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.