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.
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.
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 😉