National Library of Canada Anniversary

Seventy years ago today, 18 June 1952, Bill C-245,  to establish the National Library, received Royal Assent. That was one of the critical milestones, from the introduction of the Bill by Prime Minister Louis St Laurent on 20 May 1952 to passage by the House of Commons on 27 May to passage by the Senate on 3 June.

A fire in the Library of Parliament in August 1952 accelerated plans for establishing the National Library. On 22 December, Dominion Archivist W Kaye Lamb received the additional appointment as National Librarian, and a site near the Supreme Court on Wellington was mentioned as the future site for the Library. Work had been underway for four years, with two and a half million books catalogued. A monthly list of new Canadian publications was also being prepared.

Proclamation of the Act came on 1 January 1953.

For the early history of the National Library, during the tenure of Dr. Lamb, see

Ford Heritage Vault

Did you ever own a Ford, a Mustang, Bronco or F-150? If so, there’s a website to bring back memories of the vehicle. It’s bright and shiny, just like that car, station wagon or truck when it was new.

If you remember the year and model, you’ll find the original brochure you browsed before buying on the Ford Heritage Vault.

On 17 April 1982, the same day the Queen signed the constitution on Parliament Hill, I took delivery of my only Ford. It rusted; I drove it until seat support started penetrating the floor! Whether the website too will rust remains to be seen!


Lamentably, we record the passing of two people involved with Home Children.

Kay Lorente died Monday morning at The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre. She was just passed her 92nd birthday.  Predeceased by her husband Dave, they were jointly inducted into the BIFHSGO Hall of Fame in 2000.
The 1991 founders of Home Children Canada, Dave and Kay, assisted countless Canadian Home Children families and their descendants in accessing their personal records.
They were active in raising national and international consciousness through lectures, reunions, the placement of plaques, and compiling Canadian Home Children’s family histories.

Dr. John Dickenson, a former professor at Liverpool University and researcher on Canada’s Home Children, also passed on Monday after a stroke. He visited Ottawa and spoke at the 2014 BIFHSGO conference on Mrs. Birt Home Children and those who served in the First World War. He also advanced BIFHSGO  research as an advisor.

Findmypast Weekly Update

Norfolk, Churchyard Graves and Memorial Transcriptions, previously released as a page-by-page browsable collection, are now fully searchable. Included are 266,158 records from memorials photographed by the licensor, Louise Cocker, with entries as late as 2021. It consists of 345 places, including ruined or abandoned cemeteries and some locations which are now usually off limits to non-military personnel. I was hoping Bradwell would be included . . .  alas.

Britain, Naturalisations 1844-1990 has 98,346 entries.
Over 70% are for the 1960s and 1970s, and only 13 before 1940. According to the release information, the records usually include a combination of the following information:

Age or date of birth
Names of parents, or spouse and children, if applicable
Place of origin and original nationality
Naturalization certificate date and number

Russia was the origin of the most significant number of naturalized, followed by India and Poland.

Other records added this week are for the Caribbean — St Vincent’s most populous parish, St George — for 1765-1820, there were 3,475 baptisms and 1,534 marriages.

BBC History Magazine: July 2022

The feature articles in the July issue.
The Watergate scandal Clifford Williamson delves into the murky events of 1972 that sparked a constitutional crisis-and the fall of US president Richard Nixon. (Was it really 50 years ago!)

British front doors
Rachel Hurdley explains what the entrances to homes reveal about the hopes and fears of the nation over the centuries. (Did your house have a boot scraper?

Normans in Africa
Levi Roach explores a litle-known and short-lived Norman attempt to forge a north-African kingdom in the 12th century.

New light on the Dark Ages
Michael Wood examines the latest discoveries about life in England before the Norman conquest.

Russian Civil War
Antony Beevor tells Rob Attar about the turbulent years of conflict, hunger and repression in Russia that followed the revolutions of 1917. (12 million died in Russia’s Civil War.)

Into the wild
In the seventh part of our series on the history of the BBC, David Hendy looks at the evolution of the broadcaster’s pioneering natural history films.

Accessorising the past
Cordula van Wyhe and Susan Vincent discuss how buckles, buttons and other adornments expressed historical attitudes.

One of the surprising news items was a finding that Anglo-Saxon kings were “mostly vegetarian.” “Experts from the University of Cambridge analysed the chemical composition of bones of more than 2,000 people buried in England between the fifth and eleventh centuries, then researched their social status based on the location of their burials and the objects included in their graves. The resuts indicated that the elite didn’t eat more meat on a daily basis than other social groups.

Only in Canada, Eh!

Adobe’s Photoshop web app is now free to use in Canada. There’s access without an account here if you upload an image to start with. Then you can take a tour to introduce “the beta’s interface, collaboration features, and limited editing functionality.”

Photoshop has an enviable reputation. Even on this stripped-down version, there is a bit of a learning curve.

Depending on your needs you may prefer to stick with what you know. Lately, I’ve been using Photopea.

Coming from Pen and Sword

Researching Local History (Paperback)
Your Guide to the Sources

By Stuart A. Raymond
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 40 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526779427
Published: 30th June 2022

How has the place we live in changed, developed, and grown over the centuries? That is the basic question local historians seek to answer. The answer is to be found in the sources of information that previous generations have left us. The records of parish, county, and diocesan administration, of the courts, of the national government, and of private estates, all have something to tell us about the history of the locality we are interested in. So do old newspapers and other publications. All of these sources are readily available, but many have been little used.

Local historians come from a wide diversity of backgrounds. But whether you are a student researching a dissertation, a family historian interested in the wider background history of your family, a teacher, a librarian, an archivist, an academic, or are merely interested in the history of your own area, this book is for you. If you want to research local history, you need a detailed account of the myriad sources readily available. This book provides a comprehensive overview of those sources, and its guidance will enable you to explore and exploit their vast range. It poses the questions which local historians ask, and identifies the specific sources likely to answer those questions.

Tracing Your Theatrical Ancestors (Paperback)
A Guide for Family Historians

By Prof Katharine M Cockin
Imprint: Pen & Sword Family History
Series: Tracing Your Ancestors
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781526732057
Published: 30th July 2022

How can you find out about the lives of ancestors who were involved in the world of theatre: on stage and on film, in the music halls and travelling shows, in the circus and in all sorts of other forms of public performance? Katharine Cockin’s handbook provides a fascinating introduction for readers searching for information about ancestors who had clearly defined roles in the world of the theatre and performance as well as those who left only a few tantalizing clues behind.

The wider history of public performance is outlined, from its earliest origins in church rituals and mystery plays through periods of censorship driven by campaigns on moral and religious grounds up to the modern world of stage and screen. Case studies, which are a special feature of the book, demonstrate how the relevant records and be identified and interpreted, and they prove how much revealing information they contain. Information on relevant archives, books, museums and websites make this an essential guide for anyone who is keen to explore the subject.

Ancestry adds Edinburgh, Scotland, Cemetery Registers, 1771-1935

New to Ancestry, this collection of 508,318 records from the Edinburgh City Archives provides (where available):

Name of deceased
Name of spouse(s)
Names of parents
Birth date
Death date
Burial date
Last residence
Parish and cemetery of burial.

Records, which as also browsable, are for:
Calton, 1841-1887
Canongate, 1855-1885
Colinton, 1885-1914
Comely Bank, 1896-1923
Dalry, 1846-1906
East Preston Street, 1820-1872
Edinburgh and Leith/Rosebank, 1846-1927
Edinburgh Southern Cemetery-Grange, 1846-1923
Greyfriars, 1771-1842
Liberton, 1862-1900
Morningside, 1878-1935
North Leith, 1855-1911
North Merchiston, 1874-1921
Portobello, 1877-1933
Restalrig, 1818-1901
South Leith, 1843-1889
St. Cuthberts, 1804-1890
Warriston, 1843-1903

This Week’s Online Genealogy Events

Choose from free online events in the next five days. All times are ET except as noted. Those in red are Canadian, bolded if local to Ottawa or recommended. Assume registration in advance is required; check so you’re not disappointed.

Tuesday 7 June. 2 pm: Virtual Genealogy Drop-In, from Ottawa Branch of OGS and The Ottawa Public Library.

Tuesday, 14 June. 2 pm: Common Ancestors with DNA by Shahar Tenenbaum for Legacy Family Tree Webinars. 

Tuesday, 14 June. 2:30 pm: Research with the Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, by Irene B. Walters for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Tuesday 14 June. 7 pm: Diligence Has its Rewards – A Remarkable Discovery Regarding My Early Lambton and Kent Ancestors, by Claire Smith-Burns for OGS Kent Branch.

Wednesday 15 June. 2 pm: Advanced Lightroom Techniques for Photo Editing by Jared Hodges for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Wednesday 15 June, 7 pm: Aeolian Hall: A History Against the Odds, by Clark Bryan for OGS London and Middlesex Branch.

Friday, 17 June. 2 pm: A 19th Century Ontario Enigma – A Case Study by Janice Nickerson for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Friday 17 June. 7 pm: Jewish Ancestry, by Howard Slepkov for OGS Niagara Peninsula Branch.

LAC to fully reopen in Ottawa — no reservation required.

The following notice, dated 10 June, is posted by Library and Archives Canada.

“Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce that clients will no longer need a reservation to visit our Ottawa service point as of June 27, 2022. All rooms at our 395 Wellington Street building will return to full capacity on that date, with seating available on a first-come, first-served basis. In-person appointments with reference specialists will also resume on June 27.

To make the most of their time, researchers should order their materials at least 10 days prior to their visit. See the Retrievals and Consultation section for more information on how to order archival and published materials. For information on current opening hours and safety measures, see the Ottawa section of Keeping you safe during your visit.”

Note:  There is no specific information about the DigiLab facility.

Anglo-Celtic Roots: Summer 2022

Contents of the new issue are:

An English Shoemaker Named Janeck — Where Did He Come From? by Christine Jackson.

Finding Edward Cohen MC (1895 – 1917), by John D Reid.
The photo, which didn’t fit in the publication, is of Edward’s Military Cross at Queen’s College, Cambridge,

We Shall Remember Them: Private Archibald Richard Sydney James Bellinger, by Nigel Lloyd

The Cream of the Crop, by John D Reid.

Members can read the issue now posted in the members area of the Society website. Back issues, prior to 2020, are open access.

BIFHSGO is now on the summer break. The next meeting is on 10 September, followed by the annual conference, 28 September – 2 October on the theme England and Wales: at home and on the move.


Military Monday: The Woman at the Front

While I rarely read fiction, I reserved this historical novel from the Ottawa Public Library in the hope of getting a feel for the experience of my great uncle, Edward Cohen. I’d likely read an enthusiastic review.

A daring young woman who, against the wishes of her Yorkshire country doctor father and against the odds, earns a medical degree. Flouting convention, she risks everything to serve as a doctor on the front lines during World War I and learns life lessons in the darkest of times.

I struggled with the first few chapters. It seemed the women were all white hats and the men black hats. That changed as the story developed, not that it doesn’t maintain a feminist perspective.

Lecia Cornwall,  the author and Alberta resident, has previously written romance novels. That comes through in her writing, somewhat too syrupy in places for my taste. However, I did gain the renewed appreciation for the situation in medical facilities near the front I sought and that Edward would have experienced in his final hours.

I finished the book in a few days — something that’s rare for books I borrow.

Title: The Woman at the Front
Author: Lecia Cornwall
Publisher ‏ : ‎ Berkley (Sept. 28, 2021)
Format: ‎ Paperback
Paperback ‏ : ‎ 448 pages
ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0593197925
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0593197929