There are so many places — real and virtual — to search for information, more than I had ever imagined.
The resources I enjoyed finding the most were the people I’ve emailed or spoken with along the way. Each one of them has been enthusiastic, supportive and so generous with information and suggestions. Family history and local history relies heavily on people working together to reconnect scattered pieces and I’d like to thank —
Nonni Jonsson, local historian in Manitoba, Swan River Historical Museum
Olivier Dirson, historian and battlefield guide, Chemins d’Histoire
Ivor William, a relative of Walter Cripps
Jim Busby, an experienced historian and member of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Study Group. This group researches and generously shares information they find about all aspects of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1919). Jim is particularly interested in the men of the 101st Battalion. (You can read about Jim Busby’s amazing WWI ancestor, William Stephenson here and here).
Library and Archives Canada holds digitised copies of so much of our history from land grant certificates to service records and war diaries.
The Internet Archive offers access to digitised publications from the past. I was constantly surprised by what I was able to find there. I discovered books on mink trapping, instructional texts for new missionaries and pamphlets from the Great War.
Government of Canada – Weather provides historical climate data. Some stations have been recording meteorological data since as far back as 1840.
NOAA Central Library has daily weather maps dating right back to 1871. While these were for our American neighbours, luckily weather knows no boundaries so we can see what was happening over the border as well. If you are from the prairies the weather was/is a huge factor.
RootsWeb is a large online genealogical community. Contributors include individuals, local history societies and larger historical/cultural institutions. There are searchable databases, hosted projects and pages as well as community posting forums for asking and connecting with others.
Canada’s Historic Places (Canadian Register of Historic Places) has a list of over 12,000 places of historical interest in Canada and elsewhere. Besides providing a description of each place, it may explain its construction and historic significance. This site was particularly useful in learning more about the log home in which my grandfather grew up.
The Historical Thinking Project helped me improve my initial questions and introduced me to the idea of historical thinking. This site was especially helpful in clarifying historical perspectives (as opposed to interpretations) for me. Understanding and employing the concepts of historical thinking was essential to me. I want to practice the best history writing that I can.
Time Machine: What life in Canada was like before the First World War is an illustrated page by the Globe and Mail. It neatly pulls together statistics to give a snapshot of Canada and it’s people as they headed into the war. From populations, age and nationalities to financial situations of the day (national and individual), it’s important to understand the forces behind decisions that were made and this really helped.
Old Frontline Battlefields of WWI is a website that provides information about the battlefields of the Great War as well as the history. It includes a page listing all the CEF battalions which was helpful when reading historical accounts.
WWI Trench Maps and Aerial Photographs is a website constructed by McMaster University that provides digital access, and the ability to download high resolution copies of aerial photographs of France and Belgium, topographical maps and trench maps for the Western front as well as other theatres of war during the Great War for non-commercial purposes. They also provide several Map Interpretation Guides like How to Read Map References, most helpful for someone like me with absolutely no experience at reading any kind of serious maps.
Canadian War Museum is the website of Canada’s national museum of military history. It has been designed to emphasize the human experience of war and how it has affected the nation. Everything on this site has been explained in simple terms, it was wonderfully helpful in explaining things like the structure of the CEF as well as the structure of command.
(more to come)