Facebook Family History Moments

Okay, I admit it – I have a Facebook page. In fact, I’ve had a Facebook page for a long time. I heard about Facebook through my children who talked about their friends, connections, groups and status. Facebook then became for me simply a way to keep track of my ‘young’ adult children who lived various distances away from the family home.

Over the last year or two, my use of Facebook has been less about what the ‘kids’ are up to and more about connecting with genealogists. I still keep ‘track’ of the kids, checking their status and viewing new photos of life events but now I am connected with other genealogists and some newly acquainted cousins. Groups have now become the apparent third wave of my Facebook use.

More and more institutional use is occurring with Facebook such as the Family History Library, RootsMagic, Genealogy Guys Podcast and Ontario Genealogical Society pages that provide a quick and efficient means of spreading news about service and product features to reach ‘friends’ and ‘fans’ quickly.

I was recently invited by a ‘friend’ to join the “Scarborough, Looking Back” group. Scarborough was at the time I was growing up, the eastern suburb of the city of Toronto (since amalgamated into the city proper). My parents moved our family to Scarborough when I was nine years old so I have many fond memories of friends and events through my teen and early marriage years.

The group has taken to posting old photos from around Scarborough and one that got my attention is of the ‘old’ Birchcliff Theatre (shown below).

The theatre opened in 1949 – in fact the marquee notes that 1949’s “Down to the Sea in Ships” starring Lionel Barrymore was the current movie. Unfortunately, the theatre couldn’t keep pace with the multi-screen theatre era and was torn down in 1974. I remembered this theatre for two reasons. First, sometime in the early 1960’s my parents dropped me off with a friend so that we could enjoy the Saturday matinee, a Disney movie as I recall, while they went shopping. When the movie finished, my friend and I exited the theatre into a winter snow storm (I live in Canada after all!) and no parents picking us up were to be found. In those days without cell phones, I had no way of phoning home to see if there was a problem. And being young, with ‘penny’ candy available, I didn’t save a dime for use in the case of such an emergency. I knew that the theatre was located on Kingston Road and that Kingston Road would take make to the street my house was on – I just had to guess at the right direction of travel. Fortunately, I guessed correctly and after what felt like a very long walk (probably a little over a mile), I walked in through the front door of my house. My parents felt awful, for how could they have forgotten their child. I don’t think I took full advantage of their moment of weakness – ah, lost opportunities!

The second reason for remembering the theatre – the first house I bought backed onto what had been the theatre’s parking lot.

The important point in all of this is to take advantage of the ever changing landscape of information that continues to build your family history – the anecdotes, the images – all are part of the fabric. You just never know when the source of the unexpected discovery.

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