Webinars focus on Norwegian and cemetery research and virtual library shelves

This week’s webinars may help you with your research. Since a webinar has a limited amount of space, it is a good idea to sign in several minutes before  it starts to get a “seat.”

Tuesday, September 16, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time
Norwegian Genealogy: A ten step program to help you get started and addicted! with Jerry Paulson. Presented by the Wisconsin State Genealogical Society. Register here.

Wednesday, September 17, 9:00 p.m. Eastern time
It’s NOT About Zombies: Doing Cemetery Research with Jean Wilcox Hibben.
Get tips on finding cemeteries (using Internet searches), properly documenting findings, and conducting on-site search explorations. Presented by the Southern California Genealogical Society. Register here.

Thursday, September 18, 8:00 p.m. Eastern time
Your Anytime Library: Success in the Virtual Stacks with Paula Stuart-Warren.
Rather research than count sheep? Peruse books at any hour without starting the car or breaking into the library? County, town, and family histories, record abstracts, and more await. Digitized, photocopied, excerpted, abstracted, OCRd, and indexed books provide a strong likelihood of success via your computer and that medium called the Internet. Add newspapers, documents, family trees, pension records, periodicals, and more to the accessible items and you might be housebound for days (months?). This presentation is part of the Florida State Genealogical Society’s Poolside Chat series. Register here.

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OGS Norfolk Branch needs volunteers or may fold

OGS logoIn yesterday’s Crème de la crème post, you may have read the article, Genealogy society could fold, about the dire situation of the Norfolk Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. Because of dwindling membership, from 200 to 125, and volunteer fatigue, this branch may have to fold. Not enough people are attending meetings and the remaining members of the executive are becoming tired.

The Norfolk Branch needs more volunteers if it wants to continue. If your ancestors came from Norfolk County — or even if they didn’t — volunteering for them may interest you. Perhaps some volunteering can also be done from far away, although it appears the priority is to fill executive and committee chair positions.

Alan Campbell, president of the Ontario Genealogical Society, issued the following notice to members and former members in its weekly e-newsletter.

“This is a reminder that there is meeting of Norfolk County Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society on Sept. 16, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. at the Delhi Seniors Centre, 418 Queen Street, Delhi, Ontario. This meeting is being held to vote to become an inactive Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. The vote is being taken simply because new volunteers have not come forward to fill the positions on the Executive and those of Committee Chairs. It would be unfortunate if a Branch that was chartered in October of 1987, were to move to inactive status with the resulting loss of easier access to family history materials by researchers.

“Potential volunteers are welcome to contact either Co-chair of Norfolk Branch for more information prior to the meeting: Marie Shull at rmb@xplornet.com or Shirley Godfree at sgodfree@oxford.net.”

Let’s hope there is good news in the near future for the Norfolk Branch.

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This week’s crème de la crème — September 13, 2014

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Basic Nova Scotia Genealogy Research for New England Yankees by Heather Wilkinson  Rojo on Worldwide Genealogy.

Making slavery in New France by Brett Rushforth on Common-Place.

Franco-American diversity: identified by different names and French-Acadian history books describe decades post le grand derangement by Juliana L’Heureux on The Franco-American Blog.

Was your relative on the Franklin Expedition? by John D. Reid on Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Roots.

Robert Wilkinson: A Loyalist or Not? by Kin McKinlay on Family Tree Knots.

More Gloomy News — A Genealogy Society Could Fold — Maybe it’s the weather (it’s raining as I write this!) by Diane L. Richard on UpGront with NGS.

The unexpected cousin by Judy G. Russell on The Legal Genealogist.

17 Genealogy Things To Do If You Only Have A Few Minutes by Diane Haddad on Genealogy Insider.

New Ireland: How Maine almost became part of Canada at the end of the War of 1812 by Dean Jobb, National Post, Canada.

Un rendez-vous pour les chercheurs d’ancêtres by Louise Plante, Le Nouvelliste, Trois-Rivières, Québec.

Book excerpt: Toronto, a city of orange and green by Allan Levine, Toronto Star.

Genealogy society could fold by Monte Sonnenberg, Simcoe (Ontario) Reformer.

Asking grandma beats online genealogical search by Sharon Hill, Windsor (Ontario) Star.

My ancestors live in a box by Duncan Barrett, The Guardian, London, England.

Toronto’s first casualty of World War 1 by Paul Hunter, Toronto Star.

Grandfather’s letters were a ‘precious gift’ by Dan Barnes, Edmonton (Alberta) Journal.

Windsor’s First World War memorial comes out of the shadows by Sharon Hill, Windsor (Ontario) Star.

Recipes for Canadian War Cake, Butter Tarts and ‘Maccaroni’ Cheese by Laura Brehaut, PostMedia News, Canada.

World War One: Young couple’s heartbreaking history discovered by Dan Windham, Harrogate Advertiser, England.

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McGill University’s WWII records another resource for genealogists

This week, September 10 marked the 75th anniversary of Canada’s entry into the Second World War. The anniversary reminded me about the McGill Remembers section on McGill University’s website that was created to honour the university’s students, alumni, faculty and staff who had contributed to the Second World War effort. Until yesterday, it had been a while since I had looked at it.

The McGill University War Records hold “6,617 index cards and more than 3,000 files containing newspaper clippings, correspondence and approximately 700 photographs.” You can search the records by name or browse the alphabetical list.

This collection documents the information on 5,568 men and women on active service, including 295 women. It also provides information on the 298 dead, 52 prisoners of war, and 629 recipients of medals.

Curious to see if any of my relatives were in the records, I entered “Dever,” and found the index card for my great-uncle Walter, who served as a wing commander in the RCAF. I was unaware he had attended McGill or worked there, so now I intend to contact his daughter to find out more about his experience. Although his card does not contain a lot of information, other cards provide more details.

McGill Remembers_Walter Dever index card

Americans also in records
Take note that this is not a database about only Canadians. Since Americans have long enrolled as students and taught at McGill, it should be no surprise to find some of our neighbours to the south in the records. For example, I found American John P. Ayer who served as a surgeon with with the US Army Medical Corps.

McGill University War Records office established in 1942
The section General Description of the Records explains how and why the university created a war records office: “In January 1942, with the approval of the McGill University Board of Governors, Principal and Vice-Chancellor F. Cyril James established the McGill University War Records office. The objective was to compile a thorough record of the contribution to the war effort by McGill faculty, students, and staff–past and present, in all branches of armed and civilian war services. In conjunction with the Office of the Principal and Vice-Chancellor, and the Graduates’ Society, the War Records office solicited information from individuals and families to create files concerning their participation in the war.”

You can research these records on the McGill Remembers website.

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Vandals attack Maplewood Anglican Cemetery in Saint-Félix-de-Kinsey

This past weekend, vandals attacked Maplewood Anglican Cemetery in the town of Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey, Quebec in Drummond County. Many of the old headstones in the Anglophone cemetery, most from the 19th century, were completely destroyed. A video shows the devastation.

Image from video of destruction in Maplewood Anglican Cemetery, Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey. Drummondville Express, 2014.

Image from video of destruction in Maplewood Anglican Cemetery, Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey. Drummondville Express, 2014.

This small cemetery is located on the former Shaw property on the East Bank of the St. Francis River, about 12 kilometres from Richmond. It acquired its name from the many large maple trees that still grow near the now-demolished homestead.

The earliest headstone dates back to 1830.

There is an old vault in the cemetery on which two white marble window-shaped plaques have been installed. On one of the plaques, one can read the words “Sacred to the memory of John Wadleigh who died 10th June 1867, aged 76 yrs. The oldest inhabitant of the County of Drummond.” The other plaque is blank.

Until recently, the cemetery was deemed to be in fairly good condition and nearly all the markers were in an upright position.

This is not the first time Maplewood Cemetery has been vandalized. In 2010, volunteers had to work hard to restore the cemetery after vandals toppled over headstones.

In 2011, Leslie and Susan Nutbrown recorded all of the legible headstones and posted them online here.

Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey is a small town in Quebec with a population of around 1,500. About 10 percent of the population is Anglophone. The first families settled in Saint-Félix-de-Kingsey at the beginning of the 19th century and were English, Irish, and French Canadian. It took many years before the town established itself with the first church being built in 1850.

You can read the article, written in French, and look at the video about this horrible vandalism in the Drummonville newspaper, L’Express. (If you have difficulty understanding the French text in the article, go to Google Translate and enter the text there.)

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Early 20th century photos provide view of life in Montreal’s Griffintown

If your Irish ancestors in Montreal were members of the working class, as mine were, they may possibly have lived in the neighbourhood Griffintown. Identified in municipal and census records as St. Ann’s Ward, it was one of the poorest areas in the city.

J.B. Mailloux, Wood & Coal, Barré St., Montreal, QC, 1903. Wm. Notman & Son. Image: McCord Museum, II-146360.

J.B. Mailloux, Wood & Coal, Barré St., Montreal, QC, 1903. Wm. Notman & Son. Image: McCord Museum, II-146360.

Until I found a land transaction record that told me differently, I thought my Dever ancestors had only lived in what is known today as the McGill Ghetto where many university students live.

I was surprised to discover that my great-grandfather Samuel Dever owned a 1600-square foot plot of land on Conway Street near Grand Trunk’s rail yard in Griffintown from 1893 to 1903, before opening his grocery store on Prince Arthur. What my great-grandfather intended to do with that land on Conway, I have no idea — but I’m working on it. To my knowledge, he and his family never lived in the area. In the 1960s, the city demolished part of the area to make way for the construction of the Bonaventure Autoroute, so Conway and neighbouring streets are long gone.

While there was no building on the land my great-grandfather owned, I am intrigued to learn what the area looked like. A couple of years ago, a Montreal photographer, Monsieur Pluche, posted several photos on his blog of rue Barré taken in 1903 by William McFarlane Notman, son of the famous photographer, William Notman. Rue Barré, located a few blocks from Conway, remains a street today, but the old wooden houses, not surprisingly, no longer exist. Mr. Notman took the photos for a Mr. Meredith.

Take a look at these photos to acquire a sense of what life was like for the people who lived in the homes on Barré and de l’Aqueduc. While the blog post, Griffintown au début du XXe siècle (Griffintown at the beginning of the 20th century), is written in French, the captions are easy to understand. (Figure 5, Arrière de maison, is the back of a house.)

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Joe Beef Market includes play about the Irish Black Rock

Joe Beef_WikipediaSince the 19th century, Joe Beef has been part of Montreal’s history and imagination, and today one of my favourite restaurants is named for the former tavern owner. According to my husband, whenever his late father headed out the door, he would say, “I’m going to Joe Beef’s” — even though the tavern had closed many years earlier.

Irishman Charles McKiernan earned the moniker “Joe Beef” when he was a quartermaster with the British Army during the Crimean War. After he was discharged in 1868, he opened Joe Beef’s Tavern on rue de la Commune in what is known today as Old Montreal. The tavern was the centre of social life in the working-class neighbourhood Griffintown and it became known throughout North America.

This Saturday, September 13, Joe Beef will once again be the centre of attention at the annual Joe Beef Market festival in Joe Beef Park at 1651 Center Street in Point-Saint-Charles on the island of Montreal. Admission is free and activities begin, rain or shine, at 10:00 a.m.

At 11:00 a.m., the Point St. Charles Community Theatre will perform The Heroes of the Black Rock, a short, historical play about the Black Rock that sits on the Montreal side of the Victoria Bridge in honor of the 6,000 Irish immigrants who died at that location in 1847. Proceeds from the play will support the efforts of the Montreal Irish Memorial Park Foundation to build a park around the area of the Black Rock. A second performance will take place in the afternoon.

All of the play’s cast members are volunteers, including Christine Dandurand who will perform the role of Hannah Eastman Mills, the wife of Montreal Mayor John Mills.

Ms. Dandurand said the festival is great for adults and children: “There are booths manned by artisans and artists of all genres who will be offering their wares – anything from pottery, to cupcakes, quilting to oil paintings.There will be information booths manned by various organizations too. There will be a talent show that anyone with talent can join and perform.”

Some of the booth participants will wear period costume and festival volunteers will offer free soup à l’ancienne (Joe Beef style).

Ms. Dandurand said, “If you love art, artists, and enjoy learning about the history of our great city, Montreal, then please come to the annual Joe Beef Festival!”

Joe Beef's Canteen, Common Street, Montreal, QC. John Henry Walker. Image: McCord Museum, M930.50.8.589.

Joe Beef’s Canteen, Common Street, Montreal, QC. John Henry Walker. Image: McCord Museum, M930.50.8.589.

As for Joe Beef, he died in 1889 at the age of 54. According to Wikipedia, on the day of his funeral, “every office in the business district closed. Fifty labour organizations walked off the job while Joe Beef’s casket was drawn through the city by an ornate four-horse hearse, in a procession several blocks long.”

Learn more about this Saturday’s activities on the Joe Beef Festival website.

Joe Beef poster_September 2014

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Ancestry adds CN’s immigrant records to Canadian collection

Ancestry’s newest Canadian collection is the Canadian National Railway Immigrant Records, 1937-1960. CN, one of the country’s two national railways, compiled records on immigrants, including family structure, origins, settlement in Canada, and progress. These records include questionnaires, applications for settlement, and other documents.

After WWI, the economy improved and the demand for labour increased. The Railways Agreement of 1925 allowed CN and the Canadian Pacific Railway to control the recruitment and settlement of European agriculturalists, and it was part of the government’s efforts to fill the demand.

Hungarian Immigrants, 1926. Image: Canada Science and Technology Museum, CSTMC/CN000444.

Hungarian Immigrants, 1926. Image: Canada Science and Technology Museum, CSTMC/CN000444.

Between 1925 and 1929, more than 185,000 Central Europeans arrived under the terms of the agreement. The agreement ended in 1930.

CN’s archives form the second-largest collection at Library and Archives Canada.

You can visit the Canadian National Railway Immigrant Records, 1937-1960 here. Note that Ancestry is a subscription-based website.

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Savoir faire — Genealogical society demonstrates transparency

During a week filled with news about genealogy societies being forced to move, desperately seeking new lodgings, possibly folding, and a library closing its genealogy section, it was nice to read the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia’s (GANS) announcement to members that they had successfully moved from a former store in Halifax’s North End to Darmouth.

There are at least three reasons why I like GANS. First, I am impressed with their transparency and commitment to keep members and the genealogy comunity informed. It would be nice to see more societies do similar.

In an email message to members that was also posted on GANS’ Facebook page for non-members to read, president Allan Marble explained why they had to move (the lease had been terminated) and he described the new premises.

What I especially like about the message is that Mr. Marble listed the members of the search committee — and the criteria they used to find a new location. No smoke and mirrors here. He could have just told members the new address and left it at that. But he didn’t.

After an intensive search, GANS found new office space in the Quaker Landing Building, 33 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Photo courtesy of the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia.

After an intensive search, GANS found new office space in the Quaker Landing Building, 33 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. Photo courtesy of the Genealogical Association of Nova Scotia.

They only thing Mr. Marble did not share in his message was the cost of the rent, which is his perogative. I assume members can find out by inquiring.

I did wonder, however, if the move meant an increase in rent and how this would affect their membership fee and member benefits. GANS said: “Yes, we will be paying rent which is a significant increase over what we were paying. No, there will be no increase in membership fees over the next while and we are planning on increasing services/resources for members. It’s an exciting time for GANS!”

To those who think GANS may benefit from government funding, the answer is no. They are a “member-supported organization.”

Lectures posted online for all members
A second reason I am impressed with GANS is that they plan to make videos of their lectures and post them online for members. They explain why on their website home page: “Providing lectures online for out of town, out of province, or out of country members was one of the main requests in our last members’ survey.” The first lecture available online is a presentation by author Terrence M. Punch, entitled Montbeliard Immigrants to Nova Scotia, 1749-1752.

Member surveys
The third reason I like GANS is because they survey their members.

Here is GANS’ announcement to members.


For those of you who aren’t members and don’t receive our regular newsletters please find below a message that was sent out yesterday (September 4, 2014) from President Allan Marble:
Dear Members and Supporters,
As many of you know, GANS received a notice of termination of our lease from our landlord dated July 1, 2014. This notice gave the executive three months to locate a new office space.
An earlier formed Premises Committee chaired by Vice President, Bob Davison and including Executive members Nathaniel Smith, Pam Wile, Jan Fralic-Brown, Holly Gunn and our Executive Director, Dawn Josey, was tasked with finding GANS a new home.
After an aggressive search, the Committee was successful in locating an office that meets GANS current and future needs.
The search committee established a set of criteria for the new location:
- Room and structural integrity for expansion of research collection.
- Quiet area for research.
- Meeting and office administration space.
- Separate room for processing and storing donations, acquisitions and our inventory.
- Accessible space.
- Lecture/large meeting room to seat 50 people.
- Quiet building, suitable parking and street level visibility in high traffic/high profile area with potential for highly visible signage.
The Committee visited over a dozen locations throughout HRM. The office located in the Quaker Landing building at 33 Ochterloney Street, Dartmouth was the space that best met the above criteria. This 1731 square foot office will have a dedicated library area, a research room and a large meeting room where GANS can hold monthly lectures and workshops. The office is located in a modern, secure, climate controlled office building that is well maintained. This will mean that our library and collections will be protected for use by our members and the general public. As well, the office is completely accessible.
The new office space presents some real challenges to GANS. The increase in size also brings an increase in rent. We have been enjoying a rent that is well below market price so the new average costs were quite surprising. However, those costs include services such as cleaning, mail delivery, electricity and snow removal which have either been provided by volunteers or paid for separately as well as common area costs.
The new office location puts us right in the middle of a neighborhood that is experiencing huge residential growth. It is close to the ferry and a major transit stop is only a couple of blocks away. The neighborhood has energy and we are very excited at the opportunities this presents to GANS for outreach and expansion of awareness of our organization.
Once the new space is unpacked and set up accordingly, we will hold an open house and hope that you will join us.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to touch base with me through our Executive Director, Dawn Josey (info@novascotiaancestors.ca).
Thank you for your continued support and involvement in GANS
Allan Marble


GANS has know-how and should be emulated.

Visit the GANS website to learn more about what they offer. Annual membership is $30.

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Ten free webinars about Irish genealogy research

From Monday, September 15 to Friday, September 19, FamilySearch will present two webinars each day about how to use Irish genealogy resources. These webinars are part of a monthly series of webinars that FamilySearch will offer throughout the coming year.

Here are the presentation titles and times (Mountain and Eastern).

Monday, September 15, 2014
10:00 a.m. MDT/Noon ET, Ireland Research Series: Ireland Jurisdictions

1:00 p.m. MDT/3:00 p.m. ET, Ireland Research Series: Ireland Websites

Tuesday, September 16, 2014
10:00 a.m. MDT/Noon ET, Ireland Research Series: Ireland Emigration

1:00 p.m. MDT/3:00 p.m. ET, Ireland Research Series: Ireland Census & Census

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
10:00 a.m. MDT/Noon ET, Ireland Research Series: Ireland Civil Registration

1:00 p.m. MDT/3:00 p.m. ET, Ireland Research Series: Ireland Catholic Church Records

Thursday, September 18, 2014
10:00 a.m. MDT/Noon ET, Ireland Research Series: Church of Ireland Records

1:00 p.m. MDT/3:00 p.m., Ireland Research Series: Ireland Land Records

Friday, September 19, 2014
10:00 a.m. MDT/Noon ET, Ireland Research Series: Ireland Presbyterian Church Records

1:00 p.m. MDT/ 3:00 p.m. ET, Ireland Research Series: Scotch-Irish Research

There is no need to register, but you must download the software if you have not attended an Adobe Connect meeting/webinar.

To connect to the webinars, click on the link that appears after the title of the class. For the links to the presentations and the Adobe Connect software, visit the FamilySearch Blog.

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