52 Ancestors: Week 45- Society Blue Books Online

The Week 45 prompt for 52 Ancestors is \”Rich Man\”. One of the odd quirks of high society in Canada are the \”Blue Books\”. These publications listed a \”who\’s who\” of the wealthy. Not only that, it listed their seasonal residences, their affiliations, and what days they would \”receive visitors\”. Now, I don\’t come from wealthy ancestors. In spite of that, or maybe because of that, I find these publications fascinating.

It does not only list the heads of households, but the whole family. As an added bonus you also get maiden names of the wives.

Here\’s a sample entry:

Now if you noticed beside \”Clubs\” it\’s a series of numbers. At the bottom of the page it tells you to look at pages 179 to 206 for the club codes. You\’ll also notice that each member of the family has their affiliations listed. So to look at our example above, Mrs. Addison and Dorothy Addison belong to club 23. Mr. Frederick Addison belong to two clubs: 12 and 64. By looking at the club pages, I found that those numbers coincide with:

  • 12 is the Canadian Club of Toronto
  • 23 is the Imperial order of Daughters of the Empire
  • 64 is the Toronto Board of Trade
Now the club section itself is a good read all on its own. Some entries just show the club name. But some list the Board or Executives as well. And some also provide membership lists. That can be handy, especially if you\’re trying to connect families together. 

They also contained ads. If your ancestor owned a business that catered to the wealthy, you\’ll also want to check these out. Here\’s ads for the King Edward Hotel and the Hooten Chocolate Company Ltd.

Canadiana, as always, is a good place to start looking for these books. I trolled their collection and compiled some links for you of what they have:

Internet Archive is another great online source:
Memorial University of Newfoundland\’s Digital Archives have several editions of Who\’s Who and Why. While these are not strictly blue books, they do have some great biographical and genealogical information in them.
Some other sources to look at are:
  • Public libraries
  • Municipal Archives
  • Provincial Archives
  • Campus libraries. You never know what you\’re going to find in a University or College Library. What\’s available at Memorial University above is a prime example.

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