Thursday, 26 December 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 49 - Fall Fairs

Week 49's prompt for the 52 Ancestors challenge is "Craft". A big part of Canadian culture, especially in rural areas, is the fall fairs or exhibitions. Along with livestock and agricultural displays, there were often craft competitions. People of all ages submitted their crafts for judging. There were competitions for woodworking, art, sewing, and knitting to name a few. So where to find resources?

When I used the search term "agricultural fair", I received thousands of hits. Here's a sampling of what I found

Peel's Prairie Provinces
As usual, this site comes through for resources on Canada's West. Here's a sampling of what I found:

These are the best way to find out how award winning your ancestor craft skills were. Rural newspapers, especially, posted the winners of competitions. You may even be lucky enough to find  a photo. Here are some places to find newspapers:
  • Local libraries
  • University libraries
  • Provincial and City Archives
  • The Ancestor Hunt

Here are some "thinking outside the box" sources:

Sunday, 15 December 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 48 - Deportation Records at the LAC

The prompt for Week 48 of 52 ancestors if "thief". Not all of our ancestors were upstanding citizens. Genealogists and Family Historians tend to be thrilled finding these ancestors, because they make for interesting stories for others. Let's face it, our relatives who haven't been bit by the genealogy bug tend to get all glassy eyed when we talk about our passion. If we have an interesting ancestor though, they have more interest in what we're saying. This post I decided to look at records relating to the deportation records. Do you have an ancestor who came to Canada, but mysteriously vanished from records? Or maybe they somehow ended back in their country of birth and you can't figure out why. You might want to look at the deportation records through Library and Archives Canada then.

Library and Archives Canada has a great overview on what you can find on their web page Thematic Guide - Deportation from Canada, 1893-1977. What I'm going to focus on is the files belonging to the record group Records of the Immigration Branch (RG76). This group of records is by no means complete, as not all records have survived. They have three groupings of records:

  • Files that relate to an individual deportee
  • Files that include lists of names or correspondence about particular deportees
  • Files that do not contain names of deportees

Before you get started, you'll want to open a new window on your computer and have Heritage open and ready to go. The microfilms have been digitized, but you can't view them on LAC's website. You can only view them on Heritage. What you're going to do is note the microfilm details and then put that microfilm number into Heritage's search box. 

Files on Individual Deportees
Click on the heading. This will reveal a list of names that do not appear to be in any particular order. Once you find a name that interests you, take note of the file information. I scrolled through and found this rather interesting entry

As you can see, this is for an entire family. So, we want to look at microfilm C-10430, file 774753. Next we'll go to Heritage and enter C-10430 in the search box.

In the results, the top result is the microfilm we want. Now we're going to click on that and find the file we need. Because there is not search capability, we're going to jump back and forth through the images until we find the file. This can be done by jumping head on images by using the image tab on the left

And then looking at the bottom of the digitized document for the file number. 

So I found the first page of the file. It is quite a few pages. Apparently it started with a letter from a local citizen complaining about the recent immigrants from England. 

Long story short, the Department of Immigration investigated, and decided to deport the family in 1908. John, his wife Eliza and five children were sent by train to Montreal, then to Maine. Once there they were boarded on a ship to Liverpool. They were deemed undesirable because "...Mortimer is a drunkard, abusive to his wife and family and the neighbours speak against him...". The file also includes
  • Names and ages of each family member
  • John's occupation and some work history
  • Ship name and dates of immigration
  • How they arrived in Chatham
  • Ship name and date of departure back to England
  • Residence of John Mortimer's mother in England
  • Their trip to Canada was paid for by the Central (Unemployed) Body in England
  • A letter from Eliza Mortimer's father inquiring as to why the family was deported, and the response from the Department of Immigration
A sad end to this file is a letter written by John's wife Eliza in 1923. Apparently John deserted the family and boarded ship under an assumed name back to Canada. She is writing in hopes the Immigration Department can find him. One of their children has died, and another has been hospitalized. The letter gives her address in London. The Department wrote back asking for information, but that's where the file ends.

Lists and Correspondence of Individual Deportees
You open the entries the same as for the group above. In this group I found this entry

When I switched over to Heritage, I looked at microfilm C-10634, and looked for file 805792. This huge file involves the following Scottish men"

  • Ross Fraser
  • Horatio Dunlop
  • Donald Tough
  • David Moffat
  • William McBride
  • David Anderson
  • Robert Hill
  • James Quinn
  • Peter Tierney
  • Charles Miller
  • Donald/W McLean
  • John Ferguson
  • James Hughes
  • James Hutchison
As the below states, these men were brought over from Glasgow as strike breakers, and then let go once the strike was over

This was the rail company's response

As with the previous section, you can find a ton of little details about the men. Within the first 25 or so pages I found:
  • Immigration details
  • Work history and pay
  • Family and friends names back in Scotland, some with addresses
  • Current address
There was also deportation details on some additional men in the same file:
  • Alfred Black
  • John Skinner
  • Malcolm McLean
  • Joseph Healey
  • William Robertson
  • John Phillips
  • Patrick Rawdon

Files Not Containing Individual Names of Deportees
This section deals with documents generated within the Government and their agencies themselves. The only names mentioned are those employed within the Government, rail companies, and steam ship companies. It also includes some governmental policies and procedures. When I looked through the entries, I found this

Now when I looked at this file, part 7 has letters from various agencies asking for the Alien registration of 1917/18. Its the section two after that that is interesting

In this section is correspondence with various immigration agencies, providing samples of the Enemy Alien Registration Exeat form. These were used when the person wished to leave Canada. However, in this section are also completed forms. Here's one that even includes a picture

Now, for any of these sections, you can save the documents to your computer by right clicking on the image, and choosing save image. This will be better than just a screen shot, because as you can see above, it also includes the source information at the bottom.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 47- Revolutionary Soldier Records at the PANB

Week 47 of 52 Ancestors has the theme "Soldier". This post I decided to look at a database on the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick's website. If your Loyalist ancestor went to New Brunswick, you'll want to check out the database Records of Old Revolutionary Soldiers and Their Widows. After the Revolutionary War that gave the United States gained their independence, many of those who fought for the British were granted land in New Brunswick. However, by the 1830s, many of these soldiers and their widows were destitute. In 1839 the Hose of Assembly established a relief fund for them. To receive 10 pounds per year, they had to meet certain requirements. The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick (PANB) have provided links to images of the Act:

The database consists of applications, correspondence, and payment schedules. The applicants had to apply to their county council. Not all records have survived. This database contains application records from:
  • RS146   Albert County Council Records
  • RS148   Charlotte County Council Records
  • RS153   Northumberland County Council Records
  • RS154   Queens County Council Records
  • RS157   Sunbury County Council Records
The PANB have also drawn records from the record sets RS566 Provincial Secretary: Old Soldiers and Widows Pension Administration Records, RS9 Executive Council Meeting Files, and RS24 Sessional Records of the Legislative Assembly. These record sets contained applications, correspondence and payments schedules. The Archives have a disclaimer that says

      "...For this project, we have identified all records relating to the old Revolutionary Soldiers, however there are a few documents which refer to the individual simply as an "old soldier". This is ambiguous since it could mean the soldier was a veteran of the War of 1812-14. We have included these erring on the side of providing more rather than less information..."

In other words, just because your ancestor is in here, it does not mean he was a Revolutionary War soldier. More research may be required.

Thanks to a collaboration between PANB and the Department of Canadian Heritage, this database is indexed. Just type in the name of your ancestor and you can get 1 to 20 links to digitized documents.

So, go to the Search Screen:
Now, you have a few ways to search. You can search by Name or by County. A third option is to click on one of the record sets and browse. My 5x great grandfather Charles McLaughlin is a suspected Revolutionary War soldier. So, I'm going to use him for the different search methods.

By Name
This section is an index of all surnames. What you do is click on the first letter of you ancestor's surname. My 5x great grandfather Charles McLaughlin is a suspected Revolutionary War soldier. So, I'm going to use him for this section. When I went to the M's, I got a list of all M surnames alphabetized. I scrolled down and found a Charles McLaughlin who lived in Gloucester County. This corresponds to my Charles.
I clicked on the + beside his name and got this result:

The images with check marks are the ones that contain Charles' name. Clicking each one opens a digital image in a new window. You can then download the image to your computer. The first image is an application detailing that Charles' service. He served in the 76th Regiment in New York, commanded by Captain James Fraser. He was discharged in 1783. He is claiming for relief from Oct 4 1840 to Dec 4 1841, in the amount of 10 pounds.

The second document is correspondence informing Of Charles' death in 1842. 

The third document is a schedule of payments. The PANB has helpfully included pages of the whole document for context. The page that he appears on is the check marked one. 

By County
This section allows you to look at the surviving records for each county. Click on the County name, and it will list all soldiers traced to that County. When I clicked on Gloucester County, the only other surviving records besides Charles is for someone not in my line. So I decided to look at Restigouche County to find a collateral ancestor. I have another possible Loyalist ancestor in New Brunswick, my 4x great grandfather William Ferguson. William and his brother Thomas both settled in New Brunswick after the War. William did extremely well, and became a prominent figure in the Tracadie area of Gloucester County. He had no need to apply for relief. His brother Thomas, however, did not do nearly as well. The story is that Thomas had to leave Tracadie to escape creditors in the early 1800s, and eventually settled in Restigouche County. When I clicked on Restigouche County, I found a Thomas Ferguson. He appeared on several payment schedules until his death in his 90's.

By Record Set
This section allows you to browse some of the record sets. Click on the available record set and you can narrow your browsing from there:
  • RS566 Provincial Secretary: Old Soldiers and Widows Pension Administration Records- lets you browse by County and then year
  • RS148 Charlotte County Council Records- browse by years 1841-1846
  • RS153 Northumberland County Council Records- browse by years 1839-1871
  • RS154 Queens County Council Records- browse by years 1839-1857
  • RS9 Executive Council (Cabinet) Meeting Files- browse by meeting date from 11 November 1843 to 25 October 1871
  • RS24 Sessional Records of the Legislative Assembly- browse reports from 1838 to 1855, and petitions from 1838 to 1856

Sunday, 1 December 2019

52 Ancestors: Week 46 - Poorhouses

Week 46 of 52 Ancestors is "poor". One can't think of the poor in history without the dreaded "poorhouse" or "workhouse" coming to mind. Most people associate these with Britain, but Canada had them too. These institutions had the official names of "Houses of Industry". They also went by names such as "Poor Asylum". Their goal was to have inmates work to support their admittance into them. These institutions first started to appear in Canada in the late 1700's to early 1800's in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. In Western Canada, the notion did not appear to take hold, though British Columbia had a similar system. If you would like a good read on the history of social welfare in Canada, you can preview Social Policy and Practice in Canada: A History By Alvin Finkel on Google Books. The free preview lets you look at several sections, and it's a very good read. I took some looking around at the provincial archives, and found some various records by province for Eastern and Central Canada. This is by no means a complete list. These will help you get started though.

Newfoundland did not join Canada until 1949. From what I have read, there were porr houses in the province much earlier than the rest of Canada, and they adopted the Poor Law of Elizabeth I. The Rooms has in their holdings a few things relating to poorhouses and asylums:

Prince Edward Island
PARO has some records in their collection, including Fonds RG34 - Independent Boards and Commissions fonds. This collection deals with the government side of the Poor Asylums and Insane Asylums.

New Brunswick

PANB has a few record sets in their holdings:

Nova Scotia
The NSA has in their holdings the Halifax (N.S.). Poor Asylum. This rather notorious institution originally burnt to the ground in 1882. it was rebuilt in 1886.

BAnQ has the St. Bridget's Asylum Fund.- 1856-1865 in their holdings. One thing that should be noted about the province is that poor relief was mainly taken on by the church, as opposed to the government. Keep this in mind when looking for records

In 1890, Ontario passed the House of Refuge Act. This gave grants to each County to set aside 45 acres for Houses of Industry. In 1903 it became mandatory for each County to have at least one House of Refuge. Because of this, there were much more of these than in any other province. The Archives of Ontario has some fonds of some of them:
UPDATE Dec 15 2019: I didn't realize when I wrote the blog post that the AO's links are time sensitive. However, if you go to the Archives of Ontario's website you can still find them. Go into Access Our Collections, then Archives Descriptive Database. Use for your search term "House of Industry" (use the quotation marks), then into Groups of Archival Records.

More Places to Search

Don't forget to look at these other sources for Poorhouse records:

  • City/County Archives. In fact, your much more likely to find specific records here than in the Provincial Archives. For instance, The City of Toronto Archives hold the books of the Toronto House of Refuge. The Toronto Branch of Ontario Ancestors has a project going on right now to get these indexed.
  • Internet Archive - remember to use a variety of search terms such as "poor house", "almshouse", "house of industry". And remember to include your location as well in the search. They have uploads from all over the world.
  • University and College Libraries
  • Google. If you know the name of the institution, try using Google. Some of these buildings have been turned into museums, especially in Ontario. Others, like the Waterloo County House of Industry and Refuge, are virtual museums giving an amazing amount of information on not only the residents, but the staff as well.
  • As always,Canadiana is a go-to source. "House Of Industry" resulted in 1756 hits. "Poor Asylum" gave 792 hits, and "poor house" gave 3408 hits.