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RE: Canadian Divorce records

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  • Judith Rempel
    I just read the Herald article as well - and suspect that it s essentially correct. It would be a great surprise if divorce details - filled with emotional
    Message 1 of 4 , Nov 2, 2003
      I just read the Herald article as well - and suspect that it's essentially correct.  It would be a great surprise if divorce details - filled with emotional and embarrassing potential would be subject to public access to a greater extent than marriage details  (which are considered private/restricted).
      Whenever records are donated, loaned, or transferred to an archives, the person or body that puts it there can place restrictions on the conditions under which the materals may be viewed and/or there may be legislation that restricts access to certain conditions.
      The conditions might be the amount of years that must pass before anyone can access the documents, it could be time elapsed since the event identified in the record, or could even indicate that only the archivist can view the records.  I read a book not long ago about some literary communication that had a condition of 100 years placed on the donation such that even the archivist was not allowed to read the items for 100 years - any inventorying had to be done based on the file folder labels - and not by viewing the contents!
      Conditions can also be placed on who may be able to view the documents - such as direct descendants or those parties identified in the documents.
      The archivist's premier mandates is to *preserve* records so as to preserve knowledge about the body that created them.  The second mandate is to provide *access* to the records.  Most archiviests would actively counsel depositors to make the records unrestricted (meets the second mandate and makes their lives much easier administratively if they don't have to monitor restriction requirements).  Some archives may even refuse to receive records if any viewing conditions are placed on them.  But - you can see that the preservationist mandate might get the best of them.
      Once an archival accession is inventoried and housed in archival safe conditions, archival description which has many required fields ("Rules for Archival Description, aka "RAD") must be prepared.  A really simple example can be found at: http://www.mennonites.ca/mhsa/archives/coaldale_cheese_factory.html for the wee holdings we have at the MHSA of the Coaldale Cheese Factory.  The red headings are all standardized fields that are understood to be part of RAD.  (One of the fields that must be completed is "Access Restrictions".)  I believe "closed would suggest that the records do become open at some point in time.
      All the above based on my amateur status as an archivist and reading whatever literature I've been able to get my hands on in the past 18 months of being the archivst for Mennonites in Alberta.
      And, now some premature news, since Hugh's name has been mentioned. 
      Hugh Armstrong managed to do a lot of important indexing and transcribing work, but about 6 months ago his website went offline and e-mails to him fail as well.  I've been doing some work to uncover his files and now have succeeded in uncoverring most of the files that I was aware of.  These are in the process of being placed on the AFHS website to be known as the "Hugh Armstrong Collection" - with a wee logo to be associated with all those files..  The files pertain to divorces, early Quebec censuses, and PEI cemetery records and will be released and announced here over the next two months.
      In Kinship,
      Judith Rempel, Webster
      note new personal e-mail address: judith@...

      -----Original Message-----
      From: owner-dist-gen@... [mailto:owner-dist-gen@...]On Behalf Of Carol Lylyk
      Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2003 12:43 PM
      To: Lois Sparling; dist-gen@...
      Subject: Re: Canadian Divorce records
      http://web.archive.org/web/20011223165659/members.shaw.ca/hughlarmstrong/divlist.htm   Marg McFarlane from Olds just sent me this address which is the one I was looking for this summer.  It appears to be okay and I am pretty sure he gets his information from the gazette so I guess the information is still available, at least up to 1946 which is the date he shows. 
      I checked the National Archives site - Government Records and checked Divorce Records. 
      >> Divorce Act
       [textual record]


       0.1 m of textual records.
       Series consists of material relating to various divorce cases.
      Volume 10 is closed. >>
      I am not sure what they mean Volume 10 is closed never having looked at that page before I don't know if that phrase is new or if it means something else altogether. 
      Maybe they are just sealing the records of 'important people' as apparently it was reporters trying to find information of Mike Harris' lady friend that brought this to light. 
      Hopefully the Herald got it wrong otherwise that is another avenue closed to researchers.
      Carol Lylyk
      ----- Original Message -----
      Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2003 1:28 PM
      Subject: Re: Canadian Divorce records

      Well I'm astounded.  These divorces were published in the Canada Gazette, so hardly private.  Try the Calgary Court House library on the 7th floor.

      Lois Sparling

      Carol Lylyk wrote:
      Earlier this summer I was trying to find the link to Hugh Armstrong's Canadian Divorce site which had been on the National Archives site.  Reading in the Calgary Herald this morning I see that Parliament has decided divorces past and ongoing fall under the Privacy Act and have frozen those records.  This was done this spring without any notification so likely why that site is no longer available. 
      "Although divorce records will remain public in the locations they were filed, it will be difficult to determine whether someone has ever been divorced without checking with every  courthouse in the country"  to quote the Herald. 
      So it sounds like another avenue of research is closed to genealogists and family historians.
      Carol Lylyk

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