Friday, 15 March 2019

Finding Your Ancestors in Alberta

Brief History

Some information about the history of Alberta taken from - For hundreds of centuries, the area in western Canada now known as Alberta was inhabited by numerous First Nations peoples. They include: Blackfoot, Cree; Chipewyan, Dene; Sarcee; and Stoney. The Hudson's Bay Company and the Northwest Company, competitors for control in the west, opened the area by building forts or trading posts along the three largest rivers, the Athabasca, North Saskatchewan and the Peace Rivers. Eventually named the North West Territories, the area formed with the Dominion of Canada in 1870. 

After this process the area began to be inhabited by ranchers, some of whom immigrated from the United States. This influx of settlers harmed the First Nations very seriously first by disease then by decimating the thousands of buffalo which were their livelihood. Soon after, the North West Mounted Police (the N.W.M.P.) arrived to manage the ongoing relationships between the residents of this vast area. (Later renamed the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.) The province was formerly introduced as the province of Alberta in 1905.

Alberta is well known for mining, oil production and farming or agricultural industry. There are many forests in the northern portion of the province and a good number of communities are situated along the border with the United States. Banff and Jasper are in Alberta, as are most of the Rocky Mountain ranges. Dinosaur remains are abundantly found in the Drumheller to Red Deer area also known as the Badlands. The Royal Tyrrell Museum is a well known repository of original dinosaur fossils of many types. Capital City: Edmonton. 

For Genealogists

These free websites should be your first stopping ground for Alberta genealogy.
Cangenealogy Alberta is a website created by Dave Obee with links to explore Canadian genealogy.
Library & Archives Canada - Alberta is the
Government of Canada's Genealogy page.
Family Search Alberta is the Family Search wiki.
Births, Marriages and Deaths in Alberta.

Search Your Ancestors at the Provincial Archives of Alberta

Cyndis List - loads of links for Alberta genealogy

Alberta Family History Society - resources available: Calgary Heritage; National Society Daughters of the American Revolution; Historical Society of Alberta; Calgary Branch United Empire Loyalist Association of Canada.
     I thought this was an interesting service offered by the AFHS: 'An overhead scanner and a scanner that can scan slides and negatives are also available at the library for member use. 
Contact - to set up an appointment.'

Alberta Genealogical Society
Branches of the AGS: The Grande Prairie Branch are a very pro-active group of genealogists. They have a large collection of resources for Central and Northern Alberta resources.  The Lethbridge Branch is very helpful and knowledgeable about Southern Alberta genealogy resources. New website for Fort McMurray branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society

Genealogy at Edmonton Public Library

First Nations Genealogy

Banff Centre - Library and Archives - Digitized Photo Collection

The Heritage Triangle - resources available in Calgary - a partnership between The City of Calgary Archives, The Glenbow Library & Archives and The Calgary Public Library

Alberta E-Resources

Our Future Our Past  - Local History Books, Art, Calgary Stampede, Kainai Plants & Culture amongst many topics.    Candice Macdonald reviews Our Future Our Past quite thoroughly.

Alberta Family History Society - WWI Returned Soldier database from the Calgary Herald. Nov 1918 – Jun 1919, over 13,000 records

Edmonton Public Library - Search Edmonton Obituaries  Years covered - 1950 -1982

Edmonton Public Library - interviews conducted by EPL staff with old-timers and residents of Edmonton - EPL Canada150: Edmonton Stories -  includes: From Ukraine to Canada; Rutherford Seniors compilation and Gray's B&B. These are short videos/interviews posted on Vimeo.
Well done EPL!

Glenbow Archives, Calgary Alberta holds fabulous resources on Alberta history and genealogy, but especially on Metis genealogy, my personal favourite -the Charles Denney collection (41.3 m of textual records; approx. 3,800 photographs; 61 microfilm reels). This is a collection I have used numerous times to research my Red River ancestors - also particularly rich in Metis records.

University of Calgary Archives       Library - University of Calgary

Print Resources

Alberta Local History Books! The best genealogy resource ever! An alphabetical list/index can be found on this Lethbridge Genealogy Society page. The digitized books are found on the Our Future Our Past website. Print copies often found in libraries, especially copies written about the area. See Candice's article about Our Future Our Past under Alberta E-Resources on this page.

Alberta (formerly the Northwest Territories) : Index to registration of births, marriages & deaths 1870-1905, vol. 1 : Author Alberta Genealogical Society, Edmonton Branch. Published Edmonton, AB (Canada) 1985.

Peel's Bibliography of the Canadian Prairie to 1953 -

Pioneer Albertans 1912 : an index to the biographies of over 500 pioneer Albertans with cross references to 950 spouses & mothers. Compiled from "History of Alberta" by Archibald Oswald MacRae, Ph.D Published Nanaimo British Columbia : Nanaimo FHS, 1988

Town Life: Main Street and the Evolution of Small Town Alberta, 1880-1947 By Donald Grant Wetherell, Irene Kmet

Alberta Genealogists' Blogs

Wayne Shepheard - his blog - Discover Genealogy

Sir Leprechaun Rabbit His blog of the same name - particularly about cemeteries and gravestones - contains an interesting article about the Innisfail Cemetery in Alberta @leprchaunrabbit This is his genealogy blog Your Roots Are Showing Dearie

Researchers Located in Alberta

Wendy M. Anctil  Who's Your Grandaddy  Contact Wendy

Shannon Cherkowski - Alberta Genealogy Research
An article about the service   that Shannon offers to genealogists.

Patricia Greber   My Genealogy Life   @treesrch

Lyn Meehan - has a genealogy research business, but I also met her at the Edmonton Public Library

Colleen Murray Alberta Researcher  - -  'Everyone has a story'- - Edmonton genealogist unearths hidden histories - 'If you just dig deep enough, you'll find something'

I hope you have been making use of the various resources in these articles. I have enjoyed compiling these pages and it has been interesting trying to ferret out information from a variety of sources. Information is often buried a little deeper in webpages on library and society websites.

The last in this series is a review of Canada's North, the Northwest Territories, Yukon and Nunavut.

If you have any comments or would like to see a vital 
resource added to this page, please do let me know. 

Many thanks for your endurance - getting to the bottom of this page!

Thursday, 28 February 2019

Chinese Canadians - Genealogy Research

Initially, my intention was to write an article about Chinese Canadian soldiers in World War One, however, I found so many other interesting resources that I wanted to include them here as well.

You will find most references to Chinese Canadian soldiers on the Chinese Canadian Military Museum Society page.

Vancouver, B.C.    © C. Weir 

A database (list) - of names - can be found in Marjorie Wong's book The Dragon and the Maple Leaf: Chinese Canadians in WWII.

World War I and II

A 1918 Account of Traditional Martial Arts in the Chinese Labor Corps

Canadian Secret Sailors - a presentation (2016) at UBC by Clifford Pereira - Asian crews and transportation of Chinese on Canadian Pacific ships - WWI

Ceremony on the occasion of the Qing Ming festival, the Chinese celebration of the Dead.  Amongst candidates for UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Chinese who helped win WWI -  a little bit more history about the approximate 100,000 Chinese labourers who worked during WWI as mechanics and trench diggers. They were transported to the front with a short training stopover in British Columbia and England.

Chinese Labour Corps  -  WWII - Did you know the Chinese Labour Corps (actually troops from China), Newfoundland Regiment, and Indian Cavalry all played a part in the Battle of Cambrai?

First Hand Account of Martial Arts in WWI - This is a podcast which lands at first on a pop up advertisement, but if you close it without clicking on the ad, you will find a very good article underneath.

How Significant was Chinese Labour - First World War - this is a page which contains a very in-depth look at the Chinese Labour in the First World War with a commentary of the author's visits to various CWGC cemeteries. Be warned of the annoying pop up advertisements. If you can ignore these, it is an article worth reading. At the bottom of the article there is a notation about further reading, I won't copy and paste the article here, as that may be plagiarism. 

The Memory Project - wow! - memories told by veterans - some of the Chinese soldiers named on this page:
Thomas Kwok HUNG “Tommy” WONG, Air Force, WWII; 
Herbert LIM, WWII; 
Peggy LEE, WWII; 
Paul Lup CHAN, Army, WWII

Novelles-sur-Mer Chinese Cemetery - Each year, the Chinese remember their WWI dead at this cemetery in the Somme.

Other Resources

Announcement - University of Toronto   New Chinese-Canadian Archives

Burney, Sheila. 1995. Coming to Gum San: The Story of Chinese Canadians..Toronto: D.C. Heath Canada for the Multicultural History Society of Ontario, 1995.

Chinese Canadian Historical Society of BC

Chinese History in Toronto

Early Chinese Canadians - Government of Canada - 1858-1947

Library and Archives Canada - History of Canada's Chinese Immigrants  a research guide written by Paul Yee

Multicultural History Society of Ontario - this is a links page with references to Chinese history in Canada as well as Vietnamese and Indochinese

Ryerson University Library & Archives - Asian Heritage - scroll down this page to 'Chinese Canadians' - there's a long list of authors and very interesting books some of which are oral histories!

Six Chinese Men who survived the Titanic - some of whom lived in Canada - this is one of my blog articles

Vancouver Public Library - Chinese Canadian Genealogy

Wong, Marjorie. 1994. The Dragon and the Maple Leaf: Chinese Canadians in WWII.  This book contains a database of sorts - a list of names of Chinese soldiers. at

Linda Yip  Past Presence - Chinese Canadian Resources - Linda lives in Saskatchewan,
researches Chinese Genealogy and also provides a genealogy research business.

If you know of any other resources for researching Chinese Canadians not reported here, 
please do leave a comment. With thanks!

Monday, 25 February 2019

2019 Western Canada Genealogy Conferences

Planning a trip to Western Canada? Live close by? 
Join these genealogy societies for locally related workshops/conferences from Saskatchewan to B.C.
I'm sure they would welcome guest visitors. 

Wed. 20th Feb. 2019

Sketches from Siberia
Presentation by Werner Toews, Author of Sketches from Siberia
East European Genealogical Society 
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Sat. 30 Mar. 2019
British Genealogical Society 2019 Seminar Keynote Speaker: Cyndi Ingle 
Burnaby, B.C.

Fri., Sat., Sun. 26-28 April 2019

Images Through Time
Alberta Genealogical Society
Edmonton, Alberta

Jan.-June 2019
Family History Forums (monthly -every Monday)
Kelowna & District Genealogical Society in partnership with the Okanagan Regional Library
Mon., 25 Feb.: The Joys of Timelines
Mon., 25 Mar.: De-Mystifying DNA
Mon., 29 Apr.: Generosity & Genealogy: Sharing your Family History
Mon., 27 May: Meet Your Ancestors
Kelowna, B.C.

2019 Monthly Speaker Series Meetings
Victoria Genealogical Society
14 Mar. - Victoria's Secret Hockey History
11 Apr.  - Breaking Up was hard to do
9 May - Members Night
13 June - Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse: gateway to Victoria
Victoria, B.C.

Tues. 19th Feb. 2019— upcoming Annual General Meeting
Grande Prairie Genealogical Society
19 March 2019
16 April 2019
21 May 2019
18 June 2019
Grande Prairie Alberta

Tues. 8th April 2019 Annual General Meeting
Alberta Family History Society

Saskatchewan Genealogy Society - Saskatoon Branch
The SBSGS holds 10 General Meetings per year. Meetings are held on the 3rd Thursday of each month, September through June. (dependent on the weather!)
21 Feb. 2019 Thurs.
21 Mar. 2019 Thurs.
18 Apr. 2019 Thurs.
16 May 2019 Thurs.
20 June 2019 Thurs.
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

2020 Genealogy Conferences

© Penny Allen
April 2020 (Tentative)
Would you be able to help plan this conference?
They are asking for volunteers. 
Alberta Family History Society
Calgary, Alberta

Fri., Sat., Sun. 12-14 June 2020
Celebrating Manitoba’s 150th birthday 
Winnipeg, Manitoba

Do you have a genealogy related conference coming up in 2019 (or 2020?) Would you like it listed here for more of a reach to our colleagues? Please email me and I will be happy to put it my article. 

Saturday, 26 January 2019

Digitized Okanagan History, Beautiful British Columbia

© Penny Allen
Look no further for digitized records of your ancestors in the Okanagan Valley. The University of British Columbia have once again provided online access to some fabulous material which family historians can find very useful.

Since July 2017, this ongoing programme to digitize the history of the Okanagan Valley has been managed by a team of archivists and librarians at the University of British Columbia Okanagan. The project was developed and created by UBCO Chief Librarian Heather Berringer and Chris Hives, UBC Archivist.

UBC students from faculties such as Information Studies, History, Psychology, International Relations and Computer Science travelled to partner organizations (archives and libraries) in all areas of the Okanagan Valley to digitally capture their important collections. In addition to providing access for researchers, it is also helps to preserve these valuable images from the past.

This is the original page of the Okanagan Region Historical Digitization Project. The content of the blog has now been moved to the main page to keep everything accessible. The latest report on the blog was December 2018 - What It's Like Working for DOH.

Articles from UBC about the project: Digitized Okanagan History Portal  and  

© Penny Allen

DOH - Digitized Okanagan History

Areas covered: Armstrong Spallumcheen, Enderby, Greenwood, Historic O'Keefe Ranch, Kelowna and District Genealogical Society, Lake Country Museum, Lumby, Naramata, Okanagan Falls, Osoyoos, Peachland, Sicamous, South Similkameen, Summerland, Vernon

Partner Organizations: 
Armstrong Spallumcheen Museum and Art Gallery

Enderby and District Museum and Archives

Greater Vernon Museum and Archives

Greenwood Museum

Historic O'Keefe Ranch

Kelowna and District Genealogical Society (KDGS)

Lake Country Museum and Archives

Lumby and District Museum

Naramata Heritage Museum Society

Okanagan Falls Heritage Museum

Osoyoos and District Museum and Archives

Peachland Museum

Sicamous and District Museum and Historical Society

South Similkameen Museum - Keremeos Photographs

Summerland Museum and Archives

What a very special project that has been made freely available online. 
Many thanks to the team of librarians and archivists and the students 
at University of British Columbia! 
This means that it is going to be much easier for genealogists to do research in this area of B.C.!

Finding Your Ancestor in Canadian Directories   |  Kelowna and District Genealogical Society - Okanagan Burials   |   Canadian Provinces Births, Marriages and Deaths   |   Fraser Cemetery, New Westminster, B.C. 

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Early Canadiana Online: In 1877 a British Woman Farmer wins First Prize

Searching for Canadian Farming information about the Ontario Agricultural College, I found a number of valuable resources on Early Canadiana Online.
Specifically, Early Canadian Periodicals.

© Penny Allen
This periodicals collection includes: The Canada Farmer 1864-1876; Farmer's Advocate and Home Magazine 1877-1951; Students of the Ontario Agricultural College 1889-1954.

An example of what you can find for your family history research is an interesting article reporting the Royal Agricultural Society's (UK) First Prize in Farming which was awarded to a lady farmer in 1877.
From the Farmer's Advocate and Home Magazine. Accessed in Early Canadiana Online (20.01.2019) - see citation below. 

Summarizing the bolded parts of the transcribed text:
  • Mrs. Ellen Birch, a widow, ran a farm of 242 acres with her two sons. 
  • She rented the farm for £5 or $25 per acre (1877 prices). 
  • A crew of 15 men were paid 16-17 shillings per week which included rent of a cottage. 
  • Mrs. Birch successfully runs the family farm after her husband died which has been in the family for 35 years. 
Another fabulous find on Early Canadian Online, which has been provided free of charge since January 1, 2019. (includes Héritage and Canadiana Online)


A Prize English Farmer.

For several years past the Royal Agricultural Society of England has offered substantial prizes for the best managed farms in the counties which form the district in which the show is held. This season the competitors were divided into eight classes, viz., 1st, arable farms above 150 acres in extent; 2nd, arable farms above 80 and under 150 acres; 3rd, farms above 40 and under 80 acres; 4th, dairy or meat-producing farms above 200 acres; 5th, ditto, not less than 100 but under 200 acres; 6th, farms of not less than 50 but under 100 acres; classes 7 and 8, for farms in the Isle of Man.

It happens again this year, as has been the case on one or two previous occasions that a woman's management wins - the prize in class first going to Mrs. Ellen Birch, for a farm of 242 acres, all arable land, at Aintee, near Liverpool. The farm like the surrounding region is nearly level; is divided into fields of about 30 acres each, by neatly-kept hedges and is a light and easily worked soil, naturally dry. No stock of consequence is kept, as town manure is cheaply brought on to the land by a canal from Liverpool, for which market the products of the land are intended. The rent paid is £5, say about $25, per acre. The course of cropping is as follows: - 1st, potatoes, after lea; 2nd, wheat; 3rd, barley or oats, sown with grass seeds; 4th, hay; 5th, hay; after which the lea is again broken cut and planted with potatoes. The potato crop now on the ground is spoken of as "simply splendid." And it is on the potatoes that all the town and home-made manure is applied, sometimes with the addition of a little nitrate of soda. The grain crop, especially the oats, were very heavy. Fifteen men and lads are employed, at 16 and 17 shillings a week, and cottage rent. Heavy crops of hay are grown, and after this is over for the season, sheep are taken in to grass for local salesmen, at sixpence per week. The farm has been in the continuous occupation of the same family for thirty-five years, being conducted now by the widow of the tenant, assisted by her two sons. 

Records of the Royal Agriculture Society  - includes archives of competitions (prizes 1874-1948) - held at the Museum of English Rural Life. 

Thursday, 3 January 2019

2018 UK to Canada Genealogy Articles

As a New Year greets us, there are so many great avenues to discover for our genealogical research!

As far as my genealogical journey is concerned 2018 was a great year . In late 2017 I was approached to write an article for The Historian – the journal for the Essex Society for Family History. The articles were eventually published in 2018. In October I also had a Canadian table at their family history fair in Chelmsford, Essex.

November I attended the West Surrey Family History Fair in Woking, Surrey. Coming up in February I will be presenting a talk on Canadian Family History at the Society of Genealogists in London.

It was strange not having the WDYTYA show to attend in the spring, but I am looking forward to involvement in some capacity at Family Tree Live in April and The Genealogy Show in June.

I hope you will find some inspiration from my articles and the authors I have included at the end of this article.

Here are my blog's top 10 genealogy articles of 2018 ranked by the number of times accessed.
  1. Finding Your Ancestors in Manitoba 
  2. Phone Books for Canadian Prairies   
  3. Finding Your Ancestors in Saskatchewan  
  4. Genealogy Reference - Passenger Lists  
  5. Finding Your Ancestors in Quebec  
  6. Finding Your Ancestor in New Brunswick 
  7. Finding your Ancestors in Newfoundland and Labrador 
  8. Finding Your Ancestor in Nova Scotia 
  9. Okanagan Burials - Kelowna & District Genealogical Society 
  10. Pictures of the First World War 

Although the Finding Your Canadian Ancestors Series is one of the most popular pages, I quite enjoyed writing & researching these articles:  

Voyage to America from Liverpool in 1835

Many thanks to everyone who reads my blog, sends comments, makes suggestions and overall for being my number one support group. By the way, don't forget to check out some of these fabulous blogs for your Canadian Genealogy Research.

Genealogy à la carte  |   Olive Tree Genealogy   |  Library and Archives Canada Blog  |  Canada Genealogy   |  A list of Canadian Genealogy Blogs  |  Finding Your Canadian Story   |   Ontario Genealogy Society Blog   |   Jane's Your Aunt   |   Brenda Dougall Merriman
Mother Nature's Tests (how people and communities were impacted in the past by natural phenomena)

Happy Hunting in 2019!   

Monday, 31 December 2018

Canadian Genealogy Tweets of 2018

A review of some #genealogy resources and interesting stories from 2018 on Twitter.

Alas, not all have a Canadian Focus, some are for fun and some are just plain interesting. Especially for genealogists and historian types.

Enjoy and Happy New Year 2019!