Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Northern Alberta History and Genealogy

Two significant Eastern European cultures to settle in Northern Alberta are communities of Mennonites and Ukrainians. Areas they may have settled include: Athabasca, Drayton Valley, Grande Prairie, Peace River and Vermillion. (PS: they certainly settled in other areas of  the prairies and Canada, but this article focuses primarily on Alberta and Northern Alberta resources) The Métis also have a strong community in Northern Alberta.

The Mennonite Historical Society is located in Calgary, Alberta. Their links page provides access to various provincial Mennonite societies and has a very easy to use database of obituaries. A link to Doukhobor genealogy is also available. Mennonite Archival Image Database - MAID - over 80,000 photographs. Manitoba also has a very rich Mennonite heritage  - History of Mennonites in Canada (Canadian Encyclopedia).

Ukrainians - a comprehensive pdf provided by the Provincial Archives of Alberta describes the Ukrainian items in their resources. This guide was prepared in 2011 in celebration of the 120th Anniversary of Ukrainian Settlement in Canada and was written in large part by Andriy Chernevych which definitely gives it credence. John Pihach, long known as a knowledgeable Ukrainian genealogist from Saskatchewan, gives great tips about this unique topic in his book: Ukrainian Genealogy: a beginner's guide. The National Institute for Genealogical Studies provide background into the history of Ukrainians in Canada. 

Another resource that may help identify your Mennonite or Ukrainian ancestor are the 1915-1951 Naturalization Records provided by Library and Archives Canada. This set of records is taken from the annual reports of the Secretary of State, and the Canada Gazette. Information includes: person's name (can also include spouse and children's names), country of origin, residence in Canada and occupation.

St. Albert Alberta is a prominent area for Métis Heritage. Métis people can be described as the result of 'relations' between Europeans and aboriginal peoples. The Canadian Encyclopedia provides resources and a definition of Metis heritage. Genealogy resources can be found in the Edmonton area at the Métis Registry and the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. As well, Library and Archives Canada has information in their collection about Métis research. Dave Obee has a list of links for Métis research. The Métis Resource Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba is also worth investigating.

TIP! The Grande Prairie Genealogical Society (branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society) have a Cemetery and Obituary Index, and an online newsletter. Their 'most loved' articles are intriguing!
'Raft Baby of the Peace River';   'Granddad Brady and the Old Yellow High Chair';   'Finding the Elusive Charles Spencer';   'A Baker's Dozen of Tips: Finding Your Ancestor's Birthplace'
 -  The Grande Prairie Genealogical Society are a very active and award winning group with lots of enthusiasm and desire to help.

TIP No.2! Remember to include the Provincial Archives of Alberta and the Edmonton Public Library for Ukrainian, Mennonite and Métis genealogy research.

In previous articles, I promised to report on 'Links to the Past', a series written by Kevin Ma, a reporter with the St. Albert Gazette, in St. Albert, Alberta. According to his original statement: '[...] will 'examine one element of St. Albert that's 150 years old until July 2017', there are 3 more articles due to be written on the history of St. Albert. I hope you will find some interesting points in his articles to round out your family history research.

Apr. 26  The bear at the heart of St. Albert - this article describes the historic Bruin Inn and it's predecessor, the St. Albert Hotel built in 1886. It also describes the downtown heart of the community. Some of the businessmen mentioned: Narcisse BEAUDRY, Henry McKENNEY, Peter McKAY, Stan HAUPTMAN and Ben STARKMAN

Mar. 29  A Cure for What Ails You describes how diseases such as smallpox and polio ravaged the people of St. Albert, and the health systems that eventually developed. The early caregivers were Métis and aboriginal as well as the Grey Nuns from Quebec.

My other posts of Kevin's articles: July to November 2016  and December to February 2017  If you have ideas for other articles, please email Kevin Ma at the Gazette.

Check out the St. Albert Gazette newspapers on Peel's Prairie Provinces for notices of obituaries and the day to day happenings in this city.

As always, lots of hidden treasures, just add a bit of perseverance and persistence!
Good Luck with your research! 

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