Monday, 27 February 2017

Finding Your Military Ancestors in Canada

© Penny Allen
Pegasus - The Parachute Regiment
A memorial at Manchester Airport 

The optimum place to start searching for Canadian military records is on Library and Archives Canada's website. This page contains links particularly for WWI and WWII that may help with research into your military ancestors. During the First World War especially, men who signed up in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) were often born in Britain or the British Isles.

Please note: the National Archives in London hold copies of the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) unit diaries for World War One. Below is a picture of a page from my grandfather's unit in WO95. There are few, if any, mention of individual soldiers.The originals are held at Library and Archives Canada.

Military related articles can be found on my article index page. For example: WWI Canadian Regiment in Aldershot, UKCanadian Forestry Corps WWI and WWII and Canadian Merchant Navy. There are many UK cemeteries where Canadian soldiers are buried. The best place to start searching for those men is on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

© Penny Allen
It is worth your while to have a gander through the research guides provided by various archives in Canada. For example, the 'Canadian military records' link mentioned above is a research guide provided by Library and Archives Canada, Ottawa, Ontario. Other research guides include: Archives of Ontario ; BC Archives ; Archives of Manitoba

Family Search - Canada Military Records

Canadian War Museum - Ottawa, Ontario

Canada's Military History - a magazine? on Twitter and Facebook

**Canadian Military Genealogy FAQs**

First World War

A City Goes to War - a project particularly aimed at high school students, this page follows the human stories of how the First World War impacted families. Three timelines look at the cities of Victoria, Winnipeg and Toronto from 1910-1925. They have provided a database emedded in the webpage of enlistments from each region, with a total of 6,155 records. Very clever search facility. Written and developed by University of Victoria students. Some content is available in French. 

I happened upon this fabulous page provided by BC Archives of interviews with men and women who served in the First World War.

Sources Relating to Units of the Canadian Expeditionary Force

First World War - Library and Archives Canada

@GreatWarForum  not very active on Twitter probably because there is too much activity on the forum!      GreatWarForum - "The Great War Forum is the premier internet forum for discussing the First World War"

An active First World War forum - Total Members: 63,204 / Total Topics: 200,333 / Total Posts: 1,959,819

A guide to the Attestation papers of the First World War quite a bit of investigative detail by a genealogist in New Zealand.

The Canadian Centre for the Great War

June Beach Centre - France

Partial index of Manitoba soldiers killed in the First World War
Lives of the First World War Join Imperial War Museums (UK) and help tell these Life Stories by adding your images, sharing their stories, find their records and adding known facts - this request certainly pertains to the Canadian Expeditionary Force!
© Penny Allen
CEF Diaries - National Archives
WO95 - This is a very good site for the publications of the First World War, digitized copies of The Illustrated War News, The Bystander, The Illustrated London News, The Graphic, The Tatler, The Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, The Sphere, The Sketch. Although published in England, they contain lots of visual content about the events of the Great War. This includes pictures of men and units of the British, German, Polish, French, Russian, Italian army and navy amongst others.

British Army War Diaries 1914-1922

Second World War

Library and Archives Canada - Introduction to Second World War resources

Canadian Merchant Navy

Canadian Women's Army Corps (CWACs)  Don't call us WACs! - a personal history by Doris Gregory, Vancouver B.C. 

The 42nd Company, Canadian Women’s Army Corps, Canadian Army Overseas, 1940s. Saskatchewan Archives Board R-B12169 

A large photo gallery of Images of Women in various military roles in the Second World War (via The Memory Project, an initiative of Historica Canada).

Interviews with War Brides who came to Canada after the Second World War. This article includes links to sources for looking for War Brides.

National Archives UK: These war diaries contain the daily record of events, reports on operations, exercises, intelligence summaries, of units of dominion forces.

Canadian (Genealogy) Military Websites of Interest

In this article, the Times Colonist newspaper, Victoria BC, discusses the Great War Project and the database. These two websites are essentially the same project; the Canadian Great War Project is a website created in 2004 by Marc Leroux. The Canadian Great War Project Database is a partnership between Marc Leroux and the University of Victoria to compile the data on his webpages into a searchable database.

Good resources on Gail Dever's Military section under the Genealogy Toolbox

CanGenealogy's extensive list of Military Links pertaining to Canadian Military Genealogy

There is a plethora of information on the internet about the First and Second World Wars, with many enthusiasts, volunteers, as well as 'forums'. I encourage you to undertake some creative boolean searching to further your research. I'm happy to add your suggestions to this page, but as it is rather long already, it will only take a few more links to burst at the seams!

Finding Your Ancestors in Canada    Finding Your Ancestors in Canadian Directories     

UK to Canada Genealogy Index Page

Thursday, 23 February 2017

BLUMBERG family, Vancouver B.C.

Anyone out there in genealogy land with a connection to the BLUMBERG family - especially in Vancouver, B.C.?
Last year, in August, I posted an article about the BLUMBERG, 
O'BRIEN and PERRY Families who are interred in the Kensall Green Cemetery in London. 

Verena who works on the Heritage at Risk Register for Historic England has posted some comments to the article that might be of interest. (Please see the comments in the link to the article above.) She has uncovered a grandchild of Ludwig Alexander and Nellie Jane BLUMBERG - Frederick Thomas BLUMBERG who married Ada Rosalind BARE on 10 August 1914 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. I decided to pursue a little investigation.

With the help of Library and Archives Canada, I was able to find Frederick Thomas BLUMBERG on the Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Records for the First World War. He notes his wife as next of kin, his date of birth as 5 February 1879, birthplace Ireland and Service No. 116410. They were living at Suite 16, 1679 Cypress St. Vancouver, B.C. as of the date of enlistment 19th March 1915.

I also did a search on Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, but he was not found there so perhaps he returned to Canada or remained in the UK after the war. Searching Vancouver newspapers via Genealogy A La Carte's newspaper links, I didn't have much success with a specific search for the name BLUMBERG.

In the Vancouver City Directory for 1915, Frederick is found at 16, 1619 Cypress St, Vancouver. They are not found in the Vancouver City Directory for 1916. However there is a Robert BLUMBERG listed who is a tailor, Comfort Waist Mfg Co. and he lived at 66 Ave W near BCE Railway. It would be a matter of following Robert through the directories for each year to see if he remained in Vancouver. As well, perhaps searching the BC Archives database for his death.

As Verena pointed out their marriage date I then went to BC Archives database for births, marriages and deaths and the marriage certificate states Frederick's father as William BLUMBERG. The marriage certificate also shows Ada Rosalind BARE as being born in Rock Ferry, England, so perhaps after the war they may have stayed in the UK? Very interestingly, Ada's status is widow on the marriage certiciate and her profession is Nurse. Hmm. . .

Does anyone have a little more information or know the whereabouts of descendants of Ludwig Alexander and Nellie Jane BLUMBERG, son William, grandson Frederick Thomas BLUMBERG?

A post on Canadian Military Graves in Kensall Green Cemetery.

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Canadian Genealogy Twitter Treasures Issue 3

I know, pretty old school, kind of like newspaper cuttings that libraries used to do a long time ago.

But I just can't get over the feeling that I miss really neat things on Twitter.

© Penny Allen
19 Feb.2017 | Issue 3

Every week or so I will share particularly Canadian content, but will bend the rules if it has a British spin, or an interesting immigrant story.

My interpretation of the tweet or retweet is added.

An article in the Times Colonist, Victoria - An old sea dog donates Captain Cook's journals to the Maritime Museum of BC

Glenbow Museum : Celebrating BlackHistory Month with an album from our Archives - The Crump family Edmonton Alberta (Source: Glenbow Facebook page). 

Minister Catherine McKenna (Minister of Environment & Climate Change) tweeted:
"Proud to announce the designation and protection of two heritage lighthouses in New Brunswick." The Inch Arran Point Front Range Lighthouse, a square tapered, wooden lighthouse built in 1870 that is located in Dalhousie, and the Long Eddy Point Lighthouse, a combined lighthouse and fog alarm building located on the northern tip of Grand Manan Island." Source via Canadian Government

Database of WW1 Veterans tweeted by Nova Scotia Ancestors - The Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia was founded in 1982.

Tweeted by Small - There has been very good skating on our bay. A half holiday was given the pupils today to take advantage of it. St Peters Feb 15 1897. 
Small History NS - Mr Leon Amiro is building a schooner of 75 tons to launch in the spring. Capt Oliver is building a schooner of 60 tons. Pubnico Oct 26 1882

Tweeted by Port Arthur Duluth and Western OTD1883: Thunder Bay Colonization Railway is incorporated in the Province of Ontario. Also posted on their Facebook page

William Jenkins posted a tribute to a long standing Toronto Archives employee : A "fonds" farewell to our Glenda, who retires from the @TorontoArchives after 38+ years of service. Her last day was 1 Feb.2017. So nice to see recognition of a lifetime of dedication! 

An up and coming Canadian genealogist, Lisa tweeted @elle_dee_see -

about the Glenaladale Heritage needing support from descendants of residents in memory of their ancestors.   They state that the purchase and development of the 529 acre estate is an important community heritage site deserving your support.
     This website links to digitized letters of the MacDonald family of Glenaladale between 1779-1801. A university student from PEI digitized these letters with permission. Be sure to connect with the students who are using archives, they can provide valuable information about the collections.

Lila Eddington turns 95 yrs on 23 Feb. She plans to reach her goal of transcribing 600,000 names by this date.

'Wanted: Young Genealogists' posted by Brandy Fulton. Her article was meant to promote the Kitchener Library 5th Annual Genealogy Fair but turned into a promo for NextGens - no harm done in my opinion!

The History of Genealogy @NewYorkHistory #EarlyAmHist
Liz says: "History has a history and Genealogy has a history" - I would counter that to say "History has a history and Genealogy is history". On her website, she has a regular podcast entitled 'Ben Franklin's World' which invites 'guides' to talk about what the history of genealogy reveals about the early American past. Interesting!

Is Family History Proper History?  by Jane Roberts in the UK - thought provoking: what is your opinion?

UK to Canada Genealogy Index Page

Friday, 10 February 2017

Finding your Ancestors in Canada

The first steps in Canadian genealogy are the same as with all genealogy research 
- - start with what you know about your family - -
The content of this article is a review of the basics of researching family history in Canada. Some links are to posts I have written that give suggestions for your research. Other links provide an introduction to the basics, some are resources found on webpages of family history societies, archives, libraries, or other Canadian genealogists blogs.
© Penny Allen

The first place one should start Canadian genealogy is at Library and Archives Canada. Did you know that many of the Canadian genealogy records on Ancestry and Find My Past are from original documents in the Library and Archives Canada's collections?

To name a very few Canadian genealogists who provide good material to start your Canadian Genealogy Research.  CanGenealogy ;   Gail Dever's Genealogy Toolbox ;  John D. Reid ; Ontario Genealogical Society ;    Olive Tree Genealogy 

This document produced from a talk that John D. Reid presented at the Who Do You Think You Are show in 2016 is a very good introduction to the history of Canada and Canadian Genealogy. He gives some background to the size of the country, along with an indication of where to find resources. Useful comparisons to UK records.

If you are interested in reading short articles about the history of Canada, you really must take a look at Gail Dever's 'This week's crème de la crème' - a weekly list of all things Canadian genealogy.

New Canadian Blogger! Candice Macdonald is writing a series on Vital Statistics in Canada, province by province. on her blog, Finding Your Canadian Story, she really has done a lot of research into the details of who can apply, what you can find and how to access the records. What a great blog to follow!

The Family Search website provides good Canadian Genealogy resources - Family Search - Canada Genealogy data

BirthsBirth Marriage and Death records

If the person was born in Canada, the registrations are held in the provincial archives which are located in the capital city. The date coverage is different from province to province, as unlike the UK, there is not one set year of registration for all of Canada.

BMDs are known as Vital Statistics in Canada, and most of the provinces have a searchable database for historical records. For example, the index on the British Columbia webpage covers: births (1854-1903), marriages (1872-1940), deaths (1872-1995), colonial marriages (1859-1872) and baptisms (1836-1888).

If you are looking for information about births post-1900s, you may need to contact the archives staff of the province you are researching.

Marriages - Please carefully check the webpages on the link to Births, Marriages and Deaths indexes for updated information, as the date ranges may change as the archives add more indexes.

Deaths - Birth Marriage and Death records also via each Provincial Archives searchable index page.

A unique set of records that complement provincial archival indexes are the Drouin records, provided by the Drouin Genealogical Institute in Quebec. Investigate their databases for French and English speaking Births, Marriages and Deaths, especially as the Maritime Provinces have both French and English heritage. Genealogy Quebec -  and PRDH

Please note: Many Canadian genealogists have created similar pages to explain BMD indexes in Canada.

In Canada, the census was taken in 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1906 and 1911. The 1906 and 1916 census are 'prairie' census (Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba). All of the censuses are available on Library and Archive Canada as well as commercial databases. Family Search also has a free comprehensive list of Censuses for Canada.
   A free website, (very easy to search) Automated Genealogy provides access to the 1851, 1901, 1906 and 1911 censuses. Families are linked across the 1901, 1906 and 1911 census where connections are found. The data was transcribed and checked by genealogists and is organized and provided by volunteers.
   From the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society Bulletin Vol.23, No. 2 (June 1992): p.65 "for those with research problems in the 1930s the prospect of a census to assist in solving a research problem remains remote. There are however, surrogates for census that might help the researcher. One such surrogate census is the collection of federal electoral rolls available from the National Archives of Canada." [sic] Communities in the constituency included not just Fairlight, but also such places as Alameda, Arcola, Bienfait, Carlyle, Carnduff, Estevan, Forget, Kipling, Manor, Oxbow, Redvers, Stoughton, and Wawota to name just a few. (Author: Ken Aitken)   

Finding your Ancestors in Canadian Directories  |   Finding your Military Ancestors in Canada

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Rural Pioneer Schools Southern Alberta

 ©Stuart Somerville aka @Stuthefarmer 
There are a number of informative twitterstorians online and one that I'd like to bring to your attention is Stuart Somerville. His posts are particularly agricultural in nature, however, that is his livelihood and his passion. Although I am an 'ex-townie' I feel a connection to rural Alberta in his posts and once in a while local history nuggets pop up.

This article gives a brief review of two photos of abandoned schools he took in 2016 while travelling in Alberta. If you are looking for records of the school your ancestor attended, I leave it to you to discover more from the resources provided!

Springwater School - located in the Drumheller area, Starland County. The Springwater Homestead Foundation maintains the school and this history is on Wikipedia: "Built by a local stonemason, the school was built with all local stones. There were only ten students when the school originally opened. In addition to being a school, the building also hosted many community events, even after closing as a school. In April, 1952, the school was sold to the Majestic Farrell Lake Women's Institute. It was sold for $200 and remained as a community hall. The 1988 movie Bye Bye Blues was filmed in the area, and the Springwater School was used as a set."

Springwater school
 ©Stuart Somerville aka @Stuthefarmer 
On Peel's Prairie Provinces webpage, there is a reference to Springwater School in the government report: Department of Agriculture : Winners of Scholarship Short Course. This is a great resource for finding information out about students in rural Alberta. For Springwater School the winners were Howard SLOAN and Alice MORRISON (ca1928).

The Scholarship Short Course is explained as:
"As a reward for effort and success in school fair work, one boy and one girl at each fair centre are awarded a scholarship entitling them to spend a week at the School of Agriculture at the expense of the Government. Regular class work, organized sports and a variety of entertainment go to make the week's course very popular. The competition is very keen, thus making the short course a great factor in increasing general interest in the school fair." p.89

On pages 10 & 11, I found a mention of 'Home Children' - "[...] arrangements have been made with the Overseas Settlement board whereby 200 British boys and 200 British girls will be trained at the Schools of Agriculture during the months of April, May, June and July."

Reference: Peel 9534.23: Annual Report of the Department of Agriculture of the Province of Alberta for the year 1928.
Summerhill school
 ©Stuart Somerville aka @Stuthefarmer 
Summerhill school - named after a district in Scotland by Edward Donald, Sr. homesteader in 1908. First teacher: Mr. Simon Luther, an Irishman.
    Reference: “Pioneering with a piece of chalk : the one-room country schools of Alberta, 1885-1982” - This 'ebook' is one that I used in university for a Canadian studies unit on heritage and is considered an important vital text for rural Canadian history. It is available online via Our Roots. It gives a brief history of schools organized alphabetically including the legal description. Sometimes mentions teachers names and names of people in the community.

As well, in the context of rural schools I should mention Chris & Connie Biggar Doer. The Doers are two enthusiasts who regularly spend their weekends wandering the back roads of Alberta.They have a great report on Rural Schools in Alberta on their blog 'Off The Beaten Path' and have highlighted: Roland School They are also on Twitter @ChrisBIGDoer

Jonathan Koch is also very well known in Alberta for his work in promoting the history of Alberta. This is a link to one of his posts about One Room Schools - Imperial Colony School - you need to scroll down the page for the article.  On his website he invites you to send tips and suggestions pertaining to Alberta History. His email is: and he is also on Twitter @4gotten_alberta 

My articles Rural Alberta Towns and Rural Schools Vulcan County Alberta  give resources for starting research in rural Alberta.