I recently visited Niagara Falls with two International students from China and Japan. I had not been to the Falls for over 30 years so it was nice to see this famous landmark through their eyes. One of the many questions they asked me was why was it called Niagara Falls. Guess what. I couldn't answer that one. So naturally I goggled Niagara Falls. (There is a lot of written material about Niagara Falls). Did you know that it was originally called Elgin, which then merged with Clifton in 1856 and was known by that name until 1881, when its name was changed to Niagara Falls? Some say that the name Niagara Falls comes from the word "onguiaahra" which means "a thundering noise". Uncle Tom's Cabin, a famous novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe was partly inspired by the writer's trip to Niagara Falls and her interest in Reverend Josiah Henson who smuggled runaway slaves across the Niagara River into Canada. And of course you can't forget about the many battles of the War of 1812 that occurred in and around Niagara Falls and Laura Secord. In more modern times there are the tightrope walkers; the barrels going over the falls and Marilyn Monroe even filmed a movie at the Falls. The Maid of the Mist is gone, replaced by the Hornblower. We enjoyed our ride on the Hornblower. We all were soaked but we had a fun time on the boat and enjoyed our visit to Onguiaahra!
Black History Month is a time to learn about the amazing contributions of Black Canadians to the settlement, development and growth of Canada. Viola Desmond is one such Canadian. Some people refer to Viola as the Canadian Rosa Parks but Viola's challenge to segregation had occurred nine years before Rosa refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama.
Viola's challenge began in 1946. She had gone to a movie theatre and accidentally sat in the white only section. Viola was arrested, jailed and spent the night in jail. She was released after paying a twenty dollar fine and six dollars in court costs. Viola appealed this conviction but lost.
"Her court case was the first known legal challenge against racial segregation brought forward by a black woman in Canada, according to a Bank of Canada news release". Viola Desmond
The design and security features for the $10.00 bill featuring Viola Desmond will not be disclosed until closer to the release date in 2018.
I arrived in Washington D.C. during the hottest weekend of the summer. I was excited to be going to the Library of Congress and the DARS Library. I assured myself that after riding the subway close to the Library of Congress I only had a few blocks to walk! This was a big huge mistake. At the time I did not know that the temperature was 110 F. with the humidity. A few short blocks turned into 4 and the bad news was that the Library was closed on this Sunday. You can imagine my disbelief as i stood in front of the closed doors! Back home i had read in a tourist book that the library was open on Sundays and the hotel confirmed this as well. After I caught my breath I flagged a cab, oh the air conditioning was wonderful and I rode to another subway station to go back to the hotel.
I went back the next morning and took a shortcut to the library. The librarians are amazing. They show you how to research their collection of over 162 million items. I was wanting information about our Gilbert Family. There were 1,000's of Gilbert Family books. I choose one that I thought was relevant and placed my order. The book is then found and delivered to the main reading room. This process takes 45 minutes to an hour! While waiting for the first book I ordered 4 more. I was also able to check the old Catelogue Card system. This is the system I remember from my visits to the library in Toronto; hand written and some typed 3 x 5 cards in pullout drawers! I was able to find a few Gilbert Family books. Everything I wanted to take with me was put on my flash drive.
I have to go back! I was not able to visit the DARS (Daughters of the American Republic) Library and now I am familiar with the LOC and its tunnels. (They have a Dunkin Donut and Subway in the basement). Before I return I will do my homework. I will call each library to make sure they are open on the days I want to visit! The LOC requires a library card and you can start the process at home online.
Louise has been researching her family for over 35 years. Louise is a volunteer researcher at the local Family History Centre and over the years she has been assisting families in their search for information and details of their family tree.