Monday, December 7, 2015

Canadian Week in Review 07 December 2015


I have come across the following Canadian genealogy, history and heritage websites, social media, and newspaper articles this past week that were of interest to me, and I thought you might be interested in them, too.

This Week in Canadian History

In 1824, construction began on the Welland Canal connecting Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.

There were four attempts at building the canal, one in 1829, one in 1845, one in 1887, and one in 1932.

A very good, short history of the canal, has been written at

In 1840, Henry Birks, founder of the Birks jewellery chain, was born in Montreal. His parents were from Yorkshire, England, and had emigrated to Canada in 1832.

He opened his small store in 1879, and in 1893, Birks went into partnership with his three sons (William, John and Gerald), and the name of the firm became Henry Birks and Sons. From there, he expanded across the county.

He died in 1928.

For more information, read about his life story in

In 1872, Lt.-Col. John McCrae, physician, poet, and author of the famous war poem "In Flanders Fields," was born in Guelph, Ontario.

Most people do not know that he had been in the Boer War, and had led the 1st Brigade of Artillery in 1904 after being promoted to Captain and then Major. He then volunteered in the First World War, and in the trenches near Ypres, Belgium, in the area traditionally called Flanders.

McCrae died Jan., 28, 1918 of pneumonia, and was buried at Wimereaux Cemetery in France.

To read about his life, go to

Social Media

(Video) '3rd hall of Parliament' opens to public in renovated Bank of Montreal building

After nearly eight years of renovations, Canada's so-called "third hall of Parliament" was opened to the public Friday — just in time for people to gather there and watch the speech from the throne.

(VIDEO) Ottawa an important 'cultural landscape' for native Canadians: researchers

New studies by two Ottawa researchers suggest the National Capital Region was an important “economic and spiritual centre” for native peoples for thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers in the early 1600s.

(Photos) HANTS HISTORY: Dec. 3, 2015 edition,-2015-edition/1

Here's a look at what was making the news 25 and 50 years ago in the Hants Journal.

(Video) New museum exhibit celebrates Windsor's French-Canadian roots

From last names to streetscapes, Windsor is rooted in French.

Upcoming Canadian Events



International Genealogy Conference UNLOCKING THE PAST 2016 will be held on Saturday, April 23, 2016 at the The Beach Club Resort, Parksville, British Columbia of the Qualicum Beach Family History Society in British Columbia.

The featured speakers will be Colleen Fitzpatrick and Chris Paton, and registration is now open at It includes an early bird price.

The website is located at

Genealogy on the Cutting Edge 2016

The Ontario Genealogical Society will be holding its annual conference from June 3rd to 5th at the Toronto’s International Plaza Hotel, Toronto.

Registration will open soon, and you can keep up-to-date with the latest news by following their website at, or their Facebook page at

Our Canada – Your Family: Building a Nation 2017

The Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society will host the 2017 annual conference, and they have a call out for presentations.

The conference will be held in Ottawa on June 16-18, 2017 at Algonquin College. The theme of the conference is Our Canada – Your Family: Building a Nation. As 2017 will be the 150th anniversary of the birth of Canada, Ottawa Branch OGS will host the annual OGS conference and give the Conference a national flair, bringing together genealogists and family historians from all over Canada. We are looking for speakers and talks of interest to genealogists from all provinces.


To submit proposals or ask questions, please contact the Conference 2017 Program Committee at: For more information about OGS or Ottawa Branch respectively, please visit: or

Great Canadian Summit

The summit will be held in Brampton, Ontario from October 21 to the 23, 2016 at the Courtyard Marriott.

It will be three days of genealogy by speakers such as CHRISTINE WOODCOCK | Director, Genealogy Tours of Scotland, RUTH BLAIR, PLCGS | Professional Genealogist, KATHRYN LAKE HOGAN, UE, PLCGS | Professional Genealogist at Looking 4 Ancestors, and MIKE QUACKENBUSH | Professional Genealogist - Research Coach, to name a few.

Registration has opened at


Oxford County Genealogical Society

The Oxford County Genealogical Society will be holding their annual general meeting on January 11th, 2016 where they will hold Election for Chair and Vice-Chair.

The speaker will be Gloria Muir, and her topic will be My Trip to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The meeting is held at Woodstock Public Library, 445 Hunter Street, Woodstock, Ontario at 6:45 p.m.

The website for the Oxford County Genealogical Society is at

Heritage Food Open House at GANS

From 2-4 pm on Sunday, December 13, the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia (GANS) will be hosting a Christmas open house for the monthly meeting, where the concept of Heritage Food will be highlighted.

Food is always an important part of any family celebration but we don’t often think about what the recipes and food traditions handed down in our families tell us about our ancestors. There will be heritage recipes on display, sent in from our members, and hopefully some samples and stories.

The meeting will be held at GANS headquarters at 33 Ochterloney Street, Suite 100, Dartmouth.

The website is at

Alberta Family History Society

The Alberta Family History Society will hold their meeting on December the 14th from 7 to 9 p.m. at River Park Church, 3818 - 14A Street SW, Calgary, Alberta at which there will be a panel of experts who will offer their opinion on Where Have My Relatives Gone?

They aree also asking members (and any visitors who would like to participate) to bring a tray of goodies for us all to share as this will be their last meeting before Christmas.

The website of the Alberta Family History Society is at

Newspaper Articles

Nova Scotia

ED COLEMAN HISTORY: Looking back at letters to show life in Kings County in 1863

What did your great-grandparent do when they wanted to post a letter, say 150 or so years ago, or if someone wanted to correspond with them by mail?

Lighthouse near Lockeport at risk of collapsing, group says

A lighthouse perched on a rock off Nova Scotia's South Shore may not last the winter, community members say.

The Gull Rock lighthouse near Lockeport is crumbling with age, says the Protect Gull Rock Lighthouse group.

New Brunswick

Forgotten graveyards offer insight into black history

Mary McCarthy wants people to know about the Wheary graveyard near Fredericton and other black graveyards in the area that are being forgotten by time and history.

Fredericton considers selling Wilmot Park heritage home.

The City of Fredericton may sell a heritage home that is located in Wilmot Park that had been used for decades as the residence for the park's on-site groundskeeper.

The home, which is located at the corner of Saunders Street and Odell Avenue, has been vacant since 2013 when the city stopped using an on-site caretaker.


What do you know about residential schools? Take the quiz

Understanding one of the darkest chapters of Canadian history is crucial, but you may be surprised by some of these facts about residential schools and indigenous history.

Test your knowledge with information drawn from Facing History and Ourselves’ new resource guide.

JOY OF GENEALOGY: Signs you might be a genealogist

We’ve all heard them, the jokes that begin “You might be a redneck if …” We laugh, while at the same time, there’s that niggling feeling that a few have hit a bit too close to home.

Ex-PMs' archived papers include love letters, $500 — even a molar

The day after a federal election, while many civil servants are focused on the future and the continuation or transition of the government, one group of public servants is busy sifting through the past.

Archivists from Library and Archives Canada begin the task of sorting, cataloguing and preserving the official papers of politicians whose terms have come to an end.

Saluting Louis Shickluna, Senglea’s master shipbuilder in Canada

A Maltese traveller in Canada might be surprised to come across a plaque commemorating a Maltese man and finding out he played a significant part in this faraway city’s history and in Canada’s naval industry.


Province introduces new legislation ensuring students, teachers learn indigenous history, culture

Manitoba is introducing new legislation to ensure students and teachers learn about the history and culture of indigenous peoples, the legacy of residential schools and the significance of treaties.

The move to add indigenous history to Manitoba's curriculum follows the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's final report last summer.


A city councillor is calling for more diversity in street and park names.

Veteran Saskatoon city councillor Tiffany Paulsen wants to see more city streets, parks and facilities named for women.

British Columbia

B.C. railroad stories told in new book Whistle Posts West

A train that sunk in a peat bog in Burnaby, tales of robberies (of money and coal) and silk trains that were of such high priority that all other traffic — including a train carrying King George IV on his 1939 Canadian tour — was pushed off the main line.


Signs in McIntyre subdivision tell drivers 'Stop' in Southern Tutchone

A Southern Tutchone word has recently been added to stop signs in the McIntyre subdivision of Whitehorse. The translation isn't exact, but the meaning comes through.

Canadian Stories this Week

1917 Halifax Explosion

Although I did not have relatives who lived in Halifax or Dartmouth at the time of the 1917 Halifax Explosion, I did lived in the north end of Halifax near the The Halifax Explosion Memorial Bell Tower on Fort Needham, which overlooks the area devastated by the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917.

The park commemorates those who were killed or suffered injury, and those who lost homes and family when the munitions ship, Mont Blanc, blew up in Halifax Harbour. It also honours the survivors, who rebuilt the cities of Halifax and Dartmouth in the years that followed.

The Nova Scotia Archives now have an online exposition of the “first-hand survivor accounts, observations by visitors in the days immediately afterward, photographs, and other miscellaneous material relating to the disaster of 6 December 1917. This is a continuing series, with new items added each year, leading up to the centenary on 6 December 2017”.

You can see the exposition at, and I came across a woman, Verna Jeffries, who lives in Gananoque, Ontario who talks about the explosion on She was six months old at the time of the explosion, and lived to tell the tale.

On that day 2,000 people were killed by collapsed buildings, debris and fires, and 9,000 were injured.

Royal Alberta Museum

As one door closes, another one opens, and this time, it is the Royal Alberta Museum that is closing, with a new museum opening in 2017.

To make the closing of the old museum memorable, a 24-hour Closing Party was held this past weekend at the museum, as it prepares to move to its new building.

You can view

You can see what people want to know about the Museum on the Move at an FAQ at

And while no closing party was held when the Canada Science and Technology Museum closed earlier this year, because of airborne mould as a result of a leaky roof and it, too, will be open in the fall 2017.

In the meantime, you can still visit virtually, and there is lots to see at

Scottish Studies Genealogy Research Repository

News has reached us that the Scottish Studies Genealogy Research Repository at the University of Guelph is hoping to raise $5,000 by using CrowdSourcing. So far, they have raised $480.00.

They say that those who are “interested in the history of the Scottish Canadian community, be they academic historians, genealogists, research students, population scientists, journalists, heritage workers, writers, or any Canadian proud of their Scottish ancestry and heritage”.

It is also understood that the repository will also be used as a facility where people will be able to bequeath their family history which the Institute will digitize, house, preserve for future generations. What a perfect idea!

You can donate at

And that was the week in Canadian news!

Check the Canadian Week in Review (CWR) every Monday morning for the latest in Genealogy, Heritage, and History news in Canada.

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