Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

To all our readers, thank you for making 2008 a success for the GenealogyCanada blog and website!

We look forward to bringing you more news on the Canadian genealogy front, and hope you will continue to join us in 2009 and beyond!


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

OGS announces Trillium Grant

The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) is pleased to announce a Trillium Grant as a starter fund for a project with the OGS to help Ontario to help Ontario heritage organizations digitize parts of their collections.

The funds — granted over two years — will enable OGS to hire a technician, obtain equipment, and travel to the heritage organizations to scan the material.

The project will:
  • provide a digitized version of one-of-a-kind records, increasing security
  • allow small organizations access to digitizing they otherwise could not afford
  • increase the exposure of small organizations
  • increase access to records significant to Ontario's heritage
  • allow an income stream to heritage organizations if they wish so that it can provide a Canadian not-for-profit portal as an alternative to foreign commercial portals
The OGS is working with Ristech Company Inc., a Burlington, Ontario company that specializes in scanning equipment.

OGS President, Don Hinchley, said, "I believe this grant will give many more genealogists throughout Ontario and the world access to materials without the necessity of travelling to the museum or local archive."

This project will help protect the culture and heritage of Ontario, some of which is in delicate condition and could be lost if it is not copied.

Monday, December 29, 2008

LAC Partners with the National Archives of Ireland

The Library and Archives of Canada is pleased to announce that the Archives of Ireland has released the latest phase of "an online research tool for the Irish counties of Antrim, Kerry, and Down for 1911. The census records for all countries for 1911 and for 1901 will be made available online throughout 2009".

"With 70-million Irish diaspora around the world, and up to one-fifth of Canadians claiming Irish heritage, this project will connect even more people to their historical," stated Ian E. Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

The LAC and the NAI collaborated on other projects including two Irish studies held in 2006 and 2008 (I attended this one*); the Irish-Canadian Documentary Heritage at the LAC, and the popular website, The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf at

Making these records accessible online will give genealogists and historians around the world the chance to explore the age, occupation, religion, and marital status of individuals. It will also allow research on Irish on Irish society of the early 20th century. The National Archives of Ireland have provided vibrant historical essays on topics such as social life, government, sport, and religion, and the photographs depicting life in Ireland in 1911.

The census records can search free of charge, and it is searchable by name.

* (For more on the 2008 Irish Studies I attended, please visit these four pages):

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Canada's First Christmas

This year will be Canada's snowiest Christmas ever, says Environment Canada's Senior Climatologist, Dave Phillips. There will be snow everywhere, even including the West Coast in Vancouver and Victoria, and on the East Coast in Halifax.

The first Christmas to be celebrated in Canada was in 1535, when French explorer, Jacques Cartier, and one hundred and ten men observed the holiday in a tiny fort at the foot of Quebec City.

So may everyone have a "Happy Holiday!", and we hope that Santa be most generous when he hands out the gifts!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Canadian Genealogy Centre Has New Look

Sylvie Tremblay, Chief Project Manager of the Canadian Genealogy Centre (CGC), informed me yesterday that a "new look" was in store for their website, and this morning when I logged on - there it was - new and improved!

I have chosen my words carefully because it is "new and improved". When the website for the CGC first appeared, its design seemed somewhat haphazard (and with the generous addition of information over the years, it became a bit unwieldy) - but now it is crisp, uncluttered, and divided into readable blocks that makes it easier for the public to follow.

On the left are the major divisions of the site, in the middle of the page are links to the "Most Requested Records", "How to Begin", "What You Can Do" and "Learning Resources" pages, and on the right of this page are links to the "What's New at the CGC" and "That's My Family" sections.

The Centre has come a long way in the five years when it first appeared, due in large part to the hard work of Sylvie and her crew. Many Canadian databases have been put on the site over the years, and it's all free!

Canada is the only county in the world to have such a site, and the Library and Archives Canada is to be commended for putting "our" (Canadian) genealogy online.

In the coming years, emphasis — in part — will be put on wikis, social networking websites like Facebook and YouTube, and other sites. This will help spread the words of the introduction which hangs over their website: "Welcome to a great place to research your family history".

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dundurn Press & OGS Make A Joint Announcement

Dundurn Press and the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) have formed a joint imprint to publish books on Canadian genealogy. The announcement was made through a press release dated December 22, 2008.

The imprint will be called OGS Dundurn, and will be overseen by representatives from both organizations. OGS will be responsible for finding authors, receiving manuscripts, and the initial screening. Both organizations will be responsible for marketing - the OGS with the genealogical community, and Dunburn to bookstores.

Kirk Howard, President and Publisher, Dundurn Press, said, "As a long-time member of the OGS, I have admired the many ways in which the OGS connects with the genealogical community. In working together to publish books of genealogy significance, we will build on this success and be able to reach a wider readership."

Don Hinchley, OGS President, said, "Our partnership with Dundurn Press will provide those in the genealogy community with new resource material. We hope to encourage new authors through this partnership."

Dundurn Press has published books for over 35 years, and the OGS is the largest genealogical organization in the country, with over 4,500 members in 31 Branches across Ontario.

Anyone interested in publishing with the new imprint should contact the OGS at

Ottawa writer, June Coxon, wrote about Dundurn Press after she interviewed them at the OGS Conference '08, held last May in London, Ontario. The story is found at

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Victoria, BC Digitizes Newspaper

The first 100,00 digitalized pages (from 1858 to 1910) of the Times Colonist (known earlier as the Daily Colonist), the newspaper which serves Victoria, British Columbia is now on the Internet at

The press release says that "It is sure to become one of the most important resources for historical researchers throughout the province. It has the potential to open up many new doors in historical writing, help genealogists trace their family trees and learn about their ancestors, and even the way that history in taught in our schools".

They have the following information on the site -

- Birth, marriage and death information

- References to anniversaries, business openings and school reports

- List of passengers arriving in Victoria (the federal government did not keep records until 1905)

Dave Obee, an editor at the newspaper and the one who spearheaded the project, was at a conference in Ottawa this past summer. I had the opportunity to meet him and discuss the project with him. You can go to his site at

He is one-half of the team that wrote the book, Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide and he will give various talks at the Ontario Genealogical Society this summer in Oakville on May

This project was made possible with the help of University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, and the Greater Victoria Public Library.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Library and Archives Canada Celebrates Human Rights Anniversary

The Library and Archives Canada (LAC)--in a joint partnership with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR)--acknowledged the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on December 10th.

A Canadian, John Humphrey, wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 with the encouragement of Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The CMHR has embarked on its first virtual exhibition entitled, "Everybody Has the Rights: a Canadian and The Words that Changed the World", and the LAC has been key in the launch of this inaugural exhibition.

As the press release says, "The LAC identified archival records, offered interpretive captions for each document, digitized documents for the inaugural exhibit and provided advisory services and support for copyright permission requests."

There are four area in which the LAC website can provide you with information on human rights, and they are -

1. The Chinese Head Tax - You can find original certificates and registers of Chinese immigration and links to libraries and institutions if you go to

2. Black History - You can go to the "Under A Northern Star" webpage and read the historical papers of former slaves, read about the events being held at the LAC during Black Heritage Month. or see the photo of Africville, the Black community that once was part of Halifax before it was torn down in the 1960s.

3. Ukrainian History - There are immigration documents such as the passenger lists and land grants which provide a picture of what life was like from 1914 to 1939. They can be viewed at

4. Aboriginal History - There are treaties records, Band and Agencies information, Government of Canada records, the database of Indian Reserves, Jesuit Records, Métis genealogy and the Project Naming web project on

5. And you can go to the Canadian Genealogy Centre and view all the information there is there in a genealogical context in both official languages

Sunday, December 14, 2008

450 Years of Fishing

At the recent Irish Studies Symposium held at the Library and Archives Canada (LAC), Dr. Willeen Keough——who is the Assistant Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC——gave a talk entitled, "Good Looks Don't Boil the Pot: Irish-Newfoundland Women as Fish (-producing) Wives on the Southern Avalon".

She is in the middle of collecting the stories of the wives of fishermen who gave their lives to the industry by salting fish on the land and in giving their husbands' support. She is studying the interaction between the wives with each other, and with their husbands.

Along with this is a website which explores the fishing industry of Newfoundland called, "The Newfoundland Salt Fisheries: a Digital Exhibit" at <>.

There are "Salt-Fish Essays: Life & Work in the Newfondland Salt Fisheries", which is comprised of six essays on the salt fishery in Newfoundland, and two more new ones - "Fishing the Labrador Coast" and "Growing Up in a Cove: Slide Shows", which have pictures of women's work in fishery, and in daily life. Other sections include "Photo Galleries" (over 120 new photos have been added); "Audio and Video Library: Memories and Moving Pictures of the Salt Fisheries" (listen to the people talk about their lives in the fishery; "Salt-Fish Education"; and "Maps and Manuscipts".

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Where is Home?

The province on New Brunswick has been a place that I have travelled through on my many trips between Nova Scotia and Ontario, so it was with great interest that I turned to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick and their website, "Where is Home? New Brunswick Communities Past and Present"

The study of placenames is called toponomy, and there are more than 4,600 placenames of settlements, cities, and communities throughout the province. They are described completely, including why and how they received the name - by the post office, railways, and settlers for example.

Links are provided to 4784 land grants and other maps, and there is a total of 960 photographs and 600 documents about the founding, incorporation, and development of 144 of the communities.

If you go on the site, you will also find the latitude and longitude of the settlement, the county it is in, the parish it is in, and a map giving its location.

On the "Alphabetical Listing" page is the community of placenames, a county listing, an index, and a number of definitions on keywords in their description of the place.

The "Exhibit/Home" page brings an excellent history of placenames to the researcher, and at the end, it lists the books from which this information was taken.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Transfer of Vital Statistics to PEI Archives

In May of this year, Royal Assent was given to a bill allowing amendments to the Vital Statistics Act which permitted the transfer of records after certain time restrictions have passed

There are time restrictions on the Vital Statistics, as follows -

Birth Records - restricted for 120 years after date of birth

Marriage Records - restricted for 75 years after the date of marriage

Death Records
- restricted for 50 years after the date of death. The cause of death remains restricted regardless of when the death occurred.

Baptismal Records - All records in the post-1886 Baptismal Records Index now have been posted.

Simply place the surname you are looking for in the search box and you will receive the Child's Full Name, the Birth Date, the Baptism Date, the Mother's Name, the Father's Name, the Birth Place, and the Baptism Place.

At the present time, baptismal records are from 1777 to 1923. There are 93,000 records.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Saskatchewan's "Valued-Added" Membership

The Saskatchewan Genealogical Society has put something new in its membership - a value-added package, beginning in 2009!

In a special page on their site, , they will add the following to their regular membership -

Saskatchewan Residents Index (SRI) -

Burial Index - index of burial information of 50,000 individuals

Obituary Index - index of obituary information of 75,000 individuals

Cummins Maps - name and location of individuals in the 1920s

Change of Name Index - index of individuals who changed their name and are listed in the Saskatchewan Gazette from 1971 to 1950

RCMP Obituary Index - index of name as well as the source for the obituary

NW Rebellion War Claims Index - the names of those who requested compensation after the 1885 NW Rebellion.

Rural Municipalities Historical Documents Index - an index that will list documents held by municipalities - such as tax assessment rolls.

Plus, the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society and the Ontario Genealogical Society also have joined in offering a $5.00 discount in membership fees for 2009!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Who are the Canadian Palatines?

The Palatines were Protestants who left the German Palatine Region in 1709 at the invitation of Queen Anne of England, and they settled in various English lands and eventually, Ireland.

In the 1830s, 185 families left Ireland and settled in Canada - mainly Ontario.

Over the years, their friends and family in Ireland started to follow them to Canada, and soon you had settlements in Ontario full of Irish Palatine names such as Barkman, Dolmage, Embury, Fizzell, Heck, Lawrence, Ruttle, Switzer, Sparling, and Teskey - to name a few.

To commemorate the 1709 migration, many Palatine descendants are planning events in North America and Ireland.

If you are interested in any of the events, please email Bob Fizzell at

During this past year, the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) also worked to set up an Irish Palatine Special Interest Group (SIG-IP).

This is the first SIG for the organization, and Don Hinchley, the Society's president, said they were accepted "In a unanimous vote at our Septwmber meeting, the Board of Directors approved the application of the Irish Palatines to join the OGS as our first Special Interest Group."

The SIG-IP is open to any person who would like to explore the common heritage of the German language, the Protestant religion, and migration to Ireland. The SIG will offer a website to its members and special sessions annually at the OGS conference

If you are interested in this new group, please contact the SIG through

I am in the middle of writing an article on this for Everton's Genealogical Helper for publication during the Palatine's 300th Anniversary in 2009.