"It's wonderful that the City can use modern technology to make these valuable historical resources more widely available," said Mayor Daryl Bennett. (City of Peterborough Media Release - July 19, 2016)
Having an interest in local history and being new to Peterborough, my husband, Rob, and I were curious about our property. Now, I have to start by admitting that the online directories are easier to research having attended the Open Doors event at the Peterborough Museum & Archives last spring.
In addition to tours of the state-of-the-art facilities, the knowledgeable staff at the Archives showed residents how to look up information in these directories. Using the same techniques, we went searching for the original owners of our home on Albertus Avenue.
This is when something completely unexpected happened. I noticed a familiar surname from my family tree. What were the chances, having just moved to a City with no known family connections, that a relative was living across the street?
A Google search found a newspaper article from the 1930s with my grandmother's family visiting relatives in a community not too far away. A shout-out via social media to my sister, who has spent years researching the family tree, confirmed the local connection.
In a short space of an afternoon, my neighbour and I learned that we are the direct descendants of cousins who immigrated to Canada in the 19th century. Just like those who are still coming to Canada today, they traveled to this country seeking a better life and opportunities for their families.
Pictured in photo: the Stainton cousins—E.J. Rath, Catherine Hawley, Diane Werry and Brian Lee at a Christmas gathering on Albertus Avenue.
That's another example of the power of open data in the digital age: It can even transform a name on a family tree into a neighbour.