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Beyond the Cenotaph: a 21st century commemoration

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An exploration of records from the First World War in relation to the Ontario town of Deseronto.

Published in: Social Media, News & Politics
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Beyond the Cenotaph: a 21st century commemoration

  1. 1. Deseronto Archives: War memorial file
  2. 2. Major General Sir Archibald Cameron Macdonell Deseronto Archives: DESHIS-09-07.1
  3. 3. Order of Service
  4. 4. Deseronto Archives: YCLB-06-02
  5. 5. Deseronto Archives: DESHIS-06-07
  6. 6. Deseronto Archives: War memorial file
  7. 7. 34 men listed
  8. 8. 34 men commemorated on 1923 memorial • Starting point for 2013 research • Main resources used: • Canadian Great War Project: http://www.canadiangreatwarproject.com/ • Canadian Virtual War Memorial: http://www.veterans.gc.ca/eng/remembrance/memorials/canadian- virtual-war-memorial • Commonwealth War Graves Commission: http://www.cwgc.org/ • Library and Archives Canada – Soldiers of the First World War: http://www.bac-lac.gc.ca/eng/discover/military-heritage/first-world- war/first-world-war-1914-1918-cef/
  9. 9. Scope starts to expand… • Men who signed up in Deseronto but were not killed • Around 34 additional names • Ancestry.ca an important resource for finding out more about these men • Where they were after the war • Who they married • When they died
  10. 10. James Alex Kitchen • Only three Deseronto Post newspapers survive from the First World War • One had a photograph of a Deseronto man who had signed up… • …in Detroit…
  11. 11. Scope expands again… • To include men who gave Deseronto as their place of birth • Or Beseronto, Deseronte, Dessonto, Desnonto, Drseronto, Desesonento, Desoronto, Deseranto, Deseront, Deserontom, Destronto, Dezerento, Deserente and Dusmonts, Deserouto, Deseconto, Desertonto, Dserento, Desaronto, Doserento (according to Ancestry’s transcribers) • Around 160 additional names
  12. 12. …and again • With the pilots from 42 Wing of the Royal Flying Corps (based in Deseronto) who died in training • 53 additional men
  13. 13. More sources for locating RFC men • Canada, War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty) • Searchable by unit (42 Wing, Deseronto) • Local newspaper reports • Local death registration records • Hastings County • Lennox & Addington County
  14. 14. The Daily Intelligencer [Belleville] 13 July 1917
  15. 15. Death registration entry Robert Charles Teasdall of Toronto, aged 19, Cadet in the Royal Flying Corps “Fracture of skull by fall from height with aeroplane”
  16. 16. Royal Flying Corps service records • UK National Archives • AIR 76 - Air Ministry: Department of the Master-General of Personnel: Officers' Service Records • All digitized and online • But…
  17. 17. • 53 Royal Flying Corps officers and men • 35 officers’ service records identified at TNA • 35 x £3.30 = £115.50 = $211.85
  18. 18. Another source of names
  19. 19. Yet another list of names… From the Deseronto Post, 20 September 1919 Of the 45 names, only six had already been identified. Some service records were not traceable, but another 24 names were added from this list
  20. 20. …and a few more… May 2014 MBQ Newsletter Another 35 Mohawk men added to the list
  21. 21. In total (so far…) • 294 individuals with a connection to Deseronto or the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory signed up or enlisted • 53 RFC men who lost their lives while attached to 42nd Wing • …ten times as many as are listed on the cenotaph!
  22. 22. Vague 2013 plan • To create a blog post on the 100th anniversary of the day each Deseronto man signed up or died • With links out to other online resources, including LAC’s CEF service files as they become available. • Encourage relatives of the men to contribute any information they might want to share • Not many photos, so use signatures from attestation papers as illustrations • To make a map of where the men are buried or commemorated in Europe
  23. 23. Research initially compiled in a Word document…
  24. 24. Associated files saved in Dropbox
  25. 25. Geographic context
  26. 26. A personal aside…
  27. 27. Planning blog posts
  28. 28. Example blog posts
  29. 29. Additional plans in 2014 • Gather the data together in a more useful form than the giant chronological Word document • Do some basic data analysis on it • Share the findings online and in local events
  30. 30. From Excel spreadsheet…
  31. 31. To Google Drive spreadsheet
  32. 32. Data wrangling Deseronto Archives: Floyd Marlin Collection
  33. 33. Deseronto cohort: 294 Fatalities: 42
  34. 34. Deseronto cohort: 294 Mohawks: 97
  35. 35. Total fatalities: 42 Mohawk fatalities: 22
  36. 36. 86% 90% 77%
  37. 37. Enlistment location Number of men Toronto, Ontario 43 Deseronto, Ontario 39 Kingston, Ontario 37 Belleville, Ontario 27 Camp Barriefield (Kingston), Ontario 20 Ottawa, Ontario 9 Valcartier, Quebec 9 Montreal, Quebec 8 Winnipeg, Manitoba 7 Vancouver, BC 6 Picton, Ontario 5 Barton, Ontario 4 Hamilton, Ontario 4 Midland, Ontario 4 Napanee, Ontario 4 Oshawa, Ontario 4 Brantford, Ontario 3 Niagara, Ontario 3
  38. 38. Enlistment locations for Deseronto men Year Population of Deseronto 1891 3,338 1901 3,534 1911 1,646
  39. 39. Occupations on signing up
  40. 40. First names
  41. 41. Surnames
  42. 42. Enlistment over the duration
  43. 43. Deaths over the duration Total non-RFC war deaths: 42 Total RFC war deaths: 53
  44. 44. RFC casualties’ birthplaces Canada 32 England 8 USA 7 Scotland 2 Unknown 4
  45. 45. Task ahead: blog all Deseronto WW1 enlistments, conscriptions and deaths Number of blog posts 2014 13 2015 68 2016 127 2017 60 2018 113 2019 1 2020 1 
  46. 46. Sharing… • Aside from the forthcoming blog posts, all data and findings are already shared online via Google Drive http://tinyurl.com/WW1Deseronto • Anyone can comment • Aggregation of similar data from other communities?
  47. 47. Lives of the First World War • http://livesofthefirstworldwar.org/
  48. 48. Summary of 1923 commemoration • Funded by wealthy former resident • Focused on those who died • Created a physical memorial • Had a narrative rooted in patriotism and religion • Featured the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery band • And a high-ranking army officer • Brought the community together
  49. 49. Still hope to bring the community together! 1923 2014-2018 Funded by wealthy former resident Mostly a volunteer effort Focused on those who died Focused on all who were affected Created a physical memorial Will create an online memorial Had a narrative rooted in patriotism and religion Will have a narrative based on personal experiences Featured the Royal Canadian Horse Artillery band And a Major General Probably won’t have a soundtrack  Or a high-ranking army officer
  50. 50. In summary • Freely-accessible online archival resources for Canadians’ First World War experiences are FABULOUS and getting better all the time: • Library & Archives Canada’s digitization of service records • Imperial War Museum’s ‘Lives of the First World War’ project [?] • Determine intention and scope of your project • If you don’t want it to get out of hand!
  51. 51. See the stories unfold at: Blog: http://deserontoarchives.wordpress.com/ Twitter: @DeserontoArch Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DeserontoArchives.Ontario amanda@hillbraith.com

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