Saturday, May 29, 2010

Who Is In Your High School Yearbooks?

There is information and fun in tracking down old high school yearbooks, especially if those you find are connected and contain photos of family members. To obtain a parent's, or perhaps even a grandparent's class photo can add really texture to the family history. From time to time, 'old' high school and college yearbooks can be found through on-line sales sites like eBay. But what about your high school yearbooks? Did you hang on to them? Are they sitting on a bookshelf, not looked at over the passage of time? Who were some of the notable students you "hung around with"?

I had the privilege of attending and graduating from Neil McNeil High School, an all boys, Catholic, and, in my time private, Toronto east-end high school. I recently looked through a couple of my yearbooks from long ago and offer a couple of photos of fellow students.

John Candy graduated from Neil McNeil and went on to become a hugely popular, much loved comedic movie star, portraying numerous characters that stick with us to this day. The photo below is of John as the Student Council Treasurer from 1968-69. In a 'sports mad', all boys high school, John certainly involved himself in athletics, excelling in football, but also 'dabbled' in drama, a much less popular activity in the hockey, football, any sport high school arena. When my children were required as part of their education to write and present a speech in elementary, they all in turn, delivered a speech about John Candy because they had the yearbook prop to add to their presentation.

Lawrence (or Larry as I knew him) Gowan, shown in this 1971-72 class photo, left Neil McNeil to launch a music career. Already an accomplished pianist, Larry formed a band which unlike the rest of us who 'formed bands', he was successful. Larry went on to win Juno Awards from the Canadian music industry and for the past 10 years, he has toured with Styx as the band's lead singer.

Check out your yearbooks and spot the by-gone friends who bring back some smiles of great memories from your past.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Riding Ponies

I don't know if this was just something that happened in the Toronto area or if the 'practice' was more wide spread but it seems that having a photo taken sitting on the back of a pony was somewhat traditional.

Below is photo of a very young 'me' 'riding' the pony and below that a photo of my father also 'riding' a pony. There is 20 - 25 years between the times that the photos were taken. Essentially, a man would walk the streets with his camera and a pony. Parents would have a photo taken of the children on the pony and pay the man for the photograph documenting the 'occasion.'

Do you have a 'pony' picture? Let me know.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Meeting A Distant (?) Cousin

A special thank you to Lisa Louise Cooke of the Genealogy Gems Podcast and Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings for their recognition of this blog. Lisa mentioned the blog in Episode 89 (and extended her best wishes for my recovery from a 'mini-stroke' that I encountered last month - I'm doing fine thanks!) and Randy listed the blog in his regular feature, "Best of the Genea-Blogs - May 16 - 22, 2010."

When I began the blog last August, with encouragement through podcasts such as Lisa's and genealogy blogs such as Randy's, I hoped that it would provide a means of sharing family stories that I had amassed (I thought) with family members spread across the Province of Ontario, Canada. As a family, we don't get together very often and a blog seemed like a good forum for posting some pictures and telling some stories.

Little did I think that this 'little' blog would be read in 30+ countries and lead to the establishment of relationships with cousins I had never met, who lived in other parts of the world, like Australia, Finland, and the home of my ancestral roots, Scotland.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of meeting a third cousin who lives around the proverbial 'corner.' The story is simple enough. Fiona Thomson was conducting some family research in Scotland where she lives, and found my blog through a Internet search. On seeing that the family stories I was recounting were about her family as well, she contacted me by email and we soon determined that we were third cousins. She thought it also strange when she noted that I live in Pickering, Ontario as she has a first cousin from the same family line who also lives in the small city of Pickering.

Eventually, June Morrison and I were able to make contact, discovered that we are third cousins and live within about a mile of each other. So, yesterday, we met for a visit over coffee at a local coffee shop. The first of, I hope, many times that we cousins will have a chance to visit. We have years of catching up to do - all thanks to a 'little' genealogy blog!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Milestone For The Family Patriarch

Our family is celebrating a special event this weekend as the family patriarch, my father, Lewis John Hadden reaches the age of 80 - although arguably he looks and acts like he is going on 60! Dad was born in 1930 and we often teased that the world went into postpartum depression as a result. Educated in Toronto, among his many achievements, he went on to an almost 40 year career with Ontario Hydro, designing power plants that continue to operate around the province. Among his many professional achievements was the introduction of computer-aided design (CAD) to Ontario Hydro despite, to this day, not being able to operate a computer which he easily explains as being the result of ensuring his staff could operate the system so he didn't need to.

To celebrate the occasion, my sister hosted a dinner in his honour that included a fabulous meal complete with haggis! My father, the oldest in his family, was joined by his brother, Douglas, and sister Carol, who were able to travel from opposite parts of the province, for the celebration. This was special as the family doesn't often have a chance to get together which made the get-together that much more memorable.

Below, Doug Hadden, Carol Royle (nee Hadden) and my father, Lewis John Hadden celebrate the milestone birthday!

About 30 years ago, my father (wearing the clan tartan kilt below) got together with his father (centre) and his sister Carol and brothers Jim (deceased) and Doug at Doug's farm near Belleville, Ontario.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2010 - Part 2

On Monday, I shared my reflections and learnings from the classes I attended that were offered by Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems Podcast fame that were held on Saturday, May 15th at the Ontario (Canada) Genealogical Society's 2010 annual conference. I have been, perhaps intuitively, perhaps because I am an avid listener of her podcasts, following Lisa's advice for some time, especially her guidance that we should be dedicating 30% of our time to furthering our genealogical education.

On Sunday, May 16th, I attended a couple of classes offered by Maureen Taylor, also known as the Photo Detective. Unfortunately, I discovered I have not been doing as well intuitively following Maureen's expert advice.

I love family photos. They provide as described by Maureen, a visual history of our families. I have stacks (mistake #1) of family photos. I learned that I need to sort them and protect them properly in acid and lignin free, non-PVC photo album sleeves/pages and then protect them from the high humidity of the climate where I live. I also am continuing with the greatest faux pas by keeping 'magnetic albums.' I courted and married my late wife in the 1970's so most of our photos and momentoes ended up in scrapbook-like displays stuck to the glue-board, film covered pages of these albums that were incredibly popular at the time. While I have successfully removed, and scanned, some of the photos from these albums, I certainly can't claim to have completed that task with all the photos and event souvenirs still clinging to the pages of these albums.

Photos can be difficult to remove from the glue backing of the album pages without causing extensive damage to the images. Maureen offered a couple of possible solutions: 1) try freezing the album for a couple of hours and you may find that some photos 'pop' off the page or 2) use fine, unwaxed dental floss to slide under the photo to free it from the page. Great tips!

To add to my workload, I haven't identified and dated all of the family photographs. Considering I still have a way to go on sources citations in my database and now needing to organize all my photographs, I may need to figure out how I can add a day to every week.

Most of the older family photos that I have are paper prints from the 1920's and 1930's. Certainly an era in which amateur photography was readily available. Maureen offered great tips and techniques using some well chosen case studies and examples on identifying and dating photographs - to determine the story that the photographer (family member) was wanting to tell. The clues are are there for the 'detective' to uncover and piece together.

On a side note, Maureen mentioned that Abraham Lincoln gave small tintypes photos of himself as gifts and promotional material connected to his presidential campaign. This was great to hear as it confirmed family documentation that my wife, Ellen's second great granduncle, Louis Breithaupt had received just such a photograph from his lawyer friend, Mr. Lincoln. This photo is believed to still be held by someone in the family. Fortunately, with my apparent abysmal track record with photos, it is not held by me!

Mark your calendars for May 13 - 15, 2011 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ontario Genealogical Society at its annual conference being held in Hamilton, Ontario.

Finally, a thank you to those who posted comments here or through Facebook, wishing me well in my recovery from the 'mini-stroke' I had in mid-April. Your kind thoughts and wishes are much appreciated. The fact that I was able to take notes during Maureen's classes and later actually read what I wrote is for me the ultimate sign that are progressing in the right direction quickly.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My family put me to work with chores at an early age. Here I am at age 3 mowing my paternal grandparent's front lawn!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

This is the headstone at my paternal grandmother's grave - Agnes Hadden (nee Little), located in Pine Hills Cemetery, Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2010

First, I should apologize for my lack of writing the past few weeks but - four weeks ago I had a "mini-stroke" that affected my right side. I've been busy resting (also known as 'getting frustrated'), getting back to work, and undergoing various medical tests. While my right hand still has not regained the level of fine motor skill that as a right-handed person, I previously enjoyed, it is getting better. I can type/keyboard again, although my handwriting still leaves a lot to be desired and the long term prognosis looks good!

Now, on to better things! My wife Ellen and I attended the Ontario Genealogical Society's Annual Conference this past weekend. This year the conference was hosted by the Toronto branch. Both of us are OGS members although I do most of the research with Ellen's great support.

We have enjoyed participation in OGS Conferences in the past. Typically, the conferences have featured Canadian speakers who have shared their expertise and specialized knowledge. This year's conference, in my view, marked a bit of a departure. As the largest genealogical conference in Canada (I understand that more than 700 genealogists attended this year's conference), OGS Conference 2010 raised the bar by including internationally known speakers Lisa Louise Cooke of Genealogy Gems and Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective, in addition to many others like Dave Obee and Thomas Jones.

Working with some restrictions, we decided to focus on the classes of Lisa Louise Cooke on Saturday and Maureen Taylor on Sunday.

Lisa Louise Cooke

I am a long-term fan and listener of Lisa's Genealogy Gems Podcast, in addition to being a Facebook friend. Lisa offered three classes on Saturday: "Genealogy Podcasts 101: Free Online "Radio Shows" for Researchers," "What You Must Know to Save Your Research from Destruction," and "Tap into Your Inner Private Eye: Tracking Down Living Relatives." Ellen and I attended the first two classes but, much to our regret, we were unable to stay for the third class.

So here is what I took away from Lisa's classes:

1. Ask, ask, ask! It is easy to feel self-sufficient and reliant, even when we are having trouble finding records, documents, or the information we need. Asking librarians, archivists, and experts gets results a lot faster. Genealogists are nice people, always (or least most of the time) willing to help by sharing their winning strategies.

2. You should be spending 30% of your time furthering your genealogy education! Lisa is the host and producer of the the Genealogy Gems Podcast, Family History: Genealogy Made Easy podcasts, and hosts the monthly Family Tree Magazine podcast and, if that's not enough, Lisa also has a Genealogy Gems You Tube channel with genealogy videos. I've written before about podcasts and the great benefit they offer to genealogists for as Lisa describes them, they are a genealogy conference, available free, on your computer as internationally recognized speakers share tips and techniques, answer listener questions, and share news for the genealogy community. My skills and practices have absolutely benefited from listening to podcasts! I would add two tips: i) go back and re-listening is often beneficial as well. If you're like me, you might forget a few things and 'refreshers' are always helpful. ii) use the show notes that are produced as a companion to each show. There is usually a huge wealth of additional information (text, links, videos) that are made available. If you are more of a visual learner like me, the show notes are invaluable.

3. Do some thinking now about what you want for your research after you are gone. I haven't ever assumed tat one of my children would suddenly get the urge to take over my research work so thinking about what should happen to it after I'm gone just plain makes good sense. I assumed that some library, archive, or genealogy society would be welcoming my research results with open arms and I hadn't considered the possibility that they might not want it taking up valuable 'real estate' on their shelves. We're conditioned to have a last will and testament ready expressing our wishes for our possessions but what about the research we have invested so much time in! I've got some thinking to do!

Above, Lisa Louise Cooke (centre) was kind enough to pose for a photo with myself and Ellen Louise (Lisa's mother's name). Both Lisa Louise and Ellen Louise are new 'grammas' so there was lots to talk about over lunch!

Next time, my learnings from Maureen Taylor. Time to give my right hand a rest!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Out in the middle of 'nowhere', Saskatchewan, Canada in the mid-1930's (approximately), my great uncle, Andy Hadden with his wife Louise and their children in front of their 'home.' The location was Garrick, Saskatchewan where according to Andy's brother, Alec, the mosquitoes were the size of hummingbirds!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

With Mother's Day just two days ago, here is a photo of my mother's headstone. Anne Margaret (O'Neill) Hadden was born 4 October 1930 and passed away on 8 January 1994, and rests is Resthaven Memorial Gardens in Scarborough, Ontario, Canada.

And below, in happier times, with her eldest child (me!).

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

My wife, Ellen's great grandparents, Edward Latimer with Amy (Squires) and Thomas Elliott Knox (postmaster and mayor of Livermore, California in the early 1900's) along with Ellen's mother Teresa Latimer. Photo was taken in 1923 in front of the Latimer home in Orillia, Ontario.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday

There very large monument at the grave of my maternal second great grand aunt and uncle, Joseph Fitzgerald and his wife Catherine O'Gorman. The photo was taken last weekend during my walk-about search of St. Michael's Cemetery, a hidden gem (you need to find the right alley to walk through to find the cemetery behind office towers in downtown Toronto, Ontario.