“My darling dearest Jeanie” The Joseph Gaetz fonds

Web banner with the words: Premiere: New acquisitions at Library and Archives Canada showing a small picture of an otter fishing on the rightBy Katie Cholette

“My darling dearest Jeanie.” That’s how Joseph Gaetz began every one of the more than 530 letters he wrote to his fiancée, Jean McRae, during the Second World War. Stationed in England, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany during and after the Second World War, Joseph was, at times, desperately homesick. His deepest desire was for the war to be over so that he could return to Canada and marry his sweetheart. Between July 1943 and November 1945, Joseph wrote to Jean whenever he could, sometimes sending both an airmail and a regular letter in the same day. He also collected a number of souvenirs from German prisoners that he sent to Jean with his letters. In 2017, his three daughters, Cathy Gaetz-Brothen, Bonnie Gaetz-Simpson and Linda Gaetz-Roberts donated his letters and souvenirs to Library and Archives Canada.

A colour photograph of piles of letters, with one bundle held together by a red ribbon. Underneath them is a photograph of a young woman wearing a coat and stylish hat.

Letters addressed to Jean McRae of Turner Valley

A black-and-white photograph of a man in a military uniform with his arm around a young woman wearing a flowered dress standing in front of a clapboard house.

Joe and Jean on their first day of engagement. November 1, 1942, Turner Valley.

Joseph Gaetz was from the small community of Faith, Alberta. His parents were Russian immigrants and he grew up speaking English and German. On 13 May 1942, he attested in the Calgary Highlanders; five months later, he became engaged to Jean McRae of Turner Valley, Alberta. In early 1943, he shipped out to England with the Canadian Infantry Reinforcement Unit.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of 18 soldiers in uniform in a tilled field.

Royal Hamilton Light Infantry Scout Platoon.

In August 1944, Joe was sent into action in France with the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry; he would soon move into Belgium and Holland. When his superiors realized that he spoke German, Joe became an interpreter with their scout platoon, going on a number of expeditions behind enemy lines to bring back German prisoners. In one letter to Jean from late 1944, he wrote, “My officer and I went a mile into the Jerry lines one night and took 52 prisoners to a barn…That was quite an experience.” In another letter, he told Jean how odd it felt to be capturing Germans who had lived in Canada before the war. In still other letters, he talks about picking up a pistol (one of several he acquired during the war) from No Man’s Land. Joe also told Jean how he got nervous before every patrol but learned to walk silently to avoid detection. He attributed his ability to avoid injury or capture to the photo of Jean that he kept in his breast pocket. He called it his “lucky charm” and said that all the other men had some sort of talisman.

Joe’s ability to speak German allowed him to converse with the men they captured. Although Joe had no particular fondness for Germans, he did recognize their humanity and common plight. While guarding captured prisoners, or bringing them back to camp, Joe often talked with them. Sometimes he challenged their convictions—in one instance, he asked a group of prisoners if they thought Hitler was still a god. One young soldier, who surrendered, told Joe he was afraid he was going to be sent back to Germany after the war and shot for being a deserter. Joe told the young man not to worry; there wasn’t going to be a Germany after the war.

A colour photograph of a book opened at the first page. A pamphlet has been glued on the inside cover which has a photograph on one side and an ode to the women who stayed home entitled “For Honour and for Her!”

Joe’s Service Book showing the poem and photograph of Jeanie glued on the inside cover (e011202230)

Like many other soldiers, Joe kept a photo of his sweetheart tucked in the front of his Service Book, accompanied by a patriotic and moralistic poem entitled For Service and for Her! After inquiring about Jean’s health, he would reassure her that he was fine, tell her whether he had received her most recent letters, and then discuss the weather or some other inconsequential details. He followed these pleasantries with observations on military life—the routine chores he had to perform, what his accommodations were like, the food, who he’d met from back home, and so on.

Conditions at the front were often harsh, but Joe rarely complained. In fact, he joked about sleeping in trenches he’d dug himself and constructing makeshift chimneys from empty tin cans. Joe had a strong sense of personal duty; he refused to send anyone else in to do his job, and he went for seven months without a single day of leave. In one letter, he stoically told Jean about spending Christmas Day 1944 on duty in No Man’s Land.

Sometimes Joe and his fellow scouts were billeted with local families. Joe quickly picked up enough Flemish to be able to communicate with the people he came into contact with, and he writes how the locals would often invite the soldiers to dinner or offer to do their laundry. In his letters, he describes the little children he met, and he occasionally included photos of them in his letters home.

He came back to Canada on November 1945 and was discharged in Calgary, Alberta, on January 18, 1946, at the rank of Sergeant. He worked his way up to manager of the Fort Macleod lumberyard and he and Jean were finally married on June 21, 1948. They had three daughters before he died at the age of 41 of chronic hypertension. Cathy Gaetz-Brothen, the youngest of the girls was only one-year-old when her father died. The letters he wrote to her mother are especially important to her because they allowed her to get to know a father she had no memory of.

A black-and-white photograph of a man in uniform.

Joseph Gaetz in uniform (e011202231)

Joseph Gaetz didn’t have a particularly heroic war. He wasn’t a high-ranking commissioned officer leading a battalion; he didn’t singlehandedly storm any nests of German snipers. Instead he did what thousands of other Canadian soldiers did. He joined the army and fought alongside his fellow soldiers in the hope that he would one day come home to his sweetheart. Joe was one of the lucky ones.

Visit the exhibition Premiere: New acquisitions at Library and Archives Canada at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. The exhibition, which runs until December 3, 2018, features our most recent acquisitions and celebrates the expertise of Library and Archives Canada’s acquisition specialists. A librarian or an archivist thoughtfully selected every one of the items in the exhibition and wrote the caption for the item that they chose. Admission is free.


Katie Cholette is an archivist in the Specialized Media section of Library and Archives Canada.

St. Eugene Indian Residential School: Repurposing an Indian Residential School

By Katrina Swift

Less than 10 kilometres from Cranbrook, British Columbia, St. Eugene Indian Residential School was the smallest one in the province. Open from 1898 to 1970, the school was primarily run by the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Providence and the Oblates of Mary Immaculate. Construction of the main building was completed in 1912.

Background

As a project between the Canadian government and the Roman Catholic, Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches, the residential school system was in operation from 1892 to 1969. However, residential schools for Indigenous children predate Confederation, and the last one, run by the federal government, closed in 1996. Children from surrounding communities and reserves between the ages of 6 and 15 were coerced or taken away from their homes and forced to attend residential schools for 10 months each year, in many cases suffering physical, emotional, cultural and sexual abuse. By the late 1950s, St. Eugene was at its peak with 150 students, and even by its final year, it still had 56 students in residence.

A blurry black-and-white photograph of a building taken from the side, showing the main entrance and the front of the building.

St. Eugene Indian Residential School – Kootenay, main building looking south, Cranbrook, B.C. Photograph taken on September 11, 1948 (e011080318)

The painful impact of these institutions continues to cut through generations. In Rick Hiebert’s 2002 article in Report Newsmagazine, Chief Sophie Pierre, who attended St. Eugene from ages 6 to 16, says, “…there was this feeling to just blow it up. Knock it down. No one wanted to see it anymore.” But, Pierre continues, they were swayed by the powerful words of Elder Mary Paul. “She said it was within the St. Eugene Mission that the culture of the Kootenay Indians was taken away, and it should be within this building that it is returned.”

A technical drawing of a three-story building with a high peaked roof. The central front entrance has a peak with a cross above it.

A technical drawing showing the front elevation of St. Eugene Mission in Cranbrook, B.C. (e010783622)

Moving forward

In 1996, the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council submitted St. Eugene Residential School for designation as a site of national historic significance. According to Geoffrey Carr’s 2009 article in an academic journal, the application was rejected for a number of reasons: the site was going to be changed too radically, it did not satisfy the other criteria for the designations of schools, and finally, there was some wariness to commemorate a place that might be perceived as an embarrassment to the Canadian government. Instead, two years later, Coast Hotels & Resorts and the five bands of the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council (St. Mary’s, Columbia Lake, Lower Kootenay, Tobacco Plains and Shuswap) announced that they would turn the historic site into a $30-million resort. The five bands would hold the lease to the property and control all the shares of the development corporation.

Chief Sophie Pierre, the major coordinator of the project, recalls her time at the school as terribly lonely. “Brothers and sisters were kept apart, not allowed to talk to each other,” she says in a 2003 Toronto Star article by Ian Cruickshank. Elder Mary Paul was a key inspiration for this project, saying,“…if you think you lost so much in this building, it’s not lost… You only really lose something if you refuse to pick it up again.” For the Tribal Council to maintain the building, studies showed that a resort would be the most profitable way to proceed. Although most funding came from federal government loans and grants, the Tribal Council made a particular effort to operate the business without governmental help.

The St. Eugene residential school is “…the only project in Canada where a First Nation has decided to transform the icon of an often sad period of its history into a powerful economic engine,” according to the resort’s website, “by restoring an old Indian Residential [S]chool into an international destination resort for future generations to enjoy.”

Critics argue that the redevelopment of St. Eugene has put economic gain before social memory. Carr writes that “…St. Eugene’s bears both the imprint of national contrition and the grotesque, enduring features of colonial violence.” Nevertheless, Chief Pierre takes great pride in how much this project will benefit the community in the long term.

In 2001, the resort’s golf course was named Golf Digest Magazine’s third-best golf course in Canada. According to statistics from Aboriginal Tourism BC, the main demographic group to visit such resorts are upper-middle-class baby boomers. By 2004, after some unfortunate financial struggles and a court order by the B.C. Supreme Court, the project was taken over by the Mnjikaning First Nations of Ontario, the Samson Cree First Nations of Alberta, and the Ktunaxa Kinbasket Tribal Council—effectively maintaining a complete First Nations operation, but with the Tribal Council no longer in its previous position of sole ownership.

Library and Archives Canada plays an important role in the collection and maintenance of information about residential schools across Canada. The records are integral for research regarding claims, architectural plans, and reports of administration and attendance. These records speak to the fact that the Indian residential school system was a deliberate choice by the Canadian government to take care of “the Indian problem,” as it was referred to in many government documents throughout this period.

Related resources

Sources

  • Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada. Indian Residential Schools Located in the Province of British Columbia – One-Page Histories. Government of Canada, 2013.
  • Geoffrey Carr. Atopoi of the Modern: Revisiting the Place of the Indian Residential School. English Studies in Canada 35:1 (March 2009): 109–135.
  • Ian Cruickshank. Indian chief brains behind resort. Toronto Star (July 5, 2003): J16.
  • Rick Hiebert. Holidaying in Auschwitz: a BC indian band is turning an old residential school into a new resort casino [St. Eugene Mission residential school]. Report Newsmagazine 29:1 (January 7, 2002): 54.
  • Eugene Golf Resort and Casino, www.steugene.ca.
  • Ted Davis. C.’s First Nations welcome the world; Baby boomers are now joining international travellers in exploring the province’s aboriginal-based attractions. CanWest News (June 17, 2008).

Katrina Swift is a master’s student in the School of Indigenous and Canadian Studies at Carleton University who was doing a practicum in the Government Archives Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Images of blacksmiths now on Flickr

Blacksmiths manipulate iron or steel to create objects, such as tools, household goods, and art. They use specific tools to hammer, bend, or cut metal heated in a forge.

A black-and-white photograph of a man hammering a piece of metal at the Jolly Blacksmith shop.

Interior of Jolly Blacksmith shop, Ottawa, Ontario [MIKAN 3265334]

Many blacksmiths travelled to Canada during the mid-17th century to help build the trading posts of the Hudson’s Bay Company and its rival, the North West Company. As settlements grew, these metalworkers working in their workshops became an important technological and industrial hub of business and trade. They honed their skills to specialize in different domains. For example, a farrier was a blacksmith who specialized in the care and trimming of horses’ hooves, including shoeing them with horseshoes they created.

A black-and-white photograph of thirteen men posing for a group picture in front of the blacksmith shop.

Blacksmith shop, Harris Camp, Peter Co., Parry Sound, Ontario [MIKAN 3300810]

A black-and-white photograph of three soldiers watching a blacksmith shoeing a horse.

Personnel of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade watching a blacksmith shoeing a horse, Creully, France [MIKAN 3229115]

Around the mid-19th century, blacksmiths expanded their roles and continued to offer multiple services related to ironwork into the early 20th century.

A black-and-white photograph of a man in heating a horseshoe in a forge.

Harper Rennick heating a horseshoe, Shawville, Quebec [MIKAN 4948714]

Visit the Flickr album now!

Why would a team refuse the Stanley Cup?

By J. Andrew Ross

Last year, the National Hockey League (NHL) celebrated the 125th anniversary of the Stanley Cup. The celebration year was no doubt chosen because 2017 was also the NHL’s centennial year. However, even though 125 years earlier, on March 18, 1892, it had been announced that Governor General Frederick Arthur Stanley, 1st Baron Stanley, wished to donate a challenge cup for the hockey championship of the Dominion of Canada, that cup only arrived in Canada the following year. Further complicating matters, the team that was to receive the Stanley Cup actually refused it, and was only persuaded to take possession of the trophy in 1894.

Anniversaries aside, the story of how the Stanley Cup eventually became Canada’s holiest sports icon can be told through the collection of Library and Archives Canada.

By the time his cup arrived in Canada, Stanley had returned to England before the end of his term as governor general, having become the 16th Earl of Derby upon his brother’s death. Stanley appointed Ottawa Evening Journal publisher Philip Dansken (“P.D.”) Ross as one of two trustees of the trophy, and left it to him to fashion the rules of competition.

The entry in Ross’s diary for Sunday, April 23, 1893, notes that he sat down that day to draft the new rules, which were printed in his newspaper on May 1, 1893.

A grainy newspaper clipping of an article with the headline “‘The Stanley Cup.’ His Excellency’s gift to the hockey associations.”

Excerpt from “The Stanley Cup,Evening Journal (Ottawa), May 1, 1893, page 5 (AMICUS 7655475)

While the bowl had already been engraved as the “Dominion Hockey Challenge Cup,” Ross immediately asserted that it should be known as the Stanley Cup in honour of its donor. He confirmed that it would be presented in the first instance to the reigning champions of the elite hockey league of the era, the Amateur Hockey Association of Canada (AHAC), with the idea that they would then defend it against the champions of the Ontario Hockey Association. Ross arranged for the Stanley Cup to be presented to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (MAAA) team as the reigning champions of the AHAC, “until the championship of the [AHAC] … be decided next year [i.e., 1894], when the Cup shall go to the winning team.”

On May 15, 1893, Sheriff John Sweetland of Ottawa, the other Stanley Cup trustee, travelled to Montreal to present the trophy at the MAAA’s annual meeting. When he arrived with the Stanley Cup—at that time just a simple bowl on a wooden base—he learned that the executive officers of the hockey team had declined to attend the ceremony. The minutes of the meeting, which are in the MAAA fonds (and available online), note: “Sheriff Sweetland then made the presentation, which was accepted by Mr. Taylor [the MAAA president] owing to the unavoidable absence of Mr Stewart the President of the Mtl Hockey Club on behalf of the Assn and the abovenamed club.”

A handwritten note explaining who presented the Hockey Challenge Cup, and who accepted it and why.

Extract from the May 15, 1893, annual meeting, page 315, MAAA Minute-book, MG28 I 351, Library and Archives Canada.

It is not clear whether Sweetland realized that he and the Cup had been snubbed, but the hockey club’s absence had not been “unavoidable.” They had deliberately boycotted the event upon learning that the Cup was to be presented to the MAAA executive and not the team—and that the Cup had been engraved with “Montreal AAA/1893” on a ring around the wooden base of the bowl. The conflict was apparently rooted in the resentment of the hockey club members about being known by the name “MAAA,” rather than the Montreal Hockey Club (Montreal HC). It was a petty point of honour since the hockey club wore the MAAA emblem of the winged wheel on their uniforms, but one that clearly mattered to the proud hockey players.

A black-and-white photograph of a group of men standing, sitting on chairs or reclining. Most are wearing the team uniform and hockey skates.

MAAA 1890 (Montreal Hockey Club) (Hockey Hall of Fame/Library and Archives Canada/PA-050689). Credit: Hockey Hall of Fame.

It was only after almost a year of contentious negotiations—at one point, the MAAA threatened to send the Cup back to the trustees!—that, in March 1894, the Montreal HC finally agreed to take possession of the Stanley Cup. A few weeks later, the club won the AHAC championship yet again, making them the first winners (as opposed to simply the holders) of the Cup. This time, the team took responsibility for the engraving, and pointedly used “Montreal 1894.” With no reference being made to the MAAA, honour was seemingly served.

The next season, the Montreal HC became the first team to successfully defend the trophy in the first Stanley Cup series. Its insistence on getting its own name on the Cup may have been worth the effort, even if its prolonged refusal to accept the trophy risked making the Cup irrelevant. But the Stanley Cup was finally awarded, and the rest is history.


Andrew Ross is an archivist in the Government Archives Division, and the author of Joining the Clubs: The Business of the National Hockey League to 1945.

Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Personnel Service Files – Update of May 2018

As of today, 592,203 of 640,000 files are available online in our Personnel Records of the First World War database. Please visit the Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files page for more details on the digitization project.

Library and Archives Canada is digitizing the service files systematically, from box 1 to box 10686, which roughly corresponds to alphabetical order. Please note that over the years, the content of some boxes has had to be moved and, you might find that the file you want, with a surname that is supposed to have been digitized, is now located in another box that has not yet been digitized. So far, we have digitized the following files:

  • Latest box digitized: Box 10117 and last name Waterous.

Please check the database regularly for new additions and if you still have questions after checking the database, you may contact us directly at 1-866-578-7777 for more assistance.

Pre-Confederation Official Publications: Journals of the Province of Canada (1841–1866)

By Sandra Bell

The year 2017 marked the sesquicentennial, the 150th anniversary of Canadian Confederation. As the nation celebrated this event, images of the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and Sir John A. Macdonald, Canada’s First Prime Minister, dominated the collective consciousness. Further away in memory was the path leading up to July 1, 1867: the Rebellion of 1837–1838, and the report of John George Lambton, Earl of Durham (Durham Report, Report on the Affairs of British North America), which recommended the union of the two Canadas.

To explore the period before Confederation often requires a retrospective examination of the forms of government that existed before that date. The Act of Union of 1840 created a single province by merging Upper and Lower Canada into the United Province of Canada, which lasted from 1841–1867, ending (?) with the British North America Act, which created Confederation. The pre-1841 political entities of Upper and Lower Canada then became the provinces of Ontario and Quebec, respectively.

The Province of Canada – 1841

The new Province of Canada brought some changes. The Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada replaced the Upper and Lower Canada Houses of Assembly and the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada, 1841–1866, replaced the Legislative Councils of both Upper and Lower Canada. This brought about two new houses: the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada.

Both the elected Assembly and appointed Council of the new Province of Canada produced documents: debates, sessional papers, journals, votes and proceedings. These are all important research tools; however, this blog reviews only the journals of these houses.

What are House Journals?

  • They are the official records of the decisions and transactions of the legislature
  • They provide a record of the daily events of the legislature (minutes of a meeting) While the debates are verbatim, journals are a chronological summary; and, the journals include:
    • Addresses
    • Titles of and record of assent to bills
    • Proclamations which include the summoning and dissolution of parliament
    • Messages from the governor
    • Petitions to the assembly
    • Speech to the throne
    • Addresses in reply to the speech to the throne
    • Names of members
    • Information on committees

Journals are issued at the end of each session, with an index and appendices. Page numbering is continuous within each session.

Reports that are tabled or filed in the Legislature are titled Appendices, and later Sessional Papers. They are assigned letters of the alphabet and cover a diverse range of subjects, from Transportation, Immigration and Indigenous Peoples. Appendices were published separately up to the year 1859, after which date they were included with the Sessional Papers.

A typed page with the following title: Appendix to the Second Volume, Session 1842. After is a list of headings in the Appendix, alphabetically arranged.

Appendix to the Journals of the Legislative Assembly, 1842. Source: Héritage.

A printed page showing a list of all the appendices for 1842, for example, Welland Canal, Annual report of the Directors for 1841.

List of Appendices (List of Appendix), 1842. Source: Héritage.

If the date of an event is known, it can be located by accessing the journals for the corresponding session of the Legislative Assembly. If the date is not known, access to journal content is via the two-volume General Index to the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Canada. This index provides subject access with the year of the session and page numbers of the topic in the body of the journal.

A typed cover page reading: General index to the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Canada: in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Parliaments, 1852–1866.

General Index to the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Canada: in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Parliaments, 1852–1866 by Alfred Todd, cover page. Source: Héritage.

A typed page of an alphabetically arranged index.

General index to the Journals of the Legislative Assembly of Canada: in the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th Parliaments, 1852–1866 by Alfred Todd, page 209. Source: Héritage.

You can access the Appendices and Sessional Papers of the Legislative Assembly via Damphouse’s The Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada: An Index (…)

Legislative Council (Upper Chamber)

The Journals of the Legislative Council follow the same format as those of the Legislative Assembly. The sessional journals have indexes and appendices. A cumulative index includes the indexes from the individual sessions.

The Council’s reports and appendices were published separately as Sessional Papers until 1866 when they were replaced by the Sessional Papers of the Dominion of Canada.

The cover page of the Journals of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada.

Journals of the Legislative Council of the Province of Canada. First session of the first provincial Parliament, 1841, cover page. Source: Héritage.

The journals and appendices of the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council are available in English and French.

Many of the publications of the Province of Canada are available online in sources such as Early Canadiana Online. These documents also exist in alternative formats such as microfilm and microfiche, which are findable in the AMICUS online catalogue.

Additional Sources

The following publications provide additional information on the Province of Canada, its journals, appendices, sessional papers, and organization.

     Bishop, Olga B., 1911-. Publications of the government of the Province of Canada, 1841–1867. Ottawa: National Library of Canada = Bibliothèque nationale du Canada, 1963. AMICUS 1738026

This bibliography includes a list of departments with their publications. It complements the Appendices and Sessional Papers.

     Hardisty, Pamela. Publications of the Canadian Parliament: A Detailed Guide to the Dual-Media Edition of Canadian Parliamentary Proceedings and Sessional Papers, 1841–1970. Washington, D.C.: United States Historical Documents Institute, 1974. AMICUS 67351

Includes an analysis of parliamentary publishing and useful lists of legislatures and sessions, journals and appendices by session dates for both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council, 1841–1866.

Should you need assistance in locating, retrieving or using the documents listed in this blog, please contact the LAC Reference Services.


Sandra Bell is a Reference Librarian in the Reference Services Division of Library and Archives Canada.

New podcast! Check out our latest episode, “Mr. Lowy’s Room of Wonder

Vignette of a highly decorative manuscript keyOur latest podcast episode is now available. Check out “Mr. Lowy’s Room of Wonder.

Down an obscure hallway at our downtown Ottawa location, there is a mysterious room overflowing with majestic tomes and ancient wisdom. “The Lowy Room,” as it is affectionately called by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) staff, is a self-contained museum housing over 3,000 rare, often unique items dating back to the 15th century. In 1977, Jacob M. Lowy donated this collection of Hebraica and Judaica to LAC on the condition that it be kept together as a distinct collection and with its own dedicated curator.

In this episode, we pay a visit to the current curator of the Jacob M. Lowy Collection, Michael Kent, who gives us a guided tour of some of the incredible items in the collection and shares the stories surrounding their journey.

To view images associated with this podcast, here’s a direct link to our Flickr album.

Subscribe to our podcast episodes using RSS, iTunes or Google Play, or just tune in at Podcast–Discover Library and Archives Canada: Your History, Your Documentary Heritage.

For more information, please contact us at bac.balados-podcasts.lac@canada.ca.

Post-Confederation Land Patents issued by the Registrar General

By Rebecca Murray

Reference Services frequently receives requests about land patents in Canada. In this post, I will focus on post-Confederation land documents. You can also read the Crown land patents: Indian land sales post and my previous post on Pre-Confederation Land Patents issued by the Registrar General.

What is a Land Patent?

The Crown issues Land Patents to grant or confirm title to a portion of land. They represent the first title to land, and serve as proof that the land no longer belongs to the Crown.

How do I find a Land Patent?

The search for a Post-Confederation Land Patent is much more challenging than one for a Pre-Confederation Land Patent. You can only conduct it in person on site or by sending a request to Reference Services. This post will help you to identify the indices that you will need to consult to find a land patent for the 1867–1977 period.

If you are not able to research on site, please prepare a request for Reference Services by providing us with the three pieces of information required in Step 1, and references to the corresponding Key to the General Index and General Index (Step 2). This will help us to triage and respond to your request more effectively.

Step 1: As with pre-Confederation patents, please start with the following information: a date, a location, a person or organization (patentee).

Example:

  1. Date (specific or general): November 4, 1925
  2. Location (detailed or general): Toronto
  3. Patentee: Toronto Harbour Commissioners

It is best to use all three pieces of information (especially the date), since this will expedite the search process.

Step 2: Consult the Key to the General Index for the date in question

Here are the complete references you will need to find the Key to the General Index for 1867–1947:

  • 1867–1908 (reel M-1630, RG68 volume 899, part 1)
  • 1908–1918 (reel M-1632, RG68 volume 899, part 2)
  • 1920–1929 (reel M-1634, RG68 volume 902, part 1)
  • 1930–1939 (reel M-1635, RG68 volume 902, part 2)
  • 1940–1947 (reel M-1636, RG68 volume 902, part 3)

Using our example above, consult RG68 volume 902, “Key to the General Index,” 1919–1929, available on microfilm reel M-1634.

Please note that for the post-Confederation period, the key is in rough alphabetical order, so it is important to review the entire section (in our example, all entries for “T”) before proceeding to the General Index.

Find the patentee in question and copy down each pair of numbers next to the name, as they will allow you to locate the relevant entries in the corresponding General Index. The pair of numbers is associated with two columns: the “No.” column indicating “line,” and the “Folio” column indicating “page.” This allows you to jump directly to the correct page of the corresponding General Index and locate the relevant entry. From this entry, you have more information, namely the liber (register) and folio (page) numbers necessary to locate the patent itself.

Here are the complete references you will need to find the General Index for the period 1867–1947:

  • 1867–1908 (reel M-1631, RG68 volume 900)
  • 1908–1918 (reel M-1633, RG68 volume 901)
  • 1919–1929 (reel M-1634, RG68 volume 903)
  • 1930–1939 (reel M-1635, RG68 volume 904)
  • 1940–1947 (reel M-1636, RG68 volume 905)

Using our example, the corresponding General Index is available on microfilm reel M-1634.

The General Index tells us that the patent is in liber 298 on page 388.

Step 3: Find the complete reference

When on site at 395 Wellington Street, use finding aid 68-2 to look up the liber number and find the complete reference for the patent, including the corresponding microfilm reel number. If you need assistance while working on this request, please speak to our Reference Services team at the 2nd floor Orientation Desk.

Microfilm reels are available for self-serve consultation in room 354.

To successfully conclude our example: The complete reference for the patent is RG68 volume 658, liber 298 “Lands – Surrenders to the Crown,” 1915–1925. This volume is available on digitized microfilm reel C-4083. The first page of the document is shown below.

A black-and-white typed document dated November 4, 1925, and recorded by the Registrar of Canada on April 28, 1926, in which His Majesty the King cedes the land around the Toronto waterfront to the Toronto Harbour Commissioners.

Excerpt from RG68 volume 658, liber 298, page 388 (microfilm reel C-4083)

Further research

Your research may require access to indices for Indian and Ordnance Land Patents, which are available on microfilm reels M-1011 and M-3693 for the 1867–1960 period. Please note that Indian land patents for the 1886–1951 period are part of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development fonds (RG10), and as such are organized separately in the Land Patents series.

For post-1947 land documents in the Registrar General fonds, please consult the corresponding General Index:

  • 1948–1954 (reel M-1637, RG68 volume 906)
  • 1955–1965 (reel M-1641, RG68 volume 907)
  • 1958–1964 (reel M-1642, RG68 volume 908)
  • 1954–1965 (reel M-5917, RG68 volume 908)
  • 1955–1967 (reel M-5918, RG68 volume 908)
  • 1967–1970 (reel M-5919, RG68 volume 908)
  • 1970–1973 (reel M-5920, RG68 volume 908)
  • 1973–1975 (reel M-5921, RG68 volume 908)
  • 1967–1977 (reel M-5922, RG68 volume 908)

Navigating this type of research can be very challenging, so please contact us if you need any assistance!


Rebecca Murray is a Reference Archivist in Reference Services at Library and Archives Canada.

George Burdon McKean, VC

By John Morden

Today in Library and Archives Canada’s blog series on Canadian Victoria Cross recipients, we remember George Burdon McKean, who earned his Victoria Cross one hundred years ago today for his heroic actions on the battlefield.

A black-and-white photograph of a smiling military officer.

Lieutenant George Burdon McKean, VC, June 1918 (MIKAN 3218939)

Born on July 4, 1888, in Willington, England, McKean immigrated to Canada in 1909 and settled in Edmonton, Alberta. Before enlisting on January 23, 1915, McKean was a schoolteacher. McKean joined the 51st Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force and arrived in England in April 1916. On June 8, 1916, McKean transferred to the 14th Battalion.

Sometime in the night of April 27–28, 1918, while the 14th Battalion was stationed near Gavrelle, France, McKean earned the Victoria Cross, Britain’s most prestigious military decoration. During a scouting mission, the party of men led by McKean ran head-on into a strongly defended German position. While the rest of the unit was pinned down by machine gun fire, McKean charged into the German trench with “conspicuous bravery and devotion.” Upon reaching the position, McKean killed two German soldiers, held his ground and called for more bombs. After resupplying, McKean took another position and single-handedly killed another two German soldiers and captured four more. McKean’s example rallied his men and the mission was successful. As reported in the London Gazette two months later:

“This officer’s splendid bravery and dash undoubtedly saved many lives, for had not this position been captured, the whole of the raiding party would have been exposed to dangerous enfilading fire during the withdrawal. His leadership at all times has been beyond praise.”

London Gazette, no. 30770, June 28, 1918

Later, McKean was awarded the Military Medal and Military Cross on March 28, 1917 and February 1, 1919, respectively. He would survive the war, though he would be wounded in the right leg on September 2, 1918 during the Hundred Days Offensive. He remained in England for the rest of the conflict. Following his release from hospital, McKean served as acting captain at the Khaki University of Canada in London, England, until his retirement on July 19, 1919.

He chose to remain in England after leaving the army and was killed in an industrial accident on November 28, 1926. McKean’s final resting place is Brighton Extra Mural Cemetery in Sussex, England.

Today his Victoria Cross is kept at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa. McKean is honoured with a mountain named after him in the Victoria Cross Ranges in the Canadian Rockies.

A black-and-white photograph of a soldier in an officer’s uniform with gloves and a cane standing in front of stairs and a window.

Lieutenant George Burdon McKean, VC, undated (MIKAN 3218943)

A black-and-white photograph of a group of soldiers standing and sitting in front of trees in the winter.

Officers of the 14th Battalion, France, February 1918 (MIKAN, 3406029)

Library and Archives Canada holds the digitized service file of Lieutenant George Burdon McKean.


John Morden is an honours history student from Carleton University doing a practicum in the Online Content Division at Library and Archives Canada.

Finding Royalton: Searching the 1921 Census

By Julia McIntosh

For those of you wanting to learn more about searching the Census of Canada, this blog will give you some helpful tips and techniques to use in your own research.

Background

In my work at the reference desk, I received a question about the population data for Royalton, New Brunswick, specifically the number of males between the two World Wars, as the query related to recruitment. “A piece of cake,” I thought, “How difficult can it be?” As a librarian, I tend to head to the first appropriate published document. To my surprise, Royalton was too small to have been mentioned in any of the standard print sources, which focus on larger towns and cities rather than on small rural hamlets or unincorporated villages. It was time to rethink my search strategy.

Two censuses took place between the wars: 1921 and 1931. The former was preferred because it was already digitized and my client would be able to access the documents online (see the 1921 Census).

The Issues

The first issue was to find the exact location of Royalton, according to the census districts and sub-districts. For this, I had to find a contemporary map and compare it with the 1921 Census Districts and Sub-districts: New Brunswick. I also had to determine in which county and parish Royalton was situated and then determine the correct sub-district by the written description provided. Sadly, Internet map sites tend not to provide the county detail required, nor do they provide easy access to maps of the era. However, the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick did just that. Their website told me that Royalton was “Located E of the New Brunswick and Maine border, 3.16 km SW of Knoxford: Wicklow Parish, Carleton County.”

Back to the census districts and sub-districts, I searched for Carleton, assuming that the district would be related to the county name. As we all know, assumptions can be problematic! The district was not under “C,” but “V”—District 48 – Victoria and Carleton. Who knew?

My trials and tribulations were not over, however. Complicating things, there were three sub-districts in Wicklow Parish, with nary a mention of Royalton:

  • Sub-district 11 Wicklow (Parish)
    “For all that portion of the Parish of Wicklow, north and east of the following described line: Beginning at the River Saint John at the Hugh Tweedie farm; thence west along the road known as the ‘Carr Road’ to the Greenfield Road, thence north along said Greenfield Road to the Summerfield Road; thence west along said Summerfield Road to the Knoxford Road, and thence northerly along said Knoxford Road and a prolongation of the same northerly to the line between Carleton and Victoria and to include all those who border on said roads.
  • Sub-district 12 Wicklow (Parish)
    “For all that part of the Parish of Wicklow, south and east of the following line, beginning at the River Saint John at Hugh Tweedie’s farm, thence west along the road known as the ‘Carr Road’to the Greenfield Road, south along said Greenfield Road to the south line of the Parish of Wicklow, and to include those bordering on said Greenfield Road, south of said ‘Carr Road.’”
  • Sub-district 13 Wicklow (Parish)
    “Beginning at a point where the Knoxford Road crosses the county line between Carleton and Victoria, thence running west along said county line until it reaches the American boundary line, thence south along said boundary line until it reaches the Parish of Wilmot, thence east along said Parish line until it reaches the Greenfield Road, thence north along the Greenfield Road until it reaches the Summerfield Road, leading from Summerfield to Knoxford Road, thence following the Summerfield Road west, until it reaches the Knoxford Road; thence north along the Knoxford Road to place of beginning.”

What map to use? As time was of the essence, I didn’t have the luxury of waiting for a 1921 Census map to be called up for me, so I checked our digitized map collection. The most current available was a Population map from the 1891 Census. At that time, Royalton was found in the Electoral District of Carleton. Hoping that not much had changed in 30 years, I compared the map with the written descriptions and deduced that Royalton was in Sub-district 13 – Wicklow (Parish). Worried that a map from 1895 might be too old, a subsequent check of the Electoral Atlas of the Dominion of Canada, 1915 confirmed the Electoral District of Victoria and Carleton, but surprisingly, Royalton was missing. At least the county hadn’t changed its boundaries in the intervening years!

A black-and-white map of the Electoral District of Carleton, New Brunswick, with boundaries indicated in a thick red line.

Map of the Electoral District of Carleton (N.B.) taken from the Electoral Atlas of the Dominion of Canada (1895) database. Original source is the Electoral atlas of the Dominion of Canada: according to the Redistribution Act of 1914 and the Amending Act of 1915 (AMICUS 2925818)

The second issue, the identification of those enumerated as living in the village of Royalton, should have been straightforward, but it quickly became evident that this also was going to be complicated. I went to the printed Volume I – Population of the Sixth Census of Canada, 1921, and found Table 8 – Population by Districts and Sub-districts. Under Victoria and Carleton, then Carleton County, I found Wicklow – population 1,689. However, there was no entry for Royalton under the heading Towns, nor was there a breakdown by sex. However, Table 16 – Population…classified by sex gave me the breakdown for Wicklow – 900 males and 789 females. This was definitely getting closer, but remember, Wicklow Parish has three sub-districts, of which no. 13 includes Royalton. I needed to get as close to the census numbers for the village as possible.

Results

My only option at this point was to consult the raw data collected for the census, which meant going to the digitized version of the 1921 Census on our website. A search by keywords Royalton and Province: New Brunswick gave zero results. However, Wicklow and Province: New Brunswick gave 1,600, which more or less tallied with the totals I had already found for the parish. The prospect of going through all those entries was daunting, to say the least.

Luckily, after opening a few pages and skipping around the document, I found a Title page for the enumerations of District 48, Sub-district 13, Wicklow Parish, pages 1-14. Success!

A handwritten title page in black ink, which reads: 1921, N.B. Dist. 48 Carleton, Sub. Dist. 13, Wicklow Parish. Pages 1–14.

Title page for the enumerations of Sub-district 13 – Wicklow Parish, District 48 – Carleton, New Brunswick, 1921 Census.

I still had the dilemma of the breakdown by sex, however. Even though the numbers would be smaller than for all of Wicklow Parish, it would still involve a fair amount of counting. Fortunately, the enumerator had tallied the numbers on the last page of the section for Sub-district 13, Wicklow:

Males – 340; Females – 316

Still hoping for the specific numbers for Royalton, I saw that column 5 on the form was titled “Municipality.” So, with happy expectations, I set out to do the smaller count.

Remember those trials and tribulations that dogged me previously? They hadn’t disappeared in my search for the specific Royalton population count. Royalton first appears on page 3, line 39 for Sub-district 13. The enumerator starts by indicating Royalton by name in the municipality column, but then crosses these entries out and replaces the name with Carleton, which, as we all know, is the county! Subsequently, and consistently, the enumerator enters Carleton as the municipality by page 4.

First page of Census of Canada, 1921 document showing the enumeration entries for Royalton.

Census of Canada, 1921, Province of New Brunswick, District no. 48, Sub-district no. 13. See column 5, Municipality for Royalton.

At this point, I conceded that I wasn’t going to find the number of males in Royalton and passed along the information to my client, who may have been able to further tease apart the specific information by family name.

For more information on searching the 1921 Census, have a look at the section entitled Issues about this census and the database. There are some very helpful tips about navigating from image to image.

Happy searching to all who may be on a quest to find their own Royalton!


Julia McIntosh is a Reference Librarian in the Reference Services Division at Library and Archives Canada.