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Gordon Watts Reports
Column published: 26 October 2005
By: Gordon A. Watts   Biography & Archived Articles

Greetings Readers

Gordon A. Watts Alberta Homestead Records index

In the year 2005 Alberta and Saskatchewan celebrated the Centennial of their becoming Provinces of Canada. 1 September 2005 was the official date of Alberta's Centennial celebrations. In preparation for their Centennial, Alberta's 100th Anniversary Committee requested projects to celebrate this important event. In response to this request the Alberta Genealogical Society proposed to create an all-name index to the homestead files on 685 reels of microfilm at the Provincial Archives of Alberta (PAA).

Finding a particular homestead file on these reels is a tedious, error-prone, multi-step process, and PAA staff spent considerable time guiding researchers through the steps. A new name index would lead the researcher directly to the reel and file number.

The databases of the Canadian Genealogy Centre, part of Library and Archives Canada includes an Index of Western Land Grants (1870 to 1930). This speciality database relates exclusively to Letters Patent (titles) issued by the Lands Patent Branch of the Department of the Interior. These records refer to grants issued in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the railway belt of British Columbia. They contain only the name of the grantee, the description of the land and the date granted. They do not contain other personal information.

The records at Library and Archives Canada include information only on those who obtained final Letters Patent (title). Homestead applications and files, held at provincial archives, are more detailed and include the names of those who, for any reason, did not complete the homesteading process. An all-name index as proposed by the AGS would include all these persons, as well as many others who had some 'interest' in the land.

On November 10, 2001 the Alberta Genealogical Society endorsed a proposal to produce a comprehensive, integrated, all-name index to Alberta's homestead records and, with PAA cooperation, the project was on its way. Over the course of the next four years dedicated members and friends of the Alberta Genealogical Society volunteered thousands of hours to create this birthday gift for the Province of Alberta.

As of 1 September 2005 the progress of the AGS indexing project was as follows:

Names Extracted    684 reels (99.9%)
Data Entry    676 reels (98.7%)
Proof-reading    562 reels (82.0%)
Final Corrections    532 reels (77.7%)
Available to search on the Web    532 reels (77.7%) - 214,442 records

Further information regarding this project is available at:

Until next time.

Gordon A. Watts,

Canadian Genealogy & History Resources from Global Genealogy:

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