52 Ancestors: Week 24 – Diaries Found at Provincial Archives

This week\’s 52 Ancestors prompt is \”Diaries\”. Most of us are not lucky enough to have an ancestor\’s diary. But looking at other people\’s diaries can still give you insight into your ancestor\’s life. This week I thought I would highlight some of the digitized diaries available online at each Provincial/Territorial Archive.

Newfoundland and Labrador
A search of diaries in The Rooms Archives brought up 33 results. They do not appear to be digitized. A sampling the diaries available:

  • Walter Edward Davidson was governor from 1913-1917. His fonds include a personal diary
  • Frank William Graham (1922-1991) was an author. There are personal diaries and agendas, as well as records dealing with his book sales.
  • There are office diaries for the Game and Inland Fisheries Board. these diaries cover 1930-1934
  • Eric Ellis (1904-1977) served with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment from 1916 to 1919. His personal diaries detail his travels in Europe with the regiment
Prince Edward Island
A search for diaries on Memory PEI (the Archives\’ search engine) reveals 70 results. These are not online. Among the collection are diaries by:
  • Various personal diaries of the Macdonald family in Georgetown spanning intermittently between 1886 and 1946.
  • Dr. George Dewar, a teacher and doctor who lived in various parts of PEI
  • Katherine Elizabeth Dewar, an instructor at the PEI schools of nursing for 22 years
  • Transcriptions from the diary of 3 sisters: Margaret, Annie, and Charlotte Anderson. The year range is 1877-1881.

Nova Scotia
I got 64 results when I searched for diaries on MemoryNS, the search protal for the Nova Scotia Archives. Very few have digitized images. Among their collection these diaries:

  • Member diaries of the Nova Scotia Teacher\’s Union
  • Ronald St. John Macdonald was a lawyer, jurist and professor. His diaries relate to his career. What if he and your ancestor crossed paths and your ancestor was mentioned?
  • William Norman Rudolf (1835-1886) was a businessman who lived and worked in both Britain and Nova Scotia. His diaries detail events in the communities in which he lived.
  • John Seccombe (1708-1792) was a congregationalist minister in Chester and Halifax

New Brunswick
ArchivesCANB is the search portal for Archival records in New Bruswick. Using this I was able to generate 19 results at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. Included in their collection of diaries:

  • Reverend George Muller Young  (1867-1963) was an ordained Methodist minister, who preached across the Maritimes
  • Ann Eliza Moore (nee Rogers) kept diaries that show details of family and friends. She also noted the births, deaths and marriages of her community. These diaries cover 1852-1876, and 1890-1896.
  • Sisters Alvaretta and Hannah Estabrooks also detail the activities of their friends and family. These diaries cover 1889-1893, and 1905-1906
  • Sterling Alexander Limerick (1890-1964) kept diaries detailing his life, work and social activities.

Quebec\’s Provincial Archive, BAnQ, has a few diaries, according to their search engine. Some have digital images. I found diaries of:

  • Judge Ulrich-Joseph Tessier (1817-1892) gives insight into life in 19th century Quebec
  • Diaries relating to the James Maclaren Company
  • Louisa Mary Catherine Foran-Gadbois (1877-1945). She was a Catholic nun who left her order to marry Louis Gadbois. her diaries cover the early years of their marriage
  • Mihael Phillip Fulfors Foran (1907-1994) was a corporate lawyer for many companies in Quebec

A search of diaries at the Archives of Ontario gave 152 results. There is nothing digitized that I could see. Included among the results are these diaries:

  • Diaries from government land surveyors from the early 1800\’s
  • Dr. Oswald Charles Joseph Withrow personal and professional diaries. He was an early 20th century physician, who served jail time in Kingston penitentiary for performing abortions
  • Myrtle Crysler (nee Nivens) was a farmer\’s wife in the Niagara Region of Ontario
  • Diaries of several members of the McKeough family, a family with strong ties to the Chatham area

A search for diaries on the Archives of Manitoba\’s website yielded 260 hits. Some have digital images. Among their collection of diaries:

  • Percival Patmore was a purser and supercargo on several ships in the early 1900\’s. Some of his diaries were the basis for the official reports of the voyages
  • Colin Robertson worked for both the Northwest Company and the Hudson\’s Bay Company. His diaries talk about the Red River Settlement
  • Derek Robert Campbell Bedson was a clerk and Secretary in the Manitoba government. His diaries give insight into mid 20th century politics
  • Beatrice Bidgen was a social activist. They would be a great read if your ancestor was involved with social and political causes
Unfortunately, the search engine that the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan uses, Threshold, is being upgraded. However, when I looked at their Master Index to Finding Aids I saw family fond collections. I\’m sure more than one of these fond collections will have diaries.

The Provincial Archives of Alberta use the HeRMIS system for searches. A search of diaries gave 900 results. None that i could see were digitized. Among their collection I found diaries for:

  • Clarence Stout, a journalist in many communities in Alberta in the early 20th century
  • Lewis Redmond Ord, a participant in the Northwest Rebellion
  • Beth Sheehan collected various diaries in her research about the first homesteaders. Her fonds hold several of them
  • Archibald William Ponton was a land surveyor. The Archives hold 26 of his diaries

British Columbia
A search of the Royal BC Museum and Archives resulted in 682 hits. The majority of these have no digital images. But here\’s a sampling of what kind of diaries are available:

  • Stanley Howard Frame (1878-1973) was a surveyor and engineer in Alberta and British Columbia. His diaries contain details about both his professional and personal life
  • The Department of Transport has supplied a collection of marine diaries. You can find entries for engine rooms, engineers, and lighthouse keepers
  • Phyllis Beatrice Munday (nee James) and her husband were avid mountain climbers. These are her personal diaries.
  • There are 2 volumes of the Consolidated Cariboo Hydraulic Mining Company diaries for 1901 and 1902 
A search of the Yukon Archives netted 34 results. Nothing is digitized that I could see. Among their collection of diaries:
  • Allan Innes-Taylor led an eventful life He was part of the Byrd Anarctic Expeditions, an RCMP constable in the Yukon, a miner, rancher, and captain.
  • There is a collection of 43 diaries for Clara Tizya. She divided her time between Vancouver and Canada\’s far north
  • Jesuit missionary diaries
  • Margaret Waddington ran Maggie\’s Museum in Whitehorse. The Yukon Archives holds a part of the over 1000 artifacts she collected.
Northwest Territories
The NWT Archives is a fairly new Archive, and do not hols a lot of non government records. However I did find diaries among their holdings belonging to:
  • Edward Lloyd,who traveled extensively around Canada
  • Irene Spry, who traveled and photographed the Yukon and Northwest Territories while studying electrical development
  • George Magrum was a trapper in the NWT in the early to mid 20th century
I could not find anything on their website. However the Nunavut Archives is the youngest in our country. I\’m sure with time they will expand their online presence.

2 thoughts on “52 Ancestors: Week 24 – Diaries Found at Provincial Archives

  1. Thanks for this research – very helpful. A good source of digitized diaries in Ontario is the Rural Diary Archive at University of Guelph – ruraldiaries.lib.uoguelph.ca. Some County Archives may also have diaries – such as Grey Roots in Grey County, Ontario – though not necessarily digitized..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: