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:

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Focus on an Archive: Lindsay Public Library Reference Section

When you think of great research places, a place like the Lindsay Branch of the City of Kawartha Lakes Public Library system would not immediately come to mind. With a population of just over 20,000, Lindsay is part of the amalgamated City of Kawartha Lakes (formerly Victoria County). It has a unique combination of both small city and small town feel. The library building itself is a historic building, built in 1902. An addition was added in 1977. The reference section is located on the second floor. You can see a history timeline of the library here.

Onsite Holdings

What I love the most about the Lindsay Library is they love genealogy and genealogists. A large section of the reference section's shelves are devoted to genealogy and history. Because it is the reference section, these items are not available to take home. But trust me, you can easily spend a happy few hours here and not even realize it. Take a look at a few of what they offer in the way of books:

  • Donald A. McKenzie's book series of notices from the Christian Guardian and the Canada Christian Advocate. They also have his collection of Notices from Methodists Papers
  • Books on local history and provincial history
  • Many different books of passenger lists from the 1800's
  • Books on Genealogy Methodology
  • Many Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) publications
  • William Reids books "Death Notices of Ontario", "Loyalists in Ontario", Marriage Notices of Ontario"
  • Linda and Gary Coupe's books on the early Assize Court records and Heir and Devisee Commission records
  • Multiple volumes of The Ontario Register
  • Family histories of several surnames. Some of the names I saw were Tripp, Quibell, Lamb and Logan.
  • The series of Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Registers

The Lindsay Library participates in inter library loan. I have used them in the past to obtain reels from both the Archives of Ontario and the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. They have a microfilm section onsite as well. There are two microfilm readers there that you can print from. A third reader that is USB capable is in the works. On microfilm you can find the following:

  • Victoria/Watchman Warder (newspaper) 1976-1933
  • Canada/Evening/Lindsay Post (newspaper)1861-1933
  • Lindsay Daily Post (newspaper)1933-1997
  • Lindsay Post (newspaper)1998-2013
  • Fenelon Gazette (newspaper)
  • Beaverton Express (newspaper)
  • Peterborough Examiner/Dispatch/Review (newspaper)
  • Ontario Civil Registration Indexes
  • Peter Robinson Settlers Returns and Land Grants
  • Assessments
  • Census Records

There is a huge section of binders. Some of these compiled collections are transcriptions only, while some have photocopied images as well. There are Lindsay city directories, business directories for Victoria County, and cemetery transcriptions from around the province. There are transcriptions of local newspapers, census records, and voter's lists for Victoria County. Here's some of the more unique items I found within the binders:

  • A transcription of the index for the Peterborough County and Lindsay area inquests covering years from the 1840's to the 1930's 
  • Land record collections for Ops Township and for the Peter Robinson Settlers
  • The Surrogate Court Index for Peterborough and Victoria Counties
  • Transcriptions of Marriage Registrations for various parts of Ontario from 1792-1900
  • The Mariposa Census of 1839
  • McCarty Jewellers Marriage License Records, Lindsay Sept 1905-1921
  • Pioneer Businesses and Proprietors. This is a collection of photos and clippings relating to some of the first businesses and business owners in the local area 

They also have a huge collection of genealogy newsletters from branches of the OGS, the Haliburton Highlands Genealogy Group, Trent Valley Archives, and the Kawartha Ancestral Research Group.

The library has several computers that you can use on site with a library card. Using these you can access Ancestry Library Edition, Gale Genealogy Connect, and Find My Past. You can also access Toronto Star's Pages of the Past and the Globe and Mail Canada's Heritage. It's best to call a reserve a computer, as these are a very popular feature of the library. Wifi connection if you want to bring your laptop is free. If you are not a Kawartha Lakes resident, you can get a guest pass. 

One really unique thing I found at the library was actually on the walls. They are three maps. One is a plan of the Town of Lindsay itself from 1860:

There are two land owner maps as well, dated 1916. One is for Ops Township, and the other is for Fenelon Township. If you had land owning ancestors in either of these two townships in 1916, you can see their name on these maps:

Online presence

The City of Kawartha Lakes Library system has a website. You can access their section on genealogy and local history here. On the site are digitized Vernon's City Directories, some newspapers, and a collection of photographs and clippings. In fact, through the section of the website here, you can access many historical and genealogical resources from the comfort of your own home, as long as you have a valid library card. Ancestry and Find My Past are only available at the library itself, but you can access Gale, the Toronto Star, and The Globe and Mail from home. 

Through their website you can also look at their complete holdings. The page to access their catalogue is here.

Research Services

Can't make the trip to Lindsay? Well staff will do research for you! The first half hour of research is free, and $40.00 per hour after that. The research request form is here. Don't worry about any expensive surprises though. If the staff feels the research will take longer than the free half hour, they will contact you and you can discuss details before they proceed. 

The Library hours are 10 am - 8 pm Monday to Thursday, 10am - 5pm Friday and Saturday. They are open 1pm - 4 pm on Sundays, but only from mid October to mid May. Their contact information is:

Lindsay Administration
P.O. Box 9000
Lindsay, Ontario
K9V 2Y6
Phone: 705-324-9411 ext. 1291 or 1-888-822-2225 ext.1291
Fax: 705-878-1859

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Acadian Ancestors: Using the Nova Scotia Archives


Acadian Day was this week here in Canada. I'm not going to get into the long and complicated history of the Acadians in Canada. Long story short, the Acadians were some of the earliest settlers of Canada, settling in what is now Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island. They would become victims of the war between the French and British for control of Canada. The deportation of the Acadian people by the British is one of the darker periods of our history. For a more complete history of the Acadians you can look at the entries in the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Acadian research has definite advantages and disadvantages. The fact that they were French Catholic means excellent religious records can take you very far back. One of the disadvantages is that due to the conflict that led to their expulsion, the records can be far flung and scattered.

Nova Scotia takes great pride in being the original home of the Acadian people. The Nova Scotia Archives (NSA) has a great collection of Acadian resources both online and on site. Go to the main page of the Archive's website, scroll to the bottom to "Some of Our Topics" and click on "Acadians".

There are 8 collections at the Nova Scotia Archives related to the Acadians:

  • Isaac Deschamps Collection
This collection does not deal exclusively with Acadians. Mr. Deschamps was traded with the Acadians and local First Nations. Later he was connected to Fort Edward. Among this collection is correspondence of his relating to the Acadians, as well as reports listing French prisoners at Fort Edward. It is available on microfilm onsite. Please note that the NSA does not participate in inter library loan. Also in the collection is a virtual exhibit that has 42 images of some of his correspondence. It also has lists of French prisoners at Fort Edward. One image has the names of the heads of family, along with the number of people in each family. Yes, you read that right. Entire families were imprisoned in some cases.

  • An Acadian Parish Reborn
If your Acadian ancestors settled in Argyle, Yarmouth County in the post deportation years, then this collection is for you. Covering the years 1799 to 1849, this searchable database has all the Roman Catholic church entries for this area. This section is subdivided through links on the right side of the page. You can learn about the history of the area, the Acadian familes who settled there, and the churches in the area. At the bottom of the list of links is a name index. Just click on a surname and it will give you all the entries under that particular surname. By clicking on a particular entry, you will get both a transcription and a visual image of the entry. Please note that there is no way to download the image, but you can download a transcript of the whole page.

  • The Port Royal Habitation
This is a virtual exhibit outlining the history of Port Royal. As well, it provides details and insights into the rebuilding of the original settlement.

  • Acadian Heartland: Records of the Deportation
This is a digitized and searchable collection relating to the deportation of the Acadians by the British. The collections is a series of papers documenting the timeline of the Expulsion. It is almost exclusively drawn from British sources, due to the fact that no records from an Acadian point of view has survived. While you probably will not find your ancestor's name in the collection, it is still a good resource. Reading through this collection will help you get a feel for the confusion, mistrust, and semi chaos surrounding this time period.

  • Acadian Heartland: The Records of the British Government
This a sister collection to the one above. This particular collection covers the years from 1713 to the Expulsion. It gives great insight into everyday life in this time period. As well, if you managed to find an ancestor who was part of the British military in this place and time period, you might find mention of them here.

  • This is Our Home: Acadians of Nova Scotia
This virtual exhibit of photographs showcases 150 years of the original Acadians' descendants in Nova Scotia.

  • Acadian Genealogical Sources
This section gives a complete listing of the NSA's Acadian holdings. If you're planning a research trip to the Archives, then this section will help you plan your time there.

  • An Acadian Parish Remembered
This last section is my favourite, and I've used it a lot. This indexed and searchable database contains the registers of St. Jean-Baptiste in Annapolis Royal. It covers the years 1702 to 1755. You use it in the same way as you would the " An Acadian Parish Reborn Collection". Unlike the collection above though, you cannot download either the image itself or the transcription. It is still a great resource though. Just look at the information I got for the baptism of Michel Bastarache, my 6x great grandfather, and one of my favourite ancestors. As an adult he caused a lot of trouble for the British military. You can read about him in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography here


Not in the screenshot is an image of the register itself below. This is handy to confirm the information transcribed. As you know, errors can be made. Please note that the original entries are in French. This particular entry is one of 44 entries that pertain to the Bastarache surname. In all, there are over 3500 entries in these registers.

Not listed in the general Acadian search topic is the digitized issues of Le Courier de la Nouvelle Ecosse in the newspapers section. A French language newspaper that is still published today, it is the newspaper of the Acadian culture. The NSA has issues digitized from 1937 to 2002. You will need to have a fairly good grasp of French to read them, but you never know if your more recent ancestor of Acadian descent is going to show up in there. What is neat about this paper is that along with all the usual news items you would normally find, they also have articles discussing Acadian culture and heritage. You can access all the issues available here.

Of course there are many other sources for Acadian research online. But the Nova Scotia Archives is a great place to start delving into your Acadian heritage.


Wednesday, 2 August 2017

New Brunswick Ancestors: A Look at the PANB County Guides

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) is one of my favourite websites to use. Compared to other provincial archives' sites, it's very genealogist friendly. But did you know that there is so much more information on it than what you can find under the "Search" tab?

One of the great resources they have is the County Guides. They were developed in 2006, so some of the information is a little dated as far as what's available online. But they still have tremendous value into letting you see what they have in their holdings that isn't online.

To access them, you want to go to the main website page here.

Next you want to click on where I've circled above on Research Tools, and then click on County Guides. Your next screen will look like this:

Next you just click on the county you want. The guide for each county is a PDF that you can view online, download and/or print. Each County guide has been set up the same way:

  • Introduction
A quick explanation of the PANB and the County Guides

  • Research, Interlibrary Loan, and Copy Services
A brief explanation of their policies. One of the great things about PANB is their participation in interlibrary loan for most of their microfilms. Why I say "most" will become clearer later on.

  • Development of the County
This gives a brief history of the County you are looking at, and their Parishes. This history comes in especially handy if your County of research was not one the original  8 Counties. For instance, some of my ancestors settled in Gloucester County. Gloucester was originally part of Northumberland until it became it's own County in 1826. Have an ancestor who lived in Kent County? It didn't become a County until 1826, and was formerly a part of Northumberland as well. In both the Kent and Gloucester guides, it advises you that you should be looking in Northumberland records for your pre 1826 ancestors.

  • Census Returns
This is a handy one. It tells you how complete the census records are for your particular County. For instance, It tells me that Northumberland County in 1851 and 1861 are incomplete. The PANB has census records on microfilm and the guide lists what the microfilm reel numbers are. These are not available for microfilm loan. Thanks to other websites though, you can access these in other ways.

  • Returns of Births, Marriages, and Deaths
This section is one of the ones that is outdated. The introduction gives you an overview of the New Brunswick policy on access to BMD's. |It then outlines what is online and what is not. However, since these were made in 2006, the year ranges will be off. For instance, it says that births are online to 1908, marriages and deaths to 1955. But when you check the online database on the site, births are available as of today up to 1921, marriages and deaths to 1966. It also states that their record set Marriage Bonds (RS551A) is only available on microfilm. It has since been added to their collection of online databases. So, just be sure to double check their online databases to make sure if what you're looking for hasn't been updated since the guides were made.

  • Burial Records
Another outdated section. The online database on the PANB of gravestone transcriptions has grown quite a bit since 2006. Depending on the County, you may also find some other collections. Charlotte County has some miscellaneous cemetery records as well as the H Owen Rigby fonds, concerning the account book of Mr. Rigby's undertaking business.

  • Land Records
This section describes their online indexes for land petitions and grants. These microfilms can be borrowed through interlibrary loan. It also describes their collection of Land Registry Office Records. Each County has a different collection number (i.e. Northumberland is RS91, Gloucester is RS87).
There is a microfilmed index only available at the archives, and the records themselves are not available for loan.
  • Immigration Records
Listed are microfilm numbers for their collections of passenger and crew lists. It does not say whether these are available through interlibrary loan. However, they have since been indexed and digitized and are available through the PANB's Irish Portal Virtual Exhibit here.

  • Court Records
The PANB has collections of both Probate Court and Court of Equity records. Microfilms for Probate Court are available through interlibrary loan, though not all have been microfilmed. Court of Equity records are not microfilmed and can only be viewed at the PANB.

  • Education Records
If you have an ancestor that was a teacher, then you might want to consult their collection Teachers' Petitions and Licenses (RS655). This province wide collection's records are not online. However, they have a searchable online index that will give you the microfilm number you need to consult. It does not say whether the records are available for interlibrary loan. I'm assuming that since they do not emphasize a restriction, that they are available to loan.

There is also the collection Teachers' and Trustees' Returns (RS657). You will find the school, teacher's name, and student lists by year. Each county guide lists the particular microfilm numbers needed to consult for that particular area. Again, it does not say whether these are available through interlibrary loan.

Lastly, each guide also lists miscellaneous education records that involve your particular County, and their microfilm numbers.

  • Directories
These have the microfilm numbers of the directories in their holdings for your particular County of interest and the corresponding microfilm numbers.

  • City Council Records
What's available differs for each particular County. As well, some have microfilm numbers listed, while others state "Numbers on Request". In King's County, you can find records from the Road's Commission, while in Restigouche, there are County Jail Records.

  • Newspapers
Another helpful section. Listed in each guide are the newspapers circulating in that area. Some have microfilm numbers attached, while others do not. They do say to consult the Archives for the microfilm number you need. You need to let the staff know what newspaper and date you are looking for to get the right microfilm number. These are available through loan.

  • New Brunswick Museum Vertical Files
These are files that "...contain genealogical, biographical, and historical research information for all of New Brunswick...". There is a microfilmed index on roll F11077.

  • Church Records
This one is worth the guide all on its own. Each guide lists the churches in that county, what years are microfilmed, and microfilm numbers. Take note though that if the microfilm you want says "(RESTRICTED)", then you will need to obtain written permission from that particular church to see those records. 

If you have Catholic ancestors, as I do, then chances are you are probably going to find what you need elsewhere on the internet through the Drouin. But check anyway. You might find something that you didn't know was missing from another site's record set. For instance, in the Drouin Collection on Ancestry, records for Burnt Church in Northumberland County are available from 1891-1899. However, at the PANB they also have 2 other sets from there: 1844-1890, and 1959-1972 (this one is labelled as restricted).

Now if you are trying to get a hold of non Catholic records, then what's available will make you do a dance. Among the guides I looked at, you could find Anglican, United, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Congregational, and Jewish records. Of course, this will vary County by County.

  • Other Institutions to Contact or Visit
Each County guide has a list of institutions, museums, societies and/or archives that have information on that particular area. Postal addresses are included. I'm sure a google search of the individual places will give you email contact information an/or telephone numbers as well.

While you're on the PANB's website, check out the other Research Tools and online exhibits they have. You'll be pleasantly surprised at what they have to offer.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Research Your Ancestors in the Canada Gazette

When I did my series of blog posts on Divorce, I mentioned the Canada Gazette. This is a fantastic but not well known resource. It is the official newspaper of the Canadian government, and will be celebrating its 166th birthday this coming October. That's right, it has been in existence since before Confederation.

A Brief History 
The Union Act of 1840 took effect in February 1841, uniting Upper Canada and Lower Canada. Both has Gazettes of their own, and in October of 1841 the Canada Gazette became the government's official newspaper. The Upper Canada Gazette and the Quebec Gazette both continued to be published until 1849, when an Act of Parliament made the Canada Gazette the only recognized publication for the Canadian Government. Originally only published in English, slowly it became a bilingual publication.

It has many taken many forms over the last 160 plus years, but today it is published in three parts. Part I is dedicated to the general business of Government. Part II is dedicated to the regulations and statutes of the Government of Canada. Part III is announcements of public acts.

For a more detailed explanation and timeline of the Canada Gazette take a look at the publication celebrating the 160th anniversary here. Also note there was also a publication made last year for the 165th anniversary. The link to it can be seen on the link above. Both are free to view.

What You'll Find
For the first years it concentrated on Government Acts and Regulations. Through subsequent years you will find notices for divorce, bankruptcy, corporate notices, Government Appointments, and so much more. Here's a sample page from 9 July 1904 that lists "Appointments, Promotions and Retirements" from the Canadian Militia:

Source: Internet Archive

Here's an example of the Government issuing "letters patent" incorporating Companies from 14 January 1893. One of the notices gives the names of "...Frederick Fairman, merchant, Dugald Graham, gentleman, Samuel Carsley, merchant, Robert Murdoch Liddick, merchant, Edward Alfred Small, merchant, John Cameron McLaughlin, manufacturer, Edmond Arthur Robert, manufacturer, Simon S. Silverman, merchant, James McBride, merchant, Robert McKay, merchant, George Bishop, engraver, Charles Morton, manager, all of the city of Montreal, Province of Quebec...". The notice is incorporating the company called The Dominion Blanket and Fibre Company (Ltd.):

Source: Internet Archive

This example from 29 August 1846 shows notices on bankruptcies. Listed are Richard Barrett (Port Hope), Richard Bates Parr (Whitby), Jared Stocking (Town of Niagara), Joseph Milner (Township of Kingston), Christopher G. Cramer (City of Kingston), and John Bennett (City of Toronto):

Source: Collections Canada
This example from 7 January 1888 lists people from across the country who passed civil servant's exams:
Source: Internet Archive

 And finally, here's an interesting one about Alexis Gosselin. It states that he is able " exact and receive the tolls or dues for passing on the Bridge erected by the said Alexis Gosselin, over the River Boyer, in the Parish of St. Vallier, County of Bellechasse...". It goes on to list the toll fees, and is dated 8 November 1842:
Source: Collections Canada

Where to Find Publications 
From 1841 to 1998 the Canada Gazette was solely in print form. From 1998 to 2014 it was both in printed and digital form. From 2014 on wards it has become a digital only publication.

A quick search of provincial archives shows that some have copies in their holdings on microfilm. But the best place to search is on the archived Library and Archives Canada website here. They have digitized the majority of the issues from 1841-1997. You can download them in either GIF or PDF form. They are searchable, so at least you won't have to browse page by page. However, keep in mind that the search function looks for the keywords on the whole page, not by notice. So, if you type in "Smith bankruptcy", your result may show a page that has both a notice that contains the word "Smith", and a completely different notice on the same page that contains "bankruptcy".

If your looking for something from 1998 to 2011, you can look it up on the Canada Gazette website here. These are in PDF form. They are NOT searchable by keyword. However, the file names have the publication dates, so if you know the approximate time period, you will only have to do a minimum of browsing.

You can access publications from 2012 on wards here. The format is the same as above. They are PDFs and are NOT searchable by keyword.

They are various editions editions digitized on Internet Archive here. Using keywords "Canada Gazette" gave me 716 results.

A final word of warning: This is one of those resources where you'll have to be careful not to go down a "rabbit hole" as I like to call it. You can get so caught up looking at the notices that you WILL lose track of time. Try and stay focused, and you'll be surprised at what you may find.

Exploring Canada: The NWT Legislative Building

On our visit to the Northwest Territories, a lovely lady named Vi at the 60th Parallel Visitor Information Centre told us that the NWT Legislative Building is a must see. It is conveniently located just down the street from the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. As luck would have, we arrived just as they were starting a tour, so we joined in. The tour was led by a summer student by the name of Marlisa. She is fantastic at the job. Very knowledgeable, articulate, and if she was reciting from a script you couldn't tell.

The building is beautiful. Compared to other buildings of it's kind in the country, it's brand spanking new. Built in 1993, it is the first permanent building for the NWT Legislature. Before then, the Legislature traveled around the Territory to perform their duties. One of the advantages of it being so new is that it was designed to incorporate as much of the natural landscape as possible. It was built using Zinc to endure the climate, and also because it is one of the minerals mined in the Territory. The interior was designed to include images and artifacts from all regions of the Northwest Territories. In fact two of the architects were from the Northwest Territories, and worked with an architect firm from Vancouver.

Unlike other areas of Canada, the Northwest Territories do not use the party system for the Territorial Government. Each of the 19 members of the Assembly run as an independent. The Assembly then elects the seven cabinet members and Speaker. The remaining members form the official opposition.
Another unique facet of the government is that they govern by consensus.

The Caucus Room

The Chamber

Pride of place as soon as you walk in the building are the old and new mace. The new mace was made in 1999, when the Northwest Territories was divided into the NWT and Nunavut. The mace is 1.5 meters in length and weighs 12 kilograms. It is filled with relief carvings of symbolic images reflecting the culture of the people. At the top is a diamond mined from Canada's first diamond mine, snowflakes, and an orb representing the "land of the midnight sun". The crosspiece on which the orb and diamond sit is a crosspiece that represents the ulu (a native cutting tool), a teepee, and a house. It is a nod to not only the Inuvialuit and Dene/Metis cultures, but also to the non Aboriginal people who have made the Northwest Territories their home. Written on the mace is the phrase "One land, many voices". It is written in 10 of the 11 official languages: Cree, Chipewyan, French, English, Dogrib, Gwich'in, North Slavey, South Slavey, Inuvialuktun, and Inuinnaqtun. It also has bead work and porcupine quillwork. The shaft is a bronze cast of a narwhal tusk.

Throughout the building is artwork that reflects the culture of the native groups, as well as gifts of artwork from the other provinces and territories. A collection of AY Jackson from the Group of Seven assembled in one place sits in the caucus room. It depicts images of the NWT landscape. Two hallways have painted portraits of the NWT premiers, and the Speakers. What is unique about them is that the sitter chose what kind of portrait they would have and the artist. Some are traditional looking, while others have images of their particular constituency in the background.

This tapestry was a gift from Nova Scotia

To find out more about the NWT Legislature and the Legislative Building, you can look at their website here.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Focus on an Archive: Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, NWT

On my recent trip to the Northwest Territories, I made sure I made a visit to the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre (PWNHC). I'm very lucky in that my significant other is a history buff like me. He was all for taking a look with me. We made a point of planning our trip in such a way that we would be able to have lots of time to spend there.

Built in 1979, it is the Territorial Government's archive and museum.Now, unlike some of the Government Archives around the country, the PWNHC does not hold those usual records that we as genealogists crave, such as BMD's and land records. The reason for this is that these records are just too new to be publicly available. They are still held in the custody of the particular government department they belong to. Older records that don't fall under privacy legislation are most likely held in the Archives in the Prairie Provinces, all of which used to be part of the Northwest Territories.

The PWNHC instead focuses on a general history of the Territories. They do have some government records that relate more to the running of the Territory. They also have private collections of records from both individuals and businesses. There's an extensive photo collection, audio and visual files, and maps. You can also take a look at their collection of publications on the history of the Territory. For a more detailed explanation of their holdings, you can check their website here.

The jewel in the crown though is the museum. We spent a long time going through the building. I was very impressed with how interactive all the displays were. They have dioramas of all the various arctic animals. In front of each animal was a information stand, with statistics on the animal's size, habitat, etc. Many of them had pelts attached that you could touch. In a glass case beside each diorama were example of all the products that were made from that animal and tools. At the bottom of each case was the name of the animal in English, French, and several of the indigenous languages. You can also listen to audio files, some with elders talking about their experiences

There are also displays telling the history of the many different Native groups, and a general history of the Northwest Territories. There are displays of clothing, furniture, and an absolutely huge mooseskin boat. I learned a great deal in just a couple of hours.

Along with their permanent displays, the PWNHC have travelling exhibits available for NWT communities to display. They also have virtual exhibits online here.

The museum is open daily from 1030 a.m.-5 p.m. and until 9 p.m. on Thursdays. There's a cafe onsite that is open the same hours. The archive is open Monday to Friday 9 a.m.-12 noon and 1 p.m. to 430 p.m. If you have mobility problems, both levels are designed to accommodate.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

I'm on holidays!

Just a heads up that there will be no regular weekly blog post this week. I am in beautiful British Columbia at the moment, and will be leaving for a road trip today to the Northwest Territories. Internet and cell service will be sketchy. But rest assured I will be back next week!

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

What's in a Name? A Look at Naming Patterns

Our ancestors seemed to have loved reusing names. For us, many many years later, it can be enough to yank your hair out to have discovered that you've traced back to yet another John, James, Mary, or Margaret. Middle names become very important. My own two middle names are from one paternal great grandmother, and one maternal great grandmother.

If you have a strong heritage to a particular country, your family may have followed a long standing naming tradition for first names. On the surface it may seem frustrating, but there are some great clues in these traditions that can help you establish another generation back.

French Canadian Naming Patterns
These can be confusing, without throwing in "dit" names. That's a whole blog post in itself. Usually a child would have three names

  • First name: Joseph or Marie, depending on the sex of the child
  • Second name: name of Godfather or Godmother, depending on the sex of the child
  • Third name: the name they were generally known by
On my maternal side, this has occurred right up until my mother's generation. The only deviation in my mom and her siblings is that there were only two names. It is their middle name that they go by. 

Scottish Naming Patterns
According to FindMyPast's blog post, they were actually two different traditional naming patterns people followed. They caution that not everyone used the naming traditions.

The first pattern for boys was:

  • First son: father's father
  • Second son: mother's father
  • Third son: father
  • Fourth son: father's eldest brother, or father's paternal grandfather
  • Fifth son: mother's eldest brother, or mother's paternal grandfather
For girls:
  • First daughter: mother's mother
  • Second daughter: father's mother
  • Third daughter: mother
  • Fourth daughter: mother's eldest sister, or mother's maternal grandmother
  • Fifth daughter: named after father's eldest sister, or father's maternal grandmother
See the link above for details on the second naming tradition.

English and Irish Naming Patterns
The traditional naming pattern of England is very similar to the Scottish. 

  • First son: father's father
  • Second son: mother's father
  • Third son: father
  • Fourth son: father's eldest brother
  • Fifth son: father's second eldest brother, or mother's eldest brother
  • First daughter: mother's mother
  • Second daughter: father's mother
  • Third daughter: mother
  • Fourth daughter: mother's eldest sister
  • Fifth daughter: mother's second eldest sister, or father's eldest sister
The British also tended to use maiden names as middle names. This can be extremely helpful with tracing your female ancestors. I once had a friend ask me to find out where the middle name "Steel" came from in her family line. It was a long standing tradition to give the first born son this as a middle name. It turned out it was the maiden name of her 3x great grandmother. It had traveled down through 5 generations of sons as a middle name. 

German Naming Patterns
Similar to French Canadians, Germans traditionally used a religious name first, and the name they went by was second. In my Lunenburg ancestors, I have a lot of "Johann" and "Anna" as first names. For the commonly used name, they usually followed the following pattern:

For boys:
  • First son: father's father
  • Second son: mother's father
  • Third son: father
  • Fourth son: father's paternal grandfather
  • Fifth son: mother's paternal grandfather
  • Sixth son: father's maternal grandfather
  • Seventh son: mother's maternal grandfather
For girls:
  • First daughter: mother's mother
  • Second daughter: father's mother
  • Third daughter: mother
  • Fourth daughter: father's paternal grandmother
  • Fifth daughter: mother's paternal grandmother
  • Sixth daughter: father's maternal grandmother
  • Seventh daughter: mother's maternal grandmother
Ukranian Naming Patterns
The Canadian West in particular has strong Ukranian roots. A traditional Ukranian name would follow the following:

For boys:
  • First name: name they are called by
  • Middle name: (father's name) with the suffix "ovych" or "yovych"
For girls:
  • First name: name they are called by
  • Middle name: (father's name) with the suffix "ivna" or "yivna" 
So if the father's name was Ivan, then the son's middle name would be "Ivanovich". His daughter's middle name would be "Ivanivna".

Now keep in mind that not everyone stuck to ethnic naming patterns. Some families tended to have their own unique versions. I've seen traditions where a son's middle name was a father's first name. But if you're lucky enough to see a pattern develop, it can give you some great clues on getting another generation back.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

My Canada 150 Ancestors



Patricia Greber at My Genealogy Life has challenged Canadian bloggers to list their ancestors who were here in 1867, our country's year of Confederation. We are supposed to list our ancestor, their year of arrival and where they settled. Now, my ancestral lines that were here in 1867 actually came in the 1600's and 1700's. Because of this, those alive in 1867 were born here. I'm also only going to concentrate on my direct line ancestors, because otherwise it would be next Canada Day before I was able to finish listing them all! Here's my list of ancestors confirmed alive in 1867:

Name                                                 Born                                  Where they were in 1867

James Edward Johnson  Jr.               1864                                   Halifax County NS

James Edward Johnson Sr.               1841                                   Halifax County NS

Jacob Johnson                                   1792                                   Halifax County NS

Catherine Boutilier                            1811                                   Halifax County NS

Deborah Covey                                 1844                                   Halifax County NS

John Covey                                       abt. 1814                             Halifax County NS

Maria Anna Hubly                            abt. 1811                             Halifax County NS

Anna Maria Kohler                          1774                                     Halifax County NS

William J Boutilier                           1834                                    Halifax County NS

Martha Eisenhauer                           1840                                     Halifax County NS

Micheal Eisenhauer                         1803                                     Halifax County NS

Sophia Lantz                                    1812                                     Halifax County NS

Johann Jacob Lantz                          1787                                     Lunenburg NS

Regina Magdelene Ernst                  1785                                     Lunenburg NS

Mary Govereau                                1855                                  Northumberland Cnty NB

Honore Govereau  (aka Germain Deneau) 1812                    Northumberland County NB

Appoline Savoie                              abt. 1823                        Northumberland County NB

Helene Breau                                   abt 1790                         Northumberland County NB

Jean Julian Mallais                          1847                                      Gloucester County NB

Joseph Jules Mallais                        1818                                      Gloucester County NB

Marie Aylward                                 1822                                      Gloucester County NB

Marie Victorine Ferguson                1846                                      Gloucester County NB

Francois David Ferguson                 1811                                      Gloucester County NB

Jean McLaughlin                             abt 1857                                 Gloucester County NB

Jacques James McLaughlin             1821                                       Gloucester County NB

Jean McLaughlin                             1795                                       Gloucester County NB

Isabelle Saulnier                               abt 1790                                Gloucester County NB

Elizabeth Robinson                          1824                                      Gloucester County NB

Mary Louise Elizabeth Fournier      abt. 1858                                Gloucester County NB

Guillaume Fournier                          1832                                       Gloucester County NB

Marie Anne Brideau                        1829                                       Gloucester County NB

Louis Brideau                                  1799                                       Gloucester County NB

Josephette McLaughlin                   1802                                        Gloucester County NB

I hope next year to possibly add in my Douglas line. My great grandfather James Henry Douglas was born after Confederation. There's conflicting evidence on his birth. Some documents say Ontario, while others say England.

You may have noticed no McDonald names in the list. This ironically is my biggest brick wall line. My great grandfather was born about 1894 in Ontario. His parents were John Angus McDonald and Mildred Murphy. He states on his marriage certificate from 1956 (he and my great grandmother were together for over 30 years before they got married) that his parents were born in Ireland. I have not found a birth for John Wellington, or any records on John Angus or Mildred.

Was your family here in 1867? Let me know in the comments below!