Saturday, April 18, 2009

The British Columbia Genealogist Arrives

The March 2009 issue of The British Columbia Genealogist arrived safely on my doorstep the other day.

As usual, Diane Rogers (the editor), has done a fantastic job in putting the stories together plus all the news about the BC genealogical community.

It was interesting to read the essay that won the Most Improved Contest entitled, “Nock, Nock, and Nock Again” by Brenda Smith, as well as the two follow-up essays - “David James Gill Became A Home Child in Canada in 1871” by Judy Hassall, and “The Stanborough Family” by Brenda Perfitt Jensen.

There are three cementeries covered in this issue: the Veterans Cemetery, Esquimalt; the Rock Creek Cementery at Rock Creek; and Robinson Memorial Park Cementery in Coquitlam. The pictures of the cementeries are quite nice.

This issue also contains the 2009 Price List for their publications, as well as the schedule of things going on in the chapter.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A New Format!

Just like Families, the journal of the Ontario Genealogical Society, did last fall, the Spring issue of the Nova Scotia Genealogist has gone to the larger 8½” ×11” size with this issue <>.

As usual, there is something for everyone in the issue. I found the article on the diary of Murdoch Campbell Smith of Port Williams, Kings County by Carolyn McGrath insightful because he went to Horton Academy—eventually becoming Acadia University—which I attended in the late 1960s.

Secondly, he went to Oakland, California. I had relatives that went there around the same time, so I have a definite interest in that area.

I will be getting in contact with Carolyn to see if he wrote anything on my relatives since she said he wrote about his visits to other Nova Scotian families in the area.

Other articles included one on British Home Children; Pierre Cyr and His Family of Acadia; and one which explains the PERSI Index in the Allan County Library in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

They also mention the new “Members-Only” area of the GANS website, news items in the Bulletin Board; and their publications and reference books for sale at a very reasonable price.

I was pleased to see another genealogical journal go to the larger format - for me, it makes for easier reading and storage. I await the electronic version, which they may switch to in the future.

For the month of April, I plan to attend two genealogical meetings. The first one is the Ottawa Chapter of the Ontario Genealogical Society’s <> meeting on April 21st, with guest speaker, Diane Burnett, the librarian of the Upper Ottawa Valley Genealogical Group <>.

The second one will be the day-long conference and Region VIII AGM for the Leeds Grenville Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society in Brockville - about an hour and a half south of Ottawa. It will be held on Saturday, April 25th <>.

I will have information on both of these meetings as we get closer to the date.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gene-O-Rama 2009 - Wanderings

From the first break in the morning until early afternoon, I wandered around the Marketplace, and at some point, had lunch. This year, they had 30 vendors crammed into the rather small Ben Franklin Place Atrium to display their wares. I went around and visited nearly all of them in the short time I had.


Here are Sue (l) and Heather (the break and lunchtime ladies) as they prepare to set up the breaks and lunch-time food at the tables.
Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

Since the OGS shared the space with people coming to the City Library, Heather and Sue had to make sure that only people with OGS Conference nametags could partake of the goodies.

They both did a great job and ought to be commended for the smiling faces that greeted us every time we went to the tables.


I stopped in at the Computer Room and they had a number of computers, and all were busy when I was there. People were looking for ancestors online at or at Find My Past, for example. Don Ross, who was handling the people there, said that the place was busy all day and that there was a good stream of people coming and going.

Don Ross, assisting those in the Computer Room.
Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD


I stopped and talked to Ana Ghia-Pereira (l) and Shirley Ann Pyefinch and at the FHL table. They are going to have a "Discovering Our Ancestors" Family History Fair on Saturday, May 2nd from 1:30 to 4:30. For more information, please visit their website at
Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD


And I also took a minute to visit the Moorshead Magazines table, where I said "Hi" to Ed Zapletal.

He is their new owner and editor since Halvor Moorshead retired last year. I saw where he had the latest "Google you Family Tree" book by Daniel Lynch for sale. They have the exclusive rights to sell the book in Canada, and Ed said that Daniel might come to Oakville for the OGS Conference held at the end of May. For more on this book, visit


I talked to Derek Hopkins and crew at the Quebec Family History Society table and asked how the planning for the International Conference 2010, called "Roots Heritage", is coming along, and they said "just great". They are looking forward to having everybody come down next year to Montreal when the conference will be held in June.

Please note that all the lectures will be in English. For details, visit the Society at


The Kingston Branch of the OGS was there, and they said that they are busy putting their cemeteries online. The Carleton Branch of the United Empire Loyalists was also there, and they had a great many books on Loyalists ancestors. This summer, the Loyalists conference will be held in Adolphustown, near Trenton, Ontario.


And you just have to see the water flowers that were in bloom in the Atrium. I don't know what kind of flowers they are - but aren't they pretty?
Credit - J.M. Lapointe, CD

Next year, the conference will be held March 26th and 27th at the Library and Archives Canada. For more on the conference, visit

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Gene-O-Rama 2009 - Saturday

Saturday was going to be a fun day because I was going to hear the lectures about the "Canadian Genealogy Centre" by Sara Chatfield, "Getting the Most from City Directories ..." by Mel Wolfgang, and Terry Findley's talk on "Cold Case: Hot Tips" plus go around to various vendors and talk to them to see how business was in the Marketplace. And if I had time, I wanted to go to the computer room to see how things were going there.

The first lecture I went to was one given by the LAC's Sara Chatfield on "The Canadian Genealogy Centre in 2009".

Sara Chatfield of Library and Archives Canada

Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

First, the room was too small, with all the people that were there. Exta chairs were needed to take care of those that came to this very popular session, and for those that popped in after it began. Luckily for those left standing, OGS volunteer Heather Oakley—ever cheerful—came through with a bunch of chairs, and they were very much appreciated!

So we settled down to hear her talk on the Centre and what was new for 2009.

Sara said that since the large databases have already been put online, they are busy now putting on the smaller ones, and filling in the gaps in the databases already online.

When asked about newspapers, she said there weren't any plans to put them on right away, which left a few of us with a somewhat unsatisfied feeling.

She also said that "tagging" was becoming more important (adding your own comments to photos and videos on and, for example) on the new Web 2.0.

There were lots of questions, especially about how to get in touch with the LAC through email. People also seemed to be a bit confused as to the available hours, and how to use the website correctly.

I then took a break (I will write about whom I visited tomorrow) until just before one o'clock, and then I went to hear Mel Wolfgang talk about "Getting the Most from City Directories ...", in which he traced the development of the directory throughout the ages.

Mel Wolfgang, owner of Jonathan Sheppard Books of Albany, New York

Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

In Canada, you can go to the Canadian Directories, 1790-1987: a Bibliography and Place-name Index. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1989 (3 vols) and it will give you the complete listing of directories in Canada.

Directories are very useful in the "in-between" census years, for it can tell you where they were living, what they were doing, etc.

Mel said to take the time to discover the various sections of the directories because you can learn about local government, churches, and fraternal groups. He says that you can learn much by "digging deep down" in directories.

At the end of the day, it was time to hear Terry Findley talk about "Cold Case: Hot Tips" where he discussed several instances in his own family history where he thought he had a "cold case", but through the use of "hot tips", was able to solve the mystery.

Some of the points he made were -

Review your notes - you may have copied down the wrong placename
Think the process - the process of seaching for someone
Believe that the information is there - you just have to look for it
Be aware of oral family history - often times itis folklore
Always be aware of unsourced family histories - where did they get those dates from
Always check the back of pictures - is there anything written on the back of it

Monday, March 30, 2009

Gene-O-Rama 2009 - Friday Night

I said on my Twitter posting that I was to going to the Ottawa Genealogical Society's Gene-O-Rama, and I did - to both Friday evening's Pat Horan Memorial Lecture, and to Saturday's lectures.

The speaker Friday evening was Dr. Bruce Curtis, a professor of Sociology at Ottawa's Carleton University. His topic was entitled, "Locating, Identifying, Knowing: Census Making in Canada in 1871".

Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

This was an interesting and thought-provoking talk, as it showed the thought processes behind the 1871 Census. It was called "the census with the pastoral vision" because the political people wanted to show (even if it was slightly untrue) how pastoral Canada was at that time.

And, of course, we know it was the beginning of a population shift, as millions of Canadians went south looking for work in the factories of the Northeastern States and to the Northwestern States for jobs in the lumber industry. Canada was becoming more industrialized as time went on - so the country was anything but pastoral.

He told about how the 1861 Canadian Census was such a boondoggle (it was taken in the winter, sometimes the enumerator wasn't educated, the enumerator sheets weren't protected against the weather, etc.) that the government of the day vowed that the 1871 Census was not going to be the same.

Instead, enumerators were given smaller, folded sheets to record their information, they were trained to take the answers, and it was the first time a population map was drawn up of the country.

It was also the first time also that both migration and religion were recorded. No one was allowed to put down "Canada" as their answer to the question, "Where are you from?" - you had to put down the country where you or your people were originally from so that the governent knew where their people were from.

You can access the 1871 Canada Census through inter-library loan of microfilm from the LAC, or browse the Ontario Province of the 1871 Census on the Internet through the LAC (head of household only) at <>, or search the whole census through

After the lecture, we went out of the auditorium and had juice/coffee and cookies. We had our sights firmly set on Saturday and the delights it would bring. I already see where John Reid has posted a picture of me on his Anglo-Celtic Connections blog. (Yes, John, you caught me totally unprepared for that one ... touche!)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Beginners Genealogy Course - Local Resources

Terry Findley—the last lecturer in the highly-successful Beginner's Course in Ottawa on March 21st—gave his lecture on "Local Resources".

As I listened to his lecture, I wondered how many of the sixty or so people who were there had actually done any research on their family histories.

Roughly three-quarters of the attendees were what we would call "first timers". That is, they hadn't done any research at all, so, naturally, they were very interested to hear about the facilities that Terry was about to mention.

The first place he spoke about was the Canadian Genealogy Centre (CGC) -

He called it the "jewel of family history in Ottawa", and went on to explain that the Canadian Genealogy Centre has databases (for example - census, Canadian Passenger Lists, First World War papers), books, and now even a presence on and

The CGC is located within the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) at 395 Wellington Street. A research pass is required for access to the rooms which hold the records.

He talked about the Mormon's Family History Library on Prince of Wales Drive, and its many holdings.

It is a welcoming place, where you might run into fellow researchers who might be related. It happens a lot at the FHL!

While you are there, feel free to order microfilm—for a nominal fee—from their main library in Salt Lake City. The knowledgeable volunteers will be glad to assist you.

The Ottawa Court House—located at the corner of Laurier and Elgin Streets, right next to Ottawa City Hall—was a surprise to many because they didn't know that it is where you find land records and might even discover some wills there, also.

The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa is located next to Christ Church Cathedral on Bronson Avenue, in the northwest part of the city.

It has such records as the BMDs of Ottawa. Its website is

One thing Terry said—which was a surprise to him when he was doing his research—was that it also contained BMDs of other religions, so if you can't find them in anywhere else in Ottawa, you should go there because they may have it.

The Ottawa Public Library has the Ottawa Room, where you will find newspaper indexes for such local newspapers as the Ottawa Citizen and Ottawa Journal.

He said that it will be closed for the next month while they renovate it (they are making it bigger), but it has a wealth of materials there. It's a good place to check for finding more on the social history of the city.

And, lastly, he talked about the city archives, located in the old city hall on Sussex Drive

It houses the libraries of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS), the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), as well as the C. Robert Craig Memorial Library (a specialized railway library).

The archives is moving to a new building in the spring of 2011 near Algonquin College in the city's west end.

He gave us each a great piece of advice when going to these places to do research.

First, contact the facility to check where it facility is located (in case it moved, as noted above), what the facility has for holdings, its available parking, their hours of operation, if there are any researcher restrictions, if they have copy services, and so on.

By being prepared in advance, it will make your visit much more pleasant.

Don't forget to ask lots of questions to the staff and volunteers who man these facilities - you just may be delightfully surprised by the answers you receive! Terry punctuated this fact (the whole lecture, actually) with many well-told (and well-received) anecdotes.

Terry Findley is a lecturer and former BIFHSGO Director of Conferences and Programs. Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Beginners Genealogy Course - Civil Registration

I have heard Alison Hare quite often in the past, so when I saw that she was going to be one of the presenters at the recent Beginners Course in Genealogy held in Ottawa, I was delighted!

She is very good, and her lectures are always interesting. I learn quite a bit from her, as she always has little nuggets of information in her talks - but you have to listen for them.

Her lecture this time was on Civil Registration - the government's way of making sure that every individual in Canada is registered when either a birth, marriage, or death takes place.

According to Alison, these BMDs (birth, marriage, and death records) are the "main building blocks of family history".

In Canada, civil registration is a provincial responsibility. Six out of ten provinces now have them online (the provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia) but she says you can't do a really good job online unless you go to the Family History Library (FHL) in your local area and look through their books for church registrations, too. The dates vary, as well, when it was required for registration.

How reliable are the BMDs? How must trust can we place in the records?

Alison says that depends on who was registering the event, and when the event was registered.

The event—say, a birth announcement—that was registered by the father a few days after the event occurred would be more likely to hold the correct day that the child was born - than one registered a few months or years after the child was born.

And a close family member would be more likely to remember the true date of the event rather than a member of the clergy or a local doctor.

So take these things into consideration when reading a birth, marriage, or death certificate.

Also, Alison says to remember that these records are not complete, and if you cannot find someone, then maybe their first or last names are misspelled, the records themselves may be incomplete, or perhaps indexes to the records may be incomplete, especially the online ones.

She says to extend the time frame in which you look for a registration - the people may have moved or neglected to register the event.

Alison is a Certified Genealogist. Her profile is on the Association of Professional Genealogists website at Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

Tomorrow, I will cover the presentation about Local Resources with Terry Findley.