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Gazette History Minute: Archives aid family in searching Alert Bay for deceased relative

The Davisons wanted to know more about their relative and the place he lived.

The North Island Gazette, being the North Island’s longest running newspaper, has a rich source of archival information chronicling over 50 years. These archives help preserve the history of many people and events in North Island communities.

The Gazette recently received a thank you from Stuart and Jas Davidson, a couple from Edmonton Alberta, who used the archives to help find more information on their family history. The pair came to the North Island to learn more about Stuart’s Great Uncle Kenneth Davidson. Davidson left England in 1926 and died in Beaver Cove in 1970 and was buried in Alert Bay.

The Davisons wanted to know more about their relative and the place he lived.

Our front office manager, Lilian Meerveld, was able to help the Davidsons by showing them how to access the Gazette archives online.

The Gazette was one of the first newspapers on the island to have their microfiche records converted to digital, and the only newspaper to have it completed. The Davidsons found articles in the Gazette archives that mentioned of their uncle’s death and funeral.

The text in the article they found reads: ‘Beaver Cove – An inquest is to be held this week into the death June 23 (1970) of Ken Davidson, 63, who collapsed and died while working as a bookman. Employed on the job for the past four years, he is survived by a brother in England. Funeral Services and burial were conducted Saturday in Alert Bay.’

A further article and poem in another issue also referenced Kenneth Davidson.

Although the Davidson’s were not able to meet anyone who knew their uncle, they learned more about what his life was like on the North Island.

“Our impression of Kenneth’s life and death was a lonely life which ended at a desolate place,” wrote Stuart Davidson in his thank you letter to the Gazette. “But what we found out was quite different. Beaver Cove and Alert Bay were vibrant fishing and logging communities and Kenneth had a full and varied social life living in the bunkhouse at Beaver Cove.”

The North Island Gazette is proud to keep our archives accessible to everyone and was happy to assist the Davidsons on their journey.

To find the archives online search North Island Gazette at news.google.com/newspapers for access to our archives beginning in 1965. The Gazette also proudly displays our vintage microfiche machine at our front office desk and the community is welcome to come and look at our archives in person.