Mary Laura Lahey was born in Ottawa on 29 December 1893, the eldest daughter of John James Lahey and Bridget Loreto Killeen, and was baptized at St. Patrick’s, Ottawa on 5 January 1894, with Denis Lahey and Mary Finner serving as godparents. Her birth was not registered with the province of Ontario until 23 November 1935.
Presumably it was her marriage and subsequent emigration to the US which prompted the delayed birth registration. On 30 November 1935, at St. Theresa’s (Ste. Thérèse de l’Enfant Jésus), Ottawa, Mary Laura Lahey married John Oswald Green, son of John Green and Rose Ann Doyle. John Oswald Green had been born and raised in Arnprior, Renfrew Co., Ontario, but had emigrated to Detroit, Michigan in 1925, along with his mother and siblings. Shortly after the couple’s marriage in Ottawa, Mary Laura Lahey also moved to Detroit to take up residence with her new husband, and also with her brother-in-law William Francis Green and her younger sister Agnes Evelyn Lahey (whose marriage to John Oswald Green’s younger brother in 1931 had also
Delayed Registration of Birth for Mary Laura Lahey, database, Ancestry.ca (http://www.ancestry.ca/: accessed 19 May 2010), Ontario, Canada Births, 1869-1909.
prompted a delayed registration of birth, with a declaration signed by her mother Bridget Loreto Killeen).
At the time Mary Laura Lahey’s birth registration, which is dated 23 November 1935, both her parents had been dead for several years. It was her uncle Thomas Lahey who swore a notarized declaration of the birth, which reads as follows:
I, Thomas Lahey, of the City of Ottawa in the County of Carleton, in the Province of Ontario, Do Solemnly Declare as follows: That I am the Uncle of the aforesaid; That I was a brother of the said Mary Laura Lahey’s father and was on intimate terms with his family at the time of the birth of the said Mary Laura Lahey. That although I was not present at her birth I saw the child within a few weeks thereafter and was informed at the time and fully believe that she was born at the place and on the date above mentioned and I have known her since the date of her birth. Thomas Lahey [his signature].
Although civil registration of births began in Ontario in 1869, it took several decades at least before government authorities could expect anything close to full compliance with the Vital Statistics Act which mandated compulsory registration. As Fawne Stratford-Devai reports, with reference to George Emery’s Facts of Life: The Social Construction of Vital Statistics, Ontario, 1869-1952(McGill-Queen’s University Press, 1993), “in the early days of government registration…many people and local institutions were often suspicious of why the government wanted such information and simply refused to register births, marriages and deaths.” Emery estimates that for the period covering 1875-1895, Ontario birth registrations were only two-thirds complete (with one-third of births unreported), and that registrations were not 90% complete until about 1920.
John James Lahey and Bridget Loreto Killeen had five daughters (Mary Laura; Margaret Hilda; Mary Catherine; Agnes Evelyn; and Mary Gladys), all born in Ottawa between 1893 and 1901, and all baptized at St. Patrick’s Church (now St. Patrick’s Basilica), Ottawa within a few weeks of birth. As best I make out, none of these five births were registered at the time. Nor have I discovered a civil registration of the birth of my grandfather, Allan Jerome Moran (husband of Mary Catherine Lahey), also born in Ottawa (30 December 1897) and also baptized at St. Patrick’s (2 January 1898). The only civil records of birth that I have found for any of the above are the two delayed registrations of Mary Laura Lahey and Agnes Evelyn Lahey, both of whom married (Canadian-born) US naturalized citizens and emigrated to the US upon marriage. A third sister, Mary Gladys Lahey, also married (also in Ottawa, in 1924) a Canadian-born emigrant to the US, Richard John Anthony Cunningham, who was also originally from Arnprior; I have not found a delayed registration of her birth.
However, while I lack civil birth records for most of the above, I do have an important substitute/alternative: their Roman Catholic baptismal records, which supply the name of the father, the maiden name of the mother, the date of the child’s birth, and also the names of the two godparents, who are mostly family relations. Given the significant gaps in early civil registration, if you are looking for Catholic ancestors in Ontario, you should count yourself fortunate to have the the substitute of the RC parish registers, which will often be your single most important source of vital information. Even where the parish priests did not register births with the province (which they often did, although not legally required to), the parish registers themselves provide, in Emery’s words (Facts of Life, pp. 95-96), “nearly complete coverage of vital events for French Canadian and other Roman Catholic populations” in Ontario.