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!


  1. Thanks for the photo post Penny! I was thrilled to be workIng with my colleagues at the Guild of One-name Studies booth and so pleased to meet you. I think you have really shown the Brits' desire for Canadian info. Cheers Penny

  2. I don't know if this helps but FindMyPast released something about BC a couple of weeks ago. Something about wills I think.