Monday, May 2, 2016

Eddie/Ernest Forfar and Canadian Research

Walter William Forfar in wheelchair with grand-daughter Shirley Wingfield and Ray Jeffrey 

My great-grandfather Walter William Forfar, also known as Dick Forfar was one of three brothers.  This post is about his older brother Ernest Albert Forfar also known as Eddie Forfar.  

I would love to post a picture of Eddie Forfar here but I think I would be breaking all sorts of copyright laws.  Instead, can I please encourage you to click here and view the pastel portrait of Eddie by Kathleen Shackleton, sister of antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Schackleton.  Kathleen was commissioned by the Hudson Bay Company to produce portraits of "men and women of the North".

I want to discover more about Eddie but have never done research in Canada before so I thought I would share some thoughts about my journey and tips and tricks in case they help you too in your family history research.

What are my research questions?  What do I know already?

What I know

Ernest Albert Forfar was the eldest son of George Forfar and Emily Mercy (nee Hollingham).  George and Emily married in Trinity Church, Eastbourne, Sussex on 11 September 1872.  

To be honest with you I actually think they may have married twice.  When confirming my sources while entering data into my new family tree software program, Family Historian, I found a shaking leaf on my Ancestry tree.  It was a reference to another marriage for them a few days earlier in Leamington, Warwick on 8 September.  

So George and Emily married on Sunday 8 September in Leamington and then hot-footed it down to Brighton for another wedding ceremony on Wednesday.  I have the marriage certificate for Brighton. I suppose I should now order the one for Leamington...sigh.  I shall add it to my To Do List down the bottom of this post.Honestly...these Forfars cause me no end of trouble.  

Two years later, Ernest was born, according to the BDM index on Ancestry, in Leamington. George Jnr. was born in 1875 and then Walter William in 1878.  
George and Emily's marriage was not a happy one.  I have found proceedings for Liquidation for George Forfar of No. 20 Upper-parade Leamington in the country of Warwick, Grocer, Tea Dealer and Wine and Spirit Merchant in The London Gazette in 1875.  They divorced in 1885 when Ernest would have been 11 years old.  The last record I have of Ernest in England is the 1881 Census when they were living in Leamington when he was just 6.  The Forfars had a successful bakery in Hove for many years.  You can read a bit more about it on this blog here.

Emily, Ernest's mother, committed suicide (Sussex Eastbourne Gazette newspaper notice 20 September 1893) at the age of 40 on 14 September 1893. I have a copy of her will and she divided her estate equally between her three sons when they attained the age of 21.  Ernest would have had to wait until 1895 to obtain his inheritance.  Emily's gravestone can be found at Ocklynge Cemetery, Eastbourne.  

A cousin sent me the portrait of Eddie quite a few years ago now but I wasn't interested in following it up then.  For a start he was called Eddie, not Ernest so I was a bit confused as to how it could be a relation.

I dug around last week and found a death registration for an Ernest Albert Forfar in Canada.  There is the name (Ed) in brackets after Ernest Albert on the record. Emily's father and brother's names were Edward which is why I think Ernest changed his name to Ed.

The death registration is very detailed (hallelujah!) and shows that he was born 29 October 1874 at Leamington, England and that his father was George Forfar and his mother was Emily M Hollingham.  I think we have our man.

From the death registration I discovered that his wife was Mary Brown Forfar.

Eddie was buried at Fort St James BC 26 January 1940.  He was 66 years old when he died on 22 January 1940.  He was a Hotel Constructor (?) and Guide. He died of a gunshot wound in head.  Oh dear.  You can look at the death registration here and let me know what you think his occupation is - the writing is quite difficult to decipher.

The certificate also tells me that his nationality was Canadian.  It also tells me that he had been working in this occupation for 13 years.  It tells me that he had been in the province for 25 years but there is a question mark next to how long he had been in Canada.  There is no information about his religion.

Here's a photo of his grave at Fort St James Municipal Cemetery. My thanks to the Prince George Genealogical Society for indexing headstones in this area and to the relative in Canada who sent us this photo via my 2nd cousin Kath.

I did a bit more digging and found that Mary Brown Forfar married David Trefor Jones on 12 July 1940.  She was 39 years old, so quite a bit younger than Ernest Albert aka Ed Forfar.  I have not been able to find a record of Eddie Forfar and Mary Brown Forfar's marriage.  From this marriage certificate, however,  I know that Mary Brown Forfar was born in Glasgow, Scotland and her father was James Kinnisburgh (?) and her mother was Marion (?) Henry.  The certificate is here.  Tell me what you think the names are...once again, it's difficult to read the writing.  

If Ed had been in the province for 25 years, I am guessing that Ed and Mary married from about 1917 onwards, given her age.  

I dug a bit more and found a news article in the Prince George Citizen from 25 January 1940.  It said:

The late Ed Forfar was well known throughout the North American continent as a big game guide, and for the past fifteen years has conducted many prominent sportsmen from all parts of the world on hunting and fishing trips into the Omineca district.  In addition to his guide and game fishing interests he conducted the Fort St James hotel at the foot of Stuart Lake.
 Forfar came to the Fort St James district from the Peace River Block where he was one of the first settlers to pre-empt land on Halfway River.  He later joined the B.C. police force and was stationed at Hudson's Hope for several years.  He was transferred to Fort Fraser and acted as policeman and game warden there previous to embarking in the hotel and big game guide business at Fort St James in 1927. 
He is survived by his wife and one son living at Fort St James and one daughter attending school in Prince Rupert. 
Right !  Quite a bit of information there.  

I have found one emigration record of an Ernest Forfar from Liverpool to Halifax in Canada on The Parisian in 1894 but I don't know if it is my Ernest....that Ernest is listed as being a Mech. (mechanic?) I looked up the passenger list for the Parisian and found Ernest Forfar aged 19 and it looks as though he got off at Winnipeg.  Have a look here.

I dug a bit more and found some articles in the Edmonton Bulletin in 1900 that Ernest was in business with a Louis Martin Sage.  It seems they owned a quarry:

From The Edmonton Bulletin 9 March, 1900:

Sage and Forfar of Red Deer, drew our attention to the fact that the two cars of stone brought in last week for the Strathcona Brewery Co.'s new malt house were not from Calgary as reported, but were from the Red Deer quarries.  These quarries have only recently been opened up but already the stone has been proved equal if not superior to the Calgary product.

But by September the same year in the Supreme Court of the North West Territories Northern Alberta Judicial District, Ernest Albert Forfar, Plaintiff and Louis Martin Sage, Defendant are having a Sale by Receiver.  

The South Peace Historical Society Website advises me that Ed Forfar moved from his Halfway River Farm and moved to Hudson's Hope in 1917. And this.

More newspaper articles revealed the following:

The Edmonton Bulletin on 3 February 1923, page 12 describes local Constable Ed. Forfar as a taxidermist "his home has many splendid specimens."

On 10 August 1923 The Daily Colonist reported something to gladden a genealogist's heart:
Mr Edward Forfar, of Hudson's Hope, has been appointed district registrar of births, deaths and marriages at that place, succeeding Mr. J. Gregg, resigned.
The Cariboo Observer in 1934 has two articles about the fishing prowess of Ed Forfar's 17 year old daughter Jane or June Forfar:

The Cariboo Observer 23 June 1934

The Cariboo Observer, 15 September 1934
Turning to the Canadian census I find an Ernest Forfar in the 1901 census living in Alberta.  You can see it here.

I wasn't sure if this was our man or not until I read his birth date.  While he claims to be a couple of years older than he is at the time, he says his birthday is 29 October.  I think it's him.  He says that he emigrated to Canada in 1893 - interesting.  He would have been only 18 or 19 years old.  

In the 1906 Census (on the right hand page) there is an Edward Forfar, a hired man aged 33 living with Gabriel B Murphy and I think Thomas Eliza and Altha Lockier or Larkin.  This Edward seems to be about the right age - 33 - if born in 1874 but says he was born in Scotland...hmmm..

In the 1911 Census there is an Ernest Forfar who is aged 35 and says he was born in 1876.  There is an O for birth location - does O mean Overseas?  He is living in Marquette Manitoba.  He is a farmer.  He says he is of Scotch origin.  I am not sure that this is my Ernest/Ed Forfar.

I will have to wait until I get to the QFHS library to check Ancestry for the 1921 Census as I don't have a worldwide subscription.

Here's a map showing all the places mentioned so far...quite a distance huh?

Land Records

I found this on the Canadian Archives and Records site.  

I'm thinking he would have had something to do with the Forfar School here.
What I am trying to discover - Research Questions

When did Ernest emigrate to Canada? I'm thinking between 1895 and 1900.

What was his occupation? His parents were bakers/confectioners/grocers.  

What was his religion? Possibly Anglican or Presbyterian (given Scottish ancestry)

When did he marry?  1917 onwards...And did he marry more than once?

Who were his children? A son called ? and a daughter called Jane or June born circa 1917.

To Do List
Obtain 2nd marriage certificate for George and Emily 
Obtain Birth Certificate for Ernest Albert Forfar 6D 586
Look for inquest into Ernest Albert Forfar death 22nd January 1940
Look for naturalisation Ernest Albert Forfar - I'd appreciate some advice on how to browse efficiently through the thousands of records on Family Search!
Look for undertaker's records - D Jones Fort St James
Find marriage record for Ed Forfar and Mary Brown nee Kinnisburgh 
Order probate/will of estate of Ernest Albert Forfar from Archives 
Check 1921 census on Ancestry
Join a society - British Columbia Genealogical Society or Prince George Genealogical Society or both.

Canadian Genealogical Records Resource Kit
Family Search Wiki
Can Genealogy - Dave Obee's Directory of Genealogy sites in Canada
Cyndi's List 

Sorry to bore you with all these thoughts.  

Anyone out there done Canadian research and have some advice to offer?


Jill Ball said...

You are a glutton for punishment - do you ever rest? Can't help much - have only dabbled in Canada.

I'm always thrilled to hear of someone else using Family Historian. It took me quite a while to unlearn TMG when I moved over - if I can be of any assistance please give a yell... mind you after about three years I am still just scratching the surface of this amazing program.

Alex Daw said...

Dear Jill - I am aren't I? Can't help myself. It's such fun.

Anonymous said...

Good morning,

I am a historian and researcher in British Columbia. The Forfar family has appeared incidentally in my research several times. You have located a lot of good information related to the family. I note that Ed Forfar is not a direct relation. How much information do you want, and how much effort do you want to put into it? By the way, the death certificate lists Forfar's occupation as hotel proprietor and guide.

There should be a coroner's inquest at the BC Archives, and Diane should be able to help you with that. I have a scan of a page about Ed Forfar from a northern BC history book that I can send. On the internet (if you put "Ed Forfar" and guide in your search) there is a picture of Forfar with fish at Douglas Lake Lodge. He must have been a guide for them. Douglas Lake Lodge still exists. There is a photograph of Forfar's hotel on the BC Archives website. If you go to the visual records and type in the catalogue number I-58207 (letter I)you should find it. Mrs.Forfar is in the picture. In my upcoming book I have an eyewitness description of the fire that destroyed Forfar's hotel in December 1942. In a book that I'm researching there are several mentions of Ed's son, Craig. My understanding is that there are family descendants living in the Fort St. James/Vanderhoof area. Ed Forfar is briefly mentioned in the diary of the Hudson's Bay factor at Fort St. John in 1916. The North Peace museum posted this note online this summer, so you should be able to find it online (use "Ed Forfar" and "Halfway River"

If you are interested in more info, please let me know, and tell me the best way to contact you, probably via e-mail. Cheers

Alex Daw said...

Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Even though Ed is only a great-great-Uncle and not a direct ancestor I still have a great attachment to him and any Forfars I find really. Our cousins from Vanderhoof did make contact with us once about 15 years ago when their son came out to Australia for a holiday for a couple of weeks but that has been the only contact really. Thank you for your advice. I shall definitely follow up on those leads. We were on holidays in Canada recently but it was a whirlwind trip and not one appropriate for conducting family history research unfortunately. I am really grateful for your advice and yes further contact by email would be marvelous if you can spare the time. Thank you again so much.