Historic Maps of Nova Scotia – A Must See!

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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A Must See Resource for Islander Researchers

The Island Archives Centre at the University of Prince Edward Island is a great resource for people with ancestors from the island.

They are digitizing many records and they are being put online.

Island Lives is a collection of PEI’s local histories. You can search by title, people, places and organization name. When you search by people and choose a name then you get a selection of publications where the name is found. You can read online, download or borrow the resource. You are only able to borrow if you live in PEI. You may be able to find the books via Inter Library loan.

Island Newspapers are endeavoring to develop a collection of PEI historic newspapers. The newspapers available will eventually date back to the early 1800s. You can view The Guardian (1880-1921), The Cadre (1969-) and The Sun (1977-). This is a work in progress.

Island Voices is an oral history audio archive that has been created by Reg “Dutch” Thompson a well known historian. The archives mostly cover the 1920s thorough the 1940s. They have a User Guide to help you search and use the database.

Island Stories is still a work in progress and not searchable. They are going to help the community to preserve any archival material that they may have and make it available to others.

Island Images is described as “the most complete collection of visuals by Islanders, and about Islanders. Drawing from the rich collections of the University of Prince Edward Island” and others. This is not available yet.

Island Imagined is a wonderful collection of PEI maps, atlases and gazetteers. There are approximately 1000 such documents. The maps come from The Prince Edward Island Archives and Public Record Office, the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation, and the Robertson Library, University of Prince Edward Island.

These maps are interactive. You have three choices: map overlays, map timeline and island timeline. Map overlays have a choice of four maps and they put the map over a current Google Maps image. Map timeline has a line of years across the bottom and when you click on 1900AD then the maps relating to that time period are presented and you can click on the map to view a description. When you click on the title of the description you get an image of the map which you can manipulate to zoom in or out.

Island timeline is an Island history timeline. You click on a time period and a group of selections appear on the timeline. If you click one of them you get a description of an event that happened. You can not click on the titles to find out more. This is a great resource to put flesh on the bones of your family history.

There is a section called Learn More and here you can find FAQ, learning guides, working with maps, articles and online books. Eventually you will also be able to access lesson plans.

Other Collections details and links to other resources. University of PEI provides descriptions and links to archival material relating to the University. There is also a link to Digital Herbarium where they are digitizing and providing access to plant specimens collected at the University since the 1960s. There are nearly 2000 specimens.

If you have people from the Island then this is the place to go to find out more.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The Treasures to be Found in Historical Audio and Video Collections?

My online search for information regarding the 1924 Imperial Scout Jamboree for a previous post led me to search for other online sources that relate to audio and video resources. A few have been mentioned in other blogs.

They are a treasure trove of information and provide some wonderful entertainment at the same time. Here are collections found in Canada, Scotland, England, Ireland, United States, Australia and Europe.


Library and Archives Canada has Virtual Gramophone which contains historical Canadian sound recordings. There are biographies attached to some of the performers. You can listen to a full range of recordings in the podcast section.

There is a section on historical sheet music and songs relating to the First World War.

On the National Film Board of Canada website you can watch some of the productions that came out of this wonderful Canadian institution. There is a documentary entitled “Action: The October Crisis of 1970” which covers the events of the October Crisis.

One of my personal favourites is “Paddle to the Sea” that was produced in 1966 by Bill Mason.

They have channels for history, arts, kids’ movies, the Green channel, biography, hot topics, outside the box, world, aboriginal peoples, classics and HD.

I had a client who found a film where his mother was interviewed and he bought a DVD copy of the production.


Scotland has the Scottish Screen Archive. Not all the titles have a clip or full length video. You can browse the collection by featured videos, all full length videos, place, subject, genre, series, biography or decade. You can view a full clip relating to making bagpipes dated from 1967.

Not everything in the collection is strictly Scottish. You can find a full length video from 1959 entitled “Australia Week” which is an advert for Australian foodstuffs. They do mix in the foodstuffs of Scotland in the advertisement.


British Pathe has a video archive of their newsreels online. You can search the Editorial Picks or check Categories to find clips. Under Entertainment and Humour you can find “A Chicago Blizzard” a 1938 newsreel of the city of Chicago after what they call a severe snow. This one has audio.

Under Historical Figures and Celebrities you find a clip called “Ireland-Through the Ages” which is a newsreel of a historical pageant that was presented in Dublin in 1927 at the conclusion of Civic week. Near the end the Carlow Sugar truck had the old fashion cone of sugar on the back. Wouldn’t it be nice to know who the ladies at the end of the newsreel were and what happened to them?

The English Folk Dance and Song Society provide no audio but do list many old songs and give a little history.


The National Archive of Irish Composers website is difficult to see because of the black background but it does provide some history and other resources. You can access their digital library to view digital images of sheet music.

Thomas Hamley (Hamly) Butler (c1755-1823) wrote “Erin Go Bragh A favorite Irish Air” and you can view a digital image of the sheet music.

There was a performance of the “Musical Treasures from the National Library” on 26 November 2010 and you can view that and specific performances from the evening. You can read a short biography and watch a video of the composition being performed. The compositions range from the last few years of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century.

United States

National Jukebox is a website created by the Library of Congress in the United States. You can search their holdings by classical music, ethnic characterizations, popular music, religious and spoken word.

Sometimes the recordings are difficult to hear because of the static on the old recordings.

They have a disclaimer that states “WARNING: These historical recordings may contain offensive or inappropriate language.”

Under Ethnic characterizations is a recording of “The little Irish girl” performed by James McCool in 1906.

Under Popular music is the tune “Cat Duet” performed by Ada Jones and Billy Murray in 1908.


The Sounds of Australia is a database of “Australia’s audiovisual heritage online.”

The earliest recording is 1896 and is a novelty song called “The Hen Convention” that features chicken impersonations. You will find a link to the sheet music and a link to the audio.

You can find historical newsreels from various places in Australia including footage of the Australian Flying Corps training and at war in 1918 in France and the Middle East. If you had family who flew with the Australian Flying Corps then you should view these images. The curator’s notes on these pages are wonderful.

There are a variety of newsreels available to view. You can view documentaries, short films, television programs and other historical images and sound recordings relevant to Australia.


European Film Gateway is a film archive for Europe. It is still small but is growing. You can view clips of films most of which are foreign language but have English subtitles.

Have fun viewing and listening to these wonderful archives. Let me know if you find something interesting.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The Newfoundland Connection on RTÉ Radio 1

This RTÉ Radio 1 “Documentary One” podcast looks at the connections that have linked the southeast of Ireland and St. John’s Newfoundland. The earliest record is 1683. They talk to the descendants of the original settlers to help tell the story.

The stories are wonderful and the people and music are delightful. One lady shares some great advice she was given to protect herself from the fairies. If you have Newfoundland or Irish ancestors then this podcast could provide some new information. If you do not it is still worth listening to “The Newfoundland Connection.”

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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In Search of Military Ancestors – Military Archives and Remembrance Projects

These websites are actively remembering the efforts and recording the stories of military personnel involved in the conflicts of the 20th century. If your ancestor did not participate in the project you may find someone who served along side and learn something about their experiences during active service.


Captive Memories is a website that is home to an oral history project involving the 50,000 British servicemen who became Far East Prisoners of War in the Second World War. The dates they cover are December 1941 through March 1942. This is a database that you can search for interviews that were done of 62 FEPOWs. There are sections that provide links and other information.

There is the First World War Poetry Digital Archive which consists of collections of major poets of the time period, multimedia artifacts from the Imperial War Museum and an archive of over 6,500 items which were contributed to the project by the general public.

The Great War Archive not only has items relating to England but also some from Germany. Here you can find links to the Great War Archive Flickr Group, Europeana and Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.

The Imperial War Museum is a wealth of information for anyone doing research into the British military.

The Imperial War Museum has a Sound Archive that covers a broad range of experiences from the Boer War through the two World Wars and more modern conflicts. The recordings themselves are not available online but the catalogue will give you an idea of what is available at the Imperial War Museum.

There is a website in England dedicated to British Military Nurses and it provides information and links to help you with your research. She also has a blog called “This Intrepid Band” where she provides more information.


Dominion Institute and Canadian Heritage have a website called “The Memory Project” whose aim is to “explore over 90 years of military oral history, with firsthand accounts from the First World War through to the present day conflict in Afghanistan.” The website states that the stories were collected between 2003 and 2006. They have just received funding to start the Memory Project: Stories of the Korean War.

The Canadian Military Heritage Project provides links to websites to help with your research and it covers many different conflicts through the ages

United States

The Library of Congress in the United States has a similar project entitled “Experiencing War” from the Veterans History Project. There is an alphabetical listing of the participants.

Have you come across other websites that provide similar information? If so please leave a comment below.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Using the Auckland City Libraries to Find Images Relating to Canada

If you are researching images relating to Canada have you tried the Auckland City Libraries?

They have an online database called “Heritage Images” and when using the search criteria of Canada you find there are seventy images to view.

You can choose the type of images you want to view: News & Newspapers; Research papers; Images; Reference sources; Books, and Magazines. Most of the images are late 19th and early 20th century.

There is an image for a grave marker for Samuel Morrin who was born 12 August 1842 in County of Two Mountains, Canada and died in Remuera Auckland on 15 April 1886. The County of Two Mountains is located in Quebec.

You can find an image for St. Paul’s church with the location being Ontario Canada.

There is a Canada Street in Auckland so you get a few images of the street in the search results.

Some references do not have images and this could be because they have not yet been digitized or for other reasons. You can find information on using and ordering images from the database here.

You never know where you might find information on your family. I wonder if someone is researching the Morrin family and do not know where Samuel ended up? If they find the Auckland City Libraries Heritage Images online he would not be a brick wall any more.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The Top Five for Canadian Family History Research

These are my top five lists of books, blogs and websites that can assist you with your family history research in Canada. Do you have any that you feel should be added? If so please leave a comment.


Lovell’s Gazetteer of British North America 1873” published by Global Heritage Press

Genealogy in Ontario: Searching the Records” by Brenda Dougall Merriman; published by The Ontario Genealogical Society

United Empire Loyalists, a Guide to Tracing Loyalist Ancestors in Upper Canada” by Brenda Dougall Merriman; published by Global Heritage Press

The Canadian Genealogical Sourcebook” by Ryan Taylor; published by the Canadian Library Association

Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A beginner’s guide” by Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee; published by Ancestry Publishing


Librarians Helping Canadian Genealogists Climb Family Trees

Fur trade Family History

Ottawa Branch Ontario Genealogical Society

Prairie History Blog

Veterans of Southwestern Ontario


Canadian Genealogy Centre

Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid

Automated Genealogy

Hudson’s Bay Company Archives

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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Toronto Public Library Virtual Exhibits

On a recent visit to the Toronto Reference Library to do some research I came across a small bookmark that advertised a virtual exhibit on the library website called “Local Flavour: Eating in Toronto, 1830-1955

It is a wonderful look at the history of eating in Toronto. The menu consists of an introduction, Cookbooks of the 19th Century, Cookbooks of the 20th Century, Kitchen Appliances, 20th Century Lifestyle, Dining out, Gardening, Toronto in Wartime, Manufacturing/Food Industry, Shopping in Toronto and How to Eat Like a Child in Toronto.

Each section contains digital images and some recipes so you can recreate some of the recipes your ancestors may have cooked. The recipe for Ham Toast includes the reference “a lump of butter the size of half an egg.”

Shopping in Toronto includes photographs and pages from city directories to do with purveyors of fine food within the city. Toronto in Wartime has a ration book among its images. The images of labour saving devices found in the section on Kitchen Appliances is fun to look at. I can not imagine cooking on those appliances today.

The main theme for the advertisement for Shredded Wheat cereal was that it is ready to eat and the children can get their own breakfast. The date of the advertising is 1926.

The Toronto Public Library has many other virtual exhibits. Some that might be of interest to genealogists include:

Canadians on the Guard: The Home Front, 1939-1945

Toronto Sanctuaries Church Designs by Henry Langley

The First Black Doctor in Canada: Anderson Ruffin Abbott

Panorama of the City of Toronto, 1857

Fraternal Societies in Canada

Toronto Orphanages and Day Nurseries

Toronto like many cities these days are struggling to balance their budget. The Toronto Public Library is in danger of having branches closed and services restricted. If you live in Toronto please take a minute to sign the petition to save the public library system in Toronto.

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Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada’s 144th Birthday. The celebrations on the hill in Ottawa ended a short time ago. There are more festivities tonight. This year the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge came to shared the day with us. You can find out more about the celebrations here.

While everyone is celebrating this birthday Governor General David Johnston reminded us that in six years Canada will be celebrating our 150th birthday. He asked that everyone think about how they can make changes in their communities to enhance our country. There are already committees formed to preserve and promote our history.

What projects can you think of that will help preserve our nations history for it’s 150th birthday?

©2011 – Blair Archival Research All Rights Reserved

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The New Brunswick Archives Irish Portal Databases

The Archives of New Brunswick have added The New Brunswick Irish Portal to their website. The portal opens with an essay by Dr. Stewart Donovan of St. Thomas University. You can read it online or download versions in PDF and Word. The portal has exhibits and databases.

The databases include Saint John Almshouse Records; Brenan Funeral Home Records: Traces of Ireland; Fitzwilliam Estate Emigration Books 1847-1856; RS555 Provincial Secretary: Immigration Administration Records; Immigrant Letters; Newspapers; Passenger Lists; Teachers Petition Database and Irish Immigrants in the New Brunswick Census of 1851 and 1861.

The Saint John Almshouse Records has a name index. There are PDF files about the records and social welfare in New Brunswick from 1784 to 1900. The records are from the St. John [sic] City Almshouse Admission Registers from 1843-1897 and the Saint John Almshouse Admission Registers, 1843-1884. These records are for people who were admitted to the Alms and Work House, the Emigrant Infirmary, and the St. John Emigrant Orphan Asylum.

When you click on Name Index you come to the list for the letter A and can choose another letter from the alphabetical listing above. When you click on a surname of interest you get a transcription listing of the people found. The information includes a surname, given name, date of admission, age, condition (health), nativity (county/country of origin), vessel, religion, departure and landed.

When you click on details you get a more complete transcription, microfilm number and a digital image of the record in question which you can download.

The Brenan Funeral Home Records has a complete transcription of records from 1901-1960. Brenan’s dealt mainly with Protestant clients. The information found on the transcriptions is some basic information that can be found in a death record with the added bonus of finding other pertinent information.

Fitzwilliam Estate Emigration Books 1847-1856 this database consists of the 383 people that travelled on the sailing vessel called “The Star” to St. Andrew’s New Brunswick. The results are listed alphabetically and include name, age, townland, townland official, civil parish, year, ship, departure, arrival, and notes.

RS555 Provincial Secretary: Immigration Administration Records does not have a searchable database. There is a finding aid for the records and an essay on “New Brunswick as a Home for Immigrants” by Koral Lavorgna.

Immigrant Letters consists of several indexes: subject, place and collection as well as a full text search.

Newspapers have a subject and newspaper index and a full text search.

Passengers Lists describe the act to “regulate Vessels arriving from the United Kingdom with Passengers and Emigrants” and passenger statistics from 1816 to 1865. You will also find a vessel and name index.

The Teachers Petition Database is a searchable database with information on 509 petitions requesting a teaching license or payment for the teaching services that were provided from 1816 to 1858. These records relate to those who said their place of birth was Ireland.

The last section is Irish Immigrants in the New Brunswick Census of 1851 and 1861. Here you will find statistics, a name index and other indexes where you can search by county, religion, where from and year landed.

There is an exhibit called “In the Wake of Dark Passage Irish Famine Migration to New Brunswick.” More exhibits are coming.

This website is a great resource for those who have New Brunswick Irish connections. It is also a valuable resource to learn about the Irish immigrants and how they contributed to their new homeland.

©2011 – Blair Archival Research

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