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The Library and Archives Canada blog had a post called “Newly digitized microfilms on the Héritage portal.” There is a long list of fonds and records that have been added to the Héritage website.

Heritage

They have already got 255 records on the website. Some of these records may seem unrelated to family history but go in and play with the website and see what you can find. I did a search for a town and found a lot of references to diamond wedding anniversaries and requests from the King for acknowledgement letters.

You can do a search for a term or word and when the results come up you don’t have to go into each collection. You can click on the image number and be taken directly to the image.

They have five featured collections which include: Genealogy; Aboriginal History; Government Documents; Military History and Landmark Papers.

There are 65 results in the Genealogy Collection; 30 in the Military History; 11 in Aboriginal History; 108 in Government Documents and 123 in Landmark Papers.

They have a Catalogue page and it provides you with some information. The most important note is that the number of films in the complete collection is more than 35,000 but the number of films described in the catalogue is 19,941.

It has each of the collections in the featured collections listed. Under Genealogy Collection it provides you with a description of the record, the number of films, the number of pages by the 1000s (if 15 is listed then it is 15,000 pages), whether or not it has significant genealogical content and Mikan number. It would be nice if they had the titles hyperlinked so that they would be easier to find.

There are 41 different parish registers listed including a few Catholic ones from the United States. One of the new parish registers listed in the LAC blog post is “Parish registers: Newfoundland, Labrador and Nova Scotia.” A search was done for “Parish Register” and there were five results with only one that was for an actual register. A search for “Parish Registers” provided nine results, two of which had Parish registers in the title.

One of the results was for “Ste-Anne de Restigouche P.Q. Parish register” but it is under the title “Parish Registers Nova Scotia: C-1449.” Now Ste-Anne is in Quebec and not Nova Scotia and the About Section does not clear this up. I went into the digital images and the cover page says Registre de la pariosse Ste-Anne de Restigouche, 1759-95” and it has “N.S. Church Records – Acadia – Divers Registres 1755-1799” so this is where Nova Scotia came from.

In the About Section it says that there are 177 pages for Ste-Anne and on the cover page of the microfilm it says that Ste-Anne has 158 pages and N.S. Church Records has 174 pages. The very first page of the registers is for Ste-Anne and the last page (page 177) is for N.S. Church Records, so they must all be included. The images are double pages. Why is N.S. Church Records in the title and not in the About Section of the record description? Don’t just rely on the record descriptions go into the microfilm and see for yourself what may be on it.

One of the parish records collections was “General Index to the Public Archives of Canada: H-1317” and here you get an index card to a parish register of Lochwinnoch Presbyterian Church in Ontario. This can be very useful in determining what is available for your area of research.

In a way this is a mix of old research and online research. You have to search the microfilm to find out what is on it but you can do it on your computer at home.

©2014 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

It has been a very busy spring for speaking engagements. It started in April with a full day workshop at Heritage Mississauga where I presented “Irish Research from a Far” and “Taking Your Irish Ancestors Back over the Pond.” Before I finished the day they had booked me again for October when the subject will be Scottish research.

The next week I was at the Ontario Genealogical Society Region III Annual Meeting in Cambridge. My topic there was “Why Can’t I find it Online? Other resources to help you with your research.”

A couple of days later I presented “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project” at the monthly meeting for the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Then it was a little time for me, well sort of, because I attended the National Genealogical Society Conference in Las Vegas. I was an official blogger and we had a great time. Since we were so close to Salt Lake City we took the opportunity to go and do some research in the Family History Library for a few days. A few days wasn’t long enough.

The week after I got home I presented “I Want to Research my Family History – Where do I Start?” at the Milton Senior Activity Centre.

Jane Watt representing Halton Peel Branch Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2013

The following week I was off to the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference where I presented “Scottish Research from a Far,” “Maiden Aunts of the Twentieth Century: A forgotten generation of women” and “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project.”

Brooke Skelton representing Waterloo Region Branch Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2013

Last week was my last lecture of the spring speaking tour. I presented “Why Can’t I find it Online? Other resources to help you with your research” at the Quinte Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society in Trenton Ontario.

Quinte Branch OGS Trenton Ontario at the Quinte West Public Library

Now that summer is here I am already booking for the fall speaking tour. I will be presenting a full day Scottish workshop at Heritage Mississauga in October and in November I will be at the Hamilton Branch OGS General Meeting and the topic will be “The Genealogy GPS: How the Genealogical Proof Standard can help your research.”

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

On my last visit to the Archives of Ontario I had the chance to try out the new Archives of Ontario Vital Statistics Database. At the moment the only years available are: births 1915; marriages 1930 and deaths 1940. It is hoped that either later this year or early next year that they will add: births 1916, 1917; marriages 1931, 1932 and deaths 1941, 1942.

This database is only available in the Archives on the microfilm scanners. They have hooked them up to the internet and when the Archives homepage comes up you click on the star on the tool bar for Favourites. Then on the right hand side you will see a list and you can choose Archives of Ontario Vital Statistics Database.

It takes a while to load the database. You can do an advance or basic search. You can tick a specific search for birth, marriage or death or you can search all three. You are prompted to put in the first, middle and last name but only the last name is a required field.

The search results include: first, middle, last name; date of event; place of registration; type of event (if more than one is ticked on the search form); registration number; and details. The basic search gives you 10 search results per page.

When you click on details this takes you to a colour digital image of the document. If more than one page is linked to the document it will say page 1 and page 2 across the top. There is also a link to view the original index page. It is a good idea to view the index page as well.

Across the top of the digital image you get: registration number; name; event; date and place. So you would get something like “John Smith married 1/1/1930 in Hamilton.” The digital image is clear and the fact that it is in colour can help with the clarity.

There is a back to search button which takes you back to the original search page. You can’t get back to the search results so you have to keep repeating the search. So if you are looking for someone and don’t have much information on them you have to keep repeating the search every time you look at an image.

You can still view the vital statistics indexes on microfilm and get a copy of the registration from microfilm.

They are digitizing and creating a database for the Ontario Land Patent Plans but there is no timeline on when it will be released.

The printers in the reading room are gone. There are only two rows of microfilm readers that you can use to print a hard copy. You just hit print and it automatically prints out at the reception desk in the main hall. It is $.25 a copy and you can still use your copy card.

They are encouraging people to use thumb drives. I use both systems depending on the project.

©2013 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Have you heard of Ancestral Atlas? It is a mapping website. It is free to register and you can upgrade to a subscription for £20.00. When you subscribe you have access to history map layers for England, Wales and Ireland; historical boundary maps for the USA; all new licenced data added to the site; Life Maps functionality and other benefits.

The map is world wide and you add events related to your family history and where they happened. If my Great Great Grandmother was born at 23 York Street in Dublin then I can go to that place on the map and upload the information of her birth. You can decide to keep the information private or share the information. You must register to add your own information.

There is a link for quick help where a box pops up and it has information to help you add a new person, edit an existing person, viewing the location of the people/events in your people list, adding an event when you know the location, and many other options. You have the choice of printing this help page so that it is close at hand when you are entering your information. There is a page of FAQ’s to help you with any questions you may have.

When you look at the map for the place you are interested in you will see little blue balloons and if you click on them then you will get information that someone uploaded regarding a person linked to that place.

You can filter your search by given name, family name, start year and end year.

Visit the website and see what Ancestral Atlas is all about.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

April 25th is ANZAC Day in Australia. As a tribute to my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey, who fought with the ANZAC’s in Gallipoli, I am reposting this article from Remembrance Day 2011.

Remembrance Day is a very important day here in Canada. Last year I remembered my Great Grand Uncle Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell who lost his life in the First World War fighting with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. This year I will look at the accomplishments of my Great Grand Uncle Richard Fenton Toomey who was an ANZAC (Australia and New Zealand Army Corps).

Richard Fenton Toomey is on the maternal side of my family. He was born in Dublin in April of 1880 to Mark Anthony Toomey and Julia Adelaide Bourne. He was the last of six children, four boys and two girls. My Great Grandmother Jane Toomey was his sister. The other siblings were Mark (who died in infancy), Louisa Alice, Mark Anthony and Walter Bourne.

How the Toomey family got to Australia is a long story and I will elaborate on that in another post. Needless to say Richard Fenton Toomey was in New South Wales to sign up for the First World War on 1 March 1915.

There are no attestation papers in his military file. The first record is an Application for a Commission in the 12th Light Horse Regiment. This states that Richard was 35 years of age, a British subject, an accountant and that he is single. Richard was six feet tall and 11 stone (154 lbs/70 kg). His next of kin is his brother Mark Toomey and their postal address was Elbana Annandale St. Annandale NSW.

Listed under military qualifications and past military service are: 5th Lancers, Assam Valley Light Horse, Chittagong [unreadable word] Rifles, Lieut. [unreadable two words] and Lieut. Army Service Corps.

The Assam Valley Light Horse was part of the Cavalry Reserve in the British Indian Army and was formed in 1891. Chittagong was in Pakistan but is now in Bangladesh. To date no British military records have been found for Richard Fenton Toomey.

Richard was made a Honourary Lieutenant and Quarter Master on 29 June 1915. On 9 August 1915 he was transferred to the 1st Australian Division, 3rd Light Horse Brigade. On 3 January 1916 he was transferred to the Army Service Corps. He was made Quarter Master and Honourary Captain on 30 April 1916 and on 1 August 1918 he was made Quarter Master and Honourary Major.

He set sail on 12 June 1915 on board the “Suevic”. On 5 September 1915 Richard was sent to Gallipoli this was the battle that defined the ANZACS and a nation.

Richard was frequently in the hospital during his time at the front. On 3 September 1916 he was sent to hospital in Port Said Egypt with Pyorhea which is an infection of the gums. He was sent on to the hospital in Serapium and then Cairo. He was sent back to his unit on 20 September 1916.

Richard was back in hospital on 20 July 1917 with septic sores. He was sent to the hospital in Alexandria. He returned to the 4th Light Horse Regiment on 27 September 1917. He was transferred back to the 12th Light Horse Regiment in November of 1917. He was sent back to hospital with dysentery in August of 1918 and invalided in September of 1918. He left Egypt on the Morvada on 29 September 1919.

According to Richard’s military file his appointment was terminated with the A.I.F. in Sydney on 31 October 1919.

There are letters found in his military file addressed to Base Records Canberra. One is dated 20 February 1939 and Richard is requesting: “For the purpose of receiving employment in N.S.W. a discharge or Certificate of Service is required. I shall be obliged if you will kindly let me have either as soon as possible.” A copy of the form he was requested to fill out is in the file. It is stamped dated 27 February 1939. Richard’s address is Lisarow NSW.

Richard writes requesting a duplicate Returned Soldiers Badge of the one he had received “around 29 August 1919 on his return to Australia.” It appears the one he was given was lost in “think bush country” and it has not been returned or found. This letter is dated 19 February 1943 and he is a public servant and the address given is 110 Phillip Street in Sydney.

In 1919 Richard Fenton Toomey married Ellie Maud Stewart in Sydney Australia. They had no children.

I have a friend who lives in the same area as Richard Fenton Toomey. There was a family story that said he had surveyed and built a road to one of the highest points between Sydney and Brisbane and that there was a park named after him. She helped me discover that there was a place called Toomey’s Walk which we believe was named after Richard Toomey. The government body responsible for this area does not know how the name came about.

There is also Toomeys Road and these are both located in the Mount Elliot area. He might have lost his Returned Soldiers Badge while surveying this area.

She contacted the local history librarian at Gosford City Library and he sent some pictures of Richard Fenton Toomey and his wife having tea in the garden.

They also forwarded a newspaper article which talks about Richard nearly loosing his life because he had taken poison instead of medicine. Thankfully his wife was a nurse and she knew what to do.

Some Australian newspapers are online and searchable at Trove. Advertisements were found relating to a chicken farm owned by Richard and Ellie Toomey. In 1929 Ellie was selling White Longhorn chicks and the farm was called Phoenix Poultry Farm. In 1933 she was selling Khaki Campbell’s ducklings.

In 1927 Phoenix Farm was dealing with floods.

Bush fires are a common happening in Australia. It seems that in 1928 a fire wiped out the poultry farm, residence, stock and plant owned by Richard Toomey. The name of the farm seems appropriate since it rose from the ashes to start again.

Richard Fenton Toomey died in 1968 in Gosford, New South Wales and is buried in Macquarie Park Cemetery.

Lest We Forget

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Last weekend I had the pleasure of speaking at the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa monthly meeting. The topic of my presentation was “A Brick Wall Chisel: The Cluster Research Project.”

The presentation looked at how using a cluster research project can help you break through some of the brick walls you may encounter during your research. This is a technique I have successfully used many times for clients and in my own research.

I arrived in Ottawa a few days early to enjoy the city and spent some time researching in Library and Archives Canada. I went to the National Gallery of Canada and wandered around ByWard Market.

I came across a very interesting sign outside a pub.

Parliament may not have been sitting but the nice weather brought out the crowds and the patios were doing very good business.

If you get the chance to visit Ottawa and attend a BIFHSGO event I would recommend it. The people of BIFHSGO are terrific hosts.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

The website firstworldwar.com bills itself as “a multimedia history of World War One.” There is a wealth of information to be found on this site. The page titles under the heading details are: how it began, battlefield tours, battles, an encyclopedia, source documents, special features, a timeline, war in the air, weaponry and a who’s who. Then you have other headings like multimedia, narratives and site information.

Under the multimedia heading you can find images of battlefields today, maps, propaganda posters, vintage audio and video and vintage photographs. The narratives heading provides links to examples of memoirs and diaries and prose and poetry.

You can read a collection of telegrams between Kaiser Wilhelm II and Tsar Nicholas II sent in the four days before the start of the war.

There is a story called “A Slow Fuse: Hitler’s Wartime Experience” which looks at how Hitler’s experiences in the First World War shaped the man he became.

If you are looking for more information on the First World War you may find something of interest on the site. The site is a work in progress and is done in the spare time of the sites creator.

©2012 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

This was originally posted in November 2010.

Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell was my Great Grand Uncle. I have written about him before in a previous post. Horace and a few of his brothers immigrated to British Columbia in 1909. Horace and Frank went to Campbell River and worked with the power company while Harold worked in Vancouver.

Horace joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 9 November 1914 and he was part of the Active Militia at the time. He was 27 years 275 days old and his occupation was listed as surveyor.

He was part of the C.E.F., 29th Vancouver Battalion, Second Canadian Contingent, 6th Brigade, Canadian Infantry, British Columbia Regiment. This regiment did a lot of fighting in and around the French and Flemish border.

On 23 Jan 1915 he was promoted to Lance Corporal. On the 20th of May 1915 he embarked for England. He started his trench warfare training on the 25th of February 1916 and finished on the 3rd of March 1916. The Trench Warfare School took place “in the field.”

Horace received the rank of Corporal on the 15th of March 1916 and on May 27th was granted eight days leave. During his leave he went back to visit his family in Glasgow and help his niece, Norah, celebrate her eighth birthday. He left on June 4th to return to the front.

On the 8th of June 1916 Horace Gibson Leitch Campbell was killed in action. His military file does not say where he was killed. A little research has shown that he was probably killed at the Battle of Mount Sorrel in Belgium. This battle was fought from June 2-13, 1916.

Horace was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and the Victory Medal. His military file consists of five pages.

Horace was the subject of many photographs during his leave. There is one photo of Horace and his brother Edwin.

Janet Waddell Ross Campbell was sent a photograph of Horace’s final resting place in Belgium at the Reninghelst New Military Cemetery.

On Armistice Day everyone went to church. There is a photograph of a floral cross. On the back of this photograph is written “Armistice Day 11th Nov Camphill Church (Glasgow) Memorial – Horace’s wooden cross, forms the foundation of the floral one” You can see that the table the cross is standing on is draped with the Union Jack.

The Campbell’s were quite prolific poets. At Christmas in 1915 while on the battlefield in Belgium Horace wrote a letter home which, as was his practice, included a poem. This poem was read during the Armistice Day service and was printed on Horace’s memorial card.

Oh, lead us not home with the flourish of trumpets
With flags and plumes waving and cheers in the air;
Oh, call us not heroes nor crown us with laurels,
But remember the cost — see the tears everywhere.

Give a thought to the men that lie dead over yonder,
With “Unknown” on a rude cross of wood where they lie.
See that woman in black — whose loved ones sleep with them
As sadly she watches their comrades go by.

But think kindly of others and quietly welcome
Your loved ones, your brothers, your husbands, your sons;
And think of the morrow of tears, and the sorrow
Of thousands who have lost their only dear ones.

Six months after he wrote the poem Horace would be gone.

Lest We Forget

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

November is a month of Remembrance in Canada and other places around the world. This is the time when we remember the veterans of all the wars and conflicts that have involved Canadians. The poppy is the symbol of remembrance. This month we will look at places to find information on your veteran ancestors.

In the first week of November we will look at records for Canada. The first stop should be the Genealogy and Family History section of the Library and Archives Canada website. Here you can find information on soldiers of the First and Second World War. The Soldiers of the First World War database has digital copies of attestation papers. You will find a link so you can order a copy of their military file online.

In two previous posts (post 1 and post 2) I have gone through the information to be found under the topic of military in the Library and Archives Canada Genealogy and Family History section. This section used to be called the Canadian Genealogy Centre.

In the second week of November we will examine the military records for England. Here the first stop is The National Archives of England and Documents Online. Documents Online have databases for Army, Navy and Air Force. The First World War Medal Index Cards are a great resource.

You can find the First World War Medal Index Cards on Ancestry as well as digital copies of the surviving military files. At Findmypast you will find Chelsea Pensioner records as well as many other military records.

In the third week of November we will look at military records for the United States. The first stop is usually Ancestry but you will also find information at World Vital Records which covers the conflicts from the Revolutionary War to World War II and at FamilySearch. The National Archives and Record Administration has a section on their website dedicated to Veteran’s Service Records.

The fourth week of November we will look at the military records from Australia. The ANZACS (Australian and New Zealand Army Corp) hold a very special place in the hearts of the people of Australia and New Zealand.

The Australian War Memorial has descriptions of all the conflicts Australians have been involved in from 1788 through to the present day. They have a wonderful site that you should visit and take time to go through all the different links and pages.

There is a general database you can search to find information on veterans from many different conflicts.

The National Archives of Australia hold the military personnel records. They have a page dedicated to the First World War and if you scroll down you can access a link to a search page. You can search their records to see if a reference can be found for your ancestor and you can usually access a digital copy of their military file.

You will find a link to Mapping our Anzacs which is a virtual scrapbook to remember those who fought for King and country in the First World War. There is a link here to access the military files and they encourage people to create scrapbook pages to remember their loved ones.

The last week of November we will look at some general places to find information. If you have a regiment name then the first place to start is a Google search. In England you may find a regimental museum which may be able to help you with more information.

Research the battles in which your ancestor fought and find out what the soldiers went through. I know that one of my collateral lines fought in the Battle of Waterloo and that his first child was born just behind the field of battle. Women were sometimes allowed to follow their men during campaigns. They would stay behind at the camp during battles. This usually happened if the soldier was an officer.

You may be able to find sketches or pictures of the uniform your ancestor might have worn. Did they wear a uniform or their regular clothes? This sometimes happened if they were in the militia.

The military file might be the first place to look for information but not the last. What about muster rolls, pension rolls, and other records where you might find someone who was in the military.

Do not forget things like military diaries. Library and Archives Canada have digital copies of the war diaries of the First World War online.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a searchable database online. You can search for casualties of the First and Second World Wars from Canada, Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, India and South Africa.

Is your ancestor remembered on a war memorial in their home town? You can search online and see what you can find. Scotland has The Scottish National War Memorial online. You can search the Scottish Roll of Honour for entries from the First and Second World Wars and post 1945.

This Remembrance Day why not write the story of your veteran ancestor so that their sacrifice and their accomplishments will not fade away.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

Historic Maps of Nova Scotia is a website run by the Government of Nova Scotia and it is a work in progress.

You can find an Outline Map of Nova Scotia which identifies and explains the eighteen counties and their boundaries; Woolford’s Surveys: The Roads from Halifax to Windsor and Truro, 1817-1818; Google map of Nova Scotia and fifty five individual maps that relate to many areas of Nova Scotia.

The individual maps range from 1613 to 1995. When you click on the image of the map you get a larger version that you can navigate and investigate further. Descriptions of the map or any place notations are noted below the map.

The Outline Map shows the eighteen counties and also provides information on their shire town, when they were created and what they were created from such as other counties. There are a few footnotes to this section that provides further explanation.

Woolford’s survey is 18 sheets of maps and there is a history of the origins of the survey.

There is an extra bonus of a link to Atlantic Neptune Charts which is a four volume atlas of sea charts that were published during the American Revolutionary War. There are 181 digitized images to search. This is found on the National Maritime Museum website and you have the option of purchasing copies of the images.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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