Archive for the ‘General Posts’ Category

What Do I Include in a Genealogical Timeline For an Ancestor?

Friday, May 12th, 2017

Spring jobs, family responsibilities and volunteer work for other organizations grabbed my time in the last two weeks. On Thursday, I suddenly realized that my blog posting was due today. What a great opportunity for writer’s block to rear its ugly head.

Fortunately writer’s block has not been an issue of late. In response to Robb Gorr’s challenge to write about where my ancestors were in 1867 I compiled an article and submitted it to Families.1 I had created “vertical” timelines before but this was the first time that I compiled a “horizontal” timeline which included ancestors from all of my lines at the same time. I hadn’t paid any attention prior to this writing exercise to the fact that I lost two 2x great grandfathers around the time of Confederation; William Bolton in the United States in 1867 and James Atkey in Canada in 1868.

Fresh from this exercise, I went back to my previously created William Bolton timeline and added as many events and dates as I could. I put in the speculative items that I had and the other events that seemed to support my premise that they belonged in the timeline for now. I included a potential second marriage as well as various places that a William Bolton leased or purchased land. Note that I based these possibilities on what appeared to be relatives taking up land at same time as he did and did not just pick them “out of the air.”

One obvious issue was the two 1870 US Federal Census enumeration possibilities for William’s daughter, Ellen. When I examined these two census records closely, I found that one was completed on 1 July 1870 and the other on 20 July 1870. This difference of 19 days between household enumerations meant that I could not immediately rule out either of these records. Ellen could have gone from living and working in her sister’s household to paid work as a servant with another family in that time span.

I am not sure if William left for the United States at the same time as his father, James Bolton, fled there to escape possible hanging or imprisonment as a Mackenzie rebel in 1837. William later returned to Canada West because he married Mary Brett, daughter of Thomas and Martha Mary (Hampton) Brett, circa 1847 probably in Albion Township. Their four children were born at Bolton, Albion Township, Peel County.

William returned to the United States at some time prior to his death 2 August 1867 at Peotone, Will County, Illinois. Family lore provided dates for his return to the US so I turned to US censuses. Now I have included in my timeline the US Censuses in which, to date, I have not found him. Records that don’t record him are as valuable as those which do record him in terms of completing a timeline. The earliest known date that I have him back in the USA is found on a promissory note from his probate papers which placed him there in 1866.

I am now tracking land records in Albion Township, Peel County; Wallace Township, Perth County; and Usborne Township, Huron County. I am delving into the microfilmed Township Papers and the microfilmed Canada Company lease and sales records. If you are unfamiliar with these records see the guide, Using the Ontario Land Records Index ca. 1780-1920 at the Archives of Ontario.

At some point in time I will have to challenge the land records of Will County in Illinois. Perhaps I should also be looking at assessment records?

Wish me luck!

Alan Campbell
Past President
OGS No. 712978
© 2017

1. See Robb’s article “Where Were My Ancestors at Confederation?”, Families, February 2017, Vol. 56, Number 1, pp. 3-5

Your Local Genealogy Society- To Join or Not To Join?

Friday, April 28th, 2017

Disclaimer: I have been a member of The Ontario Genealogical Society for some 35 years and a long term member of the Wellington County Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society [with a short term hiatus between two membership periods in the Branch]. The following blog post is written from the perspective of being a long term member of The Society and does not reflect the opinions of the Board of Directors of which I am Past President.

Recently I was pleased to be able to attend an educational program event, on the topic of DNA driven genealogical research, hosted by the Wellington County Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society. While sitting with my fellow members, I reflected upon the rationale for being a member as opposed to being a non–member privileged to attend the session at no cost. There are some obvious benefits to being a member beyond access to genealogical material in the members-only section of the Branch’s website and the receipt of a newsletter.

When I first joined Wellington County Branch, I was actively researching the family of Andrew and Elizabeth (Bell) Sims who had arrived in Eramosa Township, Wellington County circa 1838. I had an article published in Families, in which I tried to prove my hypothesis that the Andrew Sims who died 6 March 1888 and was buried in Harriston Cemetery, Harriston, Ontario,1 [Andrew and Elizabeth’s son] was the spouse of Annie (Lush) Sims and father of Israel, George and Leonard Sims who were living in Hamilton, Ontario, as early as 1894.2 Stephen Bowley editor of Traces and Tracks, newsletter of the Wellington County Branch, at the time, read my article. In a “Honing Your Genealogical Skills” column he described off-line sources that could be found at the Wellington County Museum and Archives, the University of Guelph Library, the Wellington County Land Registry Office and the Wellington County Branch’s collection at Guelph Public Library.3 I was delighted that he had taken the time to point out potential records that I had not yet accessed like assessment records. I made two on-site visits to The Guelph Public Library, a visit to the University of Guelph Library to access its extensive collection of microfilms of the Guelph Mercury [local newspaper] and initiated email contact with the Wellington County Museum and Archives to access the collection there. The Museum and Archives were forward thinking at that time and would accept a credit card for payment so you could receive the requested research materials in a timely fashion. The “bottom line” was that my membership with the Wellington County Branch paid big dividends.

In the midst of a cost reduction mode a number of years later, when my attention had shifted to a different line of my family, I stopped being a member of Wellington County Branch. I don’t remember how long I was not a member but I did come to my senses at renewal time a few years ago. The key to my renewal was knowing the need to support Branch volunteers who were working hard to index and scan items of genealogical interest to researchers. This support was not totally altruistic as in the process of doing those two tasks it would be possible that the volunteers would identify more items related to my Sims family research interests.

Some researchers do not realize is that there is considerable cost involved in purchasing and operating scanning equipment and paying for storage for all of the digitized files that result. Scanning equipment wears out or needs maintenance. The Branch requires continued injections of cash in order to continue this work.

The other rewards of becoming a member AND getting into the action as a volunteer are the fun of the collegial activities, the potential to become more knowledgeable about local records and genealogical research in general, and the potential to learn how to use electronic equipment. Distance members, even though they might live in California, can get into the action as well as there are numerous situations where volunteers are indexing materials that have been uploaded to Dropbox.

Oh, by the way, Terry Maurice, the presenter at the meeting that I just attended, is a new member of the Branch. He is already seeking interest in a DNA Special Interest Group for the Wellington County Branch. Judging by the response at the meeting, the group will be formed in the near future. That is what it takes to make the Branch experience worthwhile, member volunteers who give of their time and expertise.

The answer to my question “To join or not to join?” Get that credit card out, go online to The Ontario Genealogical Society website, join The Society, join your local Branch and volunteer to help continue the good work that they are doing.

1. Andrew Sims death registration, Ontario Vital Statistics,series MS 935, reel 52, no. 18377.

2. Alan Campbell, “When Things Are Not Simple – Matching Family Members in Different Locations,” Families, The Ontario Genealogical Society, Vol. 44, No. 3, 2005, pp. 170-173. Members of The Ontario Genealogical Society can access this issue of Families in the member-only section of the website.

3. Stephen Bowley, “Honing Our Genealogical Skills,” Traces and Tracks, Wellington County Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society, Vol. 6, No. 1, March 2006, pp. 8-11.

Alan Campbell
OGS Member
No. 512978

Copyright 2017

Do You Want to Know? – Researching “Black Sheep” Ancestors

Friday, April 14th, 2017

I have to confess openly that I concealed information from a fellow researcher a number of years ago. What circumstances would have caused me, a researcher who usually freely shares research information, to make a decision like that? The story begins with my great aunt Eliza Bell ______ who lived variously in Bruce County, Fort William [now Thunder Bay] and Guelph, Ontario. At the request of a fellow researcher, a third cousin who is much closer to this story, I am leaving out surnames.

Bell married David Edward _____ in 1896. The couple had three children, Fairlene, Viola and Rhoda. David left the family circa 1910 and Fairlene told her daughter Margaret that she did not see her father again.

Margaret found me via my researcher information left at the Grey Roots Archive, which was a bonus for me as her father’s surname was so common that searching for them had been fruitless. She was interested in finding out what had happened to her grandfather. Family lore suggested that with the illness of Viola and her subsequent death in 1909, David might have turned to drinking. Bell, a strict Methodist, would not have been able to tolerate the drinking. This story had David and Bell separating, with the encouragement of her sister Jennie and a lack of support from her sister Maud. Maud firmly believed that you stayed with your husband no matter what the situation.

After contact with Margaret, I checked the Canadian OverSeas Expeditionary Force [World War I] database on the Library and Archives Canada website. I was unable to find a David Edward through the search function so I brought up all the soldiers with his surname, and went through them one by one. He had enlisted using the given names Theodore David. I passed his registration number on to Margaret and she ordered the file. Important to note at this point in time is that Margaret served with the Women’s Royal Canadian Naval Service for the last 19 months of World War II. As well, her Aunt Rhoda’s son, Peter, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force in Bosnia and the Gulf War. Imagine their shock to discover that David had enlisted 30 January 1915 and was discharged in April of the same year for repeated incidents of drunk and disorderly conduct. Margaret noted to her family and me that she ”…was ashamed of what he did yet sad for him as a man.” She went on to say that “… we probably wouldn’t want to know what happened to him [after his discharge]” I did not continue looking for more records her David for some time after receiving Margaret’s email.

After I had searched the 1911 Canada Census for all my other ancestors to the extent that I could, I went back to trying to find additional records for David. I was delighted when I found him in the 1911 Canada Census for Manitoba until I looked at the sixth column, Relationship to head of household or family, and found “convict” written there for him. Manitoba Penitentiary was handwritten vertically on the left hand side of the sheet.1 Did I have the right man? As soon as I read his place of habitation, Wiarton [Bruce County, Ontario],  I knew that I had my man.

I conducted an Internet search for Manitoba penitentiaries and found references to Stony Mountain Institution, Stony Mountain, Manitoba, which had opened in 1877. I was able to access the Inmate Admittance Book for Stony Mountain Institution via Library and Archives Canada. David had been incarcerated for nearly two years from 24 September 1909 until 16 June 1911 for the crime of theft. The entry for him indicates that he was transferred to the Provincial Authorities on 4 July 1911 to “…undergo the unexpired period of his original sentence.” A “ticket of Leave from Central Prison, Toronto” is noted in the entry as well.2 It was at this point that I decided that I did not want to add to Margaret’s anguish by passing this record on to her.

After Margaret’s death, Diana, her daughter, made contact with me because she was interested in continuing the search for David. Once we had shared some information, I decided to share the incarceration record with her. She understood my reluctance to share it with her mother and agreed that it was just as well that I had acted the way that I did. Diana went a step further and was able to find a reference to David’s sentencing in the Winnipeg Tribune:
“David E. _______ , who was found guilty of theft from John Roberts to the amount of $85, was sentenced to two years in the penitentiary. He has spent considerable time in Toronto prison.”3
Diana now plans to seek records from the prison system in Toronto in order to place the information from prison records into the context of the family stories.

Was David’s incarceration the crux of the separation? Did he spend brief times in jail in Toronto that could be explained away as him seeking work away from home? I am looking forward to seeing what Diana finds.

Will I conceal information from a researcher again in the future? That will depend on the situation.

1. David E. ______ entry, 1911 Census for Manitoba, District 22, Selkirk, Sub-district No. 36, township 13, Range 2 East of the Ist Meridian.

2. Stony Mountain Penitentiary, Inmate Admittance Registers, 1871-1921 (RG 73-C-7, W87-88/365
Microfilm reel no. T-11095, 1885-1913, Register 24, 157 pages, Winnipeg Office, Library and Archives Canada, Central Canada Regional Service Centre, 1700 Inkster Boulevard, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R2X 2T1, Telephone: 204-984-1469,Fax: 204-984-4074, Email:
Correctional Services Canada records are archived in this centre.

3. Winnipeg Tribune, 24 September 1909.

Alan Campbell
Past President
The Ontario Genealogical Society
Copyright 2017

Coming to Canada – Immigration and Emigration Records

Friday, March 24th, 2017

Being on a sea voyage from Santiago, Chile, to Buenos Aires, caused me to reflect upon the record sets created when immigrants left the shores of their native country and when they arrived at Canada’s shores. I also reflected upon the richness of my voyage compared to those made by our ancestors.

Lists of passengers who were aboard ships bringing immigrants to Canada prior to 1865 are a hit and miss proposition. There are a number of websites where you can find information about or transcriptions of some of these ships’ passenger lists. Olive Tree Genealogy, a website maintained by Lorine McGinnis Schulze, has links to both ships’ lists and naturalization information. Marjorie P. Kohli, and S. Swiggum have an Immigrants to Canada website which includes links to ships’ lists.

Library and Archives Canada has a database, Passenger Lists for the Port of Quebec City and other Ports, 1865-1922, that can be searched by surname, given name(s), name of the ship, year of arrival and date of arrival. I was able to find Millicent Atkey, a cousin, and her brother Richmond who came to Canada in August of 1907. Since both are age 21, the record hints that they are single. Richmond is a dentist but no trade is mentioned for Millicent. They came from the Isle of Wight, England, via the ship, Empress of Britain. Most of the columns are readable but unfortunately the column that sometimes gives information about where they are going in Canada is unreadable. The original passenger lists were destroyed after microfilming so there is no recourse for a difficult to decipher digital image of the microfilm. Note as well, that a card index file, created by library personnel, for the port of Quebec from 1865 to 1869 is included in the database. No images are attached to these names.


Passenger list showing Millicent and Richmond Atkey courtesy of Library and Archives Canada

A link to a database of naturalization records, Naturalization Records, 1915-1951, for those immigrants not from the United Kingdom [England, Ireland and Scotland], is another way of tracking immigration to Canada. You can search by name or date. The resulting image is a pdf of the specific page in The Canadian Gazette where the names of aliens to whom certificates of naturalization were given were published. I was able to find the page which listed Oskar Spangsberg Nordland from Denmark who married Rhoda Bell Best, one of my cousins. His certificate was dated 26 July 1933. Also noted was his occupation, veterinary doctor, and his residence, Brantford, Ontario.

There are a number of other databases on the Library and Archives Canada website, plus unindexed microforms as well as links to other sources of information. There are too many too mention here but this site would be a good one to investigate thoroughly.

Some pay sites provide immigration information. FindMyPast has Passenger Lists Leaving UK 1890-1960 . has a database, All Canada, Ocean Arrivals (Form 30A), 1919-1924, that picks up some immigrants to Canada. This database also contains forms for passengers in transit who are not immigrants.

I have only touched the surface of what is available; don’t hesitate to Google the topic and see what other websites you can find.

Listening to one of Lambton County Branch’s members, Janet Kelch, talk at the March 2017 Branch meeting about the terrible voyage that her ancestor, Casper Sherk, made on board the Love and Unity, reminded me that published records or newspaper accounts exist for some voyages. In this case the name of the ship did not match the avarice and hardheartedness of the captain of the vessel.
A book was written about the crossing, Voyage of the Love and Unity, by Nancy E. Sigmund Schanes. A copy is held by

Hopefully you do not suffer the same affliction as I do, Irish ancestors who had all left Ireland by the mid 1830s and English ancestors who came to Canada West in the mid 1850s.

Alan Campbell
Past President
The Ontario Genealogical Society
Copyright 2017

The Other Women in my Life – Recording the Lives of Our Female Ancestors

Friday, March 10th, 2017

Rather than celebrate the International Day of Women on March 8th and then feel we have done our part, I encourage you begin recording the stories of your female ancestors if you are not or have not already done so. In writing these stories, we can provide “pictures” of them for future generations. How often have you read a story about the trials and tribulations of someone else and then realized that your life was not so difficult after all? Many of the stories of our female ancestors contain those trials and tribulations.

I just finished reading The Winter Years by James Gray.1 This is a book about the Depression from a Western Canada perspective. The author lived on the relief program for a few years of the depression before finding employment as a journalist. He brought firsthand experience to a description of what it was like to be a woman on relief. For a wife and mother, trying to stretch the food vouchers, mending clothing until there was nothing left to mend, and accepting hand me downs from family were all part of survival. Add to this living in a one room apartment often in a house that had been broken into rooms in order to maximize the number of lodgers it could accommodate.

My mother, born in Saskatchewan in 1910, was affected by the depression. For the rest of her life she “valued the pennies” and patched clothing as long as she could as opposed to purchasing new items. With a husband who worked from spring thaw until winter freeze up as a gravel crusher operator, she learned how to grocery shop carefully. She was scrupulous about paying bills and was allowed to run a tab at the local grocery store over the winter that would be paid off when my father went back to work in the spring. I remember seventy five dollar used cars that we drove until they “died”. If I remember correctly, Dad would buy our vehicles but my mother was the salesperson when they had outlived their usefulness to us.

In writing an article about my great grandmother Martha Rachel (Bolton) Atkey for the book, Women Pioneers of Saskatchewan, the second paragraph tells part of the tale about the life of a woman and mother in the 1880s:
“Martha, in her seventh month of pregnancy, arrived at the Crescent City settlement, North West Territories, in August of 1883 with her two young children Mary Louise age seven and Ellen Trafalgar [my grandmother] age four. Her husband, John Atkey, had walked into the area in May of the same year to homestead on the NE Section 06, Township 23, Range 03 West of the 2nd Meridian. Martha’s first thoughts upon sighting the tents and log shack that made up the “city” were probably not positive ones. These first thoughts would have been tempered by her knowledge of the difficulties of homesteading since she was no stranger to hardship and sorrow. Previously she and her husband had attempted to eke out an existence on the Canadian Shield in Stisted Township, Muskoka District of Ontario. Stisted Township would harbour sad memories as well because Martha and John left two babies, Thomas and William John, buried there.”2

Sadness runs through many women’s lives. I collected a story about a collateral line female ancestor, Gertrude, who fell seriously ill. Her husband thought she was going to die and could not face raising their four children by himself so he committed suicide. Gertrude recovered, married his brother and went on to raise the four children and two more from the new marriage. She died at the age of 82 leaving behind her six children, 21 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren.

Please consider recording your female ancestors’ stories especially this year, the 150th anniversary of Canada as a country.
Alan Campbell
Past President
The Ontario Genealogical Society

Copyright 2017

1. James H. Gray, The Winter Years (Toronto, Ontario: Macmillan of Canada, 1966).

2. Celeste Rider, Editor, Women Pioneers of Saskatchewan (Regina, Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Genealogical Society, 2009), p. 25.

Free or Almost Free Genealogical Education

Friday, February 24th, 2017

One of the sources of free or almost free genealogical education is the proliferation of blogs that exist today. Signing up to have the blog postings come to your inbox is an easy way to learn from the experiences and expertise of others in the field of genealogical research. The risk in doing this too often is information overload. At some point in time you want to stop reading and actually do some research and recording related to your own family.

Choosing Which Blogger to Follow
Whose blog postings you follow is a personal choice. The factors for me are:
Does the blogger post topics relevant to my current research? Although I may be researching in English records next year, I may not want to read multiple postings on the topic this year. I have enough difficulty staying on task now!
Does the blogger post topics of interest to me because of a special interest that I have?

Direct Emailed Blog Posts
I receive direct emails from four genealogy bloggers:
Genealogy à la carte by Gail Dever. I follow Gail’s blog because it is a general one with many references to Canadian sources. I do like her “This week’s crème de la crème” as it brings me into contact with good posts from other bloggers that I would have otherwise been blissfully ignorant about.

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter by Dick Eastman. I have subscribed to the Plus Edition of this blog for years primarily because Dick checks out new electronic equipment and reports on the value he sees in it. This tends to save me money because he often does not recommend items that I think sound interesting.

The Newsletter by Amy Johnson Crow. I like Amy’s posts because we think alike in a lot of ways. Her posts are my connections to general and specific information about researching in the United States.

Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. I started following Lisa after I purchased her first book about mobile genealogy. I have a copy of the latest edition Mobile Genealogy-How to Use Your Tablet and Smartphone for Family History Research. Her blog posts have value and her podcasts are interesting and informative.

Using the Feedly App on a Tablet
I have a number of blogs coming through the Feedly App on my iPad such as:
Canada’s Anglo-Celtic Connections by John D. Reid. John blogs about things Canadian.

The Armchair Genealogist by Lynn Palermo. I feel strongly about writing stories of my ancestors so they are not forgotten and Lynn helps researchers do just that.

The Genetic Genealogist by Blaine Bettinger. Since DNA testing is the “thing” now, I thought I should be hearing from an expert about it.

The Legal Genealogist by Judy G. Russel. I have always been interested in copyright and researcher ethics. Although Judy writes from an American perspective, her comments are well worth reading and considering.

The Passionate Genealogist by Ruth Blair. I must admit some loyalty here since Ruth gave me my blogger’s beads at the 2016 Ontario Genealogical Society Conference in Toronto.

Where the Story Takes Me by Jane E. Macnamara. Jane writes the stories of family members or people who interest her. I like to read about how she found the information.

There is a whole world of genealogy bloggers out there. Check out who is blogging at Geneabloggers and Cangenealogy.

Happy reading!

Alan Campbell
Past President
The Ontario Genealogical Society
Copyright 2017

Township Papers- A Source Often Unknown or Forgotten

Friday, February 10th, 2017

A request about finding a copy of a land patent for lot 15, concession 4, in Enniskillen Township,Lambton County, land owner Chauncy Smith, arrived in my inbox recently. Apparently research at the Archives of Ontario did not result in finding a copy of this patent.

Township Papers – The Miscellaneous File
I suggested checking the Township Papers for Enniskllen Township to see if there was anything that had been filed there regarding this parcel of land. These township Papers are comprised of documents, related to particular properties, that were created prior to the land registries taking up the task of keeping track of all documents related to ownership, mortgages and liens for each parcel of land. To put it simply these documents precede the receipt of the patent for a land grant or purchase.

I have accessed the Township Papers for various townships in Lambton County and have found that they are hit and miss in terms of what exists. For some land parcels you may find a number of documents, sometimes related to the land owner having to write a number of times to try to get their official patent. For other land parcels there may be nothing.

The Township Papers for Enniskillen Township were microfilmed:
MS 658 Reel 131 RG 1 C-IV Township Papers Emily (1301-2441) to Enniskillen (1-223)
MS 658 Reel 132 RG 1 C-IV Township Papers Enniskillen (224-1600)
MS 658 Reel 133 RG 1 C-IV Township Papers Enniskillen (1601-2393) to Eramosa (1-100)

They correspond to Crown Land Records Series RG 1; Township Papers (ca. 1783-1870) Series RG-158 from the Archives of Ontario.

I found the references to Chauncy’s lot in reel 132. For his parcel, lot 15, concession 4, there were two separate entries. The first is a letter, dated 7 January 1861 and signed by Thomas Stanley and George Smith, neighbours of Chauncy. They attest to his improvements on his homestead “… to whit, twenty-eight acres cleared and a log house 18 foot by 26 and barn thereon. Also note that the said Chancy Smith has resided on the said lot during the past eight years.”

letter noting improvements on lot 15, concesson 4

The next entry includes:
-the original agreement to purchase and obtain a Deed in Fee for lot 15, concession 4, dated 24 November 1852. He had to pay a down payment, seven shillings, sixpence, ten percent of the purchase price;
-a letter from Paton & Osler [presumably lawyers], dated 20 June 1863 asking about the status of the Chauncy’s patent and;

A Request for Chauncy's Patent

-a cover form completed by the Crown Lands office, that notes a letter of response was sent 26 June 1863 and said letter was recorded in Letter book p. 473 [Ref. Bk. 7, No. 50, fo. 416]

There is no indication in the materials in the two files that Chancy ever received his patent.

These Township Papers files may give you a better picture of the process that your ancestor went through in order to get a deed to his parcel of land. What windfall might you find?

Source of Images:
Township Papers- Enniskillen Township, Lot 15, Concession 4, RG 1-58, MS 658, Reel 132, Archives of Ontario. The two images are used with the permission of the Archives of Ontario.

Alan Campbell
Past President
OGS No. 12978

Copyright 2017

Using a Combination of Sources to Collect Genealogical Information

Friday, January 27th, 2017

After compiling as much information as I could about a couple, James Samuel Haddon and Vera (Whitaker) Colbert, I decided it was time to find more information about their child, Beth.
James and Vera married 1 January 1916 at Kenora, Ontario. They had one child Beth, who is noted in their respective obituaries in 20 May 1960 and 11 February 1974. The obituaries gave her particulars as Mrs. A.G. (Beth) Atkinson and Mrs. Arthur (Beth) Atkinson. Both obituaries placed her in Toronto.

Choosing a Research Source by Knowing What it Holds
Family lore had her given names as Margaret Elizabeth with her birth occurring 26 July 1917 at Kenora. I pondered how to track her. Toronto City directories would be a possibility but since the newest digitzed version available on the Toronto Public Library website was for 1922 I used and did a search for her in the Canada, Voters Lists- 1935-1980. I decided to use her legal given names in my search. Wrong! I found her listed as Beth in hits on voters lists from 1938 to 1974.

Canada, Voters Lists-1935-1980
1938 Electoral District of Kenora-Rainy River, Town of Kenora
60 Colbert, James H. engineer 617 First Street South
61 Colbert, Mrs. James H. 617 First Street South
63 Colbert, Miss Beth student 617 First Street South
Since Beth would be about 21 years old at this point she is probably at a university or college and not living at home. The street address is the one noted in both obituaries so I know that I have the right family. James also worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad as a locomotive engineer.

1953 York-Scarborough Electoral District
33 Atkinson, Arthur supervisor Beaufield Avenue
33 Atkinson, Beth Beaufield Avenue
Note that street numbers are used here not as in the former example for Kenora.

1957 York-Scarborough Electoral District
33 Atkinson, Arthur serviceman Beaufield Avenue
33 Atkinson, Beth Beaufield Avenue

1958 York-Scarborough Electoral District
33 Atkinson, Beth Beaufield Avenue
Arthur is not listed so he may have died, or a separation or divorce has occurred. Separate residences would be required for him to be removed from the voter’s list at that street number. If I recall correctly the Toronto Star database [$] is searched in five year intervals so this would provide the interval from 1955-60 and reduce the amount of searching required. A request posted on The Ontario Genealogical Society Facebook Group might elicit the services of a volunteer or professional genealogist who would search for a potential obituary.

1965 York-Scarborough Electoral District
33 Atkinson , Beth dietician Beaufield Avenue
33 Atkinson, Roy student Beaufield Avenue
The addition of Roy to the electoral list adds to the surety of having the right family as he was noted as Vera’s grandson in her obituary in 1974.

1974 Electoral District of Don Valley
33 Atkinson, Beth dietician Beaufield Avenue
Roy was living in Ottawa in 1974 according to Vera’s obituary. Note that Beth has not moved, the electoral districts have been downsized in the area probably due to an increase in population.

The last set of Federal Voters Lists that is indexed on Ancestry is for the year 1974. The years 1979 and 1980 can be browsed only. By 1979 the Electoral District of Don Valley was split into Don Valley East and Don Valley West. The Don Valley East collection has 268 images in no apparent order. At this point I would likely find a contact who could check the city directories in five year intervals for me. This would give me my five year frame in which to search for an obituary, although that is not foolproof as individuals who move into retirement or care homes often disappear from the listings. A potential bonus of the city directory listings is that the name of the actual workplace of the individual was recorded-more “colour” for the family story!

It pays to “mine” obituaries for all the facts that you can find and then use them in conjunction with other sources such as voters lists and city directories.

Alan Campbell
Past President
The Ontario Genealogical Society

Copyright 2017

Focusing Your Family History Research and Compilation Efforts for 2017

Friday, January 13th, 2017

With the New Year firmly in place, I decided that it was time to review my 2016 goals in order to build upon them for 2017. How successful was I in accomplishing the goals that I set in 2016?

Informational Technology Skills/ Writing Skills
I had planned to become more proficient with Word because I use it so much for writing family stories, compiling my family history, compiling the Lambton County Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society newsletter and writing the blog. Although I practiced my writing a lot, the onset of Windows 10 and the move to a new computer overrode the in-depth use of Word that I had planned. That’s life and life events do affect how well you achieve your goals.

Personal Research
I did restart my compilation of a revised Campbell family history. Since I focused on an ancestor for whom I had some unrecorded research, I was able to get started easily. Then I focused on Canada to United States border crossing records in order to seek clues to additional information about my ancestor’s children. Using the clues from them I found marriage records, naturalization petitions and a request for a military tombstone. The key to successful research is to know what information you are looking for and where it would likely be found. The more specific your goal is, the more likely you won’t “float” in cyberspace with little success.

As an example, I wrote the following in my goals spreadsheet for 2016:
Deepen Bolton research-James Bolton in Indiana and William Bolton in Illinois.
What I should have written in order to be more specific was:
Locate death record, obituary/death notice and will/probate records for William Bolton who died in Peotone, Will County, Illinois.
Now I could take the next step to establish where I would likely find any of these items. I did work around the edge of this goal but it was one of my research contacts who notified me that William Bolton’s probate records were available via [ in my case although I pay the extra to be able to access United States records]. I was busy researching in Campbell family records at the time so I appreciated the notification.

Attending Conferences and Workshops
Registering for the 2016 Ontario Genealogical Society Conference and booking a room was a good way to make sure that I attended. The conference was a mix of talking to colleagues and fellow researchers and dealing with Board business. Being among passionate family historians for a weekend refreshes me and keeps me from getting jaded. I enjoyed the One Word-One Family Conference in Toronto as well. I know some wondered where I was during the day since I am usually working a display table somewhere. This time I attended every workshop session that I could fit into my schedule.

The key to even using a given database or set of records is knowing whether or not it covers the geographical area or time period of your ancestor. I find presenters in workshops can give you this background information because they have already made themselves familiar with said record sets.

Consider attending the 2017 Ontario Genealogical Society Conference and the 2017 One Word-One Family Conference this year.

I completed my term of office as president of The Ontario Genealogical Society in June of 2016. I write The Ontario Genealogical Society Blog, and I edit the Lambton County Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society newsletter as noted above. I do not look for praise, instead it is a case of when I feel strongly about the value of an organization I get involved. Being on the inside of an organization provides a lot of learning opportunities as well as supporting it. As I have noted in past blogs, you also create a profile and other researchers can find you easily.

You may wish to reread my blog posting of 13 May 2016, Building a Yearly, Genealogical Research, Reading and Writing Learning Plan, prior to embarking on your plan.

I wish you the best for 2017 and do hope that you create a set of family history research goals that are specific enough to allow for targeted research.
Alan Campbell
Past President
The Ontario Genealogical Society
Copyright 2017

Pausing Your Genealogical Research Can Lead to Later Breakthroughs

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

As Christmas Day draws closer, I often find a need to seek a quiet place to pause and reflect in the midst of the hectic preparations that can lead up to it. In a similar vein, when I have genealogical research papers scattered all over my desk and am fighting a brick wall, pausing my research is sometimes the best choice for me to make.

Pausing Your Genealogical Research
Just like I let at least a day pass before I do a final check of a blog posting or one of my genealogical essays, the route to success with a research problem may be more obvious once you take a rest from it. Sometimes I let my rest from a particularly “knotty” problem extend to a hiatus as I move my research to another family or line.

More Genealogical Records Can Be Available After a Research Hiatus
The Reid family as discussed in my post of December 9th, 2016, A Guide to the Vast Array of Free and Not So Free Genealogical Websites, was one of my family searches that benefited from not one but two hiatuses. I had put it to one side when my initial online searches in Oregon related websites did not produce helpful information. When I was at The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I found images of border crossing cards for the Reid family on These border crossing cards provided information about the Reid’s immigration to Ontario, Oregon. Further searches did not give me more information on which to build. When I returned to the search this year, I was able to access more information about the Reid family due to the indexing and images of the Washington State Digital Archive.

New Research Results Used for Research in Other Websites
Using the new information about my Reid family members in searches in the United States Social Security Death Index provided more direction for my research. My next step is to locate death notices and/or obituaries if any exist.

Finding Basic Information About Canadian World War II Soldiers Who Survived the Conflict
A plus in my recent research was receiving confirmation from Library and Archives Canada that John Fitzgerald Reid, brother of Shiela Reid and Edna Evelyn Reid, served with the Royal Canadian Air Force as a Flight Officer in World War II. Being able to provide his birth date, place of birth, his parents’ names and his place of residence at the time of enlisting made getting an answer from the LAC much more realistic. See How to Obtain Copies of Military Files for details of the route that I followed.

If twenty years has passed from the death of the individual, LAC will release the complete file. In my case this did not happen so that means either the twenty year period has not elapsed or that LAC does not have a record of death for the individual. That brings a new challenge for me. How do I trace an individual who was released from the RCAF in 1945, one who was residing in Ontario, Oregon, prior to his enlistment? Research is never dull!

Best wishes for a relaxing holiday with your family. I hope that 2017 will be the year of your research breakthrough.

Alan Campbell
Past President
The Ontario Genealogical Society
OGS No. 12978
Copyright 2016