Countdown to Canadiana

There’s now just over a week to go before Canadian genealogists can reveal in the bounty that is the soon-to-be-free-of-charge Canadiana collection. From the Canadian Research Knowledge Network press release:

As of January 1, 2019, 60 million pages of Canadian digital documentary heritage will be available at no charge to users. The Canadiana collections are the largest online collections of early textual Canadiana in the world. The removal of the subscription paywall will allow unimpeded access to this unique historical content for researchers, students, faculty, and all users in Canada and around the world.

The Canadiana collections include three flagship collections: Early Canadiana Online, Héritage, and Canadiana Online. The Early Canadiana Online and Canadiana Online collections are comprised of Canadian monographs, periodicals, government publications, newspapers and annuals and amount to over 19 million pages. The Héritage collection, developed in partnership with Library and Archives Canada (LAC) and CRKN, includes 900 collections of 41 million pages of archival materials. The Héritage collection includes scans of microfilm taken from some of Library and Archives Canada’s most sought-after archival collections. “LAC is proud to have partnered with CRKN to develop this fundamental collection for researchers, students, teachers, and all Canadians interested in their ancestry and shared history,” states Dr. Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada. “We applaud CRKN’s decision to increase access to our documentary heritage.”

I don’t know what everyone else has planned for New Year’s Day, but I’ll be camped out on the couch with my laptop, some sparkling juice, and 60 million pages of digital heritage research materials 🙂

Grandma.

When I decided to start looking into my family history, it made sense to start with my father’s family first. My mother was fairly close to her family, and between her siblings and our cousins and extended aunts and uncles, there are plenty of people available to help with gathering information and understanding how the clan functions. That’s not the case on my dad’s side. He wasn’t particularly close to his dad, and his sisters both lived quite a distance away for my entire life. I was also drawn to learn more about the one grandparent that I had never met — my father’s mother, Alvina Marie Leblanc.

Continue reading Grandma.

The Nova Scotia Archives

If you’re a Canadian genealogist, chances are pretty good that at some point in your research you will find yourself looking for records kept in Nova Scotia. Since the 1600s, settlers and explorers have traveled through the eastern gateway into Canada; some have stayed and established roots, and others were only here long enough to sign their names to a card at Pier 21. Either way, there is a lot of genealogical documentation to be found in Nova Scotia, and thankfully the province has done what they could to make that information accessible to everyone.

The Nova Scotia Genealogy Guide is a great research for anyone who is just starting out with their research, or who may be new to searching for records specifically within Nova Scotia. There are also over two centuries of birth, marriage, and death records digitized and available through the Nova Scotia Genealogy website.

If your focus is less about documentation and more about culture, the Nova Scotia Virtual Archives has a plethora of databases and collections on dozens of different topics. Lists of the deceased from the Halifax Explosion and the Titanic disaster, old recipes from traditional Nova Scotian kitchens, newspapers on microfilm, census records from the 1700s, historical maps, Acadian cemetery records — if it happened in Nova Scotia, chances are pretty good there’s a reference for it in the archive. For anyone who is learning about their heritage and finds themselves needing to know more about the land known as New Scotland, this website is a treasure trove of information. It’s definitely at the top of my bookmark list.

The Acadian Project

One of the projects that I will be talking about a lot through this blog will be centered on information that I gather while researching my Acadian heritage. While there may be some information pertaining to Le Grand Derangement, the majority of the data will be about life in Acadian Nova Scotia prior to the expulsion.

Growing up, I knew that my father’s mother’s maiden name was Leblanc and she was from Moncton, New Brunswick. It wasn’t until I was an adult and I moved to the Maritimes that I understood what that really meant. For those not from this area, Leblanc is like Smith or Jones — you shake a stick and you’re bound to hit a Leblanc, and if you’re a Leblanc and you meet someone else with the same last name you’re probably related.

When I started delving into my family tree, the Leblanc branch quickly became the easiest to fill in because there was so much that has been published about the Acadians and their lives. Within months, I discovered that I am a direct descendant of one of the first Acadian families to settle in the Maritimes. Even crazier, their family homestead was located in a part of the province that was only half an hour from where my parents currently live, in a village now called Paradise. I first became interested in this hobby as a way of understanding my roots, and I had been practically sitting on them the whole time without knowing! These types of discoveries are what have continued to feed my interest in genealogy over the years, as I’ve grown to have a better understanding of where I came from and how that relates to the world around me.

I’m not going to do too much in terms of regurgitation of data on this site. There are way too many experts in the field who have published their own findings on this particular subject. And by no means do I consider myself an expert on Acadian history. But I will be talking about some of the things that I find in my research that can give me a better understanding of the life that my great-great-great-great-great-great grandparents lived while in the province that I now call home.

Maintaining my Ancestry

I’ll be the first to admit that my Ancestry.ca tree is a bit of mess. I would love to be able to say that when I first started this journey, I took the time to learn how this all worked. How looking up Document B would lead you to Document A, but without Document C you can’t assume that you have the right information. And all of those documents then have to have verifiable sources, then be cross-referenced correctly, and you have to make sure that you’re not duplicating your work due to misspellings or name changes.

Yeah, I would really love to say that I got it right the first time out. Problem is that I would be flat-out lying if I said that. I made a lot of mistakes, and those mistakes are sometimes pretty obvious in my tree. As a result, my research is really now split into two parts: first, continue with the original goal of understanding my lineage and where I come from; and b, take some time every now and then to try to tidy up my data so that people coming in behind me aren’t copying my mistakes.

The problem is, that can be easier said that done when you’re talking about a family tree with over two thousand people. Damn my ancestors and their prolific natures!!

In the meantime, anyone who is new to genealogical research who wants to avoid my heinous mistakes should take some time to read about the Genealogical Proof Standard (GPS). All researchers should do what they can to adhere to the following:

  • We conduct a reasonably exhaustive search for all information that is or may be pertinent to the identity, relationship, event, or situation in question;
  • We collect and include in our compilation a complete, accurate citation to the source or sources of each item of information we use;
  • We analyze and correlate the collected information to assess its quality as evidence;
  • We resolve any conflicts caused by items of evidence that contradict each other or are contrary to a proposed (hypothetical) solution to the question; and
  • We arrive at a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

Does it sound pompous and overly strict? Absolutely. Will it benefit you in the long run? Without question. There are so many of us who have failed to learn this lesson and are pumping out misinformation left, right, and centre. Don’t be that person. Be better than me 😉