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August 13, 2010

History Notes in Perspective

Home Children Remembered

In March I wrote about the British Home Children dispersed around the Commonwealth in an unfortunate story with several motivations– good and bad. In Canada 2010 has been designated as the Year of the Homechild and a Canadian stamp will be published in October (for a review of my original column Google Heritage Perspectives – Home Children March 12 2010).

Over 100,000 boys and girls were sent to Canada between 1869 & 1948. In most cases their ties with family were broken and many suffered intolerable hardship. It is estimated that upwards of 10,000 of the children are still alive and it is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of descendants.

I mentioned home children descendants Linda Thompson and Arlene Brandes in my article and several people contacted me with their stories. The Prime Ministers of Australia and Great Britain have apologized but Canada has not. Various archives have been opened and there have been some happy reunions and genealogical connections made.

Several recognitions of the Year will take place including one at the Clark House Museum in Powassan on Saturday August 14th. Linda Thompson the Home Child descendant mentioned above is overseeing the event. Everyone is welcome.

Yesterday’s EMail – Postcards

Canada’s History magazine – formerly the Beaver – has an informative article on postcards “The cheap,, fast & pretty” way to communicate in the past. For example in 1900 Canada’s 7.6 million people sent 60 million cards. Before telephones cards were sent short distances to keep in touch. Many of these old postcards are historical artifacts of social history. I have written about them and used them in my articles regularly.

Most museums have them to tell their story including the Callander Bay Heritage Museum & Heritage North Bay.

In my July 27, 2007 column I profiled Cathy Harnad’s remarkable postcard website. This site has some 20 northern communities profiled under “Nipissing” at www.vintagepostcards.org. See also my column #68 (October 29, 2001). The Nipissing district GenWeb has some excellent material (www.nipissingongenweb.org/postcard). North Bay’s Jack de la Vergne has postcards on his site Jack’s E-store. Try also www.northbayhistory.homestead.com for an informative collection of local postcards and other links including mine.

Supreme Court Connections

The Air India inquiry profiled the multitude of errors in the 25 year Air India crash investigation. There is an interesting Mattawa connection in that John C. Major originally from Mattawa led the inquiry and did a remarkable job. He was born in Mattawa in 1931 and became a highly successful lawyer in Calgary. In 1992 he was appointed to the Supreme Court where he stayed until 2005. In 2006 he was appointed as head the air India inquiry. For a fascinating response to his experience Google Macleans John Major Air India. There is also a profile of him on Wikipedia.

Another interesting recent Supreme Court decision was the Cameron Ward case that made history. This is not the place to review details of this or the Air India case, but the Ward case mad history in that it challenged the Canadian Constitution. Ward claimed his rights were not honoured in an incident in Vancouver where there was a warning that someone was going to throw a pie at Prime Minister Chretien. Ward was arrested, held for 4.5 hours and strip searched. His case went to the Supreme Court and he won and was awarded $5,000 There were hundreds of thousands in lawyer fees. All he wanted was an apology. It has implications for the hundreds arrested at the G20 in Toronto.

Many lawyers went to the Supreme Court in January for the case. I was interested because my brother’s son, Bryant Mackey, a Prosecuting Attorney for the B.C. Government spoke first on behalf of the government of B.C. He spoke first and at some length.The presentations were televised in house and are available online and were of family interest. The Civil Liberties and other groups won and there were cheers and disapproval on the decision but undoubtedly a vote for some freedom for people to without not be unfairly detained. For further information Google Supreme Court of Canada – Decisions – Vancouver City) V. Ward.

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