The Frood family and the 100th Anniversary of World War I

As the commemorations of World War I approach, I think about the family members who lost their lives in the Great War. Many, many of my ancestors were among the 690,000 soldiers of the Canadian Expeditionary Forces (CEF); a number were among the 67,000 killed and 173,000 wounded — almost 39% of those mobilised.

I was particularly touched by the story of Peter Frood (1865-1934), his wife Naomi McEwen (1857-1950), and their family. Peter was my great grandmother Barbara Watt Frood’s brother, my great grand uncle.

Even before the War, they had seen tragedy. In 1912, their daughter Iva Ray, a school teacher, had committed suicide.

cbfroodIt is hard to fathom their sorrow when, in 1915, they learned that their son Lorne Vine Frood, of H Company, CEF, died in the trenches somewhere near St. Julien, France. It was soon to be compounded, when news reached them in 1916 of the death, at age 19, of (Clarence) Boyd Frood, 8th Canadian Mounted Rifles, CEF, near Mount Sorrel, France.

Their bodies were never recovered, but they are remembered in the ceremony that takes place daily at 8pm, at the Memorial at the Menin Gate, Ypres, Belgium, where their names are inscribed. Sons of Renfrew, their names are also inscribed on the cenotaph outside town hall in Renfrew.

One of the plans to commemorate those who died in the Great War is to nightly project the names onto the War Memorials in Ottawa and several other cities across Canada.

In the run up to the celebrations of the 100th anniversary, many are reflecting on the meaning of the Great War. I find it hard to think about 10 million soldiers’ and 6 million civilian deaths.

Seeing it one family at a time begins to give some sense of the devastation that took place on both sides of the Atlantic.


The McEwans and Gloucester ON history

The search for my great great grandfather, John McEwan’s father, led me to Gloucester, a township that in the middle 1800s was in the countryside outside of Ottawa. (In the Ottawa of 2013, it’s part of Ottawa.)

John — Jake — listed his residence, at the time of his marriage to Eliza Wilson, as Gloucester. His father, William, lived in Gloucester, too.

Places to go to research such a question always include the usual resources: the Ottawa History Room at the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library downtown, and the Library and Archives Canada on Wellington, and the Ottawa Archives at their new home, 100 Tallwood Dr. (corner of Woodroffe).

But for Gloucester history, a fine little gem of a research spot is the Gloucester Historical Society’s research room, tucked away on the lower level of 4550 Bank Street in Gloucester (intersection Bank and Leitrim Rd. — see directions here.)

Last September, I had a chance to work there and found — as one always does in local history centers and museums — original documents that just aren’t available anywhere else.

And, as always, the most valuable resource is the local volunteers, who both know their resources, and have a wealth of information to share themselves!

GloucesterLogoI made an appointment, and was fortunate enough to have, as my guide and helper, Robert Serré, current president of the historical society — and the author and compiler of a number of books and booklets on the families and histories of various communities in the Ottawa area. He was most gracious and helped me locate a number of resources and pointed me to some online items as well.

It is always a boon to have someone who knows those things that you don’t know that you don’t know!

A nice round of applause for Robert Serré, and all of the volunteers at the Gloucester history room, and the host of volunteers at local history societies, local museums and local archives everywhere! They are making history even as they save it for the rest of us!

Needless to say, the research goes on. I have not, as yet, been able to connect William to a plot of land in Gloucester, or to the Gloucester families of McEwans.

Online family history: Be “appy”

Besides the many online websites for genealogy searching, there are a growing number of great applications for iPads and iPhones worth a try … and the price is right: most of them are free.

Here are a few of the newer ones:

photo(2)Have part of your tree in Australia? The New South Wales government has an app for that! Called Family History, it allows a search of the database of the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. Free. has a great app for obituaries of recent vintage (the last 25 years or so). Covers most provinces, though notably not Ontario. Free.

Research Logger is a place to store your research notes on your phone or pad while at a library or archives. Free.

TombFinder is one of several (including 1BGraves also free) that offer photos of gravestones. While not quite the equal of the online sites, these apps do provide the opportunity for you to easily contribute photos and cemetery listings… whether just your own family’s stone or those for a row or section of a cemetery. Neat feature: TombFinder uses GPS data when photos are uploaded, so it can offer precise driving and “walking” directions right to a particular stone. Free.

PaperOfRecord is an app with a price ($4.99) but can be just the destination if there is a particular historic newspaper you need to research. Hint: Check the list before signing up, to avoid disappointment. Some early papers I’ve used .. limited run of dates .. include the Bytown Gazette (1836-1845), Ottawa Free Press (1871-1881), Ottawa Times (1865-1867). I will admit I like the website best, but the iPad app is really a great research helper when not at the desk.

A search engine like Google or Bing … but just for genealogy sites and databases. That’s Mocavo. I have not found it especially useful myself, but many have found it helpful and it does have the ability to save and repeat searches.