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.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Beginners Genealogy Course - Census

The second lecture given at the Beginners Course in Genealogy at the LAC last Saturday was "A History of the Census", an overview of Canadian, British, and American census records given by BIFHSGO member — and recently-retired Library and Archives Canada military expert — Glenn Wright.

He describes looking at census as "a giant first step" in figuring out the relationship between people and places. After BMDs (birth, marriage, and death records), it is the most important piece of evidence that you can look at in starting your family history.

He encourages genealogists to "linger over a census page" for awhile to discover different things about one's ancestors.

Take a look at their neighbours: you can discover who they were, what kind of socio-economic strata they lived in, for example. You can also see their name, and see if they spelled their surname different than yours. Was their religion different than yours is today?

Censuses are not a perfect record, he cautions, but they are a snapshot given of a country on a specific day in history.

Canada is the only country which collects religion information, and in the 1916 Prairie Census, the person was counted as being home even though he was overseas at the time. This is noted in the record by an "O", meaning overseas, or if he was home in Canada, was noted with the letter "C" by his name.

Glenn gave out a page of good census websites. In Canada, the site is the Canadian Genealogy Centre <>, Ancestry Canada <>, Automated Genealogy <>, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints <>, the All Census Records website <>, and numerous provincial websites.

It has been quite a year for Glenn. Besides giving courses and talks on genealogy, he has also provided help to the Ancestors in the Attic Canadian TV program. He is one of the "behind the scenes" guys on the show. Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

Tomorrow, I will cover the presentation about Civil Registration with Alison Hare.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Beginners Genealogy Course Held in Ottawa

This past weekend, on a sunny and crisp Saturday morning, we went to the Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa to see and hear the "Beginners Course in Genealogy". The next three blogs will focus on the presenters and their topics they gave because it is important (among other reasons) that people know that genealogy is thriving in the Ottawa area!

The four presenters were: John Reid, "Seven Golden Rules"; Glenn Wright, "Census"; Alison Hare, "Civil Registration"; and Terry Findley on "Local Resources".

Today, I will start with John Reid.

It was the second course we had attended (the first, being last fall), and there was an overwhelming crowd, as you can see in the pictures.

Photos 1 & 2 - We were told beforehand that they were sold out, and they were! People crowded into the large room, eager to hear the presenters give their talks during the "Beginners Course in Genealogy". Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

The first presenter was John D. Reid, author, lecturer, and member of the Ontario Genealogy Society (OGS, Ottawa Branch) and the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO). He went over the first steps one should take when embarking on family research, according to Family Tree (UK) Magazine, and they are to -

1. Work Backwards - Start with a person of interest - be it your father or grandfather, for instance.

2. Be Organized and Honest - Record everything you find out about the line you are working on. What results will you accept with your findings?

3. Interview Your Relatives - Interview the elderly first since they may not be with us much longer, and they usually have lots of stories to tell!

4. Set Your Sights - Pick which line — for example, your paternal line — that you are going to follow. When you are finished that line, pick another one.

5. Understand Surnames - Do a bit of history on the surname. What does it mean? Where does it come from? Also, why did the family move from one area to another, or from one country to another. What were the push/pull factors of migration?

6. Societies and Education - Try to join a society in the region of origin of your family, and, of course, take courses (like the one being offered here). Learn from the people who went before you, and you will be in good company.

7. Use Technology - There are software programs specially manufactured to fit your genealogy, so use them. Technology also includes the Internet, online databases, and DNA testing.

Photo 3 - John D. Reid, former president of BIFHSGO and the man behind Ottawa's popular and informative Anglo-Celtic Connections blog. Credit: J.M. Lapointe, CD

The organizers promise that there will be an intermediate course in the fall as part of the BIFHSGO Conference, held Sept 18th to the 20th, and it will cover such topics as "Tips & Tricks with", "More to Newspapers Than Obituaries", and "Now That I Have Done My Research, How Should I Write it Up?".

Tomorrow, I will cover the presentation about the Canadian Census with Glenn Wright.

A write-up of Saturday's course will also appear in the April edition of the OGS e-NewsLeaf. which will be issued around the middle of next month.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Genealogy Fair

Leeds & Grenville Branch of the Ontario Genealogy Society (OGS) will be holding their AGM and Genealogy Fair on April 25th at St. Lawrence College in Brockville.

It will be an all-day affair from 9 in the morning until 4 in the afternoon. They will have three speakers -

- Kees Van den Heuval will talk about digitizing and storing photographs;

- Jessica Squires will speak about the "Indian Affairs" records at the Library and Archives Library; and

- Timothy J. Abel will talk Research in New York State and the movement across the St. Lawrence.

The cost is $20.00 per person (lunch included) and will be held at the St. Lawrence College, 2288 Parkedale Avenue in Brockville.

I will be going to cover it for the OGS newsletter, NewsLeaf.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Petition to Protect Ontario's Inactive Cemeteries

This past Saturday, I — along with others at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) — signed a petition to support the passing of "An Act to Protect Ontario's Inactive Cemeteries, 2009".

That is Bill 149, and it was introduced by Mr. Jim Brownell, MPP for Stormont, Dundas and South Glengarry.

Bob Crawford, the past-president of the Ontario Genealogical Society, is quite heavily involved with the cause, and if you want some background information on the plight of cemeteries in Ontario, you can read some of his comments in the May 2008 NewsLeaf (Vol 38 No 2) in an article entitled. "A Thank-You, a Plea, and a Goodbye ...".

To get a copy of the petition, visit the Bill 149 Petition at the OGS website. Get people to sign it and then forward it to the OGS Provincial Office, #102-40 Orchard View Blvd., Toronto, ON M4R 1B9.

This must be done before the summer recess so that the bill does not die. It is now going to the committee and then it will, hopefully, come back for the Third Reading, and then will be passed before the legislature is adjourned.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Irish Genealogy Night - Part III

Lesley Anderson from and Brian Glenn from BIFHSGO rounded out this special evening with a very informative talk on where to search for an immigrant ancestor.

Lesley stressed that you should start your search in the land that they migrated to - in this case, Canada.

She had listed 19 records she would check, but the two most important are BMDs (birth, marriage & death certificates) and census. One can use both of these records to cross-check against each other to verify birthdays, where the person was living, whether the person was married or not, his occupation, etc.

She explained that was launched in January 2006, and to date, close to 410-million records have been put on the site.

The Vital Statistics of Ontario can be checked on This summer, two more years will be added to the end date of each one - births will go from 1909 to 1911, marriages will go from 1924 to 1926, and deaths will go from 1934 to 1936.

The most impressive non-pay site that she has encountered is the one by the Library and Archives Canada, which has very good Irish-Canadian databases and information.

Brain Glenn told us that the LAC and the National Archives of Ireland is in the process of digitizing the census of 1901 and 1911, and they will be made free on the National Archives of Ireland website.

Lesley ended the session by talking about the Boston Pilot, a newspaper which had a section on looking for missing Irish people in the U.S. and Canada (from 1831-1921).

Ruby Cusack has mentioned her experience with this database on her website.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Irish Genealogy Night - Part II

Mike More, Chairman of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogy Society, told us about the society, the area it covers, and its projects. He then gave a talk on what he perceives are the Eight Golden Rules of Genealogy.

1. Work Backwards

I think we all know this by now, but there are still some who try to circumvent the process and try to work from the past to the present.

People have been researching genealogy since the 1800s, and over 200 years of research has told us something - that if we want success - we have to start with ourselves.

2. Never Assume

Always check for facts. If it is down on a piece of paper that your great-grandmother was born on a certain date, you can never assume it is the right date - you must check the birth or baptismal certificates to see if it is correct.

3. Spelling of Names

Never completely trust the spelling of first and last names.

There have all been variants in the spelling, and if your ancestor spelled the surname SMITH one way and the Canadian census taker spelling it SMYTH - then you have a problem, unless you know that the names can be spelled differently.

Fortunately these days, there are programs with SOUNDEX capabilities to help you with surnames.

4. Search for Information to Confirm a Fact

Always try to find three pieces of information that confirm the fact that you have in front of you.

Everything is only speculation until it is confirmed.

5. Write Everything Down

Cite your sources!

Information closer to the date the event happened is usually more correct than information that is later recorded.

For example, birth information would be more correct close to the birth than information recorded 20 years after the birth.

6. Join a Genealogical Organization

When you join a group, it gives you a sense of belonging. You will be with people who have the same interest as yourself, and you can ask them questions about their experiences with genealogical problems.

7. Do Your Homework for a Trip

Remember to put down the five questions to be answered - why, where, when, who, and what. Once done, go to the local library, archives, or churches, for instance, to look for the answers.

8. Share Your Information

Publish your family history either on the Internet, e-books, GEDCOM, scrapbooks, or photo albums, for example. Just publish it.

And if I can add my own piece of advice - do not forget to put a copy in the local archives so that when it comes time for someone else to add to your genealogy, a copy of your work will be waiting for them.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Irish Genealogy Night

I went with my husband and a friend to the first-ever "Genealogy Night" sponsored together by the city's genealogical societies and the Irish Society of the National Capital Region. Unfortunately, our camera was not working last night, so there aren't any pictures.

We were a bit late but arrived in time to join several dozen interested people hear the last of the talk given by Kyle Browness of the Library and Archives Canada. He talked about how the Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has taken the initiative by putting on the Irish Studies Symposia of 2006 and 2008 at and also by visiting The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf, which contains photos, letters, books, and music on the website at

He talked about how they have put the full symposia onsite. You can go to the website and choose over 40 or so presentations to read, to listen to, or watch them on video.

Kyle said that the music content in The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf will triple over the summer, and that the photos on have doubled since they were first put on in November, 2008.

He also noted that the response to all of these resources that the LAC has put on the Internet has been good, and they are very hopeful that this reaction will continue in the future.

He said they did this because the presenters want everyone to share in the knowledge that was extended during the two days of each of the symposiums about Irish-Canada, which covered a wide range of topics. They are important to family history researchers because they give a historical context to Ireland and to the Irish-Canadian immigration.

Tomorrow, I will cover the first of the talks given by Mike More, the Chairman of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. And the day after, I will cover the presentations given by Brian Glenn of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa and Lesley Anderson of

Monday, March 9, 2009

Genealogy Night

Genealogy Night, the first of its kind, will be held at the Library and Archives Canada this coming Thursday night, 12 March, starting at 7 p.m..

It will feature talks on Irish genealogy by Mike More, who is the chairman of the Ottawa Genealogical Society; Brian Glenn, who is a member of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa; and Lesley Anderson of

It is being organized by Bill Tobin, Past-President of the Irish Society of the National Capital Region as part of the activities of the Ottawa Irish Festival, to be held from March 10th to the 17th

He said last week that there were a few dozen people already pre-registerd for the event. so it should be a good group for the evening.

Starting at 5:30, there will be two presentations given by Kyle Browness and Jean-Sebastin Potvin of the Library and Archives Canada.

The first presentation will be In Quarantine: Life and Death on Grosse Île, 1832-1937 (in French), and the second one will be the Irish-Canadian Project on social networking websites, and

These two presentations were given at the Irish Studies Symposium in November last year which I attended, and found very useful in my work. They are worth seeing if you are interested in the Irish Diaspora.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Canadian Air and Space Museum / Canada Aviation Museum

In February, the Canadian Air and Space Museum unveiled a new $2-million capital campaign which will see the first full-size model of theAvro Arrow onsite , as well as the addition of new galleries and classrooms to the museum. In addition, a home will be made for the Lancaster X Bomber.

The expansion was announced as we celebrate the Canadian Centennial of Powered Flight on the Bras D'Or Lakes in Nova Scotia, when Alexander Graham Bell oversaw the flying of the Silver Dart.

Many supporters were there to launch the "new" museum, and the Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, said, "This launch celebrates the many achievements of the Canadian aerospace industry. I am pleased to be present for this new chapter in the museum's development and to see it supported so enthusiastically be the aerospace, airline and space industries, as well as the military and other proud Canadian supporters."

After visiting the Canadian Air and Space Museum, go and visit the Canada Aviation Museum in Ottawa, which is home to over 130 aircraft. It re-opened in November after extensive renovations.

The Canada Aviation Museum has its own library and archives onsite, which you can visit and look at the over 12,000 books they have, as well as over 200 periodicals and the many technical manuals which are there.

They also have photographs and archives from Air Canada, Canadair, and Avro Canada.

The private collections include log books from the aviators of the First and Second world Wars; correspondence from the bush pilot,Stuart Graham; and the collection of Kenneth M. Molson, the first curator of the Canada Aviation Museum.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Ottawa Branch News

A hefty version of the Spring edition of the Ottawa Branch News reached me today.

I say hefty because the last 19 pages of the News is taken up by the listing of surnames in the Index to Names Volume 41 (2008). The list contains the surname, the given name(s), and the page number.

The articles are very included in this edition are "Research at Salt lake City - Preparation", which talks about Elizabeth Kipp's trip to Salt Lake City researching Palatines; "Early Residents of Ottawa's Sandy Hill Neighbourhood"; "Online Genealogy Dictionaries and Lists"; and "The City of Ottawa Archives - a Wonderful Resource".

An intriguing article is one of changes in format coming to the News.

The format is going to change to a 8.5" x 11" journal style and the name is going to change.

Do you have a name for the new newsletter? They have received some suggestions already. For example: Ottawa/Bytown/Carleton - Roots, Genealogy, Ancestors, Families, Relations, Happenings. Suggestions are welcome!

And the editor is looking for someone to design the cover of the new journal. He is looking for someone with layout experience, and he says that it would only take a few hours to do this in consultation with the editor.

If you can help, please contact Edward Kipp at

Monday, March 2, 2009

My "Genealogical" Schedule - Part II

Saturday, I finished writing my "genealogical" schedule for March, and I posted the frist part for you to read. Now is the second part, and maybe you will be able to join me in some of the events I will attend or read some of the happenings that I will write about.

March 21st - The Beginners Course in Genealogy — held at the Library and Archives Canada and sponsored by BIFHSGO and the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) — will be held from 9:00 a.m. until noon. There are four great speakers -

- John D. Reid (of Anglo-Celtic Connections fame) will talk about the Seven Great Rules

- Glen Wright will talk about Census Records

- Allison Hare will talk about Civil Registrations

- Terry Findley will talk about Local Resources

Afterwards, I plan to go to Lansdowne Park to the Green Conference and do a couple of interviews for magazine articles.

March 27th - The opening night of this year's Gene-O-Rama!

Registration will open at 7:00 p.m., and the official opening will take place at 7:30. Like last year, it will be held at Ben Franklin Place in Nepean.

The speaker at the Pat Horan Memorial Lecture will be Dr. Bruce Curtis, and he will talk about "Locating, Identifying, Knowing: Census Making in Canada to 1871".

March 28th - The second day of Gene-O-Rama, with nine lectures, a banquet, a marketplace, and genealogy computing. Phew!

It sounds like a lot of thing to go to, but Mike More, the Chairperson, has everything under control, and it should go off without a hitch.

I plan to attend a lecture on "The Canadian Genealogy Centre in 2009"; "Getting the Most from City Directories and Their Next of Kin"; and "Cold Cases: Hot Tips".

March 31st - I will send in another article to for my column, "Canadian Connections". I hope you will drop by for a visit, and read some of my past articles.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

I'm-a "Twitter"

For those of you on Twitter - I'm on Twitter, too!

I went on last night between periods in the hockey game and came away with a few followers ... but no genealogists.

So I'm asking all those genealogists with Canadian family connections to follow my "comings and goings" on at, as I intend to use Twitter as a place to post the events I attend and the blogs I write.

So hop on over to Twitter, or to the blog, and get your genealogical fix for the day!