Friday, 24 June 2016

Change of date: Ottawa genealogy meetup

It looks like some people will have a hard time being in two places at once on Saturday, or might have to hurry through what they would prefer to be a four-hour Saturday meeting to make a noon rendezvous at Wesboro Beach.

As the weather for Sunday is looking more favourable than earlier in the week the genealogy meetup will now be on Sunday, 26 June at noon.

Checkout the map at The parkway is closed until 1 p.m. so use the free parking at Lanark and Kirchoffer is coming by car.

Ancestry workshop at Eganville and District Seniors Centre

Lesley Anderson, the most recent inductee into the BIFHSGO Hall of Fame, will be speaking on Ancestry and AncestryDNA this Saturday, 25 June to the Eganville & District Seniors, 30 Bell St. in Eganville, starting at 10 a.m. You do not have to be a Senior to attend. $5 registration fee.

LAC Transcription Project: The Coltman Report

On June 19, 1816 the Battle of Seven Oaks resulted in 22 deaths, and a 521 (534?) page handwritten report on the battle. LAC has produced page images and invites everyone to try transcribing at

As of 10 a.m. on the morning of Thursday 23 June 2016, 110 pages are complete, 164 need review, 6 are incomplete and the remainder not yet started.

I tried and completed a page which had 19 lines, well spaced, quite easy to read. It only took a few minutes.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Dr. Guy Berthiaume two years on

Today, 23 June 2016, marks two years since Dr. Guy Berthiaume assumed the role of Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

Last year, here, I wrote about some of the changes implemented and planned. I can't say I've followed every development. Under his leadership LAC has continued to improve its public visibility, gained respect for funding two rounds of the Documentary Heritage Communities Program, reversed a decision to no longer circulate newspaper microfilms, and taken on numerous cooperative programs including an agreement with the Ottawa Public Library with a view to developing a combined facility, and more.

In a speech earlier this month in Halifax, one I commend to anyone interested in the future of libraries, Dr. Berthiaume quoted from The New Yorker: "For leadership to exist, a leader must cross paths with a crisis." He was referring to the experience of the library community in general. He inherited a crisis at LAC. The simple fact of morale recovering since he assumed the role, and remaining generally high, speaks volumes.

A unique historic government fonds LAC refused

Every now and again I look at LAC's mandate and wonder. In case you don't have it memorized here it is:

  • to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations;
  • to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society;
  • to facilitate in Canada co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge;
  • to serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.
Why, quite some time before the tenure of the present Librarian and Archivist, would several hundred volumes of correspondence, letterbooks, and journals related to Canadian history between 1828 and 1967, including almost 900 archival boxes (an estimated 1.6 million pages) containing all of a government agency records between 1840 and 1960 not be something LAC would see as its responsibility to have in its collection?

Perhaps because the records relate to a scientific endeavour, those of the weather service, officially the Meteorological Service of Canada, now part of Environment and Climate Change Canada. Perhaps LAC isn't comfortable with science? That's a shame. Science and engineering have records that are just as much part of our documentary heritage as the humanities -- music, photographs and the papers of politicians, writers and artists.

The University of Western Ontario to the rescue. Read about how that university acquired (on loan) the records and how they are being stored and used at In truth they're probably more valued and being used as a basis for study at UWO than they would have been at LAC.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

AncestryDNA now has two million tested 

Here's the text of a blog post from AncestryDNA.

We are excited to announce that AncestryDNA has just reached the 2-million-tested milestone. This is a first for any consumer genetic testing company. It was just a little over 11 months ago that we reached the 1 million mark, so the AncestryDNA database has doubled in just short of one year. We now have 2,000,000 people genotyped (DNA tested) who are connecting to family and making discoveries of their own. 


Ottawa Public Library consultation at Library and Archives Canada

A reminder about the opportunity to have your say about the proposed new new Ottawa Central Library on Wednesday 22 June from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m. at 395 Wellington Street.

Read the background at

George Vancouver and the DCB

On this day celebrate the birthday of son of Norfolk, King's Lynn to be precise, George Vancouver. Without him Vancouver Island and the City of Vancouver would not exist . . . by that name.

Some would have us believe it was only the Scots and Irish that built Canada!

You can read about George Vancouver in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography here.

The DCB project from the University of Toronto and the Université Laval provides a reference work of Canadian biography for thousands who have contributed to the history of Canada. It's a resource a genealogist may not find useful every day, but good to know about.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Genealogy Roadshow: from Providence RI

This is a reminder to myself, having missed an episode, that 8 p.m. EDT Tuesday on PBS is an appointment to watch Genealogy Roadshow. This week it's from Providence, Rhode Island with stories involving the Holocaust, WWI, Amish ties, whaling and pasta. See the 30 second preview here.
This is also an opportunity to mention that in just under a year's time, 16-18 June 2017, Roadshow host Joshua Taylor is one of the star speakers at the OGS Conference in Ottawa.

Advance notice: Ottawa summer genealogy meetup

The weather forecast looks promising enough that I'm scheduling the fifth annual Ottawa summer genealogy meet-up next Saturday, 25 June on the patio at the cafe at Westboro beach from noon. It's informal chat, no need to prepare unless you want to swim afterwards.

The forecast is sunny, light wind and high 25. Bring protection from the sun.

Checkout the map at, If you come by car consider parking at the north end of Lanark Ave at Kirchoffer Ave and taking the tunnel under the parkway.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Year without a summer diary entries

This year the solstice falls on Monday 20 June at 6:34 p.m. EDT. We welcome summer, and remember this is the bicentennial of 1816, the year without a summer. I've been on the lookout for any local contemporary reports.

An article from across the St Lawrence, in the Watertown Daily Times, records the following:

In St. Lawrence County, an early settler of Hopkinton, Artemus Kent, recorded the weather of the summer of 1816 in his diary. He wasn’t surprised to find nearly 3 feet of snow in his nearby woods in March.
But April snows worried him. By May 15, he recorded three hard frosts.
On May 23, he wrote, “Many people are out of provisions of nearly every kind. Though flour begins to come from the westward, money is so scarce and the prices so high that it is impossible for poor people to buy it.”
Other diary entries:
June 6: “Snowed from early morning until 1 p.m.”
June 8: “Snowed till 9 a.m. Melancholy aspect.”
June 14: “It has frozen every night since June came in.”
July 11: “All crops are backward and promise but little.”
Aug. 4: “Vines and even corn in some places are ruined.”
Sept. 1: “People have been reduced almost to a state of starvation and now have little prospects.”
Oct. 17: “Snow fell eight inches.”

WiFi at the City of Ottawa Archives

There's good news coming for visitors to 100 Tallwood, the home of the City of Ottawa Archives. For some time wifi service has been spotty to nonexistent. Visitors and staff have been frustrated by the lack of ability to access web services, including the databases such as the Ottawa Journal online.
Having decided the present service is totally inadequate the archives are searching for a new supplier. Good move.

Visitors to Niagara Falls since 1949

How often have you signed a visitor book?  You may be tempted on a special occasion like a honeymoon. Ancestry's new database Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada, Honeymoon and Visitor Registries, 1949-2011 contains a unique collection of 680,114 such records. The index is free, seeing images of the original with information such as home town requires a subscription, or free access at a public site such as your public library.

Findmypast updates

I'm wondering if there's anyone with a diverse enough assortment of ancestors that they would find ancestors in each of these four newly updated record collections from Findmypast.

Yorkshire West Riding Marriages
Over 49,000 new records from Yorkshire's West Riding complete the collection of Yorkshire Marriages which now contains over 2.4 million records spanning almost 400 years.

If you're wondering if your parish is covered for the time period of your interest there MAY BE help by consulting the handy list at It has separate lists by parish for all Yorkshire Ridings for baptisms (the title is missing), banns, marriages and burials, but only for parishes with initial letters A to L. Let's hope this useful list is a work in progress, not one abondoned. I stand corrected by Donna's comment below.

Britain, Knights of the Realm & Commonwealth index
An update, now with details of over 35,000 individuals who were awarded an order of chivalry by a British monarch. This may be adding awards from recent honours lists, perhaps even the recent Birthday Honours Lists which may be found at

Ireland Dog Licence Registers
343,000 records are added to this collection which now comprises over 6.3 million records from 1865. You may find you know more about your ancestor's dog than your ancestor.

Irish Petty Sessions Court Registers 1828-1912
Another update, over 547,000 new records to a collection that now contains over 22.5 million records, vastly more than the population of Ireland. This early collection includes details of victims, witnesses and the accused, such as address, date in court, details of the offence, details of the verdict and the sentence.