26 August 2019

LAC participates in H. R. Holmden plaque unveiling at Beechwood Cemetery

Five generations of descendants couldn't have chosen a more pleasant late August morning on Sunday for the unveiling of a "Great Canadian Profile" plaque in celebration of Hensley Reed Holmden (1852-1928).
He had an extended career at the National Archives as Chartologist of the Dominion during the term of Sir Arthur Doughty as National Archivist of Canada so it was appropriate that Robert McIntosh, Director-General responsible for the National Archives, was present to make remarks on behalf of LAC
"It is a pleasure to participate today in honouring an outstanding Canadian known as the Chartologist of the Dominion, Hensley Reed Holmden.
While maps and plans had been collected by the Dominion Archives since its establishment in 1872, only in 1907 was a distinct Map Division organized. Its Chief from 1907 to his retirement in 1924 was H. R. Holmden, a former journalist who had joined the Archives in 1905.
The new Division prided itself on a separate Map Room based in the newly constructed Dominion Archives Building at 330 Sussex Drive. This building, which now houses the Global Centre for Pluralism, was for many years the home of the Canadian War Museum after the Archives moved to 395 Wellington in 1967.
At its creation, the Map Division held just over 4000 plans, maps and charts. It had been enriched by a major transfer from the British War Office consisting mainly of manuscript maps and plans of military property in Canada and of maps dating from the Battle of the Plains of Abraham.
Under Holmden's energetic leadership, maps were described, a catalogue was published, and very importantly acquisitions increased rapidly. He set an ambitious objective for the Division: to build as complete a collection as possible of all maps made since approximately the year 1500 that show part or all of Canada.
By 1909, according to the Archives' Annual Report, the collection had grown to 6000 maps —  a number of maps of New France dating from 1709 were acquired that year.
The first major Catalogue of Maps, Plans and Charts in the Map Room of the Dominion Archives was published in 1912. Evidence of H.R. Holmden's work persists through the inclusion of legacy "Holmden numbers" in our descriptive records today.
Ill health forced his retirement in 1924, by which time the collection included nearly 30,000 items. H.R. Holmden is eminently worthy of the honour he is receiving today. He was a major builder of the National Map Collection, a national treasure that today numbers over 3 million items."
The Beechwood National Cemetery program unveils approximately three plaques each year divided about equally between military and non-military.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I was most interest to see this item about H. R. Holmden, as he is my great grandfather. I am living in Ottawa, but was quite unaware that he was being honoured in this way. When my great grandparents came to Canada in the 1880s, my grandmother, Mary Joanna Holmden, was left in England in the care of an aunt and never came to live in Canada. I came to Canada in 1973 and have lived in Ottawa since 1981. I have been finding out all I can about my Holmden great grand parents and their "Canadian' family and that is how I came upon the link to the August 25 event at Beechwood. I was surprised to see so many family members gathered, as I have never been able to make contact with any of them since I have been here. Any help you can give me in connecting with other descendants of Hensley and Janet Holmden, I would be most grateful.

Richard Weeks, son of Catherine Mary Mooring Aldridge, daughter of Gerald Mooring Aldridge and Mary Joanna (Holmden).