Thankful Thursday – Digitization and Our Roots

I had an ungrateful kind of day earlier this week, the sort of day where I’m too impatient and headachey to see the gems in the coal. The kid took a long nap and I should have been glad to have time to myself. I should have been glad that she would wake up happy and refreshed. Instead I had a little sulk, because I wanted to go out. It was in that unreasonable mood that I decided to use the time to do some reading on Our Roots, and try to dig up more on the Lloyds and Dunns from Pioneer Ways To Modern Days.

A browse through the School Districts chapter dropped this picture of children at the Moose Range school in 1917 in my lap:

Moose Range School 1917 - from Pioneer Ways To Modern Days page 185

I admit that my first feeling was disappointment. Oh, it’s just Ena and Bill Lloyd. Why isn’t Illa in the picture? How come I can never find anything out about Illa? I don’t even have a picture of her! Why isn’t anything about my direct ancestors digitized?

I took a break. After a bottle of Mexican Pepsi (do I ever love that stuff!) my headache was gone and I realized what a wretch I’d been. Sure, it would have been exciting to see a photo of Illa. But there were little clues I could tuck away for later. The Meachem kid? Yes! The Meachems were close to the Ralph family. Ena and Illa both married Ralphs, but I wasn’t sure if they both married into the same Ralph family. If the Lloyds knew Meachems, it seems more likely.

I am very grateful for every scrap regarding my family connections that is digitized. If there weren’t scanned certificates and transcribed indexes online, I probably never would have started seriously mapping my family. Nearly every hobby and interest I have has to fit into my sleepless lifestyle, where I feel restless late at night and need something to do. I love that I can just go online to make lists of the tiniest slivers of hints to track down microfiche to confirm things that haven’t yet seen the light of the Internet. I love that without a repository of unusual Canadian books readily available to me from nearly anywhere, I could have pulled my hair out trying to hunt anyone who knew anything about Moose Range, Saskatchewan.


Wednesday Women’s Work – The Square Deal Shop, Whitby, Ontario

Mary Helen Steffler was about 18 when she took her first job, shop clerk at The Square Deal Shop in Whitby, Ontario. The Square Deal was also run by a woman – Mrs. Campo.

I had no idea Canada Dry was such an old brand.

(Mary Helen was my second cousin, three times removed. We both share Thomas Moran and Mary Meagher as ancestors. The photo is from the image archives at the Whitby Public Library.)

Tombstone Tuesday: Agnes Dunn

Agnes wife of George Dunn Feb. 12, 1910 Aged 44 Yrs 20 Days  DUNN - Photo by Amy Hickmott
(photo by Amy Hickmott, from Canadian Headstones)

wife of
George Dunn
Feb. 12, 1910
Aged 44 Yrs
20 Dys

Agnes Irving Dunn was my third-great grandmother. She was born in New Annan, Nova Scotia around 1866 (I haven’t yet located a birth record for her). Her family arrived in Manitoba some time between 1881 and 1884. She and George Dunn were married in January of 1885, and they had 11 children.

She is buried in Hillside Cemetery, Portage La Prairie, Manitoba.

White People on The Reserve

My fourth-great-grandparents, James Hassan and Margaret Chapman, were both of Irish descent. They had been farming near Guelph, Ontario for many years and had raised at least nine children there. So why was their son James living with his equally white wife and children on the Assiniboine Indian Reserve in Saskatchewan?

Chief Carry the Kettle, farm instructor Hassan, Agent W.S. Grant, Bob Grant, Band Councillor Ryder
(Photo from “Indian Head A History of Indian Head and District”, page 779)

In 1877, the Assiniboine Reserve had been created under Treaty 4, moving a Nakota group (who would later become the Carry-The-Kettle band) from western Saskatchewan to south-eastern Saskatchewan. Each reserve was overseen by an Agency, and the Agency employed white people to go about monitoring and “civilizing” the First Nations there. Part of this included teaching the Carry-the-Kettle people to farm. Before 1905, they had a white farm labourer to help them, but the Indian Agency decided to hire a farmer as a farming instructor. That person was James Hassan, and he was paid $480 yearly (and was making $720 by 1912) to encourage mixed farming practices and help the residents grow grain, oats, and carrots and raise livestock.

Other employees of the Agency during James’ time there included a schoolteacher named Gertrude Lawrence, and W.S. Grant, who was the Agent. Mr. Grant’s son Bob was his assistant, and later his daughter Lillian was a clerk.

James likely died around October 1914 as that is when he received his last pay and was replaced by the Agency, and Lucy is widowed by the 1916 census.

(Indian Affairs Annual Reports, 1864-1990 are available on the Library and Archives Canada website)

Vic and Cassie Lloyd

My Brother: “I wish I had inherited his epic moustache!”

(Photo from “Pioneer Ways to Modern Days, History of the Town of Carrot River and the Rural Municipality of Moose Range”, page 643)