Monday, 14 May 2018

Immigrant Ancestors: Border Entry Records at the LAC

We all know that ship's lists to Canada are one of the best resources for finding our immigrant ancestors. but what if your ancestor isn't listed? What if your ancestor came from the United States? Not only American citizens moved up into Canada. There were others that took ship across the ocean to an American port, and then traveled north to Canada.

An often overlooked resource are border crossing records. From 1908 on, those travelling between the Canada and US were required to go through a designated entry point. Before then, people moved freely across the border between us and our neighbours to the south. 

If you have access to Ancestry, you can access their collection Border Crossings: From U.S. to Canada, 1908-1935. This collection is fully indexed. However, Ancestry's indexing is notorious for not always being great. So make sure you use as many name variations as you can think of when using it. You can also use the browse function to the right of the search fields.

If you don't have Ancestry access, you can still turn to Library and Archives Canada for their digitized collection on Border Entries. This method is little more cumbersome to use, but it's worth the effort. There are some highlighted text that you'll want to click on to help your search. Unfortunately, the links are a little jumbled and don't quite take you where you need to be. However, I've figured out where you should be clicking, and I've included instructions below to get the most out of this collection without pulling your hair out.

First you'll want to pick which time frame your ancestor came over: 1908 to 1918, 1919 to 1924, or 1925 to 1935.

1908 to 1919 
During these years, people crossing into Canada were put onto lists. These lists have been put on microfilm and digitized. Your first step is to look at the page Digitized Microforms(Archived) highlighted in the text. 

Now, when you click on this, make sure you press Ctrl as you left click on the mouse so that the screen opens in a new window. Then follow these steps:
  • Scroll down the page to their chart of microfilms from 1908 to 1918. 
  • Pick a possible location for your ancestor to have crossed. Some locations have more than one microfilm so look to the right for the year range for each. 
  • Take note of the microfilm number to the left of the location
  • Now go back to the main page, and this time press Ctrl and left click on the other highlighted text: Border Entry Lists for 1908 to 1918 (Archived).
  • Find your microfilm number and click on it. This will take you to the digitized images that you can browse through page by page.
  • When you find an image you want to keep, right click on the image and click on "Save Image as..." to save the image to your computer.
The information in these lists can include the following information:
  • Arrival date
  • Name
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Country of Birth
  • Country of Citizenship
  • Means of transportation. 
  • State travelling from
  • Final destination
  • Value of cash and belongings
  • Additional remarks

1919 to 1924
During these years, those entering Canada filled out what is called a Form 30. The forms have been digitized in more or less alphabetical order. Follow these steps:
  • Ctrl + left click on he highlighted text Form 30 records(Archived) to open the page in a new window.
  • Scroll down the page to the listing of microfilms. You can either browse through the lists, or you can type your surname in the Filter Box located at the start of the lists.
  • Click on your desired microfilm and it will take you right to the images. These can be downloaded as PDFs, or you can look at the image right on the page.
  • Once you have found your entry, right click and click on "Save Image as..." to save to your computer.
The Form 30s can contain a huge amount of information:
  • Port and date of entry
  • Name
  • Age
  • Occupation
  • Birthplace
  • Citizenship
  • Previous Adress
  • Final destination
  • Religion
  • Additional family members
  • Physical description
  • Money on Hand
  • Mental and physical condition
Take note that these forms were 2 sided, so make sure you are looking at the next page as well to get as much information as you can.

You can also take note of the microfilm number, 

1925 to 1935
During these years, Form 30s were no longer filled out, and border crossings went back to the list format. Here's where it'll be cumbersome.Now for this one, you're going to:

  • Go to the Digitized Microforms (Archived) link in the 1908 to 1919 section NOT in the 1925 to 1935 section. Ctrl + left click to open it in a new window. 
  • Scroll almost to the bottom to the chart of microfilms for 1925-1935.
  • Locate the microfilm you need and make note of the number.
  • Go back to the main page and go to the 1925 to 1935 section and Ctrl + left click on this section's Digitized Microforms (Archived) link.
  • Click on your microfilm number and look through the images to find your ancestors' entry.
  • Right click and click on "Save image as...." to save to your computer
Unlike in the first section, these books are arranged by month and year, rather than by entry port. From what I could see, each book is arranged more or less alphabetically by port of entry. Here's some of the information you'll find, depending on the year:
  • Date of entry
  • Name
  • Age
  • Man/Woman/Child
  • Country of Birth
  • Country of Citizenship
  • Occupation, both in old residence and their intended occupation in Canada
  • Mode of transportation to Canada
  • Train No.
  • Travelling from what State
  • Travelling to what Province
  • Value of Cash and Effects
  • Race
  • If they've been in Canada before. If yes, when and where
  • What language they can read in
  • Nearest relative's name and address in previous country
  • How they are travelling to their final destination (i.e. car or train)
  • Whether they were admitted or rejected
  • Medical certificate and/or passport details

Finally, keep a few things in mind when looking through the entries for all three sections:
  • If your ancestor was born in or previously lived in Canada, they may or may not be listed.
  • People still passed through these entry points even if the border office was closed, so there may be no record.
  • This collection only lists people coming into Canada, not those leaving.
  • At the start of 1925, there was a transition period switching from the lists to the Form 30. If your ancestor falls into that time period, check both sections.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Railway Ancestors: Railways Employees (Employees Provident Fund) at the LAC

Railways are an important part of the Canadian Heritage. They were what connected our country. It was the promise of a railroad that convinced British Columbia to join Confederation. The Canadian National Railway was the first Crown Corporation in Canada. There are few family trees that do not have a railway connection somewhere. Your ancestor could have worked on the railroad, or it was the railroad that brought your immigrant ancestor to their new home from their port of arrival. Some towns prospered and grew because of being on one of the rail routes. I have a friend from Lindsay Ontario whose grandfather, father and uncles all worked for the railroad, and that's how they came to settle in Lindsay from another part of Ontario. There have been many different companies over the years. Some disappeared, while others combined or were bought out by larger companies.

The Intercolonial Railway of Canada (IRC) began in 1858. It was combined with the Prince Edward Island Railway (PEIR) in 1873 (when PEI joined Confederation). They became known as the Canadian Government Railways (CGR), then the Canadian Northern Railway took over management. Canadian Northern Railway eventually became the Canadian National Railway.

If your ancestor worked for the IRC or the PEIR, then you will want to check out the Railways Employees (Employees Provident Fund) on Library and Archives Canada's website. Started by an Act of the Canadian Government in 1907, the fund was created to help supply a pension for employees who retired after long service. It also provided for those who suffered a disability due to injury on the job. Now remember, this is a time before the Canada had the Old Age Security Act (1927) and the Canada Pension Plan (1965). There were some employer pension plans at this time, but it was not the norm.

This database is fully digitized. It consists of 31 boxes of index cards, as the original files from the Fund were destroyed. In all, there are over 27,000 index cards. On each card you will find information such as, but not necessarily all of the following:

  • Name
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Occupation
  • Rate of Pay
  • Department
  • Location
  • Changes in Occupation and Pay
  • Dates of Service
  • Religious Denomination
  • Name of person who recommended them for employment
  • Date and Cause of Death
  • Beneficiary upon Death
  • Details of Disciplinary Actions
  • Details of Merits and Rewards 
  • Absences
The cards are not filed alphabetically, but rather numerically by Provident Fund File Number. You can search by Surname and/or Given Name. They do state however, that a lot of the cards give only an initial for Given Name. I decided to go the easy route and use the surname of my friend, FERGUSON. I typed in FERG* so that I could get all possible variations. Of the 38 results I clicked on Daniel Hugh Fergusson. There are 5 digitized cards for Daniel.


Not all people will have this many cards attached to them. According to the LAC, the average is 2. Here's what I gleaned about Daniel:
  • Born 6 March 1894 in Front Lake N.S.
  • Seems to have recommended by a Family Member
  • Started work on 15 November 1916 in Sydney N.S.
  • He worked as a Locomotive Wiper, and was also a Locomotive Fireman
  • He started out making .20 cents per hour
  • He missed a lot of work due to injury, illness and being laid off
  • He was reprimanded on several occasions for making the trains late, and "not presenting his watch for comparison"
  • He also received praise for good service
  • He worked until at least 1945
  • He died 7 July 1953
Here's another one for a Robert Art Douglas:

Robert only has one index card, but you can still get a lot of information from his:

  • Born 14 August 1844 in St. John's N.B.
  • He began working for the railroad in March 1873
  • He was a machinist working in Halifax
  • He made $1.80 per day
  • He retired 1 March 1909
  • His allowance from the Fund was $41.91
  • He died 8 November 1909
  • He was Episcopalian

Here's a third employee, Frederick Bowles Tripp:

Frederick only has one card as well, but look at the information for him:
  • Born 18 February 1865 in Ottawa Ontario
  • Started with the railroad 15 April 1919
  • He worked as a Harbour Engineer in Moncton N.B.
  • His pay was $250 per month
  • He also worked for the Department of Railways and Canals before he became a Harbour Engineer
  • He retired 1 June 1932 with a pension allowance of $1471.17 per annum
  • He died 14 April 1941
  • He was 5' 8" in height, and weighed 129? lbs
  • He had a light complexion, light coloured hair and blue eyes

As you can see, the information on these cards can vary widely from person to person. You never know what you might find. 

If you would like a more complete history of rail in Canada, check out these links:

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Saskatchewan Ancestors: The Name Change Index of the SGS

I'm sure most of us have found an ancestor who changed their name. Unfortunately, we don't always get a paper trail showing it. If you have an ancestor who lived in Saskatchewan though, you're in luck.

In 1933 the Saskatchewan government passed legislation formalizing the process of changing one's name. First an application would be made to the Provincial Secretary. Then the application would be published in the Saskatchewan Gazette, and the applicant's local newspaper. Once approved, the certificate was also published in the Gazette and local newspaper. The rules for application were as follows:

  • Applicant must be at least 21
  • Married women could only change from their married surname if their husband was deceased
  • Married men could not change his name, his wife's, or their unmarried children's names under 21 without his wife's consent

In 1941, The Change of Name Act was amended so that people who changed their name before entering the province could formally register their name. In 1947 the following changes were made:

  • Any one over the age of 18 could change their name, even if married or widowed
  • The applicant could only change the name of a child 14 or older with the written consent that child
  • The certificates would no longer be published in the Saskatchewan Gazette

Even though the process was finalized in 1933, there are applications that go back to 1917. Included in the application would be the full name of the applicant, their wife, and their residence. It also included the names and ages of any minor children. Lastly, it included the proposed name change.

The Saskatchewan Genealogical Society has given researchers a huge leg up with their research by compiling a series of indexes

Compiled by D'Arcy Hande, Debbie Moyer, and Rae Chamberlain, they cover the years from 1917-1993. The first index, 1917-1950 is set up with the following headings:

  • Original Surname
  • Original Name
  • Address (town or jurisdiction)
  • New Surname
  • New Name
  • Notice (when the application appeared in the Gazette)
  • Certificate (when the approval was published)
The subsequent indexes are set up a little differently:
  • Original Surname
  • Original Name
  • Address
  • New Surname
  • New Name
  • Application Date
  • Publication Date
Because of the amendments in 1947, there is no publication of the certificate. So unlike the first index, you will not be able to know when/if the application was approved. The indexes are PDF files, which is awesome. By hitting "Ctrl" "F" on your keyboard, a search box will appear and you can type in your desired surname. This will then highlight every time it appears. 

If you have an Ancestry subscription, they have indexed the collection on their site here. It has been indexed by both original name and new name. However, you will not always get that crucial information of when it happened. A lot of the results I got looking at the various names did not have dates attached of either the application or the certificate.

How to Get Application Information
The indexes will let you know what edition of the Saskatchewan Gazette the application was published in. Using this information you can consult that particular edition of the Gazette at the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan. Looking here will give you the application information that is not included in the index.These are not online, but if you are in the area, you can visit the Archives. If you are researching from a distance, you can access their inquiry form here.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Immigrant Ancestors: The Canadian Naturalization Records

Immigration records can be tough. There are so many variables to consider. What country did they come from? When did they come? How old were they when they came? What port would they have come through?

If your ancestor came from a country outside the British Commonwealth, you do have one avenue open to you to help answer some of those questions. Library Archives Canada has digitized lists of citizens naturalized 1915-1951. Before we get to the lists, here's a bit of background information.

The Canadian policy on immigration has evolved over the years. The "open-door" policy of the 19th century evolved into stringent requirements which at specific time periods restricted immigration based on ethnicity. This again evolved into less emphasis on ethnicity and more on the skills and education of the prospective immigrant. From 1971 to now, Canada's official policy has circled back to the attitude of the 19th century, with an emphasis on multiculturalism. You can see a more complete timeline of Canada's immigration guidelines on the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21's website here,

The Immigration Act of 1914 brought stringent regulations on who could apply for naturalization:

  • Must have been a resident of Canada for 5 years
  • Must have knowledge of French or English
  • Must show "good moral character"

Each year from 1919 to 1951, the government published annual lists of naturalized citizens in either the Sessional Papers or the Canada Gazette. The year 1919 shows lists that go back to 1915. Library and Archives Canada has these lists digitized online here. There are two sets in the collection.

Search Database by Name, 1915-1946
This set has been indexed by Surname, Given Name and Country. I decided to use "Zwicker" a non Commonwealth surname from my own tree. My Zwickers came in the 1700's, as part of the Lunenburg settlers, so I did not expect to find anyone directly related to me. I got 4 results:

I clicked on the last one, Yetta Zwicker/Herscovitch. Here's what came up when I clicked on the PDF of the page:

From looking at the page we now know:
  • She also used the surname Herscovitch as some point. A maiden name perhaps?
  • She was the wife of Morris Zwicker, who came from Austria
  • She was naturalized In July 1941
  • The certificate is dated August 5 1941
  • Morris was a tailor that lived in Montreal, Que
  • The record number is 32594E. Looking at the top of the page, series "E" certificates are given to people naturalized before the Immigration Act.
The main page of the LAC collection says that women were usually naturalized under their husbands application. If they decided to apply on their own afterward, they sometimes showed up under series E certificates. This would lead us to believe that Yetta was previously naturalized through her husband before 1941, and then applied in her own name afterwards.

Search Database by Date, 1947-1951
The second set of records have not been indexed for individual entries. I used the year 1950. Typing in a year will then give you a PDF for each month. I clicked on March, and got several other PDF options, as each one is a page for that particular month. The people are listed alphabetically, so you'll have to look at a few to get to the letter you need. The page I selected had surnames starting with M, N, and O. Looking at the top of the N surnames, I looked at the listing for Fukuji Nakamoto:

Fukuji was naturalized in March 1950. His certificate was dated March 24 1950. He was a cook in Grand Forks, BC, and was previously a Japanese citizen. His record number is 62643A. We know from the main page of the collection that A certificates were granted to "Aliens". 

How to Obtain the Records
Now these lists have some good information, but the actual application can tell you more. The applications are not online, but you can obtain copies.

First you will need to fill out an Access to Information Request Form, which you can find here. The request will cost you $5.00, in cheque made out to to the Receiver General of Canada. Only a Canadian citizen or resident can apply. If you are not one, LAC does provide a list of freelance researchers who can make the request on your behalf here. Please keep in mind that you may have to pay an additional amount to the researcher for their work on your behalf.

If the person whose records you are requesting is still alive, you need their written consent. If they are deceased, you will have to supply proof of death. Keep in mind that they have to have been deceased for at least 20 years. This can be a copy of a death registration, a newspaper obitutary, or a picture of a headstone with name and date of death. The only exception to supplying either of these is if the person' birth date is over 110 years ago.

Make sure that in your request you give at least the following information on your immigrant ancestor:

  • Surname
  • Given name
  • Date of Birth
  • Place of Birth
  • Number of the Naturalization certificate. Make sure to include the series letter as well. Also indicate if the record is in French. The digitized lists will tell you if this is the case.
  • State that you would like copies of the original records

Applications and supporting documents must be mailed to

Citizen and Immigration Canada'
Access to Information and Privacy Division
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Ontario Ancestors: Happy Birthday Toronto!

This week marked Toronto's 184th birthday. Known as "Toronto the Good" in world wide circles, the rest of Canada tends to have a love/hate relationship with our largest city. I myself was born in Toronto, and lived there until my early teens, Though it's been many years since I lived there, I still have close ties to it. My paternal side has ties to Toronto for at least 4 generations.

In honour of Toronto's birthday, this week's post highlights some Toronto genealogy resources. But first a little history.

There has been archaeological evidence that settlement here goes back to the First Nations over 1,000 years ago. The name Toronto itself has evolved from an a Mohawk word, "tkaronto", which means "where the trees are standing in the water".

Europeans first started inhabiting the area in the 1600's and 1700's, when fur traders started setting up posts. It wasn't until 1793, when John Graves Simcoe established York, that the first permanent European settlement was established. He established the naval base and garrison to keep an eye on the boundary between the province of Upper Canada and the new United States.

York was burned twice by the Americans during the War of 1812. Fort York, which still stands in the heart of Toronto, is a National Historic site.

Toronto as a city was incorporated in 1834. Through the 1800's and the first half of the 20th century, Toronto grew larger. It's location made it a gateway to both Western and Northern Ontario. As a result, it became both a financial and industrial powerhouse. By 1967, Toronto consisted of the city of Toronto, and the five boroughs of Scarborough, Etobicoke, York, North York, and East York. Each of the six areas had their own municipal governments. In 1998, it became the megacity of Toronto, and the six separate municipal governments became one.

Today the Greater Toronto Area consists of Toronto and four surrounding regions: Halton, Peel, Durham and York. According to 2016 statistics, it has a population of over 6 million. Doesn't seem like a lot compared to cities in other countries. But when you realize that the newly incorporated city of Toronto in 1834 had only 9,000 people, you see just how fast it grew in less than 200 years.

If you'd like to see a more compete timeline of the city, check out these pages:

Now for the genealogy.

One of my goals the next time I get to Toronto is to visit the City of Toronto Archives. According to their website they have

  • Over 1 million photographs
  • Maps
  • City Directories
  • Assessment Rolls
  • Council Proceedings
  • Bylaws
  • Building Permits
  • Government Records
  • Non-Government Records
The search function of their holdings is fairly user friendly. They do have a very small amount of their collections online. There are some web exhibits, links to municipal sites, and some digitized photos. My absolute favourite though, is their collection of maps. In particular is the collection of fire insurance maps. The collection has the years 1880, 1884, 1890, 1894, 1899, 1903, 1913, and 1924. These maps are invaluable if you're trying to find a street that no longer exists. I ran into this problem myself, trying to track my great grandfather John Wellington McDonald. According to the 1932 Canada's Voter's Lists, he was living with my great mother and their children on Angus Place. That street no longer exists. By using the major streets around it, I was finally able to find it on the 1924 Insurance map. It was a small alley that is today a courtyard behind some apartment buildings. 

This very active branch of the OGS has a great website. The link above takes you their page on both online and offline research resources

If you can get to a branch, there are some great resources available. The link above will take you to their research guides on BMDs, British and Irish Genealogy, the Humber River area, and more. They also give free access to their Ancestry Library Edition. The Toronto Reference Library is part of this library system. 

Toronto Star's Pages of the Past and The Globe Archives
Many local libraries in Ontario offer access to these through ProQuest. Digitized editions going back to the 1800's are available. Some libraries even offer access through their own websites. Just enter in your library card number and you're good to go from the comfort of home.

Their website has some great tips and links to help you discover your Toronto Jewish ancestors. They also have contact lists to put in touch with researchers and translators.

Toronto Island Community
A web page devoted to genealogy and the history of the Toronto islands. 

The Toronto branch of the OGS worked in conjunction with FamilySearch to have the registers of the Toronto Trust Cemeteries digitized and indexed. You can read an earlier blog post I did on them here.

Saturday, 24 February 2018

British Columbia Ancestors: Victoria Police Department Charge Books

Some people get embarrassed when they find out there's an ancestor who has a criminal connection. Genealogists, on the other hand, tend to have the opposite reaction. We look at "black sheep" ancestors with delight, knowing there's a good story in there.

This week I found out about a great resource through social media. Gail Dever's Genealogy a la Carte had a post about Winnipeg Police Museum digitizing mug shots. She had posted a link to her blog post on her Genealogy a la Carte Facebook group. A lady named Bev had commented that the University of Victoria Libraries website had digitized the Victoria Police Department Charge Books.

This interesting collection was a collaboration between the Victoria Genealogical Society, the Victoria Police Historical Society, and the University of Victoria. There are 10 books from the Victoria Police Department in all:

  • Charge Book April- November 1875
  • Charge Book April 1873- August 1874
  • Charge Book April 1873 November 1874
  • Charge Book August 1874- June 1876
  • Charge Book December 1874- November 1876
  • Charge Book June 1875- October 1876
  • Complaint Report Book August 1911- September 1912 
  • Mugshot Book 01 1897-1904
  • Mugshot Book 02 1900's
  • Mugshot book 03 1898-1904

It is not indexed as of yet, but you can browse the collection. The link to the collection is just under the title at the top of the page:

Down near the bottom of the page, there is a warning that some may be offended by the terminology used in these charge books. They advise to keep in mind that when these books were filled out, the "attitudes and social norms" of this time period were different than today's. Anyone who has researched genealogy for some time is used to this. However, someone new to genealogy may not be accustomed to having government records using terms that we now find offensive. I remember how shocked I was the first time I saw the column "Infirm/Insane/Idiot" on a census record. I've seen worse in documents since then, and it no longer fazes me.

Charge Books
Clicking a particular charge book will let you browse its contents page by page. These books appear to be all handwritten, so you will have to use some paleography skills here. My suggestion is to look at all the entries of a page if you're stuck on a word. Sometimes by looking at how the person wrote "N", "n","r", "g", "y", etc. in other entries will help you to figure out what that hard to read word is.

Of the books I looked at, "drunk and disorderly" seems to be epidemic at the time. Some of the books also had notations about what happened after the person was arrested. Here's an extract of an entry from 6 April 1873:

April 6th: Thomas Sweeney, arrested by Constable Clarke and charged by Mr. Saunders
with stealing a cheese from his Store, of the value of $2. and upward.
                 Property .35 cts. Sheath knife & Pocket knife.          Horace A. Lafridge

          7th: Remanded for one day

          8th: Remanded for one week

In other entries I saw that there was mention of fines, bail, and discharge dates. I even saw an arrest for a "Debtor's Prisoner" by the name of Ah Chu. His bail was set at $142.50. Quite the sum of money back then.

Here's another entry from the same book:

Micheal Kaghan Pt. R. M. of H.M.S. "Yenedos" charged by Inspector Bowden, with being a Straggler from that Ship.    Horace A Lafridge
Ordered to be given over to his ship.

Complaint-Report Book
This is a book that records all calls to the Police Station. So, you might might find your ancestor in here calling the police, as opposed to being arrested by them. Some of the pages are handwritten, and some are typed. There's people calling about the usual theft, injured persons, and domestic disturbances. There's also some amusing ones. Here's an entry from 14 August 1911:

Mr. Morley of Porters Cabins reports that there is four men living in a cabin at Porters Cabins and who he believes are bad characters as they keep very late hours and do a great deal of drinking in their cabin and it is impossible for him to get any sleep on account of the noise that these men make.

Here's another one from 19 September 1911:

Mrs. Conder 1011 Collingson St telephoned that the Sidewalk near her house is blocked with lumber and the Street is all torn up and she is Unable to get in or out of the house and she wished the Police to get the lumber removed from the sidewalk. H.N. Sheppard

Anyone who has watched COPS (yes, I am revealing my age here), or Live PD can attest to the fact that community policing doesn't seem to have changed in the last hundred years on the types of calls they get!

Mugshot Book
If you love old pictures, as I do, you'll enjoy looking through these. Some have quite detailed information with the picture, while others have just a name. Mr. Harry Jensen had this written about him:

 "Arrested Oct 5 '95 charged passing counterfeit money committed for trial, and aquitted by the G Jury. was again arrested at the instance of P. Police charged housebreaking at Alberni by cons Moriat & McDonald. sentence of 6 months H.L.  at Nanaimo B.C. Again arrested by Cons Seeley of the P.P. on the West Coast on the 12 of April 97. charged with being in possession on liquor etc stolen from S. Clay's saloon Johnson St. also charged with stealing a Boat belonging to Mr. Turpel sentenced to 18 M. H.L. in both cases to run concurrently. Was again arrested by Cons McDonald on 31st July 97 charged with Breaking Gaol. Sentenced 6 M. H.L. Died whilst serving the latter sentence."

Sadly I saw a lot of pictures of children. The majority of pictures were of men, but there are some of women as well. The biggest difference I saw in these from the mug shots of today is the clothing. All the women I saw had big hats worthy of a trip to Buckingham Palace. Even some of the men had quite dapper looking hats and suits on.

On the main screen of the Collection, down near the bottom are links to other digitized collections the University of Victoria Libraries was involved in. The only two that seem to still work are good ones:

Thank you to Bev for pointing out this resource!

Saturday, 17 February 2018

New Brunswick Ancestors: The Genealogical Files of Mgr Robichaud

If you have north eastern New Brunswick ancestors, as I do, then you'll want to check out the Mgr Donat Robichaud Genealogical and Historical Research Collection at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. This collection is the product of many years work.

Monseigneur Robichaud was a Catholic Priest who was born in Shippegan, New Brunswick 24 October 1924. His main genealogical focus was the north east area of New Brunswick. He authored many books, helped found the Societe historique Nicholas-Denys, and was a active member of it until his death on 8 August 2009.

His collection at the Archives contains two databases: the Genealogical Files, and the L'Evangeline Database. What is impressive about this collection is the fact that the research was done long before we have the online tools we have today. He did it "the old fashioned way".

Genealogical Files
According to the Introduction, this section is a compilation of more than 3,000 pages of research on the families of this area of New Brunswick. It is also one of the best sourced collections I've ever seen. Among the source citations are churches, newspapers, wills, and deeds. Mgr Robichaud scoured several Archives of all kinds to find any documentation he could on these families. The collection is sorted alphabetically by surname. As you can see below, each set of PDF pages are grouped by letter. Though some of the entries are in English, the majority is in French. Copy and pasting into Google Translate can give you a pretty good translation of the entry. The basic setup for each surname is first some notations of the family surname as a whole. Then it lists first names in the family alphabetically, and lists all documentation relating to that person.

The nice thing about PDF files is that by pressing the F3 button, you should get a search box up in the top right. You can also press and hold the Ctrl button and press F. Type in your surname and it should take you to the right spot. My Grannie was Marie Anne MALLAIS. The MALLAIS, or MALLET, family were one of the founding families of the Shippegan area. I went to the PDF for the letters M to O, and searched for Mallais. Information on the Mallet/Mallais family starts on page 11 and goes to page 45! Here is what is listed for Jean MALLAIS, the "founding father" of the name in Shippegan:

Just look at the variety of sources and how well they are cited. Not all people listed will have as in depth a timeline, of course. But this is just an example of Mgr Robichaud's work. If your family surname from the area was not French, don't despair. There are many Anglo surnames in the collection as well.

L'Evangeline Database
This database consists of short summaries of articles from the newspaper L'Evangeline, and cover the years 1887-1957. In the explanation of the database, the PANB states that to see the orginal of the article, they are "...available on microfilm at a number of provincial institutions (libraries and archives)...". They also state that a search of Google's Newspaper Archives may get you results. Each summary has the date of the newspaper and the page the original article is found on.

You can search the database by People, by Place, or by Subject. As far as I could see, the summaries are all in French, which makes sense, as L'Evangeline is a French newspaper. Again, Google Translate will be your friend.

When searching by people, make sure you are looking at name variations. Continuing with the MALLAIS surname, I found these variations in spelling:

  • Maillait
  • Maillet
  • Malais
  • Mallais
  • Mallet
  • Mallette
  • Malley - Don't forget that over the years some French names became Anglicized. My own line of Mallais people have been in various government records as Malley.
remember to do the same when searching by place. Shippegan was listed as Shippagan, Shippagan Gully, and Shippagan, Ile de.

The subject index is a fun one. You can search by a subject, and then further search by a secondary subject. For instance, one of the subjects listed is Acadian. By clicking on the radio button Expand index by including secondary subjects, you can look at about 50 subsections. Included in the subsections are the headings "Grand Pre", Deportation", and several on the "Convention nationale acadienne". 

It's a huge blessing to those of us researching from distance that the PANB was able to gain permission to put Mgr Robichaud's work online. And that the Monseigneur gave it. He was a truly generous man with all his research. Along with these databases, he is also the author of several books and articles. After his death, his body of research was donated to La Societe Historique Nicolas-Denys Inc.