Why does it never fail that when you have the idea for a question to ask of the Archivist in the last few minutes of research time, that that’s when you get what could be your best info? That’s what happened to me on my last trip to the City of Edmonton Archives.
I guess my story might be considered a serendipity stories as it started out as a trip to the Old Towne Beverly Historical Society. The 1911 and 1921 census shows that my great-grandfather; Francis (Frank) Johnson Middlebrough and his wife; Ellen had lived in the Beverly area. I mentioned to the ladies that were working the display that I’d found a newspaper ad that Francis had run for Beverly Counselor and they told me that many of the Beverly records were held at the City of Edmonton Archives.
The Edmonton Archives just happens to be on the way back home so why not drop in? When I arrived, I found that you’d need to know exact dates and then you might find correspondence. (So maybe spur of the moment research isn’t a very good idea). So what to do when you arrive at an Archives unprepared? You go to the city directories and start doing a timeline of the yearly movement of your grandparents. Why do that? Well for me I’m then able to get a feel for what their life was like. I did know they arrived in Canada in 1906 (I had my trusty Ancestry phone app) and they first showed in the Edmonton Henderson Directory in 1909.
By 1910 Frank is working for the Snow Flake Steam, and Laundry as a Driver and in 1914 the family has moved to Beverly, Alberta. In 1923 Frank went on to work for Metropolitan Life Insurance, but he’s still living with the family in Beverly.
In 1926 Frank had another change of jobs when he starts working for the Edmonton Stockyard and moves the family closer to work and out of Beverly. Now they are living in the community of Belvedere which was originally a part of the village of North Edmonton which had been annexed into Edmonton in 1910. Frank remained at the Edmonton Stockyard until he retired from his position as weigh master in the 1950’s
At the same time I was creating the timeline for Frank I was also creating one for my other great-grandfather; William (Willie) Beaton. Understand that I’ve looked at the Henderson’s before and I knew that the Middlebrough’s and the Beaton’s only lived houses apart, which tells me that’s why my grandparents met.
So after several hours of researching and furiously writing out the information the clock was creeping toward the 8:00 p.m. hour and time for the Archives to close. While I was researching, I’d realized that although I’d been to the archives before I’d never specifically asked the Archivist if they had any information about Willie Beaton. I’d only asked about Frank before and had gotten a copy of his mortgage papers.
So in these final 5 minutes, the Archivist tells me, after searching Beaton. (Archivist) yes, there is one file for William and another for someone named Annie. (Me) Yes, Annie, that’s my great grandfather’s 2nd wife. (Archivist) Ok, they are police files. Here are the call numbers…. (Me) What time do you open in the morning? (Archivist) 8:30 a.m.
So I’m not sure if this proves serendipity or that I have a bit of an attention deficit issue but I do know that I was there at 8:30 a.m.