Irish Genealogical Research Society wants your ancestor’s story

To mark its 80th anniversary, the Irish Genealogical Research Society, based in Kent, England, has issued a call for stories — maximum of 2,500 words — about your favourite Irish-born ancestor for an online database of biographies.

Irish Genealogical Research SocietyAll stories IGRS receives will be deposited for posterity in the 80th Anniversary Archive in the the society’s library, and they will publish a selection of them as an e-book.

You can submit more than one story.

In the submission guidelines, IGRS explains, “We are not asking you to deposit whole family trees, although you are welcome to include a short branch at the end, perhaps to place your ancestor in context. Equally, please keep any notes, references or bibliographies to a minimum and consign them to the end of your document if you want to include them. This especially applies to any transcribed material you have as evidence – try to tell the story as you see it rather than document everything you have found.”

The biographies will begin to appear online in September, when the 80th anniversary will be celebrated in London.

This request for stories looks like a good fall project for genealogical societies’ family history writing and Irish special interest groups.

Read about the submission guidelines and a sample biography here. Note the deadline is December 2016.

The IGRS was established in 1936, created at the time to gather together copies of materials compiled before the 1922 Great Fire at the Public Record Office in Dublin.

I learned about this tempting opportunity in this week’s New England Historic Genealogical Society’s e-newsletter. To subscribe to the e-newsletter, click on the link at the bottom on the society’s home page.

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Interactive map of demolished character homes in Vancouver

It’s an interactive kind of day with two blog posts about interactive maps.

One of the many concerns about the housing situation in Vancouver is the large number of heritage and older homes that are being demolished to make room for large, expensive, modern homes — in addition to the soaring prices of houses.

To show what has been lost, the Vancouver Vanishes Facebook Group has produced an interactive map, called Demolished Character Houses in Vancouver, where anyone can see the locations, images, and historical information about the character houses that have been demolished, located predominantly in the west side of Vancouver.

This interactive map is like a good new-bad news resource for genealogists. The good news is you may find a photo of one of your ancestor’s homes. The bad news is the home has been demolished.

Demolished Character Houses in Vancouver

Demolished Character Houses in Vancouver

The information for each location on the map includes the address, year built, and name and profession of the first owner(s) of the demolished house. Data on the year built and owners was pulled from city directories.

The Vancouver Vanishes Facebook Group says, “It is not a complete listing of all the character houses or demolitions in Vancouver, and it will be continuously updated monthly as new findings become available on the Vancouver Vanishes Facebook Group page.”

Heritage Vancouver shared this interactive map of Demolished Character Houses in Vancouver on Tweeter with the hashtag, VancouverVanishes. You can follow Heritage Vancouver at @HeritageVan.

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Thousands of photos on interactive map of ‘Lost London’

An interactive map of Lost London, England, created by the London Metropolitain Archives, contains more than 100,000 images and 130 short films that you can browse or search.

Using Google Maps, the photos and videos are mapped out across about 11,000 streets of London.

Called The London Picture Map, the site is free to access and it allows visitors to search by a particular street to see how it looked a couple of hundred years ago, and to print their own versions of the images.

The London Picture Map allows you to browse the collections geographically and discover images of a particular street or building. Many of the images are of buildings that no longer exist.

The London Picture Map allows you to browse the collections geographically and discover images of a particular street or building. Many of the images are of buildings that no longer exist.

Laurence Ward, from the London Metropolitan Archives, told London Live: “It basically takes you back in terms of place – it could be the place you live, work in, places that you go to – you can see what they looked like 100 or 200 years ago.

“The photographs, in particular, are really important because at the end of the 19th century, they show you all these things like massive engineering projects – like the construction of Tower Bridge.”

You can start your search here. To maximize your search, read the brief information about Using the London Picture Map under the main map.

If you don’t find what you are looking for on the map, try the Advanced Search. The Search Tips are also useful.

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LAC launches webpage about Carignan-Salières Regiment

Library and Archives Canada has created a new webpage dedicated to the Carignan-Salières Regiment. The webpage provides access to LAC’s resources related to this unit in the history of New France.

The Carignan-Salières Regiment arrived in New France in 1665, 57 years after Samuel de Champlain founded Quebec City in 1608.

From the new webpage, you can also listen to an audio recording of an interview with New France expert Jean-François Lozier, curator of French North American history at the Canadian Museum of History, about the Carignan-Salières Regiment.

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Gaps in census a disservice to future generations of Canadians

An opinion piece in the Toronto Star with the headline, Gaps in census mean Canadians are being left out of history, has grabbed the interest of many, especially genealogists, on social media.

Written by Ian E. Wilson, former Librarian and Archivist of Canada, and Bill Waiser, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan, the article is about the opt-in question in the 2016 Canadian census.

You may recall the final question Canadians were asked in the census was whether we consented to having our information available 92 years from now. Before 2006, this was not an option. All nominal census information has been made and will be publicly available after a minimum 92-year waiting period.

Messrs Wilson and Waiser raise concern about the default answer to the opt-in question if ignored or if people opted out.

Here’s part of what they wrote:

“In 2006, only 56 per cent of the respondents said Yes (to the 92-year question).

“Those who said No, on the other hand, may have been concerned about financial information, chose not to consult with the three-month-old baby or simply did not understand the question.

“If left blank, the default was No.

“Great-grandchildren and their great-grandchildren of the 22nd and 23rd centuries, trying to understand their heritage, will not find their ancestors. Two of every five Canadians will effectively fade from memory.”

The entire article can be read here. On a positive note, the response rate to the 2016 census was high. You can read more about that in this blog post.

I am not sure we can do anything about the opt-in question on the 2016 census, but we have five years to make sure it doesn’t appear on the 2021 census.

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Highland games double-header this weekend near Ontario-Quebec border

This coming weekend is known as the M&M (Maxville and Montreal) weekend among the Highland Games competitors. Sounds like great fun!

Maxville, Ontario will be the site of the largest massed pipe bands in North America this Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30. Fifty-seven bands from six Canadian provinces and eight American states will converge on the eastern Ontario town for the Glengarry Highland Games.

The first Glengarry Highland Games were created in 1948 by a small group of local businessmen who wanted to ensure that the Scottish traditions would not be lost by the younger generations — and they’ve been doing a good job ever since.

Maxville is a short hour east of Ottawa just off Highway 417, thirty minutes north of the Canada/US border crossing at Cornwall, and a little over an hour northwest of Montreal. Learn about the Glengarry Highland Games here.

Then, on Sunday, July 31, the Montreal Highland Games takes place at Parc Arthur-Therrien in Montreal’s borough of Verdun.

The Montreal Highland Games is always held on the Sunday following the Glengarry Games, which makes it a double header for pipe bands, athletes, highland dancers and spectators. Over the past 38 years, these games has become one of the premier events on the North American highland games circuit. Learn about the Montreal Highland Games here.

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Canadian immigration to Maine, 1850 to 1940

Did some of your Canadian ancestors settle in Maine? To acquire an idea of where they may have settled or how many settled in a particular area, James Myall has produced an interactive map that shows Canadian migration patterns from 1850 to 1940.

The interactive map shows the number of Canadian-born residents of Maine towns, cities and plantations at the time of each census, from 1850 to 1940.

The interactive map shows the number of Canadian-born residents of Maine towns, cities and plantations at the time of each census, from 1850 to 1940.

Mr. Myall’s goal was to show where Maine’s Franco-Americans live, using census records to find the numbers of Canadian-born Mainers.

In his column, Parlez-Vous American?, in the Bangor Daily News, Mr. Myall explained why it was “all-but impossible” for him to separate English and French-speaking Canadians to create his interactive map. “While the Census Bureau instructed enumerators to start making this distinction from 1900 onwards, those taking the census appear to have done so with varying degrees of zeal. Many individuals are still simply recorded as ‘Canadians.'”

Mr. Myall is the coordinator of the Franco-American Collection at the University of Southern Maine. In 2015, he co-authored The Franco-Americans of Lewiston-Auburn, a general history of that population from 1850 to the present.

Take a look at the interactive map and article here.

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Impressive response rate for 2016 Canadian census

Were you among those who considered themselves lucky to receive the long-form Canadian census earlier this year? I was. My only disappointment was there was no Other Comments box where I could write who my grandparents and great-grandparents were and when and where they were born.

It appears I was not alone with my enthusiasm for the census.

According to an article in The Huffington Post Canada, Canadians’ response to filling in the 2016 census has likely been the greatest since the first one conducted 350 years ago in New France.

Keyboard02_MicrosoftStatistics Canada’s chief statistician Wayne Smith told The Globe and Mail that this is “probably the most successful census since 1666.” (You can read about it in this blog post about Intendant Jean Talon who conducted the census largely by himself from 1665 to 1666, travelling door to door among the settlements of New France.)

Early indications show the 2016 short-form census had an overall response rate “approaching 98 per cent,” Marc Hamel, director general of the census program, told The Huffington Post Canada.

Response rates for the long-form census were about 96 percent, Hamel added, which is higher than those of the last two surveys in 2011 and 2006. The response rate of the 2011 voluntary long-form census was 68 percent.

Perhaps Canadians’ response to filling in the government form was because we were glad to receive back what we had lost.

Genealogists were among the many who applauded the Liberal government’s announcement last November to re-instate the mandatory long-form census that the previous Conservative government had eliminated.

Soon after the 2016 census collection process began in May, Statistics Canada’s online system briefly crashed. At first, it was thought Canadians’ enthusiasm for completing the form had brought down the site, but CBC News reported design flaws caused the issue.

On this year’s census, we had the opportunity to give consent to the government to release our personal census information in 92 years to “help future generations better understand the Canada of today.” There is no mention in the Huffington Post Canada article how many Canadians gave their consent.

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This week’s crème de la crème — July 23, 2016

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Crème de la crème of genealogy blogsBlogs
New Brunswick Research Sites by Ken McKinley on Family Tree Knots.

LAC Annual Report 2015-2016 by John D. Reid on Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections.

Love, Mom: Letters from Mary Power to Her Son, 1822-1824 on The Archivist’s Pencil (Archives of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto).

Australian Privacy Advocates say People’s Names in Census Records should not be Retained and A Genealogy Society’s Guide to Building Simple, Low-Cost Web Sites by Dick Eastman on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Child Mortality by Barbara J. Starmans on Out of My Tree Genealogy News.

July Genealogy Blog Pool Party with Elizabeth O’Neal by Linda Stufflebean on Empty Branches on the Family Tree.

3 Things to Ask a Genealogy Librarian by Amy Johnson Crow on Amy Johnson Crows.

The Final Numbers by Judy G. Russell on The Legal Genealogist.

Memorial University of Newfoundland continues daunting digital archives initiative by Ashley Fitzpatrick, Gander (Newfoundland) Beacon.

Family whose ancestors travelled the Underground Railroad reunites in Toronto by Jesse Winter, Toronto Star.

Swab-a-thon hopes to quell people’s fears about genetic genealogy testing by Melissa Murray, Ottawa Community News.

St. John’s is Manitoba’s oldest European cemetery by Bill Redekop, Winnipeg Press.

Canadian refuge for Irish famine emigrants explores link with Wicklow town and Michael Collins runs 600 miles, retracing path of Irish Canadian Famine immigrants by Frances Mulraney, IrishCentral.

Keep the French-Acadian history alive by Juliana L’Heureux, Portland (Maine) Press Herald.

Las Vegas genealogy societies hope to raise $17K for memorials to honor unmarked graves at Woodlawn by Rocio Hernandex, Las Vegas Review-Journal.

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O, Canada! Summer reading for genealogists 2016

Summer is in full swing. The weather remains hot and steamy in Montreal. So, why not take it easy and read a good book?

Here are some books that will interest genealogists who are researching their Canadian ancestry and want to know more about these historical periods, or anyone who just wants to read a good book. Bonne lecture!

Book_Alias GraceAlias Grace by Margaret Atwood. Toronto, Ontario: Doubleday Canada, 2000. This story takes us back in time and into the life of one of the most enigmatic and notorious women of the 19th century. Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer, Thomas Kinnear, and Nancy Montgomery, his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence in Toronto, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.



Book_Snowing in JuneSnowing in June: Remembering the Victims and Survivors of the Hillcrest Mine Disaster by Belle Kovach and Mary Bole. Crowsnest, Alberta: Crowsnest Historical Society, 2014. The Hillcrest mine disaster, the worst coal mining disaster in Canadian history and the world’s third worst, occurred at Hillcrest, Alberta, in the Crowsnest Pass region of western Canada, on  June 19, 1914. A total of 189 workers died. Arranged by country or province of origin, this book chronicles the story of these men and their families. Using passenger lists, ancestry websites and census data, the authors said hundreds of people answered online inquiries to fill in missing pieces about a person.

Book_Heroes of the Acadian ResistanceHeroes of the Acadian Resistance: The Story of Joseph Beausoleil Broussard and Pierre II Surette 1702-1765 by Dianne Marshall. Halifax, Nova Scotia: Formac Publishing, 2011. This is the little-known story of the young men who led an Acadian resistance against the British in 18th-century Nova Scotia. Their battle was against a form of ethnic cleansing that saw British soldiers burn every remnant of the Acadian community — homes, barns and churches. All Acadians who the soldiers were able to round up were forcibly deported. Beausoleil ended up in Louisiana and Surette eventually lived out his days in Nova Scotia.


Book_Piano MakerThe Piano Maker by Kurt Palka. Toronto, Ontario: McClelland and Stewart, 2015. The suspenseful story in this best-seller takes place in France, Montreal, on the “French Shore,” which corresponds to the Baie-Sainte-Marie region in Nova Scotia, and in the North.  Hélène Giroux arrives alone in St. Homais on a winter day in the 1930s. She wears good city clothes and drives an elegant car, and everything she owns is in a small trunk in the back seat. In the local church she finds a fine old piano, a Molnar, and she knows just how fine it is, for her family had manufactured these pianos before the Great War. Then her mother’s death and war forces her to abandon her former life.

Check out the following past blog posts for more good reading:

O, Canada! Summer reading for genealogists 2015

O, Canada! Summer reading for genealogists: Part 1

O, Canada! Summer reading for genealogists: Part 2

O, Canada! Summer reading for genealogists: Part 3 (en français)

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