Column: FREE Genealogy Websites

Between today and Wednesday, my genealogy column, Roots to the Past, is available in the following Atlantic Canada newspapers:

Saturday: The Citizen (Amherst)

Saturday: Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Wednesday: The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin (Lunenburg County)

TitleColumn: FREE Genealogy Websites

Snippet: Free. I love this word after a week of paying bills, buying hay for goats and filling the gas tank that emptied visiting cemeteries in another county. So when I have time to surf the web on these rainy July days, free access to genealogy information puts a smile on my face.

I’m familiar with dozens of free websites—Library and Archives Canada, Automatic Genealogy, Cindi’s List, to name a few—but I’m certain there are more out there, waiting to be discovered and searched.

A great place to start finding websites with free access to information—including the three I mentioned above—is Family History Daily (http://familyhistorydaily.com). A great starting place is their post “50 Free Genealogy Sites” which includes links to FamilySearch, WikiTree and Find a Grave.

. . . To read more, pick up one of the above noted newspapers.

Column: Dark Days in History

Between today and Wednesday, my genealogy column, Roots to the Past, is available in the following Atlantic Canada newspapers:

Saturday: The Citizen (Amherst)

Saturday: Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Wednesday: The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin (Lunenburg County)

TitleColumn: Dark Days in History

Snippet: On June 27, 1991, my family and I stopped what we were doing to gawk at the sky. It was mid-day and thick, dark clouds were slowly advancing towards are neighbour. The unique characteristic about these attention-grabbing clouds was their colour: dark yellowy orange. If I had been timid about my existence, I might have thought it was the end of the world.

For the first few moments, we watched confused, wondering what had created the unusually-coloured clouds. Then someone shared their theory: smoke from a forest fire. They turned out to be correct. The ominous clouds passing over our community, turning day into night and making street lights come on, were indeed created by forest fires. But we didn’t have to worry about evacuating; the fires were more than a thousand kilometres away in Quebec.

This was not the first time forest fires burning far away turned a bright, sunny day into one dark and sinister. On May 19, 1780, the skies went dark over eastern areas of Canada and the New England states. It was so dark, candles had to be lit.

. . . To read more, pick up one of the above noted newspapers.

Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Personnel Service Files – Update of July 2015

Originally posted on Library and Archives Canada Blog:

As of today, 171,771 of 640,000 files are available online via our Soldiers of the First World War: 1914–1918 database. Please visit the Digitization of the Canadian Expeditionary Force Service Files page for more details on the digitization project.

Library and Archives Canada is digitizing the service files systematically, from box 1 to box 10686, which roughly corresponds to alphabetical order. Please note that over the years, the content of some boxes has had to be moved and, you might find that the file you want, with a surname that is supposed to have been digitized, is now located in another box that has not yet been digitized. So far, we have digitized the following files:

  • A to Dagenais (boxes 1 to 2257)
  • Free to Gorman (boxes 3298 to 3658)

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen circumstances, the following boxes were skipped in the digitization process, but will be done in the…

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Column: Dictionary of Canadian Place Names

Between today and Wednesday, my genealogy column, Roots to the Past, is available in the following Atlantic Canada newspapers:

Saturday: The Citizen (Amherst)

Saturday: Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Wednesday: The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin (Lunenburg County)

TitleColumn: Dictionary of Canadian Place Names

Snippet: The preface of Dictionary of Canadian Place Names by Alan Rayburn states, “Place names are a significant reflection of a nation’s cultural and linguistic heritage.” From my travels across Canada, I have to agree.

More than once, place names and landmark names have conjured up images of history and reminded me of the significance of the location. They’ve grounded me to this wonderful country, stirred both good and bad emotions, and sometimes, brought tears to my eyes.

My love for this country runs deep, as deep as my roots that came ashore in 1752 or possibly earlier. My interest in names stems from learning the history behind them, whether it be good or bad. The names that have survived centuries are the ones most special to me. This comes with the knowledge that my ancestors spoke the same names and perhaps—just maybe—they had a hand in giving a location or landmark its name.

. . . To read more, pick up one of the above noted newspapers.

Column: History in Context

Between today and Wednesday, my genealogy column, Roots to the Past, is available in the following Atlantic Canada newspapers:

Saturday: The Citizen (Amherst)

Saturday: Times & Transcript (Moncton)

Wednesday: The Lunenburg County Progress Bulletin (Lunenburg County)

TitleColumn: History in Context

Snippet: When I was a kid in the 1970s, my parents and siblings piled into the family vehicle and drove away without a single thought to seatbelts. I assume the cars and trucks my father owned had them. My parents, however, didn’t grow up with seatbelts, so wearing them wasn’t a habit. Actually, when my parents were born in the 1920s, few people in the Maritimes even had vehicles.

Back in the 70s, there were fewer vehicles on the road. Traffic was slower and people knew how to drive with care. Many roads in rural areas were dirt, and there wasn’t much need for more than two lanes in the cities.

If someone was to judge my parents because they didn’t make their kids wear seatbelts, then it would be obvious that person didn’t understand the conditions and the mindset of the time. And they would be doubly horrified to learn my brothers and I travelled in the back of the pickup for long drives to visit grandparents. Don’t worry; the truck had a cap.

. . . To read more, pick up one of the above noted newspapers.

Nineteenth-century Cape Breton: a historical geography

“This thesis is an historical geography of Cape Breton Island in the nineteenth century. It aims to provide a geographical synthesis of the Island over a hundred years, elucidating the changing relationship between the Island’s population and their environment.

“The Island is considered as a region and the scale of enquiry is at the regional level. The patterns of population, settlement, economy, and society are identified, and the processes that created them are discussed.

“Finally, the wider relevance of the Cape Breton experience is suggested. Three distinct and largely separate patterns of settlement, economy, and society coexisted in early nineteenth century Cape Breton: the old commercial staple trade of the cod fishery, semi-subsistent family-farms, and industrial coal mining.

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Private Dennis Simon Levangie

Dennis Simon Levangie was the second of three children—two sons and one daughter—born to Philip and Bridget (Gerroir) Levangie of Port Felix, Guysborough County. According to family sources, Dennis spent several years in Boston, Massachusetts prior to the First World War. The 1911 Canadian census lists Dennis as a boarder in the New Glasgow, NS household of Ellise Gerrior—possibly a relative of his mother’s—while working in a local paint shop. It is not known whether he resided in the United States prior to or after this time.

Shortly after the outbreak of war in Europe, Dennis relocated to Halifax, where he worked for three years as a stoker on a Canadian naval ship. While his military attestation papers list his address as “Hopper Barge # 2, HMCS Dockyard, Halifax”, Dennis did not formally enlist in the Royal Naval Canadian Volunteer Reserve. As a result, he was amongst the many young men of his generation deemed eligible for conscription after the Canadian Parliament passed the Military Service Act in August 1917.

To read more of Private Dennis Simon Levangie’s story, go to the First World War Veterans of Guysborough County website.