Sunday, 24 February 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 8 - Photographs on Peel's Prairie Provinces

This week's 52 Ancestors prompt is photos. They are one of my favourite things in the world, especially when it comes to genealogy. Who hasn't looked at an old photo of an ancestor and looked for similarities to themselves? Even a photo of a house your ancestor lived in can make them more than names on paper. Unfortunately, I'm not blessed to have a lot of old photos of my family. I treasure the ones I do have because of this.

If you have ancestors that settled in the Canadian Prairies, then you'll want to look at Peel's Prairie Provinces. This site is a must have in your browser bookmarks regardless, but they have a wonderful photograph collection. To access it, click on the tab Find Images.

Once in that section, you'll have two options. You can search by keyword, or you can browse 2 of their collections: the Magee Photographs Collection or the Prairie Postcards Collection.

Search By Keyword
I used the keyword "Saskatchewan". According to the site, there are 2500 images related to Saskatchewan. I found buildings and structures, towns and cities, and people. Here's a few:

Baseball Team from Togo Saskatchewan ca. 1903-1908

Methodist Church in Fort Saskatchewan Alberta ca. 1910

Milestone, Saskatchewan after 1920

You also have the option of narrowing your results by:

  • Author
  • Title
  • Subject Heading
  • Identifier
  • Publication Year
  • Language (Dutch, English, French, German, Icelandic, Inuit, Swedish, Ukrainian, or Welsh)
Or try the option of sorting your results by:
  • Relevance
  • ID
  • Date-oldest to newest
  • Date- newest to oldest
  • Author - ascending
  • Author - descending
  • Title - Ascending
  • Title - Descending

Magee Photographs Collection
This collection is divided into:
  • Activities
  • Animals and Plants
  • Buildings and Camps
  • Land and Land Use
  • Objects
  • People
Each of these when you click on it is further divided into subcategories. Naturally, most of us will probably pick the people section first. I clicked on it and chose "tourists". One of the results was a group title "Seattle Mountaineers" taken at Glacier Park in Montana. The dating says it was taken between 1910 and 1945.

Prairie Postcards
This collection is divided into:
  • Activities and Sports
  • Animals
  • Buildings
  • Business and Industry
  • Events
  • Land and Land Use
  • Natural Phenomena
  • Objects
  • Organizations
  • People 
  • Plants
  • Vehicles
As with the Magee Collection, each section is further divided into subcategories. I clicked on "Business and Industry", then "Merchandise Displays", then "Window Displays". Here's one titled "Departmental Stores, Gladstone, Man." 

In the description it says it shows the stores Galloway Bros, Williams' Bros. Co. Ltd., and the Bank of Hamilton. What a great find for descendants of these business owners. Even better, the description of the postcard also states:
  • Postmarked in Gladstone, Manitoba 1913-04-24
  • From VP?
  • To a Mr. G W Harding in Battleford, Saskatchewan and "true"
  • The message only states "VP"
Just to see if I could find a postmarked postcard with more detail, I looked at "Organizations", and "Fraternal Organizations". I found this postcard featuring the I.O.O.F.:

This one had the following details:
  • Postmark Winnipeg, Man. 1910-08-28
  • From Lulu
  • To David T. Richards, Esq. of Prospect Heights, Canon City, Colorado
  • Message: "This town is booming. It's a live wire and holds a great future for a young man who comes here and invests his money - [urather frisch] Best love, Lulu"

While you're on the site, check out everything else Peel's Prairie Provinces has to offer. Run by the University of Alberta, it was made through partnership with

Friday, 15 February 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 7 - Love and Marraige on Canadiana

This week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt is "Love". So this week I'm looking documents on the Canadiana website. This site has been much talked about in the Canadian genealogy community. It used to be accessed through subscription, but is now just recently free to use.

I used in the search engine the key words "Love" and "Marriage", and got over 100,000 hits where the word 'Love" and/or "Marriage" has appeared in the text. I've gone through the results to find some publications to help you find mention of your Canadian ancestors.

Newspapers and Periodicals

The Calgary diocesan magazine: Speaking the Truth in Love

The Nova-Scotia magazine

Magasin de QuébecThe Quebec magazine = Magasin de Québec

The British-American Register

The Christian recorder

The bee

The Colonial Churchman .

The church record for Diocese of New Westminster . Church record

The West

The Alberta Star

Government Publications

Canada. Dept. of National Defence. The Canadian Navy list for ... Canadian Navy list.

The quarterly militia list of the Dominion of Canada

The civil service list of Canada, 1899 : containing the names of all persons employed in the several departments of the civil service, together with those employed in the two Houses of Parliament, on the 1st July 1899 ... to which are added the Civil Service Act ... the Civil Service Superannuation Act ... the Civil Service Insurance Act, and the act providing for the retirement of members of the Civil Service, cap. 17, 61 V., with an analytical index to each / the whole arranged and prepared under the direction of the Hon. the Secretary of State, pursuant to sec. 59 of "The Civil Service Act"


Analyse des actes de François Trottain, notaire royal : gardenote au Cap de la Magdeleine, Champlain, Batiscan et Ste-Anne, résidant à Ste-Anne

Ontarian families : genealogies of United-Empire-Loyalist and other pioneer families of Upper Canada

L'Indicateur de Québec & Lévis = The Quebec and Levis directory

The City of Toronto and the home district commercial directory and register, with almanack and calendar for 1837

An Almanack for the year of our Lord ... / by Theophrastus

Sunday, 10 February 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 6 - Digging Deeper

This week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks blogging prompt is "Surprise". We all know about the big genealogy sites such as Ancestry, Family Search, My Heritage, Find My Past, and Library and Archives Canada (LAC). But where else can you look?  What I'm going to focus on this week is some of the lessor known ways to find unexpected information on your Canadian ancestors. By doing a little digging, you can find some real gems.

These genealogy web sites are volunteer run and cover particular areas of research. They are a great places to find information and helpful links. A lot of these are hosted through RootsWeb. Thankfully, RootsWeb seems to up and running again for most of their sites. I'm just putting the provincial and territorial ones here, as they usually provide links to the smaller county/township/parish GenWebs on their sites.

I love old photos. You'd be surprised what you can learn from them. Of course the best way to find photos is through family, friends, and genealogy cousins. However, that's not the only place:

  • eBay always has a selection of vintage photos for sale
  • Antique Shops have photos galore. Do a Google search of shops in your desired area. Some are lucky enough to have websites, but many do not. However you can still find contact information. 
  • Pinterest has great old photos of people and places.
  • Check the photo collections on Museum and Archives websites. You may find an ancestor.

Books and Published Works
Not all of us are going to have books written about our ancestors. For the vast majority of us, our ancestors weren't famous or held positions that would warrant them being mentioned. Local history books can give us a feel of what our ancestors' life was like though. Need a "how to" book? With the ease of self publishing, there's a most likely a book out there for it. Looking for cemetery transcriptions? Church records? Transcriptions are not infallible, but if you're researching from a distance, they can be a huge help to your research. 
  • Genealogical Societies, Family History Societies, and Museums. We know about the big provincial ones. But try using Google to find smaller ones. They might not have a website but you should be able to find contact information at the very least. The trick is to go deeper into Google's search results. By typing in "Moncton Genealogy Society" I found on page 3 of the results the Lutz Mountain Heritage Museum and Genealogical Research Facility. They focus on Pennsylvania Germans who came and settled in that area of New Brunswick, and have books on local history and genealogy.
  • Internet Archive. City Directories, local history books, telephone directories, pamphlets , and brochures are just some of the surprising things you'll find on there. Be creative with your searching though. Try using different key words and phrases.
  • Global Genealogy is the go-to place for Canadian genealogy and history books. They are constantly adding new titles, so if you can't find what you're looking for, keep checking back. I could do a whole blog post on what they have for sale.
  • Google Books. The trick to finding free to read ones is to check the publishing date, to see if copyright has expired. Even if it hasn't expired, Google Books will show you where to find a copy
  • Amazon. You never know what you'll find. I typed in "Fort St. John" and among the results was a book called Doig and Lansdowne Jounals. The book tells about a teacher in Indian Day Schools in the 1950's in both Northern Ontario and Northern BC, using his letters and journals. A preview of the book shows it also has photographs. 
  • Indigo Books. A Canadian book store chain. A search of "Manitoba Genealogy" gave me the book River Road: Essays on Manitoba and Prairie History.

Social Media
It's become a requirement in genealogy circles to have a presence on at least one form of social media. 
  • Facebook is huge for genealogy. I myself have found several distant cousins through Facebook. Gail Dever over at Genealogy a la Carte has compiled an extensive list of Canadian Genealogy Facebook pages and groups. 
  • Twitter is also big. Search twitter by using the location and "genealogy" or "history" to find the twitter accounts of genealogists, societies, museums and archives. Then see who they follow.
  • YouTube. Lectures, History and Genealogy Shows, How To Videos.
  • Pinterest. There's a growing genealogy community on here. Not only is it great to organize your own genealogy, but don't forget to look at what other people have "pinned".

Sunday, 3 February 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 5 - Don't Forget to Check Out Libraries

This week's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks prompt is "At the Library". Libraries are such an over looked resource for genealogy. There is so much focus given to Museums, Historical Societies and websites such as Ancestry and Family Search. People seem to forget that libraries can hold wealth of information as well, especially local history. A lot of genealogical and historical societies will provide copies of their work to a local library. If you're lucky enough to come across a library that have genealogy enthusiasts on staff, the amount of local history and information on local families is amazing.

The library systems of major urban centers are great sources for genealogy. They also have well developed websites to help you find out what they have on hand, along with virtual exhibitions. Most of them also provide links to local societies and archives as well. But don't forget about smaller cities and towns. Sometimes you can find better information there, because they have a much more focused area of service. Often they are also the archive of the area.

Another set of libraries to look into are University and College Libraries. Because of their academic nature, they often have copies of out of print books and journals. Photograph collections and research papers can also give you insight into your ancestors' lives. Some campus libraries have very specialized collections geared to their curriculum, so you never know what you might find.

In our digital age, libraries have had to become innovative to keep with the times. Many offer research services. Don't have an Ancestry, FindMyPast, or My Heritage subscription? Check your local library. Many offer free access through their computers on site. Want access to newspaper databases? Many libraries provide access to sites such as ProQuest of major newspapers. Some you can even access through their website from the comfort of your own home with a valid library card.
Provincial Archives such as the Archives of Ontario and the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick have inter library loan with libraries across the country. You can get microfilms sent to your library on loan. Pretty handy for researching from a distance.

I tried to compile a list of library websites for each province and territory. These lists are by no means complete. They are just a starting point.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia

New Brunswick





British Columbia


Northwest Territories

When all else fails, use Google and type in your area of research and keyword "library". Also check the local government websites. Small libraries may not have a website. The local government websites will at least have contact information for the libraries in their jurisdiction.