Sunday, 9 June 2019
We become so focused on the history of our family members that we don't always look closely enough at the history of the region they lived. If you're guilty of this, then you may be missing out on important clues as to why your ancestor settled in a particular place. This week's 52 Ancestor's prompt is "Namesake", so I decided to look at place name and social history resources.
Why look at social histories? These histories give you background on the first settlers of a region. You may even be lucky enough to have your ancestor named. So how does this fit into this week's theme, "Namesake"? Because sometimes looking at the name of a city or town can give you additional insight into those settlers. In some instances, a town may have gone through several name changes. The farther back in your Canadian research you go, knowing possible name and boundary changes becomes more important. For example, the City of Kawartha Lakes in Ontario used to be called Victoria County. Within the City of Kawartha Lakes is a community called Lindsay. It was so named because a surveyor's assistant by the surname of Lindsay died there in 1834 and the new town became named after him. But before that, it was a village called Purdy's Mills. An American family by the last name of Purdy settled there and built a dam, a sawmill, and a grist mill, which the village grew around. Another example is Kitchener, Ontario. Before 1916, it was called Berlin. As you might have guessed, some of the original settlers were of German descent.
Below are some of the ways to look for place and social histories:
Family Search has a searchable digital library on their website. Type in your place name of interest to see what they have. Use the menu on the left to find the ones that are public access and can be read online.
Peel's Prairie Provinces
Go to their section on books. You can either search by place name, or you can browse their collection. Both can be done by author, title, or subject.
If you want to own a copy of a place history, check out Global Genealogy. This Canadian site has hundreds of books relating not only place/ social histories, but family genealogies and methodology as well. Options for purchase can include hard copy, CD, or PDF download.
Now good old Wikipedia can steer you wrong sometimes. But it can still be a good resource. What you want to focus on is the source citations at the end of their articles. These can lead you to other sources. Try typing in a place name and see what turns up. You can check out their page List of Canada city name etymologies to get you started.
Among all the thousands of treasures on Canadiana are place and social histories. Type your place in the search engine, then use the menu on the left to narrow down to monographs. When I typed in "Tracadie", I initially got over 3000 hits. By narrowing down to monographs, I was able to find several books on the Tracadie area of New Brunswick.
Instead of searching records, go instead to the card catalogue. Use the menu on the left to narrow your research to find the place histories. There are over 1,500 publications dealing with social and place histories in Canada.
HathiTrust Digital library
If you haven't heard of HathiTrust, you need to look at their website. It is a partnership of research and academic institutions from around the world. Their aim is to digitize books from these libraries and make them available to all.
This list wouldn't be complete without Internet Archive. More and more Canadian Libraries have been uploading their collections to the website. Click here to access the list of Canadian Libraries and what they have online through Internet Archive.
Find My Past
After their initial misstep in lumping Canadian and US records together, Find My Past has been quietly building a Canadian collection of records. Search the A-Z section of the record sets, then narrow to Canada, then by province. There are not a lot in their collection but they do have some interesting titles
And don't forget to check provincial and local archives. Some of the archive websites, such as the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, have place histories.
Sunday, 2 June 2019
This week's 52 Ancestors prompt is "At the Cemetery". I'm going to look at some of the more unusual records you can find on the Canadiana website relating to cemeteries. Through my research I haven't found a lot on there that pertains to indexes and transcriptions. However, I did find some interesting records.
- The first Catholic cemeteries of Montreal : and a guide to the present cemetery by Simeon Mondou (1887). Go to the image 200 to see the cemeteries listed. If your ancestor owned a business in Montreal in 1887, then check out the last set of images showing advertisements.
- Glenwood Burying Ground (Picton, Ont.) The Trustees of Glenwood Burying Ground : rules and regulations. (1911)
- List of missions of the Church of England in Newfoundland and Labrador : with a tabular statement of the number of inhabitants, members of the Church of England, clergy, licensed lay readers, churches, school chapels, cemeteries and the approximate extent of each mission, to accompany a map of the diocese. by Joseph James Curling (1877).
- A monograph of St. Paul's Cemetery by George Mulane. Published in Halifax 1902.
- Customs and arts of the Kwakiool by George M. Dawson (circa 1888). Starting on image 348 is an outline of their burial practices.
To see all 1,846 monograph results on Canadiana using the search word "cemeteries" click here. Try playing with search terms. You might find some surprising things. For example, I tried "funeral" and start getting results for funeral invitations. I then tried "funeral notices". I got over 4,000 results. The top results were invitations and notices dating back to the early 1800's. Here's one for a Mr. Jacob Duseler from 1832:
Some publications I didn't include above but are worth looking into for cemetery information on Canadiana:
- Place histories
- Church newsletters
As always with Canadiana, book yourself a good chunk of time to explore the site.
Sunday, 26 May 2019
This Week's 52 Ancestors prompt is military. I've decided to focus on a branch of the Canadian military that often gets overlooked, the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). The institution as we now know it was only founded in 1910. Before then, the country was under protection of the British Royal Navy.
If you're looking for more information on a Naval ancestor, then the first place you should look is the Government of Canada's page on Royal Canadian Navy history This site gives a great tutorial on just about anything you would like to know about the RCN:
- History of the Naval Service of Canada from 1867 to 2010
- Naval Leaders and Notable People
- Canadian Submarine History
- Naval Flags and Uniforms
- Niobe Day - October 21 - annual celebration of the anniversary of the first Canadian warship to enter Canada's waters
- Navy Centennial Image Gallery
- Ship's Histories
- Navy Historical Research
- Naval Museums
To research a specific ancestor, there isn't a lot online, and what is online is by no means complete. However, there are a few sites you can check out:
1. Library and Archives Canada has the collection Service Files of the Royal Canadian Navy, 1910-1941 - Ledger Sheets. The records themselves are not online. It is instead a searchable index of names. The main page of the collection gives details on how to obtain the records. They are also available to view onsite.
2. If your Naval ancestor died in World War II, check out the Service Files of the Second World War - War Dead, 1939-1947 database at the LAC. This database lists war dead from all branches of the Canadian Military. not all of the files are digitized on the LAC website, however all can be vied for free on Ancestry. Instructions on how to view them are on the collection's main page.
3. If your ancestor was an officer in the RCN or the Naval Reserves, take a look at the website Word War II unit histories. This is a private website that lists the birth and death dates, and naval history of officers. Some even have photographs.
4. The Nauticapedia is a website that holds biographies of Maritime and Naval personnel, as well as ship's histories. Though it primarily focuses on Western Canada, I did notice some people from Eastern Canada as well.
5. Veteran's Affairs Canada has the Merchant Navy War Dead Registry. It does not show digitized images. However, you will get a date of death, and the ship they were serving on. This information can help further your research. You can search by name or by ship.
6. There are several Naval Museums around Canada:
Some final tips:
- If your ancestor served in Naval uniform before 1910, then look to British Naval Records. If they were colonial French, then look to naval records from France.
- If your Naval ancestor survived World War II, or served in the years after up to 1998, then you will have to apply to Library and Archives Canada for their service record. Because of Canada's strict privacy laws, these records are not open access. You can find information about applying for access here.
Sunday, 19 May 2019
|Historical picture showing the squaring of white pine timber in Algonquin Park |
This week's 52 Ancestors prompt in "Nature". Love it or hate it, Canada's economy has always been heavily entwined with our natural resources. You'd be hard pressed to find a Canadian family tree without at least one ancestor working in these industries. Hiking, hunting, and fishing are still a huge part of Canadian culture, even for those who don't work in the natural resource sector. I decided this week to compile a list of links on Canadiana to point you towards information on those ancestors who worked in natural resources.
- Canadian Forestry Journal - 107 issues from 1905 to 1920
- Illustrated Canadian Forestry Magazine - 33 issues from 1920 to 1933
- List of B.C. Timber Owners - published by the B.C. Drafting & Blueprint Co. circa 1914
- Musson's Improved Lumber and Log Book - a manual for those working in the industry
- Canada Lumberman - 424 issues from 1895 to 1905
- The Canadian Mining Journal - 387 issued from 1907 to 1920
- The Mining Record - 105 issues from 1895 to 1904
- The B.C. mining exchange and investor's guide and mining tit-bits - 14 issues from 1899 to 1901
- Kamloops and district mining gazette - 11 issues from 1899 to 1900
Fishing, Hunting and Trapping
- The veterans of the fur trade or, The retired servants of the Hudson's Bay Company by James Taylor 1905
- The great fur land, or, Sketches of life in the Hudson's Bay territory by H.M. Robinson 1879
- Reports on the Fernie coal mines explosion by W.F. Robertson, F.H. Shepherd and A. Faulds 1902
- The Canadian journal of industry, science, and art - 66 issues from 1856 to 1867
If your ancestor worked in natural resources and was employed by the government, then don't forget to look for them in the Civil Service Registries. These were annual lists published by the federal government. Click here to access the lists.
Saturday, 11 May 2019
|Portrait of Miss Georgina Pope, head nurse of First Canadian Contingent during the Boer war. Possibly in her nurse's uniform from Bellevue Hospital, New York|
This week's 52 Ancestors prompt is "Nurture". So this week I decided to take a look at the Nursing Sisters in Canada's Military.
The Nursing Sisters have a long history in Canada. Their history stretches back to 1885, when they were first put into field hospitals during the Northwest Rebellion. They journeyed with the Royal Canadian Dragoons to the Klondike, when the unit was sent to reinforce the Northwest Mounted Police during the Gold Rush. Nursing Sisters were with Canadian troops during the Boer War, both World Wars, Korea, and Canada's contributions to NATO missions.
If you have a Nursing Sister in your tree, you'll want to look at these collections:
Veterans Affairs Canada has a page devoted to Military Nurses. If you scroll down to the bottom of the page, they have a database of Nursing Sisters who died in the line of duty in World War I and II. Listed by year, then alphabetically, each woman's name is a hyperlink to a memorial page. They contain a surprising amount of information. Here is a screenshot of the first death of World War I, Mary Frances Elizabeth Munro:
Not included in the screenshot is the burial information of each woman, including a link to a map of the cemetery. At the bottom of the page are digital images relating to each particular Nursing Sister. Mary Munro's includes a picture of Mary, her attestation paper, the newspaper clipping about her death, and a picture of her memorial plaque. The public are invited to upload images of any of the Nursing Sisters listed.
Library and Archives Canada has a whole section devoted to the Nursing Sisters. The section includes links and microfilm numbers of a variety of resources connected to the Nursing sisters.
Of special note is the section "Biographies". It contains biographies of 6 Nursing Sisters, using excerpts from correspondence and diaries in their archives. There are digital images of the correspondence and diaries. There are even photographs. The women profiled are:
- Sophie Hoerner
- Dorothy Cotton
- Alice Isaacson
- Annie Ross
- Laura Gamble
- Ruby Peterkin
The LAC also has a collection of digitized war diaries from hospital units. You can access the collection by clicking here.
The Canadian Great War Project has a database of Nurses who served. This database contains over 2,000 names of women who served. Clicking on the name of a nurse gives you a chart of as much information as possible from their military files. Not all sections are complete.
Internet Archive has several resources related to nursing sisters. A quick search brought some really interesting results:
- The audio book Diary of a Nursing Sister on the Western Front 1914-1915
- The diary of Clare Gass, a World War I Nursing Sister
Sunday, 5 May 2019
This week's 52 Ancestors theme is Road Trip. A must have for any trip is a map. Map apps on your phone are great, but from experience I know they're useless if you go out of cell phone range.
I love old maps. Not only are they fun to look at, but they can help your genealogy research in so many ways. Library and Archives Canada has a huge collection of digitized maps on their website. To find them, you'll want to skip the databases and instead do an image search. First go to the main page of the Genealogy and Family History section of the website. Then you'll want to scroll down the page and click on Image Search.
If you type in "maps" in the search engine, there are over 13,000 images. You'll definitely want to narrow things down a bit. I've played with types of maps and below are some examples of the types of maps you can find.
These types of maps show property ownership. A really useful tool in your research. Not only can you find the location of your ancestor's land, but you can also see their FAN network (friends, associates and neighbours). Here's one showing the parish of Notre Dame de Quebec in 1879
Here's another showing part of Wentworth County, Ontario in 1859.
Fire Insurance Maps
If your ancestor lived in a city or town, you'll want to look at fire insurance maps. While these rarely show individual names, they are great for locating businesses. Even if your ancestor didn't own a business, they are still useful. By locating the street your ancestor was on, you can find the closest schools and churches. Look at the types of businesses around them, and you can get a sense of the community they were part of. Here's one showing a neighbourhood in Selkirk, Manitoba in 1910.
Here's another showing a neighbourhood in Calgary, Alberta in 1913
Trying to find the route your ancestors took by rail? Railway Maps can help you track them. here's one of Western Canada in 1913
Before railways stretched across the continent, people traveled via canal routes. Here's a canal map for the Great Lakes and St.Lawrence in 1871.
As our country has grown and evolved, the provincial and territorial boundaries have as well. This is also true of counties, townships and other levels of municipal government. If you have an ancestor that seems to have disappeared out of government record collections, try looking at boundary maps. Depending on how close they lived to a border, they may have become part of another municipality.
Here's one showing the district of St. Francis, Canada East in 1863
One way to help find your ancestor in Voter's List is to look at maps of Electoral Districts. These can change several times over the years. Here's one from 1924 for Kings County, Prince Edward Island.
Lastly, there are some specialized industry maps in their collection. If your ancestor was part of the mining industry, you might like to look at one like this from 1897 in British Columbia
Or this one from 1928 showing timber lands in Nova Scotia
The nice thing is that by right clicking on your mouse, you can download the images to your computer. As far as zooming in on sections, what I did was to click on the browser settings and zoom the whole screen. A word of warning though, some of the images become fuzzy if you zoom too close. You can also play with it once you've downloaded it to your computer. Take some time to explore their collection. They have everything from hand drawn to professional maps covering every corner of Canada and every time period
Saturday, 4 May 2019
Digital images of church records can be hard to find in Canada, especially if your ancestor wasn't Catholic. It's even harder to find free records. Thankfully, thanks to Canadiana, you can look at literally hundreds of reels of microfilm for FREE.
When I typed "parish registers", "church" and "religion" into the search engines for Heritage, Early Canadiana Online, and Canadiana, I got literally thousands of hits. I've compiled a short list of links below for ones with multiple reels or issues. In the interest of space, I haven't included descriptions of the record sets.
- Parish registers: Newfoundland and Labrador Registres paroissiaux : Terre-Neuve et Labrador St. Martin's-in-the-Woods Anglican Church (Shediac Cape, N.B.
- Parish registers: Nova Scotia Registres paroissiaux : Nouvelle-Écosse Fonds de la paroisse catholique Caraquet, N.-B. Registres de l'Acadie, et se rapportamt à divers endroits du Nouveau-Brunswick, de la Nouvelle Écosse, et du Québec Fonds de la paroisse catholique Saint-Charles-des-Mines (Grand-Pré, N.-É.) - 14 Reels
This is just a small sampling of what can be found. Try a variety of search words, and you will get different results every time. And don't forget to look at books as well. Here's a few I found:
- Premier centenaire de la paroisse de Mont Carmel, Ile du Prince Édouard, le 20 août, 1912 by Pierre-Paul Arsenault
- Memoir of Br. George Kmoch, missionary in Labrador, who departed this life at Ockbrook, December 21, 1857, in the 88th year of his age