Friday, 16 November 2018

A Canadian World War One Soldier, Amazing Artist

'Discover the Life of a Soldier through his eyes'
A small contribution to the centenary of Armistice Day.

It's amazing what you unexpectedly find when cruising the Library and Archives Canada website. I happened across these amazing images from 14 sketchbooks of the First World War. They contain drawings and watercolours of the day to day events during the war in northern Belgium.

William Redver Stark, was the creator of these beautiful images. He was an artist and a soldier (Engineer, Private) in the Canadian First Construction Battalion.

The battalion, later renamed the 1st Battalion of the Canadian Railway Troops, was responsible for building roads, bridges and other modes of transportation which would allow supplies to get to the front. Although the work was never-ending and the risk of being attacked by the Germans always present, Stark was able to find a few moments here and there to work on his drawings. This was an opportunity to add colour and details to enhance the images he captured of the everyday life around him. They include people who lived and worked in the communities where he was billeted in France.

Copy from William Stark Sketchbook No.1
Landscape with a river, a stone bridge, and trees, Pas-de-Calais
Library and Archives Canada 

William Redver Stark, the Soldier and the Artist
- uncovers Stark's story and has links to his Service record, as well as a guide to explain where to find resources for your WWI soldier ancestor relating to the Canadian Railway Troops.

William survived the war, came home to his family, married Marjorie Crouch and they had a daughter Anita. The link above also describes his work after the war as a children's illustrator, many of these books can be found in the collections of  Library and Archives of Canada. (This blog article is written by staff at Library & Archives Canada)

William Redver Stark's art on Library & Archives Flickr

William studied at the Ontario College of Fine Art and also in the United States before the war. The artwork was donated to Library and Archives Canada by his nephew, Douglas Mackenzie Davies and his family. (The reference number is R11307 MIKAN number 616998.)

Military Museums, Art and Films 

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada - William Redver Stark

World War I: Art : A guide for research related to All Quiet on the Western Front

Canadas History - Witness: Canadian Art of the First World War

Art and the Great War - Canadian Encyclopedia

Certainly proof that beauty can be found while in the midst of horror. 

Friday, 19 October 2018

Stories from the Glenbow Archives, Alberta

In 2013, the Glenbow Archives in Calgary created 'Stories from the Archives' - providing an opportunity to volunteers to write about settlers, artists and stories of reminiscences and their impact on the community they lived in.  This project was made possible with funding provided by The Calgary Foundation.
Articles are: 
The People's Choice;    Liverpool to the Canadian North West;    Armand Trochu; Under the big brown tent;     Calgary in the early 1960s;    Dearie, do you remember;     Alberta Ambulance Drivers WW1;   Joane of Arc in Alberta?;    Jenkins Groceteria; Talking with Myself;    Being a Docent.

Family names in this article : 

Please check the Glenbow Archive catalogue for more information about the people mentioned in this article. 

The People's Choice by John Nash
N.W.M.P. house in Canmore, Alberta
©Penny Allen
The unusual title of this article was taken from a Calgary Herald newspaper report of 1884: "The People's Choice!" : announcing the sale of lots of land which were located in what is now Downtown Calgary. This is a very detailed article, reviewing the original documents and the 'sales books' that will be of interest to genealogists.
    Register of Town Lot Deeds and Transfers Executed by Canadian Pacific Railway Town Site Trustees (C.P.R. & C.N.W.L. Co. Town Sites) (M-2274-vol. 31). It is interesting to note that out of the 98 purchasers, 5 were women, albeit married women (presumably wives of the purchasers). One wonders if they gave their consent and were genuine buyers, or a 'ghost' buyer, their names being put forward by their husbands.   
    Nash also goes to great lengths discussing the history of Alfred Arthur White COLPMAN, a clerk with the C.P.R., purchased a lot but did not receive the deed which was a common result, the land being turned over many times. Amongst those 98 who purchased lots were C.P.R. employees and N.W.M.P. (North West Mounted Police). The information found in these 'sales books' will be a valuable resource to those whose ancestors were in a fortunate position to purchase land in the early days of the development of the city of Calgary.

Armand Trochu - founder of Trochu Alberta - Insights into a Settler's Experience and Character   by Henriette Smith
     Armand Trochu, who was related to a high ranking government official in France, as well as a former cavalry officer and a devout Roman Catholic, came to Canada in 1902 as a result of political unrest. After experiencing the 'cowboy' life and putting his horsemanship skills to good use he travelled around looking for places to settle and eventually bought land from the Hudson's Bay Company. With two compatriots, Joseph DeVILDER and Leon ECKENFELDER, he formed the St. Ann Ranch Trading Company, his purpose to invite young Frenchmen to come to Alberta and gain experience on a working ranch.

In the article, a picture dated 1907 shows a small group who came to the ranch in Trochu.
Paul de BEAUDRAP; Pete de BEAUDRAP; Xavier de BEAUDRAP; Jean BUTRUILLE; John CREPIN;  L.C. ECKENFELDER; Francois de TORQUAT. Doctor Louis SCULIER, Armand TROCHU; Mr. TYMMIS; Guy de VAUTIBEAUT; Martin ZEDE. (Glenbow Archives NA-332-9)

After the First World War, due to poor health Trochu decided to rejoin his family in France. The town of Trochu is still a thriving bi-lingual community and has a population of over 1,000 people and the ranch is preserved as a provincial historic site.

Liverpool to the Canadian North West 1887 - a diary  by Kevin van Koughnett
     The diary-writer is Joseph Edward ECKERSLEY, a 33-year old stonemason from Lancashire who came to Canada in April 1887. The diary describes the journey on the ship and tells a poignant story of the death of a German child. Arriving in Halifax, the family took a train at 9 pm in the evening and headed west for Winnipeg. The journey would take 5 days. Upon arrival and after 3 days of not finding work in Winnipeg (many others were trying to do the same), he carried on to southern Alberta where he got a job on the railroad, eventually settling in Calgary, working as a stonemason.
    The author discovered what a trip to the prairies from eastern Canada would have been like for his own great-grandfather and his family.  To thank Mr. Eckersley for writing the diary and sharing his experiences, the author transcribed the diary and it is now held in the Glenbow Archives - fonds M-8157-v.1.

Under the Big Brown Tent by Judy Silzer
     Chautauqua, likened to a few days of culture, thrown in with a bit of entertainment was organized and hosted by many small towns all over Alberta. "Over the course of a three, four or six day event, audiences were educated inspired and entertained by a wide variety of accomplished speakers, musicians and actors." This very popular phenomenon began in 1916 influenced by John Erickson, an American Chautauqua manager. Small communities came together to raise funds and provide programs, parades, and sometimes small plays. It certainly was a team effort and created tighter community pride. Chautauquas slowly disappeared as financial support dwindled and the arrival of radio and moving pictures replaced live entertainment. The last Chautauqua took place in Ontario in 1935.
Chautauqua is represented in the Glenbow Archives in the form of  newspaper clippings, original programs and personal reminiscences. As well, of special note is the Sheilagh S. Jameson and Nola B. Erickson Chautauqua collection of 768 photographs. Most are found under the M-4739 fonds.
Please do check the bibliography as she mentions some fabulous books for research.

Calgary in the early 1960s : Personal Recollections by Gwen Smith
Wintery day in downtown Calgary!
©Penny Allen
     This is much more than a personal account of moving to Calgary in the 1960s. The city was then 85 years old. Gwen Smith tells of buying a home in Westgate, SW Calgary, a new housing district, close to where the Westgate mall now stands. Gwen covers things such as shopping, the cost of various foodstuffs and she says that home delivery was still commonplace in the 1960s. Suggestions of places to eat out, the construction of other new subdivisions; the names of some of the local doctors and schools; trips to Bowness Park; tours at the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company with a 'taster session' thrown in. As well, she recollects the construction of the Light Rail Transit, LRT and what churches were in the area.  An overall welcome look back into the not so distant history of Calgary! 

Dearie, do you remember: Girls clothing in the 1930s and How It was Cleaned  by Helen Steeves Jull
     Helen Steeves Jull was spending time with her grandchildren and was aware that styles of clothing had changed since she was a young girl in Calgary. Curious to know how things had changed she investigated the collections of the Glenbow Archives. Children's clothing in Helen's day was for the most part monotone in colour and she was impressed with how styles and how so very many colours are apparent in today's clothing styles. Personally, all I can remember about shopping for clothes in the '80s was the boring colours: tan, brown, navy blue and grey. Some of the themes she discusses in her article are: Winter wear, Party time, Sportswear, Sales Tax, Laundry Day and a special mention of Eaton's collection called 'Me-Do'.

Alberta Ambulance Drivers in World War I   by Carole Baldwin
     This is a personal story for Carole, as her grandfather was an ambulance driver in the Great War, a role he carried out for five years. She researched the War Diaries of the 8th Canadian Field Ambulance unit, made up mostly of men from Alberta. It would see the end of the war as one of the few complete units remaining. To add more context to her own family history, she investigated books and personal diaries from the Glenbow Library. The men of the ambulance unit were not required to have medical training and were only to transport the wounded and the dead. Many times these brave men, although not numbered as those in the fighting forces, would risk their own lives to save the lives of the men they were responsible to see to safety. Some of the personal papers she consulted were those of: Fred SMITHERS, Dr. John Nisbet GUNN, Dr. Harold McGILL and Nurse Emma GRIFFIS of Calgary. Thank you to Carole, as it gives me a great sense of what my own grandfather's experience may have been like after being wounded in Belgium. He also suffered hugely with PTSD upon returning home. Perhaps her grandfather touched my grandfather's life in some small way?

Joane of Arc in Alberta?   by Jackie Bohez
     This article highlights the work of Dr. Joane Cardinal-Shubert, a well known artist and activist of the First Nation people. Her art reflects the beautiful and rich cultural heritage of the North American aboriginal peoples. The Arc is her unique 'signature' as it depicts a variety of objects, the sweatlodge roof or the skies over the heavens which are important in their folklore. In addition to her creativity, she was also a lecturer and activist on behalf of the aboriginal community. As far as I can see she is not highlighted in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography, but her work is highlighted in a very good article in the Canadian Encyclopedia.  You absolutely need to discover more about this amazing and courageous woman.

Jenkins Groceteria: A Canadian First   by Diana Ringstrom
     If you've ever lived in a small town, this article will definitely push the memory buttons.
Henry Marshall Jenkins was originally from Prince Edward Island and was curious to know where the sacks of potatoes that he was packing went to, so he slipped a note in one with his address and lo and behold someone wrote back to him from Calgary! In the fall he traveled west on the 'special Harvester train' to earn some fast money working the harvest circuit on the prairies. He returned home in the fall, but went back to Calgary as soon as possible in the spring.
    He found employment in a grocery store owned by John Cornfoot, becoming a partner and ultimately taking over the business. Being a bit forward thinking, Jenkins hired women as clerks when the men went to fight in the Great War. Jenkins was always looking for ways to improve his business and heard of an American "Groceteria" where the customer does their own shopping, filling their basket with goods and then paying a cashier. He applied to the Canadian government for a charter to give him the ownership of the name "Groceteria". By 1928 he owned 17 Groceterias in Calgary and would expand into rural Alberta, in places such as Banff, Olds and Vulcan.

Talking with Myself   by Arlene Stamp
a wall mural in Canmore Alberta
©Penny Allen
     Arlene is an accomplished Calgary artist and the Glenbow Archives have acquired her creations along with some artefacts relating to her mother's life, Mary Smith. See fonds M-8808. However, it is not completely catalogued and if you would like more information, please contact the archive staff. Download the pdf which is full of excerpts from her writing, reflections on her art, and most interesting, recorded stories with her mother.

Being a Docent   by Chandra Jadav
    Mr. Jadav relates his volunteering at the Glenbow as a 'Docent', meaning 'an individual who volunteers his or her time as an interpreter or guide and conducts research utilizing the resources of the institution.' 
    He writes about the collections in the 1988 exhibition Art in the Religions and Myths of Mankind. The artefacts were from the private collection of the Borden family. Not only was Mr. Jadav involved in this exhibition, he has been a docent for many exhibitions since including: the Mysteries of Egypt (2000); Variations: Holgate, Group of Seven and Contemporaries in 2006. Seven Stories: Voices of Southeast Asia (2005) reflected on the lives of seven people from the Southeast Asian community in Calgary. This created an opportunity to be a part of the Asian Advisory Committee which helped to connect this community to the programs and outreach plan of the museum. 
    Mr. Jadav also researched the life of Hari Singh who at the turn of the century, owned a sizable ranch in what is now South Calgary (in the area of Chinook Mall) and employed many cowboys. Mr. Jadav also took part in a symposium held in Philadelphia in 1999 on behalf of the Glenbow Museum, His artwork (a small book of drawings), which was influenced by the '[...] West Coast art in the Haida tradition by Rabindernath Tagore an artist and poet of India [...]' was accepted by the museum.

Concluding remarks: Each of these articles are written with passion and genuine interest in their subject. They gained an understanding and further appreciation for the province they live in.  I also found that my knowledge of Alberta's history was enhanced ten-fold and perhaps you will find a few references to enhance your research. 

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Alberta Genealogy Trippers - a trip to London, England

'London Trippers' - Alberta Genealogical Society
at the National Archives (yours truly on the far right)
For a few days in the first week of September, I spent an enjoyable time with a group of enthusiastic Canadian genealogists.

In March, I contacted the London Trippers when I saw an announcement about their research trip on  the Alberta Genealogical Society website. I wanted the experience of leading a group of Canadians on a genealogy research trip because I was so struck by the reaction of a Canadian genealogist I met at the National Archives years ago. She was not happy with the outcome of her visit, as her expectations were quite high and unfortunately she had not done a lot of preparation for her trip. I wanted to make sure that others got the best experience possible.

My article about preparing for a genealogy trip:
Includes tips from other Genealogists.

As there was interest in records about the East India Company, I booked a talk and a tour at the British Library (BL). This collection is core to the British Library, but do consider looking into the Families in British India Society (FIBIS). The talk was given by one of the staff who works in the Asian & African Studies Reference Services department at the BL. We were also fortunate to have a talk by one of the managers in the 'Newsroom' department.

This was an added bonus as it was an introduction to the British Newspaper Archive and in addition to a general overview, he gave information about the differences between BNA and the newspaper collection on Find My Past. Many in the group have a personal subscription, and they said they did pick up some additional search strategies. It was fabulous to have the librarian take the group on a tour of the library, to explain the reading rooms and the collections.

In order to enter any of the 14 reading rooms, including the newspaper room, the first step is to register and then line up or 'queue' to get a reader's ticket (basically a library card). If you are planning to do this, make sure you keep (and bring with you) the confirmation number that you receive when you register online as this is needed in the registration room. The card or ticket has an expiration date of 1 year for the general public or 3 years for academic researchers. If you plan to return to London bring your card with you so that you can renew and again you will have to have the proper identification. This will apply to most research centres in London as well as the rest of England. Believe me you will be happy you brought your utility bill or bank statement as well as your passport.

Even though the National Archives are quite a ways from the centre of London the group wanted to go there often. Thankfully, the transportation to Kew is quite straightforward. (Check out for the District Line - going in the direction of Richmond or the 'How to Get Here' on the National Archives website.) There is currently a trial of extended hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is attractive as then you don't have to leave at that very moment when you actually discover a missing piece to the puzzle! It was helpful to have some of the Archive staff on hand, one of the librarians was kind enough to give us a quick tutorial navigating the Colonial Office records.

As I have been to the National Archives quite a few times, I was able to give a brief tour of the main reading room as well as the library section which is tucked away at the back. This collection is very good, and there are standard reference materials as well as published histories for many military units but I believe the gems would be the Kelly's directories and the family history and local history section which gives meat to the bones of your research. The Kelly's directories are similar to Canada's Henderson's directories and the library at Kew has a good collection, especially of London.

A few people wanted to get copies of birth, marriage and death certificates not realizing that this service is now only provided online through the General Register Office. This is something you can do from the comfort of your home, and have the certificates electronically delivered to you.

Society of Genealogists
and London Trippers
The last day, well my last day with the group, was spent at the Society of Genealogists (SoG) with about half of the group while others went to the London Metropolitan Archives. Else Churchill was very kind and gave us a tour of the Library which fills three floors of the building of the SoG.

There is so much available at the SoG, including Birth Briefs (family trees of the members of the society), Family Tracts and the Special Documents collections in the archives which are onsite and not digitized. They have also recently entered into an agreement with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to store the microfilms of the London Family Search Centre. These films are copies of original church records, probates records and material related to Caribbean family history. Please enquire with the society about these resources. They also have an enquiry service -

I have to say that Debby and Louise did a marvelous job of organizing everyone and the accommodation they stayed at (very affordable) is one they return to year after year. It is in a central location (Clerkenwell), and very close to the SoG, London Metropolitan Archives and the Guildhall Library. There is a choice of buses and the closest underground station is only a 10 minute walk away.

All in all, it was a great time, I enjoyed meeting fellow Canadian genealogists and I learned some valuable tips about how people research, what information they were looking for and how to accommodate varying levels of experience. I was also very happy to share some of my tips about getting around London, but for the most part Debby and Louise had that covered.!

PS - If you'd like some help planning your genealogy trip to London or any questions about genealogy research trips in England, don't hesitate to get in touch! Bon voyage!

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Finding Your Ancestor in Nova Scotia

Photo credit: David Paul Ohmer     Via
Creative Commons Licenses 2.
If you are planning a visit to the Maritimes, the vistas in the Fall / Autumn are absolutely stunning, so many colours and beautiful trees! Perhaps you'll discover the beauty for yourself on that long awaited Eastern Canadian genealogy trip.


Brief History
The Canadian Encyclopedia suggests that Port Royal was the 'first agricultural settlement' in Canada and the 'beginnings of the French colony of Acadia'. Port Royal was later renamed Annapolis Royal and the province was named Nova Scotia, Latin for New Scotland.  A sad piece of Nova Scotia history is the expulsion of Acadians in 1755 by the British, which was a political maneuver to ensure that Nova Scotia would not fall to France's rule. Notwithstanding the fact that this seriously impacted many families' lives, the French fort Louisbourg soon fell to the British.
Nova Scotia
© credit: DHurt

Nova Scotia harbours have been used by many navies, including the British Navy, whose Royal Navy dockyard at Halifax was built from the 1740s. Today the city still supports an active shipbuilding and naval base.  Jumping ahead to 1867, Nova Scotia joined the other maritime provinces to form a new Dominion of Canada. 

A bit of trivia:
No point in Nova Scotia is more than 60 km from the sea - this compares to Great Britain where any one point is 70 km from the sea. According to Frommer's Travel Guide p.72,  2010 edition, 150 buildings and homes in Nova Scotia are officially designated heritage sites. Provincial license plates bear the moniker : Canada's Ocean Playground. Someone who lives in Halifax is known as a Haligonian. A resident of Nova Scotia is known as a 'Bluenoser' - after an Irish potatoe. The famous ship - the one represented on the Canadian dime - was named after the potatoe, not the other way 'round.

For Genealogists

These free websites should be your first stopping ground for Nova Scotia genealogy.
Cangenealogy Nova Scotia a website created by Dave Obee with links to explore Canadian genealogy.
Library & Archives Canada - Nova Scotia  -the Government of Canada's Genealogy page for Nova Scotia.
Family Search Nova Scotia is the Family Search wiki.

Genealogy à la carte highlighted a little sad news: Moncton Times & Transcript to stop publishing genealogy column after 12 years that Diane Tibert's column: Roots to the Past which she has written since October 2005 has been cut back to be published in 2 newspapers towards the end of January. I say well done Diane - that is certainly a lot of dedication to the genealogy community!  Diane's blog has great links to Maritime genealogy!

Libraries and  Archives
Genealogy guide - provides tips and tricks for genealogy research in Nova Scotia - provided by the Nova Scotia Archives.

This website allows you to search the Nova Scotia Archives Library - the main component of the collection is the Akins Nova Scotiana Collection. A collection named after Thomas Beamish Akins, the first Commissioner of Public Records in Nova Scotia. Note: these are print resources. There is also a database to search their Map Collection. Some of the collections provide images such as Community Albums or textual information about the collection allowing you to make a visit.

Memory Nova Scotia - MemoryNS is a one stop search of all the archives across the province. There is also a catalogue of Digital Items.  The Nova Scotia page on Rootsweb is a GenWeb resource, offering lots of links to genealogy in Nova Scotia. There is a list of digital resources, including passenger lists and lists of army and military regiments from the 18th century - you won't find on Ancestry - and even better, they were submitted by volunteers.  Also try the links via Cyndi's List resources for Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia E-Resources

1988 map of Nova Scotia from the University of Texas Library!

Death Notices of Some Early Pictou County Settlers - Information extracted from The Pictou Book, Stories of Our Past, written by George McLaren, published in 1954.

Tancook & Starr Island  - lots of interesting material here if your family is from Tancook, Little Tancook or Starr Island. Please be aware that as the page is a little dated, you will need to copy and paste some of the links to see if they still exist. 

Print Resources

Biographical directory of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick Free Baptist ministers and preachers by Frederick C. Burnett. Published by Lancelot Press for Acadia Divinity College and the Baptist Historical Committee of the United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces, 1996.

Ethnicity and the German descendants of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia by Laurie Lacey. Saint Mary's University (Halifax, N.S.)

Genealogical newsletter of the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society published by the Royal Nova Scotia Historical Society.

Le Réveil acadien : Acadian awakening by the Acadian Cultural Society.

Yeadon of Nova Scotia compiled by Iris V. Shea for the Mainland South Heritage Society.

Nova Scotia Genealogists' Blogs

The Community Albums Project - Michell Boychuk travelled around the province collecting items of interest from local archives that highlights stories of people in those communities since 1867. This effort was a project initiated by the Council of Nova Scotia Archives. The result has been made available in a virtual exhibit - please visit

Candice wrote a great article on Acadian Ancestors resources

Researchers Located in Nova Scotia
Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes - see this site for genealogy researchers in Nova Scotia

Also contact the Nova Scotia Genealogy Society -

@atlancestors - Peggy Homans Chapman
@DouglasCochran2 is certified and listed with the Nova Scotia Archives, and the Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Finding Your Ancestors in Canada - New Brunswick

Photo credit: David Paul Ohmer     Via
Creative Commons Licenses 2.
If you are planning a visit to the Maritimes, the vistas in the Fall / Autumn are absolutely stunning, so many colours and beautiful trees! Perhaps you'll discover the beauty for yourself on that long awaited Eastern Canadian genealogy trip.

Brief History
The first people in New Brunswick,  the Mi'kmaq, were there when the European explorers 'discovered' the wilds of the province. The French expanded their homesteads into the areas surrounding the Saint John River and what became known as the Bay of Fundy. New Brunswick is also known as the Acadian province and became a separate province from Nova Scotia in 1784. Along with Ontario and Quebec and the other Maritime provinces, New Brunswick was incorporated into the Commonwealth of Canada in 1867.

Fredericton- the capital of New Brunswick, was named (posthumously) after King George III's son, Prince Frederick Lewis, of the house of Brunswick. It was originally known as "Frederick's Town" and was shortened in 1785. Officers' Square was very much the military centre of the city in 1785. Government House (1828) was the governor's residence and home to General Sir Howard Douglas.

Saint John - Incorporated in 1785, the city is referred to as 'Canada's Most Irish City' and the 'Loyalist City', also heavily involved in the shipbuilding trade in the nineteenth century. The Old Burial Ground across from King's Square dates from 1784 and most of the area's Loyalist settlers are buried there.
(Sources: Wikipedia, Government of New Brunswick History webpage,  The Canadian Encyclopedia webpage.) 

For Genealogists
These free websites should be your first stopping ground for New Brunswick genealogy.
Cangenealogy New Brunswick created by Dave Obee has links to explore Canadian genealogy.  Library & Archives Canada - New Brunswick is the Government of Canada's Genealogy page for New Brunswick.  Family Search New Brunswick is the Family Search wiki.

New Brunswick Archives digital BMDs - Late Birth Registrations are now digitized up to 1922 and Death Certificates up to 1966.
The Vital Statistics page gives the years of coverage for Births, Marriages and Deaths, how many records are available and the date the data was updated.

Cemetery listings of Saint John and county - from Rootsweb, page last updated in 2007!  Thankfully, 10 years later most of the links still work and provides names of burials.

A very good and concise guide to the Irish in New Brunswick is offered by the National Institute of Genealogical Studies on the Family Search wiki. The print resources which are provided include lists of Irish emigrants. Search for these on the Library and Archives Canada catalogue to see where they are available in your neck of the woods.

Look into a valiant and ongoing effort by Saint John historian Harold Wright
 to raise awareness about the Partridge Island Quarantine Station 
and to make it accessible to the public.
Note: Unfortunately due to the volatile nature of a high concentration of 
arsenic it is currently illegal to visit the island. 
It is purported to be Canada's first quarantine station used from 1785 and there are approximately 2500 burials. The immigrants landed on the mainland where the immigration stations was located. Harold notes that the Island was initially used for seamen who became ill and had to be quarantined away from the mainland. He says: "There are Saint John and Canadian residents buried on the island, sailors, as well as immigrants." More information via interviews with CTV news - a visit to Partridge Island as well as Global News in regards to the petition.

- - - This resource provides information about those buried on the island: A Chronicle of Irish Emigration to Saint John, New Brunswick 1847, compiled by J. Elizabeth Cushing, Teresa Casey and Monica Robertson (Saint John: New Brunswick Museum, 1979)   Join the Partridge Island Facebook page  and add your support to lobby the Government. Currently 2,186 followers.

New Brunswick E-Resources
Digging through the University of New Brunswick Special Collections pages, I came across an article referring to a digitized collection of a lawsuit in 1800 to free a slave woman from her owner. Although unsuccessful, this became an important legal battle that was to provide the underpinning of the present structure of New Brunswick law. Clicking on the links leads to numerous pages about Black History in Nova Scotia.

The Gilmour and Rankin collection (1812-1864) at the University of New Brunswick, most of which is digitized, highlights the successful shipbuilding and timber business one of which was originally connected to Pollock and Gilmour (ca.1804) of Glasgow. See more on the Digital Collections page.

The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick  -   As of July 2017 they have added the Indexes to Marriages and Deaths 1966 and Birth Records 1921 to their website. List of databases in the PANB search tool - think card catalogue - provides date ranges and specific datasets, ie: BMDs, Cemeteries, Immigration, Land Records. The Archives also has an interesting digital collection of newspaper advertisements of arriving ships and the news of the passengers, Notices of Irish Immigrants in Newspapers.

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick - County Guides - these guides will be invaluable to help you sort out what resources are available for specific counties in the province. Also available in French.

New Brunswick Newspapers Dave Obee's site for newspapers. Also check Gail Dever's newspaper pages on her Genealogy Research Toolbox - Genealogy à la Carte.

Print Resources
The St. John Free Public Library has an interesting print collection (sounds much like a card catalogue) - The Miscellaneous Index - indexes covering family histories, articles of local history, events and something I'd like to know more about - Scrapbooks! Another interesting sounding collection: Fitzpatrick's Funeral Home.     A Guide to Genealogy at the St. John Free Public Library  - A guided tour to the collection in the library - this is a very detailed step by step guide to researching genealogy.

French-Canadian Sources: A Guide for Genealogists  by Patricia Keeney Geyh, Joyce Soltis Banachowski, Linda Boyea. Although published in 2002, this book is was a team effort by the French Canadian/Acadian Genealogical Society.

In New Brunswick We'll Find It by L.J. Thomas and R.W. Barton

Saint John's North End: 1864-1975 by Harold E. Wright and Paul James

New Brunswick Genealogists' Blog
Fredericton Museum - @FredMuseum new exhibition "A Ship Full of Troubles" / "Un bateau plein d'ennui" - interprets the role New Brunswick played in the confederation of Canada.

Candice's look at the PANB - The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick

Researchers Located in New Brunswick
Genealogical Institute of the Maritimes - see this site for genealogy researchers

Chaisson, Alfred email: alfredc@ (note the space between the @ and the n)

Friday, 17 August 2018

Genealogy Reference - Canadian Farms

UK Ancestors to Canadian Farms - Land Records
A field in Alberta - taken by me. 
Looking for information about how your ancestors settled on the land? 

Land in Canada in the late 1800s was a huge draw for emigrants from the UK and Europe, and a land patent for one quarter of a section (160 acres) could be purchased for $10.00 upon which the settler was given three years to 'prove' the land. If their efforts were successful, and the harvest was plentiful, they would then be able to purchase additional parcels of land.

The Dominion Land Survey article gives great examples of township maps and the Dominion Land Act explains the process of purchasing and 'proving' land. 
Dominion Land Survey of Canada            Dominion Land Act - Canadian Encyclopedia

Important: As in the case of my family, the names in this database may only pertain to the landowner (or landlord), who were not necessarily the people who lived and worked on the property. 

Although I'm a 'townie', I've been around farming people for most of my life and I hope that some of what I know will be of help to you. I've outlined a few definitions for 'prairie' land terms that I am often asked, and hopefully it will give you a sense of the day to day rural life on the prairies in Canada.

What is a MD? This does not mean a Medical Doctor - in the context of this article, it means a Municipal District which is in essence a local authority.

What is an RM?
Stands for Rural Municipality.   RM maps (also called township maps) often have the names of land owners printed on each section. This helps the county office in determining changes of ownership, providing utility services, tax information and giving various types of support to rural residents.
An invaluable tool for directions when taking the census in the rural districts (speaking from personal experience). These are also used by emergency services.
County offices may be able to provide copies of township maps. See TWP section.  

This website from the Provincial Archives of Alberta explains how to access the Canadian Homestead Index - currently available on Ancestry.

I've known about this resource for Ontario Land Maps for quite a few years, as I used to look at these atlases which were then bound in books. 
Canadian County Atlas Digital Project  1880 map of Ontario Counties.   
The series by A.R. Hazelgrove, Name and Place Index to Illustrated Historical Atlas of the Counties of [...] is very helpful, as it gives illustrations of farms, with depictions of stock, crops and land, often with a small drawing of the landowner.
Click - - County Atlases, then Other Sources. 

family farm taken by Penny
What is a P.O. or PO? 
A Post Office (PO) - A part of a person's address, ie: Penny Allen P.O. Box 111 Smalltown Alberta, Postal Code, Canada. 
In the early days there was a mail box at the end of the lane of the farm where the mail was delivered. Sometimes the address only had R.R. 2 which stands for Rural Route 2 and the postman knew which section, township, road where that address was located. 
In some areas this has been phased out by a special number used by the municipality to identify properties in the rural areas of the prairies. 

Nowadays PO Box numbers are still used, but requires the land owner or tenant to drive to town to pick up their mail at the Post Office. This is often combined with a trip to the stores to accomplish many chores at the same time.

A 'Super Box' or 'community mailbox' has numerous people's mailboxes combined in one large mailbox and is located either in town or in a convenient sheltered location or intersection on a rural road. The 'community mailbox' was originally designed by Ross J. Slade in 1981 and a revised design was introduced by Canada Post shortly afterwardsYears ago, I considered applying for a rural mail delivery job which requires driving to all of these remote boxes and delivering the mail.

What is a TWP?
Introduced in Canada in the late 1700s.  
Stands for Township - about 36 square miles in area and divided by 1 mile x 1 mile sections. 
Township Maps - available from the Provincial Archives of Alberta (for example) or contact the Municipal office in the County where your ancestor lived. Again, only landowners will be noted on these maps.

Convert legal land descriptions   this link gives this land description
Example: SW 24-12-20-W4  =  Southwest Quarter of Section 24, Township 12, Range 20, West of the 4th Meridian
This location is: North of Coaldale Alberta on provincial highway 845.

Dave Obee's great resource on prairie land records in Canada explains what W1 (West of the First) Meridian means. His website explains in detail the history of how the land of the western provinces, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta was surveyed and divided for farming purposes.

A simplified look at the definition of the land survey system in Canada.

Online Databases
LIBRARY and ARCHIVES CANADA -  Land Grants of Western Canada 1870-1930 - search the database

ANCESTRY - search under the Card Catalogue for these datasets:
>Alberta, Canada, Homestead Records, 1870-1930
>Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada, Homestead Grant Registers, 1872-1930
>Canada, Soldier Homestead Grant Registers, 1918-1931
SK - Saskatchewan Homestead Index  Family Search Wiki : Saskatchewan Land and Property Records

AB - Another important resource - land sales by the Canadian Pacific Railway - search the database - (Glenbow Archives Alberta).

Alberta Homestead Index via the Provincial Archives of Alberta

MB - Archives of Manitoba - Their archive search is called Keystone Archives Descriptive Database

To find a farm labourer in the prairies of Canada at the turn of the century, your searches will need to be very creative. Keep in mind that unless they registered with an official (government) organization or county office, few official records will be found. Look into directories or voters records because these men would have been recorded where they were working at the time.
See my article : No Englishmen need apply single young men seek farm work. 

My brother-in-law was amused when I asked how would records of casual labourers be kept on the farm by your dad or grand-dad?
His answer: in a scribbler (notebook) which was eventually thrown away or burned (in the olden days as well as today, paper products were burned).
He still farms the family farm in Western Canada.

My dad was raised on a farm in Saskatchewan and tells a story about going to Regina with his dad to hire a farm hand for the winter which was a government work scheme. He said they only hired the one man. This was during the 'Dirty Thirties' when there were a lot of out of work men looking for farm jobs. I will be looking into this information for a future blog article.

No records were kept, unless it was a very keen farmer who enjoyed writing or felt it important to record tidbits for posterity.  Do not despair, as it's possible that some of these labourers may have found their way into community history books, voters records or directories. As well, some landowners may have left diaries or day-to-day accounts at the local archive. Also consider that the farmhand would move back and forth across the prairies especially during harvest time when there was a lot of work going on.

Back to the LandA Genealogical Guide to Finding Farms on the Canadian Prairies by Dave Obee - a Free pdf
Genealogy in Time - Canada Genealogy Records - do a search on this page for 'farms' - some interesting comments about Ontario farms

The In Depth Genealogist - this search on their website for articles on farming ancestors

Why you can't find land records - Amy Johnstone Crow - focus is on U.S. ancestors and Land Records but the same research principles apply. She also has written 'What you might be missing in Land Records'.

A few articles I wrote that pertain to farming ancestors:

No Englishmen Need Apply Gentlemen Farmers -links to community history books, voters records and directories.
Finding Your Eastern European Ancestor in Canada - Many Eastern European immigrants were instrumental in transforming the prairies into farmland. The land they purchased were originally many small parcels which have been combined into thousands of acres.
Canadian Prairie Pioneer Questionnaires - This is one of my all time favourite articles, as it highlights many UK immigrants who lived and worked on farms in Saskatchewan. There is a searchable database.
English Families to Steinbach Manitoba 1948-49 - Newspaper articles which mention families who left England to farm in the Steinbach district. Some of the names: ADAMS, GLOVER, MATHEWS, McINTYRE, THOMPSON, WEST.

In my Article Index - Prairies - for articles about Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba scroll to the section below Museums

Did they settle somewhere temporarily?  -  I think that Michael John Neill says it best : that our ancestors may not have settled in a specific place as soon as they arrived - but may have temporarily stayed with friends or family until they earned enough money to move on to that very special patch of land that they would eventually call home.

So it seems more than likely that your ancestor would have moved around a lot which will be a difficult research process. I have heard stories of UK ancestors who moved back and forth between Britain and Canada numerous times. Not once but two or three times.  Talk about trying to find them in the records! Good luck, hope these sources help!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

10 Genealogy Blogs & Websites July2018

Blogs I've discovered in the month of July 

So many great genealogy blogs chock full of good stuff! I often find one or two new tips.  If you enjoy them please let the authors know as we would be happy to hear you found something of value to your research!

Ancestral Adventures - Ania Waterman -  this blog looks like a smattering of visits to various ancestral homelands in Northern Ireland (believe it's around Coleraine.) complete with numerous pictures and very little commentary.  Beautiful pictures.
In a way, it's a bit of light relief to other full on genealogy blog posts. 
Surname Archive: Merriman and Whitnall.  

Applegate Genealogy - Jamie's article: Wurlitzer, Theatre, Organs & Jukeboxes is quite unusual, and highlights the Wurlitzer company. No family connections that I could see, but great background material if your family were musical at all.

🍁  Discover Genealogy - Wayne Shepheard - particularly interesting article 'The Present is the Key to the Past'  & A Personal Success Story! : 'New Found Family'

🍁  Finding Your Canadian Story - Candice McDonald  - She has written quite a few series with detailed instructions on how to use various online records from archives across Canada. The recent one is on Probate Records and Candice covers these unique resources in each province.

Genealogy Heritage - Shannon McGaffin - her blog post about 'An Ordinary Box' certainly gives you food for thought, from a NextGen genealogist's perspective.

Heirlooms Reunited - Researching the Genealogy and Family History of Orphan Heirlooms

Mad About Genealogy - this link takes you to Linda's library of resources page. Charts galore. 

My Family Genie - Dr. Adina uses her academic research experience in history and education to conduct genealogical research on behalf of customers. She cares to 'find lost and unknown family members with the ultimate goal of connecting her clients to their  past, present and future.'

🍁  Olive Tree Genealogy - Lorine Schultz McGinnis - 2017 Bronze Genealogy Rockstar 
   Lorine has tons of information on her website for Canadian material and in addition regularly writes blog articles!

The National Archives - U.S.A. - May 27, 2018 they report their 300,000th page uploaded to the catalogue via the Innovation Hub  and - -
  ↪What a great tip! - from the April 1, 2018 'Married at Ellis Island 1892-1924' a USCIS History Office Webinar
  ↪What if your ancestor married upon arrival at Ellis Island? Did you check closely to see if the date of arrival and the marriage date are the same? The marriage may have taken place during the days she was detained.

Websites I've found - Focus on Ships, Maritime History