This week’s crème de la crème — August 29, 2015

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Find Your Ancestor on Ships Passenger Lists to Canada After 1865 by Lorine McGinnis Schulze on Legacy News.

Researching Your Family History at the Archives of Ontario by Heather Lavallee on the OGS Blog.

Canadian Genealogy at the Maine State Library by Dick Eastman on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Scottish Studies Chair Announces New Genealogical and Family Institute at Symposium 2015 by Christine Woodcock on Scottish Genealogy Tips And Tricks.

Scotland Genealogy Resources by Dianne Nolin on Genealogy: Beyond the BMD.

A research plan for an 18th-century brick wall ancestor by Yvette Hoitnik on Dutch Genealogy.

How Can I Find What Paper or Microform Information is Kept in a Particular Area? by Randy Seaver on Genea-Musings.

Google for Genealogy: Google Keyword Search Tips by Lisa Louise Cooke on Genealogy Gems.

Prepping for a Research Trip to Ireland: The research plan continues by Ruth Blair on The Passionate Genealogist.

‘Great Famine Voices’ crowdsourcing project launched by Claire Santry on Irish Genealogy News.

The value of transcribing by Janine Adams on Organize Your Family History.

Proud Mamas in Old Photos: Finding the Clues by Maureen Taylor on Family Tree Magazine.

Remembering the Acadian expulsion from Remsheg by Dave Dewar, Amherst (Nova Scotia) News.

New Acadia Project report by Corey Vaughan, The Daily Ibernian (New Iberia, Louisiana).

What prevents us from unearthing our Cajun origins? by Dominick Cross, Times of Acadiana – The Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana).

Lasting lines on P.E.I. by Sally Cole, The Guardian (Charlottetown, PEI).

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Loyalist school this weekend

It’s back to school season!

On August 28, 29 and 30, the Bergen County Historical Society and the recreated 4th Battalion, New Jersey Volunteers will host the School of the Loyalist in Hackensack, New Jersey. This will be a weekend of lectures, interpretation, workshops, and living history.

According to the historical society’s website, “Loyalist living history groups from across the United States and Canada will take part in bringing the life and times of the common soldier and refugee to life.”

Among the presentations being delivered are That Question of Loyalty; how and why some colonists decided to remain loyal to the King by David Moore, and A Loyalist in the Family by Kathryn Lake Hogan, UE.

Details about the event are available here.

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Free access to Ancestry’s UK records begins today

Starting today until Sunday, August 31, 11:59 p.m. GMT (6:59 p.m. Eastern time), Ancestry is offering free access to more than one billion UK records.

You will also be able to try new features, such as LifeStory, Facts View and Gallery.

To view these records you need to register for free with with your name and email address. They will send you a username and password to access the records. After the free access period ends, you will only be able to view the records in the featured collections using an paid membership.

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Post-war Dutch immigration records on Ancestry

Ancestry has added Canada and U.S., Dutch Emigrants, 1946-1963. These are the Dutch who emigrated from their homeland after the Second World War. There is a significant gap of records for the years, 1955–1956. These are transcribed records. The originals are not available to view.

In 1946, the Synod of the Christian Reformed Church in North America appointed an Immigration Committee for Canada to help Dutch emigrants considering moving to Canada through a program sponsored by both the Canadian and Dutch governments.

While many of the Dutch in these records settled in Ontario, it appears about 200 of them settled in the Montreal area. A significant number also established roots in other provinces.

For more information about the Dutch in Quebec, visit the detailed section, A Social History of the Dutch in Quebec, on

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My latest genealogical distraction — University theses

I’m a genealogist. I become easily distracted.

And that’s what happened to me once again while I was watching a recorded version of the Bryan Cranston episode of Who Do You Think You Are? See yesterday’s post about this.

Keyboard02_MicrosoftBut the distraction, as is often the case, was worth it because I came across an incredible resource that may help improve my understanding of times when my ancestors lived.

I discovered a wealth of information in masters and doctoral theses — available online.

Library and Archives Canada
Theses Canada is a collaborative program between Library and Archives Canada and nearly 70 universities accredited by Universities Canada. It was launched in 1965 at the request of the deans of Canadian graduate schools.

The best way to use this website is to search through Advanced Search and choose the option, Electronic Theses. That way, you will see only what is available to read online. I entered keywords, such as Ireland, Fenian, and Montreal. I also entered some surnames.

Searching Fenian resulted in: The 1866 Fenian raid on Canada West: a study of colonial perceptions and reactions towards the Fenians in the Confederation era.

McGill University
McGill University‘s online archives of theses is also excellent, especially because of the large number of theses available and the search feature.

The McGill search feature was the best I could find for researching Canadian theses. What I like is that you can search by keyword or topic. Not knowing what may be available, I sometimes review the list of topics and choose one of them to browse. Genealogists may want to start their search in History and then narrow down the results by selecting a sub-topic, such as Canadian, Church, or Military.

A search of “Fenian raid” produced 16 results, including:

  • Robert Sellar and the Huntingdon Gleaner: the conscience of rural protestant Quebec, 1863-1919
  • The county of Missisquoi in the Eastern Townships of the Province of Quebec (1770’s-1867)
  • Preaching the Great War: Canadian Anglicans and the war sermon 1914-1918.

A search by topic and sub-topic, History and United States, uncovered this 1927 thesis:

  • Lord Palmerston’s diplomatic partisanship in favor of the Confederate States during the American Civil War, April, 1861 – October 24th, 1862.

A search of “New France” resulted in more than 300 hits, including these:

  • The French-Canadian under British rule, 1760-1800
  • “To be sold, a Negro wench” : slave ads of the Montreal Gazette, 1785-1805.

Université de Montréal
The Université de Montréal also offers online access to theses, and the vast majority are available in French only.

The good news for English-speaking genealogists is that the web page and search terms are available in English. While it may be best to search for French keywords, all the theses I looked at were tagged with both French and English words. So, try Ireland or Irlande.

Concordia University
The thesis database on Concordia University‘s website is worth reviewing if you can visit the library in person or if just to see what is available. I could not find a thesis online, only titles and some abstracts. This database would be useful to family historians conducting in-depth research who can visit the university’s library. Or perhaps the university handles long-distance requests.

For theses from 1998 to 2002, the university directs researchers to Theses Canada. Students with a university card have fuller online access.

Other Canadian universities
I checked the University of Toronto and Queen’s University’s websites for an online thises database, but could only see where students and staff with cards and/or login IDs would have online access.

Maps and illustrations
Some theses and dissertations include maps and illustrations, so scan through the thesis to find them.

Bibliographies and appendices
Look at the bibliographies and appendices at the back of each thesis. Sometimes these sections will hold more information for you than what you will find in the dissertation.

Remember that the authors who submitted these theses own the copyright for the work and retain their intellectual property rights. No one can reproduce the material or a portion of it without the copyright holder’s expressed consent.

I would be interested to learn about other Canadian universities that have a good online database of theses. I bet some American universities have excellent online databases that would help both Canadian and American genealogists. Any suggestions?

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What I discovered when I stopped my recording of Who Do You Think You Are?

Who was that expert in Montreal’s Notre-Dame Basilica’s archives on TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are? last Sunday?

Her name is Janice Harvey, and when she first appeared on the screen, I stopped the recording on my PVR to take note of her name and title. You will recall she helped Bryan Cranston learn about his great-grandfather, Daniel Cranston, who was two years old living apart from his parents in Montreal’s Ladies’ Benevolent Institution in 1861.

Ms. Harvey, a Canadian social historian at Dawson College in downtown Montreal, showed Mr. Cranston church and census records in addition to documents from the Institution’s archives.

Canadian social historian Janice Harvey helps Bryan Cranston learn about his great-grandfather in Montreal on WDYTYA? Source: YouTube screen capture.

Canadian social historian Janice Harvey helps Bryan Cranston learn about his great-grandfather in Montreal on WDYTYA? Source: YouTube screen capture.

As most genealogists often do, I did some online research about Ms. Harvey and learned she was the on-camera expert for good reason. The topic of her 1975 Masters thesis was about 19th-century private Protestant charities in Montreal.

Thesis available online
The title of her thesis is The Protestant Orphan Asylum and the Montreal Ladies’ Benevolent Society: A Case Study in Protestant Child Charity in Montreal, 1822-1900, and the 415-page document is available to read online on Library and Archives Canada’s website. (If you have difficulty opening the LAC link, try opening the PDF, next to Object at the top of this McGill University page. The McGill link can be faster.)

Appendices and bibliography
When you open the thesis, make sure you look at the appendices and bibliography at the back. Forty years later, they are still worth examining. Here’s a sampling:

  • Appendix 1 on digital page 333 provides a table of Montreal’s population by religion, from 1844 to 1901.
  • Appendix 2 lists all the Protestant benevolent societies.
  • Appendix 12 on digital page 355 shows the Montreal population by country of origin, from 1844 to 1901.
  • If your ancestor lived in one of these institution, you will be interested in the Diet List for the Protestant Orphan Asylum (1823 & 1888) on digital page 358.
  • The 45-page bibliography begins on digital page 370, and it is a good list of print and archival resources.

As for the Ladies’ Benevolent Institution archives, I hear they are closed to the public. And I’m still confused about why a Catholic boy would be in a Protestant institution, but that’s for another day of research.

You can watch this episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on YouTube. The Montreal portion begins at the 23-minute mark.

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New season of BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? on YouTube

If you are not getting enough of TLC’s Who Do You Think You Are?, the first two episodes of the new BBC season that started airing less than two weeks ago are already available on YouTube.

Who Do You Think You Are?The first episode features Great British Bake Off presenter Paul Hollywood, who travels to North Africa where he learns about his grandfather’s experience during WWII.

The second episode features Jane Seymour whose real name is Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg. Her father was from a Jewish family in Poland and her mother from Holland. She follows the stories of two Jewish great-aunts and their experiences during Nazi occupation.

Thanks to Candi M. for the heads up on the Genealogy à la carte Facebook group.

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New book about Champlain marks 400th anniversary of his arrival in Peterborough

The Peterborough Examiner in Ontario recently published an article about a new book, Finding Champlain’s Dream, that will be launched at Trent Valley Archives on Saturday, September 5.

Here’s an excerpt from the Peterborough Examiner article:

A new book recounting Samuel de Champlain’s portage routes through Peterborough is about to be published, 400 years after the French explorer’s travels here.

Finding Champlain’s Dream was co-written by Elwood Jones, the archivist with Trent Valley Archives, along with Alan Brunger and Peter Adams.

Brunger is a geography professor at Trent University, and Adams is a former MP who is retired from teaching geography at Trent.

Jones said the book also contains essays and articles on the topic of Champlain from other experts, too.

It’s a geography book, but also a history book: it covers how Champlain interacted with First Nations people and how his travels here marked the start of francophone culture in Ontario.

You can read the entire article here.

Thanks to Elizabeth Lapointe for sharing this article in her blog, Genealogy Canada.

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Irish Ambassador to attend Saint-Colomban’s first Irish Heritage Day

The mayor and council of Saint-Colomban, Quebec, north of Montreal, will hold the community’s first Irish Heritage Day of Saint-Colomban on Saturday, August 29, with special guest Dr. Ray Bassett, the Irish Ambassador to Canada.

Saint Colomban Irish Heritage DayThis family day starts at 10:00 a.m. and will include Irish music and dancing, food, GAA gaelic football, and hurling demonstrations. There will also be information about the strong Irish of Saint-Colomban who supported the Patriots in the Rebellion of 1837.

Most of the days activities will take place in Parc Phelan.

Ambassador Bassett, and Irish Heritage Day honourary chairman Fergus V. Keyes are scheduled to unveil a plaque in the old Irish cemetery, St. Columban, at 10:30 a.m. The plaque outlines the Irish history of Saint-Colomban, and its inscription is written in French, English, and some Irish. The plaque was designed and installed thanks to a grant from the Irish Government in Dublin.

Mr. Keyes said, “Many Montrealers with Irish heritage have a strong connection to Saint-Colomban and don’t realize it. Today, although the town is generally French speaking, the residents have a fierce pride in their Irish heritage.”

Saint-Colomban, originally spelled St. Columban, was founded by Irish settlers in the early 1800s and for the next 80 to 100 years was an almost 100 percent-Irish settlement.

In the early 1900s, many of these residents started to move to Montreal for jobs and lived primarily in Griffintown and Pointe-Saint-Charles.

Saint-Colomban is near the Mirabel Airport, about 45 minutes by car from Montreal. The church is located at 342b Montée de l’Église and the small cemetery across the street is where the plaque unveiling will take place. Parc Phelan is down the road at 321 Montée de l’Église, and the town hall where the dignitaries will be met is on the same road at #330.

Directions to Saint-Colomban's Irish Heritage Day 2015.

Directions to Saint-Colomban’s Irish Heritage Day 2015.

Information is available on the The Irish Heritage Day of Saint-Colomban Facebook page and on the Saint-Columban – Irish website. The agenda is available in French only.

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Picture book may interest children in their family history

The Montreal Gazette published a review yesterday about a new picture book, My Family Tree and Me, by Dušan Petričić.

"My Family Tree and Me" is published by Kids Can Press,

“My Family Tree and Me” is published by Kids Can Press,

Written for children three to seven years old, the 24-page book uses two stories in one to explore a small boy’s family tree. The boy tells the family story of his father’s side starting from the front of the book, and that of his mother’s side starting from the back of the book. Four previous generations are introduced for each, from his great-great-grandparents to his parents.

Reviewer Bernie Goedhart writes, “It’s fun to read the book from back to front and vice versa. And it’s fun to pick out the common traits and differences of family members in the group image.”

Publisher Kids Can Press describes the book as a “great springboard for lessons on describing and sharing family histories and naming family relationships.”

You can read the book review here.

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