Friday, August 30, 2013

Online Genealogy Databases

As I have mentioned before, I am not the biggest fan of online genealogy databases. Many online databases can be viewed by amateur researchers as “fact” and may never have a researcher check the source or reference the data for themselves. While I have never been supportive of the idea of posting a full genealogy database to the internet, there are a few databases that I tend to use when I am stuck and need a little insight. The first two of these are specific to Charlotte County:

  • Arnie Krause's Forest of Trees
  • David James' St. Croix Valley Roots
  • Roger Hétu's Acadie de la Nouvelle-Écosse

    Again, these databases are not error free but folks like Arnie Krause and David James are doing their best to maintain a pretty good database. As with all data obtain from websites, always research the source and double check information. Update: I have learned that Roger Hétu may have suffered a stroke recently. Best wishes/get well soon to Roger.

  • Wednesday, August 21, 2013

    1921 Census: the Begining of Exporting Canada's Heritage?

    On August 8th, 2013, the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC) announced that the 1921 Census, all 197,529 scanned pages of the census, were available to researcher via two methods: 1) in person at the LAC 2) online at …what was that? So it is official that LAC has handed over a vital piece of Canadian history to an American company. For Ancestry’s part, they say that “Canadian will always be able to access the 1921 Census of Canada free of charge” as opposed to have to be a paid member to view the material (as is the case with much of Ancestry’s database). While LAC’s partnership with Ancestry is a better outcome than some of the other rumored partnerships, it still is not the best option. The best option would have been for LAC to remain with the status quo and offer the census on their own website. The LAC website once featured many other census but now a couple lonely census are hosted on the site, such as 1871 and 1891. Other census have been slowly moving off LAC’s website so keep an eye on those remaining two and you likely see them vanish as well. But the 1921 Census is not the only census to be sent over to Ancestry; the 1916 Census of the Prairie Provinces is also on Ancestry.

    So what does this mean for Canadians? Why shouldn’t we jump up and down and simply rejoice LAC’s new best friend? What it means is LAC is backing up a US based company with the things it has sole ownership over. Not doubt Ancestry comes ahead in the deal. Bottom line, Ancestry is in the business to make a profit and access to LAC’s original material simply helps their bottom line. Those census scans were completed by our government employees while working for our government. Those scans exist and should not be obtain via a 3rd party company, yet alone a company not even situated in Canada!

    LAC had other options, such as Lindsay Patten’s Automated (AG). Not only is AG a Canadian based website, but it is a perfect example of a grassroots partnership. AG currently features a number of census and is my own first stop when searching the 1851, 1901 and 1911 census. AG took the image scans and allow the genealogy community to index each entry, line by line. The best part, it is free and easy to use. So that leaves the question, why wouldn’t this work for LAC? It wouldn’t work because, no doubt, a group of well dress salespeople make a great presentation to the powers overseeing the LAC. The power of persuasion works wonders on politicians.

    While, yes, you can view the 1921 Census online on Ancestry’s website, you won’t have access to search the census index unless you’re a paying member. Some of us may warm up to this new relationship, however, I will continue to push the agenda to bring the census back to the LAC’s website. Only another ten year until the 1931 Census will be released… hopefully we have a government in power then that won’t export our heritage.

    Monday, August 12, 2013

    City of Saint John Cemeteries

    Many times, my research leads me to a burial in the City of Saint John. While I travel to the city at several times per month, the large cemeteries make it extremely difficult to simply make a quick walk through and locate a burial. Some cemeteries, such as Fernhill Cemetery, is over 200 arces and since being founded back in 1848, thousands of interments have made this one of the largest cemeteries in the province. Thankfully, all of the cemeteries have helpful staff and are easily accessible via email. Below are references for some of the cemeteries in Saint John:
  • Fernhill Cemetery - - Email:
  • Cedar Hill/Greenwood Cemeteries - - Email:
  • The Catholic Cemeteries (St. Joseph's Cemetery) - Email: