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Gordon Watts Reports
Column published: 08 July 2006
By: Gordon A. Watts   Biography & Archived Articles

Gordon A. Watts Topics in this week's issue include:
  • 'Lunies' gather in British Columbia
  • British Home Children revisited
  • 26th annual conference of International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS)
  • Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter
  • Library research week at British Columbia Genealogy Society
  • New from Library and Archives Canada
  • Canada Day 2006

'Lunies' gather in British Columbia (Canada)

In my last column I reported on my initial visit with Chris Young, and mentioned an upcoming mini 'reunion' of 'lunies' planned for the Vancouver lower mainland area. On Saturday 24 June, Bernie and Nancy Sheehan played host to a number of us who have ancestral links to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. They did so at their beautiful home and spacious yard in South Surrey, BC.

Chris and I arrived at the Sheehan's shortly after 2:00 PM to find that a number of others had arrived before us. While we waited for the remainder of those coming to arrive we spent some time getting acquainted with those already there. Chris had previously met a couple of those attending, but even though in the past I had corresponded with some of them, I had never before met any of them in person. When everyone expected had arrived, Chris showed the first of his Power Point Presentations regarding the migration of his Young (Jung) ancestors from Germany to Nova Scotia prior to the founding of Lunenburg in 1753.

Following this first presentation our hosts invited us to adjourn to the outside patio where a barbeque was on the go. Bernie Sheehan officiated at the barbeque, cooking up hamburgers and mild Italian sausages. A table had been set up with a variety of salads, condiments and liquid refreshments. When everyone had their fill of the main course, the cake shown above, and a raspberry/cream cheese desert provided by Priscilla Haines were produced.

After dinner, Chris showed his second Power Point Presentation that detailed his travels in Germany, France and Switzerland this past year where he made connection with a number of Jung (Young) relatives who still lived in the areas where his ancestors had originated. Both presentations were interesting, and well received by those in attendance. In addition to the presentations by Chris Young, there was considerable discussion regarding the various Lunenburg names that those in attendance had in common. Chris and some of the others had brought books and other information that were examined. Of particular interest to me in this regard was a current Atlas of Nova Scotia that showed locations of Nova Scotia in far greater detail than any other maps that I had seen before.

As the saying goes, 'a good time was had by all'. Time however, went altogether too quickly and it was soon time to say our goodbyes. Before anyone left I managed to get everyone together for a group photograph. Included in the picture are our hosts Bernie and Nancy Sheehan (South Surrey), Leona and Dean (Bud) Bolivar, Norma McGuire (Langley), Erv and Ruth Cross (Vancouver Island), Priscilla and Larry Haines (Orcas Island, Washington), Chris Young (currently Summerland), Gordon Watts (Port Coquitlam), and Clayton Arkesteyn-Vogler (Abbotsford). Along with Clayton were his son Normand, Normands friend Keith Salloway, and two foster adults, Doris Battilana and Sheldon Mair.

British Home Children revisited

Also in my last column, I reported on the formation of the Home Children Society, the primary goal of which is to create a comprehensive database of individual British Home Children records called the British Home Children Registry. In that report I indicated that the importation of Home Children to Canada continued until the 'mid 1960s'.

Subsequent to the publishing of that column I received the following information from Dave Lorente who, like Perry Snow, has had considerable involvement in encouraging and assisting those seeking information regarding their Home Children ancestry.
    Dave and Kay Lorente at family hisotry event "There is a significant error in the Gordon Watts report on Home Children. The last verifiable 76 children - all boys - came between 1945 and 1948 to Vancouver Island and one other came at age 18 by special delivery, as it were, from Barnardos to a former Barnardo boy who wanted help on his farm. Some of the former have been in touch with me and at least one got 'a free trip back' courtesy of Tony Blair. The chap who came by air is one of my branch chairs - five of whom have themselves been in care in Barnardos and Fegan's; three live in Ontario, and the others in BC and Alberta.

    It should also be known that, on behalf of Home Children Canada (HCC) (which spearheaded the lobby to have the Ministry of Canadian Heritage, Parks Canada and the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada erect the historical plaque in Stratford ON at our Reunion of over 1,200), I strongly protested the obvious error in wording on the plaque which said Canadian child migration ended in 1939. This was before the unveiling, and I was promised that it would be changed. I [made this protest] because the children who came after the war, when child immigration laws were temporarily suspended, thought that while recognition was being formally given to some, they were hurt that they were excluded and their story and very being were again denied by officialdom.

    That said, my close contact with Parks Canada (who worked with me on the reunion) was in touch recently and included Historic Sites and Monuments Board minutes that showed that the plaque was to be taken down to have the wording modified a bit and the date changed to 1948. The correction may already have been made.

    You should also know that a few years ago HCC commissioned a maquette from which a life size bronze statue could be made and I have personally paid for the foot high bronze (more durable) copy. It is of Canada's most decorated soldier in the ranks - a 'home boy' who won the Military Medal, Distinguished Conduct Medal and Victoria Cross. It depicts him in action the night before going over the top, exhorting his Canadian comrades to follow him on the morrow. He died of wounds incurred that day during the fall of the Hindenburg Line to the Canadians in 1918.

    I have also asked the renowned sculptor to submit sketches for a proposed statue of the little immigrants that could be erected at the ports of Liverpool and Quebec whence most departed and arrived. This in response to a recommendation in the Blair Governments Report of The Welfare of Former Child Migrants of Dec 1998 - which Health Select Committee my wife and I addressed in London.

    Too there will be a ceremony in an Ottawa cemetery in Ottawa probably on Sunday, 13th August, this year at which the lives and stories of 23 home children who died and were buried in unmarked graves will be commemorated. HCC has erected two grave markers in their honour.

    Dave Lorente, founder HCC
In my column published 25 August 2001 I reported on the Home Children 'reunion', held in Stratford, Ontario, at which the plaque mentioned by Mr. Lorente was dedicated. The Home Children Canada website may be accessed at

My thanks to Dave Lorente for bringing to my attention the error made in my earlier article on British Home Children. I have asked that he provide me with further information regarding the ceremony he mentioned, and follow that up with a report on how that proceeds.

26th annual conference of International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS)

Schelly Talalay Dardashti, a native New Yorker, is a free-lance journalist currently living in Tel Aviv that writes on Jewish genealogy for, the English language website of Israel's largest Hebrew daily newspaper. Previously, she was the Jewish genealogy columnist for the Jerusalem Post (1999-2005). Schelly writes about family reconnection stories, events, a monthly genealogy calendar for Israel and relevant international/future events, and more. Credits include JTA and other North American press, magazines, genealogy journals and newsletters.

Schelly contacted me recently to advise regarding the upcoming International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in New York City August 13 - 18, 2006. This conference is the 26th to be held annually by the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) - an independent non-profit umbrella organization coordinating the activities and annual conference of more than 75 national and local Jewish genealogical societies around the world.

The event this year, hosted by the Jewish Genealogy Society (New York) at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, is reported to be the most comprehensive of any Jewish or general genealogy conference. It offers more than 180 program sessions in 23 topic categories, more than 30 meetings and luncheons of special interest groups, and networking with global colleagues. Programs are geared to all levels of researchers, whether beginners, intermediate or advanced. Conference-goers will find special beginners' workshops and basic computer skills classes, in addition to geographic, topical and how-to programs for everyone, including advanced technical skills for the 21st century Jewish genealogist.

Each of the 5-1/2 days offers sessions from early morning on, while evenings are for special events, including musical performances. Tours to Jewish sites and cemeteries are also arranged.

Schelly has written an article detailing much of what can be expected at this conference. It is too lengthy to copy here, but it can be accessed by clicking this link. For further information regarding the conference, and to register for it, visit the website of the Jewish Genealogy Society (New York)

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

Almost anyone who has been involved in genealogy, and doing research online, is likely aware of Dick Eastmans Online Genealogy Newsletter. For the past ten years or so, Dick has published items of interest to genealogists. Over the past several years Dick has seen fit to include in his newsletter a number of articles written by myself, as I have likewise occasionally included articles from his newsletter in my own column.

There are basically two versions of his newsletter - one free, and one subject to a modest subscription fee in which he includes additional content not available in the free version. Those subscribing to the Plus (paid) Edition are able to read the articles without having to deal with the advertising, and resultant cookies, that come with the 'free' version.

In the past year, EOGN has undergone a number of changes, not the least of which has been a switch from a single main sponsor for his newsletter, to a number of changing/rotating sponsors. Distribution has been changed from a weekly format to a daily one. The types of format available have been changed as well. In addition to the daily email in plain text and html formats, EOGN for some time has been offered via an RSS newsfeed blog - in fact, Dick offers five separate RSS newsfeeds as explained at

Perhaps the most significant change to EOGN has been the recent addition of audio. Dick now offers audio interviews with significant genealogy personalities, the most recent of which (as I write this) is a 29-minute interview with Michael Leclerc, co-chair of the 2006 Federation of Genealogical Societies' annual conference. In this audio interview, Michael lists some of the events and "happenings" of this year's event to be held 30 August to 2 September in Boston, Massachusetts. He also tells why this conference is expected to be the largest genealogy event ever held in North America.

The EOGN audio events are available either as streaming audio or downloadable MP3 files from links on the newsletter web pages. For those with Apple iPods, or other portable music players, they are also downloadable without charge from iTunes. If you have iTunes installed on your Windows or Macintosh system, click on PODCASTS and then type "genealogy" in the search box to find EOGN podcasts as well as other genealogy-related material.

To view the privacy policy and/or subscribe to the Standard (free) Edition of EOGN visit the web site at This page also describes the differences between the Standard and Plus Editions of EOGN and provides a link to subscribe to the Plus Edition.

Library research week at British Columbia Genealogy Society

The British Columbia Genealogy Society will be opening the doors of its Walter Draycott Resource Centre and Library for Library Research Week, 17 to 22 July 2006. The center will be open each day from 10 AM to 3 PM.

Featured research on each day will be as follows:
    Monday, 17 July: England
    Tuesday, 18 July: Scotland
    Wednesday, 19 July: Ireland
    Thursday 20 July: Canada
    Friday 21 July: U.S.A.
    Saturday 22 July: Europe, Australia and New Zealand
See what's available in your area, or ask for some assistance.

The Society's Resource Centre & Library in Surrey, B.C., contains over 10,000 worldwide genealogical & family history related books and periodicals, microfilmed records, CDs & clipping & card files compiled by the Society, including one of 100,000 entries on past British Columbia residents.

The Walter Draycott Resource Centre and Library is located at #211- 12837 76th Avenue, Surrey, B.C. (76th Avenue and 128th Street)

For more information, please contact the B.C.G.S. Library Administrator, Betty Allen, at 604 502-9119 or see the B.C.G.S. website:

New from Library and Archives Canada

Iam Wilson, National Librarian and Archivist Those interested in Canada's Aboriginal heritage will likely wish to have a look at new information placed on the web pages of Library and Archives Canada on 20 June 2006. The following are the opening paragraphs that describe the new documentary exhibits.
    Welcome to Aboriginal Documentary Heritage: Historical Collections of the Canadian Government. This Web exhibition recounts first-hand information illustrating the complex and often contentious relationship between the Canadian government and Canada's Aboriginal people from the late 1700s to the mid-20th century.

    The website presents three thematic sections with essays and selected documents about the Red and Black Series (the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs' administrative records of Aboriginal people from 1872 to the 1950s), Treaties, Surrenders and Agreements, and Aboriginal Soldiers in the First World War. This phase of the project features searchable databases of digitized records from the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs (RG 10) fonds. It includes records for the majority of the Red Series (documents dealing with Eastern Canadian locations in volumes 1855 to 2151 on microfilm reels C-11103 to C-11169), and the entire 524 records that form the Treaties, Surrenders and Agreements in the collection of Library and Archives Canada (LAC).

    During the next phase, the remaining documents from the Red Series along with the entire Black Series (documents dealing with Western Canadian locations) will be digitized and added to the database. Until the digitization of these additional records has been completed, searching the database will yield results of records described at the file level. Government records from the RG 10 fonds that pertain to Aboriginal soldiers' participation in the First World War will also be among the documents digitized in the next phase of the project.
Read the rest of the introduction, and access the documentary exhibits at

Canada Day 2006

As I write this, and you read it, Canada Day 2006 has come and gone. There are many reasons why we should have cause to celebrate Canada Day (formerly known as Dominion Day), not the least of which is the reason it came into being - the coming together of the various colonies and regions that make up the country we now know as Canada.

Yesterday however (I write this on 2 July 2006), Canada Day brought home to me another reason to celebrate - that being an opportunity to meet or re-acquaint myself with neighbours on my own street that, for some time, I have had little or no contact with. The street upon which I live is one long block long with perhaps 22 houses in total on it. At one point in earlier days I knew every person living on my block.
This August, on the 17th, I will have lived in my house for some thirty-eight years. When I moved into my house, this was a 'young' neighbourhood, both in respect of its construction, and the fact that there were many young children - including my then three-year-old son, and the daughter born one week after moving in.

Since moving in I have seen the neighbourhood 'grow up', become 'young' and 'grow up' again a number of times. It is now young and growing up again. I am one of perhaps three 'original' owners of homes on my street. Most of the original owners of homes on my street have either died, or moved away. Where I once knew everyone on the street, I have come to realize that today I know perhaps a handful of the current residents, and am not really close with many of them at all. Yesterday I 'met' and got acquainted with someone living four lots down, and across the street from me. He had lived there for twenty-three years, and yet I had no more than a nodding acquaintance with him.

The occasion of our meeting was a 'block party' arranged by a couple of my neighbours. They put out a notice of the event, and arranged to block off each end of the street to vehicle traffic. There was a volleyball net stretched across the street and a trampoline set up for the kids. A portable gazebo, a few barbeques and a couple of portable tables were set up. A couple of inflatable children's pools were set up for the kids to cool off in. There was a set of sandbag type lawn darts to play, and one of the neighbours down the street provided a piñata filled with goodies for the younger kids. Three or four pedal cars allowed the younger children to 'drive' on the road without fear of interfering with normal vehicle traffic. A home built water bottle rocket provided a great deal of entertainment for the young, and not so young, people attending. A stereo was set up with music playing a little louder than would normally be the case without anyone complaining.

Later in the afternoon the barbeques were fired up and everyone got to cook their own dinner. Some had brought hamburgers and smokies, while others had brought steaks or skewers of marinated meats, and there were even a few 'veggie' burgers. There was a variety of salads, desserts and 'junk food' nibblies, and of course, some liquid refreshments. Later a large Canada Day cake was brought out. When we had had our fill, pieces of cake were offered to the many people walking down the street to view a fireworks display in one of our local parks. To wind up the evening a portable propane campfire was set up.

We Canadians are frequently presented as being less patriotic than our neighbours to the south are. That sentiment was not evident at our block party however. When the Canada Day cake was brought out there was a round of singing of 'Happy Birthday Canada' followed up by our national anthem. I do not think we would have won any prizes for our vocalization, but that did not dampen our enthusiasm for the day.

All in all, everyone enjoyed themselves. Plans are already in the works for a similar event next year, with hopes that it will be bigger and better, and that some of those unable to participate this year, will join us then.

Having read all of the above, you might well wonder what is my point in all of this. It is simply this. Those of us who have an interest in genealogy and family history can sometimes become so involved in seeking out our long dead ancestors that we forget we have living relatives, friends and neighbours around us. We can spend so much time by ourselves, working on our computers, researching the increasing numbers of online databases and sending volumes of email back and forth, that we find little time for anything else.

I stated above that at one point I knew everyone that lived on my street, but that is no longer the case. Most people I talked to yesterday remarked that when they grew up everyone in their neighbourhood knew everyone else. They also remarked that such is not the case today. This is perhaps symptomatic of life styles that are faster paced today than they were in days gone by. It may also have to do with the fact that more people today live in apartment buildings, condos and townhouses where from day to day they may never see their neighbours.

We should all make an effort to push ourselves away from our computers to get reacquainted with our neighbours. Take a walk, get some exercise, and talk with your neighbours when you find them out in their yards. Like myself, you may well be surprised to find out how many of them also have an interest in genealogy.

That's it for this column. Time for me to take my own advice and push myself away from the computer, take a walk for exercise, and talk to some of my neighbours.

A belated Happy Canada Day. And a Happy 4th to our cousins below the 49th Parallel.

Until next time.

Gordon A. Watts

Your comments regarding this newsletter, and suggestions for future articles are welcome. Click here to send me a message with a subject line of "Gordon Watts Reports".

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