Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Prof (Retired) Bruce Elliott

At Sunday's Westboro Beach Meetup Bruce Elliott confirmed that not only was he retiring from Carleton University, but has retired as of 1 July.

Read about his many academic achievements at

Touching genealogy and local history, he started his leadership with the Census of Canada, 1871, Ontario, heads of household name index, an early census index project of its scale. It became available in the mid-1980s.

In 1991 he published The city beyond : a history of Nepean, birthplace of Canada's capital, 1792-1990 .

Honorary life membership of the Ontario Genealogical Society in 1992.

In 2005 to the BIFHSGO Hall of Fame for “long and varied contributions to the Society and to the field of genealogy”

I'll stop. This isn't an obit. Bruce tells me he has plans for completing books and projects after he meets the challenge of moving mountains of paper out of this long-time office.

Top Ten Genealogy Websites

According to worldwide statistics compiled by SimilarWeb in their category Hobbies and Leisure > Ancestry and Genealogy these are the top-visited websites. The figure in brackets is the rank for visitors from Canada.

RankWebsiteAvg. Visit DurationPages / Visit (2)0:13:4626.21 (3)0:17:2030.07 (4)0:04:437.24
5geneanet.org0:09:5513.52 (5)0:06:057.71
7geni.com0:06:236.51 (1)0:10:4326.36

In Ottawa, if you'd like to learn more about three of these most popular sites attend the free DNA and Online Resources for Discovering Your Lost Family History presentations on 8 August at Nepean Centrepointe (Ben Franklin Place).

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

548 Volumes of U.S. Navy Muster Rolls now digitized

USS Rattler from U.S. Naval Historical Center.
Volumes of 19th-century,1861 to 1879, US naval muster rolls are now digitized accessible to the public through the National Archives Catalog.  That's according to a NARA press release.
The muster roll data provide the names, birthplaces, ages, discharges, and physical description of enlisted seamen — and more.
At present, you need to know the name of the ship — search the catalog by ship name and the word muster.
A citizen volunteer transcription project is pending.

Summertime Reading for the Family Historian

UK magazine Family Tree published a list of 5 books all family historians should take on holiday.

While I dislike "should" the suggested book are mostly ones I'd not read. The first two on the list are more light poolside or beach-reading fare than the others.

Dadland, published in 2017 by Keggie Carew is described as "part-family memoir, part-war story ... a loving tribute to her extraordinary father who, as he began losing his past to dementia, she was fighting to retrieve it." Read The Guardian review.

Common People: The History of an English Family by Alison Light – a wonderful family-cum-social history featuring Victorian ancestors with incredible warmth and insight into human behaviour through the generations. The Guardian review ends "Light's final wish for her book is that it will encourage others to write their family history as a public history ... However, it is possible to finish her book wishing the opposite: that a historian and critic of her rare gifts would leave family history to the dabblers, and write us, for instance, a literary and cultural history of the workhouse, with her personal passion as background, not foreground."

The other books on the list seem out of place as summer reading. The presence on the list of Ethical Dilemmas in Genealogy by Dr. Penny Walters motivates me to attend the panel session she will be part of at RootsTech London.

Adding my own suggestion, Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love
by Dani Shapiro I borrowed from the OPL and devoured unusually quickly. It's another example of discovery using DNA. Read the New York Times review.

What do these people have in common?

Easy. They're genealogists.

They're all speaking at RootsTech London.

As far as I know, four of them have another thing in common. What would that be, and which four?

Hint. One of them, bottom left, is Daniel Horowitz who will be in Ottawa on 8 August speaking at the DNA and Online Resources for Discovering Your Lost Family History event. A month later Daniel is speaking at MyHeritage LIVE 2019 taking place on the weekend of 6-8 September 2019 at the Hilton Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
To close the circle, that Amsterdam event also features talks by Blaine Bettinger and Cyndi Ingle who will be speaking later in September at the BIFHSGO 25th Anniversary conference.

Monday, 15 July 2019

Ancestry Updates Obituary Collections and indexes — how useful?

Ancestry has posted these updates.

Caribbean, Obituary Index2003-201196,557
Canada, Obituary Collection1898-20188,507,085
UK and Ireland, Obituary Index2004-20184,855,799
U.S., Obituary Collection1930-Current178,827,618

Let's look at Canada. According to Statistics Canada in 2018, there were 279,936 deaths reported in Canada. As the population increases and ages, the number has increased. It was 217,000 in the year 2000, so about 4,719,000 deaths since 2000.
If you search year by year the Ancestry Canada, Obituary Collection includes 1,096,540 entries since 2000. That's 23% of all deaths.
It's less than that as the database includes many duplicates. In a sample, I found 24 unique entries out of 42. That means coverage of a bit over 10% of all deaths.

I was suspicious of the claim of 8.5 million entries in the Canada collection. As a check, there are 11,451 deaths in the database for people named Smith which typically accounts for 1 - 2 % of  all events. For the 10 years around 2005 Smith accounts for 1.1% of entries which would suggest a bit over 1 million entries in the Canada Obituary collection, not over 8 million.

Where are the other 7 million?

Beechwood CWGC Burial: James Dyer

Under the headline COMRADE DYER'S FUNERAL the Ottawa Journal reported on Friday 18 July 1919 that:
The funeral of Jamaa Dyer of the Ordnance Corps who was killed by an A.S.C. truck at Westboro' on Tuesday morning was held from the residence of his son-ln-law. Mr. Albert Parkinson, Stratheona Avenue. Westboro yesterday afternoon.
According to an article in the 15 July Journal he was struck by a truck when he stepped out from behind a parked car while hurrying to cross the road to catch another vehicle. An inquest found he died of internal injuries and returned a verdict of accidental death.
James Dyer was a native of Bristol, England born on 13 May 1869. He had lived in Westboro for about 7 years, enlisted in 1916 giving his birth year as 1874 but was not allowed to go overseas owing to age. Survived by his wife, Florence who was on her way to England at the time of the accident, two daughters (Ada and Lily) and one son (James), he is buried at Beechwood Cemetery in the Military Section 29. Lot 13-14 West part G20.

Did You Know:  Beechwood Cemetery isn't only for the dead. There's a program of live events this summer. See

Sunday, 14 July 2019

Short Deadline: LAC seeks NCR nominees for Youth Advisory Council

Imagine a young person being able to put on their resume that they served on a Library and Archives Canada Advisory Committee.

The deadline for nominations to serve of LAC's Youth Advisory Council is noon 16 July, 2019. If you know of a young person with an interest in gaining such experience check out whether there's a fit and how to apply at

A makeover for BIFHSGO's unique databases

BIFHSGO's website has a "new look" Research & Projects menu. The number of projects with databases grew so large that Director John McConkey decided to categorize them so they're easier to find.

The "Home Children" category has four databases; "Military" has four, "Migration" two, and there's an "Other" category.

If you have a suggestion for a new project or are interested in volunteering, please send an email to the Director of Research and Projects.

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

A reminder about today's Westboro Beach Meetup.

Anglo-Saxons deserve reparations for the Norman Conquest
Where do you draw the line?

Agnes Chamberlin’s Flower Prints
Agnes Chamberlin, daughter of Susanna Moodie, and niece of Catharine Parr Traill who were well known for their now classic descriptions of pioneer life in Ontario, was a prolific artist of Canadian wild flowers. LAC blog post.

Two items from Europeana
Reporting from the trenches: newspapers in World War I
Mining and exploring 200 years of newspapers: the impresso project

The Amber Alert system on phones is already annoying people, and that’s dangerous
The Amber Alert, which sounded on my phone six times early on Thursday, left me fatigued all day. If alerting me in Ottawa to a situation in York Region/Toronto was going to be helpful I wouldn't object. So far nobody has given an explanation of why warning to such remote areas is necessary. Weather warnings using the same technology are more targeted. Why not the same for Amber Alerts?

The Anti-Vaccine Chronicles
From The Pudding, the story about the pernicious claims borne out of a single, discredited scientific paper in 1998. But it’s also a story of how this belief has persisted among a growing number of Americans, despite its scientific foundations crumbling in the years following its origin.

Flying in the Time of Climate Emergency
“I don’t like harming others, so I don’t fly” climate scientist Peter Kalmus explained, noting that airplane emissions heat the planet, imperilling humans and non-humans alike. From

Saturday, 13 July 2019

Latest Irish Lives Remembered magazine

The free summer issue of online magazine Irish Lives Remembered includes:

  • Croagh Patrick (County Mayo): The Sacred Mountain of the Sun God by Eamonn 'Ned' Kelly;
  • Linking your DNA to Ireland's Ancient "Kings and Queens" by Maurice Gleeson;
  • The Kavanagh/Cavanagh Surname and its relatives, Kinsella and Redmond by Paul MacCotter;
  • An Irishman Abroad: David Tynan O'Mahony [Dave Allen] by Nathan Mannion;
  • A concise guide to tracing your Irish Ancestors using US, Canadian, Australian and British Records by Maura Flood;
  • Money, Mountain Dew, and Murder: Illicit Potin Distillation in Ireland during the 1920s - a four-part series, part 2 "Children going to and coming from school are reeling round the roads drunk with poteen" by Stephen Pierce. 
  • Gone With the Wind. A Southern US Reflection of Hierarchy, Power and Essentialism in Ireland [Film Discussion] by Brigit McCone

Canadians in The Journal of One-Name Studies

The quarterly publication of the Guild of One-Name Studies is not where I expect to find a lot of Canadian content, Volume 13, Issue 7 for July - September 2019 is an exception.

A Fishy Story: The Mitchelmores of Green Island Cove, by Michael Micthelmore, explores the reason why in this small Newfoundland community 67% were named Mitchelmore and 32% McLean. That's according to the 1945 census.

My Gillespie World-Wide Research, by Norma Gillespie caught my attention as her ancestors owned the land where (or nearby where ) I live. Gillespie Crescent is part of my route any time I go out. The family is traced back to Ireland and Scotland.

Should you start a One-Name Study if there is no one to take it over?, by Wayne Shepheard is this Calgary genealogist's musings. I ask, does it matter? I expect to have more to say in a forthcoming post prompted by this thought-provoking article.

Finally, an article that's not Canadian, The Incidence of Non-Paternal Events (NPEs) in Men of Manx Origin by John A Creer. His study estimates the NPE rate in the Isle of Man as 0.4% per generation, much lower than the 1 - 2 % typically quoted. I suspect 0.4% is an underestimate as it doesn't account for cases where a male from the same bloodline as the supposed father was actually the genetic father.

Friday, 12 July 2019

Additions to Findmypast this week

Huddersfield Baptisms
Over 52,000 transcript records covering 14 new parishes, Adwalton, Armitage Bridge, Batley Carr, Battyeford, Berry Brow, Birchencliffe, Birstall, Bradley, Chickenley, Cleckheaton, Cowms, Crosland Moor, Cumberworth, and High Hoyland have been added to the 10 already in the FMP collection of Huddersfield Baptisms. Each record includes a transcript of an original parish register entry giving a combination of baptism date, parent's names, father's occupation and address.

Yorkshire Memorial Inscriptions
Over 5,000 additional records covering 14 Anglican churchyards across the York area (West Riding, North Riding and Ainsty) have been added to the collection, mainly covering the years of the First and Second World War. There are now 201 locations included with nearly 138,000 entries. Rawmarsh, Kimberworth and Masbrough each have more than 5,000 inscriptions included.

Middlesex Baptisms
Over 64,000 new records have been added to existing parishes within this collection. These transcripts of original parish register entries will reveal a combination of baptism date, parent's names, father's occupation and address. The collection also covers parts of London, Surrey, and Hertfordshire.

United States, Passenger and Crew Lists
Containing more than 100 million records, this new and improved national collection of US passenger lists is a blend of all FMP's existing US lists as well as more than 2 million new additions covering Boston, Texas and South Carolina. Spanning 165 years of travel (1800-1965), the collection includes ship manifests kept by shipmasters, crew lists, flight manifests, passenger arrival lists, and more.

This extensive collection of migration records includes ship manifests kept by shipmasters, crew lists, flight manifests, passenger arrival lists, and more. The numerous lists document the arrival of millions of immigrant from Europe, Asia, and South America into America, where most created a new life for themselves and their descendants.

Transcripts will reveal birth year, birthplace, place of arrival, arrival year and ship name. Within the images, you might discover travelling companions, occupation, last permanent residence, and the lists also recorded the names of those who died during the voyage. On crew lists, you may discover occupation on the ship, whether they were able to read or write, length of service, as well as a physical description.

International Records Update – Czech Republic
Two new Indexes, Czech Republic Births & Baptisms 1637-1889 and Czech Republic Marriages 1654-1889 are now available to search. These transcripts will provide you with vital dates and locations as well as the names of parents and spouses.

Beechwood Cemetery CWGC: John Taylor (1877 - 1919)

Private John Taylor (219492) was another of the British-born who served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force.

Born in Reading, Berkshire on 19 March 1877, the second son of William a hairdresser and Sarah, he had 12 years experience including serving in South Africa before emigrating to Canada.

Enlisting at Picton with the 80th Overseas Battalion in May 1915, a time when a married man needed his wife's consent, he went to England in August but was discharged in May 1917 as physically unfit. He was able to reenlist in November 1917 serving with the Canadian Army Corps of Military Staff Clerks. He died on 12 July of enteritis/influenza leaving his wife Edith a son and a daughter.

His grave is at Beechwood Cemetery in Section 29, Lot 15. S.W.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Society of Genealogists RootsTech London Extra

If you're going to RootsTech London, 24-26 October, you may want to take advantage of an extra genealogy day being offered by the Society of Genealogists.

There are two free lectures on Wednesday 23 October being presented by Alec Tritton, a RootsTech London 2019 featured speaker.

The Old Poor Law Before 1834, being offered at 2 pm
The Tudor poor laws limped on, administered by the church in its civil capacity, until it was replaced in 1834. The resulting records produced an amazing amount of information about those who did or who might become a burden on the parish.

Finding the Wills of your Ancestors, being offered at 4 pm 
This talk will help you to understand the genealogical value of Wills, be able to use them in compiling Family Histories, understand the differences in probate administration and records (before and after 1858) and to be able to navigate the various systems.

Free tours of the society library are also being offered on the same day starting at either 11:15 am or 2:15 pm.

Space is limited.

Further information and booking at

Optimising your Privacy with DNA tests

Seven suggestions from Maurice Gleeson, starting with don't test and ending with deleting your account.
You can't have your cake and eat it too. Optimizing privacy means NOT optimizing the benefit from a DNA test.
Read Maurice's suggestions here.

Updates to the #1 CCCS Project

Soldiers and a nurse at No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station.
George Metcalf Archival Collection, CWM 19920044-385.
Courtesy of Canadian War Museum, Ottawa, Ontario.
The following are the names for bios most recently added to the BIFHSGO No. 1 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station database which totals 879 names. Nearly half also include biographies.

2nd Lieutenant Earl Henry Mulley
2nd Lt Guy Maddison Vaisey
Corporal Cecil James Richard Paterson
Corporal Henry Percy Carr
Corporal John Charles Buck
Lance Corporal William Albert Pavett
Private Aloysius Paul O'Connor
Private Archibald McIlquham Hendry
Private Ernest Edwin Gumbrell
Private Ernest Rogerson
Private Frederick William Mounteney Winks
Private George Reid Atkinson
Private George William Simpson
Private Norman Francis Staples
Private Quincey Sutherland
Private Reginald Burrows
Private Robert Ricketts
Private Roy Louis Woodward
Private Tauetuli
Private Thomas Simmonds Harvey
Private Wilfred Carter
Private William Charles Gibson
Private William Creed
Private William Ernest Charles Woods
Private William John Pride
Gunner Percy Henry Card
Rifleman Middleton Beckett
Sapper Thomas Arnold Clayburn

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

Herefordshire Bishop's Transcripts, 1583-1898 now on FamilySearch

866,311 transcripts of Herefordshire Bishop's Transcripts are now available in this updated collection from FamilySearch. An estimated 85% of the records are for the years 1750 to 1850.

All the detail is here on the FamilySearch Wiki.

Westboro Beach Genealogy Meetup

Join us at noon on Sunday, 14 July, for the annual Ottawa informal genealogy meetup. Folks look forward to it.

The forecast is sunny with a high of 29 C, probably a bit cooler by the water. Sunscreen and hats recommended.

Find out about the Westboro Beach Cafe, and remember the Parkway is closed to vehicles on Sundays from 9 am to 1 pm. If driving there's free parking on Kirchoffer and Lanark Avenues and an underpass to the beach.

Hearth Tax Digital

Hearth Tax Digital
Via Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine: A large collection of 17th-century tax records has come back online and is set to grow over the next few years.

BTW, did you know that the 2 July issue of WDYTYA? Magazine is available through PressReader? It's accessible free with your library card through the OPL and likely through the digital resources of many other public library websites.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

And the Winner is ...

Who will be getting a complimentary admission to RootsTech London?

Tickets for all entrants who answered the skill-testing question correctly were put in a hat and the winner was drawn out of the hat by Glenn Wright while we were meeting for coffee at Second Cup. He was evidently pleased with having met that challenge!

The winner is Angela Meyer from Florida.

Angela is the spouse of Miles Mayer who will be speaking on Thursday at RootsTech on Tour of Online European Archives.

Several other RootsTech Ambassadors still have their competitions going so there are more chances.

Sylvia Valentine has a Wacky Word Competition.

The Rules of Competition

What is the wackiest word you have come across whilst researching your family tree and which had you reaching for the dictionary?
Explain the circumstances where you found it and its meaning.
Cite your source.
The judge’s decision if final.
Closing date for Entries is 4 August 2019.
Send your entry by email to:

Heather Nowlan's competition is at

You can likely find others by Googling.

Podcast: Ottawa Synagogue History

Perhaps like me, you've passed this building without giving it a second look.

Every building has a story. From the Ottawa Jewish Archives Podcast - The King Edward Shul, otherwise Adath Jeshurun Synagogue — Ottawa's second synagogue.

Monday, 8 July 2019

A Month from Today: DNA and Online Resources for Discovering Your Lost Family History

Don't miss a rare August opportunity, a month from today, 8 August for an Ottawa family history event. Organized by the Ottawa Public Library, in partnership with the Ottawa Branch the Ontario Genealogical Society and the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa, come learn about

DNA and Online Resources for Discovering Your Lost Family History

in The Chamber at the Nepean Centerpointe Library.

Here's the program:

Daniel Horowitz: MyHeritage Treasure Trove: An overview of features for family research, and Integrating DNA and Family History Research at MyHeritage

Daniel Horowitz is expert genealogist at MyHeritage, the world's fastest-growing genealogy social network. Daniel is a Venezuelan-born genealogist living in Israel. Computer engineer and linguist, he applies his training to his genealogical passion as one of the first to join MyHeritage.

Leanne Cooper: The Wonders of WikiTree: Collaborative Genealogy and DNA

Leanne Cooper is a frequent local speaker with roots mostly in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, and back to the UK.

Lesley Anderson: Secrets & Shenanigans: How AncestryDNA was used in an unexpected mystery

Lesley Anderson has worked for for over 11 years as their Canadian Spokesperson and has been involved in the personal research of her family tree for over 50 years.

 Register for this free event running from 9:30 am -4:00 pm at Eventbrite here.

More than 100 people are already registered.

New: Ottawa Directories and Newspapers Online:

Joy! Thanks in part to a grant from the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society the following resources are newly digitized and searchable online through the Ottawa Public Library website.

City directories
For the years 1927, 1926, 1924, 1923, 1922, 1921, 1920, 1918, 1917, 1910, 1908, 1907, 1906, 1905, 1904, 1903, 1880, 1879, 1878, 1877, 1876, 1874-75, 1872-73, 1870-71, 1866-67, 1864-65, 1863

The Ottawa Times for 1865-1877
Courrier d'Ottawa for 1861-1864

They are not yet announced. Recognize that this is a work in progress; OPL is working on an update to its Local History Collections page which currently refers only to directory and newspaper resources to view on microfilm.

The online versions can currently be viewed and searched through the OPL catalogue. You do not need to be logged in. Here's how to find them.

For directories, from  search "Ottawa Directory" and then narrow to "eBook" format. For the newspapers, search by title "The Times" or "Courrier d'Ottawa" and then narrow to ‘Website or Online Data’ format. In each case click on the required resource.

As mentioned, this is a work in progress. The subsequent search forms appeared to me in French. Choose to search within the title < Recherche dans ce titre> or a general search < Rechercher> which produces results across the whole corpus of digitized directories and newspapers.

Results appear highlighted in red on an image of the original.

Expect changes as the system develops.

Library and Archives Canada has a collection of digitized Ottawa directories that fill the gaps (mostly) at