“It was kinda like nibbling chocolates, one byte led to another.”
When asked what led him to combine his interest in New Brunswick history with his computer savvy, R. Wallace Hale explained that he grew tired of sifting through poorly indexed historical publications while pursuing his various research interests. He determined that he could, and he would, transcribe works that he consulted frequently into html documents - keystroke by keystroke. Incredibly, he chose Thomas Jones’ 1000+ page tome The History of New York During the Revolutionary War as his first project.
He didn’t stop there. Using the general rule that if he had to thumb through a work more than three times he would transcribe it, his list of html documents grew. Not one to keep a good thing to himself, Hale began to share much of his work online. The eventual result was Fort Havoc, an impressive digital archive of “obscure and little used reference material” unified by its relation to Loyalists who came to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. With the tongue-in-cheek proviso that the work would be done “as time and ambition permitted,” Hale delighted in adding to the site, which has been used by researchers around the world.
Wally’s ambition, persistence, and patience are evident as one peruses the site, which features more than 300 documents. Fort Havoc includes Reverend William Odbur Raymond’s scrapbook of Woodstock Dispatch articles, numerous items relating to the American Revolution and the settlement of the United Empire Loyalists in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, genealogies of the Sharp, Dickinson, Smith, and Shea families, texts on New Brunswick history, passenger lists for the Amphitrite, Union, and Eagle, as well as miscellaneous other ships records.
Why Fort Havoc? In Hale’s own words: “Because Chaos Manor was already taken.”
We are pleased that “Wally” has agreed to donate Fort Havoc to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick so that this outstanding resource will continue to be available to researchers everywhere.
About Wallace Hale
R. Wallace Hale was born on September 16, 1935 at the L. P. Fisher hospital in Woodstock to Robert Judson and Evelyn Pearl (nee Palmer). He describes his childhood in Carleton County as being “divided among a one-room school, the woods, and Cousin Ern’s shingle mill. Talk about fun, though!”
Employed by the Canada Border Services Agency, Hale developed a knack for working with computers early on. He was a tester for NBNet, learned how to program, and taught himself the basics of web design. Both his aptitude for technology and his dedication to contributing to genealogical and historical research are exemplified the way he cleverly resolved challenges encountered in writing Early New Brunswick (Canada) Probate Records. The publication was drafted on an Apple 2 computer that balked when the manuscript grew to 256 pages. Determined not to be beaten by a mere machine, he manipulated the computer’s coding until it was forced to accept 512 pages of the book. When Appleworks again refused to accept any more, he devised a way to port the document over to an IBM PC running Word Perfect, and completed the work.
Currently enjoying his retirement in Fredericton, Hale remains a self-proclaimed technophile and history buff.
R Wallace Hale Bibliography
Southern Carleton County, NB Cemeteries
Queens County New Brunswick Marriages, Volume A, 1812-1861
Early New Brunswick (Canada) Probate Records 1785-1835