Sunday, 6 October 2019

Fire Prevention Week

Oct 6-12 is Fire Prevention Week. 

When a residential or business fire occurs it is not only firemen that get involved, but insurance people and damage inspectors.

My daughter is a journeyman carpenter and at a renovation company she once worked for she would inspect damage and make reports on what needed to be done and the company would run the cost to make renovations or repairs.

When he retired from the RCMP after 10 years of service, my father-in-law Al Nolin became an insurance adjuster, investigating fire and fire-related losses. 

The Canadian Fire Underwriters' Association would hold meetings with representatives of the insurance companies to discuss insurance legislation and prevention measures.

Some of the proceedings of a Fire Insurance Company will give a list of claims..

Also reports of local fire departments may have a list of fires and alarms, like this with date, place, owner and cause...

 Many people and companies have suffered losses due to forest and bush fires.

When I lived in Quebec our town had a "Centre de Dépannage" (or help center) where people could donate clothes and household items for victims of fire, flood etc. People and companies near and far feel compelled to help or donate when fire disasters strike.  

These days after a disastrous fire a go-fund-me page might be set up. Regardless of how it's done, a cry for help would go out for donations large and small to a fire relief fund. 

Check your local library for fire department and relief fund reports, and local insurance company reports of claims. There may also be directories of insurance companies.

Join in Fire Prevention Week activities in your community. 

Relevant Links

Insurance Society and Firemen’s Review

Thursday, 3 October 2019

Prices of food, materials and labour in old England

These books were a help to me in understanding more about ancestors, right back to my 10x great grandfather and how he lived in the late 1500s. 

George Taytt (Tait) was a bowyer (and a burgess of Perth) in Scotland in 1570.  Although these are prices in England, it gives me a rough idea, and also how it compared to other craftsmen. Turning to the pages for Prices of Labour and 1570-71, and the cities were all the same, a bowyer gets 1/- (or 1 shilling) for a day's work.

There are indexes in the back, one for names of places and a general index. Also information on currency and weights and measures. The beginning of each section tells you how to read the charts. 

This is an example of yearly wages, set down by the justices of peace in 1610 at Rutland, Oakham (between Nottingham and Peterborough)...

Relevant links

A history of agriculture and prices in England 1259-1793

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

World Vegetarian Day - Oct 1

World Vegetarian Day was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978. 

Being a vegetarian goes back to many cultures thousands of years ago. You will find articles in health journals and magazines that discussed the pros and cons of eating vegetarian in the mid to late 1800s.  Vegetarian Churches and Settlements were established. 

Being a strict vegetarian could be cause for divorce in some countries...

The Courier and Argus, Scotland – 25 Feb 1889, pg.3

Los Angeles Times, 28 May 1903, pg.14

Washington Post- 12 Jul 1911 pg.4

Some people made jokes...

Relevant links

International Vegetarian Union

Vegetarian Messenger, magazine of the Vegetarian Society UK

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Genealogy gems found in Newspapers

Newspapers can yield much more than birth and marriage announcements and obituaries. Not every newspaper prints the same columns in every issue or every year, but I have found ancestors listed in unexpected ways.

Sometimes you know of an event to do with your ancestor, but you don't know the date it occurred. 

I knew from censuses that one great-great-grandfather was a victualer, but since when? Then I found in the newspaper when he bought and sold his license under License Transfers in Liverpool.

I knew that another great-great-grandfather sold his farm and moved in to town, but I didn't know when. I found it under Property Transfers in the regional newspaper.

My great-great-grandmother traveled from Montreal to Bisbee, AZ when her daughter died and spent a night in a hotel in Tombstone. Look for Hotel Arrivals

Under Shipping News or equivalent the newspapers sometimes printed a passenger list...

My great-great-grandfather King's siblings immigrated to Australia. His sister's husband died in Melbourne in 1910 and this was in the newspaper a couple months later... 

Returns of banks in Aberdeen newspapers give ancestor name, address and occupation...

Below is a list of just some of the newspaper columns where you may discover your ancestors. How many can you find? 

Download the list and keep it handy when researching your relatives. 

Relevant Links

List of Common Newspaper Columns

Friday, 13 September 2019

Not all newspaper sites are equal

I have been scouring newspaper sites for many years, hoping to find word of my ancestors. To help you search and pick out words and names from the billions of pages the providers use an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) program to scan the pages looking for your keywords. The problem is not always which program they use, but the condition of the newspaper and the quality of the scan. 

I was frustrated recently looking for a 1990 death notice in the Times Colonist for Vancouver Island. The whole of the issue I needed, and a few others in the same month, were not scanned properly and the bottom third (including the index and the family notice sections) are so blurry they are unreadable. I told support of this, they acknowledged my concerns but I haven't heard anything else yet. I'm hoping it gets fixed before my subscription runs out.

And other times it just well may be the program. For my British ancestors I have used the newspaper section at Find My Past and Using filters (place, date, etc) help to narrow the search, but sometimes I still get no results. Then I try British Newspaper Archives, which is free to search. If I get what seems to be a good hit, I make note of the newspaper issue, date and page then browse to that issue and page in another site. may have only one newspaper for Liverpool, as opposed to six at FMP and five at BNA, but after years of searching for an exact date or cause of death for my 2x great grandfather, that's where I found it. 

Remember too that other nearby city papers may print the same news.

You can read about the tragic death of George Singleton here

Tuesday, 3 September 2019

Bulletin des Recherches Historiques - Quebec Historical Society

For those researching Quebec Ancestors this publication may be helpful. It was put out by the Société des Etudes Historiques, (or Literary and Historical Society of Quebec), a bilingual society which was founded in 1824, and was the seed of Library and Archives Canada. 

Like the Scottish Antiquary I wrote about recently, the Bulletin contained many interesting historical facts, transcriptions of historic documents and registers, as well as questions from readers and replies.  

One example is this entry for George Harding of New Brunswick in 1797 selling a negro boy to his son John Harding...

Another is the exact burial place of Jacques Nolin Fugere

1659- 10 April: Jacques Nolin dit la Fougere was buried near his pew, on the right side, as walking into the church. His wife's name was Marie Gachet. It seems they had no descendants. 

Then there's the divorce of Sieur Michel Hotier in 1787...

For browsing I like to use Internet Archives, but to see them in order and search within the whole series I try Canadiana online first. They can also be fund at BAnQ Numerique.

The Transactions of the Literary and Historical Society of Quebec are mostly in English and contain names of members of the society

Following are links to some of the interesting entries I found.

Relevant links

Thursday, 22 August 2019

The Scottish Antiquary

... or Northern Notes & Queries (and Replies)

The Scottish Antiquary was a magazine that began in 1886, and was modeled after the English Notes & Queries, and intended for archeologists (including genealogists and historical societies). It published many interesting historical facts, transcriptions of parish registers (often continued from one volume to the next), names of Watchmakers, Glassmakers, Merchants Company members, and many other lists of names. There are also replies to queries from subscribers. Some volumes have pedigrees or portraits...

In Vol III I found three mentions of my Tait ancestors... 
~ the marriage of my 10th ggf George Tait to Janet Bryden in the Perth register 1571
~ an apprentice of goldsmith James Tait passes his assay
James Tait witness to a runaway marriage

Runaway marriages are elopements. Like Gretna Green, the Holy Trinity Church in Haddington in East Lothian was a destination for those wanting to elope and the Reverend there had three volumes titled Runaway Registers. The marriage parties are from all over Scotland and England (I even spotted a groom from Virginia!). Use the search box to see if any of your ancestors are mentioned as a bride, groom or witness. Bartholomew Bower must have been a clerk of the church, as he is witness to many of the marriages.

Following are links to a few of the gems I discovered in these pages. Check the Contents at the beginning and the indexes at the back of the volumes to find hidden gems. Also use the search box for family surnames.

Relevant links

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

What will it take?

Everyone has stories worth telling. 

I grew up hearing stories from my grandparents and parents about incidents in their lives. I even find myself telling my children and grandchildren about stories of my childhood and my life. I also tell stories of my brother's life because he is not here to tell them.

My Dad had an accident with his hand and that gave him the time to write the stories his grandchildren were always interested in hearing. 

My Dad had never been one to sit around. He liked to keep busy and active. Even in his mid 80s he was playing golf and tennis, working out at the gym and taking walks in the beach. He scoffed at some of his friends who sat at their computers all day. Doing what, he didn't know. The scope of his technology was programming their TV box and wiring up the stereo throughout the house.

Then one day he was in the workshop and ran his fingers through the saw with the wood. Two were just nicked but one tip was cut off. At the hospital they were able to put it back with a thin rod sticking through and up to hold it together. No more golf, tennis or gym! 

My cousin's husband gave him his first computer, showed him how to use it, and that was the beginning of a 180 page biography of his life with family and friends.

He did it all on Word, with help from family from time to time to show him how to add images and fix something he messed up because of worsening glaucoma. He then had copies made and spiral bound at Staples.

For me it was a Christmas gift from my daughter of Storyworth that started me on that journey. I answered a year of questions and added photos to make books for my children, which they got the next Christmas.

What will it take for you to write YOUR stories?


Friday, 2 August 2019

Never Give Up!

You may remember I posted a couple of years ago about finding out that the grave rights of an ancestor relative in Adelaide, Australia, were let lapse and the grave taken over by another burial. I had written to the Cemeteries Authority and they explained their policy of reusing a plot when the interment rights are not renewed. 

That was the end of that. 
...or so I thought!

A few days ago I mentioned this scenario on a Gould Genealogy Facebook post about Australian burials and another reader told me that, having ancestors in Australia, she and her husband have researched this. Then the kicker... that it's possible the Cemetery Authority took photos before dismantling. Hope springs eternal!

I went to the Cemetery Authority website and emailed, asking if they took photos. I was hoping for a reply in days, at the most weeks. I received a reply within the hour with four beautiful photos attached! A photo of the whole plot and area...

... and a close up of the main stone and the two little ones...

The whole family is listed there! 

After another query about what happens to the headstones, I was told that families are encouraged to claim headstones of unrenewed leases. When they are not claimed "the headstones are reduced to small gravel pieces with the material reused by the cemetery."

So I am eternally grateful to the reader that commented on my comment and gave me another path to follow, and to the Cemetery Authority for having the foresight to take the photos before redevelopment of expired grave sites in 2006. 

Never give up on your quest!

Thursday, 25 July 2019

Civil Engineers and Contractors

There was a magazine titled The Canadian Engineer. It was a weekly paper for Civil Engineers and Contractors published from 1893-1939.

There are different kinds of engineers, so as population and readership grew, the magazine changed and it split... 
  • Canadian Engineer Roads and Bridges (later changed to Roads and          Construction)
  • Canadian Engineer Water and Sewer (later changed to Water and Sanitation)

Another is The Contract Record. This publication was published 1889-1908. There are ads and articles about construction, price lists of materials and a section called "Contracts Department", with news of upcoming projects, looking for contractors for specific jobs, and which companies were already awarded contracts. 

My New Brunswick cousins, George and Leslie Mavor were engineering contractors and in 1923 were paid $14,482.74 for their work on the Green River Bridge.

1923 Record of Public Accounts

Brothers John, George and Francis Mavor were on the list of those who worked on the roads at Lower Kintore, New Brunswick in 1874.

Relevant Links

The Canadian Engineer

Canadian Engineer, some volumes at Internet Archive

The Canadian Contract Record

Engineering and Contract Record at Internet Archive

Thursday, 18 July 2019

The Blackouts - RCAF Entertainment Group

The July/August 2019 issue of the Canadian Legion Magazine had an interesting article about an RCAF entertainment group of the Second World War called The Blackouts. The group was the brainchild of Wing Commander David Edward MacKell, a veteran of the RCAF of the First World War. The group started with a show in Ottawa, then toured remote Canadian bases in Western Canada. On 25 November 1943 the group sailed on a troopship from Halifax and took their show overseas to perform for Canadian, British and American troops. 

There is a bit about them at The Canadian War Museum with images of posters.

The names of members are listed on the CWM website.

The Legion Magazine has a few photos. You may find more photos in books about troop entertainment of WWII at your library.

Relevant Links

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

A Newfoundland Discovery in Devon

I haven't been posting lately because I'm finally getting around to starting on those projects I've had in my head for a long time.

One of the two projects I'm going back and forth with is going through all the BMD registers for the little village where my King ancestors lived. The first register starts in 1559, and of course is in tiny neat-ish fading writing, and in Latin. 

I think the second entry "might" be one of mine, it was spelled Kinge or Kynge early on.

So saving all these early ones for another day, I started on the second book (starting 1653 by the old calendarand it's a little easier on the eyes. Plus it's in English. I'm transcribing all the King names onto a spreadsheet. I only have to do baptisms before 1740, marriages before 1693 and burial before 1699. The ones after those dates were already transcribed, in alphabetic order, and I can just copy and paste the blocks of King names into my spreadsheets. If I find one I need I always check it in the register to be sure it was transcribed correctly. This helps me straighten out who's who with all the Thomas, John and Mary names.

So I'm looking at baptisms for the village of Loddiswell in Devon, England. I've recorded from 1653 and I'm up to 1696. The writing on this page is erratic, from tiny to big, faded to clear, and I came across this clear entry...

Nov 30 was baptized Thomas Robings being then about nine years old who was born in New Found Land Poor (?)
I don't know if there's family that stayed in Canada or they all went back to England, but there you go... a gem for someone to find someday. 

Thursday, 30 May 2019

The Nile Voyageurs - First Canadian Contingent to Serve Overseas

The British were in Egypt and the Sudan because of the Suez Canal. British general Charles Gordon was in the service of the Khedive of Egypt and Sudan in 1873 and later became the Governor General of Sudan. He returned to England in 1880. 

A major revolt broke out in Sudan, led by a Muslim religious Mahdi. In early 1884 General Gordon was sent to Khartoum to evacuate and accompany loyal soldiers and civilians. After evacuating about 2500 people, he disobeyed orders and kept a small band of soldiers and non-military men and they became besieged by the Mahdi's forces.

A rescue mission was planned and General Garnet Wolseley was put in charge. Besides seeing action in Crimea and Africa, he was involved in the Red River Rebellion, leading British soldiers and Canadian militia. Wolseley recruited Canadians, not so much because they could fight, but because they were skilled at navigating dangerous river waters. Perfect for traveling up the Nile to reach Khartoum. 

In a matter of just 24 days Wolseley recruited guides, boatmen and lumbermen from all across Canada... English and Scottish, French, Métis and Aboriginals ...and were named the Nile Voyageurs. Their monthly wages were about $40 for boatmen and $75 for foremen. 

There is a book called Records of the Nile Voyageurs 1884-1885 with more complete info, some images and lists of men, at Internet Archive. It is only available to borrow for 2 weeks (online or download) and you must register for free and login.  Some *men re-enlisted, see page 176 for contract. *Note that the book is still under copyright.

They gathered in Montreal from whence they sailed 14 September 1884, bound for Egypt, arriving on October 7th.

The expedition did not make it in time to save General Gordon, and were themselves attacked. There is a  beside names of those men that died. Money was sent to their families. If deceased left a widow or widowed mother special grants were made.

Relevant Links

List of Officers and Men of Nile Voyageurs, Dominion Annual Register and Review 1884

Records of the Nile Voyageurs, 1884-1885 (borrow)

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