Friday, July 31, 2009

Ontario Archives Reduces Hours

It was a sellout crowd that went to the Ontario Archives tour this year at Conference '09 - but how many knew that they had already reduced the research hours to Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.? It is not open on Saturday.

The old hours were Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., and on Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m..

How on earth does one do research on the weekends when there are no hours on Saturday??

But you can help change that.

Here is an email I received from Kathie Orr in June ...


Re Restricted Archives of Ontario Hours

The Archives of Ontario has moved to a wonderful new state of the art archives building. We now have the proper facilities to access and research our history but many people are unaware that with the move we now have restricted hours of operation.

We need your help.
  • At the present time the hours of operation of the Archives of Ontario are 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
  • In effect this means that any Ontario taxpayer and visitor from outside the province who works fulltime and or lives at a distance not longer have access to their records.
  • If we want to have evening and weekend hours we have to make our concerns known.
  • We will not get the old hours of 8:15 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday back. A good compromise might be 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and Saturday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. The benefit is that those who will visit during the extended hours will have archival staff on hand to advise and assist you them.
Why do we need your help?
  • Not all records are available online or will be for the foreseeable future.
  • To access the full range of records to research your family you do need to visit archives for such records as estate files, Crown land records, Private Property land records, education records, divorce files, maps, and private papers such as the T. Eaton Co.
What can you and or your group do?
  • Sign our petition
  • Have your group and any other interested parties sign our petition.
  • and click on Feedback (left side of page half way down). They ask you to “Please take a few moments to send us your comments by filling in the form below.” Politely request that you would like extended hours back. You fill in your email address and you will in time get a personal reply. We want to flood the Archives with requests so they can show the government the need for the extended hours.
  • Contact your local MPP
  • When contacting your MPP please emphasis your use of the Archives of Ontario, its importance to the province and that these are our records and it is our right to have access to them.
  • And encourage others to do the same.
We are counting on YOU to help make the Archives of Ontario a place where all can go to use the documented heritage of our province.

Send completed petitions to

c/o Ruth Burkholder
Ste 103 -12140 Ninth Line
Stouffville ON L4A 1L2


c/o Kathie Orr
405 – 100 Maitland St
Toronto ON M4Y 1E2

As many people do not like to open emails with an attachment until they know what it is all about a second email will be sent to you with the petition attached.

Thank you

Kathie Orr


Katharine G. Orr
405 - 100 Maitland St
Toronto ON M4Y 1E2
stay in touch with your past to ensure your future


Editor's Note: The follow-up email I received from Kathie Orr includes a copy of the petition for printing. However, since I am unable to attach it to the blog, please contact Kathie for a copy <>.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Canadian War Children of World War Two

Someone has finally done it!

Chris Vowles from West Sussex, in the United Kingdom, has started a website to help Canadian fathers or a relative trace a child in the UK, or help a child or a relative trace a father or family in Canada.


There are approximately 22,000 Canadian War Children born between December, 1939 and the early part of 1946 - so he has a gigantic job ahead of him.

But, he already has people in his database, and he has two forms that you can download from the website to fill in the information that you are looking for either in the UK or in Canada.

He has also provided a bit of history on Canadians who were stationed in the UK during World War II, and of the Canadian Regiments in the UK.

So if you have any information that you might think is helpful, email Chris at <> or check out his website at <>.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Treasuring Memories in Rolla, British Columbia

The British Columbia Genealogist started their summer edition with a 14-page story by Burt McCalab Bryan, a Texan who moved to Edmonton and later to Rolla, BC at the turn of the 20th century.

He later returned to Texas.

But his story while he lived in Canada's Western Provinces is interesting indeed.

He tells about starting his homestead in Rolla, and of working on helping to build the Canadian Telegraph Line from Grand Prairie, Alberta to Hudson Hope, British Columbia.

The family names he mentions in his story are BRYAN, CLAY, FINNS, TAYLOR, TREMBLEY, and WILLIAMS.

In this issue, they also have a story of the Reverend Arthur Browning entitled, "Cornwall to Canada".

His great-grandchild, Colin Lyne, came across a story that the Genealogist recently did on Reverend E. W. White, a Methodist minister who came over in the mid-19th century, along with Reverend Browning.

The family names are BROWNING, DYER, EVANS, GODWARD, LYNE, ORCHARD, and WHITE. Colin is looking for LYNE and BROWNING relatives.

The third story they have in this publication is about a name - UDELL - the spelling that has changed at least a least two dozen times since the 12th century.

The most common spellings have been UDALL and UDELL, and this started in the 16th century.

It is an interesting history of the changes in the spelling of a name, and one that deserves a close reading, for you may have changed in your surname, too - and changes that you may not be aware of - so check.

And the BCGS Cemetery Committee is busy doing the recordings from the monuments of the Fraser Cemetery in New Westminster.

They are taking digital photographs of all the monuments, and there will be a story in the September issue of this newsletter.

If any of you live handy to the cemetery and would like to help, email Valerie Hooper at <>. The website of the British Columbia Genealogical Society is <>.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Stirling-Rawdon Genealogy Fair 2009

Are you ready to track your ancestors?

It's time for another genealogy fair!

This time. I'm going to the fair which will be held Saturday, August 22nd in Stirling-Rawdon (near Trenton and Peterborough in Ontario) at the Stirling Senior School on St. James Street.

I knew that the fair was quite old and had been held a number of summers in this quaint little village, but this will be the first year that I am going.

It is an all-day affair, and will feature Fawne-Stratford Devai (who works on the television series, “Ancestors in the Attic”) and her talk entitled, “Leaving Ontario: Resources of Tracking Ontario Migrants”, as well as Dr. David R. Elliott’s two lectures, “Digital Techniques for Reading Difficult Tombstones” and “Treasure in the Family Bible: Methodologies for Discovering Family History”.

I can’t wait to hear both of them because I have a few questions of my own that I would be love to get answers to.

The fee is very reasonable, and you can register online before August 1st by downloading the registration form at <> or you can register at the door on the day of the conference. But be there early because doors open at 8:30!

Also, visit <> and take a look at their historical society, where they keep a genealogy room.

The contact person to get in touch with, if you wish to register, is Pat Marshall of Stirling. Her email address is <>.

If you come to the fair, please take a moment to say “Hi!” - I would love to meet you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Canadian Naturalization Database

Back in 2002, a partnership between the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and both the Ottawa and Montreal Jewish Genealogical Societies <> resulted in the LAC's very first database. It was the 1915 to 1932 Canadian Naturalization Database.

Now, seven years later, they have added names to the database so that there are now 206,731 individuals who applied for, and received, status as naturalized Canadians from 1915 to 1932.

This database is one of the few Canadian genealogical resources specifically designed to benefit those researchers with roots outside of the British Commonwealth.

You can request the actual record from the Registrar of Canadian Citizenship, P.O. Box 7000, Sydney, Nova Scotia, B1P 6V6. (There is a fee involved.)

The database was made possible by the staff and volunteers of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Ottawa <> and the staff of the LAC.

The database is available at <>.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

United Church Archives Now Online!

I received a press release this morning from the United Church Archives, advising that their archives and graphics databases are now online.

If you go to the archives database at <>, you will see a search engine where you can put in the record that you are searching for in the Bay of Quinte, Hamilton, London, Manitou, and Toronto Conferences.

The United Church of Canada Archives is located on the ground floor for the General Council Office of the United Church, Suite 300, 3250 Bloor Street West in Toronto.

They are offering tours from August 4th to August 6th at 2:00 p.m..

The hours are Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m..

Their phone number is 416.231.7680 ext. 3123, or toll-free 1.800.268.3103 ext. 3123.

Their email address is <>.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Genealogy Week in Ottawa

For those who don't know, July 19th to the 24th is the first-ever Genealogy Week in Ottawa. It's sort of like a boot camp for genealogy enthusiasts.

Mike More, the Chairman of the Ottawa Branch <> of the Ontario Genealogical Society put the programme together and enlisted the help of several city resources such as the Canadian Genealogy Centre <>, the Ottawa Public Library <>, the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa Archives <>, Le Centre de l'Outaouais of BAnQ <>, the City of Ottawa Archives <>, the United Church Archives <>, the Sir Guy Carleton Branch, United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada <>, and the Société de généalogie de l'Outaouais .

All this week, the people are going to the diverse venues to take lectures from the various people at these places. In addition, they have an hour or two of research time on their own to delve into the records.

Group shot of Genealogy Week participants, speakers, organizers, and members of supporting organizations.

I spent some time with them Sunday evening at the welcoming ceremonies to see what they would be researching, what family names were of interest to them, and what they hoped to accomplish in the week that they have available to them.

(There will be more about Ottawa Genealogy Week in the November issue of NewsLeaf).

Meanwhile, on Monday evening, my husband and I rushed over to Jacques Cartier Park in Gatineau to hear Marie Careau, Karine Maisonneuve, and Marc Saint-Jacques of La Société de généalogie de l’Outaouais <> speak on the history of the communities of Aylmer, Hull, Gatineau, Templeton, Ange-Gardien, Buckingham, Cantley, and Chelsea in the Outaouais region of Quebec.

There were about 50 people there (the crowd was so large, the overflow sat in a room in the back, or sat outside and listened through open windows) at the meeting in the historic Maison Charron, located right inside the park, which itself is found next to the Museum of Civilization, across the river from Parliament Hill in Ottawa.

They gave a very informative talk on the history of the area, and how it was transformed from an English settlement to a French settlement in the late 1800s, including immigration patterns and politics.

One of the results was the many 'mixed marriages' between the French- and English-speaking residents during this time, and it is not unusual to hear many people with an English first name and a French family name, even today.

They also talked about the industries that were once there—lumber, mining, and manufacturing, for example-but today, a lot of the people work in government offices in Gatineau and Ottawa.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lennox & Addington County Archives

The Archives' Reading Room is now open to the public on Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., in addition to being open from Tuesday to Friday, at the same hours.

The building, located on Thomas Street in Napanee in Ontario (to the west of Kingston), was—until 1971—a county jail.

Now, you can go to the restored building and research their genealogical holdings, which include reference works, microfilm sources, card indices, and family files.

They also have an historical collection which includes newspapers (microfilmed up to 1977) such as the Napanee Standard, Napanee Express, Napanee Beaver, and The Heritage. As well, they carry municipal papers from the County of Lennox and Addington, the old town of Napanee, the villages of Newburgh and Bath, and the townships within the County.

They also have a photograph collection of over 10,000 original images, with close to 5,000 of them indexed by subject matter or sitter.

The Archives are online at <>.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Eastern Ontario Countryside

About noontime, we arrived in the town of Hawkesbury.

Celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2009, this town of 10,000 is situated right on the Ottawa River.

This is the Long-Sault Bridge, which we crossed over between Grenville, Quebec and Hawkesbury.

But the main site I wanted to see on this trip was the Higginson Observation Tower at Vankleek Hill.

The tower was originally built be Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Higginson, an Irishman who settled in Vankleek Hill in 1829.

The tower was first built by him as a windmill about 1830 so that he could grind wheat and corn, but it failed due to inconsistent wind power.

He then turned it into the first private observatory in Eastern Ontario.

In 2003, it was decided by the business people of Vankleek Hill to restore the tower to its former glory, and now you can visit it by walking up the stairs inside to the top of the tower, and take in the wonderful view of the village and the hills of Quebec to the north.

To the right of the tower is the Anglican Church, and in the back of the tower is the home of William Higginson, the son of Thomas, the builder of the tower.

At the foot of the tower, going all around it in a circle, are bricks of stone with the businesses and people who contributed to the restoration of the tower.

After spending an hour there, we took old Highway 17 back to Ottawa and passed through the villages of Alfred, L'Orignal, Plantagenet, Riceville, Treadville, and Wendover.

We stopped in at L'Orignal to take the Jailhouse Tour, but it was raining, and since there was a tour underway, we decided not to wait. Instead, we took a tour around town, and took pictures of various buildings, including this one of the land office.

Hawkesbury and the subsequent villages we visited on our way back to Ottawa are located in Prescott County, and they have an excellent genealogy site at <>.

Here, you will find Prescott County Families; Maps; Cemetery and Vital Records; and Lovell's Canadian Directory.

After an enjoyable ride through this part of Ontario, we stopped into Orleans (Ottawa East) for a lovely supper, took a ride into downtown Ottawa, and then went home.

Facing west, here is a picture of Ottawa's skyline at dusk (taken several miles away).

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Quebec Countryside

Before starting, I wish all of our American readers a belated Happy Fourth of July. We came home too late to post this issue, but having spent many a summer visiting American cousins in the Boston States, my thoughts were with you on this special day.

Yesterday, we took off for a drive down the Quebec countryside from Gatineau to Grenville along the Ottawa/Outaouais River, and covered such areas as Les Collines-de-l'Outaouais, La Lièvre et la Petite-Nation, and Les Laurentides.

Remember how I said it was going to be sunny? It rained! Not all the time - but enough to be bothersome.

However, we pushed on through the rain drops, and while we didn't visit as many museums nor sites of interest as we would have liked, we did drive around quite a bit in the rain, and had time enough to enjoy a nice supper back in Ottawa.

We started from the easterly side of the city of Gatineau, which includes the sectors of Alymer, Gatineau, Hull, Buckingham, and Masson-Angers. These cities and towns were amalgamated into the City of Gatineau in 2002.

After a short delay so that my husband could check for a laptop part at a computer store, we took off to follow the river almost down to its mouth at the St. Lawrence.

The Ottawa River was a key river in Canada's settling, as it was the waterway to the heart of the country for early immigrants to Canada, and vital to the early lumber industry.
Ottawa River, located near Thurso, Quebec

The first place we went through was Thurso. It was settled in 1886 by Scottish people, and was named Thurso after the town in Scotland.

Its liveliehood has been in lumber industry, and in the early days sent its lumber to England to be used by the British Navy, but there are rumours now that the paper plant (after troubles in the lumber industry) is set to close.

It is a village of 2,000, and today the population is mainly French, although there is still a healthy population of English-speaking residents with Anglo-Celtic roots.

The next place we visited was Papineauville.

It is a pretty town, the former seigniory of Louis-Joseph Papineau, one of Quebec's early politicians.

It was settled around 1855.

And then on to Montebello, a very picturesque town which has become an artist's paradise, and is home to the Chateau Montebello, a first-class hotel and the largest log structure in the world. It was built in 1930.

We stopped at the nearby tourist bureau, which is an old train station (note the "weather vane" on the roof), and it was here that we encountered our first of many rain showers.

Tourist Bureau in Montibello, Quebec

We continued down the road, following the Ottawa/Outaouais River to Hawkesbury, going through such settlements as Fassett and Grenville.

Until tomorrow ...

In the meantime, there are some places to check for genealogy -

The Quebec GenWeb page on West Quebec at <> has a free look-up based on what area you are researching in the West Quebec (Outaouais) region, and <> has listings of cemetery transcriptions for the province of Quebec, such as the website found at <> for some the areas we travelled yesterday.

Also, check on other sites mentioned in this blog.

Friday, July 3, 2009

22nd Wedding Anniversary

Tomorrow is our 22nd wedding anniversary, and to celebrate, we are going to take a circular trip through the Quebec side of the Ottawa River towards Montreal (in the Outaouais region), then cross the river to Hawkesbury (on the Ontario side) to celebrate its 150th birthday, and then we will return to Ottawa via Eastern Ontario.

Some of the places we plan to stop at are Thurso, Papineauville, and Montebello on the Quebec side, and Hawkesbury (of course), Vankleek Hill (they have a special museum there), and various towns along the way back.

For those not familiar with the area, let me assure you that it is very scenic — as our pictures will show — and historic in nature.

As usual, I am packing my notebook, pencil, and camera, and will gather information for the various publications I write for, and for the blog.

It's supposed to be fair tomorrow - sunny and warm - so here's hoping for a nice trip, and a lovely supper!

Canada's New Tombstone Project

We are invited to drop by the Canadian Headstone Photo Project, where digital images of tombstones will be put online <>.

The founders of the project say that the stones are becoming harder to read, and in order to read the inscriptions, they are archiving the images.

The website covers all provinces and territories, as well as Ireland and the United States.

So I checked Canada's section, and found nothing yet, but that understandable because it is a new service.

You can do either a surname or cemetery search - or both.

The service is free - both to upload and download.

But if you check Ireland, you will see tombstones for County Tyrone and County Farmanagh, and a transcription is right under the picture.

The date which the transcription was done is also given.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Nipissing University, North Bay

I've been researching Nipissing University in North Bay and their Institute for Community Studies and Oral History, and discovered that they have a robust interest in the social history of the area.

Not only is it a "robust interest", but over the past few years, have been sending their students to collect local history stories about the people and places of the Near North in Ontario, from the earliest times to the present.

Current interests include Family Rituals, the Early Families Project, and the history of local townships.

So if you have any ancestors living in the Near North of Ontario, consider contacting them at <> or go to their website at <>.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Happy Canada Day!

The 142nd birthday of Canada (July 1st) has rolled around again, and it is raining with thunderstorms in Ottawa - but it's a birthday!

I remember when it was Dominion Day, for it was only changed to Canada Day in 1983, and it took a bit of getting used to the new name.

Typically, everyone has the day off, and although it is a day for picnics, and having fun in the great outdoors in the summer time, it is also a time to remember our ancestors - the French and Anglo-Celtic peoples who first came here in the 1600s and 1700s, and the hard times they had in making a life for themselves in an often unforgiving land.

We also remember the Irish Potato Famine Immigrants who came here in the 1800s, and what a difficult time they had settling in their new land; of the Eastern Europeans who, in a great way, settled and tamed the Prairie Provinces in the early 20th century with nothing more than hard work and an unswerving dedication; and of the Chinese, who came and developed the railway, and in so doing, opened up the West to the rest of Canada.

And, of course, all these new immigrants came and built upon a land originally settled by the Aboriginal peoples, who themselves came here thousands of years ago.

And to all the other immigrants who have come to Canada, and have found a home and prosperity here - welcome to Canada!

There are only eight more years before Canada's 150th anniversary, and I hear that planning for it has started already.

So Bonne Fête, Canada - Happy Birthday, Canada!