reg't]
Not much is known about him as he is one of those 'unsung hero's'. A very good account of the 'battle' can be found in his Biography, "A Veteran of 1812" written by his granddaughter Mary Agnes FitzGibbon.
[A copy is in Ottawa Br. Library, call # G-249; Dewey #, B FtzG]
The following is a quote about FitzGibbon taken from inside front dustcover.
"Lt. FitzGibbon was one of the greatest and most venturesome leaders in the War of 1812. The commander of a troop dubbed the Bloody Boys, he practiced a form of guerilla warfare, at the time considered unconventional. A colourful character, early in the fighting, FitzGibbon disguiesd himself as a butter vendor in order to enter and move through an American camp. It was the Lt. who, in 1813, received news from Laura Secord of an impending suprise attack at Beaver Dams. And it was FitzGibbon who, despite being vastly outnumbered, obtained an American surrender two days later. FitzGibbon's success within the military was due in part to Sir Isaac Brock, who recognized the achievements gained thru the Lt's occasional unorthodox methods.
After the war, FitzGibbon was twice promotedand helped suppress the Rebellion of 1837. He spent his final years in England, where he was made a military Knight , before dying in 1863"
James FitzGibbon was born in Glin, Limerick, Ire 16 Nov 1780; d. 10 Dec 1863

There is also a James FitzGibbon closer to home. He was born in Belfast, Ire in 1789. Came to Canada with the Royal Engineers, as Chief Carpenter, to build the Rideau Canal. He died in Ottawa 5 Dec 1868

18 June 2011

Timeline for Ontario June 12 to 18

June 12
1783  Major Samuel Holland reached Cataraqui, site of the old French Fort Frontenac, to undertake surveys for the proposed loyalist settlement.
1903  The Ontario government established a seven-mile per-hour speed limit for automobiles.

June 13
1818  Richard Talbot sailed for British North America with 200 Irish settlers -- the founders of St. Thomas, Ontario
1832  Cholera made its dreaded appearance in Upper Canada, striking Cornwall.
1833  At Perth, the last fatal duel in Ontario occurred between John Wilson and Robert Lyon after quarrelling over a local school teacher, Elizabeth Hughes. Lyon was killed. Wilson acquitted of murder, married Hughes and later became an MP and a judge.

June 14
1875  The extensive lumber mills of W C Edwards & Co. at Rockland were destroyed by fire.
1905  Touted by many as the most exciting department store next to New York's Macy's, T. Lindsay Co. opened in Ottawa. The building it occupied was known as the Daly Building.

June 15
1909  The Prescott-Ogdensburg Ferry Co. was formed.
1927  Morse Robb of Belleville patented a working model of the world's first electric organ.

June 16
1784  A party of 250 Loyalists, travelling by bateaux from Sorel, landed along the Bay of Quinte and established what was to become the settlement of Adolphustown.
1905  Samuel Bingham, who spent most of his adult life on the Gatineau River as a raftsman, and was a notable mayor of Ottawa from 1897 to 1899, drowned near Wakefield, Quebec.

June 17
1876  Bobcaygeon was incorporated as a village.
1936  The Petawawa military airport was officially opened as the "Silver Dart Aerodrome," a name commemorating a flight of the Silver Dart there in 1909.

June 18
1812  At the urging of President James Madison, the United States declared war on Great Britain.
1870  George Howard Ferguson, premier of Ontario from 1923 to 1930, was born in Kemptville.

War of 1812

One year from today will be the 200th Anniversary of start of War of 1812. On 18 June 1812 the US declared war on Brittain.
On 1-3 June 2012 the Ontario Genealogical Society will hold their annual Conference in Kingston. The theme will be 'Borders and Bridges'.
Anyone who lost an ancestor in the war may be interested in viewing the following web site
http://www.1812casualties.org/ It is possible to enter data in more than one box.
Anyone with ancestors in 100th Reg. of Foot should be aware that in Feb 1816 the 100th was renumbered to the 99th. A large number of Soldiers and their Officers settled in Goulbourn Twp.
Carleton County

Ottawa Branch Library

Would you like a sneak peak at the new City of Ottawa Archives? After being packed away for the move for almost six month, the Ottawa Branch Library, along with the rest of the City of Ottawa Archives and the other Partners' collections, will be available again. The official opening is scheduled for 27 June with the facility on normal hours on Tuesday 28 June. But the library volunteers will be allowed in the week before for orientation and familiarization. You can get a sneak peak by volunteering to assist in the Branch library for the next year.

In anticipation of an increased number of visitors, we will be expanding the hours for the volunteers. We need more people to help the visiting researchers. The volunteers serve as monitors, giving limited advice and re-shelving books. If you cannot do a regular shift, we can always use spares to fill in. Anyone willing to provide this valuable but not onerous service should contact me at pastchair@ogs0ttawa.on.ca

The Archives will be open Tuesday to Friday, 9am to 4pm and, from September to May, Saturday 10am to 5pm. We would like to have volunteers to cover the whole day, so one volunteer for the morning, 9am to 1 pm, and another in the afternoon, noon to 4pm. Similarly 10am to 2pm and 1-5pm on Saturday. Most of us only work every second week but I am open to more or less frequently if you want. Existing volunteers got first crack at the schedule but if you would like to volunteer to help in the Archives, there are still several time periods available

There will be an orientation day prior to opening to the public. There will also be a new Instruction Manual as procedures will change in the new building.

It is a remarkable facility and I think everyone will be very pleased with it.

15 June 2011

Revenue Diversification

I attended a workshop on Revenue Diversification yesterday, sponsored by the Council of Heritage Organizations in Ottawa. i was joined by reps from several museums in the area. The workshop was focused on the changes which have occurred within revenue streams over the past several years, on the means used to identify viable sources of revenue, and on helping each other tackle organization-specific questions. This session was not designed to tell you where to find more money for your organization.

It did get me to look at our own Branch finances. I was a little surprised to discover that our biggest source of income is Gene-O-Rama, although I also realized that the event also costs to put on, so our net income is not as large. Our second largest source is, as might be expected, membership fees. Sales of publications, Inquiries, etc. comes in third and has declined from 17% of our revenue to barely 7%.

I know that most of you are not interested in this but it does affect the entire membership. The income pays for publication of The Ottawa Genealogist, purchases for the Branch library, expenses for transcribing cemeteries, meeting costs, the Branch website, etc. Despite declining membership in the Branch, we have managed a balanced budget. 

But we can always use additional income. With the new City of Ottawa Archives opening later this month, the Branch would like to be able to provide additional resources, such as public use computers for on-line access. We would like to operate more outreach programs to reach the local genealogists who are unaware of the branch services. These all take money, so if you have suggestions, and even more important, can assist with new ideas to bring in new members or new money, please contact me at pastchair@ogsottawa.on.ca

14 June 2011

Billings Family Project

The Billings Project was originally started to assist the City of Ottawa Archives, where Ottawa Branch has it library. We have volunteers at the Archives every day and they get requests from people who are researching the Billings family, usually wanting to know if they are connected to the Ottawa line. The Archives had a printed photocopy of a descendants chart from the Billings Estate Museum that was not complete. I was asked to compile a more substantive research aid. My original plan was to make it available on a CD to the Archives staff but I later decided that a website might be more useful. A long article hd been published in the NEHGR on Roger Billings in 1935 and it documented many of the descendants of Roger Billings of Milton MA, including Dr Elkanah Billings, his children and some of his grandchildren. As the City Archives referred more Billings queries to me, I thought that it would make sense to expand the project to include all the descendants of Roger Billings.
This project has not yet been completed but it is now time to make the information available on line. It has been compiled from a variety of sources but not all has been verified. Most of these sources are derivative and researchers should check the originals whenever possible. The City of Ottawa Archives holds the Billings Family fonds containing over 7 metres of records that date from 1796 to 1988. MG2 contains the notes of Charles Murray Billings who considered himself the family genealogist about a hundred years ago. Unfortunately, he never published his work; he also never took a course in organizing his genealogy files. But there is a wealth of information there that I am slowly working through.

10 June 2011

Other Genealogy Groups

Don't forget the other major genealogical society in the nation's capital. Since 1994,the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, or BIFHSGO, has encouraged and facillitated research and its publication by people with ancestry in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Island and the Isle of Man. For more on their upcoming meeting, check out John Reid's blog, Anglo Celtic Connections

If you are researching "up the valley", you will want to visit the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogy Group in Pembroke.

And in Lanark County, you can find the Lanark County Genealogical Society and their archives. They are an independent group with expertise in learning about and using the genealogical resources in this area and can provide assistance in research and links to resources in the Lanark County Area.

Welcome to Ottawa Genealogy

Welcome to the blog of Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. We recently celebrated 40 years of helping genealogists in the Ottawa area.

If you are searching your family roots in Ottawa, or are in Ottawa and searching your roots around the world, we can assist you. Branch members have years of experience in the hobby and we can help you avoid our mistakes. :-)  We meet monthly, except for July and August, and host the annual Gene-O-Rama Conference in the spring. For more information on joining OGS and Ottawa Branch go to: http://www.ogs.on.ca/membership.php

City of Ottawa Archives - Reference Room
In breaking news, the new City of Ottawa Archives will open later this month. The facilities are state-of-the art and I am sure that all will be pleased with the new home for our library. We are always looking for more volunteers, so if you would like to help in the Archives, see here or contact me.