Monday, 18 May 2009

Overlooked Ontario genealogical sources

We scrutinize census and civil registration records. When they don't reveal the information we need we look further afield. A frequent topic for genealogy conferences is the more obscure sources. There's such a presentation in the forthcoming OGS conference "Unusual and Overlooked Sources for the 20th Century" being given by Marg Aldridge.

My addition to the obscure list is sessional papers. These mainly comprise annual reports and accounts of government and government regulated organizations. Pretty dull stuff, unless you find an ancestor.

Ontario sessional papers are becoming available through the Internet Archive and Google Books. There are lots of names to be found, notably accounts showing payments to and from an individual, or company, and the organization. Did your ancestor do plumbing or snow clearing for a government agency? If so you may find the individual or company named in the accounts as having received a payment.

I also spotted a list of children enrolled on a school for the blind.

If you're lucky you may find something more substantive. I stumbled on copies of original claims advanced by Loyalists in the 1905 report of the Ontario Archives copied from a 1785-1786 compensation claim hearing in Halifax.

Below is the first part of a fairly typical claim, establishing loyalty then proceeding to losses incurred (not shown).


The Internet Archives seems to have a wider range of sessional papers, from volume 33 (1901) to volume 52 (1920), than Google Books. These Ontario sources are "Yours to Discover."

1 comment:

WJM said...

The Sessional Papers, Journals, etc. of the various pre- (and post-) Confederation legislatures are an underappreciated goldmine of research ore on a whole variety of topics.

One of my best gems is a list of settlers in the Bay St. George area of Newfoundland from the 18somethings (1850s?) which reads like the modern-day phonebook for the Magdalen Islands.