British Columbia Government's Vital Statistics

You might find this an interesting activity. Go to the BC Government's Vital Statistics website: http://search.bcarchives.gov.bc.ca

In Step 1 click on Expand List of Genealogy Indexes. Now put a check mark beside the index for Deaths (1872-1983). The other indexes do not cover the time frame for Cassiar. Note the ending date for the index may increase annually by one year - see the date range explanation below.

In Step 2 type "Cassiar" in the City field and then click Start Search.

You will be shown the first screen of many screens which hold many records for deaths that were recorded at Cassiar Cannery, Cassiar, Cassiar District, Cassiar Mountains, Cassiar Road, etc. I don't know how much faith I would put in the records for deaths in Cassiar prior to the 1950s as the mine and town hadn't yet been built before then. Obviously some of the deaths occurred at the other places that have "Cassiar" in the name.

I think the records for Cassiarites start with Record #35 for Joseph Philip Hebert and definitely with #36 baby Ian Matthew Mccall who died in the first Cassiar hospital when it burned, apparently on March 22, 1955.

There sure are a lot of death records, far, far more than I expected. I must admit that there are several names not familiar to me. In addition to the names of people who lived right in Cassiar itself I do recognize, if not the person, at least the family names of folks who lived in the village out of town.

Of the adult deaths recorded for the 1950s and 1960s I suspect that many of those might be of single men who lived in the bunkhouses. Many of the single men often transient and since they didn't stick around long might not have been well known locally. I also suspect the majority of their deaths were work-place accidents. Unfortunately such accidents which were more common in the early days and I believe this was common of in mines in general, not just in Cassiar.

There are also many infant deaths, perhaps an indicator of how important a role the limited facilities of the Cassiar hospital played in infant survival. Over the years it became more common for mothers experiencing complicated pregnancies to be sent out to major hospitals where they could expect a better outcome for themselves and their babies.

There seems to be some duplication too. For example records 121, 122 & 123 are obviously for the same man, my former schoolmate Hector Dennis.

At the time I write this the last record is for Robert Wilms, August 19, 1983, one month after I left Cassiar. I wondered why the records do not continue to 1992, when Cassiar closed. Cassiarite Marian Craft, a genealogist explained there is a twenty year privacy policy on death records. (100 years for births and 75 years for marriage) so each year a new year will be added to the published list. She quoted this explanation from the archives website:

Why is the date range for each index different? Why are only historical Vital Event records accessible?

Under the authority of section 39(4) of the Vital Statistics Act, the Ministry of Health has the authority to release historical vital statistics registrations for genealogical purposes. Birth registrations may be released 100 years following the date of birth, marriage registrations may be released 75 years after the date of marriage, and death registrations may be released 20 years after the date of death. These time frames are consistent with the protection of privacy provisions in the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (section 36) governing disclosure of personal information for historical or archival purposes.

Paul Caron wondered why Margaret Massin's death is not recorded, neither under Cassiar or Dease Lake. Margaret died in a motor vehicle accident on the Cassiar - Stewart Highway near Dease Lake, and according to my information, on August 17, 1977. So that got me to thinking - I searched the archives, but this time for her name and instead of for place of Cassiar, included the entire province and did find this record:

Margaret Monique Massin, Place Unknown, Date:1977 8 18 (Yr/Mo/Day)

I think it is reasonable to assume that this record is indeed for the same Margaret we know, especially since the date is different by only 1 day. So this begs the question - are there other records not listed properly on the archives website? The possibility definitely exists. As Margaret's tragically lost her life on the highway, neither in Dease Lake or Cassiar, the record keepers for government apparently merely write "unknown".

This page was last edited Wednesday, September 19, 2012

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