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Archived Articles
Formerly published by

Published November 12, 1999

Women in Your Tree, Part V - Target Ottawa, in person or on-line in your search for female kin
By Sandra Devlin

This nine part series was the winning entry in the 2000 Online Columns/Articles category of the Council of Genealogy Columnists (since renamed the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors). The award was presented at the National Genealogy Society annual convention in Providence, Rhode Island, USA

In a previous instalment of this series the discussion was focussed on on-line, searchable databases which give a mighty boost to genealogy researchers intent on filling out their trees to include their female ancestors.

A third significant on-line searchable Canadian database is relatively new to the scene. ArchivaNet, an ambitious project of the National Archives in Ottawa. There is no specific breakdown for women here, but there are more than 1.5 million files described in the database, there must be some information about women hiding in there somewhere! And unlike other sites, there is a lot of information from recent decades, as well as from earlier times.

Unlike Canadiana Online and CIHM, ArchivaNet does not bring up (with a few exceptions such as some of the Canadian Expeditionary Force records)the actual documents. ArchivaNet is a directory of detailed descriptions of files, documents, etc. held at the archives. This can turn out to a fishing expedition which, after 100 free pages will cost 20 cents per page for photocopies. Each researcher is limited to 250 photocopies per year and requests can take up to four months to process. So there are limitations, but this might also be the only place where the information you need will be found.

Intriguing titles come up in random searches, like the following under federal agriculture department documents: Reference: RG17 ,Volume 549; Docket : 61424 , Access code: 90; File Title: J.J. Daley, Montarioreal. Further on restoring child Mary Ann Potter to her mother; Date of Docket: 1887/09/01; Date of reply: 1887/09/13; Finding Aid number: 17-1.

In the RCMP files, this might be a vital discovery for someone: RG18 ,Series A-1, Volume 344; File : 5-08, Access code: 90; File Title: Taber, late ex Constable S. - Application of his widow now Mrs. T.E. King for grant of land, as being the mother of the first white child and first white twins born at Fort Saskatchewan. Outside Dates: 1908; Finding Aid: 18-1.

More archive data is coming on-line. Just recently, members of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa have been locating and indexing from the passenger lists in the custody of the National Archives, the names of so-called Home Children who were brought to Canada between 1869 and the early 1930s. Home children is not a tag that warms the hearts of researchers of this immigrant group. And in fact, the catch-phrase can be misleading, because there were also many young women, well past being considered children, brought to Canada, mostly to work as domestics.

This indexing project is ongoing, so if you suspect you have an ancestor from this group but cannot not find her in a preliminary search, bookmark the site and return at a later date when more files have been added.

Imagine how thrilled someone would be to discover their ancestor Ethel Ellis, who at age 14 arrived in Canada in 1905 aboard the ship SS Bavarian out of Liverpool, England; arrived in Quebec on July 7 in the Church of England Waifs and Strays Society party from London, Eng. While 13 of the passengers of this group were sent to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., for some reason Ethel was sent to Saint John, N.B. National archives reference: Microfilm reel T-485.

The parliament in England recently passed sweeping legislation to allow records of home children to be thrown wide open for genealogy researchers ... so the indexed records from the National Archives in Ottawa may well hold the key to discovering previously shrouded paths of research both here and in the Old Country.

Another bunch of records held in Ottawa, although not on-line, is the official registration documents which were required to be filled out in the 1940 Registration. This avenue is not cheap, but I had success with it in finding my husband's grandmother's maiden name (this is where the Vernon came from that I wrote about in the second instalment.) and her place of birth in England From there I was able to trace back three more full generations through records in England.

In the spring of 1940 Hitler's Nazis were scoring so many battlefield victories in Europe that the Canadian government was jittery. It began to contemplate conscription. To be forearmed, Parliament enacted the National Resources Mobilization Act which called for the registration of all males and females over 16.

This war-time registration was more than a head count. It comprised 18, multi-part questions ranging from the country of birth of the registrant and both parents to a detailed work history. The questions were probing. If a registrant was farm-raised, the form asked: Can you handle horses, drive a tractor, use farm machinery, milk or do other farm work?

Information from the 1940 Registration can also focus searches in other records. Military information includes specific military units, ranks, years of service as well as dates of and reasons for discharge. You will discover if your relative was disabled or drawing Workmen's Compensation, Old Age or Blind pensions. You may discover where this person went to high school, college or university.

Surviving registrations are on file at Statistics Canada. There are five catches. You must know the full name, birth date and address of your relative in 1940. That person must be dead for more than 20 years and you must be able to prove it. And, each record costs nearly $50.

Letters of request, including payment, can be sent to: Roger Marcotte, Census Operations Division, Statistics Canada, B1-East, Jean Talon Building, Tunney's Pasture, Ottawa K1A 0T6.

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