‘Tis the season to create a family ornament keepsake album

Finished decorating your tree yet? Wrapped all the gifts? Looking for something to do? I have just the thing.

Every year, I decorate my Christmas tree with a large number of ornaments I have collected over the years. Many I have made and several were made by relatives. Others I received as gifts from my mother and friends. I have also purchased about three dozen ornaments, one for every year since my husband and I first met, including “Baby’s 1st Christmas.”

OrnamentI pretty much decorate alone. Apparently, I am too picky.

If anyone enters the living room while I am carefully placing the ornaments on the tree, I try to coax them to join me. If they choose to sit and watch, I like to tell them the significance of each ornament — which usually causes them to suddenly jump to their feet, saying they just remembered they had something to do.

And I am left alone with my stories.

Perhaps you and your family are like mine. You have stories about your ornaments and memories about Christmas when you were young — and a family that is not very interested in your reminiscences… for now.

In the event our families will one day wish they had listened to our stories, I found a blog post by Kelly of the View Along the Way about how to create a Family Keepsake Ornament Album.

Kelly suggests taking and printing a photo of each keepsake ornament and putting the photos in an album. Next, write a short story about each ornament and how you came to own it. Then, place this story next to the photo of the ornament — and store the album in a safe spot. Don’t forget to write in the front of the album who put it together.

So, if you have finished decorating your tree, hanging lights, wrapping gifts, and baking, I suggest you start taking photos of your ornaments and writing about them. Or just pour yourself a cup of tea, sit down, listen to Christmas music, and relax.

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Uncovering Montreal’s birthplace, the Fort of Ville-Marie

Since 2002, archaeologists have been working on a dig at Place D’Youville to uncover the remains of the Fort of Ville-Marie, Montreal’s birthplace. The site holds the fort’s remains that will help archaeologists and historians better understand the city’s earliest days. CTV News recently broadcast a report from the dig.

It was at this site in 1642 that the first French colonists  — Paul de Chomedey de Maisonneuve, Jeanne Mance, and about 40 others — settled. Their fortification was a thick wall of logs, used to fend off attacks from the Iroquois, and parts of it are now visible.

Archaeological dig at former Fort of Ville-Marie. December 2014. CTV News, Montreal.

Archaeological dig at former Fort of Ville-Marie. December 2014. CTV News, Montreal.

In two years, the public will have an opportunity to see what remains of the fort.

The nearby Pointe-à-Callière Museum of Archaeology and History plans to connect to the former fort through an underground passage. They will do this by converting a large, old sewer into a tunnel for visitors to walk from site to site.

The city of Montreal is funding the Fort of Ville-Marie project, tunnel, and an expansion of the museum for $30 million. The site of the former fort will be open to the public by May 17, 2017, in time for the 375th anniversary of the first settlement of Montreal.

The CTV News report is available here.

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OGS members to receive journal electronically in new year

OGS logoStarting in February, the Ontario Genealogical Society will deliver its journal, Families, electronicially to members.

Given the increase in postage this year, and I assume printings costs always go up, producing an electronic version of the journal is a way for OGS to reduce costs, and I expect other societies will do the same in the next couple of years.

OGS explains the benefits of electronic delivery:

• Ability to click on any URLs and immediately check out the websites noted
• No need to find storage space for a paper copy; instead you will have easy storage on your computer hard drive, in the cloud or on your mobile device
• Ability to read Families on your tablet
• Having the luxury of a backup copy in the Members Only section of the OGS website
• Helping OGS to go green

The society further explains that members with email addresses will automatically be placed on the list for the new version. (Members without email addresses will continue to receive paper copies.) Members who want to receive a paper copy of Families must contact the membership coordinator by January 9.

Admittedly, I still prefer to read the printed version  of journals, books, and newspapers, but if receiving an electronic journal helps keeps my membership fee in check, I am willing to accept it.

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Federation of Irish Societies holds get-together for Montreal’s Irish community

The Federation of Irish Societies and the presidents of all the Irish organizations in Montreal invite you to drop by the Irish Embassy Pub & Grill at 1234 Bishop Street in Montreal on Monday, December 22, at 5:30 p.m., to celebrate Christmas with old friends and new friends. All are welcome. Happy hour prices and finger food.

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This week’s crème de la crème — December 20, 2014

Some of the genealogy bijoux I discovered this week.

NAP Assistants and Volunteers Clear Brush at an Abandoned Graveyard Near the Bayou Teche by Mark Rees on The New Acadia Project.

Announcing the Genealogy Do-Over by Thomas MacEntee on GeneaBloggers.

Coming in 2015? by John D. Reid on Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.

Ancestors: From Facts to Characters in Story by Lynn Palermo on The Armchair Genealogist.

Spend the money by Judy G. Russell on The Legal Genealogist.

If Miss Manners, Emily Post, or other experts on etiquette did genealogy! by Diane L. Richard on UpFront with NGS.

5 lessons we can learn from Who Do You Think You Are? by Yvette Hoitnik on Dutch Genealogy.

Feedback is a Good Thing: Virtual Institute of Genealogical Research Offers New Interactive Option for Courses by Julie Cahill Tarr on Julie’s Genealogy & History Hub.

A truly Dickensian Christmas by Angela Buckley on Victorian Supersleuth.

Acadians remember “deadly day” of The Great Upheaval by Mitch MacDonald, The Guardian, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

An Edwardian Christmas by Robert N. Wilkins, Montreal Gazette.

Once an unacceptable practice, receiving holiday cards has become a much anticipated holiday tradition by Danelle Cloutier, Canada’s History Magazine.

Vandals damage 16 monuments, including one marking the grave of a fallen Peterborough soldier by Lance Anderson, MyKawartha.

200-year-old British cannon from Revolutionary War found in Detroit River restored by Gus Burns, MLive, Michigan.

13 DIY Family History Crafts and Gifts by Dana McCullough, Family Tree Magazine.

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Ancestry releases free Find a Grave app for Android

Ancestry has announced the official release of its 1.0 version of Find A Grave for Android, free in the Google Play store. “With nearly half of our users having a preference for Android devices, we hope this release will unleash your inner graver.”

The new Android app will allow users to easily search for cemeteries on a map or by name, find deceased relatives, and enable gravers to create new memorials, add photos, and update GPS points.

Android Find A Grave users will also be able to edit their own bio and preferences, see and add to their virtual cemeteries, and find and fulfill photo request.

To learn more and for the link to download, visit Ancestry’s blog.

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Family History Library offers free webinars about English genealogy research

During the last week of January, the Family History Library will host a five-day series of free webinars about English genealogy research.

The series is called England Research Series Webinars. From January 26 to 30, 2015, two webinars will be held each day, starting at 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. (I assume in Mountain time.)

The topics include: Online Websites, Maps and Gazetteers, England and Wales Census Records, England and Wales Civil Registration, Church of England Church Records, Nonconformist Church Records, Probate Records, Parish Chest Records, and Poor Law Records.

There appears to be no need to register for a virtual seat. All you need do is click on this link to sign in as a guest to “enter” the classroom.

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Leslieville Historical Society holds inaugural meeting

Earlier this month, about a dozen residents of Leslieville, a Toronto neighbourhood east of the Don River, met at the historic Maple Cottage to mark the official inauguration and incorporation of the Leslieville Historical Society (LHS).

During the December 3 meeting, members of the society’s board of directors signed the not-for-profit corporation’s constitution. Guy Anderson was named the society’s first president.

Initial plans are to set up a website and discuss ways to grow the membership and raise funds to help pay for the erection of historical plaques in the community and other events.

The next meeting of the LHS is Wednesday, January 28, at 7:00 p.m., at Maple Cottage, 62 Laing Street.

For more information and/to become involved, email Guy Anderson at  guy_anderson@rogers.com.

You can learn more about the society and Leslieville’s history here.

The Maple Leaf Forever
Here’s a bit of Leslieville trivia. Alexander Muir, the composer of The Maple Leaf Forever, was the first principal of the Leslieville Public School, one of the first buildings in the village. Muir was inspired when a brilliant maple leaf fell on his jacket from a Leslieville tree. That tree fell on July 19, 2013.

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Saint John’s oldest church up for sale for $134,900

St. George’s Anglican Church, the oldest church in Saint John, New Brunswick, has been put on the market for $134,900, including its hall and three city lots. It was built in 1821 and is on Watson Street, on Saint John’s west side. It will be shuttered up for the winter as it waits for a buyer.

The parish’s aging population is partly to blame for the church’s financial situation.

Another reason for the financial problems is the church’s heritage status, which has made renovations too expensive for the dwindling congregation. Last year’s request to city council to drop the heritage status was denied.

According to a CBC report, “The church contains much of its original paraphernalia, including an old organ, and priceless stained glass windows.”

Read the full CBC report and see a photo here.

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Ottawa to fund $35.7-million in Quebec City historical projects

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has announced $35.7-million in funding for historical and archeological projects in Quebec City, while opening the door to further federal funding for a tall-ships regatta that will stop in the city in 2017.

According to the Globe and Mail, Mr. Harper said the funding is linked to the upcoming celebrations of Confederation’s 150th birthday in 2017, but is also part of his long-standing efforts to promote Quebec City’s historical role in the creation of Canada.

“We are not only in the presence of bricks and mortar, these walls are also part of the soul of Quebec City, Quebec and Canada,” Mr. Harper said. “Infrastructure like this can be a powerful reminder of our past, and it demands preservation, especially in light of the upcoming 150th anniversary of Confederation.”

Read the rest of this report in the Globe and Mail.

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