Valentine Day Present: Land Petitions Are Online

LAC_UCPetitionsWhile it is old news that Library and Archives Canada put the index to the Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865) online … it seems to be fairly unknown that LAC has also put online the digitized images of the petitions (Sept. 2010).

The reason: there is no connection between the index here and the digitized images.

When you search for your person, you’ll locate the microfilm you need — the number of the microfilm the petition information is on. Use it to find the digital images and click through them by starting here.

If you don’t find your person immediately, try the name of the township or town where they lived. Try some variations, too. I found that “North Gower” turns up nothing … it’s indexed as Gower North. But the best was the list produced by just using “Gower” .. brought up Gower, North Gower, South Gower, and an interesting “Sundry residents of Gower”

Some of your challenges: 1. Not finding your petitioner in the index! It seems that there  is something to be desired in the transcribing of the index. Try different versions of the name — Jeremiah O’Connor, Jeremiah Connor, J Connor, J O’Connor. 2. Finding your person! You’ll have to make your way through the whole microfilm to locate the page image you need.

Mary Catherine Moran describes how she found her James Moran.

So, for example, the index entry for James Morin of Huntley indicates that C-2739 is the relevant microfilm number. … I found Denis Killeen and James Morin [Moran] on page 545 of 1129 pages. So, yeah, I did have to do some clicking around to find the relevant page. As usual, when faced with 1000 or more pages of text, I used my ‘by the 100s, then 50s, then 10s’ rule: I start on page 1 (yes, brilliant is my method, I think I should take out a patent or something), then go to page 100, then 200, 300, 400, and so on. Once I see that I’ve gone too far, I go back in 50-page increments, then refine with 10s,  then finally zero in on the looked-for page. But that probably makes it sound more complicated than it actually is: took me less than 15 minutes to find James Morin [Moran] in the online version of microfilm C-2739, after looking him up in the online index. And that’s about three or four weeks faster than the previous photocopy ordering system. Advantage: internet!

You can read lots of other helpful hints on Mary Catherine’s excellent blog, Ottawa Valley Irish. Her site includes her Moran family tree (.. we are cousins through our Killeen ancestors.)

Worth a look … Ottawa Journal, Ottawa Citizen … and the WSJ

This article has been updated (02 May 2014) to reflect changes in the Google News Archive access to the Ottawa Citizen and Search pages for the Ottawa Journal. has recently added the scanned images of the Ottawa Journal 1885-1980, scanned from the Ottawa Archives microfilm collection. They plan to eventually make births, marriages and deaths searchable. For now, if you have a date in mind, you can browse that day’s paper. I’ve been able to find some articles and obits. How to get there? From the Home page choose Search from the top menu bar… then click on Card Catalogue. On the Search page, in the left hand column, scroll down to Newspapers & Publications, and click the link. Make sure the display Canadian records only box is checked. . There are presently 16 newspapers …

Ottawa Evening Journal Masthead, Oct 1, 1925

Ottawa Evening Journal Masthead, Oct 1, 1925

most from the Prairie provinces. You’ll see Ottawa Journal, near the top. Click and on the search page choose your Year Range.

HINT: You’ve got to look at the dates carefully … for some reason the dates are not arranged chronologically in the list! They are all there, just not in calendar order!

Since the collection is not indexed, you can’t save what you find to people in your tree. But do make a screenshot of your article! You can then add it to your tree using the “Add Media” button.

Ottawa’s other daily, the Ottawa Citizen 1820-1990, is available online in the Google news archive. This was a Google project that became controversial … When newspapers with long histories, who are still around today — though no longer able to claim the copyright for their early issues — objected to Google putting the microfilm images online for free, Google began helping them to set up pay-per-view archives for themselves.

What we have in the News Archive are the microfilms of an amazing number of newspapers digitized for online access .. for free!

Apparently as a result of agreements with the newspapers, though the news archive is still online, it’s like a trek through the Himalayas to get to it! And the ability to search, since 2013, is now severely limited.

But they are still online! Thank God for little favours!

in 2011, Google eliminated the search homepage so now you need to go here. Wait a moment for the search box to appear that says Search for news stories that have .. and fill in your search words. In the source box at the bottom, enter ottawa citizen HINT: it seems that in the mobile version of the Google site you need to click the drop down menu — the downpointed arrow — in the search box HINT: I’ve found that trying your desired words or name successively in all, exact and one of these improves results. The Optical Character Reader software associated with the archive is a very early version, so trying different approaches and versions of the same item can help. (For example, Wesley McEwan, Mrs. Wesley McEwan, obit McEwan, etc.) There are gems to be found, and afterwards you’ll feel like Sir Edmund Hillary at the top of Mt. Everest!

The great disappointment with the Google News Archive is the constant changes being made to the way you access it. In 2013, Google killed the search box access from the News section.

It’s all still there. Just how to access it? And how to search it?

Access to all of the newspapers is still found through the news section. [Click my link “news section’ highlighted in the last sentence to get there.]

DateSearchGoogleNewsOnce there, take a look at the vast number of historical editions of many newspapers that are accessible!

Click the letter O in the alphabet across the top to find the section of “O” newspapers, then click Ottawa Citizen. This is the easiest way to start browsing.

In the Date search box on the Ottawa Citizen page, you can put a specific date (1/31/1950) or a partial date (Feb 1930 or 2/1930), or just a year (1953). (It also accepts words like today or yesterday but I am guessing you are not searching for anything that recent!)

The word search for a particular newspaper … well, that’s gone. WordSearchGoogleNewsThe best alternative you can do is a word search of the (whole) news archive itself. Given the quality of the early OCR software employed, it’s tough to get a hit. Here are some ideas for striking gold.

Next to the words Google news, you’ll see the Search Archive searchbox. Enter your phrase (like McEwan). I recommend adding the town or town and province, or newspaper (Ottawa Citizen) to help limit the results.  Click the Search Archive button.

This is the bottom of the first page of my results for McEwan, Ottawa Citizen. You can see that it produced 8 pages of results. Since the results don’t show the newspaper issue date (like Feb. 1, 1942), but instead Google’s newspaper page id, you have to check the summation and possibly review them all. The one shown here is an article about my great grandparents, Mr. & Mrs. David Cadieux, that mentions their daughter (my grandmother, Mayburn McEwan nee Cadieux).

Screen Shot 2014-03-08 at 9.39.03 PMThe quality of the OCR is seen in the phrase “the couple have cloven grandchildren.” The article reads eleven grandchildren! The poor OCR quality makes for difficulties in getting results, but I have found articles just by varying the search words and trying different combinations! Good Luck! Happy Searching! …

And on a completely different subject … The title of the interesting Wall Street Journal article tells it all. When a Genealogy Hobby Digs Up Unwanted Secrets. It claims 1 in 5 researching their family history will come upon some “unsavory” surprise! Have you?

WWI Renfrew Area Soldiers’ Records

Renfrew World War I Cenotaph, in front of the City Hall in dowtown Renfrew  ON

Renfrew World War I Cenotaph, in front of the City Hall in dowtown Renfrew ON

During the summer of 1996, students from the Renfrew area digitized over 50,000 pages of Attestation papers at the Library and Archives Canada building in Renfrew, ON, as a tribute to the many residents from the town of Renfrew who enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Many lost their lives during the war.

This project was part of the SchoolNet Digital Collections Program supported by Industry Canada and the Library and Archives Canada and included both the Attestation papers of the soldiers and — in many cases their full military file.

To check the list of soldiers included, visit the CEF site at Library and Archives Canada.