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!
I 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.