Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The OGS Conference June 2017 - attending virtually from afar

As a Canadian genealogist, I was keen to attend the live streaming events at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference, but due to numerous reasons I wasn't able to attend in person. An opportunity to live vicariously through the livestreamed YouTube videos was a big draw for me.

Here's my review.
Leading up to the first video, I connected with the Social Media Team at the Conference (see twitter handles) for some pre-plenary chats. This was easily done by checking in with the hashtag #OGSConf2017 and refreshing my browser numerous times. The SMT were very obliging during the videos, and chats were soon flying.

@ECraighenC @GrandmasGenes @treesrch @geneaalacarte @leprchaunrabbit @TheKirstyGray @JohnDReid @tinemoros @elle_dee_see @PassionateGenea

Friday 16 June 2017
     In addition to Dr. Guy Berthiaume's (Librarian and Archivist of Canada) review from LAC, I was really, really excited to hear Dave Obee speak at the Opening Ceremonies as I have attended some of his other talks where I learned so much! (I was so excited I stayed up until 2 a.m.! This is because my time zone is ahead of Ottawa by 5 hours.)

The key things I took away from his talk were:- - -  decisions our ancestors made were life changing- - -  how do our ancestors fit in to the bigger picture- - -  **Understand the Whys**- - -  be aware of your references - Genealogist: 'my ancestors farmed in Alberta in 1850' Dave: 'No they didn't - b/c Europeans were not farming in Alberta in that time period' : ie: know and understand the history of the area you are researching- - -  It's a one-way street they [your ancestors] cannot go back, immigration is all about pushes and pulls- - -  Understand the impacts to the indigenous peoples of Canada that our ancestors' arrival created

Saturday 17 June 2017
      The timing of this video was a little easier to stay awake for and I even managed to get out to the shops beforehand.
Permission given by the photographer @treesrch and Archives of Ontario
At the end of this video Danielle Manning from the Archives of Ontario announced that the 1935 marriage registrations & 1945 death registrations for Ontario will be available via Ancestry by the end of June or early July. Exciting! The main presentation was from highlights of the exhibition Family Ties to celebrate Canada's 150th birthday and Ontario's 150th birthday.

A1 – Family Ties: Exploring Genealogy through the Archives of Ontario’s Canada 150 Exhibit

BROWN family - George Brown was a leading voice in Ontario politics and involved in Confederation of Canada. At age 18 he left Scotland, (1840s) and in the 1850s was publisher of Globe newspaper now the Globe and Mail. He is known for being instrumental in constitutional reform, 'representation by population'.

A representation of social life of an upper middle class family living in Ontario. George m. Ann Nelson 1862 in Scotland. Children: Margaret (Maggie), Catherine (Oda), George Jr. (Ginney). Although married in Scotland, they made the conscious decision to have their family in Ontario. Ms. Manning's talk highlighted some of the letters between the members of the family. Maggie and Oda were among the first female graduates at the University of Toronto. Ginney eventually served as a member of the British House of Commons. George Sr. was murdered by a former employee of the Globe in 1880 and died aged 61.
- - - - - - - - -

McCURDY family -  Nasa McCurdy was a slave in the United States who emigrated from Ohio to Amherstburg Ontario in 1856 and was an 'agent' involved in the underground railroad. The McCurdy family attended the Nazarene African Episcopal Methodist Church which is located on the site of the Amherst Freedom Museum. Howard McCurdy, the 2nd black member of parliament and a Member of Canada, gave this tribute to his ancestor: "My family has had a history for more than 150 years of involvement in the human-rights movement. It dates back to at least when my great-great-grandfather (Nasa McCurdy) was an agent in the Underground Railroad." [to the Windsor Star 2012]
- - - - - - - - - -

WOLVERTON family - This family's story of involvement with the American Civil War connects major events to the confederation in Canada. Two brothers, Alonzo and Newton joined the war efforts of the Union Army at the ages of 20 and 15 respectively. Their sister, Rose Goble helped to keep the family connected by writing to her brothers and discussing world events, family events and news of the local community. Alonzo rejoined the Union Army after the war, being promoted to 2nd Lieutenant. Newton returned to Ontario where he joined the 22nd Oxford Rifles and was involved in the melee during the Fenian uprising. An interesting item on display in the exhibit is a hair wreath that is on loan from the Huron County Museum. Hair wreaths were a popular memento during this period.    Please see more about the hair wreath below re: Krista McCracken's blog. 
Note: in April 1861 the American Civil War broke out. Estimated that 40,000 men from British North American fought with the Union Army.
         Four went to the civil war by Lois E. Darroch
- - - - - - - - 

Families of SHINGWAUK - centers around the dream of Chief Shingwauk 'Shingwaukonse' of the Ojibway people who wanted to create a 'Teaching Wigwam'. This work was continued by two of his sons who worked with Rev. Francis Wilson in the 1860s to raise funds to build a school. Sadly the hope of inclusivity was over run by the Residential School system which followed. The school opened with 50 students who as children were forcefully separated from their families. The school was in operation in this manner until 1970. Today, the Shingwauk Residential School Centre continues to work in the community, raising and educating the people in the ways that Chief Shingwauk would have approved of. The archives of the Shingwauk RSC provides the artifacts for the exhibition. Their mandate is Sharing, Healing and Learning and are involved in facilitating reconciliation initiatives.
Note: Indian Act 1876 (Canada)
- - - - - - - - -
Krista McCracken has archived all the tweets about the opening of the exhibition 5th October 2016 on her blog.   There is a picture of the hair wreath towards the end.

- - - - - - - - -
The AGM was interesting - I thought it was especially important that the amount spent on electronically delivering the ballots was revealed, as this says volumes to how easily these events can add up! I especially caught notice of the Awards - these are definitely a great promotional tool for the OGS and more history students should take advantage of the experience!

A number of video / interviews were held at the OGS Conference by Grandma's Genes - the one I watched was WikiTree LiveCast - Live from the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference, Eh?  with Leanne Cooper, WikiTree Leader Annette Cormier, Ottawa Public Library Genealogist, Romaine Honey, Kirsty Gray from Surname Society in the UK. Gail Dever's blog post about the social media events. There are a number of reviews on John D. Reid's blog, Canada's Anglo-Celtic Connections, including a 'rough' transcription of Guy Berthiaume's talk. Keep your eyes peeled for other reviews.

This has been a taster of what the conference was like and is definitely proof that you can learn and participate by attending genealogy conferences virtually!  I know it would not be fair or economically viable to have the entire conference live streamed but perhaps someone will come up with the idea of a 'Go To Meeting' - especially for the separate sessions. Note to next year's organizers: I for one would be happy to pay (perhaps on pay as you go?) in order to benefit from all the 'greats' in the room! 
Be sure to stay tuned for the OGS Conference in Guelph Ontario 2018!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Diaries of Canadian colonial women

This post covers one of my favourite topics - 'life stories', also known as 'living histories' or 'life writing'  - interpreted loosely as 'an account of a person's life'.  A comment by Kiriaki Iossifidis on really struck a chord with me. She says her favourite heroines are the 'nameless, faceless, immigrant women' - it is these women who are overlooked.

Through these pages, women share their stories of what it was like to settle in a young Canada. There are many personal accounts and self published books of people's experiences settling on the prairie, and I ordered these through the libraries in southern Alberta on a recent visit. Not many are available online as their availability and print runs were small - so perhaps they could be considered limited editions? Take a gander at your local library catalogue, or order them through Inter Library Loan.

AB As Grandma Said by Mildred Honess   A 20 pound pail of cookies! Can you imagine preparing cookies, bread and 3 meals a day for 20 men? This took place once a year over 3 to 4 days, in order to fuel the threshing crews who helped to bring in the harvest on farms across the country. Mildred's grandmother, Annie Armstrong, widowed at 35, moved to Alberta with 4 children aged 10 to 17 from North Dakota in 1907. She bought land and started her homestead as well as a country school and post office in the community now known as Lomond.  The experiences that Mildred recounts in her recollections are similar vignettes on many farms across the Canadian prairie at the turn of the century. This book provides a homey conversational tone, includes facts and figures of how much goods (foods) cost as well as wages: her mother was one of the aforementioned cooks who earned $9.00 per day, the same as a man on the threshing crew. (However, many were farm wives doing the same work without pay.) In the introduction, she shares: 'Use it up, Make it do, Wear it out, Do without'. This 'memory book' gives an insider view of history as it was being lived. Library copy. Published in Canada. Ask your local librarian how to find a copy. 

AB Pioneering in Alberta by Jessie Browne Raber, published in 1951 in Canada. This 'life-story' gives a first hand account of emigrating to a farm in Alberta from England at the turn of the century. The first chapter reviews the decision to move from England to western Canada. It is poignant to hear that 'Dad didn't know anything about farming' and 'He was tired of keeping his nose in musty account books [...] 'he longed to be out in the fresh air'.  In the spring of 1895 the decision was made to leave Shrewsbury, England. An auction sale took place and 4 crates were packed with sensible items for a new homestead. The author gives a vivid account of the voyage and the happenings on board: a concert that their family took part in, the sailors pointing out whales and an iceberg and then finally the arrival in Quebec. A ship came alongside as they came up to the St. Lawrence River to take people from their ship to go to New York. She also mentions the Immigration Hall and the crowds of people. After their health inspection, they found a cab to take them to Montreal where they stayed the night, and then boarded their train to Calgary. The book continues with arriving at their new home and adjusting to the weather, the people and their new community.  Library copy. Ask your local librarian how to find a copy. 

AB No Ordinary Woman Mary Schaffer Warren, a Pennsylvania Quaker who arrived in Alberta in 1889. Her husband Charles Schaffer died in 1903 and she is well known to have acquired 'country' skills in traipsing around in the backcountry of Rocky Mountains of Banff and Jasper. A well-known historical figure in the area. This book is available at the British Library. Ask your local librarian how to find a copy. 

AB Lizzie Rummel: Baroness of the Canadian Rockies by Ruth Ottmann - a baroness who lost her home in Germany during WWI came to Alberta, Lizzie lived on a ranch near Millarville. In 1938, aged 41, she rode into Mount Assiniboine Lodge where she started work as a chambermaid,  eventually running the lodge and earning the Order of Canada recognizing her work as 'mountaineer par excellence'. A well-known historical figure in the area.  Library copy. Ask your local librarian how to find a copy. 

SK Wheat and Woman by Georgina Binnie-Clark, Published in Canada.  A journalist who contributed to the Imperial Colonist, the official publication of the British Woman's Emigration Association. Within parts of the book she mentions making her living at writing for various publishers. Originally from London, she mentions : '[...] living in the very near neighbourhood of Westminster Abbey [...]'.  As I read excerpts from Georgina's diary, I became aware that the farm she purchased in Saskatchewan was all in the form of an experiment. The first line in the book: "You gave me your word that if I bought the farm your son would take off the crop." p.4  It is a book of conversations and reflections of what it was like as a woman to farm a piece of land in 1905 with hired men who were not overly confident of her skills. Georgina was a strong woman and she remained on the farm for 2 1/2 years after which a devastating fire wiped out her crops and her profit. In the conclusion she does not mention returning to England, but does say that she requested a meeting with the Minister of the Interior, : '[...] concerning the claim of women to her fair share in the homestead lands of Canada [...] p.401.  Library copy. Also available at the British Library. Ask your local librarian how to find a copy. 

MB  How dear to My Heart by Carol B. Roberts - Published in Canada -memories about farm life on the Canadian prairie - feeding the men who were hired for harvesting; how she enjoyed walking through the fields with her mother -in all kinds of weather; memories of school days and finishing school at grade X; the church serving the community as a social building; one of the chapters - 'Things We Did Without'. Library copy. Ask your local librarian how to find a copy. 

ON   Seven Eggs Today: The Diaries of Mary Armstrong, 1859 and 1869 Published in Canada. Mary Armstrong was born in 1819 in Mansion House Chapel, Camberwell Surrey (United Kingdom). She moved with her family to 'Upper Canada' in 1834 when she was 15. (Limited view on Google Books) This book is available at the British Library. Ask your local librarian how to find a copy. 

Much to be done : private life in Ontario from Victorian diaries by Frances Hoffman and Ryan Taylor. Published in Canada.  A look back in time to women's lives on the farm in the 19th century, covering aspects of daily life; the chapters contain excerpts from the women's diaries and tells tales of hardships but also of triumphs. Some of the women were well-to-do who wrote in their diaries to share memories or relieve their homesickness. Other women, like Margaret Emma Griffith, wrote about working as a cook on the ship her husband was captain of. Belle Kittredge wrote about earning a living 'writing' letters on the type-writer. Another account tells of hired men who earned their keep by recording the marriages, births and deaths in families bibles as they had beautiful hand-writing. This book is available at the British Library. Ask your local librarian how to find a copy. 

Early Voices : Portraits of Canada by Women Writers, 1639-1914 by Mary Alice Downie, with Elizabeth Jane Errington edited by Barbara Robertson. Selected pages view on Google Books.

The Small Details of Life: Twenty Diaries by Women in Canada, 1830-1996 edited by Kathryn Carter. Published in Canada.
         The women : Kathryn CARTER, Sarah and Susan CREASE, Mary DULHANTY, Miriam Qreen ELLIS, Marian ENGEL, Mary Eidse FRIESEN, Elsie ROGSTAD JONES, Sarah Welch HILL, Dorothy COATE HERRIMAN, Amelia HOLDER, Phoebe McINNES, Dorothy DUNCAN MacLENNAN, Jessie and Susan NAGLE, Susan ABERCROMBIE NAGLE, Caroline Alice PORTER, Sophie Alice PUCKETTE, Constance KERR SISSONS, Mina WYLIE. Somewhat available on Google Books.

Discover more:

30 Outstanding Women Canada's Great Women - Canada’s History article - Jan.8.2016

Central Alberta Regional Museum Network
Aboriginal and Ethnic Minority Women

Early Canadiana Online - a library of full-text historical articles includes books and government documents. A basic search resulted in 684 results for women's history.

The United Farm Women of Alberta (UFWA) (1915-2000) was an auxiliary group to the United Farmers of Alberta (UFA). 

Heroines - A guide to women in Canadian history - although the date on the home page of this website is 2004-2017, some of the linked pages are only indicated as 2004 - however some interesting tidbits. The Biographies page is a general listing of famous and not so famous Canadian women. An example: Mrs. Kwon Lee was the first Chinese woman in Canada. Corroborating evidence is not provided to prove this statement however. This online resource is created by Merna Forster, historian and author.

Global -  books for sale  - this link provides search for 'diaries' - a good site for purchasing unique and difficult to find Canadian heritage titles that help in genealogy research. 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Finding Your Ancestors in Ontario

If you are looking for ancestors or relatives in Ontario, this province is a rich resource for genealogical research. This review of Ontario resources is based loosely on my own experiences of family history research in Simcoe County and Huron County. Although I am an experienced genealogy researcher, I do not profess to be an expert in Ontario research. Listed are numerous how to articles and standard resources for Ontario genealogy. Perhaps you will find a new favourite?

Your best success will come from blogs of genealogists who live in the area and are familiar with Ontario repositories. Contact these genealogists with first hand knowledge of Ontario records - please see below.

Brief History
One of the earliest settled provinces in Canada, present day Ontario was formed in 1791 and originally known as Upper Canada (southern Ontario). Another name you may come across is British North America or BNA. (Source: Wikipedia_Upper Canada) By 1841 it had become known as the province of Ontario. The capital of Canada, Ottawa (1858) located in Ontario, was known as Bytown (1841). Toronto, the capital city of Ontario, was known as York (1793). (Source: Canadian Encyclopedia) Placenames in Ontario were often named after places in England, family names or indigenous names.

© Penny Allen
Family History Research
Start your Ontario research with the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS), as they have fabulous resources, and as well, most county family history societies are branches of the OGS. TONI - The Ontario Name Index  is a great resource to search for your ancestor by name - it is an index, however, there are options for purchasing the information. (>3,000,000 records!) Remember to check the OGS journal - Families, as it has been a great help to me, significant articles on very specific family names or areas of interest.  Ontario Record Resources provided by the OGS is another page that provides links.   Sign up for the FREE OGS weekly E-newsletter for the latest news and insights into Ontario genealogy.

In first attempts searching for your ancestors in Ontario, it is important to identify the name of the town and also the county that the town is located in. The easiest way to do this is by using the County Locator tool provided by the OGS (Ontario Genealogical Society).

Another very good tool for early County research (1870s - 1880s) in Ontario is the online County Atlas provided by McGill University. These county atlases contain information about landowners and their property giving a very visual picture and sometimes a drawing of the landowner. Next a sensible course of action is to investigate whether the county archives or genealogical society have transcribed cemetery lists or obituaries.

BMDs or Vital Statistics Ontario - certificates usually only available to next of kin

Archives of Ontario     Ontario Archives on Twitter

Huron County
   Search the webpages of the Huron Branch of the OGS (Ontario Genealogical Society) Goderich, Ontario. There are many specialized online collections to be found in the county of Huron. A few to mention here:  Wingham Cemetery Database  |  Reuben Sallows (1855 - 1937)  photographer, Goderich Ontario  |  Huron County Library - Online Newspapers

Simcoe County
  Search the webpages of the Simcoe Branch of the OGS (Ontario Genealogical Society). As with research in many parts of Canada, there is quite a bit of information in archives at the county or provincial level.  The Simcoe County Archives have many specialist publications that may not be digitized and are only available in print at the archives. For example, a publication of the Auld Kirk Cemetery is available listing all the people of Scottish descent who are buried there. Please check out Wayne Cook's Simcoe County pages a little bit on the 'loud' side, but full of interesting resources.

Ontario E-Resources:

John D Reid (Thursday 7 April 2016 WDYTYA handout) - Finding English Emigrants to Canada and Their Descendants

Ontario resources on Dave Obee's CanGenealogy pages

Search tool for Archives in Ontario  |  Archives of Ontario Guide: Tracing Ancestors at the Archives of Ontario

Toronto Public Library Digital Collections - the city of Toronto and Home District directory of 1837

Early Ontario Records - Although a teeny bit old school web design, this is a website that I latched on to quite early in my genealogy research. I am so impressed with the amount of work that went into this site and all those links!

Print Resources

Ontario Genealogical Society Publications

The Beginner's Guide to Ontario Genealogy by Fraser Dunford Published by Ontario Genealogical Society  ISBN13: 9780777934128

Ontario Land Registry Office Records, A Guide by Fraser Dunford Published by Ontario Genealogical Society  ISBN13: 9780777934469

Important genealogical collections in Ontario libraries and archives : a directory by Ryan Taylor. Published by Ontario Genealogical Society  ISBN13: 9780777901854 

Here Be Dragons!: Navigating The Hazards Found In Canadian Family Research, A Guide For Genealogists With Some Uncommon Useful Knowledge by Althea Douglas Published by Ontario Genealogical Society ISBN13: 9780777901960

Genealogy in Ontario, Searching the Records, 30th Anniversary Edition By Brenda DougallMerriman, CGRS, CGL Published by Ontario Genealogical Society  ISBN13: 9781550343113

Toronto Ontario from the CN Tower
© Penny Allen 
Ontario Genealogists' Blogs

Candice McDonald - Finding Your Canadian Story

Gail Dever - Genealogy a la Carte

Jane E. MacNamara - Where the Story Takes Me

John D. Reid - Anglo-Celtic Connections

Olive Tree Genealogy - Lorine McGinnis Schulze

Researchers Located in Ontario 

Janice Nickerson -

Kathryn Lake Hogan

Lorine McGinnis Schulze  Olive Tree Genealogy

Melissa Ellis

Ruth Blair

Archives of Ontario Genealogical Researchers

Although this may seem a teeny bit of information overload, it is a partial list of resources (too many to list here!) & more waiting to be discovered through family history society, archive and library webpages. Please do have a thorough look through all of the links. Ancestry, Family Search and the Ontario Genealogy Society are also hard at work providing more and more Ontario resources online. It is worthwhile staying up to date with the current research and records by following one or two Ontario genealogy blogs that I have mentioned above. Have fun!

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Northern Alberta History and Genealogy

Two significant Eastern European cultures to settle in Northern Alberta are communities of Mennonites and Ukrainians. Areas they may have settled include: Athabasca, Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie, Peace River and Vermillion. (PS: they certainly settled in other areas of  the prairies and Canada, but this article focuses primarily on Alberta and Northern Alberta resources) The Métis also have a strong community in Northern Alberta.

The Mennonite Historical Society is located in Calgary, Alberta. Their links page provides access to various provincial Mennonite societies and has a very easy to use database of obituaries. A link to Doukhobor genealogy is also available. Mennonite Archival Image Database - MAID - over 80,000 photographs. Manitoba also has a very rich Mennonite heritage  - History of Mennonites in Canada (Canadian Encyclopedia).

Ukrainians - a comprehensive pdf provided by the Provincial Archives of Alberta describes the Ukrainian items in their resources. This guide was prepared in 2011 in celebration of the 120th Anniversary of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada and was written in large part by Andriy Chernevych which definitely gives it credence. John Pihach, long known as a knowledgeable Ukrainian genealogist from Saskatchewan, gives great tips about this unique topic in his book: Ukrainian Genealogy: a beginner's guide. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies provide background into the history of Ukrainians in Canada. 

Another resource that may help identify your Mennonite or Ukrainian ancestor are the 1915-1951 Naturalization Records provided by Library and Archives Canada. This set of records is taken from the annual reports of the Secretary of State, and the Canada Gazette. Information includes: person's name (can also include spouse and children's names), country of origin, residence in Canada and occupation.

St. Albert Alberta is a prominent area for Métis Heritage. Métis people can be described as the result of 'relations' between Europeans and aboriginal peoples. The Canadian Encyclopedia provides resources and a definition of Metis heritage. Genealogy resources can be found in the Edmonton area at the Métis Registry and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. As well, Library and Archives Canada has information in their collection about Métis research. Dave Obee has a list of links for Métis research. The Métis Resource Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba is also worth investigating.

TIP! The Grande Prairie Genealogical Society (branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society) have a Cemetery and Obituary Index, and an online newsletter. Their 'most loved' articles are intriguing!
'Raft Baby of the Peace River';   'Granddad Brady and the Old Yellow High Chair';   'Finding the Elusive Charles Spencer';   'A Baker's Dozen of Tips: Finding Your Ancestor's Birthplace'
 -  The Grande Prairie Genealogical Society are a very active and award winning group with lots of enthusiasm and desire to help.

TIP No.2! Remember to include the Provincial Archives of Alberta and the Edmonton Public Library for Ukrainian, Mennonite and Métis genealogy research.

In previous articles, I promised to report on 'Links to the Past', a series written by Kevin Ma, a reporter with the St. Albert Gazette, in St. Albert, Alberta. According to his original statement: '[...] will 'examine one element of St. Albert that's 150 years old until July 2017', there are 3 more articles due to be written on the history of St. Albert. I hope you will find some interesting points in his articles to round out your family history research.

Apr. 26  The bear at the heart of St. Albert - this article describes the historic Bruin Inn and it's predecessor, the St. Albert Hotel built in 1886. It also describes the downtown heart of the community. Some of the businessmen mentioned: Narcisse BEAUDRY, Henry McKENNEY, Peter McKAY, Stan HAUPTMAN and Ben STARKMAN

Mar. 29  A Cure for What Ails You describes how diseases such as smallpox and polio ravaged the people of St. Albert, and the health systems that eventually developed. The early caregivers were Métis and aboriginal as well as the Grey Nuns from Quebec.

My other posts of Kevin's articles: July to November 2016  and December to February 2017  If you have ideas for other articles, please email Kevin Ma at the Gazette.

Check out the St. Albert Gazette newspapers on Peel's Prairie Provinces for notices of obituaries and the day to day happenings in this city.

As always, lots of hidden treasures, just add a bit of perseverance and persistence!
Good Luck with your research! 

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Archives and Libraries at your fingertips

Investigate these North American and European repositories for genealogy resources. Guaranteed to enhance and improve planning for your research trips.

U.S.& Canada | Archive Grid | WorldCat

Archive Grid (started ca.1990s) - according to Archive Grid's website, they tested the product with feedback from academic users and genealogists. '[...] continued to make system design improvements based on their needs'. Useful for U.S. searches, however only the major archives in provinces across Canada are represented.

WorldCat (provided by OCLC) is a worldwide database of library catalogues. Very useful for international research, but content provided only if library subscribes to OCLC and uploads their bibliographic (catalogue record) details. Most large public libraries, university libraries and specialist libraries are represented.

U.S. National Library: Library of Congress   U.S. National Archives   Canada : Library and Archives Canada

- - - -  Archival Societies are another option to search for small archives in your area.

U.S.:  Society of American Archivists     Associated Organizations & Associations

Canada:   The Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA)  Archivaria (journal)   ACA Bulletin (Blog)
ACA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube

Library and Archives Canada - search Canadian Archives collections

- - - -   EXamples: Glenbow Archives - Lethbridge, Alberta : Interviews of Pioneers conducted in the 1970s   |    Saskatchewan Archives - Canadian Prairie Pioneer Questionnaires

U.K. |  Archives Hub |  COPAC  |  SUNCAT

These three portals are very specific to UK resources.

Use Archives Hub to find sources from over 300 archives across the UK.
Archives Hub Blog    Website FAQ   Twitter @archiveshub
     Search for only Digital content: 8,250 results found.
     Search for Canada in digital content - 2,384 results found - only 59 were marked as digital

COPAC is an affiliated site, which allows researchers to locate where a specific book can be found in a library around the UK. SUNCAT is a periodical or journals search engine, also provided by libraries from across the UK. Both are sponsored by JISC.

National Archives UK - Discovery: Find an Archive 

Archives Record Association (ARA) - lists archives in the UK that are members of the ARA

- - - -  EXamples: Maritime Libraries in the UK - index   |    SOGNet - a very special database

Archives Portal Europe - APEF  (began ca. 2012)   Article discussing the structure and purpose of APEF:


"European aggregator for archivesThe portal will help visitors not only to dig deeper into their own fields of interest, but also to discover new sources by giving an overview of the jigsaw puzzle of archival holdings across Europe in all their diversity."

The current Foundation partners are:
  • Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.  
  • All of these countries are members of the ‘Assembly of Associates
  • Negotiations are proceeding with Bulgaria, Greece, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.
Show your support for museums, libraries and archives! Chock full of hidden treasures! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

British Columbia Ancestry Chat

Need help researching ancestors in .... ?
 Victoria, Vancouver, Lower Mainland, Kelowna, the Okanagan, 
Prince George, Prince Rupert, Quesnel, Nelson, Cranbrook,
 the Kootenays . . . [et al.]

Be sure to join Diane and myself on Thursdays 7pm BST and 11am PST from the 18th May

She recently tweeted: "New chat - Thursday this week (May 18) on in British Columbia, Canada. Tweet your questions to me anytime using "

Diane is an active member of the BC Genealogical Society - her website gives great tips for researching in this 'Beautiful BC' province.

B.C. Genealogical Society Conference 
June 9 - 11 2017
various venues, Lower Mainland, B.C.

Other BC genealogy resources: 

BC Vital Statistics - BMDs - Index Search

@AndreaEidinger - awesome historical and genealogy resources -  university prof and very active on Twitter!

@bcgs_ca  BC Genealogical Society

@RoyalBCMuseum Royal BC Museum

@UBC_History   UBC History - University of British Columbia

CanGenealogy - British Columbia  provided by Dave Obee

Genealogy Resources for British Columbians (2014) British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Pioneers of Isabella and Blaris, towns in Manitoba

This brief overview of a small community in Manitoba is provided by the digital collections of community books on Their page provides links to many history books of numerous rural communities such as: Birtle, Emerson, Gimli, Holland, LaRiviere and Pilot Mound. Manitoba Digital Resources on Manitoba's History was funded by Canadian Culture Online, Department of Canadian Heritage of the Government of Canada. Original concept in 2005.

Manitoba field of sunflowers
© Penny Allen
Rural Reflections Vol.2 : Isabella and Blaris Communities in Manitoba (centenary)

Ebook of Rural Reflections  - produced by the Isabella History Committee (1879-1982). The town of Isabella Manitoba was named after Isabella Gould Taylor, a Scottish woman who came to the area to join her family.

Family History Name Index was transcribed from Rural Reflections by Donna Campbell. Her great grandfather, Francis Augustus Campbell, was born in 1857 at Campbell's Cross, Ontario and came west in 1882.

On page 5 a picture captioned: 'Fifty Year Jubilee Picnic Blaris Manitoba 1885 - 1935' depicts the following families ( 'x' indicates number of family members in the photo):
Astle (1), Bell (7), Brown (1), Campbell (10), Clark (4), Cowling (1), Craig (2), Ellis (1), Fredborg (1), Grey (2), Gurr (1), Harrison (8), Hill (8), Hudson (1), Hunter (1), Irving (1), Iverach (2), Miller (4), Mitchell (1), Palmer (5), Reid (2), Robinson (1), Stevenson (3), Stewart (2), Sunley (7), Sutherland (2), Torrance (5)
Travelling from Ontario to Manitoba circa 1880
On page 13, Mrs. Iverach's account of 'Our Pioneer Days' - gives a very vivid description of travelling from their home in Toronto (1880) to Emerson, Manitoba (border) via Chicago and St. Paul, by train and 'team', including arrival in Winnipeg and then onwards to Blaris. (Emerson was recently highlighted with news of the refugee crisis of February 2017.) There are many other depictions of travel in this book from the eastern counties of Ontario to the 'west' some of which reveal how single men struggled to find boarding and jobs. A worthwhile read to understand the conditions that beset emigrants of every nationality.

Accounts of English born settlers. 
[Note: Sec.= Section; Twp.=Township; R.=Range.]

Harry Guy DOWELL came from England many years ago and homesteaded the E. Y2 of Sec.18-Twp.14-R.25. Some of his housekeepers had children who attended Blaris. He had a [land] sale and Joe JOHNSTON rented the farm for three years. Then Gordon LeLOND came home from overseas [assume this was a mention of the Great War 1914-1918] and bought the farm. Mr. and Mrs. DOWELL went to Brandon to live. William MILLER then took up ownership.

Josiah D. HARRISON's grandfather, Thomas HARRISON, came from Wiltshire County in England in 1819 with his wife and family.

Wm. J. HILL came from England to Manitoba in 1879 when he was 19. He worked at railway construction and other jobs for a few years and then took for a homestead the S.E. Y4 of Sec.28-Twp.14-R.25.

A letter from Mr. ST.GEORGE received (about 1967) by the committee compiling the history book which provides recollections of his early days in the community. Mr. P.I. ST.GEORGE's address is noted as "Woodsgift", Woodlea Way, Ampfield, Nr. Romsey, Hampshire, England.
He had come to Canada, and accepted a position with the Northern Crown Bank of Canada, at Isabella.  "As a small boy I had lived in India (my father being a soldier and stationed there). After leaving Isabella, I came back to England to take part in the 1914 war, which I was fortunate to survive, except for being blown up and shell shocked. However I am still alive at 77 years and went through the last war with the rank of Major in the Intelligence Corps."
Single young Englishman finds farm work:
Robert Bruce WALLACE came from England as a young man. He worked on farms. In the days when threshing was done from the stacks, it was often completed after freeze-up. He would work on threshing gangs often as a busheler. He took a homestead on Section 28 north of Isabella.

Manitoba Historical Society - Historic sites of Manitoba: Isabella Museum (RM of Miniota)

Bernice Still keeps tiny towns homes alive - an article in the Winnipeg Free Press (2012) about Bernice Still who grew up in the town of Isabella. With the help of local women, she has created a representation of the buildings to scale.

This collection of history books will give you great insight into the lives of people who pioneered in rural Manitoba during the turn of the century.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Finding Your Ancestor in Canadian Directories

My definition of directories: a compendium of knowledge about the residents of a town, county or city, their lives and day to day events. What makes a community tick? Who lived there (names of residents)? What were their occupations? Answers to these questions are often found in historical directories.

This article is a modest (not definitive) attempt at finding and providing information about online historical directories, almanacs and telephone books.

Example of a Canadian directory
Library & Archives Canada
Print telephone books are a rarity nowadays, although I remember quite a number of years ago the Calgary Public Library had many shelves of phone books which included books from European countries. The librarians were quite happy to do look ups and recently, I contacted the Vancouver Public Library with a very specific look up question in their phone book collection to which I received an answer very quickly!

Nowadays many family history societies and public libraries have reduced their collections of print copies of local directories. Because of space restrictions, partnering with a company or repository to scan these books preserves the print copies. As a result, the library may provide a mix of online and print copies. Tip: Contact your local library!

Please Note! A compendium of online Henderson's (Canadian) directories (similar to the U.K.'s Kelly's directories) can be found on Genealogy à la carte. A comment on Gail's site by M. Diane Rogers in B.C. notes that Miriam Robbins' website, one of Family Tree Magazine Best Websites for 2016, provides links to Canadian directories that helps fill the gaps of directories that are held by public libraries or in archive collections. Another comment on Gail's page pointed to a resource for Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario 1901-1950  Please see below for other suggestions for resources for directories.

Although listed on Gail's Genealogy à la carte page, I found this notice of an Alberta digitization project in a round about way via the Alberta Family History Society. This digitization of Alberta phone books (AGT - Alberta Government Telephones) is a project undertaken by the Medicine Hat and District Genealogical Society (MHDS). The MHDS were the recipients of Alberta telephone books given by the Medicine Hat Telus (successors of AGT) Community Ambassadors with the caveat that the books were scanned and stored for longevity.

They are listed by publication, with a separate link to a corresponding letter of the alphabet. They are a bit cumbersome to search, as I'm sure it was just as cumbersome to organize the digitization of these volumes! Each section is compiled into a very large pdf file which takes ages to load. As always, please respect the copyright restrictions -this work is only for research purposes, and not to be copied or published in any way.

Calgary City 1903-1949 ➤ Calgary Rurals 1922 to 1932 ➤ Calgary Yellow Pages (Pink) 1920-1949 ➤ Edmonton City 1909 Jan. and May; 1910 Jan. and Oct. 1911 Dec; 1925 All ➤Edmonton District Towns and Villages: 1925 ; (not digitized) 1926-1930 ➤Alberta South & Central 1908-1949 ➤ Lethbridge and District 1907 to 1955 ➤ Medicine Hat and District 1907 to 1959 ➤ Peace River District July 1923-1932; 1934-1952;  (not digitized) 1954-1958

Within each 'telephone book' they are first organized by the name of the place, then alphabetically by persons name. You will need to know the name of the place, at the very least the name of the area and then do a manual Ctrl + F (Find) to find your family name. Or skim for the family name. I downloaded Alberta South & Central 1947 Mar M to Z and there are no addresses, only names and telephone numbers.

Peel's Prairie Provinces provided by the University of Alberta, has digitized a lot of directories and Dave Obee provides links to Alberta issues in chronological order from the late 1890s to 1950s.

Other directories such as the Polk and Grodlund's are available at some public libraries in the province of Alberta.

British Columbia City Directories 1860-1955 - provided by the Vancouver Public Library, organized by year, then by cities, by outlying communities. Also searchable by initial, then by name.  The home page provides links to years along the left column, and there are helpful instructions on the main page. Each listing also provides a description of each volume. This digital collection is not hard to search, a bit old-fashioned, but very

The Vancouver City Directory for 1915 - Government Listings, Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver communities, also contains Chinese and Japanese firms.

Manitoba Genealogical Society -  Print copies of Henderson Directories – Manitoba addresses and residents from 1876 to 1908, Winnipeg addresses and residents from 1908 to end of publication in 1999. Please contact for more information. 

Winnipeg and incorporated towns of Manitoba coverage varies, starts 1880 to 1970s

Brandon 1906-1960 - often these smaller city directories contain outlying town and hamlet listings, such as Souris and Carroll.

Manitoba and Northwest Territories 1878-1905 (The Northwest Territories included the western provinces in the late 1800s- does not refer to the northern province NWT as it is now known)

'Let Your Fingers Do the Walking' - a very good guide to Using City, Provincial, Telephone and Business Directories. Directories from Nova Scotia Archives holdings. Most of the directories they mention are not available online. From this page: "The most complete run of telephone directories for Nova Scotia (1888-1999; predominantly 1911-1999) can be found at the Dalhousie University Archives in the Killam Library, University Avenue".

Landing page for Directories at the NS Archives.

Ontario directories including Hamilton can be searched by name once you download the pdf file from Library and Archives Canada

Toronto City Directories via Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society

Did you know that the Genealogy Centre - Allen County Public Library has 288 results for Ontario Directories? However, most of these are in print.

Hutchinson's 1864 Prince Edward Island Directory - an index, provided in table format and transcribed by Donna Collings.

A list of PEI directories from the Island Register, PEI Genealogical Society and their location - mostly print issues - webpage last updated 2003

This guide mentions that the directories are on microfilm and can be accessed onsite in the archives.

Regina Public Library have sent their print Henderson's directories to the University of Alberta to be scanned. Please use their online contact form for more information. It will be a number of months before they are available on the web.

The Family Search wiki for Canadian Directories provides a good overview of where directories are held, and gives a brief bibliography of guides to directories.

A selection of directories are freely available on  For example, this website provides the entire edition of The Canadian Almanac and Directory 1889 in an 'e-book' format.  Directories may contain family names, business names and trades or occupations.

Nowadays people turn to the internet to try to find someone in the 'white pages'. To find people who currently live in Canada, the U.S. and the are a few helpful websites:

Canada: Canada 411 | the United States: (a helpful university library guide to U.S. directories ) | and the U.K.: 

For easier internet searching use these alternate terms for Canadian directories: telephone books, white pages, yellow pages, almanacs, Henderson Directories - - & remember to add the year you are researching.

Of course, this just a quick (albeit lengthy) look at some of the directories available, so if you find any others please do share with the rest of the genealogy community!

Upcoming articles:  Finding your Ancestors in CanadaFinding your Military Ancestors in Canada ,   Finding Your Ancestors in Ontario

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

WDYTYA 2017 Reviews and Handouts

Family History Hound - aka Ellen Thompson-Jennings @familyhisthound 

Reviews of the event: 

Carole Steers - 
The Surname Society (NextGen Genealogist) @LazyLoverU   WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? LIVE 2017; MY REVIEW

Dick Eastman's review of WDYTYA 2017 - I have met Mr. Eastman, a few times, perhaps again next year ...

Daniel - specializes in Spanish genealogy - @DSRGenealogist    Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2017

Erin Tilley - a French Australian amateur genealogist - @rinnywee  How to get kids into genealogy

Janet Braund Few, @JanetFew viz-a-viz Mistress Agnes of the 17th Century - WDYTYA Days 2 and 3

Jane Roberts - Yorkshire based lass - @JaneEIRoberts "Who Do You Think You Are? Live" 2017 - A Very Different Show Experience

Kirsty Gray - very bubbly CEO of Family Wise -  @thekirstygray gives her take of the show WDYTYA-2017

Penny's experience as an exhibitor - @pennysresearch - Day 3 Who Do You Think You Are 

Steve Atcherley - Atcherley One Name Study -  @AtcherleyONS Who Do You Think You Are Live 2017


The British Association for Local History @BALHNews have uploaded the handouts from their talks at the show
           Includes: Dr. Jane Howells - 'Townies' [...]; Dr. Ruth Paley - A Bastard in the Tree? [...] ; Dr. Gill Draper Going Back in Time [...] ; Paul A. Carter - Publishing your research on the web [...]

Handouts from the Who Do You Think You Are 2017 talks are available via the Society of Genealogists Education page. The same page holds links to presentations from the 2016 and 2015 events and from two Who Do You Think You Are events in 2014, one in Olympia London and one in Glasgow.