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.
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.
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 7and 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.
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.
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.
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 →
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.
We are pleased to announce that the Rural Diary Archive of the University of Guelph Library has added to its collection transcripts of the diaries Jennie Fleming and her nephew Roy Fleming kept of their trip to Scotland and England in 1903.
Jennie Fleming, the youngest of the Fleming family who settled in 1850 at Kilsyth, Derby Township, had deep memories of her pioneer days.
“As a frequent visitor in the early days to Owen Sound, Derby’s market place, she saw this hamlet on the arm of Georgian Bay grown from a little village of Sydenham into the thriving commercial town and city of Owen Sound. She sometimes recalled the fact that at first on entering the town she had to cross the Sydenham River on a log where the Second Avenue bridge [sic] now stands, and walk deep in mire on the main part of Poulett Street.”(1) [Roy Fleming, 1942]
Roy Fleming more than once recalled that in Owen Sound’s early days his Aunt Jennie crossed the Sydenham River by traversing – very carefully, we might surmise – a felled log, and then in town having to deal with the muck of the main street. One can imagine Jennie, a vital woman who lived into her nineties, reflecting on the changes she had witnessed since her arrival to the forested wilderness – walking long distances as a teenager, driving horse-drawn buggies on gravel-covered roads in her twenties, travelling by express trains to Toronto in her seventies.
Felled trees probably served as bridges in more than one spot – and in those years the tree could be at least three feet in width and easily tall enough to reach from bank to bank. In 1841, according to Paul White in Owen Sound: The Port City, it was possible to cross the Sydenham River on the west side of town by tree. He wrote, “The only easily accessible crossing was to the south of the new community, at the present day site of the mill dam on 2nd Avenue West. Here, a tree had been felled and travellers could pass over the river by walking on the bridge created by the fallen log.” (2)
In June 2018 I had the great pleasure of visiting the Highlands of Scotland to walk the land of the Fleming home of Kirrandrum, the farm outside Ballinluig in Logeirait Parish. I was guided by Eddie Thomson of Heartland Tours. We found the remains of Alexander’s house, which he built himself, and some of the other buildings, as well as the dry-stone wall Alexander built and which still stands intact. Most of all, we saw surrounding hills and the Tay valley almost as they were when Roy Fleming and family members visited in 1903, and even as the Fleming family saw them when they left for Canada in May 1843.
A complete account of the visit with photos and video and reference to Roy Fleming’s description of his visit is provided in Walking Kirrandrum June 2018
The map below from Canmore shows the location of Kirrandrum relative to Ballinlluig and to the adjacent Dalnabo.