by Maurice Y. Michaud (he/him)
There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time.— David M. Eagleman, Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, 2009
The webmasters of the Memorable Manitobans section of the Manitoba Historical Society' website offer this moving quote as their inspiration. Although I did not start this project with that thought in mind, I do believe that this labour of love has become my attempt to recall those persons who forged our political history and to ensure that our history in the making is accurately recorded as it is happening.
My goal, as grandiose as it might be, is to get the exact dates of birth and death (if applicable) of everyone who has a full profile in this database. About 94% of profiles (i.e. 14,233) are for persons who have been classified as "Winners," but the remaining 6% (i.e. 922) are profiles for people who have never been elected at the federal or provincial level but were worthy of having one (for example, a mayor or a perennial candidate). For all profiles, however, the date of birth is missing or incomplete on 2,601 of them (or 17.2%). I can make peace with the idea of not getting this information for the unelected, but not being able to get it for the elected is... driving... me... NUTS!
Often, it is harder to find that info for people who have been elected in the last decade or two. For instance, of the 1,105 currently in office, 577 (or about 52%) are lacking an exact date of birth. Friends who have supported me through this project have wondered, especially with regards to politicians who are still alive, if privacy laws might explain why this info can sometimes be hard to find, but I don't buy that argument. In some jurisdictions, elected politicians must divulge their assets and liabilities (with exact numbers redacted when posted publicly) and the financial institutions in which those are held, so one's date of birth seems like a trivial bit of info in comparison.
But for politicians from long ago, the explanation, perhaps, is that the info has been lost through time or, more iikely, it is hidden in difficult-to-access vital statistics records. For example, the Legislative Library of New Brunswick has a "browsable alphabetical database of Members of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick. Each entry includes when possible; elected / defeated / retired / resigned dates, riding, positions held in government, biographical information and pictures." The problem is that this database, whose description almost has me drooling, is in-house. It took my friend Brad's sleuthing abilities to find the info for just one of those New Brunswick MLAs for whom I had nothing: Hiram Dow (c. 1825–1884). Brad even sent me a selfie with his dog Chester next to Dow's grave!
When I will have implemented "The Friends of PoliCan," they will have an interface in this website to submit to me their findings, but for now, you can already search for those persons who are driving me (a little bit more) insane and you can email me any info you can uncover, with supporting evidence that can be attached to the person's profile. I am assuming you have easier access to information pertaining to your own province, so the filters should help you focus.
There are two categories of people who bedevil me. The first and larger, which I consider a priority, is the one for those whose date of birth is either unknown or only estimated. The second and smaller, which is less of a priority because it is strange and likely much more difficult to resolve, is the one for those whose date of birth is known but not their date of death (and, given the former date, they most certainly are dead). Although most of those in this second category have been classified in the 94% group ("Elected"), I am less concerned because their date of birth is more significant (e.g. to figure out their age at election, etc.). All that being said, I will be adding a "little hope of getting more info" field to profiles so that we can weed out those for which... well, we will have tried but won't get more.