Monday, 27 March 2017

West Kootenays, B.C.: Historical Place Names & Pictures

When I lived in small town Alberta, an elderly neighbour told me she grew up in Nelson, B.C. It is a beautiful part of southeastern British Columbia and often referred to as God's country. But then, wherever you called home is often referred to as a corner of heaven.

Nelson, B.C.
© Penny Allen
My neighbour talked about the dirt roads, the orchards and oh, how she loved the plentiful fruit and the trips (ca 1920s) on the paddlewheeler!  What an interesting time! A friend of the family told me about a recent column in the local newspaper, the Nelson Star, called 'A West Kootenay place names primer', written by Greg Nesteroff. Greg started the column in March 2013 and the recent article dated 25 March 2017 is the 172nd in the series.  (The Nelson Daily News ran from 1902-2010 and afterwards the Nelson Star started publication twice weekly.)  

In the Introduction to the series he gives a description of the purpose and an idea of the naming practice of some of the communities:
"In West Kootenay Boundary, names were bestowed when a townsite was staked, a railway was pushed through, steamboat service commenced, or a post office opened. Often the names were after early settlers, CPR officials, mines, or geographic features. Some were named after other places, some to inspire settlement, and others to honour prominent people who may never have actually visited. Of course, many of these same places already had First Nations names. Not many are still in use, but the ones that are — Kootenay, Kokanee, Slocan, Nakusp, and possibly Kaslo — are among the most intriguing on the local map. One subset of names unique to this area are those given by the Doukhobors, although only two — Ootischenia and Krestova — remain in widespread use."
A sample of the place names covered in the articles: 
Ainsworth; Alamo; Aylwin; Balfour; Bealby Point (aka Florence Park); Belford; Blewett; Beaverdell; Billings; Bosworth; Cariboo City; Carrolls Landing; Clubb Landing; Comaplix; Deadwood; Deanshaven; English Cove; English Point; Fauquier; Ferguson; Forslund; Fosthall; Galena Bay; Gerrard; Green City; Greenwood; Halcyon Hot Springs; Hall Siding; Harrop; Hartford Junction; Hills; Hudu Valley; Inonoaklin Valley (aka Fire Valley); Jersey; Johnsons Landing; Jubilee Point; Kaslo; Kuskonook; Longbeach; Lardeau.    Larger communities covered are: Castlegar, Grand Forks, Nelson, New Denver and Salmo.  

He also provides books for further research:
- British Columbia Place Names, by G.P.V. and Helen Akrigg, 3 editions pub. 1986, 1988, 1997
- a newer edition with the same name by Mark Thorburn pub. 2010

Greg also wrote an article in Nov. 2011 about the digitization of Nelson and area newspapers, (ca. 1890-1900s), the British Columbia Historical Newspapers Project, provided by the University of British Columbia.

Included in the Kootenay-Boundary collection are these titles:  The Ledge (Nelson), The Miner (Nelson), Nelson Daily Miner, The Nelson Economist, Nelson Weekly Miner, The Tribune (Nelson), Sandon Mining Review, New Denver Ledge and Ainsworth Hot Springs News. 

Lost Kootenays plumbs local nostalgia - a 2013 article reviewing the Facebook page Lost Kootenays. Their mandate is to provide pictures for educational purposes only and are very careful to point out copyright rules.
"Welcome to a journey in space and in time into the heart of the Kootenays. We will be posting historical Kootenay images, but you can also expect to see recent images from time to time. We may even make side trips to areas outside the Kootenays that residents commonly visit - Southern Alberta and Northern Idaho/Washington." 
In 2013, this Facebook page had 5,000 followers and now there are 28,600 followers! 
Do you have any memories and pictures to share with this group?

UK to Canada Genealogy Index Page

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Canadian Genealogy Twitter Treasures Issue 4

I know, pretty old school, kind of like newspaper cuttings that libraries used to do a long time ago. I think they might also be called ephemera.

Do you ever feel that you miss really neat things on Twitter? Perhaps you will find some interesting resources in this article. 
18 Mar.2017 | Issue 4


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.

I enjoy Stuart Somerville's tweets as he often highlights pictures of pioneer buildings in rural Alberta and if you follow the conversation you learn a lot about particulars in the image. This is about church pews and the meaning of threshold.

This blog article authored and tweeted by Eve Lazarus highlights Mark Truelove's efforts to colourize old B+W photos of Vancouver ca 1930s. Certainly brings familiar sights of past Vancouver to life!

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

The Alberta Family Histories Society posted about the Prairie Immigration Experience - Another fabulous online resource for Pioneers  Thank you University of Manitoba!

The Nova Scotia Provincial Library tweeted about the Dartmouth Heritage Museum's blog article How Old is Old? Very interesting tips about ambrotype photographs and dating the sitter's clothing and hairstyles.

The Archives of Ontario tweeted: "Come visit our new #genealogy exhibit to discover a fascinating tale about Irish immigration to Canada in the mid 1800s!"

Kathryn Lake Hogan provides some RTs:
Canadian Genealogy Summit tweeted :  The ‘how to’ of finding your Island roots using P.E.I. Ancestry - an article in the Journal Pioneer. Intriguing name for a local newspaper!

The Memory Project tweeted about WRCNS (Women's Royal Canadian Navy Service) in World War II. "The first decoding class (ie: codebreakers) to graduate in the Commonwealth, HMCS St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, 1943." This Library and Archives Canada page explains how to obtain military service files.

Kathryn Lake Hogan tweeted this article from CBC news: How a Yukon miner's parents fled the KKK.

Canada's Military History posted a tweet of a WWII picture. Canadian Troops enter a village where a week earlier German soldiers had massacred the entire Male population. San Pancrazio, Italy.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

St. Albert Alberta - Links to the Past

It takes an awful lot of dedication to commit to writing about history on a regular schedule. But for Kevin Ma, a reporter with the St. Albert Gazette, the @Canada150 celebrations is an opportunity to share a unique perspective on Northern Alberta history. The series is called 'Links to the Past' and will 'examine one element of St. Albert that's 150 years old until July 2017'. If you have any ideas for other articles, please email Kevin Ma at the Gazette.
© Penny Allen
This is my second blog post about Kevin's efforts and I hope you will find some interesting points in his articles to round out your family history research. My first blog post covers his articles from July to November 2016 -

Feb. 22 The Chains of Office - This article goes into detail about the governance of the town of St. Albert in the early days to present day. Father LACOMBE, Samuel CUNNINGHAM, Frank JUNEAU were amongst the first 'officers'.

Feb. 08 Finding Romance in the Archives (not written by Kevin but a cute story!)
  This article was written with research into Arlene Borgsted's book, The Black Robe's Vision : St. Albert's family history stories.
  The HARNOIS and TERRAULT families are highlighted in the article. Christine and Leon HARNOIS in the 1870s. Christine was Father Lacombe's sister and Leon was a hard working courieur-de-bois with a tough side. Father Lacombe was not in favour of the union. Also a lovely story about childhood sweethearts, Oscar TERRAULT and Annie PETENAUDE.

Jan. 28 2017 Ring Ring Ring - A proposal to create a telephone network between St. Albert, Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan was denied. So the community rallied together and built their own. The line was 14km and followed the historic St. Albert Trail. St. Albert receives the province's first official telephone call on the 3rd Jan. 1885.
Métis and his two wivesArtist: Peter Rindisbacher
Library and Archives Canada  MIKAN 2835810 

Dec. 28 2016 Forgotten No More -
the Métis society were important in the development of the infrastructure of the city. Métis were often descended from the union of Scots and native people and are a very proud people. Sharon Morin, program manager at St. Albert's Musée Héritage Museum gives the article some perspective as to the Métis involvement in the community. In addition to the museum, the Michif Institute is dedicated to Métis genealogy and history.

The archives and library of the Musée Héritage Museum holds a fabulous collection of Métis and Scots genealogy compiled by Gail Morin, a well-known genealogist of Métis family history.

In my own family history research, I was able to connect some of the dots of my pioneering Scots families in the prairies making use of Gail's records. Please do take some time to see what they have available, the museum provides a short clip to give you an introduction.

UK to Canada Genealogy Index Page

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Canadian Prairie Pioneer Questionnaires

The Saskatchewan Archives continue to surprise with unique online resources. This collection gives fabulous insight into day to day living on the prairies in the early days.
In the early 1950s the archives embarked on a survey of those individuals and characters who pioneered in the rural districts of Saskatchewan.

The answers reflect the period the people arrived in the community, often the late 1890s. Sometimes they provided a birthplace, parents' names, the name of the town they settled in,  their address at the time of the survey as well as the address they came from. These surveys were mailed and over 3,500 replies were sent back to the Saskatoon Archives office.

Please see below for a link to the list of people who filled out the questionnaires.

The online examples are limited to one respondent per topic. Many more of these 'interviews' which are not digitised will be held in the archive. It is not certain if the questionnaires were sent to individuals, organizations or simply as a bundle of questionnaires to the town or municipality offices who would then have distributed them. There is a link to the list of interviewees at the bottom of this article.

In one online example, the Excelsior Homemakers Club appointed three members to fill out the Pioneer Diet : one was Mrs. Geo. [George] ASKINS, from Arcola, Saskatchewan born in Heady or Keady, Ontario. Here a few questions from the 8 paged enquiry form.

1. Introductory Questions:

Q: What year did you start housekeeping in Western Canada?       A: 1893
Q: Where did you set up housekeeping?                  A: West Carlyle District
Q: Where had you been living before that?             A: Clare District "Now Arcola" 
Q: For how many people did you prepare meals?    A: 2
Q: How far was it to your nearest store?                  A: 10 miles
Q: How often could a visit be made to the store?     A: Once a week.
Q: What groceries did you usually buy in those earliest years?       A: tea, sugar, flour, oatmeal, salt, prunes, dried apples, syrup, soda, rice.

There are a total of 22 questions in the questionnaire. This is a sample of those questions in the 'Pioneer Diet' :

2. Flour and other grain products
3. Sugars and syrups
4. Dairy products
5. Meat and fish
6. Beverages
7. Vegetables and dried fruits
8. Preserving
9. Please fill in the following to the best of your memory:
         Food: Year you first remember seeing it in the store; eg: soda biscuits, macaroni, graham flour, brown sugar, molasses, table salt etc.
         How was it sold? - In bulk, 10 lb. sack, can, etc.; Amt. you usually bought at one time.; Price of this amount.

Eleven topics were covered in the questionnaires:
  1. Pioneer Diet (submitted by: The Excelsior Homemakers club) 
  2. General Pioneer Experiences (submitted by: Robert MILLS, Struan b: Dumfries, Scotland dob: 16th Feb 1885 Father: Robert), 
  3. Schools (submitted by: Mrs. Ellen HUBBARD, Grenfell, Saskatchewan)
  4. Churches (submitted by: Mrs. Eliza Jane HALES, Present Address: 218 - 12 Street, Brandon, Manitoba; Pioneer Address: Moose Mountain Post Office, Saskatchewan)
  5. Recreation and Social Life (submitted by: Mrs. D.A. MOORHOUSE, Present Address: Aneroid, Saskatchewan; Pioneer Address: Wallard, Saskatchewan) 
  6. Farming Experiences (submitted by: Samuel Henry McWILLIAMS, Present Address: 260 Athabasca West, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan; Pioneer Address: Moose Jaw, N.W.T.)
  7. Folklore (submitted by: James D. TULLOCH, Arborfield, Box 1, Saskatchewan; lived in Manitoba before coming to Saskatchewan)
  8. Health (submitted by Mrs. Lila McDermid POPE; Present Address: Borden, Saskatchewan; Pioneer Address: Lovell P.O. [Post Office] Saskatchewan)
  9. Housing (submitted by: Robert Alexsander HILL, Present Address: MacRoric; Pioneer Addresses: Rudy and Westhope Saskatchewan)
  10. Local Government (submitted by: Alfred NORBURY, Present Address: Spiritwood; Pioneer Address: Norbury Saskatchewan)
  11. Christmas - this survey was especially sent to certain individuals - see Introduction (submitted by: W.H.S. GANGE, Red Deer Hill, Saskatchewan with the collaboration of  Mrs. Ruth GILES, 1041 River St West, Prince Albert, Saskatchewan)
    1. Introductory paragraph of the letter: We are gathering material for a radio program about Christmas in the old days, in the area that is now Saskatchewan. We want to tell about the real prairie Christmas of pioneer days as it was experienced by individuals who actually enjoyed it, either as men and women, or as children.
The questionnaires (PDF format) may be searched by the name of the pioneer, the nearest community, or the year of settlement in Saskatchewan. Please view the list of names of participants here - there are 22 pages with 66 lines = 1,452 names !

To access the questionnaires, please visit the archives in Saskatoon, or email them.
There is so much valuable information in these questionnaires!
**If your ancestor settled in Saskatchewan, perhaps you will find a little bit
of 'memory' to add to your project! Please let us know!**

UK to Canada Genealogy Index Page

Friday, 3 March 2017

MARS, Peter- Port Coquitlam BC and Fraser Cemetery

This scrap of an obituary was found amongst my grandfather's possessions which my uncle rescued from the tip. As it shows in the clipping, the 'Deceased served with the Pioneers, World War I'. It's possible he served with my grandfather or was part of the Veterans Association - a membership card was also found issued to my grandfather. 

While researching the Fraser Cemetery to find out more about the Returned Soldier's Plot, I found some very interesting tidbits. These include photos of the graves mentioned in a handout produced by a company that provides walking tours. Please scroll to the section after the family information to see what I discovered and for family names transcribed from the handout who are buried in the Fraser Cemetery.

Here's a little genealogical information on the MARS family, in case it might be of interest to descendants or if there are any researching the family. 

Peter MARS
d. Jan. 13, 1946 aged 64 yrs.
b. ca.1882
WWI attestation : b. 03/04/1881
Birthplace: Roxburghshire, Scotland
Service No.: 490304
-buried Fraser Cemetery, Returned Soldier's Plot
-lived at Mary Hill Street Port Coquitlam, B.C.

Wife: Isabella TAYLOR m. 1921-03-17
Birthplace: Lancashire, England
Name of her Father: John MORRISON
Stepson: James TAYLOR, Port Coquitlam
Stepdaughter: Mrs. Annie FISCH, Tacoma, Washington.

His mother: Mrs. Thomas MARS, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

2 brothers
Arthur MARS, Vancouver, B.C. (Arthur was noted on the death certificate as the informant. His address: 2865 E 2nd Avenue, Vancouver, B.C.) (Source: BC Archives Vital Statistics)
John MARS, Oliver, B.C.
2 sisters
Mrs. Wm. DAVID, Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Mrs. T.J. ROUTLEY, Port Coquitlam, B.C.

On this page A Virtual Tour of the Fraser Cemetery, New Westminster B.C. points #10, #11, #12 give views of the cemetery.


Fraser Cemetery - Find A Grave - use this link to find more families buried in the Fraser Cemetery

Created to aid in walking tours of the cemetery by 'A Sense of History Research Tours', there are some noted individuals buried here.
  • Raymond BURR, d.1993 Actor, famous for the Perry Mason television series, is buried in the family plot. #7
  • The children of John Sullivan and Fanny DEAS are buried here, a black family who lived briefly in the area in the 1870s running a successful blacksmith business. However, due to racial discrimination, he eventually moved his family to Portland Oregon. #36
  • Jack DEIGHTON, d. 1875 otherwise known as 'Gassy Jack' - a well known character whom Gastown in central Vancouver is named after. #18
  • Terry HUGHES, d.1959 he rescued some children from drowning in the Fraser River, however he lost his own life. #30 
This page is hosted by the New Westminster Public Library Heritage and Local History Section.