Friday, 20 October 2017

Prince Edward Island Ancestors: Island Newspapers

If you have been researching Prince Edward Island ancestors for a while, then you probably know about this site. But for those just starting out, you should bookmark Island Newspapers. The site is a partnership between the University of Prince Edward Island Robertson Library, the Guardian Newspaper, Island Archives, and Islandora.


On the home screen you can see that first there's a link to purchase 125 Years Through Our Eyes, a publication by the Guardian newspaper. Clinking on the image brought me to the dreaded 404 Not Found screen.

Next is the This Day in History link. here they feature a past issue of a newspaper. Today's issue is the 20 October 1917 issue of The Charlottetown Guardian. You will be able to see each individual page of the issue. Clicking on a particular page will take you to a new screen where you can zoom in and out. You also have the option of saving your zoomed in image by right clicking with the mouse. Most of the front page in this particular issue deals with war news of course, but there are some local news as well:

Next link is the Directory of Island Newspapers. Here you can access individual newspaper histories. I clicked on the Advertiser, and found out that it ran from 1946 to 1854. It was published by John T. Pippy, and was the amalgamation of the Semi-Weekly Advertiser and the Morning News. It was published semi weekly.

The rest of the home page right now is a feature on electoral coverage from 1900-1962. It shows the issues of the Guardian published the day after the general election. The banners above the top of each issue showing the year is either red for a Liberal win that election, or blue for a Conservative win. The front page is showing, but click on that issue, and you'll have the ability to look at each individual page of that particular issue.


Here you can browse individual newspapers. They are listed according to publication start year. In all there are 10 newspapers available for browsing. Some are actually two newspapers grouped together:

  • Royal Gazette (1830- )
  • British American (1832-1833)
  • Colonial Herald and Price Edward Island Advertiser (1837-1844)
  • Morning News and Semi Weekly Advertiser (1843-1846)
  • Haszard's Gazette (1851-1851)
  • Charlottetown Herald (1864-1923)
  • Summerside Journal  (1865-1951)
  • Guardian (1890- )
  • Cadre (1969-1977)
  • Gem (1983-1990)


Here you can search all available newspapers for specific terms. I typed "Aylward", which is surname in my family tree. Now my Aylwards left PEI in the early 1800's, so I did not expect to get anything actually relevant to my own research. I got 1,379 hits. On the left side of the results screen, I had the ability to narrow my results down. You can narrow by century, decade, year, month, date issued, and finally by page number. clicking on an individual result will let you zoom in and out and highlights your search term on the page. 


This handy feature shows the start dates on individual newspapers. A handy tool if you want to see which newspapers were around in a specific time period.


This is the same page that you are able to access from the link on the home page. The directory lists all newspapers. There are about 100 newspapers listed. If the newspaper is one of the ones digitized, there will be links to take you to it. If it is not digitized on the site, try contacting the Robertson Library or the Public Archives and Record Office to see if they are available on microfilm. Contact information for the Robertson Library is at the end of the post.


Because this site is a work in progress, they do not have anything to view in this tab.

Partners Tab

Another blank section.

User Guide

A blank page, like the above two tabs.


This will take you to section to provide feedback and donate to the project. If you have copies of old newspapers they would love to be able to digitize them. You can also provide a monentary donation.

If you would like to contact the Robertson Library of the University of Prince Edward Island, here is the contact information:

Robertson Library
University of Prince Edward Island
550 University Avenue
Charlottetown, PE
C1A 4P3

Specific phone numbers and email addresses are listed here.

Library hours change throughout the year. You can see the hours here.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Newfoundland and Labrador Ancestors: The Maritime History Archive Part 2

In Part 1, we looking at the catalog of the Maritime History Archive's holdings. In Part 2 we're looking at what else they have to offer.

Research Services

Staff can be hired to do research and provide scans of documents for a fee. Considering all they have in their holdings, the fees are not unreasonable. Research is done for $40/hour Canadian dollars, with a minimum charge of one hour's research time. Scans are an extra fee, the cost depending on what you are requesting. If you choose to go the snail mail route, there is a shipping charge. Depending on the size of the file, charges range from $2-$5 for shipping within Canada. Contact the Archive for shipping outside of Canada. Also note that a 15% HST tax is on top of the stated fees. A detailed breakdown of fees and how to make payment is on their website here. The page was last updated February 2017, so there should be no surprises.


The Archive has a few publications available for sale:

2018 Heritage Calendar:

Using images from the Archives, the calendar is $20.00 if you're local, or $25.75 if they're shipping it to you. Taxes are included.

Births, Deaths & Marriages in Newfoundland Newspapers 1810-1890:

This can be purchased as either a downloadable database, or as a CD. Cost for either is $57.44 with tax. Please note that neither is compatible with Mac operating systems.

Ships and Seafarers of Atlantic Canada:

This is also a downloadable database that can be purchased as a CD. It is actually three databases. There's one of Certificates of Registry for ships from major ports in Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI. It covers years from 1787-1936.

The second database contains crew agreements from St. John (NB), Yarmouth (NS), Windsor (NS), and Halifax (NS). Years covered are 1863-1914. The database has information on over 200,000 names.

The third database contains crew agreements from non Canadian vessels, and contains over 100,000 names. They state that this database is a sampling, and by no means a complete database.

Cost is $57.44 taxes included. This product is also not compatible with Mac systems.

Canadian Fisherman

This is a set of 9 reels of microfilm. The Canadian Fisherman was a monthly journal that dealt with the commercial fishing industry. You'll not only find articles on the Atlantic Canada fishing industry, but also the Pacific, the Great Lakes, and the Prairies. It ran from 1914-1970. Cost is $290. It does not say but I would assume taxes are extra, since they do not specifically say taxes are included.

To see more details of the publications and place an order, look here.

Virtual Exhibits

This section can give you an insight into everyday life of Newfoundland and Labrador. There's exhibits on the ferries (called the Alphabet Fleet), Coastal Women, and the Titanic. You'll also find links to some of the collections we discussed in Part 1. They also provide links to virtual exhibits on other sites. Among the more than 20 exhibits I found:

  • 6 different collections of digitized diaries
  • Photographs from the Grenfell Mission hospital
  • The Twillingate Sun, a newspaper that ran from 1880-1953
  • The Mercantile Navy List and Maritime Directory. Digitized are various years from 1868 to 1938
  • An exhibit detailing the sinking of the USS Pollox and the USS Truxtun in 1942

NL Heritage Web Site

This will take you to the Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage website. Here you can browse articles relating to the history of the province. You can also access photos, sound recordings and videos. The sub categories on the main page include Aboriginal Peoples, the First World War, and Government, among others. As of writing this, their featured article right now is on the 1892 fire of St. John's. While there, check out the other resources on the main navigation bar. 

Photo Catalogue

Here you can search their photograph collection. A handy tool when you're looking for something specific. I typed in "Grenfell Mission" and got 426 photos. 

Crew Agreements

This is the gem of their collections. From this link you can access three different databases.

1881 Crew Lists Database

The database has names of over 300,000 seamen from British registered vessels. You can search in any of four ways: Last Name, First Name, Vessel Name, or Official Number. I typed "Greening" in the last name field and got four hits. Each hit took me to a digitized image of the crew lists. This is a work in progress, so if your ancestor is not showing up, then keep checking. As, well search with variations on the last name. My 2x great grandfather, Dougald McArthur, was a ship's steward from Glasgow. I tried both MCARTHUR and MACARTHUR, and got different results each time. Also try searching with an initial as opposed to a complete first name. You'll get more possible hits that way.

Newfoundland and Labrador Crew Lists Database

Set up the same way as the 1881 database, this one deals with only crew lists from Newfoundland and Labrador. Along with search terms above, you can also search by Voyage Year. There are lists from 1863-1942. The initial project is complete, but as they come across more of the documents, they will add to the database. 

Merchant Seamen - Commissioned Fleet Auxiliary, 1914-1920

This database deals solely with the crew agreements of the Sunhill. You can search by either Last Name or First Name. As with the other databases, your results page will include links to the digitized image. This one is also a work in progress, so keep checking back if you don't find anything at first.

Contact information for the Maritime History Archive is:

Maritime History Archive
Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John's NL
A1C 5S7


If you want to visit the Archive in person:

230 Elizabeth Avenue
St. John's NL
Henrietta Harvey (Mathematics) Building

Hours are Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The contact page was last updated in July of 2017. The first rule of visiting an archive is to always call to confirm hours though. I broke this rule last spring when I tried to visit an Museum/Archive in Alberta. We drove 3 hours only to find out that they were closed that day because they were changing their exhibits in the Museum. It was a nice drive, but not how I would have picked to spend the day!

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Newfoundland and Labrador Ancestors: The Maritime History Archive Part 1

Researching family history in Newfoundland presents unique challenges. Though European colonization of "The Rock" goes back farther than even Quebec City, Newfoundland did not become a province of Canada until 1949. For a complete history and overview of the province, you can check out the Canadian Encyclopedia's entry on Newfoundland and Labrador here. Because they are a comparatively recent addition to Canada the normal avenues of Canadian research don't apply to Newfoundland. You have to be a little more creative in your research.

The province has always had strong ties to Maritime industries. One great resource for searching for your ancestor is the Maritime History Archive. As part of the Memorial University campus in St. John's, their mandate is to preserve the maritime history of not only Newfoundland and Labrador, but the north Atlantic as a whole.

This site has a wealth of information. You can spend a lot of time just on the site itself, and only a tiny part of what they have is online. I'm actually diving this post into two parts, because there's so much to look at. Click on the Holdings and Collections tab and prepare to lose yourself in the collections. I don't have Newfoundland ancestors but I'm wishing I did after looking at what they have.

Business Collections

This shows you the fonds from over 60 businesses. There are mercantile companies, shipping companies, as well as ones involved in ship building. Clicking on a company name gives you a description of what's available, ownership, copyright, as well as a history of the company. In some cases you can even find biographies of the families involved. Among the individual collections you'll find ledgers, payroll, diaries and journals. I also found in some collections wills and correspondence.

William Button Diaries

William Button was the son of Moses Button. M. Button and Sons started out as a general store. Through the years they diversified to include a lobster canning factory, a cod liver oil factory, ownership of wharves, and saw mills. The diaries of William Button include the years 1908, 1911-1913, and 1918-1925. Clicking on a year will give you a transcription of the diary. Though it mostly deals with the running of their businesses, you will find mention of the local community as well. For example, on 15 March 1922 he wrote how Dr. Templeton visited him. The doctor had earlier treated Wesley Goodwin's wife and child, who had fallen down some stairs.

Haystack Photographic Collection

Here you can find a history of the community of Haystack. As well, there are over 200 photos showing the people and culture of the area. The photos range from the 1920's to the 1960's. Photographs of people are captioned with names when known. I saw last names of Gilbert, Allen, and Halfyard, just to name a few.

Job Photograph Collection

The Job Family business empire lasted for 300 years, under various business names. Their photograph collection offers an insight into maritime life through the years. the photos are grouped under the headings of Property, Fishing, Events, Local Scenes, and Recreation. Clicking on the Larger Image link under each picture will give you a description and year.

Keith Matthews Collection

Dr. Keith Matthews amassed an extensive collection on the early surnames of the province. The files involve over 7,000 different surnames from 1500-1850. By clicking on the "Name Files" link, you can check if your surname of interest has a file. I looked up the surname of a friend with Newfoundland heritage (GREENING), and found that it is file G217. Using this I can order a PDF scan of the file sent me by email. Cost is .25 per page. They will only send you the complete file, not just certain pages. Among the pages, you will find Dr. Matthews' notes on the surnames. Among the sources he collected are religious records and court records.

Among the collection are also three other groups of documents. There's a collection of early Newfoundland history from British sources, and one on Newfoundland fisheries. The third deals with his research for his doctoral thesis.


Here you can use the search function to look for manuscripts relating to a specific topic you're interested in.

Maps, Plans and Hydrographic Charts

No link here to anything more specific, but it does state that their collection is "mostly relating to areas around Newfoundland and Labrador".

Newspapers and Periodicals

Here they list the over 50 titles in their collection. There are originals and microfilm copies. What's interesting about this collection is that the newspapers and broadsheets are not just from Newfoundland and Labrador. You'll find them from all over England, from Ireland, and from New York. There's even a French language one from Jersey.

Phillip Templeton Ltd. Diary 1914

Here you'll find a transcription of the 1914 diary of Phillip Templeton Ltd. What's unique about this diary is that it is a company diary, as opposed to a personal one. Entries were made by several staff. Though it mainly relates to company matters, you will also find items about the local area of Catalina. It has mentions of World War I and the S.S. Newfoundland sealing disaster. You'll also find mention of the sinking of the Empress of Ireland. You can find my own blog post about the sinking here.

Photograph Collections

This section allows you to search for photographs by keyword. I put in "catalina" and got 19 photographs of scenery and boats from the area.

Researching Genealogy and Family History

This section gives you a listing of different collections to help with your genealogy research. Clicking on a record set gives you details and access of that particular set. There's family histories, and collections on indexes for vital statistics. You can find English and Irish parish records, and census records. There's also Captain's registers and crew agreements.

Resettlement Photo Collection

From the 1950's to 1970's, the Provincial government sponsored a resettlement of over 200 isolated communities. The controversial plan affected around 50,000 people. The government would financially help families to relocate to more accessible areas. The kicker was that everyone in a community had to agree before any money would be paid. As you can imagine, this caused some friction. Later, the stipulation was that 90% of the community had to agree. This section gives an overview of the "Resettlement", as it became known as. There are documents (both images and transcriptions) relating to it. You can also look at individual communities affected. Here you'll get a history of the community, and photos. People are named, so you might even find a picture of your family in there.

Shipping Records

Here are links to the different collections in their holdings. Among the overview of each collection set, you'll also get links to other helpful websites, and how go about ordering records. The record sets are:

  • Crew Lists and Log Books
  • Vessel Registers
  • Shipping Lists
  • Ships Captains
  • Voyages
  • Shipwrecks
  • Atlantic Canada Shipping Project
  • More Than a List of Crew

Student Research Papers

Here they describe their collection of student papers relating to the history, geography, and anthropology of Newfoundland and Labrador. There are thousands of papers, written between 1969 and 1986.

Young Men and the Sea Database Collection 

This section details the information used for the book Young Men and the Sea: Yankee seafarers in the Age of Sail. The three databases are Voyages, Salem Tax Lists, and Salem Tax Valuation Lists.

In Part 2 we'll look at what else is available on the website, including virtual exhibits, research services, and publications. 

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Saskatchewan Ancestors: Saskatchewan Historic Newspapers Online

Newspapers are one of the more entertaining avenues of research. The obvious reason for using them is to find birth, marriage, and death notices. You can learn so much more from them though. If your ancestor did something newsworthy (good or bad) you can find them among the pages that we seem to forget about in our rush to the announcements section. Newspapers can also be useful in giving you a feel for the times your ancestor lived in.

One of the problems with researching Canadian ancestors as opposed to other countries is that there isn't one main repository for Canadian newspapers. There's no Chronicling America or British Newspaper Archive. Perhaps Library and Archives Canada could look into this someday. Until that happens though, you're going to have to look more locally to find newspapers online.

If you have Saskatchewan ancestors, then you should add to your browser's bookmarks Saskatchewan Historic Newspapers Online (SHNO). This collaboration between the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan and Saskatchewan History Online is a work in progress. They state on their website that when completed, they will have digitized Saskatchewan newspapers that cover communities across the province. Right now they have available from 1914-1918, but when done, they plan to have from 1878 to the 1960's.
Under the Navigating the Collection tab, you can find instructions on how to use this resource. You can either use the search bar at the top of the page or browse by community.

Search Bar

By the search bar you can search by newspaper title, city, or date. I decided to try by newspaper title, and typed in "Chronicle". I got 564 results. On the left side of the results, it shows how you can narrow your results down. You can narrow down by particular issue, by town, by name of newspaper, or by date. I did notice that under "By Issue" most had two sets of digitized images. I'm wondering if one is a morning edition, and one an evening edition. They looked exactly alike to me, and it does not say one way or the other.

I also noticed that under "Town" Foam Lake is listed twice. It is listed as "Foam Lake, SK" and "Foam Lake". You might want to keep this in mind for your own searches that place names might be indexed under more than one heading.

Next I searched by City. Under the first search under "Newspaper Title" Foam Lake got 252 issues of the Foam Lake Chronicle. So I entered Foam Lake in the "City" search to see if I got different results. This time I got 253 hits, so off by 1 from the first search.

Lastly I tried by date. Here you will have to put in the date numerically, by year-month-day. So, for 12 April 1917 (how diligent genealogists are supposed to write dates), you will need to put 1917 04 12 in to the search box. This date gave me 36 community newspapers that had an issue digitized with this date. Each newspaper had 2 digital editions. Again, I am wondering if this is a morning and evening edition.

Browse the Collection Tab

Hitting this tab shows 96 communities listed alphabetically. Keep in mind that some communities are listed twice, like Foam Lake which I discussed above. Whitewood is listed as "Whitewood, SK" and Whitewood, Sk.". The other thing I noticed was there isn't just Saskatchewan communities listed. Also listed is:

  • Calgary AB (26 issues)
  • Jersey City, NJ (247 issues)
  • Lloydminster, ALTA (196 issues). Under it is Lloydminster, SK (104 issues)
  • Manitou, MB (12 issues)
  • Toronto, ON (2 issues)
  • Winnipeg MAN (52 issues). Under it is Winnipeg MB (624 issues)
Clicking on a community will take you the results page, where each digitized paper is listed. It has the same setup as you get from searching with the search bar. On the left you can narrow your results further. I clicked on Battleford, which had 728 issues. On the left, I can narrow down further to issues of either the Saskatchewan Herald, or The Battleford Press. Now here's a bonus: When I clicked on Saskatchewan Herald, I looked at the dates available and realized that they actually have issues not just from the 1914-1918 stated on the main page of the website, but they have also digitized issues from 1878 to 1887. Just a lesson that when you're looking at projects that are still works in progress, it never hurts to not just go by what the main page says, and explore a little bit to see what's been added since the website started up.

The Images

So, you've found an issue you want to look at. Click on the particular issue, and it brings it up. You can zoom in and out, and download it to your computer if you wish. It is also here that you can search for key words within the issue by clicking on the magnifying glass icon. It will highlight the first instance, but a click of a box will let you highlight everywhere in the issue the word appears. I looked at the 20 December 1886 issue of the Saskatchewan Herald. Seeing as how this is a December issue, I typed "Christmas" in the search box. From the highlighted text, I found out:
  • St. George's Church will be having church services at 11 am Christmas morning
  • Bremner, Sayer, and Sandon, freighters, were at the reserve on Sunday. "...Good things for Christmas..."
  • Mahaffy and Clinkskill advertised that you can get a wide assortment of Christmas Groceries, and items suitable for gifts at their establishment
  • H. H. Millie had a wide assortment of watches, clocks and jewelry that would be would be suitable for Christmas presents. 
  • The Montreal Star is putting out a special Christmas "paper" filled with poems, stories, articles and "magnificent illustrations". You can send away for this keepsake for the cost of a 25 cent postage stamp. The publishers are also holding a contest giving away $300 in prizes to children who write to them a letter about the paper.

The SHNO has credited the following organizations for their help with this project:

  • Saskatchewan Archives Board
  • Saskatchewan History Online
  • The Ministry of Education
  • Saskatchewan Weekly Newspapers Association
  • Young Canada Works
  • Conseil de la corporation de la Saskatchewan
  • The Institute Francais, University of Regina

If you would like to contact the site with any questions or comments, you can fill out an online inquiry with the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan here.

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Alberta Ancestors: The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project

If you have Alberta ancestors, then you'll want to check out the website Our Future, Our Past: The Alberta Heritage Digitization Project. The non profit project ran from 1999 to 2010, digitizing various media relating to Alberta's history and culture. It's the impressive collaboration between:

  •  University of Calgary
  •  University of Alberta
  •  Glenbow Museum
  •  Nickle Arts Museum
  •  Provincial Archives of Alberta
  •  Galileo Educational Network Association
  •  Historical Society of Alberta

From the main page, you can see they sorted their collection into 12 categories:


This is a collection of art from the Nickle Museum and the University of Calgary. Unfortunately, when I tried both the browse and search functions. I could not access anything. It kept asking for login credentials.

Calgary Stampede History

Clicking on this one will take you to the University of Calgary's webpage on the Calgary Stampede. By looking to the right of the page you'll see the link to access the Calgary Stampede Archives.

Now, if you scroll to the bottom of the page, you'll see you can browse by topic. There's thousands of photos, posters, postcards, Alberta Cattle Breeders catalogues, corporate records, dinner menus, prize lists, programs, and media guides. On a whim I looked at the Alberta Cattle Breeders Catalogues. On the inside cover of the 1902 cover was a list of officers for the Association 1901-1902:

If your ancestor was a part of running the Stampede, you might find their names in the corporate reports. For instance, in 1932 the secretary was Miss. A. E. Hall, and Robert Spencer was the Grounds Superintendent. 

Early Alberta Newspapers

Now this is a must see collection. You can browse by year or by place. There are 41 communities listed, and papers run from 1885 to 2001. Not all places have all years. For example, Banff had the Craig and Canyon newspaper, which ran from 1900 to 1959. Everything is easy to navigate, and narrow down to specific issues. You'll be rewarded with digital images of the newspaper. I found out that in the 8 May 1902 edition, Mr. W. Rather of the Bow River Boathouse had just received a consignment of Peterborough Canoes, and that both Miss Galletly and Miss S. Bell Irving had come down with "la grippe".

Educational Modules

This will take you to some educational resources for teachers relating to Alberta history and culture.

Grande Prairie Photographs

This one is kind of a misnomer. It has the Isabel Campbell Photographic Collection, which is a collection of over 1000 historic photographs of the Grande Prairie area and its citizens. But it also has a link to the Grande Prairie Newspaper Collection. Here you will be able to access digital images of The Frontier Signal (1914-1916), the Grande Prairie Herald (1913-1938), the Grande Prairie Herald-Tribune (1939-1942), the Herald Tribune (1939-1948), and the Northern Tribune (1932-1939).

Southern Alberta Folklore

Here you'll find a collection of over 1000 items relating to Alberta local history and stories. Included are biographies, photos, obituaries, diaries, government documents, periodicals, and personal memories. There's also works of fiction, essays and speeches. You can browse by author, genre, place name, subject, contributor, source publication, or by title. I clicked under biographies the interesting title "Jack DuBois: cattle thief or good neighbour?". It is actually a newspaper clipping detailing how in 1907 Mr. DuBois, a well known and respected rancher, was under investigation for stealing other ranchers' cattle.

Do you know the poem, The Cremation of Sam McGee? Well, the obituary for the real Sam McGee is in the obituaries section!

Local Histories

A sections of books dealing with both provincial and local history. The search function is not available at this time but you can still browse. Browsing is done alphabetically by either title, author, or subject. Click on a letter, narrow further by letter combination, and then a list of publications will appear. I tried browsing for books on Lethbridge. I used "title", letter "L", combination "LE", and got 10 results. Six of these had lethbridge in the title. When I used "subject", "L", and "LE", I got 5 different results. I tried some other combinations for places. I kept running into "run time errors" for some of the links to take me to the digitized images of the books. Some worked though. You'll have to play around with it to see what works for you.

Medical History

This sections allows you to explore the medical history of Alberta through photos, journals, periodicals, and biographies of those involved with medicine. It doesn't only cover Alberta either. I found titles involving Ontario and British Columbia as well. It is set up the same way as the Local Histories section above. Also like above, the search capability has been disabled, and I ran into a lot of "run time errors".

Multicultural Alberta

This section lets you look at media relating to the different cultural groups of the province. You can search for specific items, or browse by ethnicity. You can also browse by media type: books, periodicals, or videos. Under Cultural Group there is:
  • Chinese
  • Finnish
  • German
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Jewish
  • Macedonian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Ruthenian
  • Slovenian
  • South Asian
  • Ukranian
  • Other
Browsing through the book titles, I found books covering Ontario, and Canada as a whole, as well as Alberta. Also, while the majority are written in English, I did find books and periodicals written in German. I also found many Ukranian periodicals.

Historical Airphotos

Here is collection of over 30,000 digitized air photos covering the years 1922-1956. These are actual aerial photos, not maps. If you know a location where your ancestor lived, you could then see what the land looked like when they lived there.

Nitsitapiisinni: Kainai Plants and Culture

This section deals with resources relating to the Nitsitapiisinni, or Blackfoot. You can look at digitized books, pictures, and videos of their history and culture. There's also a really interesting map of the Blackfoot Confederacy Territory.

Alberta's Legislative History

This last section is actually divided into two parts: Alberta Law Collection, and Municipal Bylaws.

The Alberta Law Collection has documents relating to the Alberta Legislature. The Search function is disabled, but you can browse. Unlike the other sections above, all the links I tried worked. The documents you can view are: 
  • Alberta Gazette (1905-1990)
  • Bills of the Alberta Legislature (1906-1990)
  • Debates of the Alberta Legislature (Hansards) (1972-1993)
  • Journals of the Alberta Legislature (1906-1989)
  • Ordinances of the Northwest Territories (1877-1905)
  • Revised Statutes of Alberta (1922, 1942, 1955, 1970, 1980)
  • Statutes of Alberta (1906-1990)

Municipal Bylaws have digitized bylaws for communities across the province and for various years. You cannot search (it's been disabled) but you can browse either by year or by community. I tried Canmore and they have the bylaws and rescinded bylaws covering from 1965 to 2009. This section may not have direct genealogical significance, unless your ancestor was involved with the town council in some way. But if you were looking for background information on something like property taxation, then you might make use of these. Most of us know that sometimes research will take you down some pretty strange avenues.

Funding for "Our Future, Our Past" came through a variety of sources. If you find information on your ancestors here, you can thank:

  • Alberta Community Development, Community Initiatives Program
  • The Alberta Historical Resources Foundation
  • The Alberta Knowledge Network
  • The Alberta Library
  • The Alberta Law Foundation
  • The Alberta Medical Foundation
  • Canada's Digital Collections
  • The Calgary Foundation
  • Calgary Exhibition & Stampede
  • Industry Canada
  • Information Resources, University of Calgary

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Criminal Ancestors: The Penal Press

Kingston Penitentiary
Source : By P199 - Own work, Public Domain,

Do you have a criminal ancestor that was jailed in Canada? Did you ever wonder what life was like for them? I stumbled onto a great website this week that needs sharing. The Penal Press is a website that has issues of prison newsletters from across the country.

Prison newsletters were huge in the latter half of the 20th century. At one point there were 250 different publications throughout North America. The Penal Press website has amassed a collection of individual issues that you can view as PDF downloads. Maintained by Professor Melissa Munn from Okanagan College and a team of students, it is a work in progress. They are always adding to the site, so keep checking back to see what's new. The focus on their site is Canadian publications, but they will accept publications from anywhere.

I looked at several of them from different institutions and the information they have is really interesting. There are articles relating to prison life, jokes, and editorials about national and world events outside. You can find articles to help inmates deal with addiction, family issues, and finances. There's club news, religious news, gossip columns, and calendars of events. I even found upcoming menus and nutritional information for prison food. Lots of them had a "Letters to the Editor" section, sports sections, and sections showcasing inmate poetry. If your ancestor was involved in the newsletter in some way, they are always mentioned as part of the newsletter staff. But here's some of the other little gems I found:

  • The Hilltop Journal from Westmoreland Institution had a section called Dialogue (Us vs. Them), that gave short bios of inmates and guards.
  • The Midnight Express from the Edmonton Institution had an article listing the sports banquet award winners. They also had individual player stats from the fastball teams.
  • The Off the Wall from the Saskatchewan Penitentiary has a directory of prison clubs and groups. Each has the club or group's board position holders (chairman, secretary, treasurer,etc.). For example, in May 1988 Joe Kostka was the secretary of the Joint Jesters Drama Club.

Now, these are not keyword searchable. However, the issues themselves are not many pages, so a little scanning through the pages won't take long. There are four different ways to search through what they have:

  • Newsletter
Sorted alphabetically by newsletter name, there are over 100 different publications listed, with a count of how many individual issues available beside it. There are many that have only 1 issue available, but the C.B. Diamond from Collins Bay has 99 issues digitized.

  • Date
Here you can search by year. They have issues that cover the years 1949-2016.

  • Institution
Here you can search by Institution name. Several of the prisons had more than one newsletter, or the name may have changed over time. Beside each institution name is the number of newsletters available to look at.

  • Topic
Here you can look for articles relating to a specific topic of interest. Topics available include "Aboriginal Prisoners", "Education or Vocational Training", and "Sports". A good percentage of available issue have been indexed by topic, but not all. Those that haven't been have been put under the topic category of "Un-indexed Issues". As of writing this, there were over 400 individual issues in this category.

If you would like to find out more about prison newsletters in general take a look at Dr. Robert Gaucher's The Canadian Penal Press: A Documentation and Analysis" here. Near the end of it he has made an index of Canadian Institutions and the names of their publications.

If you would like to contact Professor Melissa Dunn about the project to digitize these publications, her contact information is on the Penal Press website as follows:

Melissa Munn
Department of Sociology
Okanagan College
7000 College Way
Vernon, BC, V1B 2N5
Tel: (250) 545-7291 (X. 2222)
Fax: (250) 545-3277

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Nova Scotia Ancestors: Lunenburg County GenWeb

Lunenburg is more than just the home of The Bluenose. One of the major immigration groups in Canada came just after the Acadian Expulsion. In an effort to boost the non Catholic population in Nova Scotia, England recruited settlers from southwest Germany, and the Montbeliard region of what is now France and Switzerland. This group of 1453 settlers became known as the Foreign Protestants. After first being housed in Halifax, they were then sent to what would become Lunenburg. They were soon joined by other Germans from the New England area of the United States in the decade leading up to the Revolutionary War. If your family tree has names like Eisenhauer, Hubley, Zwicker and Boutilier, then chances are you are related to some of these original settlers.

One of the best places to begin searching your Lunenburg roots is the Lunenburg County Genealogy page hosted by rootsweb. This is a fantastic resource that needs to be bookmarked on your browser.

Beware: This is another one of those resources that you should book a block of time for. There's no "just a quick search" here. Many thanks to Gail Edwards and others who have obviously put an incredible amount of time and devotion into this site. I stumbled upon it about 10 years ago when I first started researching my Lunenburg ancestors, and it has been a huge help in my research.

Scroll down the main page and you'll get a list of headings:

  • Lunenburg County Genealogy Resources
This handy page has links and information on where to find BMDs, court records, land records, cemeteries, genealogy groups, and census records. They also have the contact information for the various institutions you'll want to communicate with.

  • Personal and Family Genealogy Pages
Here are links to over 50 different genealogy pages that relate to the Lunenburg area.

  • Surname Resources
Links to two different sites. The first one, Lunenburg County Surname Registry, allows you to register your contact information under the surnames you are researching. Great for cousin finding. The second, Maritimes Most Wanted, has a link that is no longer valid.

  • Birth, Marriage and Death Records
This section is worth visiting the site all on its own. Along with links and instructions on ordering from Nova Scotia Vital Statistics, you can also access the Chester Township Books. But the jewel in the crown is the Don Shankle database. A database of more than 50,000 birth, marriage and death entries, you can access it in three different formats. The first separates Lunenburg County entries from Queen's County entries. The second is births arranged by parents' names. These are arranged alphabetically by father's name, but you will also find illegitimate births by mother's name mixed in. If you see two dates, the first is the birth date, the second is the baptism or christening date. To use as an example, here's what it says about my 5x great grandparents, Valentine Eisenhauer and Anna Margaret Knickle:

"EISENHAUER","Valentine & Ann Margaret","Cath Barbara","1805-05-08","1805-05-25","DRL",,,"B"
"EISENHAUER","Valentine & Ann Margaret","Cath Regina","1812-12-06","1812-12-17","DRL",,,"B"
"EISENHAUER","Valentine & Ann Margaret","Christina Margare","1803-03-24","1803-04-08","DRL",,,"B"
"EISENHAUER","Valentine & Ann Margaret","Michael","1806-11-06","1806-11-20","DRL",,,"B"
"EISENHAUER","Valentine & Ann Margaret","Sarah","1807-12-29","1808-10-07","DRL",,,"B"
"EISENHAUER","Valentine & Ann Margaret","Sophia","1809-09-12","1810-08-20","DRL",,,"B"
"EISENHAUER","Valentine & Ann Margaret","Susanna Margaret","1805-05-08","1805-05-25","DRL","twin",,"B"

The third option is that you can download the entire database to your computer as a zip file for free. It is set up as a spreadsheet. Now, if you noticed on the extract above, there is the abbreviation of DRL in my ancestors' entries. This stands for Dutch Reformed Church, Lunenburg. A list of abbreviations for the source citations is explained in the first two Shankle database sections. Now, this is a transcription database, and we are taught to never totally trust a source that is not the original record. However, it has detailed source citations, so you can follow the trail to see the original source.

  • Genealogy E-Books
A link to a free download of the book, Descendents of Ulrich Hubley of Nova Scotia, in e-book format.

  • Church Records
These are transcriptions of church records from across Lunenburg County. You'll find Methodist, Lutheran, Baptist, Anglican, and Roman Catholic records. You'll also find Evangelical, Presbyterian, United, and even some civil marriages.

  • Census Records
Here you'll find extracts of various census returns, ranging from 1770-1911.

  • Wills
Two links here. The first are extracts from over 700 wills in Lunenburg County, as well as an index for them. These are set up as PDF downloads. The second is an index to wills for Lunenburg County covering the years 1770-1996. Unfortunately, the link provided no longer works.

  • Lunenburg County Obituaries
Here you will find transcriptions of obituaries and death notices ranging in years from 1804 to present day. These files are downloadable right to your computer.

  • Cemetery Listings
Another great resource. Here you can find a downloadable searchable index of Lunenburg County cemetery transcriptions. Also included in the index are burials at sea. Next down the page are headstone transcriptions for well over 100 cemeteries. Don't just look at the main list though. The next section entitled Master Surname Index has transcriptions for cemeteries not on the main listing.

  • Passenger Lists
Not only will you find transcribed passenger lists of the ships that brought the Foreign Protestants, you can also find reconstructions of passenger lists for the Lydia in 1742, and the Cornwallis group arriving in 1749. As well, there is an index of over 1100 names that arrived on over a dozen ships in 1749. You can also get histories of the Cornwallis groups, and the ships themselves. They even have a transcription of the advertisement placed to recruit settlers for the Cornwallis Ships. The index is available for download in Excel format.

  • Victualing Lists
These were lists made of provisions supplied not only to military regiments, but to the Lunenburg settlers when they first arrived. Here you'll find lists for the brief time the settlers were in Halifax, as well as when they first started settling Lunenburg.

  • Military Records
These are transcriptions of muster rolls for the Lunenburg County militias from 1808-1819. 

  • Diaries and Personal Papers
Downloadable transcriptions of the diary of D.J. Rudolph, the memoirs of James Albert Hirtle, and the family record of David Ueltschi.

  • Lunenburg County Links
A series of links relating to the history and culture of the area.

  • Nova Scotia Links
This section gives you links to helpful webpages that deal with Nova Scotia as a whole. It needs updating though, because almost all of the links either gave me the dread 404 message, or the site has moved to a new web address.

  • Canada Links
The same as above, but pertaining to Canada wide resources. Unfortunately, none of the links seemed to work for me.

  • World Links
Links to Swiss and German genealogy pages. The one titled Switzerland Genealogy doesn't work, but the other three do.

  • General Genealogy Links
I did not try all the links, but beware that as with the ones above, these may or may not be outdated.

  • Genealogical and Historical Societies
Links to groups around Nova Scotia.

  • Books-Maps-Software Supplies
Just what the name says. A series of links to build that personal library collection.

  • Queries
 A place to connect with other researchers. 

  • Look Up Library
A rather unique page that has a listing of various Nova Scotia genealogy and history books. Under each title is the name of a volunteer that will look up information for you from that book. At first I couldn't figure out how to contact the person. Then I realized if you hover your mouse over the name, at the bottom of the screen pops up an email address for that person. It may be different on other devises, but I was using a Windows desktop.

  • Photo Gallery
Pictures of the Lunenburg area, as well as pictures of people.

The last four headings gives you links to other GenWeb projects in Nova Scotia, Canada, the US, and world wide.

For more information on the history of Lunenburg, you can look at these sites: