Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Ontario Marriage Registers by Clergy (1896-1948)

This fall, released the Ontario Marriage Registers by the Clergy database. It houses information on 12,000 marriages listed under the Registration Act of 1896.

Most of the marriages are by Baptist, Methodist, and Presbyterian ministers.

The ministers had to report the marriages within 30 days of when they took place.

There were pre-printed forms that the ministers had to fill out, and the spaces covered such items as name, age, residence, whether bachelor/spinster or widow/widower, occupation for the groom only, religious denomination, and names of parents.

The record also contained both signatures of the people being married, and the names and addresses of the witnesses.

The database can be found at

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Online Access to Tweedsmuir Histories

Since 1920, the Federated Women's Institutes of Ontario has been gathering local history and has been preserving the histories in book form. *

On Nov 19th — in conjunction with the Ontario Genealogical Society — they issued a press release to say that they are partnering with the OGS to digitize 989 local histories and put them in OGS' e-Library.

About a half-million pages of history will be digitized.

"The books include a history of the local settlers in the area, the agricultural practices and industries that formed the basis of the local economy, the social institutions such as churches, schools and community centres, and local personalities," says the press release.

The project will take at least three years, and the project will "identify, conserve, preserve, and digitize all available Ontario Tweedsmuir Histories."

* Background information on the Treedsmuir Histories can be read in its entirely at the OGS website by clicking on "News" on the left-hand side of the webpage.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Publications This Fall

I have been quite successful in having a number of articles published this fall -

1. Canadian Funeral News - "Canadian Cemeteries are being saved by the Internet". November 2009. Pages 14-17.

This was an interesting piece to write. I sort of went "outside the box", so to speak, and had fun contacting everyone for the article, which was delivered on a very short timeline - but I'm used to deadlines!

It contains interviews with Sherri Pettit, the Director of the OntGenWeb Project, about the Canadian GenWeb Cemetery Project, and she led me to Debra Mann, who singlehandedly is saving cemeteries (Sherri calls her a "cemetery hopper") in Western Ontario, to Graveyard Rabbits in Canada, to Jim McKane, who has started - where you can transcribe tombstones on to his site.

If, by chance, you do take a look at the article, the first picture is one of the headstone of my great-great-great uncle, James BARCLAY, and his wife, Catharine BINGAY, from Shelburne, Shelburne County, Nova Scotia, Canada.

2. Discovering Family History - "Discovering Your Family History Center!". November/December 2009.

This article looked at the Family History Centres around the world to see why they have been so successful.

There are over 4,500 in the world now, and I took a look at the one in Ottawa on Prince of Wales Drive, and interviewed Shirley-Ann Pyefinch, its Director.

I asked her what she liked about working for the FHC, and how it has changed since she became its director three years ago.

3. Family Tree Magazine - "Follow your ancestors to Canada", November 2009. Pages 66-68.

This article focusses mainly on the Canadian Genealogy Center of the Library and Archives Canada.

I put the article out there for people to read because I don't think enough has been written about it yet, and what a great resource it is to the world.

I talk about the many databases that have been put online, and how the centre has coped with putting these databases online since its inception in 2003.

4. e-NewsLeaf - If you belong to the Ontario Genealogical Society, you already know about it.

But if you don't know about it, e-NewsLeaf it is an electronic newsletter that is issued in January, March, April, June, July, September, October, and December, and it contains short articles about what the different branches have been doing, bringing members up-to-date on the latest OGS news.

It's headed toward its second year as an added bonus to the members of the OGS, and I quite enjoy doing it.

I have a number of articles coming in the winter - an interview with Glenn Wright, a genealogist from Ottawa and an expert in Canadian military matters; one about Youth Genealogy, which is really taking off in the United States, and a few other pokers in the fire—so to speak—which I hope to have confirmed shortly.

I would say that I have a busy winter to look forward to - and come to think of it - a busy spring, too!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Nov-Dec 2009 "Ottawa Branch News"

A profile of 102-year old Elizabeth Stevens SMART is the lead story in the November-December 2009 issue of Ottawa Branch News. She is the oldest living member of the Ottawa Branch, and she goes right back to when it was formed in 1972. She has membership number 18!

Written by George NEVILLE, an Ottawa member, the article is based on a four-hour interview with Elizabeth taken in 2002, and covers her school history from Grade Primary right up to her Teacher Training.

The story will be continued in the next edition of the newsletter.

Elizabeth and Edward KIPP went on another research trip, and this time, they visited the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. They also attended the RATHUN reunion.

Overall, they gave good marks to the library, explaining the available resources and points to note. I would recommend reading this material before going there to do research.

In this issue, Robert SERRE talks about William CROSS, Hugh DAVIS, and Thomas FORAN in his ongoing series, "Early Residents of Ottawa's Sandy Hill Neighbourhood", and Mike MORE talks about the things he has found on the Internet under the title of "Electronic Notebook".

The "Historic Plaques and Monuments" in this issue showcases the Canadian Heritage Rivers System - The Rideau Waterway. Included in the article is a lovely picture of the plaque, and a brief history of the waterway.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

2 Minutes to Remember

The Historica-Dominion Institute <> combined forces in the fall of this year, and their new website is now up-and-running, so I decided to take a look.

I found, basically, the same site as before (they have just combined the content), but they have added a new wrinkle this Remembrance Day - and that is "2 Minutes To Remember" on November 11 at 11 o'clock.

You can sign up on the site (so far, relatively few Canadians have done so). It is a good thing to do if you cannot go out to Remembrance Day ceremonies, and wish to pay respects at home, work, or school.

They still have "The Memory Project: Stories of the Second World War", where you can browse the stories or submit a story. They walk you through the process.

And in the "Ontario Veteran Community Archive", I see where they have plans to visit towns and cities in Ontario this winter in order to hold digitization workshops for the stories.

Monday, November 9, 2009

A new website has recently come to my attention: it is It contains copies of many letters written during the wars Canadians have fought.

Started by the History Department of Vancouver University and The University of Western Ontario, it's objective is to "let Canadians tell their own story in their own words and images by creating a permenent online archives which preserves Canada's wartime correspondence, photographs, and other personal material materials, from the battlefront and the home front".

Currently, they have letters from the Pre-1914 Era, First and Second World Wars, the Korea Collection, Post-Korea Collections, and an area called "Special Collections' which has interviews and newspapers like the Cobourg World, which published letters written home from the front in the First World War.

The project is ongoing, and as the website says, "It is continually seeking and adding new materials to the project site".

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Battle of the Atlantic

At the Battle of the Atlantic parade held this past May 3rd in Ottawa, the following piece was written about the battle -

"On the 3rd of September 1939, the Athania* was sunk off the coast on Northern Ireland. One week later, Canada was officially at war.

The Royal Canadian Navy lost over 2,000 personnel and 24 warships. More than 900 RCAF and Canadian Army personnel were killed in this battle.

Between 1939 and 1945, over 1,700 Merchant Navy personnel lost their lives due to enemy action. Over 70 Canadian Merchant ships were sunk, most of them in the Battle of the Altering.

Approximately 350 aircraft were lost, and more than 900 aircrew were killed during the Battle of the Atlantic.

The RCN and the Merchant Navy made nearly 26,000 safe crossings, carrying over 181,000 million tons of supplies to Great Britain.

With victory in the Atlantic secured, victory in Europe was assured."

* The Athania was headed for Canada, carrying many Irish immigrants.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Heroes Remembered

As many of us are aware, war veterans—in general—do not wish to talk about their wartime experiences. Available to you, however, are now over 1,600 hours of video and audio conservations with 75 veterans from the 20th century wars with which Canada has been involved.

These interviews, along with pictures of the veterans and their stories, are available online at <>.

You can also search the database to find out about the conflicts, the geographic location of the conflicts, the campaign, the branches of the Canadian Forces, and the regiments which fought in the campaigns.

There is also a section devoted to the Chinese-Canadians who took part in the Second World War, and stories from Canadians who flew the Spitfire - the plane used at the beginning of the Second World War.

There are diaries, letters, poems, popular songs from the Second World War that you can listen to, art, and Remembrance Day posters from previous years.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

How Will You Remember?

The theme of this year's Veterans Week (Nov 5th to Nov 11th) is "How will you remember?"

The Library and Archives Canada has put on their website "Welcome to Canada at War: a Guide to Library and Archives Canada Recalling the Canadian War Experience".

This year marks the 65th anniversary of both D-Day and the Battle of Normandy, and the 70th anniversary of the beginning of the Second World War.

For information on the role that the Canadian military played during the Second World War, please go to the virtual exhibit called Faces of War at <>.