Fairfield in the First World War – Background Info
Fairfield in the First World War is my attempt to shine a light on the contribution made by the residents of my neighbourhood 100 years ago. It is one of many projects I’m working on to commemorate soldiers of the First World War, but this project is unique in that it provides an opportunity to highlight the impact the conflict had on the families left behind.
Where is Fairfield?
Fairfield is a residential neighbourhood on the eastern edge of downtown Victoria, British Columbia. Fairfield in the First World War focuses on a small section of the neighbourhood, a 1-mile stretch two blocks wide bound by Fort Street on the north, Cook Street on the west, Moss Street on the east and Dallas Road on the south.
At the turn of the 20th century much of this area, particularly the southern half, was made up of market gardens, dairy farms and marshland. Residential development crept slowly south but picked up pace when a housing boom began in 1907. The real estate bubble burst in 1913 but not before Fairfield had been carved into hundreds of city lots. This new middle-class neighbourhood contained some fine Edwardian residences but many lots would remain empty until well after the First World War – an important fact to consider when viewing Fairfield in Google maps today.
Which residences are included?
A residence was included in the data set if it was listed as the home of a soldier, a nurse or their next-of-kin. Although a majority were residents the next-of-kin was equally important as I wanted to map residences whose occupants were directly connected to the war, even if the soldier hailed from somewhere else. In almost all cases the soldiers and nurses served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (C.E.F.).
Which residences were not included?
I suspect almost every household would have been connected to a soldier, through family or work, but many were not listed as “next-of-kin”. As there is no official record of this connection they have not been included in the data set.
The data set includes one cadet in the Royal Air Force however there will be many others who served in the British Expeditionary Force (or in other forces). If you have information on residents who served or were the next-of-kin of those who served in other forces please contact me. I would be interested in adding them to the data set.
Sources and Data notes
Compiling this data set required a significant investment in time (20 – 25 hours) but it would not have been possible at all had it not been for the following invaluable websites and resources.
A City Goes to War
This website’s Record of Service database was key to compiling this data set. The search features allows you to search for any text string contained within a soldiers’ attestation paper including – crucially – street name.
Service Files of the First World War, 1914-1918 – CEF
This is Library and Archives Canada’s searchable database of First World War attestation papers. I cross-referenced every entry in the A City Goes to War database with the original source data. The soldier or nurses Name, Age, Occupation, Enlisted In year, Rank and Service (Regiment) Number were obtained from these records. The unit they Enlisted with was sometimes indicated on the attestation papers. Please note that the Age and Rank included in the data set was the age and rank of the soldier or nurse when they enlisted.
Nominal Rolls were also consulted to confirm the unit the soldier enlisted with as well as the address for next-of-kin.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
A search was made for each individual in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database. If a soldier died as a result of service between August 4, 1914 and August 31, 1921 they will be included in the Fairfield in the First World War data set as having “Died” during the war. Date of death, Cemetery, Also served with (the unit they were serving in at the time) and a Link to their commemoration page are recorded in the data set. The next-of-kin listed in Who lived at this Address is sometime derived from this resource. Note: Veteran Affairs Canada’s Canadian Virtual War Memorial was also used to cross-reference this information.
The BC Archives Genealogy database was used extensively to determine the date of death for those veterans who survived the war but who later died in British Columbia.
I used Ancestry.ca (World Membership) to track down pieces of information I could not find elsewhere. This included birth dates, circumstances of death for soldiers in the C.E.F. and the date of death for veterans who survived the war but died outside of British Columbia.
Insurance Plans of Victoria
I consulted this 1913 Insurance Plan Map in the University of Victoria Digital Collection to determine the spelling and/or existence of streets during the First World War. One street that does not appear on the 1913 map is a tiny road running east off of Moss Street called “Vimy Place“.
British Columbia City Directories (1860-1955)
The Vancouver Public Library’s BC City Directories (1860-1955) database proved invaluable for double-checking suspicious looking data.
The British Colonist Online Edition: 1858-1920
The searchable British Colonist Online recently added issues from 1910 to 1920. I used this excellent resource sparingly in compiling this data set however I have used it extensively in the past and will do so again when I begin sharing the stories uncovered by this research.
The Fairfield in the First World War maps were built using Google’s Map Engine Lite. The free version of the tool allows for data sets of up to 100 rows and 15 columns presented in up to 3 layers. The paid version, Map Engine Pro, allows for expanded data sets and additional layers.
The data set was first compiled in a spreadsheet and then uploaded to Map Engine Lite where it can be styled and labeled in a variety of ways. I’ve opted for clarity and have only included labels on one of the maps. Tip: click on the tear-dropped pin to see the data associated with that resident.
Important Note: click on the captions (not the image) to open the Google map in a separate window.
The Blog Posts
Here is a listing of all the Fairfield in the First World war blog posts.