Thursday, 18 May 2017

Archives and Libraries at your fingertips

Investigate these North American and European repositories for genealogy resources. Guaranteed to enhance and improve planning for your research trips.

U.S.& Canada | Archive Grid | WorldCat

Archive Grid (started ca.1990s) - according to Archive Grid's website, they tested the product with feedback from academic users and genealogists. '[...] continued to make system design improvements based on their needs'. Useful for U.S. searches, however only the major archives in provinces across Canada are represented.

WorldCat (provided by OCLC) is a worldwide database of library catalogues. Very useful for international research, but content provided only if library subscribes to OCLC and uploads their bibliographic (catalogue record) details. Most large public libraries, university libraries and specialist libraries are represented.

U.S. National Library: Library of Congress   U.S. National Archives   Canada : Library and Archives Canada

- - - -  Archival Societies are another option to search for small archives in your area.

U.S.:  Society of American Archivists     Associated Organizations & Associations

Canada:   The Association of Canadian Archivists (ACA)  Archivaria (journal)   ACA Bulletin (Blog)
ACA on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Flickr, and YouTube

Library and Archives Canada - search Canadian Archives collections

- - - -   EXamples: Glenbow Archives - Lethbridge, Alberta : Interviews of Pioneers conducted in the 1970s   |    Saskatchewan Archives - Canadian Prairie Pioneer Questionnaires

U.K. |  Archives Hub |  COPAC  |  SUNCAT

These three portals are very specific to UK resources.

Use Archives Hub to find sources from over 300 archives across the UK.
Archives Hub Blog    Website FAQ   Twitter @archiveshub
     Search for only Digital content: 8,250 results found.
     Search for Canada in digital content - 2,384 results found - only 59 were marked as digital

COPAC is an affiliated site, which allows researchers to locate where a specific book can be found in a library around the UK. SUNCAT is a periodical or journals search engine, also provided by libraries from across the UK. Both are sponsored by JISC.

National Archives UK - Discovery: Find an Archive 

Archives Record Association (ARA) - lists archives in the UK that are members of the ARA

- - - -  EXamples: Maritime Libraries in the UK - index   |    SOGNet - a very special database

Archives Portal Europe - APEF  (began ca. 2012)   Article discussing the structure and purpose of APEF:


"European aggregator for archivesThe portal will help visitors not only to dig deeper into their own fields of interest, but also to discover new sources by giving an overview of the jigsaw puzzle of archival holdings across Europe in all their diversity."

The current Foundation partners are:
  • Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.  
  • All of these countries are members of the ‘Assembly of Associates
  • Negotiations are proceeding with Bulgaria, Greece, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and the United Kingdom.
Show your support for museums, libraries and archives! Chock full of hidden treasures! 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

British Columbia Ancestry Chat

Need help researching ancestors in .... ?
 Victoria, Vancouver, Lower Mainland, Kelowna, the Okanagan, 
Prince George, Prince Rupert, Quesnel, Nelson, Cranbrook,
 the Kootenays . . . [et al.]

Be sure to join Diane  on Thursdays from the 18th May

She recently tweeted: "New chat - Thursday this week (May 18) on in British Columbia, Canada. Tweet your questions to me anytime using "

Diane is an active member of the BC Genealogical Society - her website gives great tips for researching in this 'Beautiful BC' province.

B.C. Genealogical Society Conference 
June 9 - 11 2017
various venues, Lower Mainland, B.C.

Other BC genealogy resources: 

BC Vital Statistics - BMDs - Index Search

@AndreaEidinger - awesome historical and genealogy resources -  university prof and very active on Twitter!

@bcgs_ca  BC Genealogical Society

@RoyalBCMuseum Royal BC Museum

@UBC_History   UBC History - University of British Columbia

CanGenealogy - British Columbia  provided by Dave Obee

Genealogy Resources for British Columbians (2014) British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Pioneers of Isabella and Blaris, towns in Manitoba

This brief overview of a small community in Manitoba is provided by the digital collections of community books on Their page provides links to many history books of numerous rural communities such as: Birtle, Emerson, Gimli, Holland, LaRiviere and Pilot Mound. Manitoba Digital Resources on Manitoba's History was funded by Canadian Culture Online, Department of Canadian Heritage of the Government of Canada. Original concept in 2005.

Manitoba field of sunflowers
© Penny Allen
Rural Reflections Vol.2 : Isabella and Blaris Communities in Manitoba (centenary)

Ebook of Rural Reflections  - produced by the Isabella History Committee (1879-1982). The town of Isabella Manitoba was named after Isabella Gould Taylor, a Scottish woman who came to the area to join her family.

Family History Name Index was transcribed from Rural Reflections by Donna Campbell. Her great grandfather, Francis Augustus Campbell, was born in 1857 at Campbell's Cross, Ontario and came west in 1882.

On page 5 a picture captioned: 'Fifty Year Jubilee Picnic Blaris Manitoba 1885 - 1935' depicts the following families ( 'x' indicates number of family members in the photo):
Astle (1), Bell (7), Brown (1), Campbell (10), Clark (4), Cowling (1), Craig (2), Ellis (1), Fredborg (1), Grey (2), Gurr (1), Harrison (8), Hill (8), Hudson (1), Hunter (1), Irving (1), Iverach (2), Miller (4), Mitchell (1), Palmer (5), Reid (2), Robinson (1), Stevenson (3), Stewart (2), Sunley (7), Sutherland (2), Torrance (5)
Travelling from Ontario to Manitoba circa 1880
On page 13, Mrs. Iverach's account of 'Our Pioneer Days' - gives a very vivid description of travelling from their home in Toronto (1880) to Emerson, Manitoba (border) via Chicago and St. Paul, by train and 'team', including arrival in Winnipeg and then onwards to Blaris. (Emerson was recently highlighted with news of the refugee crisis of February 2017.) There are many other depictions of travel in this book from the eastern counties of Ontario to the 'west' some of which reveal how single men struggled to find boarding and jobs. A worthwhile read to understand the conditions that beset emigrants of every nationality.

Accounts of English born settlers. 
[Note: Sec.= Section; Twp.=Township; R.=Range.]

Harry Guy DOWELL came from England many years ago and homesteaded the E. Y2 of Sec.18-Twp.14-R.25. Some of his housekeepers had children who attended Blaris. He had a [land] sale and Joe JOHNSTON rented the farm for three years. Then Gordon LeLOND came home from overseas [assume this was a mention of the Great War 1914-1918] and bought the farm. Mr. and Mrs. DOWELL went to Brandon to live. William MILLER then took up ownership.

Josiah D. HARRISON's grandfather, Thomas HARRISON, came from Wiltshire County in England in 1819 with his wife and family.

Wm. J. HILL came from England to Manitoba in 1879 when he was 19. He worked at railway construction and other jobs for a few years and then took for a homestead the S.E. Y4 of Sec.28-Twp.14-R.25.

A letter from Mr. ST.GEORGE received (about 1967) by the committee compiling the history book which provides recollections of his early days in the community. Mr. P.I. ST.GEORGE's address is noted as "Woodsgift", Woodlea Way, Ampfield, Nr. Romsey, Hampshire, England.
He had come to Canada, and accepted a position with the Northern Crown Bank of Canada, at Isabella.  "As a small boy I had lived in India (my father being a soldier and stationed there). After leaving Isabella, I came back to England to take part in the 1914 war, which I was fortunate to survive, except for being blown up and shell shocked. However I am still alive at 77 years and went through the last war with the rank of Major in the Intelligence Corps."
Single young Englishman finds farm work:
Robert Bruce WALLACE came from England as a young man. He worked on farms. In the days when threshing was done from the stacks, it was often completed after freeze-up. He would work on threshing gangs often as a busheler. He took a homestead on Section 28 north of Isabella.

Manitoba Historical Society - Historic sites of Manitoba: Isabella Museum (RM of Miniota)

Bernice Still keeps tiny towns homes alive - an article in the Winnipeg Free Press (2012) about Bernice Still who grew up in the town of Isabella. With the help of local women, she has created a representation of the buildings to scale.

This collection of history books will give you great insight into the lives of people who pioneered in rural Manitoba during the turn of the century.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Finding Your Ancestor in Canadian Directories

My definition of directories: a compendium of knowledge about the residents of a town, county or city, their lives and day to day events. What makes a community tick? Who lived there (names of residents)? What were their occupations? Answers to these questions are often found in historical directories.

This article is a modest (not definitive) attempt at finding and providing information about online historical directories, almanacs and telephone books.

Example of a Canadian directory
Library & Archives Canada
Print telephone books are a rarity nowadays, although I remember quite a number of years ago the Calgary Public Library had many shelves of phone books which included books from European countries. The librarians were quite happy to do look ups and recently, I contacted the Vancouver Public Library with a very specific look up question in their phone book collection to which I received an answer very quickly!

Nowadays many family history societies and public libraries have reduced their collections of print copies of local directories. Because of space restrictions, partnering with a company or repository to scan these books preserves the print copies. As a result, the library may provide a mix of online and print copies. Tip: Contact your local library!

Please Note! A compendium of online Henderson's (Canadian) directories (similar to the U.K.'s Kelly's directories) can be found on Genealogy à la carte. A comment on Gail's site by M. Diane Rogers in B.C. notes that Miriam Robbins' website, one of Family Tree Magazine Best Websites for 2016, provides links to Canadian directories that helps fill the gaps of directories that are held by public libraries or in archive collections. Another comment on Gail's page pointed to a resource for Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario 1901-1950  Please see below for other suggestions for resources for directories.

Although listed on Gail's Genealogy à la carte page, I found this notice of an Alberta digitization project in a round about way via the Alberta Family History Society. This digitization of Alberta phone books (AGT - Alberta Government Telephones) is a project undertaken by the Medicine Hat and District Genealogical Society (MHDS). The MHDS were the recipients of Alberta telephone books given by the Medicine Hat Telus (successors of AGT) Community Ambassadors with the caveat that the books were scanned and stored for longevity.

They are listed by publication, with a separate link to a corresponding letter of the alphabet. They are a bit cumbersome to search, as I'm sure it was just as cumbersome to organize the digitization of these volumes! Each section is compiled into a very large pdf file which takes ages to load. As always, please respect the copyright restrictions -this work is only for research purposes, and not to be copied or published in any way.

Calgary City 1903-1949 ➤ Calgary Rurals 1922 to 1932 ➤ Calgary Yellow Pages (Pink) 1920-1949 ➤ Edmonton City 1909 Jan. and May; 1910 Jan. and Oct. 1911 Dec; 1925 All ➤Edmonton District Towns and Villages: 1925 ; (not digitized) 1926-1930 ➤Alberta South & Central 1908-1949 ➤ Lethbridge and District 1907 to 1955 ➤ Medicine Hat and District 1907 to 1959 ➤ Peace River District July 1923-1932; 1934-1952;  (not digitized) 1954-1958

Within each 'telephone book' they are first organized by the name of the place, then alphabetically by persons name. You will need to know the name of the place, at the very least the name of the area and then do a manual Ctrl + F (Find) to find your family name. Or skim for the family name. I downloaded Alberta South & Central 1947 Mar M to Z and there are no addresses, only names and telephone numbers.

Peel's Prairie Provinces provided by the University of Alberta, has digitized a lot of directories and Dave Obee provides links to Alberta issues in chronological order from the late 1890s to 1950s.

Other directories such as the Polk and Grodlund's are available at some public libraries in the province of Alberta.

British Columbia City Directories 1860-1955 - provided by the Vancouver Public Library, organized by year, then by cities, by outlying communities. Also searchable by initial, then by name.  The home page provides links to years along the left column, and there are helpful instructions on the main page. Each listing also provides a description of each volume. This digital collection is not hard to search, a bit old-fashioned, but very

The Vancouver City Directory for 1915 - Government Listings, Vancouver, North Vancouver and West Vancouver communities, also contains Chinese and Japanese firms.

Manitoba Genealogical Society -  Print copies of Henderson Directories – Manitoba addresses and residents from 1876 to 1908, Winnipeg addresses and residents from 1908 to end of publication in 1999. Please contact for more information. 

Winnipeg and incorporated towns of Manitoba coverage varies, starts 1880 to 1970s

Brandon 1906-1960 - often these smaller city directories contain outlying town and hamlet listings, such as Souris and Carroll.

Manitoba and Northwest Territories 1878-1905 (The Northwest Territories included the western provinces in the late 1800s- does not refer to the northern province NWT as it is now known)

'Let Your Fingers Do the Walking' - a very good guide to Using City, Provincial, Telephone and Business Directories. Directories from Nova Scotia Archives holdings. Most of the directories they mention are not available online. From this page: "The most complete run of telephone directories for Nova Scotia (1888-1999; predominantly 1911-1999) can be found at the Dalhousie University Archives in the Killam Library, University Avenue".

Landing page for Directories at the NS Archives.

Ontario directories including Hamilton can be searched by name once you download the pdf file from Library and Archives Canada

Toronto City Directories via Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society

Did you know that the Genealogy Centre - Allen County Public Library has 288 results for Ontario Directories? However, most of these are in print.

Hutchinson's 1864 Prince Edward Island Directory - an index, provided in table format and transcribed by Donna Collings.

A list of PEI directories from the Island Register, PEI Genealogical Society and their location - mostly print issues - webpage last updated 2003

This guide mentions that the directories are on microfilm and can be accessed onsite in the archives.

Regina Public Library have sent their print Henderson's directories to the University of Alberta to be scanned. Please use their online contact form for more information. It will be a number of months before they are available on the web.

The Family Search wiki for Canadian Directories provides a good overview of where directories are held, and gives a brief bibliography of guides to directories.

A selection of directories are freely available on  For example, this website provides the entire edition of The Canadian Almanac and Directory 1889 in an 'e-book' format.  Directories may contain family names, business names and trades or occupations.

Nowadays people turn to the internet to try to find someone in the 'white pages'. To find people who currently live in Canada, the U.S. and the are a few helpful websites:

Canada: Canada 411 | the United States: (a helpful university library guide to U.S. directories ) | and the U.K.: 

For easier internet searching use these alternate terms for Canadian directories: telephone books, white pages, yellow pages, almanacs, Henderson Directories - - & remember to add the year you are researching.

Of course, this just a quick (albeit lengthy) look at some of the directories available, so if you find any others please do share with the rest of the genealogy community!

Upcoming articles:  Finding your Ancestors in CanadaFinding your Military Ancestors in Canada

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

WDYTYA 2017 Reviews and Handouts

Family History Hound - aka Ellen Thompson-Jennings @familyhisthound 

Reviews of the event: 

Carole Steers - 
The Surname Society (NextGen Genealogist) @LazyLoverU   WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? LIVE 2017; MY REVIEW

Dick Eastman's review of WDYTYA 2017 - I have met Mr. Eastman, a few times, perhaps again next year ...

Daniel - specializes in Spanish genealogy - @DSRGenealogist    Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2017

Erin Tilley - a French Australian amateur genealogist - @rinnywee  How to get kids into genealogy

Janet Braund Few, @JanetFew viz-a-viz Mistress Agnes of the 17th Century - WDYTYA Days 2 and 3

Jane Roberts - Yorkshire based lass - @JaneEIRoberts "Who Do You Think You Are? Live" 2017 - A Very Different Show Experience

Kirsty Gray - very bubbly CEO of Family Wise -  @thekirstygray gives her take of the show WDYTYA-2017

Penny's experience as an exhibitor - @pennysresearch - Day 3 Who Do You Think You Are 

Steve Atcherley - Atcherley One Name Study -  @AtcherleyONS Who Do You Think You Are Live 2017


The British Association for Local History @BALHNews have uploaded the handouts from their talks at the show
           Includes: Dr. Jane Howells - 'Townies' [...]; Dr. Ruth Paley - A Bastard in the Tree? [...] ; Dr. Gill Draper Going Back in Time [...] ; Paul A. Carter - Publishing your research on the web [...]

Handouts from the Who Do You Think You Are 2017 talks are available via the Society of Genealogists Education page. The same page holds links to presentations from the 2016 and 2015 events and from two Who Do You Think You Are events in 2014, one in Olympia London and one in Glasgow. 

Monday, 10 April 2017

Day 3 Who Do You Think You Are

Last day at WDYTYA2017. Arrived at the Canadian stand and within minutes a few people from the other stands appeared to have a 'quick' chat, mostly to do with Canadian ancestors. But they were also very supportive and amazed that the Canadian stand was so popular.

Many asked if I would be returning next year, and the chairman from the Devon Society said 'I really hope to see you here next year' and another said it was 'a unique offer' - so perhaps we shall get the forces together and really push for representation from all of the Canadian Family History Societies. To be honest, although the organizers labelled the stand as Ontario Genealogy I repeated ad naseum that I was there to represent all of Canada - after all it is Canada's🍁150th Birthday!

Two Canadians at WDYTYA!
Another interesting day of questions and discussions about Canadian genealogy. Chris from Mississauga returned asking about prairie land records - that was easy, as Dave Obee has published a free pdf on his webpage to explain all about the organization of land records. For some reason, I had a lot of questions about British Columbia genealogy today. Sending them to the BC Genealogical Society and the BC Archives was the most logical answer.

I must send a note of appreciation to the Canadian Family History Societies, archives and public libraries as I did recommend their unique records and mammoth efforts over and over to UK genealogists.

A few of the questions today were about:
  • border crossings, and how did people travel from New York to Vancouver in the 1880s?
  • another question pre-1800s, about Fredericton New Brunswick 
  • a question about a Roman Catholic priest in the late 1800s and how to find records (wish I had seen the article by Candice McDonald on Religious Records in time) 
  • tracing an organist at a Montreal cathedral
  • a lot of questions about obtaining birth death  marriage certificates especially for ancestors who were not directly related, ie: great-uncles 
    • explained they are administered by each province not by the Government of Canada and there are many restrictions around the release of personal information
    • my impression is that UK genealogists are used to using BMD certificates as a starting point to identify parents and place of residence and are trying to use the same research strategies for Canadian genealogy
  • Church of England / Anglican records
  • unusually, two or three questions about Thunder Bay / Port Arthur and ancestors who were grain inspectors (this one was not unfamiliar as I also have relatives in Thunder Bay)
  • a military certificate of birth - applying for an official birth certificate
  • a mom asked about her daughter born in Canada (1990s) but they are British and returned to live in the UK - and they wanted a duplicate copy of the certificate
  • also, a couple of questions about Alberta records, including Medicine Hat, Mcleod (which I suggested may be Fort Macleod) and Lethbridge  
Did I mention the lady who came by the stand to tell me about her success breaking through a brick wall after we had discussed her research at an 'Ask the Expert' session a year or two ago? Very cool that she came back to say thank you -gives a great sense of accomplishment!

Leading on from that success, I felt that this germination of an idea was definitely a worthwhile venture. Even though I was on my own, I felt confident in my knowledge of Canada's genealogy records to give tips to UK genealogists. It was very busy, but busy in a good way, and I was not surprised at all that UK genealogists found it difficult to find Canadian sources of information for genealogy research. Only by researching 'on the ground' - actually going to these repositories and doing the research onsite do you become familiar with what is available in each province. I am fortunate that my family are spread across three provinces and have had opportunities to break away from visiting to research at many of those places. (As this has taken place many times over the years, they are now at least somewhat tolerant!) When a UK genealogist came to my table, I could actually visualize the place they needed to contact and know that they would be able to at least start investigating and if necessary, make an enquiry. It would be marvelous if this effort could be duplicated for the 2018 show, and I would be more than happy to make a repeat performance -I quite enjoyed meeting everyone and hearing their stories. 😊

There are many, many thank yous to mention. Multitudes of thanks to my angels from the Society of Genealogists; the very patient people from the Guild of One Name Studies at Stand 100 who continued to redirect people to the Canadian Genealogy stand; my colleagues at the AGRA stand who helped me with the recalcitrant banner; table covers provided by the NEC; to the organizers of the event -especially Olivia and to @AncestryHour and @_genchat Twitter friends for encouragement and support.

Finally to everyone who provided pins, books and leaflets and Canada150 stuff for the draw and especially to the Ontario Genealogy Society and Genealogie Quebec.

  Day 0   Day 1    Day 2

Thank You and Merci Beaucoup!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Day 2 Who Do You Think You Are

Friday at Who Do You Think You Are Day 2

It's always great to start your day chatting with like minded genealogists who are excited about sharing what they are passionate about! That was a boost and for 30 minutes before the doors opened I wandered around a bit checking out the other stands. That was fun.

Today did not feel as busy as yesterday but I think it was because I had a little angel who came by to cover the table so that I could have 10 minutes for necessary p+q - you can interpret that however you'd like. 

Another fabulous day at the Canadian Genealogy table but what topped it off were visits by a number of fellow Canadians! Gosh, I wish I had their names, Victoria who now lives in Edinburgh, I think she was from Kingston. Sherry? -no Peggy, from Ontario who was volunteering at the One Name Studies table. A fellow, (Chris showed up again on Day 3) from Mississauga who is retiring next year and getting primed to restart his Canadian genealogy. Another lady from Winnipeg - her first time at Who Do You Think You Are - but not her first time in England and a very experienced genealogist. Oh and another lady from Ontario I think who now lives permanently in Warwickshire. 

People love to tell stories and the genealogists are enthusiastic about their families experiences in Canada which ranged over a number of years. A number of people asked, 'Why would my ancestor take such a big step to go overseas and leave all of their family in the UK?' Stories of abandonment; a woman leaving her family in the UK to follow a man she loved back to Canada; young women who went into service in Canada, some who had illegitimate children and returned to the UK; a lady who's father was born in England but left her mother and herself as a baby to go to Canada and how could she find him; some stories of hardship, and not being able to cope with the weather and the country all together. There were some success stories, one gentleman's ancestor was in the British Army ca1800s and was given a tract of land in BC, some 1400 acres. Another story about a wealthy aunt who went to and fro across to the UK in the 1950s and he was wanting to track down her living relatives. I just love to hear these stories, it really gives a sense of who these British people were who populated our country - Canada.

Today I made a point of keeping track of the number of people coming by, actually, sorry I didn't count everyone who came to the table, just the 60 or so who were asking for help. Sometimes there were queues 6 or 7 people deep! Often people would come by when I was catching a breath, as there was too long of a queue and they wanted a few more minutes than the normal 10 or 15. The draw for the goody basket full of Canada150 bits and bobs and the free membership to the Ontario Genealogical Society began to draw more interest today because I put little signs on the books to say that they were included in the draw. I looked up at one point -in time to see that a fellow had the book 'A Call to the Colours' by Kenneth G. Cox under his arm and he wanted to buy it but I'm embarrassed to say I asked him to return it as it was included in the draw! He was a little upset and I have to say that there were a number of people who would have liked to buy some of the items at the stand, but I really couldn't manage both to be honest. That definitely needs two people to provide a retail operation. From what I have heard of past Who Do You Think You Are shows, genealogists specifically come to the show to buy books, maps, charts and genealogy supplies.

A number of people who came by to chat said that they didn't know a Canadian genealogy stand would be at the show and they didn't come prepared. It's possible they'll come next year looking for it again, so we'll have to see what comes of that. I have asked people to leave comments about whether there should be a Canadian Genealogy stand next year and time will tell, really!

All for now, one more day to go. Stay tuned!

Day 0   Day 1    Day 3