Remembering the Titanic at LAC – Part III: Canadians on the Titanic

The Titanic set sail on April 10, 1912, with 2,227 passengers and crew onboard; on April 15, 1912, the tragic collision with an iceberg claimed over 1,500 lives, mostly among the second and third class passengers.

Among the first class passengers were two Canadian businessmen; Charles Melville Hays and Harry Markland Molson.

Charles Melville Hays was born in 1856 and educated in the United States. He worked on several railways in the U.S.A. before coming to Canada in 1896. He was the General Manager of the Grand Trunk Railway, from 1896 to 1909 with the exception of a period in 1901 when he was president of the Southern Pacific Railway. In 1905 he became president of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway, which was largely his own creation. In 1909, he was appointed president of the Grand Trunk Railway and retained this office until his death on the Titanic.  Charles was the husband of Clara J. Gregg and father of four daughters.  Learn more about Hays in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online.

Harry Markland Molson, also born in 1856, was the great grandson of John Molson, founder of the famous Canadian brewery.  He lived in Montreal and was former Mayor of Dorval and a member of the board of directors for the Molson Bank. You can learn more about the Molson family by reading the Dictionary of Canadian Biography online.

Library and Archives Canada has some records relating to both these gentlemen:

  • Portrait, Charles Melville Hays – President Grand Trunk Railway System, 1910 to 1912. (MIKAN3350321)
  • Charles Melville Hays fonds, MG30-A18, Volume 1. (MIKAN 97908)

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Discover Finding Aids – Part Two

As we discussed in our first article “Discover Finding Aids”, finding aids are tools that provide information about the archival documents held in a fonds or a collection. One of the most common types of finding aid is the content list. It typically provides general file-level reference information. In Archives Search, a content-list finding aid for a fonds or a collection can appear in a number of ways:

  1. It can be attached to the fonds-level description as a portable document format (.pdf file). This is generally true for collections or materials acquired from private individuals (usually identified by collection codes beginning with “MSS”) as in the example below:
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the word “Finding aid.” The right column displays the result with a link to a pdf finding aid.

Mikan 103625

  1. It may also be accessed by clicking on the hyperlinked number found beside the “consists of” text. This is generally true for collections of materials acquired from government departments (usually identified by collection codes beginning with “RG”).
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the words “Series consists of.” The right column displays the words “7893 lower level description(s).”

Mikan 133700

  1. Sometimes the content list is only identified by a number in the text paragraph, which can be found beside the Finding aid field label in a fonds, collection, series or sub-series description.
A two-column, black-and-white image of a search result in Archives Search. The left column displays the words “Finding aid.” The right column displays a brief written description of the content list.

Mikan 106943

Content lists simply identified by number generally exist in paper format only and must be consulted in person (or copies must be obtained). Numbers beginning with MSS (e.g., MSS0211) most often refer to content lists for collections or materials acquired from private individuals. Finding aids composed of numbers separated by a hyphen (e.g., 12-13) usually refer to content lists for collections of materials acquired from government departments.

This concludes “Discover Finding Aids – Part Two.” You can now read the Archives Search results to help you locate the finding aids.

 Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!

Discover Finding Aids!

Did you know that the concept of the finding aid dates back to the very origins of archives? The ancient Sumerians created finding aids on clay tablets so that they could locate specific bureaucratic documents. We have moved a long way from the clay tablet, but the principles of the finding aid remain the same.

An archive contains all of the documents created and used by a person, family, government institution, or corporate body in the course of that creator’s activities or functions. Generally called fonds or collections, the documents of an archive are arranged in a hierarchy, from the general to the specific. In other words, from the fonds level to the item level:

Fonds/Collection

(Sousfonds – if it exists)

Series

(Sub-series – if it exists)

File

Item

If you have never used an archive before, you may wish to consult the guide Using Archives: A Practical Guide for Researchers for more information.

Finding aids are tools that provide information about the archival documents held in a fonds or a collection. While finding aids can take many forms, they are generally used in the same way. Researchers use finding aids to help determine whether a certain fonds or collection of archival materials contains the documents, photographs, etc. that they might need to consult for their research project. Finding aids are created for fonds or collections but can also be created for series and sub-series of very large fonds or collections.

One of the most common types of finding aid is the content list. It typically provides general file-level reference information and contains the following elements:

  • Archival fonds orcollection code (i.e.,MG26-A or RG10)
  • Volume or box numbers
  • File number (and sometimes a file part number)
  • File title
  • Date of creation or date range of documents held within a file

It does not provide content listings of all the documents in each file.

For a percentage of our collection, there are no content lists available. For example, lists are not created for collections of less than 10 boxes of material. Many photographic and cartographic collections do not have content lists. Some older holdings of government documents also lack content lists.

Lastly, not everything is available online;for some fonds or collections, the content list exists in paper format only, and must be consulted in person. You may also order copies of material by following the instructions outlined in our post “How to Order Digitized Reproductions and Help Build the Digital Collection.

Questions or comments? We would love to hear from you!