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The Sickness or the Cure

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

iStockOne of the greatest perks in this job is the opportunity it provides to peruse some of the strangest and most interesting books you can imagine. I occasionally wander through the stacks to find interesting items to use in displays or when we are giving tours. I especially have my eye open for unusual sources for genealogists. Imagine my delight when I tripped over York Factory Medical Journals 1846-1849. This fascinating book is exactly what its title promises – the journals of the physician, Dr. William Smellie, who was assigned to safeguard the health and wellbeing of the denizens of York Factory, a Hudson's Bay Company trading post. The journals record the names, professions ages and genders of the patients as well as the symptoms of their illnesses and the treatment for them. Which raises the question, which was worse, the illness or the cure? For example, take the case of Baptiste Potvin, a labourer who visited the doctor on the 24th of March, 1847:

Complains of headache & lassitude: pulse full & moderate tongue of natural appearance: man of a stout habit of body. Habeat Calomelanos gr viii in pillula *** mica panis. (Take 8 grains of Mercurous Chloride in a pill with a crumb of bread)

Now, mercurous chloride is a purgative. Hardly a common treatment for headache today. Dr. Smellie continues:

Pill operated Copiously: headache unrelieved but the symptoms no wise more urgent. Habeat Vin. Antim 3 i pro em. (Have 1 ounce of Antimony wine for an emetic.) acknowledges himself much relieved by the emetic: subsequently: went to work.

I would have shut my mouth about the headache and gone back to work, too!

If you would like to read more of these journals, the book is available to view in the Local History Room on the 4th floor of the Central Library. It includes lots of interesting background information about the doctor himself, York Factory and the medical practices of the day. The book was edited by Colin and Elizabeth Briggs. The call number is 610.97127 BRI.

Old News is the Best News

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

I love old newspapers. I could sit reading them for days on end (or at least until I get a microfilm headache). Most genealogists know that newspaper announcements can be a fabulous source for obituaries and other event announcements. They often include details that can’t easily be found in other sources. My problem, when I am looking for these announcements, is that I’m distracted by all the other stuff that newspapers offer. There is nothing better for gauging the tenor of the times in which our ancestors lived than a read through the daily (or weekly) paper. For example, I found this in The Eye Opener as I was researching popular response to Alberta becoming a province:

“Parting with the Territories is not sweet sorrow. It is a joy that has been adulterated with too much Edmonton.” Plus ça change…

And on the bottom of the same page:

“The N.W.M.P. authorities have finally closed all the maisons de diablerie a travers le pont de Langevin. C’est dommage, as the feller says.” (The Eye Opener 2 Sept. 1905: 1)

Calgary Public Library has lots of old newspapers in its collection. In addition to a complete run of the Calgary Herald, CPL holds microfilm copies of the Strathmore Standard, The Edmonton Bulletin, The Fort Macleod Gazette, The Calgary News Telegram and The Cardston News, just to name a few. The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project has made many Alberta newspapers available online. I visit their site at regularly to get my newspaper fix. We can also request newspapers that we don’t have in our collection through our interlibrary loan service. Ask us if you are looking for a local newspaper for your ancestor’s hometown.

PC 765

Herald Building, built 1913

Postcards from the Past, PC 765

Sarcee Military Camp

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 567

Sarcee City, 1916

Postcards from the Past, PC 567

Most of us are familiar with the battalion numbers on Signal Hill but did you know that the young men who created those numbers were trained for battle on the land below the hill? This area was known as Camp Sarcee and beside it grew a small "town" of shops catering to the needs of these servicemen. The city, known as Sarcee City, had a tailor, an ice-cream parlor, a photo studio, a jeweller and watch repair, a pool hall, a cafe - everything a soldier may have needed.

PC 965

Sarcee Camp, 192nd Battalion, 1916

Postcards from the Past, PC 965

If you have ancestors who gave their lives in the Second World War, Library and Archives Canada has a new database Second World War Service Files: Canadian Armed Forces War Dead. This database will allow researchers to more easily access these records.

Canadian Passenger Lists on Ancestry LE

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

MeganticGenealogists searching for that elusive link to the old country have a new tool at their command. The Canadian passenger lists from 1865-1935 have been indexed and are available on Ancestry LE. These lists contain more than 7 million names and record the arrivals of more than 4,000 ships. This is the first complete index of these records to be made available online. The site also links to the digitized images of the records, made available by Library and Archives Canada back in 2006.

You can access Ancestry LE at any of the branches of the Calgary Public Library. All you need is your library card.

North West Mounted Police Personnel Records

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

PC 434

Mounted Police (Prairie Uniform)...on line of CPR, ca. 1907

Postcards from the Past, PC 434

Library and Archives Canada has digitized documents from the personnel files of the NWMP from 1873-1904. These files contain a wealth of information for historians, genealogists and those interested in the NWMP and the role they played in the evolution and development of Western Canada and the Yukon. The files contain all kinds of documents sometimes including personal correspondence and newspaper clippings. Check it out at

Also check out the great collection of items relating to the history of the NWMP in our Local History room. We have annual reports, periodicals, lists of personnel, histories, and postcards, just to name a few.

New - Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register Master Index

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

We have just received the Master Index to the Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Registers from the Ontario Genealogical Society and the United Chruch of Canada Archives. This set of 26 microfiche includes not just the names of the baptised but also of the parents. Over 350,000 names are listed. The registers cover Ontario but also has a few entries from Quebec, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Alberta. The call number is MICRO FICHE 929.371 WES and it can be found in the genealogy collection on the 4th floor of the Central Library.

Senator Lorna Milne and the 1911 Census

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

All of you who remember how close we came to not getting the 1911 census released will be interested in Senator Lorna Milne's account of the seven year battle to get this vital genealogical information released to the public. Deeply Rooted outlines the determined efforts of a small group of Canadians, including some from Calgary, to preserve guaranteed and uncensored access to Canada's census records. You can download the book at this website:

1881 Canada Census Now Online

by Christine L Hayes - 0 Comment(s)

Census Image

Library and Archives Canada has announce the launch of a new online database, the 1881 Census of Canada. This database provides access to digitized images of the original census returns. The site also includes information about what life was like in Canada at the time the census was taken. Have a peek and see if you can find the listing for Sir John A. Macdonald or Sir Wilfrid Laurier. Here is the link:

Did you know that Calgary Public Library has a complete collection of the Canadian census on microfilm? It is in the genealogy collection on the 4th floor of the Central Library.

Irish Census

by Christine L Hayes - 1 Comment(s)

Hello all you genealogy buffs,

In partnership with Library and Archives Canada, The National Archives of Ireland is digitizing the 1911 and 1901 census returns for Ireland. The first bit is now available at the National Archives of Ireland

It is only for Dublin city so far, but if you click on "Future Plans" you can see in what order the other counties will be done. 1911 will be done first, then 1901. These are the only two censuses available for Ireland as earlier records were pulped or destroyed during the civil war (and the war itself prevented the taking of a census in 1921) Anyhoo, this is a big deal and not just because Library and Archives Canada is involved (although that, too, is a big deal). The site also includes photos and essays about the history of Dublin so it is valuable not just for genealogists, but for all kinds of historians. Have a look and let us know what you think!

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