MANITOULIN— The members of the Manitoulin Genealogy Club have spent countless hours pouring over old editions of The Expositor and the Recorder on the microfilm machine at the Northeast Town Public Library, sifting through piles of photographs submitted by family members and located in museum collections across the Island and recording the memories of scores of relatives of veterans of Canada’s armed forces to create the first volume of what will prove to be a genealogist’s dream: ‘Remember Me: Manitoulin Military, vol. 1.’
Within its pages, this tome contains not only information on 175 of Manitoulin’s war veterans, but in a twist that will prove invaluable to future researchers, details on the veteran’s family members and lives on Manitoulin.
Co-author and researcher Norma Hughson noted that the project sprang from an earlier project, ‘Reflections,’ undertaken by the genealogy committee. “When we did ‘Reflections’ we had all these photographs that had people in them that nobody knew who they were,” she said. “These were people who were being forgotten.”
Co-author Joanne Pilon noted that the goal was to research and document, not only the service personnel, but to make the connections to their families. “What is different about this book is the genealogy side,” she said, “the parents, spouses and kids.”
The Expositor and her sister publication The Manitoulin West Recorder played a key role in the research that took place in finding the stories of the 175 veterans whose stories are documented inside the pages of ‘Remember Me.’
Ms. Hughson noted that there is a tremendous wealth of information contained within the transcripts of the newspapers. “There is a lot of interesting information,” she said, citing the example of Sheshegwaning First Nation which raised $300 for the patriotic fund. “That is $7,000 in today’s money,” noted Ms. Pilon. The list of organizations that stepped up to the cause during the First World War is impressive, as is the variety and ingenuity of the donations and contributions made. In addition to the Women’s Institutes’ knitting of garments and supplies that could be sent overseas, one group even raised the funds necessary to purchase a machine gun for the war effort.
A great deal of information about life at the front was gleaned from the letters of servicemen sent home and the uncertainty of the times. “One article, taken from the pages of the New York Post and re-published in an Island paper, was entitled ‘What will Italy do?’ In these days of near instant communication from all points of the globe, the pace of information flow is an interesting study in itself.
Among the catalysts for the project were the comments from Islanders querying as to why their relative was not included in the earlier projects.
The committee knows that they will be producing many more volumes of the set, as they already have more than 1,000 names in the works. “And it is still growing,” said Ms. Hughson. “We think we already have enough for five more volumes.”
One of the major concerns for the researchers is the current trend to turn over government databases and information to third party genealogy businesses, who dole out the information for a fee. Another issue is that much of the data for veterans of the Second World War is under embargo by the federal government and will be for another 20 years.
“We will likely be gone ourselves before it becomes available,” said Ms. Hughson.
Ms. Hughson noted that a lot of the people from whom they are gleaning their information are “not computer people, but that doesn’t matter, we will take down the information.”
The cover art is based on a watercolour reproduction by Mary Ellen Bailey of an original art work by Heather Graham. Lamar Hyatt and Maureen Armstrong did most of the design work. The book was a real team effort, with the credits listing Norma Hughson, JoAnne Pilon, Beverley Morphet, Amanda Eadie, Sandy McGillvary, Angela Cosby, Lynn Valliquette, Jane Deyell, Rosemary Burnett, Marilyn Irish, Verna Heise, Maureen Armstrong and Kellie Hunter.
The committee will be selling the book during the Haweater Weekend celebrations, August 1 and 2 (or until the books are all sold) in Little Current on the front street, location to be determined. The book is selling for $25.
“We are willing to ship the book anywhere,” said Ms. Hughson, “provided they tell us what their address is so we can figure in the shipping.”
Those with submissions of articles for future volumes are invited to contact the committee by mail at Box 6, Little Current, ON, P0P 1K0 or by email at email@example.com.
The group’s website