This is a story that's turning into a soap opera of sorts - it's becoming "the continuing story of LAC and Ancestry.ca".
In 2007, a partnership was drawn up between the LAC and Ancestry.ca, and it was announced at the 2007 Ontario Genealogical Society Seminar. I was there to hear it as well as were about 500 other people. It was as if the air had been sucked out the room - people were astounded by the news! "We didn't know that this was going on" - was the complaint of the people. It had come as a complete surprise!
Ancestry.ca said at that time that the release of the Quebec City Immigration Records was Number One on its list of things to do, and that they would make it available online at Ancestry.ca as well as the free LAC website. It is not on the LAC site - yet.
Then the Passenger Lists (Canada's Immigration Lists) from 1865 to 1935 was made public the first part of September on Ancestry.ca. That sort of caught me by surprise because I was expecting it to be released early in 2009 - but there it was - much to everyone's surprise. And it was not released at the LAC in Ottawa - but at Ancestry.ca headquarters in Toronto. It is supposed to be on the LAC site - but so far, it hasn't appeared.
And now, another press release in which Josh Hanna, a Senior VP of Ancestry International, and Ian Wilson, Chief Librarian and Archivist of Canada, are saying that Ancestry.ca will "digitize and index microfilm and original records (my italics) held by LAC and make these available to Ancestry.ca members." It goes on to say that "all of the digitized records will eventually be available free of charge to users of the LAC website". Notice that they say "digitized" records, and not "indexed" records.
Mr. Hanna says that "This is a win-win relationship for Ancestry to offer a wide range of Canadian collections to its members and in turn LAC will receive the expertise, experience and person hours that are required for imaging and indexing these records."
We all know that the LAC, being a government department, doesn't have the money to hire people (as the National Archives of Ireland has found out in its transcription of the 1901 and 1911 Irish census, and now has put it out to transcription companies to bid on it - they have said that they have chosen the company - but wouldn't say who it is at the Irish Symposium in Ottawa in November).
But I believe that this is the crux of the matter - the LAC simply does not have the money. So it has turned to Ancestry.ca to do the digitization and indexing of the microfilm and original records - and the LAC will take whatever it has agreed to put onsite. We will see what that is as time goes by.
In the meantime, were you as surprised as I when you opened the Globe and Mail newspaper yesterday morning, and read where Ancestry.ca had made a major mistake by putting a German soldier where there should have been a Canadian soldier in its Remembrance Day advertisement in the paper the previous day?
Ancestry.ca issued an apology and it said it will never happen again.