August 21, 2014

Find a Grave Canada: Now Search by Province!

badge_button_canadian_flag_400_wht_1996Genealogy Gems Premium member Ken Lange recently wrote us about a GEM of his own he’d like to share with everyone. If you’ve got Canadian ancestors, check this out!

Mailbox question from Beginning Genealogist“Dear Lisa,

I just renewed my Premium membership (thanks so much for all you do there, BTW), which reminded me of something I’ve been meaning to pass on to you with respect to Find-A-Grave.

Now, for the most part, we all love Find A Grave, and I’m sure everyone has benefited from information gleaned from the site at some point in time.  However, as a Canadian, I have long been frustrated by the fact that when searching for memorials in Canada, you can’t narrow the search down even to a province… Canada is a big country, and while not at populous as the US, this still leads to unnecessary sifting through records, especially for common surnames.

I don’t know if there are existing tools out there to address this problem, and I’m hoping that Ancestry will fix this sometime soon. But out of frustration a while back I took matters into my own hands and modified the Find a Grave search page for Canadian searches so that you can at least specify a province. Here is a public link to the file:

Find a Grave Search Page for Canadian Searches

I don’t know if it will work with all browsers in all environments, but I’ve had it working in IE, Firefox, and Chrome.”

WOW! This is cool. I recently discovered a Canadian great-aunt on my dad’s side of the family. All I’ve learned so far is that her last name was Maier or O’Maier (depending on how you read the record), that she was born in Canada, and that her parents were born in Germany. She married my great-uncle in Idaho, so I’m guessing she came down through British Columbia or Alberta. A quick search using this interface tells me there are no O’Maiers in Findagrave in either province, but sorts several possible Maiers neatly into both those provinces. I’m still a long way from answers, but I can see how helpful this will be to those with Canadian roots!

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Voices of the Past: Canadian Oral History Project

reading_to_children_anim_300_clr_10048The Victoria Genealogical Society has started a new memory project called “Voices of the Past.” They are recording the stories of senior members of their community and posting them to their website. You can listen to any given story or click on one of the themes they’ve organized the material into, then listen to stories relating to that theme.

I heard about it from Merv Scott, a Project Director at the Victoria Genealogical Society. Merv sees this project as a win-win experience for those telling stories and those receiving them. “I’m sure you have seen how uplifting it is for seniors to tell stories about their family history,” he writes. “Research has shown it boosts their self-esteem reduces stress and anxieties….I think it’s an amazing legacy to leave your children and grandchildren with stories about their family as told by the person who was there. ” You can contact Merv (Projects@victoriags.org) for more information.

I’ve heard about lots of oral history projects, from the national in scope to the most local. Browse some of these (and find tools and resources for doing your own) at Cyndi’s List.

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Over a Million Newly Indexed Canadian Passenger Lists Now Available

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Mixed group of immigrants, Quebec, ca 1911. Photo by William James Topley, Library and Archives Canada, PA-010270. Some rights reserved.

Over a million indexed records and images for Canadian passenger lists (1881-1922) are among newly-announced records now searchable at FamilySearch.org.

The database includes records for Canadian ports–Quebec City, Halifax, St. John, North Sydney, Vancouver and Victoria–as well as U.S. ports for passengers who reported Canada as their final destination.

Before this time period, travel between the U.S. and Canada was common. But it was not always officially recorded because there were no border crossing stations on land. During the time period covered by these records, nations on both sides of the border became concerned about the impact of this invisible migration. Official border crossing record-keeping began in 1895. (See a database at Ancestry.com).

Here’s a tip: If you have immigrant ancestors who landed in the United States during this era but you haven’t found their passenger records, consider the possibility that they arrived via Canada. They would have avoided the increasingly strict monitors at the port gates of entry to the U.S. “golden door.”

Here’s a full list of recent updates to FamilySearch.org:

Collection

Indexed Records

Digital Images

Comments

Argentina, Buenos Aires, Catholic Church Records, 1635-1981 539,210 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
Argentina, Capital Federal, Catholic Church Records, 1737-1977 682,002 0 Added indexed records to an existing collection.
BillionGraves Index 407,422 407,422 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
Canada Passenger Lists, 1881-1922 1,673,051 61,099 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.
Denmark, Church Records, 1484-1941 0 2,399,826 New browsable image collection.
Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg, Landkreis Ostprignitz-Ruppin, Miscellaneous Records, 1559-1945 0 9,569 New browsable image collection.
Italy, Campobasso, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1918 0 2,171,641 New browsable image collection.
Italy, Napoli, Fontana, Parrocchia di Santa Maria della Mercede – La Sacra, Catholic Church Records, 1659-1929 0 54 Added images to an existing collection.
U.S., Illinois, Northern District (Eastern Division), Naturalization Index, 1926-1979 0 214,094 Added images to an existing collection.
U.S., Ohio, County Marriages, 1789-1994 980,427 951 Added indexed records and images to an existing collection.

 

 

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71,000 pages of Canadian Genealogy and History Now Online

canada_flag_perspective_anim_150_clr_2301If you have Canadian roots, you’ll want to know about a rich new resource now at Findmypast.com. It’s the Canadian Books collection, with 71,000 pages of keyword-searchable histories, vital records, directories, published genealogies and more.

“Dating back to the 1600s, the Canadian Books boast 71,000 pages of items such as military, religious, occupational and immigration records, business directories, published genealogies and BMDs [births, marriages and deaths],” states a Findmypast.com press release. “The books feature a sizeable amount of military records with various nominal rolls and rolls of honour relating mostly to the First World War, such as The Royal Montreal Regiment, 14th Battalion, University of Toronto Roll of Service 1914-1918 and 31st Canadian Infantry CEF 1914-1919.”

Though the core content is Canada, the reach of this 200-volume collection extends outside Canada’s boundaries. “With titles such as Sketches of Irish soldiers, The Scotch-Irish of California, and German-Canadian Folklore, the collection is valuable for people with Canadian ancestry and those who can trace their origins back to the UK or Europe.”

This collection comes from the Archive CD Books Canada Project, which has gathered, renovated and reproduced Canadian historical books, documents and maps for over a decade. The 200 volumes are searchable through all Findmypast international sites with a World Subscription and in the U.S. and Canada resources at Findmypast.com.

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Genealogy Alert: 1921 Canadian Census Images Now Online

PrintThe much-anticipated (but little-publicized) 1921 Canadian census is now online and available for browsing at Ancestry.ca. They anticipate releasing an index later this year.

On June 29, I blogged in detail about the 1921 census. Check out that post for an image from the census, the questions it included and the significance of the 1921 census as it captured a new generation of immigrants to Canada.

When you click on the first link above, you’ll see that Ancestry.ca’s collection of Canadian census data goes back to 1851. Check out my post above to learn about online data back to 1825. It’s getting easier all the time to find your Canadian ancestors online!

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Find Canadian Ancestors in Censuses from 1825 to 1921

canada_peg_figure_12111If you have Canadian kin, you’ll be pleased to hear that the 1825 census of Lower Canada is now searchable online, and the 1921 census will soon be available online, too!

The 1825 census of Lower Canada counted nearly half a million people. Heads of household were actually named, with other members of the household counted by category. You can search by household name or geographic location.

The 1921 census counted 8.8 million people in thousands of communities across Canada. According to the Library and Archives Canada Blog, the population questionnaire had 35 questions. The census also collected data on “agriculture; animals, animal products, fruits not on farms; manufacturing and trading establishments; and [a] supplemental questionnaire for persons who were blind and deaf. This represents a total of 565 questions.” The census was released this past June 1 from the national Statistics office to the Library and Archives. That office is processing and scanning the nearly 200,000 images for public use. It hopes to have them posted soon.

Here’s a sample page from the 1921 census population schedule:

Canada Census 1921 image

We think of Canada as a real melting pot today—or salad bowl, as they prefer. That wasn’t always the case. The 1825 census of Lower Canada counted mostly Europeans of French extraction. In 1901,  70% of Canadians claimed either British or French heritage. But in the first two decades of the 1900s, a huge immigration boom occurred that reached well beyond England and France. So the folks who show up on the 1921 census represented a newly multicultural Canada!

Start looking for your Canadian ancestors in the Library and Archives Canada’s popular Census Indexes, which include that 1825 census and a new version of the 1891 census, too. Watch the website for the 1921 census.

If your family arrived in Canada after the 1921 census, check out the website for The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, where a million immigrants landed between 1928-1971.

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10 Top Tips for Breaking Down Your Genealogy Brick Wall

“One of the most incredible and likely true stories I’ve ever seen!” announced Dave Obee as he met with Genealogy Gems Listener Sarah Stout, the winner of our #RootsTech 2013 conference registration contest.

Sarah_and_LisaThe question to contestant was “who’s class would you most like to attend at RootsTech?” Sarah’s answer was Dave Obee, and that was because she was running up against a Canadian brick wall in her family history research, and Dave is a Canadian Research Guru!

Read more about Sarah’s incredible genealogical brick wall:

WATCH THE VIDEO

In my new video at the Genealogy Gems YouTube channel I get the two together and Dave dishes up 10 terrific tips that will not only help Sarah, but are sure to prove their worth in your own family tree climbing.

Dave Obee’s Top 10 Tips:

1. Create a Timeline – “plot her life…it’s easier to see the holes.”
2. Understand Geography – “plot movements”
3. Find Every Possible Record
4. Understand How Records Were Created
5. Read Every Local Story in Newspapers at that Time
6. Tap into Local Knowledge – “Locals know more” (historical and genealogical societies)
7. Go There if You Can in Person
8. Look for Negative Proof
9. Collaborate with Other Researchers
10. Be Diligent About Proof

Resources Mentioned in the video:

Subscribe to the Genealogy Gems YouTube Channel for free to receive instant updates of all of my latest videos from RootsTech 2013 and beyond.

 

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A New Online Resource for Canadian Genealogy Records

The CBC Radio One show Daybreak South with Chris Walker features an interview with Ann ten Cate, museum archivist and genealogy search expert at the Royal B.C. Museum in Victoria, British Columbia.

The interview highlights the original historical records included in their new online database, and reveals why the museum decided to make them available online.

Head to the Museum’s website to search their indexes to British Columbia births (1854-1903), marriages (1872-1936), deaths (1872-1991), colonial marriages (1859-1872) and baptisms (1836-1888).

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Limited Time Free Access to Canadian Military Records, and New Records Online

Free Access:  Ancestry.ca is providing free access to select military records from some of the most popular collections, from November 8th to 12th, including records covering Soldiers of the First World War, the Rebellion of 1837 and the War of 1812, which can be accessed by visiting www.ancestry.ca/11remembrance.

Also, in honor of Remembrance Day, on November 1, 2012  Ancestry.ca announced the launch of more than 1.5 million new historical Canadian military records spanning more than 100 years.  The following press release offers up all the details:

TORONTO (November 1, 2012) –

These new records, covering the First and Second World Wars, highlight the everyday lives of soldiers who served their country. The records which include military awards, service records and information on pay, will provide Canadians with a greater understanding of the men and women who fought in the conflicts that helped define this nation.

Two brand new Canadian collections: Canada, Military Honours and Award Citation Cards, 1900-1961, and Canada, Nominal Rolls and Paylists for the Volunteer Militia, 1857-1922, along with 30,000 new records in the existing Canada, War Graves Registers: Circumstances of Casualty, 1914-1948 collection, will be of great interest to any Canadians with military ancestors.  Ancestry.ca has also added the UK, Commonwealth War Graves, 1914-1921 & 1939-1947 collection, which includes graves and memorials for Canadian soldiers who fought in the First and Second World Wars.

“Remembrance Day is such an emotional time for Canadians to reflect on the people who made the brave and often ultimate sacrifice for this nation and its ideals,” says Lesley Anderson, a genealogist and Content Manager at Ancestry.ca. “We are so happy and proud to be able to provide a forum for Canadians to discover more details about their military ancestors and the lives they lived through the preservation and digitization of these rare historical records.”

The collections, which launch on November 1, 2012, include:

Canada, Military Honours and Award Citation Cards, 1900-1961containing almost 70,000 records documenting awards and honours received by Canadian service personnel, both men and women. Some records include valuable and rare information on the soldiers’ next of kin, a physical description, their home address and a description of the meritorious action.

Canada, Nominal Rolls and Paylists for the Volunteer Militia, 1857-1922contains more than one million records that provide detailed information about a soldier’s everyday life, including payroll. The records also include travelling expenses, battalion or regiment, rank, pay for the use of a horse and signature of the member for received pay. These small details can help paint a richer picture of the day-to-day routine of Canada’s servicemen and women.

UK, Commonwealth War Graves, 1914-1921 & 1939-1947contains more than 500,000 records and includes information from both World Wars. The records list names of grave sites and memorials maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, and document who is buried in a cemetery and where, names of people with no known grave, next-of-kin and a history of military action in the area. The collection includes burial and memorial sites in about 150 different countries.

Canada, War Graves Registers: Circumstances of Casualty, 1914-1948contains almost 30,000 new records added to the existing collection already available on Ancestry.ca. The collection includes military burial documents from Canada, as well as casualty records from the U.S., prisoners of war and members of the Australian Air Force, Polish Air Force and Royal New Zealand Air Force.

The collections also provide opportunities for Canadians to learn the details of service of some of the nation’s most famous soldiers, including:

  • William Avery “Billy” Bishop – As a pilot in the First World War, Bishop achieved 72 kills, which made him the top Canadian ace in that war and earned him a Victoria Cross. The Toronto City Centre Airport is named after the award-winning Air Marshal.
  • William George Barker – A pilot in the First World War, Barker is the most decorated war hero in Canadian history. Only two other servicemen have received as many medals from the British Empire for gallantry.
  • John Weir Foote – Is the only member of the Canadian Chaplains’ Services to be awarded the Victoria Cross. In the Second World War, after a battle in Dieppe, France, Foote surrendered to the German Forces as a prisoner in order to be of help to the men that were captured. He remained with these men in captivity for almost three years.
  • Helen Elizabeth Hansen – A Nursing Sister during the First World War, Hansen was awarded a military medal in 1919 for distinguished service in the field. She was known to be ready for any duty, while always remaining cool and courageous.

 

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