Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Newfoundland Memorial Day - July 1st

Not only is it Canada Day tomorrow (July 1) in Newfoundland and Labrador, it is also their Memorial Day.

Memorial Day is held in memory of those Newfoundlanders and Labradorians that lost their lives in combat, especially during World War I.

Members of the Newfoundland Regiment fought and died at Beaumont-Hamel in France during the opening day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916.

Because Newfoundland and Labrador was not yet a part of Canada until 1949, they were still considered a British colony.

They went to war in August, 1914.

The first day of the Battle of the Somme was particularly hard for the Newfoundland Regiment because only 68 of 801 soldiers survived. All of the others were either killed, wounded, or went missing in action.

You can visit the trenches at Beaumont-Hamel and see the statue of a caribou - the Newfoundland Regiment's emblem.

For more on their history, visit the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial website at <www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/sub.cfm?source=memorials/ww1mem/beaumonthamel>.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Hattie Perry Passes Away

I received word that Hattie Perry died this weekend.

Who was Hattie Perry?

Well, Hattie was a writer in Barrington on the southwestern shore of Nova Scotia.

She wrote about her adopted town, and it happened to be the place where my maternal family lived (the Blades-Hichens family), and they included such notables as Mary Hichens, a savior of many people who shipwrecked on Seal Island ("Mary Hichens and her Namesake"), and Annie Elizabeth Hichens ("Mrs. Mary and Others: Women of Barrington") both originally from England who married into the Hitchens family from Barrington.

Phil Verge—who had done Hattie's website for her—has agreed to keep the site up for an extra few days, and you can go to <http://rootsweb.ancestry.com/~canbrnep/ordeals.htm> to see what she has written.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Canada Day (July 1) is a Free Day!

Be sure to catch Ancestry.ca's Free Day on July 1st - Canada Day.

Actually, it's free until July 3rd.

The only catch is that the immigration records are the only records which are free - but check them out anyway.

They cover Immigration Records from 1865 to 1935.

This is the press release I received -
"Happy Canada Day Elizabeth!

Canada Day is not only a great day to spend with family - it's the perfect time to get together and learn more about how your family came to be Canadian.

For the first time ever, Ancestry.ca is making available The Canadian Passenger Lists Collection, 1865 to 1935, FREE* until July 3rd, 2009.

Don't miss this great opportunity to discover your Canadian story in The Canadian Passenger Lists today."
Happy Hunting!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pier 21 - Now a National Museum

Yesterday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that Pier 21 will become Canada's second national museum outside of Ottawa (the first one will be the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba).

Pier 21 is located on the waterfront in Halifax <www.pier21.ca>.

From 1928 until 1971, Pier 21 saw 1.5-million immigrants pass through its doors - 50,000 War Brides and 22,000 of their children of the Second World War, and more than 100,000 refugees. Of these, a large number were British Home Children.

And Pier 21 is ten years old this year!

What better way to celebrate than to be named a national museum.

Congratulations, Pier 21!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tracing Your Irish Ancestors

"Tracing Your Irish Ancestors"

I just received a notice from Margaret Gervais of BIFHSGO that John Grenham from Dublin will be in the city on August 9th to present an afternoon of talks on Irish ancestry.

Here is the press release I received -


The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa — with the cooperation of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, the Irish Society of the National Capital Region, and the Monterey Inn Resort & Conference Center — presents:


When: Sunday, 9th August 2009 – 1:30 p.m.

Where: The Chamber, Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive in Nepean (Ottawa)

Free Parking on site.

Admission: $10/person at the door.

"Tracing Your Irish Ancestry" with John Grenham, M.A.

Professional Genealogist, Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, and well-known author from Dublin, Ireland

Visit: www.Johngrenham.com and www.IrishTimes.com/ancestor

Chasing Shadows: Irish Genealogy Online

Few large sets of Irish genealogical records are available online; however, there are many highly valuable local or partial record-sets, which can be difficult to track down. The presentation starts with an outline of the main Irish records and where any on-line transcripts can be found.

Whatever you’re having yourself: Irish Census Substitutes

Brief summary of better-known substitutes, but focuses on more useful and lesser-known records, including: Loan Funds, Charleton Marriage Fund, agricultural surveys, official petitions and electoral records. Since the range is infinite, a complete account is impossible; the aim is to sketch the main areas in which these records are being uncovered, to show how they can be used, and to bring hope to those who have run out of the standard Irish sources.

For more information or queries, contact BIFHSGO at:

Email: queries@bifhsgo.ca / Website: www.bifhsgo.ca / Tel. 613-234-2520
Postal address: BIFHSGO, PO Box 38026, Ottawa ON K2C 3Y7


I'll be there and hope to see you there, too!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

QFHS Newsletter - Summer 2009

The summer issue is here!

The 2009 Spring/Sumer issue of the Quebec Family History Society's newsletter, Connections, is here, and once again it is full of articles plus notes on upcoming events.

"Of Stones Sheds and Firemen" is another article by Robert N. Wilkins, and this time he writes about the St. Urbain Street Fire of 1877.

"A Basic Guide to Using Quebec Protestant Church Archives" is written by Jody Robinson, the archivist at the Eastern Townships Research Centre, a private research centre in Southeastern Quebec.

I look forward to "Lower Canada in the 1790s and Early 1800s" in every issue because I find that I learn so much every time I read it.

Did you know that the city of Lévis was known as New Liverpool from 1759 to 1850?

In "The Legend of William Doleman" by James Barclay, the article tells of an amateur golfer from Scotland who was the first person to play his game on the Plains of Abraham.

I had a couple of lunches with Gary Schroder, the President of the QFHS while he was attending the OGS Conference '09. At the time, he said that they haven't set a date for their conference in June of next year - but I see by their site they now have the dates - the 11th to the 13th of June, 2010.

Roots Heritage 2010 will be held in downtown Montreal, with all lectures in English.

The list of speakers, topics, events, and registration will be on the QFHS webpage at <www.qfhs.ca>.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Canada Has Three of the 101 Best Genealogy Sites in 2009

How about that!

Family Tree Magazine <www.familytreemagazine.com> has just put out its 2009 list — the 10th year of doing so — and Canada has three websites on the top "101 Best Web Sites 2009".

The first one I must mention is the Canadian Genealogy Centre website <www.collectionscanada.gc.ca>.

It came in second on the list for the "10 Best Virtual Library Sites" and it got a special nod for its census work and the other databases it has published online.

And this is the second time the site has been chosen - the first time was in 2003 when the CGC first opened.

A tip of the hat goes to Sylvie Tremblay, Chief, Project Manager, and her crew for doing such hard work. She is always thinking of new ways to present the information they have - and they do have a lot. We all want those databases to come faster, don't we?

Credit: Mario Lapointe, CD

Here is a picture taken of Sylvie two years ago at the OGS Conference in Ottawa. She was there with (now just recently-retired) Librarian and Archivist Canada, Ian Wilson (left), along with Don Harris (right) and Tim Sullivan of The Generations Network (far right) to announce a partnership between the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and Ancestry.ca.

The second on the "10 Best Sites for Vital Statistics" list is the Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics website <www.novascotiagenealogy.com>.

If you have ancestors in Nova Scotia, be sure to check this index because it will give you all sorts of information, and will tell you where you can send for the certificates.

With my family being one of the founding ones for Nova Scotia, I have used it on a number of occasions, and it has not failed me yet.

And the third one is in the "10 Best Sites for International Searches" and it is the Programme de Recherche en Demographie Historique website, and it came 8th in the list <www.genealogie.umontreal.ca>.

It has 750,000 entries from 1621 to 1850, and although you have to pay for a full search, you can search the index for free.

So, there are the winning websites for this year.

Congratulations to all!

Let's wait and see who will be on next year's list!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Ancestry.ca Publishes Canadian Census Records

Today - June 10th - marks the day that the 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911 and 1916 Canadian censuses are published online at <www.ancestry.ca>.

It includes more than 32 million names, of which 50% of Canadians will find their ancestors in these historical records.

I just did a cursory check on my ancestors to see if they were all there - and they were! It appears that it is quite well done and it contains 1.3-million images. The images matched the names, and the information was correctly transcribed for my ancestors.

Lesley Anderson and Glenn Wright are going to put on a Webinar next Thursday, June 18th at 8:30 p.m..

If you have the chance, you should register for it now. If it is anything like the talk that they gave last month at the FHC in Ottawa, you are in for an educational and interesting talk on the census.

Read my review of the talk they gave on the blog that I posted at <http://genealogycanada.blogspot.com/2009/05/saturday-was-treat.html>.

P.S. I just received notice from Daniel Rencher, the Chief Genealogical Officer of FamilySearch, that they have put online the 1851, 1861 and 1871 census in addition to the 1881 census already online at <www.familysearch.org>.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Toronto Branch of OGS Hosts Twenty Ten Conference

At the end of this year's conference, Jane MacNamara gave us all a special presentation on next year's conference.

Dubbed "Essentials, Innovations and Delights", the conference will be held in the Doubletree Hilton at the Toronto Airport. According to the organizers, it is very easy to get to, and the rooms will cost the same as they did in 2004(!), the last time it was held there. It will be sponsored by The Toronto Branch of the OGS.

It will be held from the 14th to the 16th of May, 2010. They have entered an agreement with the Librarian Association of Ontario, and the Association is going to put on a specific day of talks on the 13th of May for genealogical librarians at the same venue as the conference.

Next year, they will also have special lunches hosted by some of the speakers (as they do in the States). There will also be unique presentations for those people with roots in Italy and the Netherlands.

They will present three full days of talks and will have short speeches of 20 minutes each around the venue on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. One of the speakers will be Thomas W. Jones, FASG, the co-editor of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly.

As a special giveaway, Jane presented the winner of the first attendee with a free enrollment to three full days of intensive learning!

Basic information is available at <www.ogs.on.ca>.

They are also starting a conference blog at <www.torontofamilyhistory.org/2010>.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Some Closing Thoughts ...

In summary, I came away with the thought that a sea-change had just taken place in doing genealogy.

We have been given the challenge to "fill in the dash" when we do genealogy from now on. We will have to use, as Jane MacNamara so aptly put it, the "whole-family" approach - it will push us to write the family's history, not to merely record the birth and death dates of a person's life.

Some closing thoughts on the conference -

1. On Friday night, we were introduced to our new patron, The Honourable Vivienne Poy, a Senator in the Canadian Parliament, by OGS President Don Hinchley.

She spoke very eloquently about tracing her roots back though Hong Kong to China and she hopes to bring the same enthusiasm to her new position with the OGS.

She replaces Senator Lorna Milne, who did such great work in bringing the 1911 Canadian Census to the people so that everyone can research their family history.

2. On Friday afternoon, I attended the Irish Palatine workshop in which Hank Jones (right) received the first Eula C. Lapp Award in front of a sell-out crowd from Denis Jones for his work on the Irish Palatines.

I learned that the group is putting together a book of genealogies of the Irish Palatines in Ontario, and Ruth Chernia of the OGS Publications Branch is helping out with the gathering and proofreading of the manuscript.

If you have Irish Palatines in your family, would you please contact her at <publications@ogs.on.ca>.

3. On Saturday morning, at the awful hour of 8:00 a.m. (we were tired due to a reception after the Opening Ceremonies), we gathered to hear Brian Gilchirst talk about "Pedigree and Progress: Making connections in the digital age from the printed page".

He talked about the progress that has been made in digitizing the information, but said that indexing it is falling behind. Of what use is it to scan and yet not prepare an index so that people can put in their family names to see if there is anything on them?

He also talked about saving our own research in the local archives or library. How many of us make a copy for our local archives or library?

Right after Brian's speech, we had the AGM, and it was supercharged this year with the request for an increase in membership dues.

After much discussion and various amendments, the vote was taken, and it was a "yes" vote for the increase of the basic membership fee to $60.00 from the current $45.00, starting next calendar year.

The OGS also put out a call for people to index the OGS Library, which is going to be digitized and put online.

It will include over 3,000 family genealogies, but they need to be indexed so that they can be searchable online.

If you wish to help, please contact Dr. Fraser Dunford, Executive Director, OGS at <ed@ogs.on.ca>.

4. On Saturday afternoon, I went to the panel discussion on "From the Printed Page to the Digital Age ... The Professionals' Perspective".

The audience that was there asked many questions of the panel, which included Susanna de Groot, Janice Nickerson, Ruth Burkholder, Tammy Tipler-Priolo, and Brian Gilchist. It was moderated by Sharon Murphy.

It was sponsored by the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists <http://ocapg.org>.

From the answers they gave, I gather it's quite a lonely life being a genealogist, looking at a computer screen all day long (something like a writer) and how important listserves are so that genealogists can talk over their research problems.

They talked about how the Internet has changed the way they do research, and people are asking different types of questions these days - more away from, "When was he born?", and more towards, "What can you tell me about his life as a grocer in Toronto in the 1850s?"

5. On Saturday night, we went to a local banquet hall to hear Charlotte Gray talk about what it is like being a biographer - which is where genealogy is heading. She is being introduced by Halton-Peel Chairman, Bob Crawford.

She gave us a sound footing of how to research history to write a biography, and she has written many, including one of Alexander Graham Bell.

At present, she is working on the people of the Klondike and she will be at the BIFHSGO conference this September, and at that time will give a talk on Sir John A. Mcdonald and his women!

6. On Sunday, I spent some time at the OGS Publications table to talk to people as they came by and generally got good reviews of the work I do on NewsLeaf and e-NewsLeaf.

All-in-all, another great conference, and well-worth both the fatigue of doing so much, and the sadness of having to say good-bye to old friends and acquaintances for yet another year.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

"Filling in the Dash"

At the graduation ceremony of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies <www.GenealogicalStudies.com> on Friday afternoon, Todd Poertner gave an entertaining speech to the 40 graduates and their invited guests in which he said his wife, Rebecca, was prone to taking genealogical vacations.

When he asked her why she was doing this, she said she was gathering information to "fill in the dash". That is that “-” sign we have all come across in our research that denotes a lifetime spent between birth and death. What type of life did this person live?

And the way to this type of research — filling in the dash — was exactly what Kory Meyerink spoke about in his speech that evening.

Keynote speaker Kory L. Meyerink — during the opening ceremonies of this year's Ontario Genealogical Society's Conference '09 — gave the J. Richard Houston Memorial Lecture on Friday evening.

"It's time for genealogists to become family 'biographers' and get beyond just names, dates, and places," was how he started in his lecture, "Beyond the Begats: Developing Biographies from Paper and Digital Sources."

He said we call it family history for a reason, and the reason is - because it is not JUST genealogy!

We just don't copy down a series of dates and say, "That's it, I am finished with it now!", or at least he hopes we don't. He encourages us to write a "Family Biography", and he gave us a list of sources to check as we start our biographies.

Continue to use the traditional sources, as we all do, like census records, BMDs, etc, but go beyond them, gathering the "extra" information like local histories, military files, court and civil records, and newspapers.

He said we have to train ourselves to focus on the "what" rather than ask "why". For example, why a person migrated can be somewhat easy to find, but what did they migrate from, and what did they migrate to, can be more difficult to determine.

He also advise us to become "miners" of databases.

This term these days is becoming rather dated in Internet times, but it still applies if you are doing genealogical research.

Some of the databases he suggests in "mining" are <www.Ancestry.com> (they have over 1,400 databases of Canadian records), <www.WorldVitalRecords.com>, <www.Footnote.com>, <www.FamilySearch.org>, and <www.CollectionsCanada.gc.ca>, which includes the Canadian Genealogy Centre.

He left us with a two page bibliography, which I intend to research. I am sure that I will come across some books that will pique my interest, and I will read them - especially the books about immigration histories.

John Becker, the editor of the OGS journal, Families, tells me that this lecture will be reprinted in a future issue. Be sure to watch for it!