Archive for the ‘Burch family’ Category


Ernest Burch

   Posted by: Liz Tags: ,

Ernest Clarence Burch, circa 1911

Ernest Clarence Burch, circa 1911

I would love to have known my paternal grandfather, Ernest Burch. By all accounts he was a gentle, humourous, brave and loving man. Words used to describe him include “indefatigable worker, gentle and courteous, , spiritually minded” and “one of those rare spirits whose strength in gentleness was a benediction.”

Born February 27, 1881, the youngest surviving son of a large family, he grew up in Toronto, Ontario, but saw something of the world as he travelled to Jamaica for his sister’s wedding, to New York with his brothers, and to Winnipeg as a lay reader, before settling to his theological studies at Wycliffe College, University of Toronto.

Ordained to the Anglican ministry in 1907, and married in 1910, he served parishes in Ottawa, Winnipeg and Prince Rupert. However, it was only a few years before multiple sclerosis rendered him blind. Returning to Ontario, he found part time work in several small parishes, where he could  find his way about the church and lead services from memory. Failing health led to his forced retirement in 1917, and he and his family removed to Ottawa to live with his wife Ethel’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. William J. Gerald.

Ernest was bedridden the last eight years of his life; he died 9 June 1925 and is buried in Beechmount Cemetery in Ottawa. My father, who grew up to be very like Ernest in many ways,  was only 14 years old at the time.


Ontario birth registration #39618 of 1881, Archives of Ontario;
Ontario marriage registration #5972 of 1910, Archives of Ontario;
Ontario death registration #9458 of 1925, Archives of Ontario;
Various original ecclesiastical licences and other personal papers, privately held by PaperQuilter


Edward and Harriet Burch family portrait

   Posted by: Liz Tags: ,

Edward and Harriet Burch and their family, circa 1886, Toronto, Ontario

Edward and Harriet Burch and their family, circa 1886, Toronto, Ontario

This is the picture that started it all for me.

While visiting with my father in the months after my mother’s death, he and I were looking through old photographs. I knew that the little boy in the velvet suit, lying in front of all his older siblings, was my dad’s father, my grandfather, and therefore the parents in the centre must be my great-grandparents. Dad did know their names, but of the others, all he had to say was, “The girl is Eva, she married and went to Nova Scotia.  One of the boys is Harry and one is Fred, but I don’t know which, and I know nothing at all about the others.”

I thought that was terribly sad, that my Dad had all these uncles and didn’t even remember their names! It was understandable, because this family lived in Toronto, Ontario, and both of his paternal grandparents died before he was born. As a small boy, my dad lived with his parents and maternal grandparents in Ottawa, and thus lost touch with his Burch relatives.

I was determined to find out what I could about Edward Burch, his wife Harriet Thorp, and their family of sons and a daughter and to share this with my dad.  I hadn’t a clue where to begin, but everyone is a beginner at some point, and I’m not afraid to ask questions. I like to learn and I like to do research, so I thought I’d start at the National Library and Archives of Canada in Ottawa, the next time I visited family there.

The first thing I learned was — bring a pencil! The helpful person at the Genealogy Desk showed me how to find Edward’s family in the index to the 1871 census, and then how to load the relevant microfilm. I scrolled through to the designated page, and the magic began — there they were!  But the only writing implement I had with me was a lip-liner, so, my very first genealogy notations are in smudgy red on a scrap of paper.

I’ve learned a lot about Edward and his family since then, and a lot about using archives, microfilms and genealogy software too. I hope to share Edward’s story and those of many other ancestors with you in these pages.

In the photo left to right are: Charles Edward Burch (seated, 1862-1923), Harry (1870-?), Edwin Walter (1868-1953), Eva Harriet (his twin, 1868-?), Frederick Ashton (1875-1950), Arthur Elvin (1872-1910);  in the centre Harriet Thorp Burch (1846-1898) and Edward (1837-1911), and in front, my grandfather Ernest Clarence, (1881-1925).

Burch, Edward and family, circa 1886, Toronto, Ontario;  9.5″ x 7.625″. The words Stanton Photo appear in the lower left corner, stamped or handwritten such that the letters appear incised into the surface of the photo. Remnants of glue on the back suggest that it was once mounted on a frame or cardboard mount. Privately held by PaperQuilter.
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