Transcribing the Coltman Report – Crowdsourcing at Library and Archives Canada

By Beth Greenhorn

In the spring of 2016, Library and Archives Canada (LAC) digitized A General Statement and Report relative to the Disturbances in the Indian Territories of British North America, more commonly known as “the Coltman Report.” Its digitization was in support of the 200th-anniversary events commemorating the Battle of Seven Oaks, organized by the Manitoba Métis Federation in June 2016.

Top half of Page 1 of William Batchelor Coltman’s report concerning the Battle of Seven Oaks. Handwriting in faded black ink on cream coloured paper. The writing begins before and crosses over the red vertical margin line on the left side of the page.

Screenshot of Page 1 of the Coltman Report, 1818 (MIKAN 114974)

As part of our support, LAC launched a crowdsourcing transcription tool and chose the Coltman Report as the first document to be transcribed.

Events leading to the Battle of Seven Oaks on June 19, 1816

Thomas Douglas, 5th Earl of Selkirk, or Lord Selkirk, was a Scottish peer who was granted a huge parcel of land by the Hudson’s Bay Company. The land, referred to as the Selkirk Concession, included portions of Rupert’s Land, or the watershed of Hudson Bay. It covered sections of present-day Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Its settlement was at the confluence of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers in the Red River Valley.

Lord Selkirk’s plan was to bring Scottish settlers to farm in the area. Their arrival threatened the Métis, who felt that settlement would have a negative impact on their way of life. Although the Métis occupied this area, they held no “legal title” and feared losing their lands and livelihoods.

Many Métis were working for the North West Company (NWC) and the Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC). A number were employed to supply pemmican to the fur trade. In 1814, as a result of food shortages in the Red River District, the governor of the new Red River Colony, Miles MacDonell, issued the ‘’Pemmican Proclamation’’ to the inhabitants of the area.

The proclamation declared that no one should “take out any provisions, either flesh, dried meat, grain, or vegetable.” It was the governor’s attempt to guarantee adequate food supplies for the HBC and to stop the Métis people from exporting pemmican out of the district. The HBC wanted to prevent the Métis from selling pemmican to its rival, the NWC. The settlers tried to block the Métis pemmican export business because they wanted the pemmican for themselves.

The proclamation had an enormous impact on Métis livelihoods. They saw it as a ploy to monopolize the fur trade as it prohibited them from selling their pemmican to the fur brigades. Led by Cuthbert Grant, the Métis ignored the new law, which further fueled the conflict between the Métis and the settlers.

The Battle of Seven Oaks and emergence of the Métis Nation

The dispute over the pemmican supply culminated with the Battle of Seven Oaks (also known as “The Battle of Frog Plain”). It took place on June 19, 1816, along the Red River just north of the HBC’s Fort Douglas. It was a quick but fierce battle that left 21 HBC employees and settlers dead. There was one Métis fatality.

The battle is commemorated with a monument at the battle site in Winnipeg, at the intersection of Main Street and Rupert’s Land Boulevard.

Map showing the Assiniboine and Red Rivers, where they join, and farm lots on cream-coloured paper. The rivers are drawn in blue ink, general information is written in black ink, and the legend and a special note are written in red ink.

Map showing the area of the Battle of Seven Oaks, William Sax, D.P. Surveyor, April 1818 (MIKAN 4149343)

Following the Battle of Seven Oaks, William Coltman was commissioned by the governor in Lower Canada (now the province of Quebec) to investigate. After taking depositions from the Métis and the settlers, Coltman sympathized in his report with the NWC’s position while condemning the use of violence on both sides. He determined that the Métis did not fire the first shot, but had reacted in self-defense. On pages 193 and 194 of the report, Coltman concluded that:

Such is the evidence by which the fact of the first shot being fired by the Colonists stands supported; of [19 June 1816] those present, five Witnesses speaks [sic] positively to its being so, and not one except Hayden states the contrary even on belief, and all others who have spoken to the question, concur in stating that such was the general report; whilst the opposite statement of Hayden remains unsupported by a single evidence either direct or indirect. (Page 193 and Page 194)

The battle marked the emergence of a new nation—the Métis Nation. It was also the first time that the Métis flew their blue infinity flag, which helped shape their sense of identity. Today, the Coltman Report provides one of the best sources on the fur-trade war and is a key document in the history of the Métis Nation.

Transcription tool a success

The transcription of this 521-page handwritten report was a resounding success. The transcription tool was announced on June 16, 2016, and thanks to an enthusiastic public, the entire report was transcribed within less than a month. In addition to the transcription, every page has tags related to the individuals, dates, locations and specific events recorded during Coltman’s investigation. A PDF of Coltman’s report is available in the database and is fully searchable. Each entry is accompanied by a link to the corresponding digitized page from the report.

Screenshot of the transcriptions of the front and inside covers and the first page of the Coltman Report. The page is divided into five columns that organize the content by image number, image text (transcribed text), notes, tags and image link. The horizontal sections for each page alternate between pale blue and white backgrounds.

Screenshot of the transcription of the Coltman Report (MIKAN 114974)

LAC owns the only copy of this report. Prior to digitization and transcription, researchers had to arrange a visit to the Gatineau Preservation Centre with an archivist to consult the report. Travel to LAC is not an option for many researchers. Consequently, some historians have perpetuated information found in many secondary sources that described the confrontation as a massacre initiated by the Métis. Through digitization, and with the help from the public to transcribe this important document, historical inaccuracies have been corrected.


Beth Greenhorn is Project Manager in the Online Content and Exhibitions Division at Library and Archives Canada.

New Books in the Genealogy Services Collection at 395 Wellington – October 2016

We’re excited to announce recently acquired genealogy publications. You can consult them in the Genealogy and Family History Room located on the 3rd floor of the Library and Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington Street.

Check out the list below. The link to the AMICUS record gives the call number you need to find the book on the shelves.

If you’re just starting out in genealogy, you should visit the Genealogy and Family History section of our website.

Happy exploring!

Church, Cemetery and Newspaper Indexes

Obituaries from the Christian guardian, 1891 to 1895, by Donald A. McKenzie (AMICUS 42197735)

Répertoire des naissances, des mariages et des décès de la paroisse de Saint-Ludger-de-Milot, 1934-1941, et de la paroisse de Saint-Augustin, 1924-1941, by the Société d’histoire du Lac-Saint-Jean, Service d’archives et de généalogie, Comité de Généalogie (AMICUS 43692197)

Baptêmes, mariages, annotations marginales et sépultures de Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire de Sherbrooke, 1942-1995, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 42040268)

Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures et annotations marginales de Sainte-Jeanne-d’Arc de Sherbrooke, 1913-2012, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 41994325)

Baptêmes, mariages, annotations marginales et sépultures de Christ-Roi de Sherbrooke, 1936-2012, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 41849903)

Baptêmes, mariages, annotations marginales et sépultures de Saint-Antoine-de-Padoue de Lennoxville, 1878-2010, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 41849905)

Baptêmes, mariages, annotations marginales et sépultures de Saint-Joseph de Sherbrooke, 1946-2010, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 42040250)

Baptêmes des paroisses Notre-Dame-de-Lourdes, 1928-1941 et Notre-Dame-Auxiliatrice, 1939-1941, by Michel Chrétien (AMICUS 41279336)

Baptêmes, mariages, sépultures et annotations marginales de Saint-Fortunat, comté de Wolfe, 1877-2013, by the Société de généalogie des Cantons de l’Est (AMICUS 42160267)

Cataraqui Cemetery burial registers: Kingston Township, Frontenac County, by the Kingston Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society (AMICUS 41669821)

Outremont, naissances : archives civiles (greffe) 1921-1941, St-Germain 1929-1942, Ste-Madeleine 1908-1941, St-Raphaël 1930-1941, St-Viateur 1902-1941, by Cécile de Lamirande (AMICUS 43564793)

Military

American loyalists to New Brunswick: the ship passenger lists, by David Bell (AMICUS 43913838)

Dictionnaire prosopographique des militaires beaucerons incluant le Régiment de la Chaudière depuis 1914, by Sylvain Croteau (AMICUS 43027689)

Family Histories

Généalogie ascendante de Irénée Bergeron, 1838 (Sainte-Croix-de-Lotbinière) – 1923 (Saint-Paul-de-Chester), by Linda Bergeron Szefer (AMICUS 42856232)

Généalogie des familles-souches de Saint-Casimir, by G.-Robert Tessier (AMICUS 43150466)

Saint-Just-de-Bretenières: cent ans d’histoire, 1916-2016: de la mémoire à la plume, by Louise Lefebvre (AMICUS 44279124)

Launch of First World War personnel records database

We are pleased to announce an updated version of our “Service Files of the First World War, 1914-1918 – CEF” database. The new database, now called “Personnel Records of the First World War”, provides access to the service files of members of Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) along with records for other First World War personnel.

The new database includes records for the following groups:

Canadian Expeditionary Force

  • Imperial War Service Gratuities recipients
  • Non-Permanent Active Militia
  • Rejected CEF volunteers
  • Royal Newfoundland Regiment and Forestry Corps

Discover the Personnel Records of the First World War collection today!

And be sure to visit the First World War page of the Military Heritage section of our website for an overview of all our First World War records.

We wish to acknowledge the participation of the Provincial Archives Division of The Rooms corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador for access to its digitized personnel files.

 

 

Open datasets – update

Library and Archives Canada is in the process of extracting from outdated storage devices, and then preserving, the datasets of studies undertaken by federal departments. The studies, covering a wide range of topics-including the environment, health, and immigration–are being made available on the Open Data portal. To learn more about the structure of the data, see Open Data: Providing access to historical Government of Canada studies.

In the coming months, Library and Archives Canada will be releasing the following datasets:

Alouette I synoptic data

The data result from radio sounding of the ionosphere by the Alouette I satellite. The data sets being released relate to data collected from May 1, 1963, to December 31, 1966.

Water Survey of Canada

The Water Survey of Canada has been collecting and publishing hydrometric data since 1908. Five categories of data were collected between 1908 and 1979:

  • FLOW files – historical daily, monthly and annual streamflow data from stations across Canada
  • LEVELS file – historical daily, monthly and annual water level data from stations across Canada
  • HYDEX file – descriptive information for hydrometric gauging stations (streamflow and water level)
  • PEAKS file – annual maximum instantaneous discharges or water levels from some 1,400 gauging stations across Canada
  • SEDEX file – historical daily mean suspended sediment concentrations in milligrams per litre from gauging stations across Canada

Food Prices Review Board

The results from several food price studies undertaken between 1973 and 1976 will be released:

  • Average retail food prices in major cities across Canada
  • Availability of comparative price information and effects on consumers’ purchasing decisions
  • Price data on dairy foods in major cities across Canada
  • Costs and benefits of meat specials merchandizing practices
  • Beef and pork prices in major cities across Canada

New books in the Genealogy Services Collection at 395 Wellington Street—March 2016

Here is a list of our recently acquired genealogy publications. You can consult them in the Genealogy and Family History Room located on the 3rd floor at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa. The link to the AMICUS record gives the call number you need to find the book on the shelves. Please note that CD-ROMs must be pre-ordered.

If you’re just starting out in genealogy, you should check out our Genealogy and Family History section.

Happy exploring!

Church, Cemetery and other indexes

La population des forts français d’Amérique, XVIIIe siècle : répertoire des baptêmes, mariages et sépultures célébrés dans les forts et les établissements français en Amérique du Nord au XVIIIe siècle : volume 3 – Détroit by Marthe Faribault-Beauregard (AMICUS 4941584)

Fegan’s homes newsletters. Volume 10: the Red Lamp 1913-1920 compiled by Douglas V. Fry & Fawne Stratford-Devai (AMICUS 32667771)

Arnprior area death notices, 2000-2007: compiled from Arnprior newspapers and funeral home notices [electronic resource] by Andriend Schlievert

Naissances & sépultures de Cabano, 1901-1939, St-Elzéar, 1933-1940, St-Honoré, 1871-1940, St-Louis du Ha! Ha!, 1878-1940 by Cécile de Lamirande (AMICUS 43564794)

Répertoire des baptêmes Saint-Sauveur, 1853-2013 by Société d’histoire et de généalogie des Pays-d’en-Haut (AMICUS 43711495)

Registres paroissiaux de Saint-Adelme de 1930 à 2014 : avec l’historique de quelques familles (extrait du livre du 50ième anniversaire de Saint-Adelme), (paru en 1981) et photo de mariage et d’anciens de chez-nous compiled by Madona Ouellet (AMICUS 43249438)

Inhumations sous l’église Sainte-Famille de Boucherville by Gilles Senécal (AMICUS 43918276)

Répertoire des mariages Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, mise à jour 1972 à 1992 : 70 établissements by Jacques Gagnon (AMICUS 40910246)

Family histories and dictionaries

The Linossier and Montagnon family pioneers in the Interlake region: homesteading – R.M. of Eriksdale, Manitoba, Canada by John Paul Linossier (AMICUS 43525032)

Dictionnaire généalogique des familles Thériault : descendance de Claude, 1601-2011 by Camille Albert (AMICUS 39364192)

Les premiers Audet dit Lapointe d’Amérique by Guy Saint-Hilaire (AMICUS 43306689)

The legend of four Weber brothers by Tim Campbell (AMICUS 43188991)

Les Filles du Roy de 1663 : recueil de biographies des 36 premières Filles du Roy arrivées en Nouvelle-France by Irène Belleau (AMICUS 43919407)

L’Association des Saindon de l’Amérique du Nord : Le recueil (AMICUS 34986778)

Mariages Larocque = Larocque marriages [electronic resource] by Charles G. Clermont (AMICUS 43727175)

Local histories

Mercier fête son histoire : des histoires de familles by La Société du patrimoine et de l’histoire de Mercier (AMICUS 43223569)

Très-Sainte-Trinité, Rockland : regards sur notre histoire, vision vers l’avenir : 125e anniversaire, 1889-2014 by Corporation de la communauté Sainte-Trinité (AMICUS 43474887)

Library and Archives Canada releases its latest podcast episode, “Rising from the Ashes”

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is releasing its latest podcast episode, “Rising from the Ashes.”

On February 3, 1916 at 8:37 p.m., the alarm was raised on Parliament Hill that a fire had broken out in the Centre Block. By the next morning, the building had been reduced to a smoking ruin, encrusted in ice. The exact cause of the fire was never determined.

With Canada fully immersed in the First World War and the 50th anniversary of Confederation rapidly approaching, it was imperative that parliament be rebuilt immediately to engender a sense of enduring strength and continuity in the hearts and minds of Canadians. In this episode Johanna Mizgala, curator for the House of Commons, takes us back to that chilling night in Canada’s history. She also discusses the bold vision of the architects charged with the task of rebuilding parliament.

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

Orders-in-Council database

A new version of the Orders-in-Council database is now online. Digitized images for the years 1911 to 1916 are now available, plus new descriptions for the years 1916 to 1924 have been added. You’ll also notice new sorting features available in the Results pages.

Start searching the Orders-in-Council database now!

Curious about Library and Archives Canada’s new archival collections and publications? Check out “What’s new in the collection”

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to launch “What’s new in the collection,” your place to stay informed on some of LAC’s newest acquisition activities.

This new section showcases lists of select archival records and publications that we have recently received in addition to select archival records that are now available for consultation.

Of particular interest in the inaugural winter 2016 release is the addition to the Michel Marc Bouchard fonds as well as new items by Peter Rindisbacher and Cornelius Krieghoff. New publications received under the Legal Deposit Program include books on pianist Oscar Peterson and author Germaine Guèvremont.

Selected by LAC archivists and librarians, What’s new in the collection will be updated quarterly.

Happy discoveries!

Have you noticed a change to our Archives Search and Image Search?

We have started making changes to our Archives Search and Image Search to improve users’ online experience. This will enable you to get more reliable, timely, pertinent, consistent and accurate results.

The interface of Archives Search and Image Search will remain largely the same. You may, however, notice a few changes:

  • Search results will remain the same though they may be ordered differently.
  • The new Image Search will display results in a more user-friendly way.
  • The new main Archives Search results page will provide an easier and a more efficient way to view digitized textual records, eliminating the need for extra searches and viewing via Image Search.

Is there information that you cannot find with the new Archives Search and Image Search? Have you come across any broken links? Help us improve the Archives Search and Image Search by submitting your comments, suggestions or ideas online.

Open Datasets – What’s New?

Library and Archives Canada is in the process of extracting from outdated storage devices, and then preserving, the datasets of studies undertaken by federal departments. The studies covering a wide range of topics, such as the environment, health and immigration, are being made available on the Open Data portal. To learn more about the structure of the data see our blog Open Data: Providing access to historical Government of Canada studies.

Here is a summary of the datasets we have made available over the past few months. Curious about what these studies discovered? Check them out on the Open Data portal

  1. Longitudinal study of immigrants – 1969–1971 arrivals
    This longitudinal study investigated the economic and social adaptation of immigrants to life in Canada.
  2. Canadian airmen of the First World War
    This file includes personnel information for all traceable Canadian airmen who served in the First World War in the British flying services.
  3. Results of Canadian Federal Elections 1974, 1979, 1980, 1984, 1988
    These files contain the voting records for each polling station, electoral district and province for all candidates in Canadian federal elections.
  4. Canadians and Work
    These studies were undertaken in the 1970s and relate to Canadians and work. They include national surveys undertaken to assess job satisfaction and work ethic, Public Service Staff Relations Board pay-rate surveys and an employment study assessing the employment adjustment processes of Canadian graduates in the physical sciences.
  5. Environment – Fire and Water
    • The Test fire, fuel moisture and weather observations datasets contain information collected between 1931 and 1961 about weather, fuel moisture and test fire behaviour measurements for eleven field stations across Canada.
    • The 1968-1979 Canadian Oceanographic Identification Centre dataset includes taxonomic data used to produce group, genus, and species catalogues for the Arctic, Atlantic and Pacific freshwater areas.
    • The St. Lawrence River studies were undertaken between 1974 and 1976 to describe the water properties, pollution levels and sediment quality of the St. Lawrence River.