City of Ottawa Archives 2020 Annual Report

The Archives annual report, available at the time of writing as Document 1 at was received by Ottawa City Council at its meeting on 26 May as part of the City Clerk’s 2020 annual report.

The 27-page report is substantive and detailed. In summary:

With 2020 being an abnormal year, Archives activity dropped in aggregate, especially relating to its corporate mandate. Yet the benchmark statistics below nevertheless also show that, over this year despite the pandemic and its effects and restrictions (including redeployed staff), the Archives did not lag very far behind overall expected results, with its community work holding steady and its public engagement through reference and outreach being significantly more than ever.

There’s a quantitative annual summary and statistics section on various aspects of the Archives activity. For instance, a four-year month-by-month bar chart showing search totals for the Ottawa Museums and Archives Collections (OMAC) online catalogue. That’s in contrast to the annual report of the Ottawa Public Library which fails to report on the operation in anything like that detail.


First Virtual Ancestry Day

On Friday 4 June 2021, from 9 am to 7 pm in conjunction with the Ontario Genealogical Society is offering a full day of mostly 30-minute expert talks.
Full details and registration ($25) at

Here’s the program.

ANCESTRY DAY – Sessions 9:00 am to 7:00 pm

Time Subject Speaker
9:00 AM Opening of Ancestry Day – Prizes, Discounts Lesley Anderson | Ancestry 5 min
9:05 AM Getting the most out of Ancestry – Searching Records & Online Trees Lesley Anderson | Ancestry 30 min
9:35 AM Make Discoveries with Ancestry Hints Karen Joyce Lowe | Ancestry 15 min
9:50 AM Boots on the ground – Land/Census records Advisory Board Member
Ken McKinley
30 min
10:20 AM Q & A with Customer service reps and Genealogy Experts/BREAK 20 min
10:40 AM Find a Grave: What You Can Do and What’s New Peter Drinkwater | Ancestry 20 min
11:00 AM Challenges of Jewish Research: Names, Dates and Places ProGenealogist Janette Silverman  30 min
11:30 AM ASK AN EXPERT – Irish Research  ProGenealogist Joe Buggy 30 min
12:00 PM ASK AN EXPERT – Military Research – 1st and 2nd WW ProGenealogist Simon Pearce 1 hour
1:00 PM BREAK/Q & A with Customer service reps and Genealogy Experts 15 min
1:15 PM AncestryDNA 101: A Beginner’s Guide to DNA Discovery Lisa Elzey | Ancestry 30 min
1:45 PM AncestryDNA  102: AncestryDNA Matches for Family History Discoveries Kelly Becker | Ancestry 30 min
2:15 PM AncestryDNA 103: ThruLines  & Custom Groups Brooke Alius & Randon Morford | Ancestry 30 min
2:45 PM AncestryDNA Communities: Bringing New Discoveries to Your Research Lisa Elzey | Ancestry 30 min 
3:15 PM Q & A with Customer service reps and Genealogy Experts/Break 30 min
3:45 PM Marriage and Obituary Records: Indexes on Ancestry®—Images on Crista Cowan | Ancestry 20 min
4:10 PM Five Things to Do with Anne Mitchell | Ancestry 20 min
4:30 PM Quebec Genealogical Records Advisory Board Member
Gary Schroeder
1 hour
5:30 PM Q & A with Customer service reps and Genealogy Experts/BREAK 30 min
6:00 PM Ancestry at Sea – Researching Passenger Lists Advisory Board Member Glenn Wright 30 min
6:30 PM Adding Sources, Using hints and Merge feature Advisory Board Member Lianne Kruger 30 min

Meanwhile, at Library and Archives Canada … neglect

Every article like

Major project to allow digital access to 130 years of The Press archives

is rubbing salt in the wounds of the damage to Canada’s heritage inflicted by years of deliberate neglect of our newspaper heritage by Library and Archives Canada.

The article announces a major addition to New Zealand digitized newspaper content to be made freely available for searching online under a landmark agreement with the National Library of New Zealand.

Now approaching its 20th birthday, the New Zealand Papers Past site has about 30 million page views a year from about two million visitors.

Along with New Zealand, Australia and the US have active free newspaper digitization from the central government. In the UK the British Library has a free legacy newspaper digitization project and has announced some new free content will become available in a new round of digitization in partnership with Findmypast.

As President of the Ontario Library Association in December 2017 Leslie Weir, now Librarian and Archivist of Canada, wrote:

“Newspapers represent the most extensive documentation of a community’s activities. The small weekly rural publication or the long-running daily newspaper in larger urban centres bring forward a community’s priorities and perspectives in a way that no other material can. Local newspapers document the extraordinary stories that define and shape our communities and are, for all intents, historical record.”

What has LAC done on newspapers? No dedicated newspaper specialist! No current newspaper strategy! No mention in organization plans! A small collection of indigenous newspapers digitized funded by external sources.


Ancestry Updates London, England, Marriage Notices from The Times, 1982-2004

This database now has 320,053 records, up from 160,030 when I looked in March last year.

A search gives a list of hits with name, event type, marriage date and spouse name. Clicking on View Record adds published date, father and father-in-law information.

The majority of the entries are engagement announcements with the “marriage” date and published date the same. For those, it’s not the marriage date. Not all engagements, even those announced in The Times, lead to marriage.

Check the published announcement, not available through Ancestry. for additional information. One I examined. less than 40 words, added the bride’s mother’s first name and that she was deceased.

Records Look Up Request

Many of us are chomping at the bit to get back into a library or archives to research. Sometimes you know exactly where to find what you need but there’s no access. An example might be finding an address from a city directory. Or you might want a copy of a couple of pages from an in-copyright book that mentions an ancestor and from an online index you know the pages.

Will your library provide that lookup service?

I’ve been fortunate to find kindly reference librarians to do a look up as time permits. With reductions in library hours during COVID time may not permit or delays may be long.

Recognizing the problem the Family History Library in Salt Lake City is now offering a look up service, one that will continue after the pandemic as part of the FamilySearch global outreach.

Find out more at

I wonder if LAC has considered such a service.

New Capability at MyHeritage

Expect a new capability to appear at MyHeritage today. As I write it’s embargoed. Watch the space below for an update or go to MyHeritage as they will no doubt feature it when it goes live … first on desktops with a slight delay for smartphones and tablets.


The capability, to automatically repair photos, is now live on my MyHeritage subscription.

Click on Photos under Family Tree or Photos, select an existing photo or add a new one.

Click on repair, or if it doesn’t appear try clicking the three vertical dots or the gear on the left-hand side. You should get options for a gentle repair or extensive repair. If not try later as the capability gets further embedded.

See the press release with linked video.

British Library and Findmypast announce renewal of long-term partnership

A blog post from FMP announces that the British Newspaper Archive will add a further 14 million pages by 2023 to the 42 million already available under an agreement with the British Library.
Over 5 million pages were made available to search online in the past 12 months
Under the agreement, 1 million new free-to-access pages will be added each year.
Until the end of May, a 30% discount is available for 3 and 12-month subscriptions to the British Newspaper Archive.

Are there newspapers you hope will be added? I’d like more content from Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

This Week’s Online Genealogy Events

Choose from free online events in the next five days. All times are ET except as noted. Those in red are Canadian, bolded if local to Ottawa. Assume registration in advance is required; check so you’re not disappointed.

Tuesday 25 May, 11 am: Devon Brick Walls, with Janet Few and Alex Cox for Findmypast.

Tuesday 25 May, 2 pm:  Virtual Genealogy Drop-In, from Ottawa Branch of OGS and The Ottawa Public Library.

Tuesday 25 May 2 pm: Advanced DNA Features on MyHeritage, by Ofer Karp from MyHeritage Webinars.

Tuesday 25 May, 2:30 pm: Researching Your Quaker Roots in Ireland, by Elizabeth Hodges for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Tuesday 25 May, 7 pm: Family Research in Wellington County, by Sharie Aspden for OGS Wellington County Branch.

Wednesday 26 May, 11 am: Missing of the First World War, by Paul Nixon for Findmypast.

Wednesday 26 May 2 pm: How Testing Multiple Relatives Can Turbocharge Your DNA Research, by Michelle Leonard for Legacy Family Tree Webinars.

Wednesday 26 May 3 pm: Navigating the Scotlands People Website, by Christine Woodcock for OGS Simcoe County Branch.

Wednesday 26 May 7 pm: Beyond Bytown: The History of Public Transit in Ottawa, by Paul Henry for the Bytown Museum.

Thursday 27 May, 6:30 pm: Michigan Digital Collections at the Archives of Michigan, by Kris Rzepczynski for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.


4 — 6 June 2021: OGS Conference. 

19 – 26 September 2021: BIFHSGO Conference. Irish Lines and Female Finds: Exploring Irish records, female ancestors and genetic genealogy.


OGS 2020 in Review

Material for the Ontario Genealogical Society Annual General Meeting, to be called to order on 5 June at 3:30 pm, is now posted on the Member’s Corner section of the Society website.

The audited financial statement ending 31 December 2020 shows an improved situation. The excess of revenues over expenses was $21K compared to a deficit of $85K the previous year. Both revenues and expenses declined significantly, but government funding for COVID-19 of nearly $90K swung the bottom line to surplus.
While membership numbers are not given a reduction of about 2.5% in membership fee income, the largest revenue component, was experienced.

The President, Executive Director, Branch and SIG reports show the Society quickly made changes to accommodate the changed reality. In particular, the switch to online meetings meant increased attendance from those living remotely from a branch.

Those who endured the election process at last year’s AGM will be pleased to know that so far one candidate is nominated for each of the vacant officer positions along with candidates for two of the three director-at-large positions.

BIFHSGO 2020 in Review

Material for the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa Annual General Meeting, to be called to order on Saturday 12 June at 9 am has been sent to members.

The audited financial statement ending 31 December 2020 shows a substantial decrease in both revenues and expenses.  That’s largely the result of cancellation of the 2020 conference due to COVID-19, much of it rescheduled for 2021.

A surplus of $3K for 2020 was a decrease from $9K the previous year, yet better than the small deficient originally budgeted. Membership fee revenue declined 0.4% while memberships declined 9.5%. The fee increase that took effect for those paying after 1 January 2019 likely has something to do with it.

The reports from President Duncan Monkhouse and the Directors show the society quickly moving online with a series of excellent monthly meeting presentations, averaging an attendance of 150. The addition of socials, workshops and SIGs helped compensate for the missed social aspect of in-person meetings. As with other family history organizations operating online meant greater accessibility to those not living in the local area. 

Several Board positions remained or became vacant during the year meaning an extra burden on the Directors who had to deal with the unusual challenges of COVID and website issues.

Military Monday

An oddity of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database is that entries for alias names all show up as linked to the UK. I asked CWGC about this and here’s the response:

All ‘Regiments’ in our database are linked to a particular force as all our ‘Nationality’ statistics are generated from this information. Casualties that served under an Alias are nominally entered under the regiment title ‘Alias’ which just happens to show as United Kingdom forces. However, alias casualties do not get counted statistically (the system only counts their true name entry), but the system still has to have a Nationality force linked to it, which in this case happens to be the United Kingdom. Unfortunately, the system does not let us link ‘regiments’ to multiple nationality forces.