Monday, 29 December 2008

Anglo-Celtic Connections year in review

A quick look back at 2008 on Anglo-Celtic Connections, via the first item published each month.

January - Canadian roots of the British holiday camp
February - A major expansion at World Vital Records
March - Capital collections
April - Do you You Tube?
May - A model for LAC accountability to users
June - Live and in person
July - Happy Canada Day
August - Canada features in the British Library Annual Report
September - Why the conference?
October - Canadian Census of Industrial Establishments 1871
November - Safely stored but not forgotten
December - LAC, where are the podcasts?

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Time out to enjoy the season

Genealogy news drops off at this season so expect postings here to be light while I enjoy an extended family Christmas and New Year holiday.

Best wishes for 2009.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Year end interview with Else Churchill

As the Genealogist with the Society of Genealogists in London Else Churchill has her finger on the pulse of genealogy in England and Wales

Asked what has been the biggest advance in genealogy in Britain in 2008 she suggested, after some thought, the appearance online of nonconformist registers from TNA (RG 4 and 5) and Fleet marriages. I'd expected her to mention new databases from SOG, which she did, but indicated they are only just getting started -- much more to come next year.

The led into a question on 2009. Without hesitation she named the launch of the indexed 1911 UK census as the most anticipated event. It will be especially helpful for those struggling in the post 1901 census period where the mother's maiden name was not yet recorded in the birth indexes. Else mentioned a short term beta test of that census for the counties of London/Middlesex, Witshire and Warwickshire. See: http://betav3.1911census.co.uk

Else anticipates there will be a gradual rollout of counties to avoid the painful experience of database crashes experienced when 1901 was released.

SOG has a number of new publications in the series My Ancestor Was A ... to appear in 2009, including servants, firemen, shopkeepers, miners and taylors. Else also mentioned a new book on the UK census by Peter Christian and David Annal which she has reviewed.

2009 will be no less challenging a year for genealogy than for any other discretionary business in this period of economic upheaval. Companies will need strong financial backing to survive and some amalgamations and even failures might be expected. Else was too discrete to name names.

Friday, 19 December 2008

More Cornish parish records added to findmypast.com

The following is a press release from findmypast.com:

Nearly two million more parish records have been added to the Parish Records Collection on findmypast.com. 1.8 million baptism, marriage and burial records from the County of Cornwall have now gone live and can be searched at
http://www.findmypast.com/parish-records-collection-search-start.action?redef=0&event=B. The records have been compiled by Cornwall Family History Society.

The Parish Records Collection brings together in one easy-to-search central place the disparate records from local parishes, which members of local family history societies have been compiling since 1994, under the guidance and encouragement of the Federation of Family History Societies (FFHS). It includes records from parish registers, non-conformist registers, Roman Catholic, Jewish and other registers as well as cemetery and cremation records.

Thanks to the cross-database search facility at findmypast.com, you can search for your ancestor by surname across all the records on the site without needing to know where in the country they came from.

LOCAL CORNISH CELEBRITIES

Among the famous names that can be found in the new Cornish parish records at www.findmypast.com is Sir Humphry Davy, chemist and inventor of the miner's safety lamp, whose baptism is recorded on 22 January 1779 in Penzance.

There are now over 22.4 million parish records online at findmypast.com, with more to follow in the coming months.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Great Moments in Genealogy

In recent years the annual pre-Christmas "Great Moments in Genealogy" presentations by BIFHSGO members have become a part of local holiday tradition. This year's line-up of speakers and topics, on Saturday, 20 December at Library and Archives Canada, is one I'm very sorry to be missing:

Irene Ip "Doors Open and There Is My Great-great-grandfather."
Hugh Reekie "Some Welsh Surprises".
Robert Brown "My Great-great-grandfather Fought With General Sir Rowland Hill".
Arthur Owen "An Uncle's Legacy?".
Glenn Wright "Finding Cousin Tony -- A Real Great Moment"

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Quebec City Passenger Lists Index 1865-1900

The first benefit to LAC's online clients of their agreement with Ancestry.ca has just been posted, indexed passenger lists linked to original passenger lists for arrivals at Quebec from 1865 to 1900. This is a real benefit for those who don't have ancestry.ca access, either through their own or an institutional subscription.

There is also a link to send comments, although it isn't clear if these will be shared.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Diving into the past of Ottawa

Check out this fascinating posting at The Ottawa Project showing images of the downtown area around the Rideau Canal since 1920. You can see how the local economy has changed, even since I first arrived in the City in 1966.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Trillium Grant allows OGS to Preserve At-Risk Heritage Documents

The following is a press release from the Ontario Genealogical Society, dated 12 December 2008:

The Ontario Genealogical Society has received a grant of $179 400 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation as starter funds for a project to help Ontario heritage organizations digitize parts of their collections. The funds, granted over two years, will enable OGS to hire a technician, obtain equipment, and travel to the heritage organizations to scan the material.

This project will:
  • provide a digitized version of one-of-a-kind records, increasing security
  • allow small organizations access to digitizing they otherwise could not afford
  • increase the exposure of small organizations
  • increase access to records significant to Ontario's heritage
  • allow an income stream to heritage organizations if they wish
    provide a Canadian not-for-profit portal as an alternative to foreign commercial portals

OGS is working in partnership with Ristech Company Inc, a Burlington, Ontario company that specializes in scanning equipment. Additionally the funds will enable OGS to make improvements to its website so that it can put some of the digitized material online. If it is genealogical material, the heritage organization can choose one of three options on the OGS website: free to everyone, free to OGS Members only, or pay-per-view, the last permitting a royalty stream back to the heritage organization. Non-genealogical material could go on the heritage organization's own website or they could get assistance from Knowledge Ontario.

OGS President, Don Hinchley said "I believe this grant will give many more genealogists throughout Ontario and the world access to materials without the necessity of traveling to the museum or local archive."

This project will help protect the culture and heritage of Ontario some of which is in delicate condition and could be lost if it is not copied.

This project makes the programs and services of many Ontario heritage organizations more accessible to the world. By placing material on a website well-known for Ontario genealogical material, small heritage organizations will themselves become better known. This is particularly true for heritage organizations that are currently little known, such as those relating to specific cultures, religions, or ethnic groups, or those in more remote parts of the province. The OGS website can act as a portal leading to an organization's website. The presence of material on the OGS website makes the heritage organization more interesting to the public.

For more information about the Ontario Genealogical Society, the services available online, or to find one of the 30 local Branches near you, please visit the OGS website.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario. For over 25 years, the Foundation has supported the growth and vitality of communities across the province. It continues to strengthen the capacity of the volunteer sector through investments in community-based initiatives. For more information, please visit www.trilliumfoundation.org.

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How to use the Ancestry Card Catalog

Do you find there's so much on Ancestry you find it difficult to isolate a particular database you need to search? I do.

Ancestry Weekly Journal has a useful article this week by regular contributor Michael John Neill on finding specific databases in Ancestry using the card catalog.

The article covers the Filter by Collection and Filter by Location features as well as warning of a pitfall. He also mentions filter by date and language.

I had difficulty finding the starting page he refers to .. it's copied here. You may want to bookmark it separately.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

LAC collaborative agreements with Ancestry.ca

The terms of Library and Archives Canada's agreement with Ancestry.ca which, in summary, will see Ancestry providing digitization and indexing services for certain LAC datasets in exchange for time-limited exclusive online access by Ancestry are released here.

Of particular interest is the schedule for release of Canadian census records.

Note that this information relates to the agreement between these parties only. No other LAC agreements with organizations, such as with familysearch.org and automatedgenealogy.com are documented.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Snow and the roads in 1880s Ottawa

Now that the first major snowfall of the year has come to Ottawa let's look back to the 1880s when City streets weren't cleared of snow.

A January 1967 Ottawa Citizen article, found in the clipping collection in the Ottawa Room of the Ottawa Public Library, describes how horse-drawn street cars were taken off their wheels and mounted on sleds, with plenty of straw piled inside the cars to keep passenger's feet warm.

The 1880s mechanism of clearing sidewalks was the pride of the city engineering department. A vee-shaped plow was jerked along by a team of Clydesdales, the driver holding onto the handle and shouting instructions.

"A short distance behind came another team, this time with a driver mounted on a little machine. Sticking out one side was a long board - a wing plow -- which smoothed the snow bank out onto the roadway so sleighs, bread and milk wagons could drive up to the sidewalk.

Then half a block behind came the third team, snorting and blowing steam from their nostrils as they hauled along a huge wooden snow roller to pack the snow remaining on the sidewalk so a person could walk. The weighted roller, five feet in diameter and six feet wide often did such a thorough job that it was well into the summer before all the ice disappeared from the sidewalks."

Ah, the good old days! At least they had public transport.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Michael Grant Ignatieff ancestry

New Liberal leader Michael Grant Ignatieff, b 12 May 1947 in Toronto, has a diverse and socially elite ancestry.

He is the son of Canadian immigrant and diplomat George Ignatieff (1913-1989), the grandson of Count Pavel Ignatiev (1870-1945) who was Minister of Education to Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Princess Natasha Mestchersky. His great-grandfather, Count Nikolay Pavlovich Ignatyev, was the Russian Minister of the Interior under Tsar Alexander III.

His mother, (Jessie?) Alison Grant (1916 - 1992) had high profile Canadian roots stretching back several generations in the Maritimes.

Her father William Lawson Grant (1872-1935) was principal of Upper Canada College, and his father, George Munro Grant (1835 -1902) principal of what was to become Queen's University. His father, James Grant, was a immigrant from Scotland. George Munro Grant's wife, Jessie Lawson (1838-1901), was descended from William Lawson (1772-1848), one of the founders of the Bank of Nova Scotia.

His mother's younger brother was the political philosopher George Grant (1918-1988), author of Lament for a Nation. His mother's mother, Maude Erskine Parkin was sister to Alice Parkin the wife of Canada's first native-born Governor General (Charles) Vincent Massey. The sisters father, Sir George Robert Parkin (1846-1922), also served as headmaster of Upper Canada College. He was son of John Parkin who was an immigrant from Middleton-in-Teesdale, England.

George R Parkin's wife was Annie Connell Fisher whose Loyalist grandfather, Peter Fisher (1782-1848), was the first historian of New Brunswick.

In his book The Russian Album first published twenty years ago Ignatieff writes in the context of his own family's history that "life now moves so quickly that some of us feel that we were literally different people at previous times in our lives. If the continuing of ourselves is now problematic, our connection with family ancestry is yet more in question."

How much more so twenty years later?

Now we have the prospect of a Prime Minister who not only knows about his family history but has also thought about it.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

www.britishcolonist.ca

December 11th, 1858 saw the launch of Victoria's newspaper The British Colonist. It became the leading paper in the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia until the emergence of Vancouver and competitors in the 1890s. The successor paper, still publishing, is The Victoria Times Colonist.

150 years later digitized and OCRd archives of the paper, from 1858 to June 1910, are online. Another year will be added soon. You can browse by date or use the search feature to mine the contents of the paper.

Dave Obee, who along with University of Victoria history professor John Lutz, was a driving forces behind the initiative to get this facility online, cautions that the search feature is only as good as the 60 year old microfilm. Even the best software had a hard time reading this old paper. Searching any given term will certainly miss some instances and insert others, so you may also want to refer to the index to the paper on Victoria’s Victoria.

A basic search strategy is to click on the link to show a bit of info before clicking on the page. A glance will indicate whether the page will be of interest. There is an advanced search option.

Further background is here and here.

Congratulations to the sponsors of this initiative, Victoria Times Colonist, University of Victoria Libraries, University of British Columbia Library, Greater Victoria Public Library, BC Electronic Library Network, Public Library Services Branch.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Researching British military ancestors

If you've researched ancestors who served with the British military you'll likely recognize the name Simon Fowler. Maybe you have one of his guides, Tracing Your First World War Ancestors, Tracing Your Second World War Ancestors, Tracing Your Army Ancestors.

You may also recognize him as the editor of Ancestors, the family history magazine of the National Archives which I frequently mention. He was an archivist at the Public Record Office for 20 years.

His most recent (2007) military book is A Guide to Military History on the Internet published by British military publisher Pen and Sword. They retail the book for £9.99. Amazon.co.uk have it on sale for £7.04.

Since the book's publication I've blogged British military-related items: TNA's Digital Microfilm Pilot, British WW1 Medal Cards on Ancestry, and New Gazettes Online in beta. With changes in internet resources occurring at a sprinter's pace any internet focused book has reached its before date before it appears.

The folks at Pharos Teaching & Tutoring Limited have a way around that, as announced in the following press release.

09 December 2008 – For Immediate Release
Military Historian Simon Fowler joins Pharos

Top military historian Simon Fowler joins Pharos’ roster of family history experts to lead a Pharos online course on researching military ancestors. Starting on 20 January 2009, the five-week course will look at the major resources available online and in record offices, such as The National Archives and the Imperial War Museum.

“I’m looking to forward to working with Pharos. Their courses and tutors are highly regarded,” said Simon, “Military genealogy is something which has really started to appear on the web over the past couple of years. And I think students on the course will be surprised by what they find.”

Simon has published many guides to researching military history, particularly on Army genealogy and the First World War, for The National Archives, Pen & Sword and Countryside Books: “In researching these books I have found many great resources which I have enjoyed sharing with readers.” He is also an experienced lecturer and tutor. “I’ve always enjoyed the interaction with students in lecture rooms, but it will be a fascinating challenge to recreate this buzz through chatrooms and forums.”

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Good news for Ottawa

Those of us in the genealogy community in Ottawa can celebrate as City Council Committee of the Whole voted for a budget which rejected the staff recommended cuts to culture, reinstated the entire amount, and included the full planned increments to the museums, arts and festivals plans. This includes funding for the City Archives which houses the libraries of local genealogical and family history societies.

The fate of about $1M in capital funding is still to be decided, but the votes seems to be there to approve it and to confirm the full culture package when Council votes on the total budget package.

Monday, 8 December 2008

British Cabinet papers online

If you're interested in the social background to your family history, then read on.

More than half a million pages of key British Cabinet papers, from 1915 to 1977 are now available to search and download for free at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/cabinetpapers. The digitised records comprise: Cabinet conclusions; Cabinet memoranda; precedent books and available secretary’s notebooks.

Chances of finding an ancestor named are slim. You could get lucky if, say, your family member is mentioned as having taken up employment in a government agency, perhaps even as a secretary.

More likely is finding mention of a major event or movement in which your family member was involved. You may also find information on a wartime incident that was not covered in a timely manner, or at all, in the newspapers owing to censorship, for example, detailed lists of ships sunk. I was surprised at how often Canada is mentioned.

There is detailed supporting material on the website including a short podcast Cabinet by Laura Withey (Project Manager) and Dr. Ed Hampshire (Records Specialist.)

It's quite a rigmarole to order and download the papers through the Documents Online facility. At present there's no charge to do so. Making the documents available through Documents Online suggests that could change.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

FreeBMD updated

The FreeBMD Database, containing index entries for births, marriages and deaths registered in England and Wales since mid-1837, was updated on Thursday 4 Dec 2008 and currently contains 159,249,033 distinct records (205,394,884 total records). The indexers are now breaking ground in the 1930s as well as filling in gaps in earlier years.

Ancestors in the Attic -- overseas roots

History Television broadcast two episodes on 6 December, one new, one a repeat.

Missing Pieces, from the new series III, documented a man of Japanese ancestry, whose father died when he was still a baby, returning to the ancestral home town to find a cousin and his father's name inscribed on the family grave. The episode helped explain why this man's father journeyed to Canada.

There was brief mention of the sources used in the search, both in Canada and Japan, and mention that the search in Japan using a local researcher took several months. When dealing with unfamiliar records in another language employing a local professional genealogist is usually a good strategy.

Roots, the repeat episode from series II, followed a Toronto woman's journey to a village in Cameroon identified as one in the area associated with her mitrochondial DNA. Although clearly an emotional journey for her it was less satisfactory genealogically as the particular village appeared to have been selected only because it was where the guide was from. Apparently the program was unable to help her with her paternal ancestry, her initial interest.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Findmypast.com announce new records online

Oxfordshire, Middlesex, Buckinghamshire, Huntingdonshire, and Northamptonshire have been added to the findmypast.com 1901 census. That's over 1.1 million new 1901 census records giving the company over 10.6 million 1901 census records online.

Middlesex will be particularly welcome to those looking for a second opinion on the census for the East End of London.

The company also announce the availability of 1.8 million Cornish parish records. The Parish Records Collection now contains over 22.4 million parish records, dating from 1538, and featuring baptisms, marriages, and burials. I was able to quickly add a couple of extra pieces of information to a peripheral branch of my family tree with these Cornish records.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Ancestors in the Attic seeks staff genealogist

Want to be a genealogy TV personality? Know someone who fits the role? The following is a call for applications from Ancestors in the Attic.

Ancestors in the Attic – History Television’s Gemini-nominated family history documentary series – is searching for a staff genealogist for its fourth season.

Part personal drama, part forensic investigation and part historical revelation, Ancestors in the Attic provides unexpected, emotional and often life-changing answers to the genealogical questions of ordinary Canadians.

Using the tools of genealogy and family history, the program takes ordinary Canadians on a journey of discovery to solve family mysteries and make emotional connections with relatives, family members or ancestors. In the process, we also examine Canadian history from a very personal and intimate perspective.

The role of the staff genealogist is twofold: assist our research team with the extensive genealogical and historical investigations required to solve the stories we air each season; and appear on-camera with our host, Jeff Douglas, to help our submitters solve their family mysteries.

To succeed, candidates must have experience in the field of family history, be skilled in advanced historical research methods and have experience with online and primary genealogical resources both here in Canada and also, preferably, in the United Kingdom.

Candidates must have an intense curiosity, be highly organized, computer literate and capable of thinking outside the box. The successful candidate must also be passionate about family history and genealogy, a talented communicator, and excited about conveying detailed genealogical findings in a simple, accessible and credible way to a television audience.

While experience as a genealogist is an advantage, Ancestors in the Attic is also interested in hearing from anyone in related fields that meet the criteria. And, while our preference is to find one person to fill both research and on-camera roles, we are flexible.

If you are interested in becoming part of the successful Ancestors in the Attic team please send your resume by mail to: Dugald Maudsley Producer, Ancestors in the Attic Primitive Entertainment 585 Bloor Street West Toronto, ON, M6G 1K5 Or via email to: dugald@primitive.net

Ottawa's loss is LAC's gain

You know change is bound to happen, but it still comes as a surprise.

Christine Tessier has been a major presence on the Ottawa city heritage scene. To mention just some of her roles, for six years Christine has been Executive Director of The Bytown Museum, is a former President of the Council of Heritage Organization of Ottawa and current President of the Ottawa Museum Network . The vitality of those organizations is due in large measure to Christine`s leadership.

Christine recently announced that Friday 5 December will be her last day with the Bytown Museum. She received thanks and best wishes for continued success in her new job from Ottawa City Councillors on Tuesday when she appeared at budget hearings and made them aware, yet again, of the disruptive and demotivating impact of threats of annual City funding cuts for heritage.

Christine`s not moving far. If she wanted a scenic move to her new job she could follow the path below Parliament Hill, being careful to avoid the bodies of politicians and their aides falling or pushed from the turmoil above, to the Library and Archives Canada building at 395 Wellington Street. She will join LAC`s Portrait Gallery of Canada to work on marketing and communications.

It`s a challenging time for the Gallery as it organizes, in collaboration with the Canada Science and Technology Museum, a series of events and activities in 2009 celebrating the centennial of the birth of Canada`s premier portrait photographer Yousef Karsh.

My best wishes to Christine as she takes on this new challenge.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Ancestry expansion?

Times like these are times of opportunity. Companies that are overextended, or suffering a drop in clientele as consumers become more selective, become takeover targets.

The Generations Network, parent of Ancestry, seems to be well placed to benefit from such opportunities. It's the biggest player in the online genealogy sector. An article Family history company may make acquisitions, go public in the Salt Lake Tribune reports company CEO Tim Sullivan as saying the company is extremely profitable, has more than a million paid subscribers to its family history services and $190 million in yearly revenue.

The article also reports that "former CFO David Rinn has been tapped to run a new corporate group focusing on developing partnerships with other companies and potential acquisitions."

Statements from privately held companies must always be treated with caution, but I'd be keeping my eyes on second tier companies, such as WorldVitalRecords.com. WVR
has come in for some negative comment recently as additions are rather thin, for example, the recent addition of The Windsor Herald (Windsor, Ontario, Canada) only has years 1855 - 1856, and some databases previously offered are no longer available.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Nearest Book Meme

"Brinton. It nestles in lovely trees, a little place where the Saxons chose to build their church because the hollow offerred shelter from the winds."

Arthur Mee in The King's England: Norfolk

Rules:
* Get the book nearest to you. Right now.
* Go to page 56.
* Find the 5th sentence.
* Write this sentence - either here or on your blog.
* Copy these instructions as commentary of your sentence.
* Don't look for your favorite book or your coolest but really the nearest.

It turned out the first book to hand had a full page picture on page 56.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Interesting times in Ottawa

With the possible overthrow of the Conservative Federal Government for a Lib-NDP coalition, and hearings at Ottawa City Hall on the City 2009 budget, these are interesting times in the Nation's Capital. They don't have much of an Anglo-Celtic Connection, but the City budget means I haven't had much time for genealogy.For those interested, below is the text of my remarks to City Council on December 1st. As heritage is one of the areas being targeted for major budget cuts the issue is of interest for local genealogists.

Remarks to Ottawa City Council Committee of the Whole on Budget 2009
John D Reid

I’m Chair of your Arts, Heritage and Culture Advisory Committee which has a mandate to provide you thoughtful advice and advocacy.

In joining the committee I sought to represent the interests of local and family history. In serving it’s been my privilege to experience and learn how arts and heritage build our community, economically as well as socially.

To start on a positive note; a milestone was reached this year.

You approved a new city archives building, and twenty million dollars in provincial funding followed.

The building will be a legacy for this Council and for Colleen Hendrick whose leadership will be missed.

A year ago you all agreed to renew your commitment to your Museum Sustainability Plan, Arts Investment Strategy and Festivals Sustainability Plan. You recognized that cutting all funding for arts, heritage and festivals, a one third of one percent anorexic sliver of the city budget pie, wasn't going to save the day.

You sat here and heard repeatedly of the public support.

Now, here we go again.

People get passionate about arts and heritage.

Tap into that passion and marvellous things happen.

A little City funding brings communities together, releases hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of hours of volunteer time, and primes the pump for other funding.

It isn't natural resources that drive our economy as with so many Canadian communities; our economy isn't based on manufacturing as in Windsor and Hamilton.

For Ottawa it's knowledge workers in government, technology innovation, tourism, education and health -- industries that depend on a highly educated workforce.

Knowledge workers need to continually upgrade their skills, are mobile and seek a high quality of life for themselves and their families.

The Canadian Council on Learning recognize availability and proximity to arts and heritage facilities as important for knowledge workers and their quality of life.

Similar evidence for the role of cultural infrastructure comes in a recent report, "Valuing Culture" from the Conference Board of Canada.

They find that residents of Ottawa-Gatineau ranked number one in spending on culture goods and services in 2005, averaging one thousand and sixty-four dollars per person.

The Conference Board conclude that "an important challenge for governments is to ensure communities have the means necessary to support creativity and diversity, and to build a thriving culture sector."

Cutting isn’t building. Again this year cutting culture wouldn’t be the salvation of the budget, but would damage the City economy.

It would even reduce income to City government from tourism, something the City Treasurer chooses to marginalize.

The budget proposals target culture, eliminating many programs and imposing 54% cuts overall. They renege on your Museum, Arts and Festivals plans, the results of extensive community consultation and negotiation. The cultural community feels victimized.

What would be the impacts? I’ll give an overview for arts, heritage and festivals in turn. You’ll hear detail from others.

You can hear from a wider range of citizens by visiting the protest rally in Marion Dewer Festival Plaza in support of Arts, Heritage and Culture, and more broadly for social investment, at noon.

Cuts to the Arts proposed are total elimination of multiple programs, 42% to the Three Year Operating Funding Program and 10% to Service Agreements.

Some familiar names on the hit list include Opera Lyra, GCTC, Odyssey Theatre, the Ottawa School of Art, Galley 101, SAW Galley and Video, MASC, The School of Dance, Théâtre de la Vieille 17, et Théâtre du Trillium.

Some organizations including Le Groupe Danse Lab and Propeller Dance have already stated they would close.

Some, like the Ottawa Symphony, would cut back the number of performances.

Others would continue, suffer from discouraged volunteers and fade away. Similar cuts in the 1950s resulted in the loss of a theatre company. It moved to Stratford and founded the Stratford Festival. What a lost opportunity.

What does it say about us if we cut the seven thousand five hundred dollar Karsh Award in the very month of the centennial of Ottawa's, and Canada's, greatest photographer?

Can we really claim to believe in multiculturalism if we eliminate funding for the celebration of ethnic cultures?

Turning to heritage, overall cuts proposed are 43% despite the commitment in the September 2005 four-year Museum Sustainability Plan.

For the 11 local museums the Plan has been a success with enhanced programming, more outreach and community involvement. Visits to the museums are up 19% this year, 14% in ‘07. More staff meant increased revenues from other sources.

Cuts and deferrals would mean the end of The Workers Heritage Centre Museum. Elsewhere there would be job losses, less programming, conservation and capability to find other funding. Elimination of capital would mean museums falling short of the requirements of the Ontario Disabilities Act.

Local historical societies outside the Greenbelt would be especially hard hit.

Meg Hamilton tells me that a 100% cut for the Council of Heritage Organizations of Ottawa and the Ottawa Museum Network would force both organizations to close their doors with the lay-off of four full-time staff. Services to the community would cease.

David Flemming informs me that a 100% cut to Heritage Ottawa's grant would close its office, reduce its educational and advocacy activities, and lessen its ability to leverage other funding. Heritage Ottawa’s volunteer contribution of over sixteen hundred hours of community service supporting the work of the City's Heritage Planning Section would be reduced.

Turning to Festivals, key drivers of Ottawa's tourist trade and an important source of employment, they are targeted for a 100% cut.

The Festivals Plan has bought stability -- we no longer read the horror stories of problems with festivals.

If the City shows a loss of faith by totally eliminating their first tier funding other sponsors would inevitably fall away.

Julian Armour tells of his experience where every dollar the city provides brings in twenty-one dollars from other sponsors. More generally perhaps one city dollar leverages ten from other sources. Arguably City tax revenues from festivals exceed the funds being cut - not to mention the much larger benefit to the city economy as a whole.

With over 1.6 million participants having enjoyed a day at one of our festivals this year continuing with the Festivals Plan is a no brainer.

In Conclusion

Statistics show Ottawa at the bottom when it comes to per capita cultural funding amongst Canada’s major cities.

Others understand the economic value of culture. But in Ottawa there’s a perception problem evident in the draft budget.

We need to break out of this annual cycle of destructive debate and threats to long term plan commitments, which are a matter of trust. This reflects the governance concern found in the 2008 Citizen Satisfaction Survey.

It’s time to find a way to better engage the community earlier in the annual budget process. Peter Honeywell points to the idea of an Arts Commission broached in the 20/20 Arts Plan. Other models, both locally and in other municipalities, should be explored.

The City has made progress thanks to the virtuous circle created by your Museum, Arts and Festivals Plans. The programmed increase, six hundred and thirty thousand dollars operating, should proceed. The cultural community stands ready to fulfill their part of the bargain.

The community reject proposed extraordinary cuts of 54% to culture, that’s down four point one million dollars. And now the 2008 Citizen Satisfaction Survey doesn’t justify the targeting.

The city needs to move ahead, not stand transfixed by the status quo. People with a vision of the cultural potential, and its economic advantage, for this city, including the wiser heads on Council, should prevail.

The cultural community is ready for constructive dialogue, but never again do they want to feel so victimized. Thank you.

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Delivered 1 December 2008

Monday, 1 December 2008

LAC, where are the podcasts?

This blog frequently mentions podcasts from The (UK) National Archives, and occasionally from the British Library. I've been hoping occasional prodding here would encourage LAC to get in on the action.

It's not as LAC doesn't have equally good stuff. Last week I attended a Political Junkie Café event in the series Pin-Up Prime Minister, part of LAC's continuing Forum on Canadian Democracy. With the title "War Rooms. Battlefields. Borden." it featured Dr. Jack Granatstein, one of Canada's foremost political and military historians, and Dr. Robert Jackson who served as a senior policy advisor to two former Canadian Prime Ministers.

The presentations were insightful and the discussion stimulating. AND it was being videoed. So why aren't these and previous sessions available as podcasts, or if they are why are they so well hidden?

We can't all be in Ottawa to participate, but it would be well to remember that it's not just those in Ottawa who pay the taxes that fund LAC.