13 August 2009

OurOntario.ca Community Newspapers Collection

It's good to see a selection of Ontario newspapers digitized directly from microfilm and OCRd becoming freely available online through OurOntario.ca, a project of Knowledge Ontario. Each paper contains interesting information -- it had to or the paper wouldn't have stayed in business. The story could have been about one of your ancestors, or as happened to me in one of the newspapers in this collection, someone you've researched.

Before I go on to the story, here are the titles available in this collection:

The British Whig (1834 - 1836, 1844-1850) - 2115 pages
The Essex Free Press (1895 - 1968) - 31383 pages
The Kingston Chronicle (1826 - 1832) - 963 pages
The Kingston Chronicle and Gazette (1835 - 1837, 1841 - 1847) - 1754 pages
The Kingston Gazette (1810 - 1820) - 1404 pages
The Provincial Freeman (1853 - 1857) - 540 pages
The Stouffville Tribune (1888-1905 ) - 927 pages
The Voice of the Fugitive (1851 - 1852) - 204 pages

The Stouffville Tribune for 18 January 1889 has this anecdote about Sir John A Macdonald and Ezekiel Stone Wiggins - public servant, eccentric, and astronomy-based weather prophet.

An amusing incident occurred during the course of the Governor General's reception at Ottawa on New Year's Day. After Prof. Wiggins had been introduced to his Excellency and was passing the Crown Ministers with a bow, Sir John Macdonald stepped nimbly forward and, offering his hand, said aloud: - "Why, Wiggins, you go by like a comet." This created a suppressed laughter, in which his Excellency joined, but the professor was equal to the occasion, for he said: - "Comets always go swiftly by the sun." Subsequently he remarked that he was greatly obliged to the Prime Minister for catching him at perihelion."

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