Here's a great guest post by Lisa Fielding, the copy chief at Canadian Living and a new mom to nine-month-old Archie. After filling out Archie's baby book, Lisa wanted to find out more about her family roots. Here's a little of what she learned. – Wendy When I started to research my family history, I was skeptical that it would be very interesting – all I thought I’d find was a bunch of names, dates and places. It became clear, though, once I started digging, that it wasn’t just about compiling a list of basic facts: it was about uncovering the day-to-day details of our ancestors’ lives, piecing them back together to make a wonderful story. I connected with a distant cousin, Gail, through Facebook, and she sent me a few old photos of my great grandpa. Long before I was born, he had lost his hands working on hydro lines in Ontario – and one of the photos Gail sent showed him before the accident. If I had never asked my family to dig into their photo albums, I might never have seen it. It was wonderful to think of him as a young man, working to build the province into what it is today.
There are lots of little details I discovered once I started to really read some of the documents I found online. WWI draft papers showed that many of my ancestors were farmers by trade (which I knew), and that many were Methodist (which I didn’t). Census records not only noted who lived in each house and their ages, but who their neighbours were as well. When someone got married, the certificate had the witnesses’ signatures, sometimes another couple they were friends with; birth records showed the father’s occupation (machinist, telegrapher), though not the mother’s. So I got a sense of not only the major life events, but also what my relatives did for fun, who they hung out with, what their daily lives were like. It made them more real. Researching your family history can be a massive undertaking if you really want it to be – or it can just be fun to poke around on the Internet and see what’s out there. I’d like to keep working on it and one day compile a huge scrapbook for my son and future generations, so that they might know not only our names, dates and places, but what we did for fun on a Friday night as well. Here are some links to get you started on your search. • Ancestry.ca – their resources include the Canadian census (as well as English, Welsh and Scottish ones), passenger lists, and birth, marriage and death records • Globalgenealogy.com – they sell various genealogy resources, including books and e-books, as well as family tree charts and magnifiers • Library and Archives Canada – their resources include immigration and land records, as well as birth, marriage and death records Have you checked out your family’s roots online? Did you discover something new about your family?