Wednesday, January 16, 2008


If you’re searching for Canadian ancestors, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better introduction than this:

Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: a Beginner’s Guide by Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee (Ancestry Publishing, 2007, $18.95). ISBN 978-1-59331-316-6

The authors really do assume you are new to Canadian ancestor research, and do a great job of explaining in easy to follow, logically organized chapters the basics of researching the records of our neighbor to the north. There are overviews of Canadian geography and history, and chapters that cover federal records, vital records, records of various ethnic groups, and records of the provinces and territories. Chapters include:

1. Library & Archives Canada (LAC)
2. Canadian Geography and Finding Localities
3. Immigration
4. Census
5. Vital Records- Government
6. Vital Records- Church
7. Cemetery Records
8. Probate
9. Military Records
10. Land Records
11. Newspapers
12. Other Ways to Find People
13. The Aboriginals
14. The Acadians
15. The Loyalists

These are followed by chapters on each of the ten Canadian provinces, with a concluding chapter that covers all three Canadian territories.

Chapters follow a fairly standard format of main content and informative sidebars, followed by short sections on Alternative & Supporting Sources, Websites, Bibliography, and Addresses.

Just a few of the amazing facts revealed in Finding Your Canadian Ancestors:

Winnipeg literally means “dirty water,” (p. 9) while Regina, Saskatchewan was formerly known as “Pile of Bones”? (p. 13)

Towns along the Canadian National Railway in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are named in alphabetical order, starting with Arona in Manitoba and ending with Zeneta in Saskatchewan? (p. 9)

Immigrants to Canada from the United Kingdom don’t show up on Canadian naturalization lists until 1947? (p. 19)

Canadian censuses are closed to the public for 92 years from date of completion, not 72 as in the U.S.? (p. 28)

First Canadian national census was enumerated in 1871? (p. 28)

Largest religious denomination in Canada during the period 1871-1931 is Roman Catholic, followed by United Church of Canada (Methodists, Congregationalists, and many Presbyterians), Anglicans, Baptists, Lutherans, and Jews in that order? (p.41)

Boer War (1900-1902) marked the first time that Canadian troops were sent out of the country? (p. 61)

Canada in 1914 had a standing army consisting of 3,000 full-time soldiers (4,000 in 1939, when WWII began for Canada)? (p. 62)

U.S. and Canadian township systems are virtually the same, except that numbering for sections in Canadian townships starts with 1 in the southeast corner (northeast corner for U.S. townships)? (p.70)

An appendix provides timelines of Canadian, French , UK, and U.S. history, a timeline of Canadian genealogical records, and a lengthy index to help you find facts fast.

I think someone just starting to research Canadian ancestors will have a MUCH easier time of it if she has this book close at hand while surfing the Web / planning a research trip. Highly recommended!

Available from for $14.21 via the MoSGA Online Book Store.

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