Thursday, August 13, 2009

Surname Maps

There are a number of surname maps on the Internet, and while I know where everyone related to me lives/lived, I still will look at them to see if there isn't anything new, or something of which I am not aware.

So when published its maps of Canada, I had to look for the four family names - Barclay, Blades, Lapointe, and Jobin.

Barclay, my paternal family name, appears in nine provinces, and it is the 1,499th most popular surname in Canada. There are approximately 3,252 people with that surname in Canada, and the three most popular places with the most Barclays are the provinces of Ontario, Alberta, and British Columbia.

Blades, my maternal family name, is even less popular in that there are only 842 people with that surname.

Dynastree says that it is the 4,779th most frequent name in Canada.

They don't have a map for England and Scotland yet where Blades and Barclay are from, but it should be coming soon.

Meanwhile, my husband's paternal family name is Lapointe, and there approximately 31,443 people with that surname in Canada. Most of them are located in Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick.

It is the 64th most frequent surname in the country -but all Lapointes can trace their name back to Nicolas Audet, when the French first came to Canada. The surname eventually became Audet dit Lapointe - then Lapointe - so one has to take that into account as a genealogist.

His maternal surname is Jobin, and it is the 724th most popular surname in Canada. There are approximately 6,508 people with that surname.

There is a map of France on the site, so I checked the Jobin surname and it showed them in Western France, which is where they came from in the 1600s.

Overall, this site, and others like it, are not only a lot of fun to use, but are handy tools for research.

Enjoy your trek!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Great Potato Famine

Vanessa Currie, an Agriculture Technician at the University of Guelph in Southern Ontario, is growing the potato that led to the Great Potato Famine in Ireland.

The potato variety—called the Lumper—was the one most likely grown in Ireland. It will be on display at the Potato Day Show on Wednesday, August 12th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the university's Elora Research Station.

Known as a "historical specialty", the growing of the Lumper variety of potato most likely led to the blight which caused massive immigration to Canada in the mid-1800s.

Currie says that the potato looks as healthy as the others in the fields this summer, so she is anxious to harvest them. She plans to dig out a few for tomorrow's display and then harvest the rest in September.

She is going to evaluate the variety for its taste, cooking, and storage to see how it does.

Canadian farmers likely grew the Lumper variety in the early 1800's, but she doesn't know if they grew them after the Irish Famine.

She got the seed from the Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada potato gene bank in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Monday, August 10, 2009

John Grenham's Irish Lectures

As John Reid noted in his blog <>, it was a sellout crowd at Ben Franklin Place in Ottawa to hear John Grenham speak on Irish records. He is a well-known genealogist in Ireland, and is the author of books and of the website, <>.

I always try to come away with one piece of information, and I hit the jackpot again yesterday.

My husband is a French-Canadian from Quebec, and his great-great-grandfather married an Irish girl—Sarah Conroy—whose father was a major in the British Army in Quebec City.

Why was he there, I wondered at the time. And why did he send for his family from Ireland? It didn't make sense to me -

This had only become apparent to me in May while we were up to Quebec City on a visit, and my husband's aunt showed me a family chart she had had done by a fellow in Montreal not that long ago.

And when I checked <> after getting back home, there was the marriage record of where they had been married, and that she was the daughter of a Major Conroy from Ireland.

The reason—as I learned yesterday—was that the British Army at that time was made up of Irish to a large degree - fully one-third of them were Irish!

So I got that question answered!

I also learned that there aren't many records intact back beyond 1922 because the storeroom of the archives building (the Four Corners Complex in Dublin) had been overtaken by rebels and eventually blown up, and not one piece of paper had been saved. (Papers in use in the Reading Room were saved, however.)

If you get a chance to hear him talk, and you do have Irish in your ancestry, please take a minute to listen, because he gives very good lectures, and the questions asked by the audience were fabulous.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Canadian Family

Evelyn Yvonne Theriault has a site on the Internet <> full of family history.

Evelyn's family came from a diverse background of the Luces from the Channel Islands; the Theriaults - Acadians from Poitou, France; and Mignier dit Lagaces from Quebec.

In addition, she has added some early French-Canadian Pioneers of Quebec, and BMDs of some of these people.

She says that one of her goals in setting up this website was to bring the importance of postcards in the study of family history, in addition to photos.

She takes part in a blog carnival (a virtual magazine, if you will) celebrating postcards entitled, "A Festival of Postcards", which was originally started by the Footnotemaven <>.

The deadline for the next one is Aug. 20th, and will be entitled "Water".

Evelyn has postcards from previous festivals of "Wheels" and "Main Street" for you to look at on her site, as well as postcards of Quebec and New Brunswick.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Empress of Ireland

On August 6, 2009, the Honourable Jim Prentice—Canada's Environment Minister and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada—marked the historic significance of the Wreck of the Empress of Ireland by naming it as a National Historic Site of Canada.

The Empress of Ireland went down in the St. Lawrence River in the summer of 1914 after colliding with another ship named the Storstad during heavy fog.

She as on her way to Liverpool, England from Quebec City with 1,477 people on board - only 462 people were saved.

It is the worst sea tragedy that Canada has ever experienced, and it has "marked an entire generation, and we have to make sure that it is not forgotten," said Minister Prentice at the ceremony on Thursday.

You can read the history of the Empress of Ireland and see who her passengers and crew were on the that day by visiting <>.
On this website, you will find a history of the tragedy as well as a video of the ship.

There were 87 passengers in the First Cabin, with 51 lost at sea; 253 in the Second Cabin, with 205 people lost at sea; 717 people in the Third Cabin, with 584 people lost at sea; and of the 420 crew members, 175 were lost at sea.

In addition to having the names listed, one will also find out where the passengers and crew were from, whether they were lost or rescued, and what happened to them — if they went back home (e.g. Toronto), if they sailed on another ship at a later date, or if they were lost, what happened to the body.

There were over 100,000 immigrants who came to Canada on the Empress of Ireland during her lifetime, and these days, close to a million Canadians can trace their ancestry back to being on the ocean liner.

The structure of the ship is still intact as it lays at the bottom of the river near Point-au-Pere, and today it is a world-renowned diving site.

The wreck is supervised by Parks Canada.

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 <>.