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.

Curiouser and curiouser

In “I don’t seem to exist” of June 10, I wrote of some of the problems I’m having trying to track my father.

As I wrote, the St Catharines Standard had a large hole in their online archives that neatly covered the period I’m interested in.  I contacted the Standard and was eventually told they don’t have any archives.  Excuse me?  You’re a newspaper and you don’t have copies of past issues?  They did suggest I try the St Catharines Public Library.   Contacted them and yes, they do indeed have copies of the Standard on microfilm.  So, in mid-July I’m making a trip to St Catharines.

While I was waiting to hear from various people in St Catharines, I decided to check the archives of the Hamilton Spectator, since Hamilton is not only where I was born but is the largest city on or near the Niagara Peninsula.  That was a wasted effort because when you try to check their birth and death records, they link you to Ancestry, which has so far not proven helpful.

The library did suggest I check the website for Victoria Lawn Cemetery in St Catharines, which is the largest cemetery in the city.  Again, they have no record of anyone with my father’s name being interred there.  Of course, if he was born in Nova Scotia, he may have been buried there as well.

I contacted the Salvation Army, since I’d been born in the Salvation Army hospital in Hamilton. Their reply was “I am sorry, but we do not have any records for the institution at all.”  I could probably ask them for a document signed by General Booth himself and get it no problem, but they don’t have records from 1944.

Earlier today, I had a thought.  My family doctor is also a coroner for the City of Oshawa.  Tuesday, after the long weekend, I’m going to contact him.  As coroner, he may have some insight on where records from closed hospitals might end up.

I’m not one to be paranoid, but with this amazing lack of information from any source either my son or myself can think of on my father, it kind of makes me wonder what the hell is going on?  Is it that he managed to keep himself hidden that well?  As I said to my neighbour, this makes me wonder just what my father was up to.  Her reply was “maybe you don’t want to know”.

Cat (at least I think that’s who I am)