19 June 2012

June Ancestors (2)

For the sake of brief entries, I am not footnoting the facts in this ongoing memorial. Sources have been noted either in other blog posts or in my family history books.

12 July 1828 Donald McFadyen, retired soldier from the 91st Foot Regiment (later to be known as the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders), his wife Flory McLean, and five children set sail from Tobermory, Isle of Mull, bound for Ship Harbour [Port Hawkesbury], Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.

15 July 1978 Victor Carl Freiberg died in Port Arthur, Ontario, at the age of 93. Victor was a tall man, fair-haired and blue-eyed. After his wife Marija died, he lived on his own for over 15 years with the assistance of the Latvian community and his grandson Fraser’s family. Ultimately he developed pancreatic cancer and was hospitalized. Victor was my grandfather.

18 July 1755 Thomas Dougall was baptized, son of John Dougall and Jean Weir, at West Calder, West Lothian, Scotland. His humble farming parents lived on the farm estate called Parkhead on the north side of Linlithgow Loch across the lake from the palace. Parkhead was in the parish of Linlithgow. Later Thomas married Marion Pollons—before 1781, no marriage record found—and he too lived and worked at Parkhead. What I still don’t understand is why both generations ignored the local church to travel several parishes away for children’s baptisms in West Calder, in what was then Edinburghshire. A genealogist would suspect deep family roots or ties there. Thomas became the father of my emigrant ancestor John, so he was my triple great-grandfather.
The Old Smiddy at Killin, all tarted up today; photo BDM July 2010.
18 July 1807 Duncan Fraser married Katharine Robertson at Killin parish church in Perthshire. The couple produced eight children, probably born at Smithy Cottage, Monemore, Killin. Duncan was a master blacksmith and his trade was carried on by two sons and a son-in-law. One of the greatest things about blogging and the internet was my 4th cousin Elizabeth (Lizzie, I love that name) finding me. A gravestone for Duncan and wife is not visible in the unkempt Killin churchyard. Duncan was my triple great-grandfather. 

17 June 2012

Silent Sundays

War of 1812 Commemoration, St James Park, 17 June 2012; photo BDM

10 June 2012

The Power of the Record

Ian Wilson, former Archivist of Canada, illustrated the Power of the Record, that is, when we HAVE “the record” and have ACCESS to it. He spoke to the opening plenary of the Ontario Genealogical Society’s annual conference in Kingston, Ontario.

At issue are the astonishing, decimating cutbacks underway for Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in Ottawa. LAC is THE centre of our national documentary heritage. Genealogists and family historians are probably the largest user-group at that institution, whether we visit in person or view their materials via interlibrary loan.
Few genealogical societies are showing public support for the protests on their websites. Why is that? It seems individual Geneabloggers and comments on social media pages are doing the work to promote petitions and write letters.

James Moore, Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, determined that the 21st century requires the slashing of jobs, country-wide programs, interlibrary loan of microfilm, and access in general to the institution itself. Why? Because digitization is the way to go and/or everything is already digitized; it’s not clear on which the Minister bases his shocking decisions. As Ian Wilson put it calmly in a nutshell, “The Minister has been misinformed.”

We have already lost acquisitions of historical Canadian material. We are losing knowledgeable custodians for preservation, conservation, reference services, and ironically, digitization. A Guelph Mercury headline said, “The federal government is systematically depriving Canadians access to our own history.”
Funeral at LAC; photograph by Jeffers Lennox

Everyone suffers! — archivists, librarians, journalists, researchers and students of all ages and interests — and ordinary Canadians looking for information they deserve to have. I cannot find words eloquent enough to express the damaging precedent we are facing. Others are expressing it:

■ One of the best, most informative articles is by archivist Myron Groover at
■ Canadian Association of University Teachers,
■ Canadian Library Association,
■ Jewish Public Library Archives
■ Canadian Council of Archives Call to Action
■ National Archival Development Program
■ Mnemosyne’s Magic Mirror:
■ And the ongoing posts from John D. Reid at

We need more headlines like:
Federal cutbacks to impact local libraries .. Ottawa East EMC
Nanaimo Archives in crisis after feds cut grants .. Nanaimo News Bulletin
Cuts to archives threaten our ability to preserve our precious heritage .. Montreal Gazette
Archivists protest in Ottawa .. CBC
Canada’s National Archives being dismantled and scattered .. Boing Boing
Cuts to Canadian archives suit the Harper Tories ..

I can only urge you and everyone you know to write letters immediately to James Moore, Stephen Harper, and your own Member of Parliament. Petitions are good, but a personal letter is better—the Power of the (written) Record!

© Brenda Dougall Merriman, 2012