Travelling from Brockville to Montreal 175 years ago

As family historians, we often try to immerse ourselves in our ancestors’ lives, trying to imagine how they lived, worked, and travelled. I certainly do.

A newspaper article about a trip taken by a 13-year-old in 1841 from Brockville, Ontario to Montreal, Quebec sheds some light on what it was like to travel in those days. Although it was a voyage of wonder, it took 39 hours. Today, the same distance on the highway is about a two-hour car ride.

The young man travelled by steamer on the St. Lawrence River. This is how he remembered his arrival in Montreal:

There are nobler rivers in the world but the St. Lawrence from Kingston surpasses them all for beauty and grandeur. The wonders of the city, the view from the mountain, the great Quebec steamers, the vessels “Atlantic,” “Tam O Shanter” and “Souter Johnnie,” were a continual feast to my eyes. After a two week stay in the city we returned to Perth with a feeling that I had seen more of the world than fell to the ordinary mortal.

 You can read the entire article about the trip in this blog post, A trip to Montreal in 1841.

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18th-century public market in Old Montreal this weekend

This Saturday and Sunday you’ll be able to take a trip back in time to be in the company of farmers, craftspeople, and entertainers as they lived in 1750, at the time of Montreal’s very first public marketplace.

The Pointe-à-Callière museum’s 18th-century public market in Old Montreal will be a festive marketplace, offering a variety of activities in an atmosphere unique to New France.

Along with storytellers, musicians, and artisans, the public market will play host to many activities involving about 100 re-enactors dressed in period costume. Children will have plenty of opportunity to dress up, discover French games from the era, and play soldier.

Learn more here.

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Free ScotlandsPeople credits

Until August 27, you can use a voucher to take advantage of ScotlandsPeople’s offer to receive 20 free credits.

To order your free credits, go to the Shopping Basket on ScotlandsPeople. Click on purchase more Scotlands People credits. Then, enter summer16 in the Voucher Code box, and click on Proceed to payment.

Don’t worry about the Number of Credits box. With the voucher, you are only ordering 20 free credits. These credits will be available for 8,761 hours.

Note that the ScotlandsPeople website will be unavailable from Wednesday, September 7, at 23:59 (BST). This is due to essential work, which is expected to be completed and service resumed by Monday, September 23. Check Facebook or Twitter for updates.

Thanks to Dianne Seale Nolin who shared this tip on her Genealogy: Beyond the BMD Facebook group.

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Female descendants of Bounty mutineers wanted for DNA testing

A collection of hair taken from 18th-century pigtails and stored for more than a century in an old tobacco tin has arrived in London for analysis that could prove it belonged to some of the sailors responsible for the mutiny on the HMS Bounty. To confirm the pigtails did indeed come from the mutineers, the scientists are looking for living women who are descended, through the maternal line, from the mutineers’ mothers or grandmothers.

Mutiny on the Bounty

The hair is believed to be from seven of the nine mutineers, and three of their female Polynesian companions, who cast Captain Bligh and the 18 crew members who remained loyal to him adrift on the south Pacific in a small boat in April 1789. The mutineers sailed to Tahiti and then on to establish a new home on Pitcairn Island, where their descendants live to this day.

Scientists at King’s College London hope to extract mitochondrial DNA. They have agreed to collaborate with the Pitcairn Islands Study Center in California in a two-part study of the hair: 1. The hair itself; 2. A maternal genealogical study will be attempted, seeking living women who are in a maternal line from the mothers and or grandmothers of the mutineers.

Mutineers’ mothers
As part of the research, the Pitcairn Islands Study Center is searching for the name of the mother of each of the Pitcairn-settling mutineers for the maternal genealogical study:

  • Edward Young, who was born on St. Kitts in the West Indies, and was a nephew of Sir George Young.
  • James Mills, who was born in Aberdeen, United Kingdom.
  • Isaac Martin, who was born either in Philadelphia, US, or in Philadelphia, a small English community near Durham, England.
  • William McCoy, whose birthplace is unknown, but it is known that he worked in a brewery in Glasgow, Scotland. His family name is spelled “Mickoy” in the muster book of the Bounty.
  • Matthew Quintal was a Cornishman from Padstow.
  • John Adams, from Hackney, in London, an orphan brought up in a poorhouse, who used a fictitious name “Alexander Smith” in mustering onto Bounty, but after the visit of the Topaz to Pitcairn in 1808 used his birth name, John Adams.
  • John Williams, although he put down Stepney in east London as his home, he grew up in Guernsey and spoke French.
  • William Brown was born in Leicester in the east midlands of England.
  • Fletcher Christian was born on September 25, 1764, at Moorland Close near Cockermouth in Cumberland on the northwest coast of England. His mother was Ann Christian, wife of Charles Christian.

The Pitcairn Island Study Center can be contacted through its website.

More about this story is in The Guardian and on the Pitcairn Island Study Centre Facebook page.

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Historical Maine newspapers to be digitized

The Maine State Library has received a $275,000 federal grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize over 100,000 pages of historical Maine newspapers.

This is good news for many, including those of us who have ancestors who migrated from Canada to Maine in the 19th and early 20th centuries. I have met several people from Maine who are only one or two generations away from Canada.

Historical Maine newspapers

Maine State Library in Augusta receives $275,000 grant to digitize historical Maine newspapers. Photo: Billy Hathorn, Wikimedia Commons

The project will involve digitizing master microfilm copies of Maine newspapers and optimizing the files so the text can be searched. The digitized content will be uploaded to the Digital Maine repository and the Library of Congress Chronicling America archive.

Maine State Librarian James Ritter said, “Anyone with an internet connection will be able to browse the papers or perform a quick keyword search to look for stories about specific people, places or events from the past.”

Any Maine newspaper printed prior to 1923 could be included in the project provided that the master microfilm is available for imaging. Newspapers printed between 1923 and 1962 might also be eligible for digitization, if the publisher is willing to provide a waiver of copyright to permit the content to be imaged and shared.

Urgent need for additional newspaper digitization efforts
Unfortunately, a significant amount of Maine newspapers will not imaged through microfilm digitization because quality master film cannot be located or may not have been created.

“Some original copies of Maine newspapers are so fragile that they can’t be handled without causing permanent damage,” said Adam Fisher, director of Collections Development and Digital Initiatives at the Maine State Library. “There’s an urgent need to get quality images of these papers today before the information contained in them is lost to time.”

Old Orchard newspapers digitized
To digitize some of the older newspapers that have not been microfilmed, the Maine State Library partnered with Friends of Libby Memorial Library in Old Orchard Beach to digitize two local newspapers from the past, the Old Orchard Apple and the Old Orchard Mirror. These newspapers can be browsed.

The library is working on a similar project with the Maine Outdoor Sporting Heritage Museum and the Phillips Historical Society to digitize the Maine Woods newspaper, which will be available online later this year.

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Sher Leetooze shares tips for researching Scottish ancestry

If you have Scottish ancestors and seven minutes to spare, take a look at one of Ancestry’s latest videos, Tips for Researching Scottish Ancestry, with Ontario genealogist Sher Leetooze.

Ancestry video_Sher LeetoozeIn the video, Ms. Leetooze shares her advice and favourite resources for tracing your Scottish family history.

I suspect this interview took place at the Ontario Genealogical Society’s conference in Toronto in June when Ms. Leetooze delivered a presentation about parish level research in Scotland.

You will find the video on Ancestry’s YouTube channel.

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Researching your ancestors who lived in France

If you have ancestors from France, there is a new blog post and upcoming webinar that may help you.

Online resources
Guide to Researching French Ancestors by Danny Barber on his blog, Family Tree Tips, provides a few online resources, such as and GeoPatronyme, that should be part of your French genealogy research toolbox.

This is Mr. Barber’s first blog post about French research. About two weeks ago, he wrote a blog post about researching Dutch ancestors. Family Tree Tips is a blog Mr. Barber started in July, and I look forward to seeing what else he writes about.

On Friday, August 26, at 2:00 p.m. Eastern time, Legacy Family Tree will host a free webinar, Finding French Ancestors, presented by Luana Darby.

From Alsace-Lorraine to Paris and Huguenots to nobility, discover key resources for French research and techniques to meet challenges on both sides of the ocean.

Register here to watch the webinar live. It will be recorded and likely available to watch for free for a few days afterward.

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Northern New York conference to feature popular Quebec genealogist

If you have an interest in Quebec genealogy and can travel to Dannemora (near Plattsburgh) in northern New York, I suggest you try to go there Saturday, September 24, to attend two lectures delivered by Denyse Beaugrand-Champagne, a popular speaker from Montreal.

Ms. Beaugrand-Champagne will be delivering two presentations at the Northern New York American-Canadian Genealogical Society’s (NNYACGS) fall conference that runs for three days, from September 23 to 25.

On its Facebook page, NNYACGS writes, “As a professional speaker, [Denyse] can’t be beat. She knows her subject and presents her material with her unique sense of humor.”

The title of Ms. Beaugrand-Champagne’s 10:00 a.m. presentation is Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec: A Treasure Trove of Genealogical Resources. Then, at 1:00 p.m., she will talk about the Coroners’ Files at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec.

In addition to being a reference archivist at the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec, Ms. Beaugrand-Champagne is a professional genealogist and author. She is also the genealogical consultant for the Quebec version of the Who Do You Think You Are? Her book, Le Proces de Marie-Joseph-Angelique, an inquiry into a black slave accused of burning down parts of Montreal in 1734, won her accolades in the literary, historic, and genealogical worlds.

The conference takes place at the Civic Center in Dannemora. It is free and open to the public. More information is available on the conference poster.

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This week’s crème de la crème — August 20, 2016

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Crème de la crème of genealogy blogsBlogs
Making the Most of Your Genealogy Budget by Linda Stufflebean on Empty Branches on the Family Tree.

The Acadians of York County – Few but not Forgotten by James Myall on Parlez-Vous American.

Maritime Pilots by Dianne Nolin on Genealogy: Beyond the BMD.

How to find Government of Canada press releases by Emily Dingwall on Library and Archives Canada Blog.

What’s in YOUR Scottish Genealogy Toolbox? by Christine Woodcock on The In-Depth Genealogist.

Free Digital Microfilm Records to Download by Barbara Starmans on Out of My Tree Genealogy News.

Research Trip Prep! by Sheri on Easy Breezy Genealogy.

An Easy Guide to Commercial Genealogical DNA Tests by Danny Barber on Family Tree Tips.

Plan to Leave Your Digital Assets in Your Will by Dick Eastman on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Mapping the Acadian deportations by Michela Rosano, Canadian Geographic.

Why we need to save Quebec’s ghost towns by Julie Anne Pattee, Montreal Gazette.

Community celebrates freedom at once-lost cemetery by Craig Pearson, Windsor (Ontario) Star.

New atlas documents Mennonite history by Ron Frieson, Manitoba Co-operator.

A final farewell to my aunt – An Irishman’s Diary on the tragic death of James Connolly’s daughter Mona by James Connolly, Irish Times (Dublin).

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30% off AncestryDNA in Canada

AncestryDNA is on sale for $99CDN, including taxes and shipping, until August 22, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern time. Order here.

Thanks to John D. Reid for first alterting us about the sale on his blog, Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.

The blog post, An Easy Guide to Commercial Genealogical DNA Tests, by Danny Barber may help clear up some of the mystery surrounding the different DNA tests.

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