Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Eastport, Maine - Sardine Canning & Child Labor

A blog reader recently sent me a link pertaining to the history of the sardine canning industry at Eastport, Maine. Eastport was once a bustling port and many New Brunswick roots connect via Maine towns such as Eastport, Lubec and Calais. In addition, Eastport was always a "rival" town for the sardine industry when compared to my home town of Blacks Harbour, which is now the only sardine cannery in North America (for how much longer, I am not sure). But the website offers more than a glimpse on the town's bygone industry, it always shines some light on a society norm for the earlier part of the last century: child labor. Joe Manning, the creator of the website, has used the photography collection of Lewis Hine (1874-1940), a famed photography from Maine, to help tell the story of the children in Hine's photos. Mr. Manning takes on the task to learn more on those children and brings back an intriguing stories and wonderful piece of history. Mr. Manning's work not only gives us insight into the history of child labor in our own community but also help provide snippets of family history for the descendants of those subjects that were in front of Mr. Hine's lens all those years ago. I particularly enjoyed the story on Minnie Thomas. Be sure to take a stroll over to

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Problems at the LAC?

During an early morning coffee and some free time for a little net surfing, I voyaged over to the website for Library and Archives of Canada (best known as the “LAC” by much of the research community). It has been a while since I visited the main page of the LAC since most of my navigation jumps quickly from links to the Canadian Census and Military Records. I was surprise to see little has changed. There were no “recent release” items to explore and the page appeared sort of… dead. What was worse, the “What’s New” page was not updated since March 2012. There is one thing that we researchers long for: new material/records being released for us to scan over. Many of us are already looking forward to big releases, such as the Canadian Census of 1921, with great excitement. This lack of releases was a noticeable change for an organization known for offering something new each month. So seven months has passed and nothing is “new” at the LAC?? Something is up.

Well, something is happening and it is not good. “Cuts to research” is a phase not strange to our current Federal government. The Harper* Government has axed and sliced spending with respect to nearly every research aspect in Canada. Over the last year, I’ve been aware there were cuts to the library at the local St. Andrews Biological Station and cuts to the national CFIA (Canadian Food Inspection Agency), but to be honest, these seemed distant to me. Perhaps I was simply na├»ve in thinking that these changes would not affect me. Jump ahead to the me of today and I’ve since learned that those cuts to the biological station’s library greatly impact the station’s work in toxicology research in seafood products and we have all seen the recent effects of the cuts to the CFIA and the resulting fallout in Canada’s beef industry. So I started digging further. As it appears, our beloved LAC has also become a victim of government cuts. Cuts to the LAC has impacts on its digitalization efforts, its inter-library loans (the department has been closed), and limited acquisitions of material. Furthermore, cuts have left many vacancies thus limiting the staff at the previously understaffed LAC. In short time, I found this blog from the Librarians at the University of Toronto ( The UoT Librarians have further outlined the impacts that these cuts have to the LAC… take a look.

I try to avoid mixing politics into this blog (especially my own political beliefs) but these cuts, just like all cuts to research in this country, are hitting home. There was always an old thought that in tough economic times, old forts and parks are the first to feel the effects. Well, we’ve move well past that situation. Now these cuts are impacting a principal institution at the center of preservation of our heritage. And in respect to the CFIA, an institution at the forefront of protecting the food we eat. And if the LAC is getting hit with these cuts, don’t think for a minute that your county archive or provincial archive is not feeling the affect as well. (As a side note, the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick has not made a new release on its website since May 2012).

If you wish to help get the word out on the issues facing the LAC, check out this website: Help spread the word. Canada can not turn its back on researchers!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Family Coat of Arms? Oh brother!

As a family researcher,  you may have encountered a certain family member has a “special” document to share with you? Then they say that the document includes information on the origins of the family name and an image of the Family Crest/Coat of Arms. Nothing makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up more than when a family members informs me that they have a document pertain to our family’s Coat of Arms. Really? Our family has a Coat of Arms? Most often these “documents” were purchased at a mall or cultural gift shop, or even worst, they were found online. These places are often called “Bucket Shops” by those of common genealogical sense. These documents and crest are nothing more than fairy tales and often have outlandish claims on the origins of the family names. And as usually, my reply is often a difficult conversation to have with a relative who has held onto this document as if it was the pure truth, the greatest of family heirlooms. What is even more unfortunate is that I have debated this subject with apparently “knowledgeable” researchers of Acadian families over the years… not sure how early Acadian families were able to gain such nobility and honor from Crown!? In September 2012, Dick Eastman of “Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter” wrote a wonderful article on “bogus” family crest. The article can be found at Dick puts the whole subject into a great perspective. Best of luck out there when dealing with those people in love with this junk!

One of five(5) "unofficial" GAUDET family crest

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Raid on Meduncook

A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure in visiting Friendship, Maine, a picturesque fishing town centrally located on Maine’s coast. The town may be well-known for its lobster but a part of the town’s colorful history just so happens to also be a part of my family’s history. Referred to as “The Massacre at Friendship” or “The Raid on Meduncook” marks a most unfortunate event in the history of early settlers in Maine. By the way, Meduncook was the town’s former name. The story is that on May 22, 1758, Joshua Bradford, a great-grandson of Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth, Massachusetts, was brutally murdered at the hands of Indians while living at Friendship. Also killed in this event was Joshua's wife, Hannah; their infant son (Winslow); a local woman (Mrs. Mill) and her child. Most of the other Bradford children managed to escape their would-be murders however one daughter, Melatiah Lydia, suffered serious injury as she fled towards the British Garrison across the sand bar. She and others survived and went on to provide many descendants. Two of Joshua's sons, Joshua II and Benjamin, were captured and taken north by the Indians. They later escaped and returned to the area. Benjamin is my fifth great-grandfather and would later settle in Charlotte Co., New Brunswick with many other British Loyalist. He was grant land in Bayside and operated a ferry service for many years from Bayside to Todds Point. I have so much on this event that it would likely overrun this little blog so contact me if your looking for further details. While visiting Friendship, I made a special visit with Mrs. Margaret (Watton) Gagnon, who is also a descendant of Joshua and Hannah Bradford and who works with the Friendship Museum. We exchanged details on the Bradford family and the horrible event. I also took some time to explore the "scene of the crime" and walk the island where the garrison once stood and the site of the graves of Joshua and Hannah Bradford. The island is now privately owned by the Carlson family but I was allowed passage after explaining my situation and asking for permission to visit the graves, so a special thank you to Jane Carlson and her family.

View at Bradford Point at Friendship, Maine
View at Bradford Point looking toward Garrison Island at Low Tide

Headstone of Joshua and Hannah Bradford; Friendship, Maine
Gravestone of Joshua and Hannah Bradford on Garrison Island

Saturday, June 9, 2012

On The Book Shelf...

Recently I discovered this wondering book: “Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census”. This 224-page book guides the reader through the various census in Canada, starting as early as the Acadian Census in the 1600s, through early regional census in the 1800s, to the first “National” census in 1851. The book then follows each of the National Census already released to the public… 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911. Then it continues on with census yet to be release… 1921, 1931, 1941, etc. With each census comes its own set of questions and this book does a great job offering insight into those questions. The author, Dave Obee, says that this book is meant to help researchers “make the most of the Canadian Census.” Mr. Obee is no fly-by-night genealogy specialist. He has been involved with genealogy in a professional manner for several decades. Currently Mr. Obee is teaching family history courses at Royal Roads University and can be found as a keynote speaker at many genealogy events across Canada. The book cost $30 and is available at some specialty book stores or from Mr. Obee’s own website at

Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census
Dave Obee. 2012. ISBN 9780973514346

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Newspaper Archives Online

I am sure that if you are reading this blog, you have spent more than a couple of hours scanning newspaper microfilm reels. You may be so details as to keep your own list of favorite newspaper microfilm reels, the dates they cover and where you can access them in a hurry! Up until the last decade, scanning old newspaper likely required spinning a reel or two at a library or archives.  Now a private Seattle-based company is providing access to hundreds of “small town” newspapers from across America. Small Town Papers ( is leading the way to having many small, independent newspapers archived online. While the over 250 newspaper are from various parts of US (sorry no Canadian content yet), there is one particular newspaper section that may be of interest to those researching in New Brunswick, more specifically Charlotte County: “The Quoddy Times” which is still alive and well and still published in Eastport, Washington Co., Maine, can be found at There are a couple of great things about this website… it is free (ok, so you have a few nagging survey questions) and it is searchable. I must note however that their collection only represents a small portion of the Quoddy Times publication history as it only covers 1968, 1969, 1970 and 1975. Check it out!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

On The Book Shelf...

I love finding genealogical treasures! While picking through books at a used book store in Saint John, I discovered a wonderful little book entitled “The Descendants of Charles Dyer Wilcox on Grand Manan Island - New Brunswick Canada”. The small 52-page book was written by the late Mr. Elmer N. Wilcox in 1980 and not only offers great genealogical data on the Wilcox, Card and Dyer families but also several photos of the Wilcox family that I am sure any Wilcox researcher would love. Plus the book offers additional insight on early community of Grand Manan Island. Back in the last century, many folks would privately publish books such as these and today these rare little gems can offer some unique data that we may not find in the archives or library. Books such as these usually use reference material such as family bibles and good old oral discussion with people long departed. It is a great find and will certain be a wonderful source data for those Grand Manan queries that I tend to stumble upon.

"The Descendants of Charles Dyer Wilcox on Grand Manan Island"
Elmer Wilcox, 1980