The house in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada, where my mother was born in 1919. For obvious reasons, it was known to the family as "the Ark".
The legendary Cyndi Howells asked me why the house was built that way. As taught by Cyndi herself, I did a targeted Google search on "Prince Rupert" +houses +stilts. Up popped a result from Google Books - an article from Popular Mechanics magazine dated July 1922. It contains another photograph of the house:
The article explains that:
The city of Prince Rupert, BC, is situated on very hilly ground, and in some instances houses were built before the grading operations were completed, which has led to many unusual sights. In one case a house was built with the first floor level with the street, but the ground was so far below the street level that it was necessary to support the basement on long timbers. A narrow wooden bridge leads from the sidewalk to the first floor of the house.
As it happens, I have a photograph of my grandmother, holding my mother in her arms, standing on that narrow wooden bridge:
I think this story illustrates three important genealogy lessons:
- Sharing your research in a website or blog leads directly to new discoveries.
- There is a good reason why professional genealogists like Cyndi teach us to ask the "who, what, where, when, why" questions about our research.
- It is simply amazing what you can find on Google Books.