The 4,000 mile birth certificate

My computer has been down, so I’m just posting this now.

671 miles.  According to what I can see on Google, that is the shortest distance by road from Ajax, where I live, to the Registrar-General’s office in Thunder Bay Ontario.

On the Friday before Thanksgiving last October, the Ontario government quietly announced new requirements for changing the gender on one’s birth certificate. It took about a month for me to save the $97 fee, so it was late November before I sent off my application.   671 miles.

According to information on the form it would take about three months to process and sure enough, just about three months later, an envelope arrived from Thunder Bay. Unfortunately, it was a rejection since I had not included my original “long form” birth certificate. 1,342 miles.

As I wrote in “I don’t seem to exist” of June 10, there were certain documents still in the family home, which took until mid-May to get.  One of those documents had the title “Certificate of Birth”.  Made a copy for my files and sent the application back to T Bay. 2,013 miles.

This time it took about a week to be returned. It seems “Certificate of Birth” is not the same as “Birth Certificate”.  2,684 miles.

My son has been working on a family history and through his efforts, we were able to determine that apparently my father didn’t exist. I covered all this in “Whatever is left…” and how I found some information, not through the ancestry; government or newspaper sites, but by typing his name into Google.  That didn’t give me all the information I needed for the application for the long form birth certificate, such as his place of birth. Because I was also able to find the names, birth dates and dates of death for my paternal grandparents, my son was able to contact the Government of Nova Scotia and get the information we both needed – he for the history and me for the application.  I couldn’t find the information requested from the hospital as neither the hospital nor their records exist any longer. I wrote a letter explaining this, attached it to the application and mailed the whole package back to the Registrar-General’s office on August 9.  3,355 miles.

Friday October 4, the mail finally brought my new short form birth certificate legally identifying me as “female.” 4,026 miles.

The following Monday, I received yet another envelope from the Registrar-General.  This one contained a certified copy of the long form birth certificate.  Another 671 miles.

So, from my initial application until receipt of all documents at my address, paper of various kinds travelled a total of 4,697 miles. Total time, including finding information was just over 10 months.

A friend who has seen what I’ve gone through asked a very good question: If I’ve had this much trouble finding information on my father, what about people who were adopted and need the long form birth certificate?  Are they to be denied one because they have no idea who their birth parents were?

Cat.

I don’t seem to exist

Obviously I do or you wouldn’t be reading these words, and there are some semi-tasteless photos on Facebook, but I am having extreme difficulty proving the existence of my parents.

Before I go any further, as it says on my profile on WordPress, I am transgendered which should prevent your headaches when reading about my ex-wife.

Last October, acting on an order from the Ontario Human RightsTribunal, the government of Ontario changed the requirements to change gender on birth certificates.  The original requirement was gender re-assignment surgery, and someone took the gov’t to the Tribunal claiming this was discriminatory.  The Tribunal agreed and the requirements were changed.  Under the new requirements, I qualified, so applied for an amended birth certificate.

I sent off the application with all the documents and a $97 money order.  The application was returned with the explanation that the short form (wallet size) birth certificate wasn’t acceptable and they needed the long form.  Okay, fine.  Through my eldest son, my ex-wife said she had some documents of mine at the family home, among which was a birth certificate.  Great!  It took forever but I finally got that document and returned the application to the Registrar-General.   Ten days later it was again returned.  This time the reason given is that the document, clearly labelled “Certificate of Birth”, was not in fact a “Birth Certificate”.  They further advised me I would need to apply for this long form Certificate and included the application for that.

Among the information requested on this form, in addition to the names of my parents, was the date and place of their birth.  For my mother, this was no problem since I knew it.  But all I knew about my father was his name and that he may have been born in Nova Scotia.   I’m the oldest living member of my family and am an only child, so don’t have any siblings to ask about this.  My oldest son is trying to compile a family history, so I asked him.  All he had at the time I asked was my father’s name.  Some online searching revealed that he’d died in 1970, which I knew for that happened about two months before my wedding.  I knew when he died and also where he died, so I suggested to my son he check the obituaries in the archives of the St Catharines Standard.  There is about a 75 year gap in the online records of the Standard, and of course 1970 falls neatly in the middle of that gap.  I told him I’d visit St Catharines and see if I could find anything in the hard copy archives.  That will be early next month.  Finding birth records from Nova Scotia is also proving difficult.  Nova Scotia = New Scotland, so looking up a Scottish surname in their records is similar to finding one particular “John Smith” online.  You need more information than just a name and we simply don’t have more.

Thinking he was going about it the wrong way ‘round, he tried looking up marriage records for my mother.  Again, he came up against that black hole in the Standard’s archives.  He knew when and where she was born and when she died and where she’s buried, but I’d given him that information.  He also found one more piece of information that I had also told him earlier.

The application mentions that a letter from the hospital confirming my birth would constitute proof (as if my $97 money order isn’t enough) of my birth.  Back online.  It seems the hospital where I was born – the Salvation Army Hospital in Hamilton – doesn’t exist any longer.  Right now this seems a minor problem.  At one time I did volunteer work with the Sally Ann in Ajax and know some of the staff there, so later this week I will visit them and explain my problem to the Major.  Apparently the Salvation Army archives are maintained in Ottawa, so it should be a relatively easy job for her to contact them with my request.  I can’t see a problem since the Salvation Army probably still has letters and documents signed by General Booth himself somewhere in the archives.

So, there you have it.  Other than the fact my parents gave birth to me and died, very little is available online about them.  As I said, we’re finding it difficult to prove their existence.  We’ve tried ancestry (the Canadian site) as well as publicly available government and newspaper sites to no avail.

Actually, according to my son, there is very little available on me under my birth name or my current one either.  Maybe I don’t exist.

Anyone got any other ideas?  I’m open to suggestions.

Cat.