Something to shout about in Sudbury

28 Mar 2014 4:56 PM | Danielle Robichaud

Town of Sudbury CrestThis is a guest post written by Shanna Fraser, City Archivist for the City of Greater Sudbury.


“The Municipal Council of the Corporation of the Town of Sudbury enacts and ordains as follows:…No person shall, within the Town of Sudbury, for the purposes of gain, pretend or profess to tell fortunes or any future event by means of cards, palmistry or other craft or device.”[1] This section of the Morality By-Law for the Town of Sudbury came into force July 11, 1893. This by-law included bans on posting indecent placards, swearing, indecent exposure, performing indecent or immoral plays, drunkenness or disorderly conduct, the sale of liquor to minors or apprentices, yelling, ringing of bells, blowing of horns, and even firing cannons. In fact, the Morality By-Law included 36 separate sections for the first residents of the Town of Sudbury to follow and is now available digitally [PDF file: 87MB], along with the rest of the Town of Sudbury’s records, for researchers to peruse on Archeion, Ontario's Archival Information Network.[2]

The Town of Sudbury was incorporated on April 14th, 1892 with the Ontario Statutes 1892, Chapter 88.[3] Prior to this time, the area which became the Town of Sudbury was located within the Township of McKim which was surveyed by Provincial Land Surveyor Francis Bolger in 1883.[4] The name Sudbury was given to the municipality by CPR construction superintendent, James Worthington, who named it after the hometown in England of his wife, Caroline Frances Hitchcock Worthington.[5] The Town of Sudbury became a City July 28th, 1930 under An Act to Incorporate the City of Sudbury, Ontario Statutes 1930, Chapter 102.[6]

Mayor_Biggar Records for the Town of Sudbury include minutes, by-laws, assessment rolls, permits, financial records, and photographs. Interesting topics discussed include council debates regarding cow grazing rights,[7] financial donations to Halifax after the explosion December 6, 1917,[8] the creation of the first schools in the municipality,[9] the creation and management of the first city parks,[10] and even the appointment of Edward Scafe to “perform the duties of Town Engineer, Caretaker of the Fire Engine, Town Constable, Collector of Rates, Sanitary Inspector, and to do general repair work for the Municipality.”[11]

The City of Greater Sudbury Archives received these municipal records of the former town from various Greater Sudbury municipal departments. As these records were created during a relatively short time period between 1892 and 1930,[12] it was possible to make all the records of these first Sudburians available in a digital format.[13]

Most of the Town of Sudbury records are handwritten textual documents. To aid researchers, an index was created for the handwritten by-laws and some of the records have been transcribed by volunteers including early assessment rolls, collector’s rolls, building permit registers, and even some of the first minutes. These resources allow handwritten records to be used by researchers in ways previously not possible. Keyword searching permits researchers to compare results instantly and interpret data in new ways. Genealogists will enjoy finding their relatives quickly and other casual users will discover records that they would normally have never thought of using before.

To digitize the documents, textual records were scanned using an Epson 10,000XL Photo Scanner at a setting of 600 dpi based on an 8”x10” print PDF.[14] Both the front and back of each page were scanned and the pages were merged into a single PDF document per record. Typed textual records were then run through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in Adobe Pro 9 and PDF/A copies were later created for preservation reasons. Photographs were scanned using the same method except they were saved as tiff images with jpeg copies[15] created for our website. Metadata was also embedded in each digital record including identifier numbers, the name of the fonds, the title, the scope and content, and the name of the archives.[16]

Out of respect for section 26 of the first Morality By-Law, I will not yell through the streets, ring bells, blow horns, or fire cannons to advertise the availability of these first Town of Sudbury records. Nor will I attempt to predict the future of municipal records on Archeion. I do, however, hope that the Town of Sudbury fonds will be just the first of many municipal records available digitally for researchers in Ontario.

Shanna Fraser[17]

[1] Town of Sudbury By-Laws, No. 12, Sec. 26, “By-Law to Preserve Order and Public Morals in the Town of Sudbury,” p. 45

[2] Scanning of these records would not have been possible without the Ontario Youth Employment Fund and L'École secondaire catholique l'Horizon co-op program.

[3] “An Act to Incorporate the Town of Sudbury,” Ontario Statutes, 1892, Chapter 88

[4] Ontario Municipal Board, P.F.M. 187, Township of McKim, Schedule G, July 18, 1957,  p. 3

[5] C.M. Wallace & Ashley Thompson, Sudbury: Rail Town to Regional Capital, (Toronto: Dundurn Press Limited), 1993, p. 14

[6] “An Act to Incorporate the City of Sudbury,” Ontario Statutes, 1930, Chapter 102

[7] Town of Sudbury Minutes, Dec 30, 1902 to June 7, 1907

[8] Financial Statement of the Town of Sudbury From Dec. 15, 1916 to Dec. 15, 1917

[9] Town of Sudbury By-Law No. 14, “To Levy Rates for Town and School Purposes for the Year 1893,” p. 53; By-Law No. 189, “Being a By-Law for the Establishment of a High School in the Town of Sudbury,” p. 408

[10] Minutes - Parks Commission - Feb 1917 to July 1928; Parks 1929-1931 (Minute Book)

[11] Town of Sudbury By-Law No. 26, “A By-Law Relating to the Appointment of a Civic Servant to Perform the Duties of Town Engineer, Caretaker of the Fire Engine, Town Constable, Collector of Rates, Sanitary Inspector, and to do General Repair Work for the Municipality,” p. 86

[12] And not all of the records have survived due to floods etc.

[13] Since the records all involved adults over the age of 18 and were created by 1930, privacy was not an issue. “Personal information does not include information about an individual who has been dead for more than thirty years.” Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. M.56, s. 2 (2). When the date of death for an individual is unknown, the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario in Orders PO-1886, PO-2198, PO-2723, MO-2467, PO-2876, PO-2877, and PO-2961, recommended taking the average life expectancy, as listed by Statistics Canada [], for an individual for the years in question (the average male’s and average female’s life expectancy added together then divided by two), assume the individuals died at the average age, and then add 30 years to the figure.  Since the Town of Sudbury ended in 1930 and anyone mentioned within the records was at least 18 years of age, the records could be digitized by 2002.

[14] There were two exceptions to this standard; the Voters’ Lists we received from the Archives of Ontario (1894-1905) and the Cash Book for the Town of Sudbury (from the Clerk’s Department). The Cash Book record is oversized and would have required four scans per page to digitize with the Epson scanner. To digitize this record, we borrowed the Greater Sudbury Public Library’s digital camera and took pictures of each page in both RAW and jpeg format. These images were then adjusted in Photoshop to correct the camera lens angle and later merged into a PDF.

[15] Low Resolution, 72 dpi jpeg images are used online to allow the pages to load quickly for researchers.

[16] All of our digital records on Archeion are available to the public to download. Embedded descriptive metadata ensures researchers will know what the digital item is, where it came from, any copyright information, and how to cite it. This also makes ordering higher resolution reproductions easier with the identifier number always with the lower resolution digital copy and also can stop researchers from attempting to donate records back to the archives from where they were originally obtained.

[17]I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the students, interns, recent graduate placement workers and volunteers who worked tirelessly on this project, especially Emilie Overton, Christina Comacchio, Mary McDonald, Anna Burke, Jasmine Boeker Monteil, Marnie Seal, Christine Walbank, Mia Piironen, Jenna Guse, Aaron St. Pierre, Heather Wilson, Kyle Ierino, Diana Mulcahey, Nick McMullen, Ashley Locke Boucher, Wendy McBain, Sheila Prusila, Carol Prusila, Cora Turcott, Vicki Turcott and Janette Fraser (thanks Mom!). I would also like to thank Archivist Alyssa Gallant for her endless work, all the other City of Greater Sudbury departments for transferring the records, Manager of Libraries and Heritage Resources Claire Zuliani and Director of Citizen Services Ron Henderson for their continual support and everyone at the Greater Sudbury Public Library for listening to my stories of trying to process these records.

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