First episode of Qui êtes-vous? airs tonight

Qui etes-vous logoThe third season of Qui êtes-vous?, the Quebec version of Who Do You Think You Are?, debuts tonight at 9:00 p.m. on Radio-Canada.

The first episode features actress Guylaine Tremblay who will trace her roots from her home town, Petite-Rivière-Saint-François northeast of Quebec City, to France.

One of her earliest ancestors from France is Pierre Tremblay from whom thousands of Quebecers and many others elsewhere in Canada and North America are descended.

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New cemeteries on Cimetières du Québec

The following cemeteries were recently added to the Cimetières du Québec website.

Cimetieres du Quebec_home pageCimetière J.C. Saindon, Sayabec, Matapédia County. Catholic. Francophone. New photos added for more than 700 names.

Cimetière de Sainte Marguerite-Marie, Sainte-Marguerite-Marie, Matapédia County. Catholic. Francophone.

Cimetière de Sainte-Flore, Sainte-Flore, Saint-Maurice County. Catholic. Francophone.

Cimetière St-Jean-de-Matha, Saint-Jean-de-Matha, Joliette County. Catholic. Francophone. More than 800 headstones.

Old Shrewsbury-in-the-Bush Anglican Cemetery, Gore, Argenteuil County. Anglican. Anglophone.

St. Mungo’s Cemetery, Cushing, Argenteuil County. United. Anglophone.

Cimetière de Cap-Chat, Cap-Chat, Gaspé County. Catholic. Francophone.

Cimetière Saint-Paul-l’Ermite, Repentigny, L’Assomption County. Catholic. Francophone. Updated with new photos.

Cimetière de La-Plaine, La-Plaine (Terrebonne), L’Assomption County. Catholic. Francophone.

Cimetière de Ste-Dorothée, Laval, Laval County. Catholic. Francophone.

Cimetière St-Joseph, Rivière-Bleue, Témiscouata County. Catholic. Francophone.

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Inspiration for writing about your ancestors

Lisa Alzo’s Ten Things I Miss About My Dad provides much-needed inspiration for those of us who struggle to find time and/or inclination to write our family history.

Take a look at Ms. Alzo’s loving tribute to her father. You will see that it can serve as a simple and doable way to write about your family members and ancestors.

Image courtesy of punsayaporn at

Image courtesy of punsayaport at

In her blog post, Ms. Alzo writes about some of her fondest memories, such as her father’s hats, favourite sayings, love of sports, and ability to fix things. You probably have a list of your own about a relative that is equally engaging and touching.

So, make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, find a quiet spot, and write ten things about one of your ancestors. It may not be the epic family history you hope to produce one day, but it’s a start.

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This week’s crème de la crème — November 28, 2015

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Héritage Project moves to next phase and LAC images on Flickr by John D. Reid on Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.

Canadian and English archives go head-to-head with their records: The Cumbrian Connection Part 2 by Samantha Thompson on the Peel Archives blog.

Launch of “Carleton Papers―Book of Negroes, 1783” Database on the Library and Archives Canada Blog.

Introducing Wayne Shepheard, Guest Genealogist by Lorine McGinnis Schulze on Olive Tree Genealogy.

Forget the Syrians. Who’s keeping an eye on those Loyalist refugees? by Robert J. Talbot, iPolitics (Ottawa).

Take a peek at corporate Canada’s hidden treasures by Susan Krashinky, Globe and Mail (Toronto).

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Remains of 204 people re-buried in Quebec City after extensive research

Earlier this month, a special ceremony took place at Mount Hermon Cemetery in Quebec City when 80 small caskets were buried. The caskets contained the remains of 204 unknown people, likely British immigrants or first-generation Canadians, who died between 1772 and 1848.

This burial puts an end to a story that began about 15 years ago when workers uncovered a number of skeletons buried in St. Matthew’s Cemetery, the oldest remaining cemetery in Quebec City.

St. Matthew's Cemetery in Quebec City is now a park. 2012. Photo: François Laflamme.

St. Matthew’s Cemetery in Quebec City is now a park. 2012. Photo: François Laflamme.

Thousands buried in 18th and 19th centuries
St. Matthew’s cemetery, located within the city’s walls, was established in 1771 and it is the burial place of many of the earliest English settlers in Canada, including Queen Victoria’s half-brother Robert Wood.

An estimated 6,000 to 10,000 Anglicans and Presbyterians were buried in this cemetery between 1772 and 1860. As in most cemeteries from that period, the majority of the deceased were buried in unmarked graves, although today there are still 314 tombstones in the cemetery bearing 518 inscriptions. Some of the tombstones had been removed several years ago to make way for the convention centre.

Unfortunately, a large number of people were buried in St. Matthew’s with no record of their name. To this day, they remain unknown.

After they died, their bodies were wrapped in cloth and buried one on top of the other without coffins. In all, there would have been six or seven layers of bodies, likely separated by wooden planks.

In 1860, the cemetery was closed because citizens were worried about the possibility of diseases spreading.

Today, St. Matthew’s is a park in the heart of Quebec City on rue Saint-Jean. Thousands of tourists walk by it every year.

St. Matthew's Cemetery, Quebec City. 2012. Photo: Malimage.

St. Matthew’s Cemetery, Quebec City. 2012. Photo: Malimage.

Archaeological dig
After the skeletons were discovered, an archaeological dig took place. Reginald Auger and James Woollet, both archaeologists and professors in the Department of Historical Sciences at Université Laval,
wanted the remains to be stored in their campus laboratory in order to conduct bioarchaeology research.

The Anglican bishop of Quebec gave his approval for the research, provided it be completed by 2015 and the remains re-buried.

Decade-long research reveals health of deceased
More than a dozen graduate and post-doctoral students conducted extensive research on the remains for about ten years.

The analysis of the remains indicated that many of the deceased had suffered from deficiency illnesses, such as rickets and infectious diseases. A majority of the 204 people had died between the ages of 18 and 35.

Although the remains have been re-buried, research will continue. Three-dimensional X-rays taken of the bones will remain in a permanent database for future analysis.

Because of this research, it is likely much more is now known about the 204 deceased than most of the others buried in St. Matthew’s. If only we knew their names.

More information about this project can be found, in French, in the article, Dernier repos, in the university’s journal.

If planning a trip to Quebec City, take note that the cemetery is almost next to the fine foods shop, J.A. Moisan, which is probably the oldest grocery store in North America. The store opened in 1871, 11 years after the cemetery closed.

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Commonwealth War Graves Commission looks for descendants of four WWI servicemen

The ‪Commonwealth War Graves Commission is looking for descendants of the following four men who served in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment during WWI.

• Private J.T. Cleaver; 4302
• Private R. Kimberley; 4303
• Private W. Jennings; 4522
• Lance Corporal J.T. Spencer; 2610

If you are related to one of the above casualties and can provide documentation, contact the commemorations team at

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission commemorates the 1.7 million men and women of the Commonwealth forces who died in the two world wars. Its register records details of Commonwealth war dead and cares for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations in 154 countries. The names of the war dead and places of commemoration can be searched in the casualty database.

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Best-selling novel about Irish orphan in Quebec now available in English

The first volume of the best-selling Quebec historical fiction series about a young girl who left Ireland with her family during the Great Famine is now available in English in your favorite online bookstores.

Originally published in French, Volume 1 of the 'Fanette' series is a best-selling novel in Canada.

Originally published in French, Volume 1 of the ‘Fanette’ series is a best-selling novel in Canada.

Fanette: Uptown Conquest tells the story of a seven-year-old Irish girl, Fionnualá (named Fanette in Quebec), and her family, who were forced into exile during the Great Famine. Orphaned in Quebec City, Fanette and her older sister, Amanda, are sent to a live on a farm, where they are subjected to miserable living conditions.

The popular seven-part series is written by Quebec playwright, screenwriter and novelist, Suzanne Aubry.

Fanette: Uptown Conquest is available in e-book format from ChaptersIndigo, Apple, Amazon, Kobo, and other book stores. If the English translation becomes popular, a paperback version will be published. You can order the e-book through links on the author’s website.

Volume 2, Fanette – The Revenge of the Lumber Lord, will be available in 2016.

Ms. Aubry writes about the Irish experience in 19th-century Canada on her English blog. Recent entries include an article about Grosse-Île and an Irish recipe.

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Gift ideas among the 2015 Heritage Toronto Award winners and nominees

"Lost Breweries of Toronto" was among the nominees for the 2015 Heritage Toronto Awards.

“Lost Breweries of Toronto” was among the nominees for the 2015 Heritage Toronto Awards.

Looking for gift ideas for someone with Toronto roots or someone who likes reading about history? You may find some among the 2015 Heritage Toronto Award winners and nominees in the book category. This category recognizes well-written non-fiction books published in 2013 that explore Toronto’s archaeological, built, cultural or natural heritage and history.

2015 winners and nominees
• Toronto: Biography of a City (Winner)
• Both Sides of the Fence: Surviving the Trap (Winner)
• Reclaiming the Don: An Environmental History of  Toronto’s Don River Valley (Winner)
• Davy the Punk (Winner)
• Adversity, Resilience, Prosperity: The Odyssey of a Canadian Inner City Neighbourhood Cabbagetown 1941 – 2011
• The Chinese Head Tax and Anti-Chinese Immigration • Policies in the Twentieth Century
• Lost Breweries of Toronto
• Inside the Museums: Toronto’s Heritage Sites and Their Most Prized Objects
• Views of the CN Tower
• The History of Sunnybrook Hospital: Battle to Greatness
• Riverdale: East of the Don

Links to more information about these books is available here.

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BIFHSGO announces call for presentations for 2016 conference

BIFHSGO-logo--trnsprnt-red_jpgThe British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) has announced a call for presentations for its 22nd annual conference tentatively scheduled for September 9 – 11, 2016, with possible alternate dates of September 30 – October 2.

For the second year in a row, the conference will be held at Ben Franklin Place in Ottawa.

The two main topics of the conference are Ireland – family history and DNA in genealogy.

The society is seeking proposals on these two topics for lectures on the Saturday and Sunday, as well as for workshops or seminars on the Friday. Lectures, workshops or seminars on other genealogy topics will also be considered.

Details about presentation proposal requirements are available on the BIFHSGO website. The deadline to submit is January 31, 2016.

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Nova Scotia Archives’ new genealogy guide makes it easy to find resources

Usually, I avoid reading research guides because they are often complex documents written by archivists in a language only they understand. I made an exception yesterday for the Nova Scotia Archives’ new Genealogy Guide, and I am glad I did.

The guide is written in an easy-to-understand language from the point of view of a genealogist who wants to explore the archives, which makes it especially useful.

According to the introduction, “If your ancestors lived in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Archives is your research epicenter. To help you get the most out of the extensive holdings, both online and on-site, this guide outlines basic sources that genealogists use, and provides directions for navigating the material housed at the Archives.”

Nova Scotia Archives genealogy guideSoon after reading the introduction, I became distracted, again not because it was confusing, but because it was easy to read and explore the resources. I was so absorbed in the Archives’ holdings, I forgot what I was supposed to be doing.

The guide’s menu “captures the most productive resources for family history available either on this website or onsite at the Nova Scotia Archives.” Click on any menu link to learn more about the resources and find out how to access them.

More than a dozen categories/menu items
Here’s what you will find in the guide’s menu:
• Biography / Genealogy Index Card Catalogue
• Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics
• Census and Poll Tax Records
• Church Records
• Cemetery Records
• Probate Records
• Land Records
• Township Records
• Maps
• Newspapers
• Passenger Lists
• Secondary Sources
• County / Community Histories
• Provincial and City Directories
• Our Other Online Databases
• Settlement Patterns / Cultural Diversity

While almost all of the menu items are self-explanatory, it was less obvious what was behind the titles of three items, and they piqued my curiosity.

Secondary Sources is a list of genealogy books available at the Archives.

Our Other Online Databases provides links to small databases and indexes that are useful in family history research: Court for Divorce and Matrimonial Causes, 1759-1960; 1917 Halifax Explosion Remembrance Book; Medical Examiner for Halifax and Dartmouth, 1895-1974; Nova Scotia Mine Fatalities Database, 1838-1992; and List of Bodies and Fatality Reports from the RMS Titanic.

Settlement Patterns provides information, with links and/or books about the Mi’kmaq, Acadians, African Nova Scotians, English and Americans, Foreign Protestants, Scots, Irish, and Industrial Cape Breton.

While other provincial archives provide research guides on their website, I did not find any as good or as user friendly as Nova Scotia Archives’.

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