Ottawa: The Ottawa Public Library, Main Branch

June 16, 2012

One advantage of the majority of libraries is that you can access the records, books and films easily.  There are usually no restrictions except that certain books and items stay in the library so you do have to visit. 

The Ottawa Public Library has the Ottawa Room on the 3rd floor of the library and 180 degree turn from the elevators.  This means it is hidden in the wall and you might not see it till you get near the Reference desks.

The collection is heavily geared toward Ottawa and covers government records, history, families histories, maps and books by Ottawa poets.  The Genealogy Collection is described here at this link and does extend to the surrounding counties including Glengarry:

http://biblioottawalibrary.ca/en/main/interest/learn/genealogy/resources/opl-collections.

Comment:  A libraries website can be hard to get around on, so be patient and search for the genealogy section, special collections and maybe it is under history.  Keep at it till you find what you need.  Also check out the links section that can be very useful.

The main library is located at 120 Metcalfe in Ottawa.  The hours are 10-9 Monday-Tuesday 10-9, Weds-Friday 10-5 and  Saturday is 10-12, 2-5.  So watch out they do close up on Saturday from 12 to 2 pm.   Closed Sunday.

Another reason to check out the local library is you might be able to access it on the weekend while other archives are closed.  Always check the websites or call to verify.

I walked to the library down Rideau St. going west past the business like the Rideau Bakery which I never made it to but they doing a brisk business, LCBO, Loblaws (groceries), Metro (groceries), Hudson’s Bay and various pubs and restaurants like the Highlander and an interesting used bookstore.  Yes, I did some sight-seeing along the way.

Ottawa’s Wellington Street

Fortunately the big marathon that was scheduled for this weekend did not close up the streets I needed to access and Wellington was free as was the downtown area.  I did find a website devoted to this marathon with route maps.  Later in the day there were people with the numbers on their persons walking around.  The whole weekend was devoted to this marathon.  So this was the reason I had trouble finding a room in Ottawa and why I was on the 2nd floor. http://www.runottawa.ca/races/register 

Make a note:  Check for major charity walks and sports events before going on a trip.  Try the city website for these events, not just restaurants and archive hours.

Canada’s Parliament Buildings

Wellington Avenue, Ottawa

I turned down Metcalfe and walked a couple of blocks and finally spied a building that looked very much like a library and sure enough it was the Ottawa Library. 

The Ottawa Public Library – Main Branch

I entered the library and it was vaguely familiar, reminded me of the temporary location of the Seattle Public when they were building the new library.  I take my time when I first enter a library to get oriented as to where things are and then I headed up to the 3rd floor and was not finding the Ottawa Room.  The reason is that it is a room off the main area tucked into the side of the building or at least it looks like it.  When I walked to the Reference Desk I spotted my destination. 

The Ottawa Room at the Main Branch

The librarian who cares for the Ottawa Room is very nice, friendly and helpful.  I left another McDonald booklet.  When I hand over my booklet I do give an explanation.  I assume they will forget but at least it gives a link to this blog. 

They had a copy of the Dictionary of Glengarry Biography by Royce MacGillivray so I took some time to look through it.  It is sponsored by the Glengarry Historical Society in Dunvegan.  It is not a cheap book but I have a signed copy by the author.  http://www.glengarrypioneermuseum.ca/gpm/  I will share my visit to this archive later in the posts. http://www.glengarryhistoricalsociety.com/GHS/Publications.html They are running out of copies and I believe I have one of four left?  By the way it is big and heavy. 

This is a PDF of the table of contents:  http://glengarryhistoricalsociety.com/GHS/Publications_files/DGB%20prelims2.pdf 

I am afraid that I only scratched the surface of the holdings at the Ottawa Room.  My focus was on Glengarry County, Ontario.  Here is a summary of the items I studied: 

1.  Surrogate Court Index of Ontario, Canada 1859-1900 Volume 7, Stormont, Dundas & Glengarry Counties.

2.  They also had the Upper Canada Land Records Volumes 1, 2, 3 and 4 and maybe more.

3.  They had the Canadian Catholic Church Directory 2011.  A nice reference to be aware of it you have Roman Catholic ancestors. 

4.  The Bytown Packet and the Ottawa Citizen (Newspaper Abstracts) 1846-1879, Three Volumes – Birth, Marriage and Death Notices.  I firmly believe that our ancestors moved around a lot so keep and open mind and check the biggest city close by for information. 

5.  Father John’s Diary  if Deaths 1819-1866 and the 1839 Census.  I had seen a version of this but decided to revisit it.

6.  The Diary of Deaths of Rev. John MacDonald (R.C.) 1838 to 1866 and more.  I have seen this but it is good to see that they also have a copy.

7.  French-Canadian Sources – A Guide for Genealogists, was recommended by a Althea Douglas MA. CG(C) a respected genealogist of Canada. She has written several books on how to research in various areas of Canada.  “Finding Your Ancestors in English Quebec,” Heritage Productsions Book HC02.

8.  The card catalog in the Ottawa Room, Vital Records Index, Ottawa Journal (Dec 21, 1885 to Jan 10, 1922) Marriages:  M-Me.  Was not going back far enough but worth noting that they have this resource.

9.  Petitions, Land Grants & Land Petitions for the Counties of Glengarry and Stormont.  I had seen this source before. 

10.  St. Alexander Parish – Lochiel Book 1: 1863-1901, Book 2 1901-1932.  Don’t forget to check the front part of the book for clues and history and information provided by the author.  Duncan Darby MacDonald died a while back but his books and research are still a source.

11.  Soldiers of the King, The Upper Canadian Militia 1812-1815.  This was recommended to me.

12. An Index of Land Claim Certificates of Upper Canada Militiamen who served in the War of 1812-1814

13.  Loyalist Lineages of Canada 1783-1983. I believe this is in several volumes.

14.  St. Raphael’s The First 50 years 1804-1854

15.  Comte De Stormont – Marriages.  I know they have more of these compilations.

So you can see that they do have a nice collection of a variety of references.  You can consult the catalog online.  I  did a study of Alex Frazer and Darby Duncan MacDonald titles and compared it to the library in Cornwall, Ontario.  If you are familiar with these two individuals work on church records and cemeteries in the Stormont, Dundas, Glengarry, Prescott and other areas then you will be happy to know that the Ottawa Library has a nice collection of their works. 

If they close up the Ottawa Room while you are there, grab some titles off the shelf to look at. The librarian will make a list of what you have removed.  There are tables outside the room and more books to look at in that area as well.  There are smaller bookcases filled with more references as well as tall stacks to search out. surrounding the tables in the center.  If you need something from the Ottawa Room, inquire at the Reference desk which is on the other side of the large pillar you see in the picture.   

The study area outside the Ottawa Room at the Main Library

The taller stacks outside the Ottawa Room


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