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)

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.