If you’re researching an ancestor who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War, two posts by Ken McKinlay (Family Tree Knots) are well worth consulting: “Resources for ‘A Soldier of the Great War: A Research Case Study'” and “They Served Canada But I Want to Know More.”
Our Roots/Nos Racines is an online collection of Canadian local histories in both English and French. Well worth searching if you are looking for ancestors in Canada. I have certainly found a few good leads in a couple of local Ottawa-area histories that I’ve discovered at this site.
A word of caution on local histories: while local histories can be extremely valuable (they can help to establish or confirm the whereabouts of an individual or a family, for example), their information can be a bit loose and vague. Wherever possible, you should verify the information by consulting church records, vital records, census records, and so on.
But on the other hand: the vague and possibly inaccurate information that you find in a local history can offer valuable clues, which can point you in the direction of more reliable sources to pursue.
When I first found a reference to the marriage of Pat Killeen and Bridgit Gallaghan in Garfield Thomas Ogilvie’s Once Upon a Country Lane: A Tribute to The Gaelic Spirit of Old West Huntley, Carleton County, Ontario, Canada (which I discovered at Our Roots/Nos Racines), I didn’t even know that the surname Gallaghan (Galligan) belonged in my family tree. I was searching for Killeen; and Galligan/Gallaghan hadn’t yet crossed my radar screen. And while the approximate marriage date (circa 1846) given in Ogilvie’s local history was off by about 13 years (Patrick Killeen and Bridget Galligan were married on 28 February 1859, as I was later to discover), that reference to a Bridgit Gallaghan opened up a whole new line of inquiry, and led me to the discovery of another branch of my family tree.
Btw, Appendix H (“Irish Proverbs, Folklore, Maxims and Humour”) of Ogilvie’s Once Upon a Country Lane includes a maxim that my dad (a father of four daughters, but no sons) sometimes used to cite: “Your son’s your son ’til he takes a wife; your daughter’s your daughter all of your life.” However, I’m pretty sure my dad used to render it as: “A son is a son ’til he takes him a wife; but a daughter’s your daughter all the days of your life.”
Ancestry.ca is offering free access to its Canadian Military Records until November 12.
LAC’s Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865) database is an index to the petitions, with the actual (that is to say, the digitized microforms of the actual) petitions found elsewhere at the LAC site. Somewhat annoyingly, there is no direct link from the index to the digitized microforms of the actual petitions.
- The index to the petitions is here: Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865)
- The petitions are here: Archived Content: Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865)
In order to locate a petition, you will need to first consult the index. From the index listing, you will want to note the microform number, the bundle number, and the petition number.
Here is how I found the petition of Mary Lahey, widow of Timothy Hourigan.
Who was the Widow Hourigan?
Mary Lahey was born about 1790 in Ballymacegan, parish of Lorrha, Tipperary, and was one of seven known Lahey siblings who emigrated from Ireland to Upper Canada in the 1820s and early 1830s. She married (in Ireland) Timothy Hourigan about 1815, and the couple came to Canada (to March township) in the summer of 1824, with their children Michael, Mary, and Patrick (a fourth child, Thomas, was born in Canada about six months after the death of his father).1
On or about 26 August 1825 (26 August 1825 is the date given in her petition), Mary Lahey’s husband Timothy Hourigan was “killed by the falling of a tree whilst working for the support of his large family,” which family “have been left,” her petition adds, “destitute by his death.” Elsewhere in the paperwork that made up her petition: “her husband having been killed by the falling of a tree, she & her infant family are left totally destitute.”
Well, perhaps not totally destitute. As her brother Patrick Lahey explained in a letter to Peter Robinson (see “The Queen vs. Kelly [Part I]”), when “me brother in law [Timothy Hourigan] was killed by the fall of a tree,” the “widow and three children fell in charge to us.” She was not without some family support, in other words. But her case was dire enough: she and her brothers had only recently arrived in Upper Canada; and her brothers had not yet acquired lots of land, and were still trying to get established. If her brothers would not see their sister and her children starve, they were scarcely in a position to offer generous assistance to a widow with three young children (and with a fourth child on the way). Hence her need to acquire a lot of land “for the support of herself and fatherless Children.”
Finding the Widow Hourigan’s Petition
Searching the Index: Given the many spelling variations for Hourigan (Horahan, Horgan, Horhan, Houroghan, to name just a few), I decided to begin with a search for Name: Ho* in Place: March:
I figured Ho plus the wildcard character (*) would call up most, if not all, possible surname variations (Hourigan, Horgan, Horhan, Houroghan, and so on).
This brought up a listing for HORHAN, Mary in March [township] in 1827. Bingo! Clicking on the listing brought up this Item Display:
I now had the information I needed — Microform no. (C-2050), Bundle no. (H 15) and petition no. (15) — to find the actual petition (the digitized copy of the actual petition, that is).
Finding the Petition: To find the petition, I went to ARCHIVED – Microform Digitization, and found Upper Canada Land Petitions as Title no. 21. Again, the petitions are at:
Clicking on that title brought me to the hyperlinked display of all 327 available digitized microforms (from c-1609 to c-2985). I knew that I was looking for c-2050 (see the Item Display for HORHAN, Mary, above).
This is a hefty file, containing 1075 pages (or images). I knew (again, from the Item Display above) that I was looking for Bundle H 15, and then for petition no. 15 of that bundle. Scrolling through the file (not page by page! with a thousand-page file, I search by 100s — page 100, page 200, page 300, and so on — to narrow things down), I found it at pages/images 789-795:
It probably took me less than 15 minutes to find the Widow Hourigan’s petition (online, digitized sources: they are amazing!).
To be continued…
- Thomas Hourigan married Julia Moran, daughter of James Moran and Margaret Jamieson. ↩
Great news for census geeks and other researchers: the 1921 Census of Canada has been indexed by Ancestry, and is now searchable by name (and by several other fields, including birth year and location). I just found out a couple of hours ago, and have been browsing and searching ever since (yes: census geek).
Ancestry.ca is currently reporting “11 days til’ 1921!” I take it this means 11 days until the 1921 Census is indexed and searchable by name.
is finally available, though not yet indexed by name.
It is now available free of charge at ancestry.ca (but without index by name, so you need to know where your ancestors lived in order to readily find them). According to John Reid of Anglo-Celtic Connections (who always has the latest scoop on anything related to the LAC), it will be available at ancestry.ca with “a geographic index only,” but “Ancestry [ancestry.ca] is working on a name index to be available to their subscribers this fall, and made freely through LAC after three years.”
Where is the 1921 Census of Canada? On June 4, 2013, it was supposed to “be available to researchers in the next few weeks.” It’s July 12, 2013. That’s more than a “few” weeks.