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A virtual box overflowing with old photographs

As I listened to the conversation of the ladies as they shelled peas, cut cucumbers, I came to the conclusion the kitchen should be named the "talking room."

Gram's summer visitors pitched in to help Aunt Sadie. They seemed to be enjoying themselves with discussions on many topics, which often led into the subject of happenings of the past.

It was suggested I go into the spare bedroom and find the box of pictures to settle an argument as to the order of age of the members of a neighbourhood family.

After looking through several boxes, I found the right one. It was overflowing with pictures. The first photo I held up was of a group standing in front of the school door.

I burst out laughing, pointing to the way one girl's dress hung on her, as if it had been passed down from an older sister and had been sewn by a mother who was not good with the needle. In addition, the girl had a sour look on her face. The laughter landed me in big trouble as she turned out to be one of the relatives who was visiting.

I knew I was going to be in for a lecture before the day was out so I just kept on taking pictures out of the box trying to find something positive to say about the folks who had posed for the camera.

The ladies then wiped their hands with their aprons and gathered around the pile I had placed on the couch. They chattered a mile a minute about who was who in the photos.

<>This scene of many years ago flashed through my mind as I viewed the virtual exhibitions on the New Brunswick Museum website at  and scrolled through the school pictures on the Gatherings section.

The teacher must have had her hands full with the more than 40 Grade 3 boys in the 1890 class at Centennial School, Saint John. Nor do I envy the school Marm who had charge of the 40 or so boys at Victoria School, Saint John, in 1888. You can also view the 1930 Advanced Department, Public School, Seal Cove, Grand Manan; the 1940 Cadets of the Charlotte County Grammar School, St. Andrews; and many more.

There are 475 photos in the Community Group offering images such as a 1862 party of lumbermen, seven miles below Riley Brook, Victoria County; the Aug. 19, 1887 Belleisle and Kingston Picnic; and a circus parade on King Street in Saint John, circa 1898.

The photos include Societies and Lodges (262); Exhibitions (133); Special Events (183); Places of Worship (455), which includes churches, church groups and cemeteries; Families (70), with one being of Fred Pickett and Edna Wetmore leaving Bloomfield Station on their honeymoon.

Saint John: An Industrial City in Transition is divided into Maps and Plans, Transportation, Industry, Public Spaces, Neighbourhoods, Saint John and Its Business, Cultural Explorations and Vision. I was like a kid buying penny candy in trying to choose what I should look at first. I did spend time on the 1858 Plan of the Saint John Water Works from the Marsh Bridge to Loch Lomond by R. C. Minnette C.E., the 1896 Plan of the Public Park in the City of Saint John, the 1922 Avenue Service Station on Douglas Avenue and Watts Hardware Store at 443 Main Street, circa 1930.

The virtual exhibitions can be compared to a huge box, overflowing with photos. The websites are always available, whether it is midnight or early morning. No thought needs to be given to it being a hot or rainy day.

Just pull up a chair and escape to the land of yesteryear. You will probably return again and again - I know I have. The search engine makes it easy to locate a photo or document of a certain town, village, city, business or surname. Best of all it is a way to discover the way those who came before us, lived.

Another learning opportunity is the Kings County Historical and Archival Society Heritage Day Two at the Hatfield Point Baptist Church Hall, Route 124, on Aug. 22. The focus of this day is to bring people together to take a look at our past and to promote interest and membership in the society and in the Kings County Museum. There will be displays set up in the Baptist Church Hall. The genealogy workshop begins at noon. Resources of John Elliott, Arthur Keith, as well as others, will be available. There will also someone there to offer guidance and information to those tracking their ancestors. For more information, call 832-6009 or email inquiries to

The Saint John branch of the New Brunswick Genealogical Society is hosting a Genealogical Fair Sept. 12 at St. Joachim's church hall. It will be of interest to everyone from beginners to experienced researchers. Details are at

Query 1678
Kennedy - Olmstead: Robert Kennedy married Charlotte (Lottie) Olmstead in 1893. They lived in the Woodstock, N.B. area. They had the following children: William George, Bessie (Betty), Gladys, Harold and Robert Cook. I am interested in finding out any information on Robert Kennedy and his family.
Stephen Kennedy 

Query 1679
Lawson - Foster: Seeking names, dates, places of birth, death of parents of Ab(i)el Lawson and wife, Elizabeth Ann Foster of Queens County, N.B. Elizabeth was born 1824, died 1888. Ab(i)el born 1820, died 1887 in Queens County. Children: Hannah, Margaret, John, Jane, David, Abiel, and Christopher Lawson.
Roberta (Lawson) Sparfven 

Query 1680
Matthews - McDonald: The Rev. William C. Matthews, died March 24, 1905 in Saint John, N.B., aged 38. Obituary stated his wife Rebecca was a daughter of the "late Hon. James McDonald of Wolfville, Nova Scotia." One daughter, Dorothy, born Feb. 14, 1894. Seeking Dorothy's descendants.
E. Brown

Query 1681
Russell - Muirhead: I am looking for information on the children of Thomas George Russell (b. 1850, Chatham, N.B.) and Helen Christina Muirhead (b. June 21, 1856, Chatham). She was the daughter of Sen. William Muirhead. The children born in Chatham are Ada (1877), Mary (1879), George H. (1882) and Olive (1885). I would appreciate precise dates of birth, marriages and deaths or whatever information is available.
Grant Nielsen

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query as the subject. For more information on submitting queries, visit

Ruby contributes a "Family History" column to the Telegraph-Journal on the third Saturday of the month.

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