As folks head up to Montebello for the 2018 Annual Institute of Family Law this weekend, we’re doing a throwback to the conference from 20 years ago. The 1998 conference was held on May 8th that year, and as was the custom at the time for the Family Law conference, was held in town (in this particular case at the University of Ottawa). Take a look at the program:
Things are really starting to take shape in Phase 1 of our renovations project. It’s remarkable how quickly walls go down, come back up, and completely change the look of the space. I have a couple of photos here from before, and the current state of affairs. I’ll also answer a couple FAQs down below!
Visitors to the library will, of course, recognize where the bathrooms were, the old hallway into legislation (or more accurately for many people, the way over to the lounge), and the inside of the copy room. These walls are mostly all gone now, except for that rounded bit of wall in picture two (take note of that – it’s a load-bearing pillar).Continue Reading…
A few months ago, when reading the infamous “Blue Book” of CCLA History, I stumbled upon the bit about the first CCLA librarian. Her name was Bella Kealy (alternatively spelled Kealey, but Kealy seems to be the correct spelling), and it said:
The first County librarian was engaged in 1889. She was Miss Bella Kealy. The early minutes not only record and confirm her spinsterhood but also, by painfully slow degrees, the increases in her salary which started at $0.75 a day for each day’s attendance. The terms of her contract required that she attend in due time five days a week, starting ultimately at 9:00 in the morning and staying until 4:00 p.m. ‘”except during the sittings of the Court when she must remain until the Court rises.”
Immediately, I was intrigued. The old spinster cat lady librarian trope is well-worn, but for me, well-loved. “Confirmed spinster” Bella Kealy, what was her story?
Through the excellent newspapers.com (who are absolutely not paying me for this blog post – I just think it’s a splendid website), I was able to dig into this. I had spent some time looking at census records before, but somehow missed our Bella. Finding more about her in old news articles certainly helped.
From what I can piece together, Isabelle Kealy was born in Ottawa on June 15, 1875. Her father was Thomas Kealy, and her mother Mary (nee Kilt). They were a fairly traditional working class Irish Catholic family, from what the census records show: several children (most of whom lived to adulthood), and her father was listed as a carter (which, from the brilliant occupation naming conventions of old, meant he moved things around in a cart).
“Hold up, Jen,” you’re thinking. 1875? But she was hired in 1889? This has stymied me too, but unless the census is wrong, and the writing on her entry is quite legible, it looks like 1875 was indeed her birth year, making her 14 or so at that time. The 1881 census lists her birth date as considerably earlier, but from the 1901 census onward, she is listed as being born in 1875. If she was indeed older, and fudged the number for the census, the reason for that is lost to me (to history?) for now.
I’ve since gone back to the minute books to try and tease this out more, and from what I can gather, she actually started working, in some capacity, for the Association in 1888. I like to think she was a bookish and bright girl at the Rideau Street Convent, and someone-who-knew-someone-who-knew the Mother Superior asked them for someone to help straighten books and tidy up in the library.
As the minutes do confirm, she was offered her permanent position as librarian in 1891, though she had been working for the Association continually before then.
The news reports on her are scant for the next several decades. She was heavily involved in the Catholic community, serving on several boards and serivce groups.
I wish this story had a nicer ending than what I found online, but regretfully it doesn’t. On December 17, 1944, Kealy had a heart attack on her way to church. She was with one of her sisters, and brought immediately to a doctor, but unfortunately that wouldn’t be enough. Her funeral was held two days later, and from the news article, was well attended by judges and lawyers from the community. The paper describes her as the “librarian for Carleton County Law Association for many years,” which, if she was still employed at that time, and my math is right, means she worked for the association for 56 years. I would hope that would have earned her a 50 Years umbrella. The blue book confirms that “she served as County librarian for over 30 years” – her retirement date (were she so lucky to have had one) is currently unknown to me. A curiosity of our Association is we don’t always have the most complete set of records from the 20th century, so as time permits, and the record allows, I’d love to continue to dig more into our history (and perhaps close the loop on Kealy’s tenure here).
It is mind-boggling to me that we’ll be moving back into the newly renovated space some of the very books she acquired and processed over 100 years ago, but such is the unique beauty of a law library collection. We plan to have a nice tribute to Isabelle Kealy in the library once we’re done renovations – but for more on that, you’ll have to wait and see!
Readers, I hope you’ll forgive our non-legal related Throwback Thursday this week, as we head into the Winter Olympics. We simply can’t help ourselves around here: we love the Olympics. Winter or summer, it doesn’t matter. Brenda handled the summer Olympics a couple of years ago on the blog, and with the opening ceremonies tomorrow in Pyeongchang, I’m taking a look at the winter games today. Here are four big stories tied to today’s date from Canadian Winter Olympics history.
On this Day, 1948 (Ottawa Connection!): 70 years ago today was the closing of the 1948 Winter Olympics, held in St. Moritz, Switzerland. It was the first Winter Olympics held after WWII, and was where Ottawa figure skater Barbara Ann Scott won gold in the women’s competition. Two factoids on this skate: 1. The skating rink was outdoors (!), and during her skate a low-flying plane overhead (!!) caused some audio distraction; and 2: in 1948 there were no Zambonis, so she had to just skate around the chopped up ice from the hockey game the night before.
Here’s a video of her skate:
On This Day, 1998: On this day in 1998, Ross Rebagliati won the first ever gold in snowboarding at the Nagano Olympics. Now there’s your legal connection: remember everything that happened after that? You can find the Court of Arbitration for Sport decision on his case here.
On this day, 2002: 16 years ago today was the opening ceremonies of the Salt Lake City Games. Some of you may remember this as a games where both the Canadian Women’s and Men’s hockey teams won gold. There was one major news story, however, that dominated those games:
On this day, 2014: We’ll end on a happy note – the Dufour-Lapointe sisters! Who doesn’t love this story of the sisters winning Gold and Silver in the Ladies’ mogul event in Sochi?
The old library half of our space is in full on demolition mode right now, which is incredibly exciting and interesting for us to see! Every morning when we come in there is something new missing – the carpets, the ceiling, occasionally an entire wall!
I was flipping back through photos on my phone from December, and found a photo taken from the same angle as one I took today. Check out some of the demo work that’s been happening:
Goodbye, old photocopy room!
Way back on January 17, 1876, six judges assembled on Parliament Hill for their first sitting of the Supreme Court of Canada! They had just finished drafting their rules of procedure in mid-January, but the only problem? There were no cases to be heard! Transcripts from this first session of the Supreme Court state “There being no business to dispose of, the Court rose.”
The court heard its first case in April 1876, and after that, it sat for a week in June. (Give me this work sched any day!)
It spent its first five years in vacant rooms in the Parliament buildings, before moving to a more permanent building on the West Block in 1882.
References / Further Reading
Back in 2016 I posted this Throwback Thursday, which gave a view of the stacks in our Law Reports section as they were at the time and in 1986. As you know, we’re getting ready to renovate, so here’s part two of this particular Then and Now:
Then (December 2017)
Now (January 2018)
We took a whole bunch of photos on the last day of the library looking “normal” – once renovations are done, we’ll be able to do a whole series of cool before and after shots. This section of the CCLA’s space is the first that will be renovated (and should be starting soon!).
We’re right in the middle of moving / weeding / rearranging / packing the library collection, and one set of titles we just moved were our back editions of the Ontario Annual Practice. Before we moved them, our best guess was that we had them back to the 80s. The 1980s. We soon realized it was the 1880s. This item isn’t exactly rare (we have two copies!), but it is certainly cool to look at.
It is incredibly hard for us to believe, but this is our last day of normal library service in the CCLA Library as we know it! Starting tomorrow, we’re closed down for the month of December so we can empty the space out and get ready for renovations to start in the new year. We’re going to take a whole load of photos of the library and lounge today, so that we have them to do some incredible before and after shots with later (and for posterity, of course!). I’m hopeful we’ll be able to show you some “In Progress” shots as well over the next year. Stay tuned!
Fellow fans of old tech, behold: a Quicksearch User’s Manual!
As we get ready to renovate the library, we’ve had to do a massive clean out of our belongings. Our ED Rick found this jewel tucked away in the depths of our storage locker.
Quicksearch was the precursor to Quicklaw. Undoubtedly some of you remember the early days of online searching for cases. No fancy interfaces here! Just DOS-like prompts over dial-up modems. This user’s manual was a looseleaf (last updated here in 1993), that showed you how to carry out the (by today’s standards) very complicated search strings needed to retrieve a case. I took a few photos from the book; enjoy! (Click on any picture to make it bigger.)