Sunday, 19 October 2008

Ancestors in the Attic - Spirit Lake

Having missed a couple of weeks of Ancestors in the Attic I've been wondering how it's doing. I wasn't disappointed.

Saturday evening's episode, entitled Spirit Lake, followed a genealogical exploration undertaken by Ukranian-Canadian, Jerry Bayrak based on sparse information from his mother's that she grew up in a small town called Spirit Lake, near Montreal.

Googling ""Spirit Lake" Quebec" yields as the first hits several websites explaining its role as a WW1 internment camp for enemy aliens, including Ukranians who were Austro-Hungarian nationals.

LAC's Preservation Centre was shown as the repository for a camp roster showing the family. Two churches yielded family baptismal records -- shown in the original register with adjacent records carefully obscured to protect privacy.

Based on a government letter the program concluded the family were interned at their own request as they were unable to support themselves owing to prejudice in Montreal. However, that was a extrapolation for the family; there was no specific evidence of their request.

The program did a good job of explaining a little known aspect of Canadian history and the records available to dig up the family story.

1 comment:

M. Diane Rogers said...

Thanks for posting this as I wasn't able to watch 'Spirit Lake' when first aired. Sometimes now 'Ancestors in the Attic' is well worth watching.

Many more will now be aware of this part of Canada's past (although I believe it was CBC that was the first to 'find' Mary Hancharuk after 'Flowers for Nellie' was aired in 2007. That documentary can be heard on-line at: http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2008/200807/20080701.html).

As part of federal government agreements with the Ukrainian Canadian community there are to be national commemorations of World War I and II internment camps. This has been a long time coming.