Vernon’s Owen Sound City Directories

Page from Vernon's Directory for Owen Sound 1917
Page from Vernon’s Directory for Owen Sound 1917

People researching residents and businesses in Owen Sound may now go to Family Search to use digitized copies of Owen Sound Vernon city directories for the years: 1942, 1961, 1964,  1991, 1997/98, 2001/02. Search Family Search > Books (https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/) for owen sound to see the selection. This tremendous project of the Ontario Genealogical Society is described in this announcement –  Vernon Directory Digitization Project (February 18, 2019). Let’s hope that more of the earlier years are added soon.

The 1917 Vernon directory for Owen Sound that is held by the Toronto Public Library directory has been digitized and is at both the Internet Archive and at Toronto Public Library site.

Postscript 23 Nov 2019 – Gail Dever (Genealogy à la carte) in Dozens more Ontario Vernon’s Directories on FamilySearch describes the project and briefly, the search. For example: “a free FamilySearch account is required to view each individual directory. “

Myrtle Melissa Brown, Nursing Sister

Canadian nurses with wounded soldiers
Image: Canadian nurses with wounded soldiers (Provincial Archives of Alberta [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons)

Myrtle Melissa Brown, a graduate nurse, enlisted with Canadian Army Medical Care (CAMC) on 24 March 1917 as a Nursing Sister. She was one of thirty-one nursing sisters from Grey County (1), and among the eighteen who had graduated from the Owen Sound Collegiate Institute. (2)

Myrtle was from a farming family in Derby Township near Owen Sound, the eldest daughter of Melissa Brown and Samuel Horton Brown. Her grandparents were John Fleming and Margaret Robertson of Kilsyth and her great grandparents Alexander Fleming and Jean (Stewart).

Born 22 Jul 1889, Myrtle was described in the Attestation Paper as twenty-eight years old, 5’ 3” in height, 116 pounds in weight, and with grey eyes. She was a Disciple (Church of Christ) by faith.(3)

This excerpt from “The First World War’s nursing sisters,” Canadian Nurse provides some background.(4)

In total, 3,141 nurses served from 1914 into the early 1920s, with more than 2,500 seeing duty overseas. Trained nurses before the war, almost all of them came from hospitals, universities and medical professions from across Canada and the United States. All were women. Most were single and between the ages of 21 and 38; the average age was 24. They were all were volunteers, and there was never a shortage. For example, when a call was made in January 1915 to fill 75 positions, 2,000 nurses applied.

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The Kilsyth Subdivision

Main corner in the small village of Kilsyth, Georgian Bluffs, Grey County.
Kilsyth, Grey County, ON – Corner of Grey Road 5 and Concession Rd 7. Photo by Gwen Harris 2016

A new subdivision of 33 lots may be in the future for the sleepy town of Kilsyth west of Owen Sound in the Township of Georgian Bluffs (previously  Derby Township). The proposed subdivision of 33 residential lots on  17.09 hectares takes up most of  Lot 9, Concession 7 and some adjacent town lots at the south west corner where Grey Road 5 intersects Concession 7 (known as Mill Road).   This is just “down the road” from several farms the Fleming families once held.

MAP - Airphoto of the area of the proposed Kilsyth subdivision. Source: Grey County Committee Report 8 Nov 2018 regarding Kilsyth Plan of Subdivision (Barry’s Construction) 42T-2018-11
MAP – Airphoto of the area of the proposed Kilsyth subdivision. Source: Grey County Committee Report 8 Nov 2018 regarding Kilsyth Plan of Subdivision (Barry’s Construction) 42T-2018-11

The Proposed Plan for the Kilsyth Subdivision (2018) has much to tell us about the nature of the land the Flemings farmed, the current archaeological interest, the history of Kilsyth, along with enumerating the many compliance requirements concerning water resources, land use, ecology, habitat, and cultural heritage.  It is available from https://www.grey.ca/planning-development/planning-applications – look for Kilsyth on the page.

The “Fisher Archaeological Report” contains the background study and assessment that is of greatest interest for its examination of the history, soil conditions, and archaeology of the area and includes several maps of the area and photos of farmstead and artifacts that were unearthed. Two of these area maps are shown in this blog posting.

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News about online resources

New Online Resources
New Online Resources

A few notable news items about resources have come to my inbox from genealogy newsletters.

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Searching For My Roots – poem by Leora Wilson

Pottawatomi River, Derby Township – George Harlow White 1874 – Courtesy of Toronto Public Library

I often think of days gone by when this land was just beginning,
And what the settlers faced each day to eke out a meager living.
They traveled here by horse and cart, no roads then would they find.
Their salvaged treasures packed in trunks, from the life they had left behind.
Did they bring a few chickens and maybe a cow from the nearest settled town?
What about their flour and other supplies? No store then could be found.
The untamed miles of wooded land would face them as they stood
And pondered how they’d ever live and where they’d find their food.
The forest towered above them, but they needed to clear the land
So they could build their homes of massive logs, and do it all by hand.
Their tools would be inadequate, a crosscut saw perhaps?
They’d need both feed and fur so they’d require hunting traps.
Fortunate were those with pristine water close at hand
Else they’d dig a well with pick and shovel and pray that they’d strike sand.
They learned to cook on a fireplace hearth to keep their family fed.
Supplies were meager for winter’s long sojourn, so it is said.
The prolonged winter would bring the snow that never seemed to end,
And winter’s blast left icy frost on the walls they needed to mend.
Their days were filled with menial tasks, fetching water and chopping wood,
Feeding the hungry fire, their only resource for heat and food.
Milking and baking and washing the floor, scrubbing the laundry clean,
Evenings brought mending and darning chores by the light of a candle’s gleam
They were to endure many weary days and endless lonely nights.
Life was fragile for the weak, confronting anguish and many plights.
The family increased nearly every year, a fact of life those days,
But they raised the children that survived and were happy in so many ways.
I think of all these things while I am searching for my roots,
And I’m proud to know that on this family tree, I’m one of its many shoots.

Submitted by Leora Wilson, great great granddaughter of Joseph Garvie and Janet Fleming.


Note added by Gwen Harris: Janet was a sister of Alexander Fleming. The Garvie and Fleming families settled in Derby Township, Grey County in the 1850s. Leora wrote this poem for a book titled Highland Legacy that Lynne Porter and she wrote about their MacKenzie-Cameron ancestors in Keppel Township, Grey County. Leora has kindly posted it to this Fleming blog.

Finding historical texts and pictures

The richness of resources on local history – and that of Ontario in particular – constantly amazes me. Today I have two starting points to recommend: the University of Calgary’s digitzation project, and a list prepared by the Toronto Public Library of resources for finding photos.

Library and Cultural Resources Digital Collections at the University of Calgary (https://library.ucalgary.ca/digital) has a daunting number of collections – many about Alberta and some about the Arctic – even some about Japan. But the area of particular interest at present is Local Histories and Local Histories (2). Select one or both from the list and enter search terms for the subjects, people or places of interest.  The search interface provides guides to further filtering by date, subject and title.

Ourroots, the service that had digitized many Ontario historical texts, was taken over by the University of Calgary project and gradually all (or nearly all) texts have been remounted on new servers with the improved search interface. Two titles of great interest to us that are now available are: Continue reading

Progress Report

Proposed cover for book - The Flemings of Derby Township: A Family History
Proposed cover for book – The Flemings of Derby Township: A Family History

You may be wondering if the long silence at this blog means we have abandoned the Fleming Family History project. Quite the opposite.  We have been feverishly busy writing these past three months, editing, and designing, and can say with confidence that we are getting closer to print. The “we” means a team of six: family historian and sponsor (Ruth (Fleming) Larmour), writer (Gwen Harris), two editors, book designer, and printer. As well, some Fleming descendants have been assisting in reviewing sections. The book designer has determined the layout and design, and we have overcome major issues with the quality of images and handling of endnotes. Twenty-one of the twenty-three chapters have now been written, reviewed and edited – about 10% of Flemings of Derby Township: A Family History remains to be written.  We don’t have a definite launch date yet but are hoping for late summer, early fall. The book will be available through this website. The project plan also includes revamping this site because we will have more content to add, more to share, more to learn from readers and commenters, and more time to do it.

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