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Gordon Watts Reports
Column published: 05 June 2008
By: Gordon A. Watts   Biography & Archived Articles

Gordon A. Watts
Topics in this column include:
  • They Won!!!!!!!!!
  • Survey on accessing GRO website
  • Catholic Church bans LDS filming of registers

Scroll down this page to read the complete articles...

They Won!!!!!!!!!

In my last column I wrote an article seeking your support for my son Bruce, and his fiancée Jennifer. They had entered a contest on Shine FM, a radio station in Calgary, to see which of four couples would be married on air on 3 October 2008.

Thanks in large part to the support and participation of my readers, on Tuesday 20 May, at 4:45 pm (MDT), Bruce and Jennifer were announced as the winners of the contest. Included in the package of prizes and services they won are the wedding itself, reception at Valley Ridge Golf Course, bride's and bridesmaid dresses, tuxedos for the groom and groomsmen, rings, wedding cake, DJ services and more.

I can safely say that without your support, the outcome would likely have been different. Almost immediately following the posting of my last column, they jumped from 28 percent of the total votes to 42 percent. They remained in a 'leap-frog' tie with their closest competitors until the close of voting on 18 May. Their votes teetered back and forth between 42 and 43 percent of the total. With the closeness of the website vote we feel that a number of paper votes delivered to the station the final day of the contest turned the tide in favour of Jennifer and Bruce.

Shine FM continues to carry polls related to the wedding on their website. Currently there are polls related to a Honeymoon package, choice of rings, and the reception package at Valley Ridge Golf Club. You can cast your votes for five Honeymoon packages, four sets of rings, and two Reception packages. However, unlike the vote to see who won the 'get married on air' contest, these polls are for fun only - the happy couple get to make their own choices regardless of the outcome of the polls.

Bruce and Jennifer, and myself, wish to extend our heartfelt thanks to all of you who voted for them. You have helped to make the start of their life together a memorable one.

Survey on accessing GRO website

Anyone having done any research at all on ancestors from Britain and Wales will be familiar with the General Register Office (GRO), and likely their website, currently located at

Until 1 April this year, the GRO came under the auspices of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK equivalent of our Statistics Canada. Since 1 April it has been a part of the Identity and Passport Service (IPS) and plans are currently under way to incorporate the GRO website into the DirectGov website. DirectGov acts as a portal for many different UK Government websites.

The Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS) was invited to give its thoughts on the inclusion of the GRO website in the DirectGov website, which it did at the beginning of May. I have not seen the response of the FFHS, however, one might assume that it may have been less than supportive because there is now a public survey about this on the GRO website. Concerns have apparently been expressed over the possibility the GRO website may be lost among many other websites and thus would be more difficult to find. Having briefly visited the DirectGov website I can see how this might be a concern. Roger Lewry, FFHS Archives Liaison Officer, suggests that entry to the GRO website via DirectGov should be an additional option, rather than being the only means of access to it.

If you have strong views on the service provided by the GRO, until 14 June you have an opportunity to participate in the survey on the GRO website. While the survey covers a number of different areas, you can pick and choose those sections you wish to complete. The section on the GRO includes a question on applying for a passport, and one on your knowledge of a plan to introduce a national identity scheme, including identity cards. Answering NO to these questions will allow you to bypass additional questions and will take you to a final section on your use of the Internet.

Catholic Church bans LDS filming of registers

The 2 May 2008 issue of the Catholic News reported that the Vatican has directed Catholic dioceses throughout the world not to give information in parish registers to the LDS and to prevent their microfilming and digitizing information contained in those registers. The directive is an effort to prevent the LDS from using information in the registers to posthumously baptize by proxy ancestors of members of the Catholic Church.

The Pope addresses the College of Cardinals, Vatican City

This directive has the potential of preventing a great many future family researchers from finding out information regarding their ancestors. For many years the Church of the Latter Day Saints has negotiated agreements to microfilm and record the records of many varied institutions, be they church or civil records. They have done so without any cost to the institutions whose records they preserve, and have provided access to those records without charge for those researching their family ancestry. In many instances, had the LDS not microfilmed the records, they may have been forever lost due to fire, flood, or simply the natural deterioration of the media on which the information was previously recorded.

It is my understanding that the LDS do not perform posthumous baptisms en mass, and frequently caution their members against baptizing anyone that is not of their own family. As such, it is to be hoped that through negotiation the LDS and the Catholic Church might come to a meeting of the minds that will once again permit the microfilming and preservation of Church registers.

For more information read the articles of the Catholic News, American Chronicle, and Kimberly's Genealogy Blog.

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".

To view back issues of Gordon Watt's columns, visit Gordon's biography page where all of his archives articles are available.

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Norway Bay United & Anglican Cemetery
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The Merivale Cemeteries
(Protestant - Ottawa area)