A great year past!

The new Boeing 787 Dreamliner can carry about 250 passengers. This blog was viewed about 1,400 times in 2012. If it were a Dreamliner, it would take about 6 trips to carry that many people.

The busiest day of the year was Sept. 12, with 57 views. The most popular post that day was “Online resources for finding burials and gravestones.”

Our most read posts for 2012 were:
1 Back To Ireland Through The Killeen Family (from May 2011)
2 An Irish Ancestor … through our French line! (June 2011)
3 Local and area archives (July 2012)
4 The Froods of Carmichael, Scotland (October 2011)
5 Online resources for finding burials and gravestones (August 2012)

Visitors came from 19 countries … including
944 from Canada
258 from the USA
24 from the UK
21 from Australia
5 from India
3 each from France, Greece and Brazil
2 each from Chile and New Zealand
1 each from Sweden, Germany, Nigeria, Argentina

See you in 2013!

Happy New Year!

We had a successful family gathering … details to follow. You can now also keep up with this blog through twitter @ottawafamtree
I’ll write also about the New York Genealogy Event and some new resources found there.
Each new year helps us grow in appreciation for all the years .. and ancestors .. who went before!

Date, location all set!

Family Reunion September 2012 !
What a great chance to meet other branches of our family tree!
Last time I was looking especially for O’Connor and Dolan families;
this gathering I’m hoping for some McEwan, Frood and Cadieux cousins! Maybe some from the Watt family?
We have finalized the plans!
The date: Sunday, September 16, 2012, Noon to 5pm.
The place:
Country Inn & Suites By Carlson,
578 Terry Fox Drive, Kanata Ontario K2L4G8

.. and you’re invited to join us for an informal get together to swap stories, photos and family history information!
Bring along your family trees, picture albums (or their more modern equivalent — netbooks and iPads!) and all your best memories and stories.
This year we’ll finish up with a pizza party!   If you’d like, you can contribute a plate of cookies or a liter of soda to the celebration.
We’ll have the coffee pot (and of course, the tea pot!) going for you.
So come join the fun!

Online resources for finding burials and gravestones

I have been to my McEwan grandparents’ grave at Pinecrest Cemetery so many times … from my first visits at age 4 when my Mom went to plant flowers there. Yet, depending on the amount of time between visits, I can sometimes spend 15 minutes finding the stone in their section! It’s not memory loss! It’s just that in large cemeteries that don’t have any distinguishing section markers, a bush that has been removed or a tree that’s been cut down … well, it changes the (mental) landscape. One great thing on the internet, for those researching their family, are the several sites that offer photos or transcripts of gravemarkers. It’s not just being able to see a burial place that one hasn’t, or can’t, visit. The stones often reveal a tremendous amount of information that can help push forward family tree research. In the Ottawa area, I often used Scott Naylor’s site to locate my ancestors. I had used it so often that I decided last year I should send him a “thank you” email. I was saddened to learn of his death. So let this post be a sort of public “thank you” not just for myself, but for everyone who benefitted from Scott’s work, and that of his collaborators. Scott knew the value of his work, and made arrangement for it to be incorporated into another gravestone site: Canadian Gravemarker Gallery.

The site location changed recently. Here is the new information:

If you know the cemetery or town of the person you are researching, you can begin at the Canadian Gravemarker main page. If you only know the province, there is a province-wide search page.

The site’s search engine is a little quirky. You have to remember to conclude any search term with two asterisks — like this  mcewan**  otherwise you will get a “no results” report. Another equally helpful site is Canadian Headstone Photo Project. Another resource is the Find A Grave website. It seems that, as of late, a number of folks are using this in a similar way to an ancestry.com tree. The site allows for a page with gravestone photos and lists of relatives and connections, together with a brief bio. If you are fortunate enough to locate someone through this resource, it usually includes both other relatives’ names and a way to contact the person who created it !

Local and area archives

Thanks to the internet, it is easy to discover local and area archives collections. As I’ve suggested before, doing an internet search for the area you are interested in joined with the term “history,” for example “Pontiac County Quebec history” can lead to a treasure trove of information. Sometimes a similar search with the term “museum” is also helpful.

Today, many local history groups have websites, and most will tell you in detail about their collection. And if they don’t, there is most often an email address you can use to inquire. I’ve found that, despite the abundance of material on the internet both free and pay-per-view, there is nothing quite like the trip to the archives or museum.

In May, I took the hour and a half trip from Ottawa to Shawville QC, to the Pontiac County Archives, looking for ancestors in my Cadieux and Wilson families.

The highlights of the Pontiac collection include:

  • The Crown Land Grant Book, 1763-1890 for Pontiac County;
  • Pontiac County census records, 1842-1901;
  • Papers of Pontiac County government and its municipalities;
  • Township valuation rolls from the various townships;
  • Papers of the Pontiac Pacific Junction Railroad;
  • An extensive collection of photographs, drawings and maps;
  • Papers of the Pontiac Women’s Institute;
  • Information on the Orange Order and other Pontiac societies.

Frequently it is the unexpected that you encounter that is also helpful for further research. I discovered in the clippings file for Quyon, an article on businesses in Quyon that reported details taken from the 1857 “Canada Directory” published by the predecessor company of Dun & Bradstreet. (You can download a pdf version from one of my favourite sites — archive.org — using the link.)

When I went hunting through it later, I found it a valuable resource. For most towns and villages in Upper and Lower Canada, it provides a listing of the principal business owners and local citizens. I found there a record of my ancestor David Cadieux, listed as owner of a wagon-making business in Quyon QC. In a later edition I found the Renfrew ON business he worked for later on. Before this trip, I was unaware of the Canada Directory.

I found the valuation rolls helpful too. Pontiac Archives has the original handwritten documents. They were invaluable in locating my ancestors and their relatives. This is a good example of documentary evidence not available in  BanQ — the Quebec National Library and Archives (they actually offered these items to Pontiac Archives when they were ‘cleaning out’ their shelves! Lucky they were around to accept them!) and unlikely to ever be digitized and placed online. Only a visit would make their valuable information available. One more argument for the importance of local archives and history societies!

Venetia Crawford, Pontiac ArchivesMy invaluable guide and helper was Venetia Crawford (pictured). Turns out she was one of the founders of the archives back in 1985! She explained the collection and assisted me in finding various items, sharing along the way some of her own researches and interests.

This is another reason why the trip to the local archives is invaluable: the living resources found in the dedicated volunteers who know the collection and the local history, and can save you from wasting time and direct you to the most helpful resources. Always a wonderful thing to find someone who is as interested in your research as you are!

“Bravo!” to Venetia, Pearl McCleary, Annie Gamble, Elsie Sparrow and all involved in founding the Pontiac Archives, which is presently run entirely by volunteers.


MacEwans of Scotland!

Alistair Moffat has an interesting little book, published by Thames & Hudson, titled The Highland Clans. A nice historical summary, and then a listing of the various clans with some notes on each. The MacEwan notes give a good chuckle. Some things don’t change across the centuries — they must be genetic ? !


Settled around Loch Fyne, the clan has a name-father in the early 12th century. By 1602 they were listed as a broken clan, living outside the law, and the Campbells were made responsible for their good behaviour. They failed.