Ancestry releases more than 100 years of Canadian yearbook records

Ancestry issued the following news release about its latest Canadian collection that is sure to keep many genealogists busy.

SchoolhouseTORONTO (JULY 20, 2015) – As kids across the country enjoy their break from the books this summer, Ancestry, the world’s largest online family history resource, is releasing a collection of more than one million historical yearbook records (featuring more than 100,000 pages), helping shed light on Canadian high school and university attendees from years past.

The Canada, Selected School Yearbooks, 1908-2010 collection contains 1,355,141 Canadian middle school, junior high, high school and university records from almost 800 institutions across the nation. Providing insight into the academic, athletic and social achievements of Canadians from the past century, these yearbooks can help place people in historical context and create life stories of Canadians that might otherwise be left uncovered by traditional historical records.

The collection also paints a picture of the lives of some well-known Canadians before they were famous, including:

• William Shatner – President, Radio Workshop, McGill University, 1951
Before becoming a cultural icon, William Shatner helped to shape McGill University’s theatre scene. According to the University’s 1952 yearbook, Shatner was president of The Radio Workshop. At a time before television existed in Canada, the Radio Workshop provided an opportunity for students to explore all facets of radio, including acting, directing and producing. In fact, according to the 1952 records, McGill students wrote scripts that were broadcast over Station CFCF, one of Canada’s first radio stations. In addition to his role as president of the Radio Club, Shatner’s yearbook records reveal his early interest in acting, with the future Captain Kirk shown to be a member of the Players’ Club and the Red & White Revue musical theatre clubs at McGill University.

• Martin Short – Le Raconteur Staff, Westdale Secondary School, 1967
Known by his peers as ‘Marty’, Martin Short was an active member of his Hamilton, Ontario high school long before he was cracking jokes on SCTV and Saturday Night Live. According to Westdale Secondary School’s 1967 yearbook, Short helped shape the school’s records, acting as staff of Le Raconteur, Westdale’s annual yearbook, and even contributing a short story as part of the book’s written entry section. The school’s 1965 yearbook also shows that Short was musically inclined years prior to his 2007 Tony Award nomination, listed as a member of the Boys Senior Band.

Lesley Anderson, genealogist and Content Specialist for Ancestry says, “Yearbooks are usually found in the attic or basement, so we don’t frequently think of them as an important family history source. But they can provide fascinating insight into our ancestors at a stage in their lives that we may not otherwise be aware of, by highlighting anything from quotes and photos to hobbies and extracurricular activities.”

The collection is available on Ancestry.

You can search by name, or browse the yearbooks by province, city, school, year, and yearbook title.

McGill University yearbooks
It appears that not all of McGill University’s yearbooks are part of this new collection on Ancestry. For example, I could find nothing for 1918, 1937 or 1946.

If your ancestors attended McGill University, you may want to look at an earlier blog post, More than 100 years of McGill University yearbooks digitized and available online, for information about and free access to McGill’s collection of yearbooks on the university’s website. Searching by name works quite well.

While not one Dever appears in a McGill yearbook on Ancestry, I found more than 20 in the collection on McGill’s website.

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3 Responses to Ancestry releases more than 100 years of Canadian yearbook records

  1. Pat says:

    I don’t know whether Ancestry used the same transcription software on all the Yearbooks, but I was surprised to find a list of teachers in a 1969 yearbook from my old high school all born in 1949. (Not that ages were given, but a pretty poor estimate.) The same list interpretted any pair of capitalized words as the name of a person; some of them were names of other schools.

  2. Nick Moreau says:

    Intriguing. All this time after, it doesn’t seem to be available on Ancestry Library Edition.

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