30 April 2008

More UK searchable genealogy & history websites - from Rick Roberts

Rick Roberts of Global Genealogy recently added a posting More UK Searchable Genealogy & History Websites to his Global Gazette. It includes seventeen searchable online databases with information including maps, military records, deaths, Wills, newspapers and more. Searches are free on all sites listed. Some charge a fee for accessing the supporting digital documents, others do not.

Rick is one of those people who helps make doing family history in Canada a pleasure. Visit Global's stand at a genealogy conference and you'll find him keen to listen, to understand your needs and recommend a solution.

Rick and Sandra have been bringing a wide range of books and materials to the marketplace of the BIFHSGO annual conference since the start. As is often the case he will be giving a pre-conference seminar, this year on the new version of Legacy Family Tree.

29 April 2008

Thanks to you, Cyndi and Randy

As of noon on Monday, 28 April this blog passed the monthly record for total hits, unique visitors and return visitors. Although I don't aim to break records it does indicate people find something of value in my ramblings. Thank you for visiting

Thanks also go to Cyndi Howells and cyndislist where I placed an announcement about the blog. It would be nice if Cyndi would include Anglo-Celtic Connections in her category Blogs for Genealogy. Pretty please.

Randy Seaver mentioned the posting on LAC recommended web sites in his most recent Best of the Genea-Blogs on his Genea-Musings site. Much appreciated Randy.


What we anticipate seldom occurs; what we least expected generally happens.
- Benjamin Disraeli

28 April 2008

Red hair amongst the Goughs?

Friend, and highly respected Toronto genealogist, Brenda Dougall Merriman has a posting on her experience as a redhead on her blog.

Several surnames are supposedly derived from the founder(s) having red hair or a ruddy complexion. Reid and its variants are amongst them. Other surnames are Gough, Rogan and Rufus.

Statistics are that the frequency of red hair in Britain is only about 4%. There don't appear to be any statistics for ruddy complexion, defined as "inclined to a healthy reddish color often associated with outdoor life." It doesn't take much sun exposure for me to fall into that category.

I did a quick survey of soldiers with last name Gough with attestation papers at Library and Archives Canada. There are 127 of them. Only 110 have information on complexion and hair colour.

Three soldiers were described as having red (actually reddish or auburn) hair. All three also had blue eyes and two of the three a ruddy complexion. Three of 110 is less than 4%, so there is no evidence of excessive red hair in this sample of Goughs.

In total seven Goughs had a ruddy complexion. The Oxford English Dictionary defines ruddy as "Of the face, complexion, etc.: Naturally suffused with a fresh or healthy redness" so it would seem reasonable to count in with ruddy at least some of the nine Goughs described as having a "fresh" complexion. In one case there were two attestation papers on file for the same person -- in one his complexion was described as fresh and in the other ruddy.

Certainly a ruddy or fresh complexion is several times more common amongst the Goughs than red hair.

27 April 2008

More on LAC and USB flash drives

It was a pleasure to be at an event at Library and Archives Canada on Friday evening to mark the acquisition and donation of archival materials from the descendants of former Governor General Lord Elgin. Ian Wilson managed the ceremonies with grace. Congratulations to those who organized the event so well.

I took the opportunity of a brief conversation with Ian to mention the question of LAC walking his talk regarding the use of USB flash drives at LAC. He seemed unaware that clients are not allowed to use them in LAC equipment.

By coincidence on Saturday Dick Eastman posted an item on these drives in his online genealogy newsletter. I took the opportunity to post a comment to which Dick responded:

JDR ---> Some local archives and libraries prohibit the use of flash drives on their computers citing the risk of virus transmission. How real is the threat?

Dick Eastman: It is real. However, it can easily be managed. The process isn't complex, any Windows system administrator should be able to handle it.

Two things pop to mind: (1.) the threat is no greater for jump drives than it is for floppy disks or CD-ROM disks. These threats have been around for years and properly installed and frequently-updated anti-virus programs have proven to delete 99.9% of them. (2.) Properly-installed public access computers in libraries, Internet cafes and elsewhere usually are configured to have the hard drives wiped clean and reloaded every day or so. Even if a virus infection occurs, it doesn't last long.

Proper anti-virus software installed in your own computer minimizes the risk of a problem being introduced to your system.

JDR ---> What can be done about it to permit the use of these devices?

Dick Eastman: Probably not much. We are the guests in the establishment and are at the mercy of the owners, whether we agree with their policies or not.

At this time of year, with income taxes due in a few days, being "at the mercy" of the administrators of a publicly funded institution does not sit well. As pointed out on Friday, Lord Elgin instituted "responsible" government in Canada rejecting the prior practice of domestic government decisions being taken in Britain. Could we find another Lord Elgin to institute the same kind of "responsible" administration at LAC?

Having mentioned Dick Eastman it would be irresponsible not to point out that he is a speaker at the OGS Conference coming up in London, Ontario.

26 April 2008

Ottawa Digging Up Your Roots Fair - May 10th

Recognize any of these names? Michel Béland, Olivier Bilodeau, Terry Findley, Hariett Fried, Ana Ghia-Pereira, Diana Hall, Shirley-Ann Pyefinch, Kyla Ubbink, Glenn Wright, and someone named John D Reid.

Talks by these local speakers are some of the attractions at the Ottawa Stake Family History Centre of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints 3rd Annual Family History "Digging Up Your Roots" Fair.

Mark the afternoon of Saturday May 10th, 1 -5 pm, on your calendar and plan on coming to this free event at 1017 Prince of Wales Drive.

BIFHSGO has a good meeting with a speaker from Britain that morning too.

25 April 2008

An invitation - Subject or Citizen?

I have been asked, and am pleased, to publicize the following

Mr. Ian E Wilson, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, and Mr. Allen Weinstein, Archivist to the United States, cordially invite you to the opening of the exhibition

Subject or Citizen?
The Treaty of Paris

in the presence of his Excellency Mr. David H. Wilkins,
United States Ambassador to Canada.

Tuesday May 6 at 5:30 pm
395 Wellington Street, Ottawa

RSVP by May 1st, 2008
613 992-2618
Reception/Cash Bar

Note: Unfortunately the nice graphic version of the invitation failed to appear on many browsers, although it does with Firefox -- yet another reason to switch.

24 April 2008

Voters Lists Online

The May issue of Ancestors Magazine has an article "Reading the Rolls" by Tony Abrahams on British voters lists. It deals particularly with the lists at the Midland Historical Data Archive for which Abrahams is responsible.

British voters lists from 2002 onward are available digitally at www.192.com. Searching earlier lists is a real chore, unless you have a full address, as they are not organized alphabetically by name.

Even finding the lists takes a bit of searching. You can find post 1947 and a few earlier voters lists at the British Library. More complete collections are often held locally and may be identified by searching www.familia.org.uk for the location of interest.

You would think voters lists would be a prime target for the large commercial genealogy database companies such as ancestry.co.uk and findmypast.com. This would be true especially for the years after 1928 when all adults where enfranchised and other sources are lacking.

As is often the case a local initiative shows the way, in this instance indexed Birmingham Electoral Rolls for 1912, 1918 (Absent voters), 1920,1925,1930 & 1935 at www.midlandshistoricaldata.org. They can all be searched by name, by address or both, and viewed by pay per view or subscription. Prices are here.

Canadian voters lists are also difficult to work with. Library and Archives Canada holds federal voters lists of the Office of the Electoral Officer for Canada (RG 113) from 1935 to 1983. As in the UK they are arranged by the name of the electoral district. Within the electoral districts the lists are further arranged by polling station.

LAC has the voters lists on microfilm. Find the film number on the list here.

23 April 2008

LAC suggested online genealogy databases

Here is a list of online genealogy databases suggested by Library and Archives Canada in a paper handout dated October 2007 found at CGC yesterday.

LAC, Canadian Genealogy Centre: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/genealogy/
Automated Genealogy: automatedgenealogy.com/census/index.html
Family Search: www.familysearch.org
Newfoundland's Grand Banks Genealogy Site: ngb.chebucto.org
Provincial Archives of New Brunswick: www.gnb.ca/Archives
Prince Edward Island Baptismal Index: www.gov.pe.ca/cca/baptismal/
Nova Scotia Archives: www.gov.ns.ca/nsarm/databases
Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics: www.novascotiagenealogy.com/
Bibliothéque et Archives nationales du Québec: www.banq.qc.ca/portal/dt/genealogie/?bnq_langue=en
PRDH: Quebec French-Canadian genealogy before 1800: www.genealogie.umontreal.ca/en/main.htm
Ontario Wesleyan Methodist baptisms: freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/%7Ewjmartin/wm-index.htm
Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid: www.islandnet.com/~jveinot/
Northern Ontario Canada Gravemarker Gallery: freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~murrayp/
Toronto 1901 Census Street Finder: www.ontarioroots.com
Métis National Council Historical Online Database: metisnationdatabase.ualberta.ca/MNC/
Manitoba Vital Statistics: web2.gov.mb.ca/cca/vital/Query.php
Saskatchewan: Genealogy Index Searches: vsgs.health.gov.sk.ca/vsgs_srch.aspx
British Columbia Cemetery Finding Aid: www.islandnet.com/bccfa/
British Columbia Archives: Vital Events: www.bcarchives.gov.bc.ca
Yukon Gold Rush: www.yukongenealogy.com/content/database_search.htm
Canadian Virtual War Memorial: www.vac-acc.gc.ca/remembers/
Commonwealth War Graves Commission: www.cwgc.org
Legion Magazine's Last Post Database: www.legionmagazine.com/lastpost/
Air Force Honours and Awards: www.airforce.ca/index2.php3?page=honours
Ingeneas: www.ingeneas.com
The ShipsList: www.theshipslist.com
Nanaimo Family History Society Passenger List Indexing Project: members.shaw.ca/nanaimo.fhs/
Ancestors on Board: www.ancestorsonboard.com
Ellis Island (New York 1892 - 1924): www.ellisislandrecords.com
Castle Garden (New York 1830 - 1892): www.castlegarden.org/about.html
Our Roots: www.ourroots.ca
Obituary Daily Times: www.rootsweb.com/~obituary/

For those surprised I didn't blog about April 23rd being St George's Day, England's national day, I'm celebrating in the traditional Canadian way, by ignoring it.

Those who want to mark the occasion may wish to enjoy this old Song of Patriotic Prejudice:

22 April 2008

14,028,877 Canadian names

If you think Séguin, Tremblay, and Potvin when you think Quebec you're not wrong, but neither are you seeing the full picture. Plenty of Irish, English and Scots; O'Briens, Wrights and Macdonalds settled in the Province too, and many are to be found in a newly indexed Ancestry.ca collection Quebec Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967.

The 14,028,877 number comes from the Complete Ancestry Title Listings. It's on the first page listed by decreasing number of names in the title. This is the 35th largest database in the whole Ancestry collection, and second largest Canadian title after Canadian Phone and Address Directories, 1995-2002

I'm unsure how to reconcile the 14+ million number with the note above the search form for the collection "Please note: 29 million names are now searchable via the new index. Searching may produce records that have not yet been indexed. Please continue to enjoy access to all historical images. With cooperation from University of Montreal, the remaining 8 million names will be available later this year."

However many names are actually available and indexed, this is a large enough database that you won't want to miss out trying it with some of the names in your genealogy. Even if you have no known Quebec connection its worth trying to see if any co-lateral lines, or family strays, happen to turn up. You'll need a subscription or to go to a public library or other institution that has an Ancestry Library subscription.

21 April 2008

Old Bailey database enhanced

Simon Fowler, editor of Ancestors magazine, posts on the magazine blog about an update to the free Old Bailey database. There is a new website address, www.oldbaileyonline.org and you can now search an extended range of dates by key word as well as by person.

The sentence that particularly caught my attention in the blog posting was "Historians have suggested that the cocaine habit only really arrived (in London) with Canadian troops during the First World War." Go to the blog to see Fowler's comments based on searching cocaine in the Old Bailey trial proceedings.

20 April 2008

Book Review: New Lives for Old

The story of children from charities, workhouses and city streets migrated to Canada, and other former British colonies, through programmes of various philanthropic organizations is seemingly little known in Britain. New Lives for Old, a January 2008 publication from The (UK) National Archives, brings the story, warts and all, before the British public.

Starting with the experiences of two women, Maria Rye (1829-1903) and Annie Macpherson (1825-1904), who pioneered child migration to Canada, the first chapter moves on to deal with the 1875 report by Andrew Doyle (1809-1888) who was especially critical of Rye, the way children were assigned to hosts, and lack of inspections.

Chapter three treats some of the other agencies associated with names like Rudolf (Waifs and Strays), Quarrier, Fegan and Middlemore, and illustrates the children's experiences with anecdotes. It tells of the history of the Allen Line that transported many of the children, and outlines the typical child's migration experience to the time they found a placement.

Responsible for more child migrants to Canada than any other was the agency founded by Thomas John Barnado (1845-1905.) Chapter three is devoted to Barnardo and Dr Barnardo's Homes; chapter four to Catholic child emigration. The farm school movement, most associated with Kingsley Fairbridge (1885-1924) is the subject of chapter five.

It is surprising in a book otherwise dealing with child emigrants to find a chapter devoted to WW2 British child refugees. Unlike the home children they knew they were returning to Britain at the end of the war, and authorities went to considerable lengths to maintain family ties. That certainly applies to those children who came under the government Children's Overseas Reception Board (CORB) programme. It is the experiences of these children that are dealt with in chapter six, despite the fact that more than twice as many children were evacuated to Canada in 1940 outside the CORB scheme through schools, businesses and fraternal organizations.

The final chapter treats the last years of child emigration with an emphasis on Australia. There are notes for each chapter collected at the back, a compilation of sources for tracing records of child migrants; useful addresses; websites; a bibliography and index.

The book is likely all the casual reader will need. For those wanting more depth Marj Kohli's book The Golden Bridge is recommended, and cited frequently in this book. For a more detailed treatment of CORB I recommend Michael Fethney's The Absurd and the Brave.

The situation and prospects for most if not all of these children in Britain were poor, if not bad. If Britain had in place a more humanitarian approach to dealing with its destitute children, and the social conditions that were the root cause, this might not have been the case.

19 April 2008

Musings on weather and genealogy

As the last snow looks set to disappear from my front lawn today (a forecast), and I read about the death of Edward N Lorenz, it set me thinking about similarities between weather and family history.

Ed Lorenz, the founder of Chaos Theory, was arguably the greatest atmospheric scientist, or mathematician-meteorologist, of his generation. He started his career as a weather forecaster during WW2, a background he shared with Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow. Lorenz fully deserved a Nobel Prize for his insight that "slightly differing initial states can evolve into considerably different states." This was expressed more imaginatively that the flap of a butterfly's wing in Brazil can cause a tornado in Texas. It showed why there are limits on the predictability of weather.

In family history, how might a small difference have changed the whole course of your (if there was a you) family history? A man just misses a bus, or walks out of the building a minute earlier, and so doesn't meet the woman who would otherwise become his wife. Life is full of such critical points so we don't expect to be able to predict our future family history.

18 April 2008

Primrose Day and an unusual census entry

April 19 was for many years unofficially commemorated as Primrose Day in Britain. Lord Beaconsfield, (Benjamin Disraeli,) died that day in 1881. Primroses, his favourite flowers, were placed on his grave, at his statue in Parliament Square, and worn by admirers.

His name was coupled with that of Sir John A Macdonald, both were considered outstanding Conservative leaders. Although Disraeli was not yet Prime Minister when the British North America Act which founded Canada was approved by the British Parliament, he was the leader of the government in the Commons and so must surely have had a substantial role.

Disraeli appears in the 1881 census, taken not long before his death, listed by his title, The Earl of Beaconsfield, with occupation ex-Prime Minister. Someone in the census office was obviously an admirer. When in genealogy class they tell you the 1881 census didn't recorded deaths show them this curiosity - a snippet from the census document with a R.I.P. scrawled beside the entry.

I wonder, are there any special rules for citing marginalia?

17 April 2008

LAC Service Advisory Board Deliberations

LAC have now posted documentation on three presentations, the draft record of decisions and a list of suggestions developed by board members at the March 7, 2008 LAC Services Advisory Board Meeting

You can take advantage of the comment form to send your reaction or input to LAC management. LAC hasn't caught up with Web 2.0 yet and the comments aren't posted publicly. You can always post comments here too.

16 April 2008

Genealogy and Influenza

Could genealogy save your life? Perhaps if your family research has uncovered a relative who died from influenza, maybe in the 1918 pandemic.

That's the implication I draw from research reported in "Evidence for heritable predisposition to death due to influenza" in J Infect Dis 2007; 197:18–24 by Albright FS, Orlando P, Pavia AT, Jackson GG, Cannon Albright LA.

These statistical findings are described in a short podcast and while the paper itself isn't freely available an online editorial comment is, which includes a summary.

Knowing you are at higher risk from influenza due to a predisposing genetic determinant might help motivate taking precautions, like an annual flu shot, to protect yourself.

15 April 2008

"Introduction to Records Collection" available through Ancestry.com

I have been accused of making, some months ago, an overly cryptic comment in this blog about Louise St Denis of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies.

Part of the story is now public with the publication of the following article from the Ancestry Weekly Journal.

Online Course: Introduction to Records Collection

This course is provided jointly by Ancestry.com and The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. The National Institute of Genealogical Studies is an international organization that provides educational opportunities for those who value professionalism in all aspects of genealogy. The University of Toronto, Canada's largest university, is pleased to partner with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies to offer this course. This six-module course will introduce the following five record groups to the amateur genealogist:

  • Census Records
  • Vital Records
  • Military Records
  • Newspaper & Publication Records
  • Immigration Records

In each module, you will learn what information the record group contains, how to search for the records, explain, and how to record the information you find. The sixth module will consist of a case study following one family through the various record groups. Online live chat sessions enable you to ask questions of your instructor, Beverly Rice, CG, during the course.

Beverly Rice is a teacher and lecturer in historical and genealogical topics with a special interest in Western Migration, Women's Experiences in the West, and research methodology or "helping others break down those brick walls by getting the most from each record." She has taught genealogy classes since 1981. Beverly is an associate of the Board for Certification of Genealogists. She is the past treasurer for the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) and a trustee for the Board for Certification of Genealogists. She is the Director of American Studies for the National Institute for Genealogical Studies and has been a volunteer librarian at the Coos Bay Family History Center since 1989.

Register today in the Ancestry store.

Ottawa 1887 snowfall impacts

With this winter's near record snowfall the City section of the 15 April Ottawa Citizen publishes my letter on Ottawa's snowfall. Records for the winter of 1886-87 show 463.3 cm of snow fell, nearly 20 cm more than the official record of 444.1 cm for 1970-71 being quoted. Environment Canada's official record book uses data from the airport weather station which only started operation in November 1938.

In the letter I relate the weather to the federal election going on. There's a lot more in the newspapers of the time that didn't get in the letter.

Newspapers of 19th century paid scant attention to the weather. Not that it wasn't important, but the amount of snowfall was quantified more by its impacts, especially how much trains were delayed, than the amount.

A Montreal to Ottawa train 80 hours late at the end of February was the measure of a record snowfall. Environment Canada's web site shows that 30.5 cm fell on 27 February 1887, 25.4 cm the previous day. That was on top of more than a metre of snow that had been reported since the 11th.

The snow could stop a train, but not a bullet despite the belief of one of the local militia officers. This from the Ottawa Journal.

" Some days ago it was announced that Major Anderson of the 43rd had expressed confidence in the theory that a bank of snow would offer sufficient resistance to stop any bullet. This theory was put to the test on Saturday afternoon. The officers present were Major Todd and Lieuts. Cote, Grey and Winter of the G.G.F.G. and Capt. Evans and Lieut. Rogers of the 43rd. A large mound of snow had been constructed ten feet thick at the base.

The test was first made at a range of 200 yards. The firing was done by Lieuts. Grey and Winter while Major Todd and Capt. Evans kept watch at the mound. Those fired at 200 yards were heard to strike the fence 200 yards in the rear of the mound. The bullets fired from 500 yards likewise penetrated the mound at the thickest part."

14 April 2008

Update on Ancestry.ca

Lesley Anderson is busy, and seemingly inexhaustible. An Ottawa area genealogy instructor and researcher, she volunteers at the Ottawa Family History Centre, is associate director (Education) for BIFHSGO, and consults with Ancestry.ca on Canadian resources.

On Tuesday, 15 April, Lesley is speaker at the OGS Ottawa Branch monthly meeting giving an Ancestry.ca update. The meeting starts at 7:30 pm in room 156 at Library and Archives Canada.

Other opportunities to hear Lesley coming up are at the OGS Conference, Wired Genealogy, in London, Ontario and the BIFHSGO Conference in September.

13 April 2008

Free Access to Gale Databases during National Library Week

April 13-19 is National Library Week (presumably in the US) but we can all benefit from FREE access to the many databases in AccessMyLibrary.

You may already have tried the 19th Century British Library Newspaper Collection which is available as part of the trial together with the 17-18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers. These are all fully searchable. You can view entire pages or individual articles; save, bookmark, e-mail and print results.

Other databases that may be of interest as background for genealogy are: Academic OneFile, Biography Resource Centre and History Resource Centre:World.

Select the database of interest and click on Skip Registration.

Vision of Britain

If you're seeking basic information about locations in your British family history this may be the website you need.

A Vision of Britain Through Time presents the history of Great Britain,
graphically and cartographically, through places.

Searching is as easy as entering a place name in the search box, or clicking on a region on the map, which will lead to a well ordered information collection.

Find census derived information, historical mapping including information about boundary changes, and transcriptions of travellers tales.

You will soon find yourself lost in names for administrative regions that change over time. Lost in a Cantref, Rape, Lathe, Franchise, Wapentake, Lordship, Cinque Port, Commote, Liberty, Borough, Hundred, Soke, Barony, County of Itself or Palatine Seat? This site will help you find your way out of the maze ... here.

12 April 2008

Forensic Genealogy

This year the speakers at the OGS Annual Conference in London, Ontario, include several recognizable names from the US. If you haven't heard Dick Eastman or Steve Morse this is your opportunity. There are plenty of familiar Ontario-based speakers too.

One speaker I haven't heard is Colleen Fitzpatrick, author of the book Forensic Genealogy and a web site that goes by the same name. The book was amazing, especially the first part, The Digital Detective,
on photo-interpretation. The web site has a weekly photo-quiz here. Scroll down on that page to read extended analysis of the past photos.

11 April 2008

When was that?

Ever puzzled about a date? Perhaps you read in a old family letter from 1849 that a family member died on Easter Sunday. If by some mischance you don't happen to have an 1849 calendar handy, how do you find out when that was?

Or you read in an old parchment that a sale was recorded on 2 June in regnal year 3 Charles II. When was that?

To help his students at Albion College in Central Michigan Ian MacInnes provides a site, Ian's English Calendar, intended to replace reference handbooks. It's good for dates in genealogy too.

The section on Ecclesiastical dates shows that in 1849 Easter was on April 15; also Septuagesima on February 11; Ash Wednesday on 28 February; Ascension May 24; Pentecost June 3; Trinity Sunday June 10; and Advent Sunday December 2.

There's also a section that converts between old and new style dates, both ways; and another that gives the day of the week for any date, with separate calculation for the old and new style calendars.

In The final section is on regnal years. Here's a screen shot of the form and result for 2 June 3 Charles II

10 April 2008

Not just Google

A posting Kant find a book in full view on the Inside Google Book Search blog prompted me to go back to a posting I did about 18 months ago where I blogged about an example of Google's excessive conservatism in protecting copyright.

"The silvery hosts of the North Sea, with a sketch of 'quaint old Yarmouth," by C Stacy Watson was published in 1883. Still in 2008 Google continues to protect some illusionary copyright by only showing snippets.

The Google Book Search Blog posting suggests clicking on More Editions when you don't find a full digitization. Good advice, but not helpful in this case.

Maybe Google should add another link, to Other Sources. This book is fully available through The Internet Archive, and with an explanation of their view of the copyright status here.

Experienced searchers preach time and again to not rely solely on one source like Google for your searches.

09 April 2008

Staff changes at LAC

Late last week in an entirely unanticipated move Michelle Doucet, Director General, Services Branch at Library and Archives Canada, announced her departure to a new deployment effective at the end of the week.

DGs don't get a lot of profile with clients, but as one who serves on the Services Advisory Board of LAC, saw and appreciated Michelle's open style at the Board's meetings, I will miss her contributions. I'm sure she will miss LAC, not the least for her office which had a magnificent view over the Ottawa River.

This move leaves several people in acting positions in the chain of command. The Canadian Genealogy Centre, for example, has an acting Chief, reporting to an acting director, reporting to the vacant DG position. I expect operational matters will continue to run more or less as usual, but lacking the effective continuing leadership at these levels needed to implement change.

08 April 2008

CBC Drops Genealogy Programme "Who Do You Think You Are?"

The following is from Janice Nickerson who was genealogist-researcher with the Canadian version of "Who Do You Think You Are?":

I have just learned the sad news that CBC has decided not to renew the genealogy series "Who Do You Think You Are?" for a second season. This is really disappointing for those of us who worked on the show. We all enjoyed the experience and were proud of what we accomplished. The ratings for the show were very good, but the CBC has decided that it doesn't have "room" in
its schedule for the show. If you enjoyed the program and would like to see it continue, why not contact the folks at CBC and let them know how you feel? If enough people express their disappointment, perhaps they will change their minds. Here are a few people at CBC you can contact: Commissioning Editor/Senior producer: Linda Laughlin Linda_Laughlin@cbc.ca> Linda_Laughlin@cbc.ca (416) 205-2402

Area Executive Producer, Independent Documentaries: Michael Claydon
doczone@cbc.ca> doczone@cbc.ca 416-205-2778

Executive Director, Documentary Programming: Mark Starowicz:
Mark_Starowicz@cbc.ca> Mark_Starowicz@cbc.ca

Or go to the following web page to send a comment:
<http://www.cbc.ca/contact/index.html> http://www.cbc.ca/contact/index.html

Also, if CBC won't pick it up, perhaps CTV would! Send a note to them at

In the meantime, reruns of season one will be running on CBC Newsworld on Sundays at 1:30 and 4:30 (starting yesterday). Tune in and show CBC that you really do care!

07 April 2008

LAC Estimates show large budget increase

This is the time of year when federal department's spending estimates become public. Here's the situation at Library and Archives Canada for the fiscal year just started.

In the organization 2008-2009 Main Estimates LAC plans current fiscal year total expenditures of $158 million. This is a major increase over the expenditures foreseen in the Main Estimates a year ago. Then total expenditures for 2008-2009 were a forecast $101 million.

Full credit to LAC managers. When many of us were lamenting the prospect of reduced funding to LAC for this year, as shown in last year's estimates, down to $101 million from $119 million in 2007-2008, I was told that such a decrease was highly unlikely. How right they were.

The table below shows that the Estimates for three years, the rows, consistently show the current year, in red, as having a peak expenditure with a forecast reduction in subsequent years.

2005-2006 2006-2007 2007-2008 2008-2009 2009-2010 2010-2011

2006-2007 $93 $109 $104 $100

$109 $119 $101 $99

$119 $158 $109 $103

But is there more to the story? A large part of the increase from last year is accounted for by the budget for the component "Making the Documentary Heritage Known and Accessible for Use" which includes funding for ongoing public services. That budget goes from $42 million to $69 million.

It would be nice to think we can expect 64% more public service. Unfortunately, Doug Rimmer, ADM responsible for this area informs me that "Much if not all of the variation that you point out is due to capital projects, IT projects or other special funding and is not a reflection of changes to our operating dollars - which is what funds our day-to-day operations."

If I were on the parliamentary committee reviewing these estimates I'd be asking for clarification on exactly where the increased finding is going.

06 April 2008

Can LAC walk Ian Wilson's talk?

Librarian and Archivist of Canada, Ian Wilson, presented "The State of Canadian Confederation: To Know Ourselves", The Extraordinary Symons Lecture in Toronto on February 28, 2008.

Find the text here.

It's a good read.

There is one section that stopped me short in light of a recent experience in the 3rd floor reading room at LAC. I asked about using a USB memory stick on one of their reader-printers rather than printing hardcopy. The answer was that it isn't permitted, even though some of the machines have that capability.

The passage in the Symons Lecture, which should be read in context, is: "The Web 2.0 generation has focused on relationships and on search strategies, not facts. Memory is external, on a cord around the neck."

At present at LAC that memory can only be hung around the neck, like a piece of cyberjewellery. Their practice suggests that LAC isn't seriously interested in serving the Web 2.0 generation?

There are issues with memory sticks, issues that other organizations appear to be managing. But as there are essentially no consumables involved with such memory not only is use essentially cost-free but it's more environmentally desirable.

So I wonder, can LAC learn to walk Ian Wilson's talk?

05 April 2008


From the Positivity Blog, 16 things I wish they had taught me at school -- guidelines for living as important for genealogy as for any other aspect of life.

04 April 2008

BIFHSGO April meeting this Saturday

The featured presentation this Saturday, 5 April 2008, at Library & Archives Canada is "The Diary of John Marsh, Seaman, HMS Pylades, 1862-1866" presented by John Hay and starting at 10 am.

John will tell the story of his great grandfather, John W. Marsh, based on his diary. Born in London England in 1844 John Marsh went to sea with the Royal Navy at age 17, serving on the corvette HMS Pylades in the Caribbean from 1862 to 1866 and with the gunboat St. Andrew which plied the St. Lawrence between Kingston and Prescott during the Fenian raids. More here.

Arrive by 9 am for a pre-BIFHSGO talk by Brian Glenn, BIFHSGO director of Education , who will demonstrate basic techniques to create "powerpoint" type presentations for meetings and conferences.

03 April 2008

Canada Year Book Historical Collection

Statistics Canada have just made available free the Canada Year Book (CYB) Historical Collection covering the first century of Canada's history, from 1867 to 1967.

It covers "Canada's social and economic past through the people, events and facts that have shaped this vast country" including "historical text, tables, charts and maps photos or multimedia".

Selecting browse by year then leads to covers for many of the CYB issues. You can try a "collection search" or select a specific issue and browse or search within it. The pages are digitized into pdfs which you can cut and paste into your own document.

The tables, in html, provide a huge amount of data useful as context for family history studies. The maps are disappointing as the resolution is unsatisfactory.

02 April 2008

Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery, Montreal

The Catholic Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery in Montreal is a neighbour to the Mount Royal Cemetery. In operation for 150 years there is a good chance you will find a Catholic Montrealer's, including Irish Catholic immigrant's, final resting place there. You can now search for a deceased on a convenient on line form

A search for Tremblay, not a common Irish name, revealed 36 pages of hits, somewhat under 2,000 names. In addition to the deceased's name each hit gives the spouses's name, concession number, section and "date of arrival". A search by concession number and section will find all those buried in the same plot.

01 April 2008

A Lagonda in 1940s London

Although I frequently scan the items posted in Carnival of Genealogy the topic Cars as stars! particularly caught my attention. A special car played a starring role in my family history so here is my first ever contribution to the Carnival. It's only a short one as it's a bit different from the normal news, views and resources content I post. Cars as stars! is being organized by Jasia at Creative Gene.

The year was 1941. London had just come through The Blitz and my father had returned home after his ship, the Rangitane, was sunk in the Pacific in November 1940. He was prisoner of war on a German raider, released and eventually made it back to England; but that's a whole other story!

He was a car fan having trained as a motor mechanic before the war. Though contacts he was able to buy something special, a British-made Lagonda. The car, and the young man driving it, impressed a young secretary who was arranging servicing of the delivery vehicles of Wiffin Bros., the grocery company for which she worked.

She was just delighted when the young man offered to work on her car, a much more modest Morris 8, which he did even before he worked on the company's vehicles. One thing led to another and they were married in 1944.

Online I found a photo of a restored classic red Lagonda. An old black and white photograph of my father's car looks much the same. I asked my mother if she remembered the colour. She didn't think it was red.

One thing about that car did stick in her mind, even more than 60 years later, was a non-standard feature that perhaps helps explain how my father, so recently shipwrecked, could afford such a luxury car.

It had two bullet holes in the body.

The story is that the car had belonged to a London underworld figure who "no longer had any use for it."

Do you You Tube?

I was amazed to find a short historic video on You Tube of fishing boats leaving the harbour at Great Yarmouth, less than a mile from where I first lived. It's just three clips, only 33 seconds in total, and dates from 1896 -- some while before I lived there.

Is there anything on You Tube for your home town, other locations and events in your family history?