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Searching for ancestors in Nova Scotia is a lot easier thanks to Dwayne Meisner of Eastern Passage, NS. Although it’s personal web space, the Dwayne & Francine Meisner – Our Family Tree website contains a ton of information for anyone – regardless of surname – researching their family tree in the province. Meisner has been adding to the database for a few years, so if you haven’t visited lately, it’s time to check it out again.
The site is navigated from the home page. It’s also where a name can be entered in a search engine to find if it’s linked somehow to Meisner’s family. Meisner’s personal research includes family members from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Quebec with names such as Boutilier, Noonan, Williams, Barrett and Bonhomme.
The first step to accessing the many databases is to register. Don’t worry; it won’t cost you a dime, just a few pieces of information, so Meisner knows who is using the website. It may take a day or two to be approved, but once you receive your username and password, you can access it any time of the day.
The most recent addition to the website is the parish records of baptisms from Christ Church, Shelburne, NS. Kim Stevens provided Meisner with permission to host this and other databases on the website. Navigating your way through these records and others is made easy with a map. Simply click the county name and a pop-up window will appear listing the records that are available and the ones which will soon be made available.
The largest section on the website is the census records. Meisner has focussed his energy on census records before 1901 which seems logical since there are fewer sources for them. In addition, he’s added the Mi’kmaq census records for 1871, 1881 and 1891, History of the Census of Canada and a Nova Scotia map from 1864.
Again, a map of Nova Scotia is used to make it easier to navigate through the census records of each county. The available records appear in a pop-up window. Census records are in various forms, depending on the source of the data. Some are easier searched than others.
Meisner included links to databases off his site, too, to help fill in the gaps of information he doesn’t have. These links open a new window, so you don’t have to worry about losing your place in the Meisner website.
The cemetery records link is found on the home page. For the most part, Meisner provides links to cemetery transcriptions off site. Many volunteers over the years have laboured to complete these records.
A piece of wise advice is added on many of the pages by Meisner: these transcriptions are my interpretations of the original records . . . . check the original records to confirm your research. This should be remembered by everyone doing research on the Internet.
Diane Tibert is a writer based in central Nova Scotia. Her alter-ego is Diane Lynn McGyver. Her short story collection Nova Scotia – Life Near Water is now available.