Sunday, 31 May 2020

Quebec Ancestors: Notarial Records on Family Search

Sometimes as a genealogist you're forced to pick and choose what sites and societies you subscribe to.  If you're someone like myself, whose ancestry stretches across several regions and cultural groups, then it can be really difficult to stretch those genealogy dollars to get what you need. My personal ancestry covers PEI, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec and Ontario. Recent DNA discoveries have me now looking into New York State as well. I have Acadian and French Canadian ancestry. I also have French Protestant, German, British, Scottish and Irish immigrants from the early 1700's right up to the early 20th Century. For me, subscribing to every pay site I need to further my lines amounts to more than my genealogy dollars can afford. Any time I come across a free database to further my research, I jump on it. One such database is Family Search's browse only database Quebec Notarial Records, 1800-1920.

Quebec is unique in several respects to the other provinces of Canada. It is an intriguing combination of  French and English law. When it comes to civil matters, they follow the laws of France. As such, the Quebec notary had a much bigger role and presence in the everyday life of the average person than other provinces. Because of their unique role in Quebec society, the records of notaries contain the type of information genealogists get giddy for. Among their responsibilities were:

  • Marriage contracts
  • Wills
  • Deeds
  • Inventories
  • Agreements and settlements
  • Transfers of property
  • Donations (pre-wills)
  • Legal documents
  • Guardian records
  • Indenture records
The records are for the most part in French. Those familiar with French Canadian records know that neat handwriting was NOT a prerequisite for becoming a scribe. It can be a real challenge sometimes, especially if your grasp of French is not the best. But Family Search provides some great guides in helping those not proficient
There are almost 5 MILLION images in the collection. But don't worry, you can narrow things down fairly quickly for browsing.  You are going to need a location and year range for your ancestor. First, you need to narrow by judicial district
Once you pick your district, then you pick by Notary Name/Record Type/Year Range/File Number Range. Then just start browsing. As always with Family Search, the images are nice and clean. The image viewer lets you zoom in and out. You can adjust the image by clicking on the tools icon. This will let you rotate the image, and adjust brightness and contrast. You can even invert the image so that the background is dark and writing is white. This can be a handy tool sometimes when dealing with faded handwriting. You can download and/or print as well.

So, what are the kinds of images you can see? Well, here's a sale contract from 1923 in Chicoutimi

Here's part of a will from Montreal in 1878. This one is in English.

Here's a Labour Contract, involving the Hudson's Bay Company, from 1837 in Terrebone

And here's a Marriage Contract from 1903 in Hull

Here are a couple of links that can also help in your research

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Newfoundland Ancestors: Newspapers and Magazines on Canadiana

One of the downsides to having Newfoundland ancestors is the lack of original sources online. If you have to research from a distance, it can be more challenging than some of the other provinces. Again, Canadiana comes to the rescue. On their site are several newspapers and magazines.

The problem with Canadiana is that there is so much there, it can be hard to find what you want. This week I'm providing links to the newspapers and magazines available. Canadiana gives you the ability to zoom in and out, and download individual pages to your computer. The pages download as PDFs. Alternately, by right clicking on the image and saving, it will save the whole page as a JPEG. Then you can use your photo software to crop in on individual articles.

The Star and Newfoundland Advocate: Available issues: 2

The available issues is a bit of a misnomer. It is 2 microfilms. One microfilm covers from 14 November 1840 to 28 December 1843. The second covers from 11 January 1844 to 14 January 1847.

A Protestant conservative leaning newspaper, it featured both local and foreign news. It was geared towards businessmen. Among the images you'll find news on shipping, government, and agriculture. It was also heavy on advertisements and notices. Here's one about the new packet boat, The Edmund Phelan

The Newfoundland magazine: Available issues: 5

The five issues cover the year 1900. It was filled with both fictional stories and memories of Newfoundland life. The ads are a treat to look at as well.

Newfoundland monthly messenger: Available issues: 36

A religious newspaper, there are 12 issues each for the years 1876-1878. It consists mainly of articles of religious instruction. No publication can exist without advertisers, so of course there are advertisements as well. But here and there are news items and obituaries. Here are ones for Mrs. George Cook, and Miss. Mary Langmead from 1876.

The collegian: Available issues: 5

Covering the year 1897, this publication was aimed at Methodist schools. It is interesting in that it lists faculty and students in the publication. Here's a list of the 10 best exam remarks in various classes. It even shows the score for some. A nice little insight into your ancestor's academic achievements!

The Conception-Bay man: Available issues: 100

Covering from 1856-1859, this publication was the liberal leaning counterpart to The Star and Newfoundland Advocate. It's content was also geared towards the merchant class. Here's a rather interesting notice. It seems someone had been going around racking up debts in this man's name

Mail and Advocate: Available issues: 1

Only 1 microfilm covering December 1916.This publication was the "Official Organ of the Fishermen's Protective Union of Newfoundland". As to be expected from the date, it is mainly filled with news about World War I. I did find a notice of Contributions to the Cot Fund from Herring Neck

Evening Advocate: Avaliable Issues:29

Covering from 1917-1924, this newspaper was a sister paper of the Mail and Advocate. One of the more interesting notices I found was about unclaimed mail at the post office. It gives an alphabetical listing of all mail not yet claimed. You can definitely tell that this was in a time before concerns of privacy and identity theft!

The Daily Mail: Available issues: 90

Another great newspaper find. The issues run from January to April 1914. Rather than a trade newspaper, this publication had something for everyone. One of the interesting things I found was this list of crew from the Sealer Newfoundland. A huge storm took the fishing fleet unawares. The entire front page of this issue was devoted to the men and ships feared lost.

These publications are just a sampling of what I found in a quick search. There were many, many more publications in the results.

Monday, 18 May 2020

British Columbia Ancestors: Historical BC Government Gazette Online

Government Gazettes are a great resource. During the early years of Canada, these publications gave information on many aspects of the lives of our ancestors. They had notices of divorces, bankruptcies, and business dealings, just to name a few. I've written before on the Canada Gazette, the publication of the federal government. But provincial governments publish their own versions.I've found 3 online sources for free digitizations.

University of Victoria
Their collection, Official Gazettes of the Province of British Columbia, contains 715 issues. The issues run from 1863 to 1871, before it became a Canadian Province.
The set up is extremely easy to use. They are by default listed by date created ascending, but you can modify the list to

  • date created descending
  • title ascending
  • title descending
  • relevance
  • date modified ascending
  • date modified descending
Just pick a year and issue and click on the image to have it open to browse page by page. My suggestion if using this method is to right click on the issue title and open the issue in a new window. It will make it much easier on yourself than constantly using the back arrow to go back to the main page.

If your searching for something specific, use the search bar located just above the issues list to search by keyword. This will then give you a list of issues with your keyword. It does not however, highlight the keyword within the issue itself.

Once you're looking at a particular issue, you can zoom in and out by using your mouse. You can also full screen the issue. To save, you can download or print the whole issue. 

University of British Columbia
Their collection of digitized directories has duplicates of the ones that UVic has, but also later editions up to 1882. The ones on this site have an entire year in book form. Just click on the volume and it will take you into the image viewer. As with the UVic's collecton, I would suggest opening in a new tab for ease of browsing volumes. You can search within each volume sing the search bar, or you can browse page by page. If you use the search function, the result will first highlight a page within the volume for your keyword. It will then highlight the word itself.


As with UVic's collection you can manipulate the image. You can also download individual pages to your computer. 

Internet Archive
Lastly, Internet Archive has a huge amount of years on their site in the collection Official Gazettes of the Province of British Columbia. They have various years from the start of the colony up to 1974. A good chunk of them are not tagged with a date. You can search within specific volumes with keywords. You can zoom in and out. To save a specific page, right click on the image, and then on Save image as. There is no way to print directly from the site.

So, what can be found in these issues? Here's a list of Road Tax Defaulters from 1870:


And here's a notice from 1868 looking for information on who shot John Crocket, alias Crosby. They are offering a $100 reward. That's quite a large sum back then.

And in August of 1864, there is a very lengthy account of the Bentick Arm Expedition. It runs for several pages

Here's some estate notices from 1879

And here's a Register of Medical Practitioners from 1873

Here's some notices of intention to purchase land from 1882

Here's some about Coal Prospecting Licences in 1911

Saturday, 9 May 2020

Alberta Ancestors: Digital Directories on Canadiana

I can't stress enough how important it is to have Canadiana bookmarked on your internet browser. This fantastic free resource has a massive amount of digitized material relating to Canada. While looking for inspiration for my blog post this week, I used the following search term in the main search box:

"Alberta" AND "directory"

When you think "directory", the first thought is City/County directories. These are a great resource, but I wanted to find more "out of the box" results. As usual, Canadiana did not disappoint with unusual material.

Directory of poultry breeders of Alberta, 1918
If your ancestor was in the poultry industry, then this one's for you. Like a regular directory, it has listings with addresses of anyone involved in the industry. It also has advertisements like these ones:

Here's the recent winners of trophies from the Alberta Provincial Poultry Association

Calgary, Alberta, Canada, her industries and resources
This is great resource if your ancestor owned a business in Calgary. Along with the usual advertisements, there are also short sketches of the businesses and owners. Here's one about the local laundry owner, John Dean

Some are longer entries, giving some great details. Look at this lengthy one for George Murdoch

Opportunities in Alberta, 1916
This is one of a series of publications. Their purpose was to entice people to come and settle in the province. They gave overviews of the province as a whole in terms of land and employment opportunities. They also gave details about districts and towns. If you were wanting information on what your ancestor's community was like, these are a good resource. Here's the snippet on what the community of McLeod, Alberta

Henderson's northwest brand book (1889)
If your ancestor was a rancher, you might want to look at this. Each ranch listed describes their brand and where on the animal it is located. Some even have a visual to help

Even better, at the back of the book is a reverse index, showing the brands. You could then go to the page reference and find the ranch it belongs to.

Digest Western law reporter, vols. 1 to 24, Territories law reports vols. 1 to 7 : and the official reports for the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, concurrent with the W.L.R., together with a collection of other cases of special interest to Western Canada / compiled by Thomas T. Rolph and Walter E. Lear
This is an interesting one! If your ancestor was involved in a legal case before 1915, you'll want to look at this. The front of the book lists court cases alphabetically. Look for your case name, and then use the column numbers listed to find the case details

These are just a few examples. While you're at it, also check these links that popped up in the results

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Saskatchewan Ancestors: Medical Journals on Canadiana

Every now and again I like to randomly search the website Canadiana, just to see what pops up. For those who don't know, Canadiana, and it's sister site Heritage, are free sites. They have an incredible amount of documents digitized. They run the gamut of official government records and correspondence relating to immigration, agriculture, wars, and settlement of the west, to name a few. They also have non government books, magazines, and periodical. You never know what you might find.

One of the drawbacks to both sites is that unless you are very specific with your key words, you can get lost in the results. They have recently revamped both sites, and it's a fantastic look. It appears they have attempted to stream line things a bit as well. But part of the fun of just using broad keywords in your search is that you may in fact stumble across a record set you didn't even know existed. Such was the case when I used the keyword Saskatchewan on Canadiana. As to be expected, I got over 30,000 hits. But one that caught my eye was the Saskatchewan Medical Journal. Canadiana has 16 issues digitized. There are 4 issues from 1909, and 12 for 1910. If your Saskatchewan ancestor was a doctor during these years, you'll want to check the issues out.

The Journal of course has articles that would probably interest only medical professions. Much the same as the The New England Historical and Genealogical Register wouldn't be of much interest to anyone outside of our community. But hidden among the pages are still some gems. The Personals and News sections give little snippets about the medical community, much the same as an About Town section of a local newspaper.

There's also an Obituary section

And here's the Officers and Committee Members of the Saskatchewan Medical Association

And here's a letter to the editor:

As you can see from the examples above, these Journals included news and articles from across Canada, and the world. It stands to reason not to leave out medical journals from other areas of Canada as well while you're searching. Canadiana has the following available on their site:

Sunday, 26 April 2020

Newfoundland Ancestors: Online Newspapers at Memorial University of Newfoundland

I'm always on the lookout for online newspaper sites. Especially free ones. Recently while doing some housekeeping on my internet bookmarks, I found one from Memorial University of Newfoundland of their online collection of newspapers.

This collection is part of their Digital Archives Initiative. The site claims that this only comprises of a small part of their off line collection. Here's hoping they will add to it. Right now, they have the following titiles:

Banner of Temperance Jan. 18, 1851 - Dec. 6, 1851 (12 issues)

  • The Carbonear Herald and Outport Telephone - Carbonear Herald and Outport Telephone, May 22, 1879 - Feb. 17, 1882. (120 issues), Carbonear Herald and Railroad Journal, Mar. 17 - Aug. 26, 1882. (5 issues)
  • The Conception-Bay Man Sep. 3, 1856 - Feb. 16, 1859 (100 issues)
  • The Confederate Volumes 1..14 for Apr. 7 - July 16, 1948. (14 issues)
  • The Daily Globe Daily (except Sunday), Dec. 16, 1924 - Apr. 26, 1926. Three times a week, Apr. 29 - June 5, 1926. (298 issues)
  • The Daily Tribune - Daily Tribune Nov. 4, 1892 - Dec. 2, 1893; (272 issues), Tribune Dec. 6-30, 1893. (5 issues)
  • The Enterprise Oct. 21, 1896 - Nov. 3, 1897 (103 issues)
  • Fishermen's Advocate Published Coakerville, St. John's and Port Union N.L 1910-1980 (5 issues)
  • The Independent Volumes 1..14 Mar. 22 - July 15, 1948 (14 issues)
  • The Mercury And General Advertiser Feb. 3, 1846 - Oct. 15, 1846 (28 issues)
  • Morning Advertiser and Shipping Gazette Sep. 21, 1844 - Apr. 26, 1845 (109 issues)
  • Morning Despatch. Published St. John's N.L. Jul. 13, 1892 - Aug. 22, 1892 (32 issues)
  • The Morning Herald Nov. 28, 1879 - Feb. 21, 1880 (54 issues)
  • The Newfoundland Commercial Journal Jun. 22, 1881 - Dec. 8, 1855 (69 issues)
  • Newfoundland Mercantile Journal Earliest issue located: Sept. 11, 1816 (no. 108). - Last issue located: June 7, 1827 (376 issues)
  • The Newfoundland Vindicator Jan. 2, 1841 - May 14, 1842 (69 issues)
  • The Newfoundland Weekly - Newfoundland Weekly, Began publication: Jul. 19, 1924. - Last issue located: Jan. 9, 1932, The Newfoundland Times, Began publication: Sep. 6, 1941. - Last issue located: Dec. 20, 1941, The Newfoundland Weekly, Began publication: Dec. 7, 1940. - Last issue located: Aug. 23, 1941.
  • The Newfoundlander. Oct. 6, 1934 - Dec. 20, 1934 (10 issues)
  • Our Country Aug. 25, 1883 - May 11, 1885 (152 Issues)
  • The Plaindealer Published St. John's N.L. Jun. 1, 1907 - Aug. 16, 1921 (29 Issues)
  • The Record Jan. 18, 1862 - Dec. 29, 1863 (94 Issues)
  • The Register Sep. 17, 1880 - Dec. 16, 1880 (70 Issues)
  • The Reporter Jan. 31, 1856 - Dec. 25, 1856 (47 Issues)
  • Sentinel and Conception Bay Advertiser - Sentinel and Conception Bay Advertiser Oct 27, 1836 – Jul 20, 1837 and Dec 13, 1838 - Nov 19, 1844. (148 issues), The Carbonear Sentinel And Conception Bay Advertiser July 27, 1837 - Nov. 29, 1838. (26 issues), The Sentinel, Mar. 13, 1945 - Oct. 30, 1845. (12 Issues)
  • The Star And Conception Bay Weekly Reporter Feb. 4, 1874 - May 6, 1875 (39 Issues)
  • The Star And Newfoundland Advocate Nov. 14, 1840 - Jan. 14, 1847 (295 Issues)
  • St. John’s Free Press and Semiweekly Advertiser - The St. John's Free Press And Daily Advertiser Apr. 9, 1877 - May 29, 1877 (37 Issues), The St. John's Free Press And Semi-Weekly Advertiser Jun. 11, 1877 - Jul. 22, 1878 (46 Issues)
  • Terra Nova Advocate - St. John's Advertiser, May 5, 1875 - Apr. 29, 1876. (97 Issues), Terra Nova Advocate and Political Observer, May 4, 1876 - May 5, 1880. (377 Issues), Terra Nova Advocate, May 8, 1880 - Dec. 12, 1890. (786 Issues)
  • The Vindicator And Brigus Reporter Earliest issue located: May 4, 1898 (v. 1, no. 2). Ceased publication: Oct. 28, 1903 (14 Issues)
  • The Weekly Express Began publication: Jan. 6, 1858. - Latest issue located: Dec. 27, 1859 (102 Issues)
  • The Weekly Herald And Conception-Bay General Advertiser Jan. 1, 1845 - Jun. 6, 1854. (483 issues)
  • The Weekly News Began publication: Mar. 29, 1894 - Dec. 6, 1894 Ceased publication: June 1906. (36 Issues)

You can use the site by a few different ways

Browse the Collection
This will bring up digital images of every issue in the collection. There are over 5,000 issues.

You can either click on the image of the issue or the issue title. This will take you into the image viewer. I'll explain the image viewer at the bottom of the post.

Search Boxes
Now, there are 2 search boxes on the site. If you use the large one at the top, it will search all the newspapers in the main list I provided above. If you use the smaller one, then not only will it search the newspaper titles featured, but also

  • The Colonist
  • The Daily News
  • The Daily Star
  • The Evening Advocate
  • The Evening Herald
  • The Harbor Grace Standard
  • The Morning Courier
  • The Patriot And Terra-Nova Herald 
  • The St. John's Daily News
  • The Telegram
  • The Twillingate Sun
  • The Western Star

Seems like a no brainer to use the smaller search box. I typed in Greening, which is a Newfoundland surname I'm familiar with. The search resulted in 1887 issues with that surname mentioned. On the results screen, you can filter the results by Relevance, Title, Subject, or Description. The default setting is by Title.

Now, the system isn't foolproof. Several issues I clicked on did not actually have Greening anywhere in the issue. But for those that did, the image viewer helpfully told me how many places and where.

By Newspaper
This function lets you click on a particular newspaper. Clicking on a newspaper title will take you to one of two screens. If you click on the main list of newspapers, then it will take you to the familiar results screen. Just pick an issue and it will take you to the image viewer. As you can see from the screen shot above, you can then narrow by date by using the menu on the far left sidebar. You can do a search within the image viewer of the issue, which I'll talk about in a minute.

If however, you click on one of the titles in the second group of papers, you will be take to a different screen.

Here, you can browse by particular year and/or month. You can also use that large search box at the top to search keywords within the publication. In this case you don't want to use the small one, because it will search all newspaper titles.

Image Viewer
Ok, so I decided to make a section about the image viewer itself, because it's fantastic. As with most online viewers, you can zoom in and out. You can print the page, and you can also download it to your computer in 3 different sizes. But it also has some great tricks.

First of all, it has its own search box to search within an issue. Click on the Text Searxh tab and put your search word. Like I said, it isn't fool proof. It will miss mentions, mainly due to the fonts used. But it does highlight when it does find a result. It will also tell you what page and where. Here's an instance for searching for the word schooner in the Newfoundland Mercantile Journal, 1816-09-11, no. 108

Also in some issues, they have indexed article headings. If you click on that article, it opens in a new window by itself. You can then download or print the single article

Newfoundland Mercantile Journal
To finish off this post, one newspaper title I want to highlight in the collection is the Newfoundland Mercantile Journal. This newspaper can give you some more unusual tidbits on your ancestors than you would normally find. According to the collection description, it focused less on what we regularly find in newspapers such as local gossip and BMDs. It's focus was more business orientated, so there was shipping news, industry advertisements, legal notices, and articles from foreign press sources. Here's a few examples of what I found among its pages.

Sunday, 19 April 2020

British Columbia Ancestors: Naturalization Records on Family Search

Naturalization records can be a valuable brick wall buster. These records often tell country of origin and immigration details that may not be found in other records. The naturalization process applied to immigrants that did not come from the UK. Our UK ancestors were automatically considered Canadian citizens. Some of the details found in naturalization records can be:
  • Residence
  • Place of origin
  • Date of arrival in Canada
  • Residence
  • Years residing in Canada
  • Occupation
  • Residence
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • Date of immigration
  • Name of ship
                    If your ancestor applied for Naturalization in British Columbia between 1859 and 1926, then you'll want to check out Family Search's browse only collection British Columbia Naturalization Records, 1859-1926. This collection of over 23,000 images focuses on naturalization records from Victoria and Cranbrook. The records contain any or all of the following forms:
                    • Application
                    • Oath of Allegiance
                    • Oath of Residence
                    • Naturalization Certificate

                    To narrow your browsing, first you'll want to pick either Victoria or Cranbrook. 

                    The records in this collection consists of 9 boxes covering from 1905 to 1923. This section also includes a handy index. You'll want to first go to the index to find your ancestor. These are not listed alphabetically. They are arranged by box and file number. The boxes are arranged by immigration year. Also take note of the Folio number to the right of the applicant's name. This will come in handy when you're looking for the file.

                    Once you find your ancestor, just go to the box and file number to get the file. I decided to take a look at Fetsuya Yamaguchi, who applied for Naturalization in 1907. His records are in Box 1 File 9, and he is Folio 39/1907. I then went to the subset Naturalization records Box 1 to Box 6, 1905-1919 and bounced forward through the images. At the bottom of each image is a tag showing the Folio number. I found the start of Fetsuya's documents in image 120

                    Subsequent documents let me know that there was a transcription error on the index. Looking at the handwritten word February alerted me to the fact that his name was actually Tetsuya Yamaguchi. He came to Canada from Yokamaha Japan about 3 years earlier. He was a merchant in Japan, and a labourer in Cranbrook. The documents relating to him included his application, his oaths of allegiance, and his Naturalization Certificate.

                    Unfortunately there is no index for this section. Covering 1859 to 1917, and then also 1926. It is divided into 6 subsections
                    • Naturalization records Box 1, file 1, no 1 to Box 10, file 9, no 843, 1859-1896
                    • Naturalization records Box 10, file 9, no 844 to Box 18, file 9, no 1585, 1896-1899
                    • Naturalization records Box 18, file 9, no 1586 to Box 26, file 6, no 2288, 1899-1902
                    • Naturalization records Box 26, file 6, no 2289 to Box 32, file none, no 2938, 1902-1906
                    • Naturalization records Box 33, file 1, no 2939 to Box 38, file 10, no 3523, 1906-1909
                    • Naturalization records Box 39, file 1, no 3524 to Box 44, file 11, 4119, 1909-1917, 1926
                    Since BC did not join Confederation until 1871, the records pre 1871 look different. Before joining Confederation, the Naturalization process was handled by the Colonial Governors. As such, you are going to see more handwritten entries, as opposed to the forms in later years. The earliest years are oaths of allegiance only. Here's one from 1859 for William Henry MacNeil 

                    In the years after joining Confederation, you will see the paperwork getting more standardized. First it was still all handwritten, as with Peter Bordot in 1871

                    Later as the years go on, the forms become very standardized.

                    As with anything with Family Search, you have the option to zoom in and out on the digital images. As well, you can print or download to your computer. If you want to find out a little more about the collection, you can read Family Search's wiki page on the collection.