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.