As I have recently written in “I don’t seem to exist” of June 10 and Sunday’s “Curiouser and curiouser”, my eldest son and I have been trying to track down evidence of my father’s existence. That is evidence other than the fact we are both here.
We’ve tried using various genealogical sites and could find nothing other than he seemed to have died in March of 1970. Different government sites were equally unhelpful since most records of the kind we needed are sealed for 75 years. As he lived in St Catharines Ontario, I thought the local paper, the St Catharines Standard, may have his obituary in their archives. Not so. The Standard (called by some residents “The Substandard”) has a huge hole in their online archives and don’t have copies on microfilm of any back editions.
We had exhausted just about every avenue we could think of where there might be information. As I wrote, my doctor is also a coroner, so I thought to ask him where records from closed hospitals might be kept. He suggested that they may have been destroyed by now, or available in the Ontario Archives. Another government site meant we were looking at that 75 year blockage again.
As I said, we’ve tried genealogical sites as well as government and newspaper sites, all to no avail. The one thing we hadn’t tried was the most obvious: Googling his name and location. What makes this especially embarrassing for me is that I use Firefox as my browser. And what do you see when you open Firefox, right in the middle of the screen? Right. A big Google search bar.
Typed the name and location into the search bar. Up popped a listing, among which was one person with that name, but the dates showed this person had died at less than one year of age. Thinking perhaps someone had made an error in dates, I clicked on the link and was taken to Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St Catharines. Among the information on the page was the fact there were 44 graves with the same surname in that cemetery. Unfortunately, the dates shown for the infant were correct. I decided to check the listings for the other people. Glad I did. I came across my paternal grandmother’s grave, which my son needed for the family history. Continuing to look, I found a name similar to my father’s, but with a different middle initial, although the year of death was correct. Checked it out. These pages have photos of the headstones with them and I noticed the initial on the stone wasn’t the same as the listing. It was in fact the headstone of my father.
So I now have more of the information I need to complete the government form that started this whole mess. My son will take the information I have given him and see if he can now find a place of birth, which I am still lacking.
What is the principle of Occam’s Razor – that the simplest solution is usually the correct one? And what could be simpler than just Googling the name?
Enjoy your day and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.