Wednesday, 21 June 2017

D-I-V-O-R-C-E Part 4 After 1968 in Western Canada

Source: http://pdpics.com/photo/2579-broken-heart-cut-paper/





This week we're finishing up by looking at Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia.


Saskatchewan
As stated in Part 1, divorce was handled provincially beginning in 1920. It is handled by the Court of Queen's Bench. In 1994, a separate division of the court was created to deal solely with family law.

The Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan has divorce files up until 1930. These are listed under court records for the King's Bench (remember Queen Elizabeth had not ascended to the throne yet, so we still had a King). According to the section of court records on their website, they have docket books, or indexes, for most of their records. The majority are open to researchers, but you can only access on site. You can fill out a request form on their records here.

After 1930, you will have to go through the particular courthouse that handled the proceedings. The Courts have a pdf on access to records here. Scroll down to page 25 for access on Family Law cases.
The Courts of Saskatchewan website has the contact information of Queen's Bench Courthouses here.

Decisions of the court are public information. The Law Society of Saskatchewan has a database online of Court of Queen's Bench decisions on the CanLII (Canadian Legal Information Institute) website. You can find decisions from as early as 1900 right up to present day. Not all years are available. You can search by year, or you can search with specific terms. There are almost 4,000 cases with the keyword "divorce".  When I added the last name "McDonald" it shrunk down to 4 results.


Alberta
Like Saskatchewan, divorces were handled at the provincial level as of 1920. This is handled by the Court of Queen's Bench.

The Provincial Archives of Alberta has divorce files in their holdings from across the province. I used their search function with the keyword "divorce". I then narrowed it to "Government and Private Collections". There are 68 collections in their holdings. The years ranch from the early 1900's to 1979. The collections appear to be grouped by location. From what I could see, very little if any of them are microfilmed. As such, you will have to make an onsite visit.

After 1979, you will have to go through the particular courthouse. You can get contact information of the various courthouses through the Alberta Courts website here. According their pdf on public and media access, there are no mandatory restrictions on divorce cases.

You can search CanLII for Alberta Queen's Bench decisions here. The year range is 1912 to present day, with the year 1933 not available. There are over 3,000 decisions on the site with the keyword "divorce". Adding "McDonald" for a surname narrowed it down to just 2.


British Columbia
BC is one of those provinces where divorce has always fallen under provincial jurisdiction. These are handled by the Supreme Court. The BC Archives has an Introduction to Divorce Records pdf. Included in it is a history of divorce law in British Columbia, and resources you can use.

Records are routinely transferred to the BC Archives. They have put together a short pdf about court records in general in their holdings. This will give you an idea of what they have and access. Note under access that while the divorce orders and judgements are open access, the case files of the actual divorce proceedings are not. They have a research guide on divorce records themselves. According to the guide, they hold records up to 1983. these are not microfilmed that I could see, so you will only be able to access onsite.

After 1983 you will have to go through the courthouse that handled the divorce. The Courts of British Columbia has in interactive map of courthouse locations here. Click on a location and it will give you the contact information. According to page 21 the Courts of British Columbia's pdf on public access to records, only the party's involved and their lawyers can access the court files. You must otherwise obtain written permission from either the divorcing parties or their lawyers to gain access.

You can also search CanLII for judgements here. It covers the years 1912 to present day, with 1933 missing. The keyword "divorce" gave me over 9,000 results. Narrowing it to include "McDonald" gave me 10 results.


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

D-I-V-O-R-C-E Part 3 - After 1968 in Central Canada

Source: http://pdpics.com/photo/2579-broken-heart-cut-paper/


This week we'll be looking at divorce records in Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba

Quebec
As stated in Part 1, divorce was handled federally up to 1968. But, unlike other areas of Canada, a couple could become legally separated through the province's civil code. These were done by notaries. A notice of action had to be printed in the provincial version of the Canada Gazette, Quebec's Gazette officielle du Quebec. You can find a searchable database on BAnQ. You can download the pages as a pdf or print. The search function is only available in French. The resulting pages will either be in French only, or both French and English, depending on the issue. You will get the name of the petitioner (plaintiff), their spouse (defendant), the court name and district, and the cause number.

As for notarial records, these can also be searched on BAnQ, in their database Archives des Notaires du Quebec des origines a 1936. This also in French only, but is easy to figure out. You cannot search for a particular entry. What you want to do is narrow it down to a particular notary. If you already know who that is, then go through the alphabetical listings under the heading "Par nom". If you don't know who, then narrow down by the region, then district. Then, you can scroll through the images of the notary. These can be narrowed down in different ways, depending on which notary you are looking at. It will be time consuming, but pretty interesting stuff when you get into it.

The other place to look for notarial records is Ancestry's two databases Quebec Notarial Records (Drouin Collection), 1647-1942, and Quebec, Canada Notarial Records, 1626-1935 The first collection is indexed by notary name. The images may not the actual actes, but the indexes made by the notary themselves. It will give you the type of act, the persons involved, and the act number. These are arranged by year. With this information you can then seek the repositories to find the record. Gail Dever at Genealogy a la Carte has a great tutorial on the second database here.

The Superior Court of Quebec handled divorce cases once it fell under the jurisdiction of provincial courts. In order to obtain the records, you must justify your reason for requesting them. I could not find anything stating what restrictions there were to access the information.You will have to go through the courthouse that handled the divorce, and have proof of identity. You can access the contact information for the various courthouses on Justice Quebec's website here


Ontario
Divorce could be obtained provincially in Ontario from 1931. It is handled through the Family Court of the Superior Court of Justice. Divorce files from 1931- 1980 are housed at the Archives of Ontario (AO). It is not so simple as just going there and asking to see them however. You need to have the file number, year of divorce, and the location (county or district) that the divorce took place. If you need to consult indexes to find this information, then you will have to go through some steps:

  • If the divorce was between 1931 and May 1949, the index could be at the AO, but it may not. Most of the indexes for this time period are held at the courthouse where the divorce was filed.
  • If the divorce was between June 1949 and before July 1968, the AO has province wide indexes on microfilm.
  • After July 1968, you must will have to look at the indexes compiled by the Supreme Court. These may be at the AO, or they may only be at the courthouse where the divorce was filed.
Once you have the information you need to give to the AO, you can then proceed to get the information on the divorce. If all you need is a copy of the Divorce Decree, you can request one. Since divorce records are stored offsite, it may take a couple of weeks for this to be ready for you. They will either mail it, or you can pick it up in person. The fee is $33.00. If you need to see the file itself, they you MUST call ahead to arrange for it to be there when you visit. They need a minimum of one business day. The AO has a fantastic research guide on divorce files here. It takes you step by step through the process, and at the end has all the contact information for the various courthouses in the province. If the divorce took place in York County however, there is a separate research guide for that here.

After 1980, you will have to contact the courthouse that handled the divorce proceedings. There does not seem to be restrictions on accessing the decisions of the court. You can also do a search of decisions on the Superior Court of Justice's webpage. When I typed in the search area the keywords "marriage divorce", I got over 4,000 different cases. Of course, you will want to narrow it further by name.

Manitoba
Divorce was handles provincially in Manitoba from 1920, though you may find some as early as 1917. They were handled by the Divorce Court of the Court of Queen's Bench up until 1984. Since then it has been handled by the Family Division of the Court of Queen's Bench. Records have no restrictions to access that I could find. 

The Archives of Manitoba has records from 1917-1983. These are divided by region. There are indexes on microfilm that can be viewed on site, or may be available for inter library loan. Check with the Archives on what's available for loan. The records themselves can only be viewed at the Archives. As they are stored off site, they will require two business days notice to have them there for you to view.

For post 1983 records, you will need to go to the courthouse that handled the divorce. the Queen's Court Bench has an online central registry that you can search here. Type in a name and make sure you tick the box "QB Family". It will give you a listing of court cases with that name. By clicking on the case number, it will give you all the file details you need, including the courthouse that handled the case. You can then contact the courthouse for access to the file. You can find locations and contact information of courthouses in the province here.

Next week we'll look at Western Canada.







Wednesday, 7 June 2017

D-I-V-O-R-C-E Part 2 - After 1968 in the Atlantic Provinces

Source: http://pdpics.com/photo/2579-broken-heart-cut-paper/


Last week we looked at divorce pre 1968. Now we'll look at how to find records once they were taken care of at the provincial level. There's a lot of information, so I've decided to break this up into Part 2 (Atlantic Canada), Part 3 (Central Canada), and Part 4 (Western Canada).

Central Registry of Divorce Proceedings
This is a national registry that was set up by the government, so that duplicate divorce proceedings did not take place. All divorces filed after 2 July 1968 are listed in the database. This can help if you're not sure where the divorce took place. You will not get documents pertaining to the divorce here. But an inquiry supplying the names of the divorcing parties will get you the number of the courthouse, the file number and the year. I have been told that you can get this information even if you are not one of the divorcing parties. But, the Department of Justice's web page seems to say that only the divorcing parties, or someone with their written permission and acting in a legal capacity can get this information. If you choose to use this route to try and narrow down if and where a divorce occurred, I would suggest calling first to see about access.

Newfoundland
As mentioned in Part 1, as of 1969, divorces were handled by the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador. Only the divorcing parties and their legal counsel have open access to the records. If you are not one of these people, then you will have to make a special application to a judge for access. If you are granted access, you are only able to access records at the court house, and under supervision of court staff.

Prince Edward Island
The Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island handled divorces from 1947 on wards. The Public Archives and Records Office holds records from 1835 to 1976. These are not online, and you will have to take a visit to access onsite. The rest of the records, as well as an index of divorces is held at:

Sir Louis Henry Davis Law Court
42 Water Street 
Charlottetown PEI C1A 1A4
(902)368-6000


New Brunswick
Divorces have always been handled provincially. It is handled by the Court of the Queen's Bench. Divorce proceedings do not seem to have as strict privacy laws as other vital statistics. I have not been able to find any restrictions to access on government websites. Divorce files are regularly transferred over to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick. According to Library and Archives Canada, the PANB holds cases from 1847-1979. These are NOT online. On the website home page there is a link on the bottom right to email them. The mailing address and phone number are:

Provincial Archives of New Brunswick
P.O. Box 6000
Fredericton, New Brunswick E3B 5H1
(506) 453-2122

After 1979, I would contact Service New Brunswick or you can use the pdf download form for a request here. You can also try going through the courthouses themselves. A list of the locations of the Court of the Queen's Bench is here. Listed under each location is the address and phone numbers.


Nova Scotia
As with New Brunswick, divorces have always been handled at the provincial level. The Family Division of the Province's Supreme Court handles divorces for Halifax Regional Municipality and Cape breton Island. Other areas of the province are handled by the General Division of the Supreme Court. The Nova Scotia Archives has an index online called Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, 1759-1960. The name is a misnomer though. In the Archival Description it says that they go from 1759-1963. When I typed in one of my NS surnames "Boutilier", I got 25 hits that included the year 1962. The results give you the Reference number, case number, names of both parties, and the year. The records themselves can be viewed at the provincial archives in Halifax. 

After 1962, you will have to look at courthouses. It seems that divorces do not fall under privacy laws, and anyone can access divorce decisions. However, you may have to go through a process to view the actual court files. The government has a pdf file on public access to court records here. You'll have to scroll down for a bit regarding access to court files.

One great database I found was the Courts of Nova Scotia's website. They have a searchable database of court decisions. The page warns that it is not a complete listing. It also says that it goes from 2003 on wards, but when I typed "divorce" in the search box, I got hits from 1998. Also on their website is the locations of courthouses. Just click on a community name, and it will take you to a page with all the courthouse addresses and phone numbers in that community. 


In Part 3 we'll look at records for Quebec, Ontario, and Manitoba





Wednesday, 31 May 2017

D-I-V-O-R-C-E Part 1 - Before 1968

We all like to think that our ancestors met, fell in love, married, and only parted through death. Truth is, divorce has always been around in Canada, although rare. According to The Canadian Encycolpedia:

"...while most Canadians married, divorce was extremely uncommon until after the Second World War. In fact, until that time, Canada had one of the lowest divorce rates in the Western world..."

Today getting a divorce is a fairly straight forward matter through the provincial courts, though if you've gone through one you may not think so. Up until the late 1960s though, the ability to obtain a divorce was extremely difficult. As a result, you may come across in your tree couples that just stop living together. In some cases they go on to have new families. I have one such example in my own family history.

Before 1968, your ancestor may have only been able to obtain a divorce through a Private Act of the Parliament of Canada. There are some exceptions, which I'll explain later on in the post. According to the Parliament of Canada's website,

"..A private bill could only be introduced by a Senator or a Member who is not a member of Cabinet..."

This was expensive and lengthy. First the petitioner would have to first put a "notice of intent" to petition the government for an Act of Divorce in the Canada Gazette. They also had to put notices in two newspapers local to where they live. This notice had to run for six months.

Then they would petition the government. The petition would have to include the following information:

  • names of the husband and wife
  • place of residence
  • date and place of marriage
  • details of the marriage breakdown
  • if the reason for divorce was adultery or bigamy, then you might find the name of the third person in the love triangle  

If the petition was allowed, then the Parliament would pass an Act of Divorce and nullify the marriage. A transcript of the Act of Divorce would be published in that year's publication of Statutes. The publication changed names several times from 1841- 1868:


  • 1841-1866 Statutes of the Province of Canada and Journals of the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Canada 
  • 1867-1872 Statutes of Canada
  • 1873-1951 Acts of the Parliament of the Dominion of Canada (Statutes of Canada)
  • 1952-1963 Acts of the Parliament of Canada (Statutes of Canada)
  • 1963-1968 Journals of the Senate of Canada


As with most other research avenues when searching Canadian records, each province is different. For divorce, the two main questions are WHEN and WHERE.

Newfoundland
1949-1968: Required an Act of Divorce
1969 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

Prince Edward Island
1867-1946: Required an Act of Divorce
1947 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

New Brunswick
1867 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

Nova Scotia
1867 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

Quebec
1867-1968: Required an Act of Divorce
1969 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

Ontario
1867-1930: Required an Act of Divorce
1931 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

Manitoba
1867-1919: Required an Act of Divorce
1920 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

Saskatchewan
1867-1919: Required an Act of Divorce
1920 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

Alberta
1867-1919: Required an Act of Divorce
1920 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

British Columbia
1867 on wards: Handled by the Provincial Courts

Searching for Acts of Divorce
So, if you're looking for a divorce requiring an Act of Divorce, you should look at newspapers, the Canada Gazette, and either the Statutes of Canada, or  Journals of the Senate of Canada. For newspapers, your ancestor needed to publish in two newspapers in the County or District they resided. If the area only had one newspaper, then check adjoining counties and districts for a notice to fill the required second newspaper.


Source: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/canada-gazette/093/001060-119.01-e.php?image_id_nbr=6005&document_id_nbr=2015&f=g&PHPSESSID=8i2g20bsfvmevairlhl5rhkci5


The Canada Gazette is commonly referred to as "the official newspaper of the Canadian Government". It's a fascinating read all by itself. I may have to devote a whole blog post to this in the future. It contains public notices of every shape and variety. It was published only in print from 1941 to 1998. From 1998 to 2014 there was both a print and online version. From 2014 on wards it is only available digitally. For divorces pre 1968 you'll want to go to Collections Canada's issues from 1841 to 1998. They have a searchable database. I typed "divorce McDonald' in the keyword search and there are 407 results. The earliest was in 1843. Now keep in mind though that the search will look for your search terms on a whole page, not just a specific notice. For instance, one of my page results had a notice for a petition to divorce, but the name "McDonald" had to do with a completely different notice on the same page that had nothing to do with divorce.

Now, if the Act of Divorce was granted, you'll next want to look for a transcript of the Act in the yearly Statutes publications. Thankfully Library and Archives Canada has a searchable index here. I typed in McDonald and got 10 hits. The index gives the following information:
  • Name of Petitioner
  • Name of Spouse
  • Which publication it's in
  • The year published
  • The reference number, or Act number
With this information, you can then get a copy of the Act. Check your local library to see if they have copies in their holdings. The link above to Library and Archives Canada's database also has links to help you find which libraries has copies of the publications. Internet Archive, my new best friend, also has digitized copies here. If you are unable to find it online or in your local library, you can apply to Library and Archives Canada for a copy. Information on reproduction requests can be found here.

Next post we'll take a look at sources from 1968 and later.





Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Where are the Archives?

Library and Archives Canada
source https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Library_and_Archives_Canada



Nowadays, you can go a long way with your research from the comfort of your computer chair. But, remember, not everything is online. Also, not all have an online presence. Eventually, you're going to have to exchange your slippers for outdoor shoes and take a trip to an Archive. How can you find what archive might have the information you're looking for?

You should then turn to the Canadian Archival Information Network. This great resource lets you search for material by subject, by institution, or by place. I clicked on the search tab, then browse by place and their came a listing of over 21,000 different place names indexed. You can further narrow by the search box at the top. I scrolled through randomly and clicked on "Bell Island, Conception Bay NL". I got 9 different record sets that related directly to Bell Island. The first was a collection about the Anglican Parish of Bell Island. Along with the religious ceremony registers, there's also financial records and Minutes of meetings. They are held by the Archdeacon Buckle Memorial Archive in St. John's NL.
The second hit was the John Job photograph collection at the Maritime History Archive, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

When I clicked on browse by institution, There are 773 archives listed across Canada. You can further narrow down by location and institution type. When I narrowed by Saskatchewan, there are 44 results of archival institutions in the database.

Back on the main page beside the search tab is a tab called "Networks". This will take to the portal websites of individual provincial archive networks. I clicked on the link for New Brunswick. It took me to the Council Archives of New Brunswick's website. There are 27 institutions listed with the council.

Beside the Networks tab is one for virtual exhibits. There are links to online exhibits across Canada. I clicked on one with the interesting title "Claude and Mary Tidd: A Yukon Romance". It's a telling of the lives of  Claude and Mary in the Yukon, told by the Yukon Archives. It gives a snapshot of life in the Yukon between the end of the Gold Rush and the building of the Alaska Highway. If Claude and Mary were in your family tree, what a goldmine of information on them!

Next to virtual exhibits is the links tab. There are 724 links to various repositories. You can also find links to guides, bibliographies, transcriptions of records, and genealogical societies. Take note that this is a work in progress, and not all of the links work.

Next is the About Us tab is I think is rather self explanatory and needs no explanation.

Last is the Canadian Council of Archives tab. This one is more for those who have my dream job of working in an archival setting. Still some interesting reading.

Now this website is by no means a complete listing of Archives across Canada. But when you've already looked at the big Archives, this is a good start to finding the smaller ones.



Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Skeletons in the Closet

Source:http://domainfat.com/c2tlbGV0b24gY2xvc2V0IG1lbWU/#
 


This week's post is not about record sources. It's more of an opinion piece. It's been one I've been wanting to write about for awhile.

A few days ago, a genealogy friend and I were discussing the "less than upstanding citizens" in our respective trees. Actually, the conversation was less about the ancestors themselves, and more about our living relatives reactions to our ancestors' misdeeds. It got me to thinking back about some of the episodes of those genealogy shows, when someone is absolutely horrified by some of the things their ancestors have done. They immediately classify them as an evil person. I can sympathize on one level Sometimes reality can be a shock. I am also a little... annoyed as well. That's not quite the right word, but I'll explain.

First and foremost, your ancestor's decisions are not a reflection of YOU. Just as you didn't actually do the heroic deed they did, you didn't perform the "dastardly" deed either. We all remember the brouhaha a couple of years ago when a certain celebrity asked one of the genealogy shows to not air the fact that he had a slave owning ancestor. The show went with a different story from the celebrity's ancestry. Now whether this was because of the celebrity's request, or because they thought that the story they did use was more interesting, I personally do not know. Nor do I want to rehash the incident. I actually thought the one they used was more interesting than if they had gone with the slave owning ancestor, but that's just me. Just to be clear, I am NOT condoning slavery. It's one of the horrible parts of human history. But to shy away from it and pretend it didn't happen doesn't do any good either.

If you do genealogy long enough, you are going to come across an ancestor whose life choices don't measure up to your own code of ethics. Whether you consider them a "grey sheep" or a "black sheep" would depend on your viewpoint I guess. Most genealogists are delighted to find one of these people, as it adds a good story to your family history.

Let me give you some examples from my own family history:

  • The married guy who had two children with his servant girl, and ended up marrying her after his wife died and then had a couple more with her
  • The man who was a confirmed bigamist
  • The woman who was a suspected bigamist
  • The woman who had 3 illegitimate children and never married
  • The woman who was a prostitute for awhile
  • I can't prove it, but I'm pretty sure at least one person in my tree might have supplemented their income through less than legal means
On the surface, these people don't look too good. But, do we know the whole story? Divorce has been around for a long time, but it has not always been easy to obtain, or cheap. It might have been easier and more economic for a couple just to go their separate ways, but legally they were still married. Did the woman who was a prostitute feel she had no other options to support herself? We feel sympathy for the medieval man who poached to feed his family. The social safety net that we have today is a relatively new thing, historically speaking. My ancestors with possible "shady dealings" might have been just trying to support their families.

Take a look at some of your relatives that you know personally. We all have that one older relative that has certain ideas and opinions that we don't share. It may be their opinions on gender equality, their views on another skin colour or religion, or sexual orientation. They may use terms that we consider derogatory today, but that people of their generation see nothing wrong with. How about that cousin that made some life choices you disagree with? Do you think these people are absolutely evil? Probably not. You may not like certain aspects about them, but they are not all bad are they?

Now take a look at some of the hard choices you've had to make in your own life. A couple of hundred years from now, your descendants are not going to know all the reasons why you've made that decision. If they only had part of the story, how would you look to them? 

What I'm trying to say is that no one is all good, and no one is all bad. We are all shades of grey. What was considered a social norm in your great grandparents' time may not be now. What is a social norm now may not be in our great grandchildren's time. We wouldn't want our entire life judged by a single action or decision. We should do the same with our ancestors. We only see snapshots into their lives. Unless we know the whole story, we should keep an open mind.



Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Finding Ancestors with the Federal Voter's Lists

Source: Ancestry.ca




Last post when I was talking about City Directories, I had mentioned about looking at the Federal Voter's Lists for my grandmother's family.

What are the voter's lists? These were directories of all persons eligible to vote, put together by Office of the Electoral Officer for Canada. They were broken down by province or territory, then further broken down alphabetically by electoral district.The federal voter's lists came into being in 1935. Before that municipal voter's lists were used in federal elections.

More rural areas tended to be broken down alphabetically by surname, with their postal address listed after their name. Urban areas were broken down by street address. Every person of voting age was listed at each particular address. Along with their name and address was their occupation. This can come in handy when you are looking at ancestors that tended to reuse the same first names over and over. Ages are not listed on these lists. Knowing that your "John Smith" was a carpenter will come in handy when when trying to figure out which of the 3 John Smiths that lived in that area is the John Smith you're looking for.

Federal Voter's Lists were not compiled on a regular basis. These were only done for election years. There can be a gap as little as 1 year, or as large as 5 years between lists. Publicly available are the following years:

  • 1935
  • 1940
  • 1945
  • 1949
  • 1953
  • 1957
  • 1958
  • 1962
  • 1963
  • 1965
  • 1968
  • 1972
  • 1974
  • 1979
  • 1980


If you are looking for female ancestors, keep in mind that most married women were listed as "Mrs. John Smith" in early directories. For instance, my grandmother Marie Anne Mallais was listed as Mrs. Henry Govereau from 1935 until the 1960's. As a sign of the times, in early directories a woman's marital status is listed, sometimes instead of an occupation. She was listed as either "spinster", "married woman" or "widow". Depending on the district, this went on for a lot of years.

As with any record, use variations on your ancestor's name. My French great grandfather Patrice Mallais is listed as Patrick Malley in the 1935 voter's list. As I had mentioned in my post on City Directories, also check under middle names and even nicknames. My great grandfather John Wellington McDonald was Jack McDonald in 1935, John McDonald in 1945, Jack Wellington McDonald in 1949, and back to John McDonald in 1958.

Here's where to find Federal Voter's Lists:


  • Library and Archives Canada has a great overview on the Federal Voter's Lists and how to determine your ancestor's electoral district. They have the lists available on microfilm. By clicking on each year, you will get a chart that lists Province, electoral district, the page numbers for that district and the microfilm number. As well, they also have microfilms for the federal By-election years 1937-1983. See their guide on inter libray loan if you are not able to access onsite.
  • Ancestry has the Federal Voter's Lists from 1935 to 1980, but not the By-election lists. 1935-1974 have been indexed, and the years 1979 and 1980 are browse only. Keep in mind that the indexed years were done by OCR software, not by a human indexing team, This means that there WILL be errors in spelling, as well as gaps on who has been indexed. In my own research, I've found a wife's name appearing on indexes, but not the husband's. I've also found whole segments of a page not showing up at all, so be prepared to have to use the browse function even for the indexed years.
  • Check your local and/or provincial archives. Since the Federal elections depended on municipal voting lists before 1935, many of these are in the custody of that province. Doing a quick search, I found voter's lists available at The Rooms in Newfoundland, BaNQ in Quebec, the Archives of Ontario, the Archives of Manitoba, and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. Check with them for years and areas available, and how to access the records.

One last tip. Keep in mind that the requirements to vote have changed through the years. If your ancestor does not show up at all, it could be because they did not meet the eligibility requirements for that particular year. In the historical background section on Ancestry of their Federal Voter's Lists collection, they said:


 "By 1935, the year of the earliest voting records in this database, the franchise had been extended to both men and women age 21 and over for federal elections in Canada. The last property qualifications were done away with in 1948, and exclusions for Inuit and Indians living on reserves were eliminated in 1950 and 1960. In 1970, the voting age was lowered to 18 and the franchise reserved for Canadian citizens, though some British subjects retained their right to vote until 1975."

For a more complete history of the vote in Canada take a look at Election Canada's website and at the Canadian Encyclopedia's page "Right to Vote in Canada".


Thursday, 4 May 2017

Getting Lost in City Directories

This post is a little later in the week than normal. That's because I finally broke a major brick wall in my family history research by using city directories.





I took a day trip to the Archives of Ontario on April 19th with members of the Kawartha Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. My purpose was to look at the Toronto City Directories on microfilm to track my great grandparents John W McDonald and Edna Johnson. On a whim I decided to try and look for my grandmother Madelynn Douglas' family. I never met my grandmother, and the only information I had on her was that she had a brother Marshall and a sister Irene. I did not know her parents' names, or even a date of birth. Well, by looking at the directory for 1948 I found her! I took note of the address (600 Roselawn Avenue) and then looked through the rest of the Douglas names in the directory. I found the following people also at that address:

Jas H Douglas
Lawrence J Douglas
Marshall Douglas

By looking at other years I was also able to find an Irene Douglas living at this address as well. Using the information I gleaned from the directories, I've managed to find and track the family through the voter's lists on Ancestry back to 1935. I've determined that James H Douglas and his wife Mary are my great grandparents. Lawrence and Irene are of voting age in the early 1940's, which means they are over 21 (the voting age at the time). This means that they were born before 1921. I managed to find a Douglas family in Toronto in the 1921 census that has a Lawrence and Irene listed as children. They are at a different address than 600 Roselawn. Thanks to inter library loan between the AO and my local library, I've been bringing in a few years of city directories microfilms at a time to track the family back from 1935 to 1921, to try and determine if the 1921 family belongs to me.

If you haven't looked at city directories, then you are missing out. I can't believe I didn't think to go this route before for my Douglas family. They contain a wealth of information on an individual:

  • occupation
  • place of employment
  • home address
  • whether they owned or rented their home
  • others living with them
  • In the Toronto directories I looked at for the WWII years, those in active service had "act ser" next to their names. This gives you another avenue of research for your ancestor. 
The directories are usually broken up into 3 sections. There will be a business directory, a surname directory, and the last is a street directory. The street directory is helpful for you to see who your ancestor's neighbours are, and how the neighbourhood looked. Was there a church close by? Perhaps they worshiped there. Who's their next door neighbour? Perhaps that person was a witness to a marriage or baptism.

In the beginning of the directory are all kinds on information about the area. You can see names and addresses of churches, commuity groups, and government institutions. If your ancestor held public office, then they'll be listed in the front pages. You can lose yourself looking at ads for area businesses. There's also usually statistical data about the area. For instance, in the 1926 Toronto directory:
  • The population of Toronto proper was 650, 055. The surrounding suburbs' population was 95,181. 
  • In 1925 The Toronto Hydro Electric system served 143, 648 customers
  • There were 333 churches
  • There were 167 schools
  • 60% of the population were home owners

I've compiled a list of places to look for city directories:



General Sites

  • Internet Archive has many city directories in their database. These are free to view and free to download. You can download either the whole directory, or just a page by right clicking on the image of the page, and saving as a picture. In the search box, use the key words "City directories" and the name of the area you are looking for to see if it has been uploaded to the site.
  • Ancestry has a database called Canada, City and Area Directories, 1819-1906. They cover various cities across Canada. 
  • Check the local library of the area you are researching. Many libraries have collections of directories, either originals or on microfilm. If you live in a bigger city, check to see if your local library has other cities on microfilm. For instance, the Toronto Public Library system has directories for British Columbia and Quebec as well. 
  • Our Roots have digital images of city directories among their many local histories. Use their search function to see what's available. 
  • Library and Archives Canada has directories from different parts across the country. They come in print, microfilm , and digital forms.
  • FamilySearch has many directories available on microfilm. Check out the wiki for what they have and microfilm numbers.


Newfoundland and Labrador



Prince Edward Island

  • The Island Register has a great chart listing various directories and where to find them. Some have been transcribed on their site.
  • The University of Prince Edward Island's Robertson Library has some city directories in their holdings. They can only be viewed onsite.

Nova Scotia
  • Nova Scotia Archives has the 1907-1908 directory online. Onsite, they have both print and microfilm of various years. Contact the Archives for availability.
  • City of Halifax Archives has directories in their holdings for both Halifax and Dartmouth.
New Brunswick
Quebec
  • BAnQ has city directories for both Quebec City and Montreal. They cove various years from 1822-2010, and are available online.
  • Don's List has various Montreal directories online. You should also take a look at the Ottawa directories they have. The Ottawa directories also include Hull.
Ontario
  • The Archives of Ontario has not only Toronto directories on microfilm. They have city and county directories from all over the province, going back to the 1800's. As I mentioned above, they do inter library loan if you aren't able to look at them onsite.
  • Queen's University has some directories in their holdings. Contact them for rules of access.
Manitoba
Saskatchewan
Alberta
British Columbia
The Territories


A few final reminders when researching city directories:
  • Always read the front few pages to see who's been included. For instance, in the 1926 Toronto directory, these people weren't included:
  1. Maids, domestic servants, and employed young girls under the age of 18
  2. Married women and female relatives over 18 that are unemployed
  3. Young girls living at home and not employed
  4. Students in all levels of schooling, including colleges and universities
  5. Office and messenger boys, and boys working in factories under 18 years of age
  6. Children under school age
  7. Inmates of hospitals, asylums, convents, orphan's homes, and institutions
  8. "Foreigners" from China, Russia, Balkans, and Central Europe. 
  9. Transients living in hotels, boarding houses, and rooming houses
  • Also check for the index to abbreviations. Checking this can save you a lot of grief trying to figure out what that occupation is supposed to be, or what an asterisk beside their name means.
  • Due to printing deadlines, the information may not be the most current. If your ancestor moved to the area in 1921, then they may not show up until 1922.
  • A lot of directories have an "Addendum". This is an alphabetical list of people and businesses that were added too late to be inserted into the regular directory. 
  • As with census records, check variations for your ancestor's name. In my recent research, Madelynn Douglas was listed as "Madeline". Also check under middle names. Through researching voter's lists later, I realized that though Madelynn's brother was listed as "Marshall Douglas" in city directories, in voter's lists he is "George M Douglas". Even her father switched between "James H" and "Henry J"in the directories.

Well, back down the rabbit hole for me. I have more searching to do in directories.....

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Religious Records Part 7 - The Territories

To wrap up the series on religious records, we are in this post looking at the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.



Yukon
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia entry on the Yukon, 50 percent of the people had no religious affiliation, 46 percent claimed Christian denominations, and 1 percent claimed Native spirituality. There was nothing else listed for the remaining 3 percent. There is a a rather interesting 1990 paper prepared for the Yukon Government on the history of the church in the Yukon. The link to it is here.

The Yukon Archives does have some church records in their holdings. I typed "church records" in the archival descriptions database and got several hits. The collections I clicked on did not have much in the way of actual baptisms, marriages and burials. But, there were photographs, session minutes and journals, among other things in the fonds. They are worth taking a look at too. You never know if your ancestor will be named somewhere, or if you might get lucky and find a photograph.

They have also compiled a pdf of researching genealogy at their Archives. It's 90 pages long but an incredible source of information for them. The link to the pdf is here. The religious records section is on page 25.

The Yukon GenWeb has contact information on their website for Catholic and Anglican church Archives.

The Dawson City Museum does have some church records in their holdings. The link list their collections. Though none state church records specifically, if you click on the each fond, you will find descriptions of each individual collection. I went through and there are three or four collections that include church related records.



Northwest Territories
According to the Wikipedia page, in 2001 most residents identified themselves as Catholic. The protestant sects were the next largest, and 17 percent stated no religious affiliation. The Virtual Museum has a good overview of the missionary work in the North.

Because the Northwest Territories once included parts of many of the provinces, you may have to look at these provinces to find the records you are looking for. As far as the current boundaries of NWT, there is not much available outside of the Church Archives themselves.

The FamilySearch wiki has contact information for the United and Presbyterian Church Archives that pertain to the Northwest Territories.

The Northwest Territories Public Library has some reference guides available to help you search for records for this area. By enetering "church records" into their online search, I got seven hits, all guides and indexes.

The Hudson's Bay Archives (through the Archives of Manitoba) has a couple of collections related to church records here.




Nunavut
According the the New World Encyclopedia, the majority of residents are Anglican, Catholic,  and "Born again Christianity". As with Yukon and the Northwest Territories, there is a history of missionary work here. Click on the link above in the Northwest Territories section for an overview.

Nunavut is a new area, being established in 1999. Before this it was a part of the Northwest Territories, so you will most likely find what you need by looking at NWT genealogy resources.

.


Monday, 17 April 2017

Religious Records Part 6 - Alberta and British Columbia

This post we're finishing up the provinces by looking at Alberta and British Columbia.




Alberta
Though there were Catholic priests in Alberta in the beginning, it was the Wesleyan Methodists that first started consciously performing and recording baptisms, marriages and burials in Alberta. Through the years, the diverse ethnic groups that settled the west brought their own religious denominations. Today, along with Catholic and the various Protestant sects, you an also find Mennonites, Hudderites, Mormons, and Ukrainian Orthodox. The area relied heavily on "circuit riders" in the beginning. These were priests and ministers who traveled from place to place, tending to the needs of the various settlements they came across.

As with the religious records in other provinces, you may have to contact the religious archives directly to find and obtain copies. FamilySearch's wiki on Alberta church records has contact information of the various archives. You can access it here.

The Provincial Archives of Alberta has some Catholic and Protestant church records dating from the 1830's to present day. These are only available to view on site. A description of the holdings is here.

If you have Mennonite ancestors, check out the Mennonite Historical Society of Alberta. They have onsite access to various records, and some have been indexed and put online. They also publications for sale.

The South Peace Regional Archives has some religious records in their collections. Contact the archives about access to these records in their reading room.

The Glenbow Museum also has some church records within some of their fonds. from what I could gather, they are not separate fonds by themselves, but are contained among different collections. Use the keywords "church records" in searches of their archival holdings to see what they have.




British Columbia
Like Alberta, both Catholic and the Protestant sects have deep pre-Confederation history. To this day, they make up the largest proportion of religious affiliation in the province. Also like Alberta, the best way to get a hold of religious records here is to contact the church archives themselves.

The FamilySeach wiki on religious records is here. In it contains contact numbers for the various church archives in the province.

The BC Archives has an online index to baptisms from 1836-1888. This index gives you an extraction of the record, but will\not\give you an image. There is also an index for a collection called "Colonial Marriages". These were marriages submitted by clergy between 1859-1872. This does not give you an image either,but an extraction of the record. It also lists the microfilm number.

A great tool in general is Memory BC. For church records, use the search words "baptisms", "marriages", and "burials" separately, and it will give you the location and name of collections all around the province that pertain to these.

The Vancouver Public Library has some books of church transcriptions. If you live in other areas of BC, check with your local library there. Many local genealogical and historical societies donate works like these to them.


Next post in the series will be the last, in which we cover the three Territories.

Sunday, 16 April 2017

History Blogs

I have been rather lax about my history posts, and I apologize. The "job that pays for genealogy" and my courses have left me with less time than I originally planned for blogging. I realized that two blog posts a week was a little ambitious, given my current schedule. So, my Canadian history posts will be less frequent than my genealogy posts. I will still post once a week on genealogy, but the history posts will be less frequent. To get your history fix, might I suggest you look at:

Unwritten Histories by Andrea Eidinger. Andrea is a historian and her Weekly Roundup posts are very informative.

Canadian History Timeline. This page is great. Every day of the year has a historical event in Canadian history. Not only the typical historical events, but you can also find events relating to sports, finance, and entertainment as well. If it relates to Canada, it will be listed.

Also check out the Canadian Historical Association's list of history blogs. I haven't looked at all of the ones listed, but the few I looked at so far are good.

If you have any other suggestions, then feel free to mention them in the comments and I'll be sure to add them to the post.

Next post will be back to genealogy, when we continue looking at Religious Records.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Religious Records Part 5 - Manitoba and Saskatchewan

Moving across Canada, this post looks at Religious Record sources for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.





Manitoba
According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, the largest religious denomination practiced in Manitoba is Catholicism, with United Church and Anglican being second and third. The Manitoba Historical Society has a page about the early churches in Winnipeg here.

FamilySearch has a browse only collection called Manitoba Church Records 1800-1959 here. The collection has both Catholic and Protestant records from various Manitoba parishes. Take note that while some records are in English, you will also find records written in French. You may also find Icelandic language records. The FamilySearch wiki on church records is a great resource for archive contact information.

The Archives of Manitoba do have some religious records on microfilm. When I entered "religious records" into their keyword search, I got 13 record sets involving religious records that covered the years 1820-1999. They offer inter library loan for microfilm records, but not everything is on microfilm.

Also check out the Hudson Bay Archives through their site. If your ancestor was in Manitoba during the years that the HBC owned the land, you might find some mention of them. The Archives not only has official records of the company, but a rather eclectic collection of letters, journals, and other genealogical information.

The Manitoba Genealogical Society has a great set of links to help you find religious records in Manitoba.

Unlike other provinces, it looks that the best way to obtain church record information is to contact the religious archives themselves. The FamilySearch wiki on church records is a great resource for archive contact information for Manitoba.






Saskatchewan
The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan, a great resource tool for Saskatchewan research in general, has an in depth history of the provinces religious history here. The province has always been a predominately Protestant one, with Catholics being the second largest denomination.

FamilySearch has an indexed collection of Catholic church records that cover the years 1846-1957. You can access the collection here. They also have a small wiki on Saskatchewan church records here.

The Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan has some church records among their holdings. Some are original and some are on microfilm. Access can be restricted though. Check the link above for exact rules. Also on the page is the contact information for the various church archives for the province.

The Saskatchewan GenWeb has a great page about religious records. It is filled with links not only on finding the records you need, but also on the history of the various religious sects.

If you have Mennonite ancestors in Saskatchewan, try contacting the Centre for Mennonite Brethren Studies. They are a repository for the history and records of the Mennonites in Saskatchewan.


Next post in the series, we'll be looking at Alberta and British Columbia.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Religious Records Part 4- Quebec and Ontario

In our travel across Canada, we're going to take a look this post for religious records in Quebec and Ontario.




Quebec
Those of you who research in Quebec know that religious records play a much more important role here than in the other provinces. Up until the 1900's church records were the official form of civil registration, as by law the churches had to forward copies of all their entries to the government.

It comes as no surprise that Quebec has the largest Catholic population in Canada. Catholic church records in Quebec go back to the 1600's, when it was called New France. Religion has always been central to the French/English relations in Quebec. For a quick history of the Catholic church, take a look at Marianopolis College's page here. A PDF of Quebec's religious history with Catholicism and Protestantism from reformedreflections.ca is here.

FamilySearch has an indexed collection of records called Quebec, Catholic Parish Records 1621-1979 here. You can also browse the over 1 million images by town, and then parish. Their wiki on religious records for Quebec is here.

Ancestry has the huge Drouin collection for Quebec here. This collection not only has Catholic records, but the many forms of Protestant, Othodox, and some Jewish records as well. It covers the years 1621-1968.

Also on Ancestry is the Tanguay Collection. This is a collection of genealogical records put together by Father Cyprian Tanguay in the late 1800's, It doesn't give original images of documents, but rather is a series of books that lists the BMD events of the early French Canadian families. It is a little cumbersome to navigate, but can help you to fill in gaps. Please note however, that the Tanguay Collection has been known to contain errors. You should look at it as more of a guiding tool, than as absolute proof for the life event.

The best place to go for religious records in Quebec is Genealogie Quebec. Among their vast holdings is The LAFRANCE Collection, which covers records from 1621-2008, and the Drouin. They also have many smaller collections that cover various areas and years. There are both Catholic and Protestant records here. Some of their collections are free, while some you need to pay.

Another place to look is BAnQ, the Quebec Archives. Along with many other genealogical record sets, they also have records for both Catholic and non Catholic parishes. Some collections are online, while some are not. The majority of the site is in French, but they do have an English link, and your internet browser should be able to translate as well.

Library and Archives Canada also has some religious records available that pertain to Quebec. You can take a look at what they have here.





Ontario
Now while Quebec has always been predominately Catholic, Ontario on the other hand has from the outset been a stronghold for the Protestant faiths. The Ontario GenWeb has attempted to give a history of the various religions in Ontario here. As they themselves stated, it was a hard task to complete, and may be prone to errors. The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) also has a good overview of Ontario church records here.

The Archives of Ontario has on their website a good compilation of religious archives in Ontario. They also have some "original and copied records" on microfilm that are available both onsite and through inter library loan here.

FamilySearch has a database called Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records 1760-1923 here. It is not indexed, but can be browsed by Their wiki on Ontario church records in general is here.

Ancestry has the Ontario Catholic Drouin Collection, covering the years 1802-1967. I found a baptism for one of my step brothers that took place in Ottawa in 1963 in this collection. most of these records are in French, but you will find some in English or Latin.

Also on Ancestry is the Ontario, Canada Marriage Registers by Clergy. The Registration Act of 1896 required that all clergy report marriages to the government within 30 days of the event. The registers cover the years 1896-1948, and are mostly Baptist, Presbyterian and Methodist marriages. You can access the collection here.

If you have Wesleyan Methodist ancestors, then there are transcriptions of the registers sorted alphabetically here. These were created by Ida Reed and put up on RootsWeb by Bill Martin. As with any transcription, you should use these as a guide to finding the original record.

If you have Metis ancestors, then you should be looking at the Metis Nation of Ontario's guide to church records. There are links to the various collections that will help you to research your Metis lines.

The OGS has many branches across Ontario. Each branch has put out publications on transcriptions of church records. These can be bought through the OGS store, Each branch also has various records in their holdings. For example, according to the website of the Quinte branch of the OGS, they have in their library the following under the heading of church records:

  • Wesleyan Methodist Baptism Registers of Northumberland Co. 1834-1902 
  • More Obituaries from Ontario’s Methodist Papers 1873-1884
  • Obituaries from Christian Guardian 1884-1890
  • Methodist Baptisms Sidney & Tyendinaga Townships 1840-1887
  • Lutheran Church Records 1783-1832, Fredericksburgh Twp., (Kingston OGS)
  • Rev. John Langhorn Anglican Registers 1787-1814 (Kingston OGS)
  • Births, Marriages and Deaths of St. Thomas Church, Belleville, 1821-1874
  • Minutes of St. Thomas Anglican Church, Belleville 
  • District Marriage Registers include Ottawa 1816-1853, Prince Edward 1833-1847, Talbot 1837-1859, 1868, Victoria 1839-1858, 1861, Newcastle 1810-1855 and Colborne 1841-1857.
  • County Marriage Registers of Ontario include Prince Edward, Hastings, York, Northumberland, Lennox & Addington, Durham, Toronto, Kingston & Frontenac, Lincoln & Welland and Peterborough.
  • Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Register Master Index (100,000+ names) and Baptismal Registers, United Church Archives (microfilm) also Prince Edward County 1841-1888, Hastings 1840-1904, and Out of Ontario 1826-1900 (transcripts).
  • Other Methodist Records include: Early Methodists in Upper & Lower Canada 1759-1828; Niagara Conference Methodist Episcopal Church Baptismal Register Index 1849-1886; Baptisms & Marriages Rev. W. Case 1810-1837; Prince Edward County Baptisms 1800’s & 1841-1888; Madoc Twp., Hastings Co., Baptisms 1843-1876; Kingston City & Township, Frontenac Co., Baptisms 1844-1876; Frontenac Co. Baptisms 1835-1897; Early Methodist Records, United Empire Loyalists Association; and More Notices from Ontario Methodist Papers 1830-1857, 1858-1872.
  • Presbyterian Registers and Records include: Communion Roll, Tyendinaga Twp., 1862-1893; Kingston 1821-1869; Rev. Robt. McDowall, Upper Canada; Marriage Register, St. Andrews, Campbellford, 1858, 1886; Baptism Register, St. Andrews, Picton, 1866-1984; Zion Baptismal & Marriage, 1891-1919; and Births, Rev. John Scott, 1842-1919.
  • Marriage Registers of Stephen Conger 1803-1823, Rev. Daniel McMullen 1831-1873, David S. Hubbs 1905-1911 and Rev. D. F. Gee 1877-1890.
  • Baptisms Registers of Rev. Robert Neill, Seymour Twp, Northumberland Co. 1840-1878.
  • Anglican Parish Register of Rev. John Stuart 1784-1911.
  • Clarendon Baptist Parish Registers 1877-1939 & Minute Books 1877-1919 (microfilm).
  • Westlake Monthly Meeting, Births & Deaths, 1829-1865.
  • The Carlisle List, BMDs, Middlesex County, 1839-1866.
  • Marriages, Prince Edward County , Persons Married Elsewhere.
  • Missing Marriages of Hastings County.
  • Marriage Bonds of Ontario 1803-1834.
  • Marriage Notices of Ontario 1813-1854, 1830-1856.
  • Death Notices of Ontario, 1810-1849.
  • Death Notices from Christian Guardian, 1836-1850, 1851-1860.

For both Ontario and Quebec, check out the local library or archive where you are researching. Local history and genealogical societies may have donated transcriptions of church records.For instance, I found the following books at my local library in Lindsay, Ontario. This is just a sampling, they have many more:
  • A book of transcriptions from Knox Presbyterian Church in Woodville covering 1844-1915
  • A book transcribing Roman Catholic baptisms for Emily and Ennismore Townships
  • Abook of transciptions of Marriages and Burials in Downeyville's St. Luke's Roman Catholic Church

Next post, we will look at records for Manitoba and Saskatchewan.




Monday, 27 March 2017

Religious Records Part 3 - Nova Scotia and New Brunswick

Last post we started our trek across Canada in search of Religious Records, by looking at Newfoundland and Labrador, and Prince Edward Island. Now we're going to look at Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.





Nova Scotia
For a brief outline of the religious history of Nova Scotia, take a look at anglicanhistory.org's page on The Church of England in Nova Scotia and the Tory Clergy of the Revolution. Though obviously centered around Protestantism, it does briefly mention the Acadian Catholic years. Also take a look at St. Francis Xavier University's page that covers both Catholicism and Presbyterian histories of the province. It also has a bibliography if you want a more in depth look at either history.

FamilySearch has a browse only collection of records called Nova Scotia Church Records 1720-2001. The collection covers both Catholic and Church of England records. Also check out their wiki on church records in general. What's great about this particular wiki is that is also has links and contact information for some of the denominational archives as well.

If you have Catholic ancestors, then check out the Drouin Acadian church records on Ancestry. Do take note though, that this collection covers both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Also please note that is not fully indexed. Some of the locations will need to be browsed page by page, especially if you are looking at the very years of the collection, when Nova Scotia was Acadie. Some records are in English, but a huge amount are in French. So along with poor handwriting, you will be dealing with French and sometimes Latin records. They can be a gold mine of information though. The Catholic records were usually a little more detailed than their Protestant counterparts. Some of the extra information I've come across in these records included:

  • Names of parents of a marrying couple
  • Maiden name of mothers in baptism entries
  • If one of the parties of a marriage comes from a different parish, their home parish is sometimes listed
  • If a widow is remarrying, sometimes her previous husband's name is also included (i.e the widow of so and so)
  • Relationship of the witnesses to the infant, wedding party, or deceased's entry. I've seen this in both marriages and burials for my own tree, and births in some other entries. (i.e. In attendance at the burial was her son Pierre)
The Nova Scotia Archives has a church records collection. There is an online database that will tell you what they have available. It is NOT the records themselves. For that you will have to visit the Archives in person to see the microfilms. The individual parishes still retain custody of the microfilms, and therefore are only available according to their guidelines. A detailed explanation of the holdings is here. The exception to this is their collection An Acadian Parish Remembered. These are the records of St. Jean Baptiste in Annapolis Royal, and covers the years 1702-1755. This is valuable tool for Acadian researchers. Type in a surname and you get every event pertaining to that surname in the registers. For example, when I enter BASTARACHE, one of my Acadian surnames, I get 43 results. If I click on one of these results, I will get to see a digital image of the page the entry is on. You cannot download the image, it is for viewing only. Above the image is an extract of the entry.

The Nova Scotia GenWeb has the LDS film numbers for various churches in Nova Scotia. Click on the county you are researching and you will get the various churches and their LDS film number. Some counties also have pictures and brief histories of individual churches.

The Shelburne County Archives and Genealogical Society has some church records and family bibles among their holdings. Along with Shelburne County, they also have the Liverpool Methodist and the
Port Mouton Circuit records from Queen's County.

If you have Lunenburg ancestors, then you have to look at the information on the Lunenburg County GenWeb site. They have a huge collection of transcriptions available for download. Along with that though, is the Don Shankle database. It has almost 50,000 BMD's taken from both vital statistics and church records. Though it is not as good as looking at original records of course, this database is the next best thing. Oh, and did I mention it is free to download? You can access the Shankle database here.






 New Brunswick
Originally part of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick became a separate entity in 1784. Over the years of it's existence, there has been much friction between the Catholic and protestant sects. Most of the Catholics were and are of French and Irish descent, while the Protestant sects come from the British and American immigrants. The Scottish immigrants fell into both groups. Today, the second largest Catholic population in Canada live in New Brunswick.

FamilySearch has a small collection of births and baptisms for the years 1819-1899. There are no images, but you will get a simple extraction of the original record. You can access the wiki as well for information and helpful links on the various denominations.

As mentioned in the Nova Scotia segment above, you can access the Acadian Drouin Collection on Ancestry for Catholic New Brunswick records. I have traced my own tree back several generations using this collection.

My favourite site in the whole world, The Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, has microfilms of both Catholic and Protestant church records. I love these guys. Not only are they "genealogist friendly", but they offer inter library loan on most of their records. For the church record microfilms, you need to go to the tab Research Tools, then click on County Guides. That will take you to this page. Click on the county you are interested in. You will get an Adobe Acrobat file of all the information for that county. Near the bottom is the section Church Records. Here you will get a listing of the various churches in the county, what years the records cover, and the microfilm numbers. Then just go to your local library with the information and have them submit a request for the film. Easy and free!

The University of Moncton has a great Acadian department, where you can find Stephen A White. Mr. White is the go-to source on Acadian genealogy. His work in progress on the original Acadian settlers and all their descendants is a hot commodity. The first two volumes are no longer in print, but if you can get your hands on them, they are invaluable. I was lucky enough to buy a used set last year. Though they are written in French, there is a English supplemental guide that can help you navigate the information. You can check out Stephen A. White and the holdings of the Centre D'Etudes Acadiennes Anselme-Chaisson here. The page is in French, but if your web browser should be able to translate it for you.

If you have First Nations ancestors, check out Genealogy First's page on parish records. They have information to help you find your New Brunswick First Nations ancestors.

If your ancestors belonged to Gagetown parish, then check out the Queen's County GenWeb page on parish records. There are over 4,000 transcriptions of baptisms, marriages, and burials.



And of course for both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, check out LAC's Religious Archives links.

Next post we'll leave the Maritimes and head over to Quebec and Ontario.