Local parish histories can be a great source of genealogical information. They are often produced to commemorate a landmark year (the 100th anniversary, or the 125th, or what have you, of the parish), and they typically contain an impressive (if typically un-indexed) list of names. Might your ancestor be among such a list? Well, it never hurts to look, as you never know what you might find.
This being the Age of the Souped-Up Super-Duper Information Highway, some churches now attempt to go with the flow of the traffic by offering brief, online versions of the ancient antiquarian impulse to record who was there, and when. But it’s always worth asking about a hard copy (whether mimeographed, church picnic-like pamphlet, or glossy, professionally published coffee table book) of a parish history, as the internet versions tend to be abbreviated, and somewhat lacking in that all-important (for genealogical purposes) list of names.
In any case, here are a few that I’ve come across while researching my family (with more to follow in later entries):
- St John the Baptist in Perth, which bills itself as “the first Roman Catholic Parish in the Ottawa Valley”
By the way, this weblog focuses on the RC records because my ancestors were among the roughly one-third of Irish emigrants to Ontario who were Catholics. But given the sometimes misleading mythology, if you will, of Irish emigration (‘everyone was RC, and everyone came over during the Famine’), I feel obliged to point out that many Irish came pre-Famine, and that many, some two-thirds of those who emigrated to Ontario, as a matter of historical fact, were not Catholic but Protestant. If you’re just beginning your Ireland-to-Canada research, and you don’t quite know where to start, please don’t assume that your ancestors were Catholic. There’s a pretty good chance that they weren’t, and that you should be looking for Anglicans (Church of England, or Church of Ireland [=the Church of England in Ireland, basically]), or Presbyterians [Church of Scotland]), or Methodists, or Quakers, in the Canadian records.
A couple of online Anglican parish histories: