BIFHSGO AGM and Great Moments in Genealogy

Founded and incorporated in 1994, the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) is a not-for-profit genealogical organization. 

Tomorrow, Saturday 12 June:

9 am: BIFHSGO 23rd AGM

10 am:  Great Moments in Genealogy. 

Over the Sea to … “Shetland” (Jill Thompson) – The story of two ancestors who moved from the Shetland Isles to Scotland and then to southern England.

The River Ran Red: The Homestead Steel Strike and Sylvester’s Part in It (Lynne Baxter) – The story of a steelworker and union leader who was tried for his role in a scrimmage that resulted in several deaths in Philadelphia in 1892.

A Gem from the Inveraray Archives (Dena Palamedes) – The story of discoveries and new friendships that grew from an email to BIFHSGO from somebody who came across information about her ancestor.

Online, but registration required. The presentation is free. Donations are gratefully accepted through Canada Helps here.

Findmypast Adds to England Roman Catholic Parish Registers Collection

What’s new at Findmypast? Single year additions to Birmingham, Middlesborough and Westminster Catholic parish records.

Over 4,000 new England Roman Catholic Parish Baptisms from the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 1911, the Diocese of Middlesbrough in 1921, and the Diocese of Westminster in 1916.

Over 1,500 new England Roman Catholic Parish Marriages from the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 1911 and the Diocese of Westminster in 1944.

Over 400 new England Roman Catholic Parish Burials from the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 1911, the Diocese of Middlesbrough in 1921, and the Diocese of Westminster in 1942.

Over 2,400 new England Roman Catholic Parish Congregational Records from the Archdiocese of Birmingham in 1911, the Diocese of Middlesbrough in 1921, and the Diocese of Westminster in 1916.

The whole collection is now 2.47 million records

Uncovering Unusual Lives: Four Case Histories

From Toronto Branch OGS, an interesting series for summer enjoyment.

Wednesday 16 June  (7:30 p.m. EDT)
Misbegotten, Misled, Mistaken: Tackling the challenging quest to identify a mystery father.
Lecturer: Paul Jones

Thursday 17 June (7:30 p.m. EDT)
The Curious Case of Dr. Henry Head Gray: Piecing together the true fate of a young Toronto doctor.
Lecturer: Jane MacNamara

Wednesday 23 June (7:30 p.m. EDT)
FAKE News! Read all about it!: Debunking myths in the report of a young woman sold into slavery.
Lecturer: Guylaine Pétrin

Thursday 24 June (2:00 p.m. EDT)
The 1815 Murder behind Toronto’s Oldest Ghost Story: Digging up the facts of a lighthouse keeper’s untimely death.
Lecturer: Eamonn O’Keeffe

Find out more and register at

Advance Notice: Strokestown Famine Orphans in Quebec

Still dealing with issues on daily notice delivery. Bear with me.

Part of the Canadian Association for Irish Studies Annual Meeting, “The Marianna O’Gallagher Memorial Session: Strokestown Famine Orphans in Quebec” will take place on Tuesday, 22 June from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. EDT. Dr. Mark McGowan will be joining Caroilin Callery and Dr. Jason King to discuss a recent short film entitled “Strokestown Famine Orphans in Quebec and New York.”

In advance of this session, you may view the film at this link:

Dr. Jason King is the Academic Coordinator of the Irish Heritage Trust and a member of the Government of Ireland National Famine Commemoration Committee, among other positions. Caroilin Callery is the Director of the National Famine Museum, Strokestown Park. Register to attend the conference and contact for Zoom info.

Ancetry Updates Bedfordshire, England, Workhouse and Poor Law Records

Updated, now with 628,011 records, Bedfordshire, England, Workhouse and Poor Law Records, 1835-1914 was originally published by Ancestry in August 2020.

Searching returns a transcript with headings: Name, Age, Birth Date, Residence Date, Residence Place, Poor Law Union, and Description of the instrument. Additional information is given in the linked image such as family information and the nature of the relief granted.

The records, sourced from the Bedfordshire Archives, cover the Poor Law Unions of Ampthill, Bedford, Biggleswade, Leighton Buzzard and Luton.

The 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 8 June, 2 pm: Virtual Genealogy Drop-In, from Ottawa Branch of OGS and The Ottawa Public Library.

Tuesday 8 June, 2 pm: New breakthroughs in MyHeritage’s photo tools, by Tal Erlichman for MyHeritage Webinars.

Tuesday 8 June, 7 pm: The Power of DNA, by Mags Gaulden for Lambton Branch OGS.

Tuesday 8 June, 2:30 pm: The (US) 1940 Census and Preparing for the 1950 Census, by Alison Singleton for Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Wednesday 9 June, 2:30 pm: Reflections of Alan Turing with Dermot Turing, The (UK) National Archives.

Wednesday 9 June, 7:15 pm: Doing Family Tree Research in Your Pajamas, by Ken McKinlay for York Branch OGS.

Thursday 10 June, 6:30 pm: Fireside Chat: Migration. Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center.

Friday 11 June, 7 pm: Memories of Merlin, by Julie Magerka for Kent Branch OGS.

Saturday 12 June, 9 am: BIFHSGO AGM and Great Moments in Genealogy.

Saturday 12 June, 2 pm: Squiggly and Splt: How SNA Changed Family History Research, by Dave Obee for Simcoe Branch OGS.


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

OPL-LAC Service Transition: Newspapers

In an obscure corner of the LAC website is a document Transition 2019 – E-binder. Leslie Weir, Librarian and Archivist of Canada, August 30, 2019. It provides a nearly two years old snapshot of the organization, its scope and a base on which to view subsequent developments.

The Operations Sector is of most interest for researcher clients. An organization chart at the time is here.

I looked particularly at the mention of newspapers.

The Newspaper Strategy section mentions a strategy  not found on the LAC  website.  The considerations section is:

  • Library and Archives Canada (LAC) has a strong retrospective collection of selected Canadian dailies, community newspapers, Indigenous and ethno-cultural papers in print and microfilm; print newspapers do not fall under Legal Deposit (LD) and have not been actively collected, aside from first and last copies, since 2007. LAC purchases microfilm, when it is available, to fill collection gaps. Electronic newspapers fall under LD and have been collected sporadically; this will become more routine once Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) is implemented.
  • The Newspaper Strategy focusses primarily on publications; stakeholder response suggests it should be broadened to include news archives.
  • A newspaper summit is under consideration at LAC. A decision whether to hold a summit, and its format, will be made in the third quarter of 2019-2020.
  • No resource(s) at LAC are dedicated specifically to this file.
  • If decided that newspapers become an area of emphasis, the file will need at least one Full time equivalent (FTE).
  • Digital ingest, access and preservation standards vary amongst multiple stakeholders and communities nationwide.
  • There are many community-based projects underway with their own access points; LAC is working with Ontario Library Association, Archives of Ontario and others, together with TorStar and PostMedia, to provide access to 36 shuttered Ontario community newspapers.

No newspaper summit was held. Apparently little has changed at LAC since this document was written.

The section Digitization mentions

The division is currently composed of 43 indeterminate positions, which are not always fully funded. As a result, it is difficult to plan long-term projects and commit to the Preservation Plan for purposes of long-term digitization.

  • In 2018-2019, DSD produced 5 million digital images from analog surrogates.
  • In 2019-2020, while continuing to serve internal and external clients, digitization efforts are supporting the Indigenous initiatives, litigation cases, the conversion of reference collections into digital format as well as other LAC priorities that may arise.

LAC is conducting less digitization!

A section OPL Collection Preparation and Move mentions that RFID technology will be employed to secure the collection after the move and that “Four Library and Archives Canada (LAC) collections will be featured in the new OPL-LAC joint facility set to open in 2024: Genealogy, Reference, Curated, and Lowy collections. Approximately 150,000 items will be relocated to OPL-LAC’s joint facility.”

A separate section OPL-LAC Service Transition includes in a list of seven projects to be undertaken “Digitization of reference materials: To save space and to enhance access to LAC reference materials in Ottawa and across Canada, LAC is digitizing finding aids, directories, newspapers and other materials.”

Military Monday: Surnames

Smith, then Brown and then Wilson saw the most Canadian military fatalities in both wars. according to Commonwealth War Graves Commission records. For the population as a whole, for more than a century, Smith has been the most common surname in Canada, the next most common being Brown, Tremblay and Martin. 

The table below shows the most frequent surnames from CWGC records of Canadians who died in the two world wars.

SMITH (1) 1 1
BROWN (4) 2 2
WILSON (7) 3 3
JONES (2) 4 10
TAYLOR (6) 5 6
CAMPBELL (53) 6 5
McDONALD (-) 7 22
MacDONALD (-) 8 4
ANDERSON (19) 9 7
STEWART (-) 10 13
JOHNSON (5) 11 8
SCOTT (35) 12 19
WHITE (11) 13 15
WILLIAMS (3) 14 17
THOMPSON (12) 15 11
MARTIN (15) 16 9
WALKER (17) 17 25
MOORE (14) 18 18
MILLER (8) 19 12
CLARK (18) 20 16
YOUNG (36) 21 30
ROSS (-) 22 35
ROBERTSON (-) 23 27
REID (-) 24 21
WRIGHT (22) 25 24

Tremblay ranked 530th in the FWW and 180th in the Second.

The number against the name in the first column is the rank given at Scots names are more prominent among the Canadian war dead.

FreeBMD June Update

The FreeBMD Database was updated on Friday 4 June to contain 280,520,033 unique records (280,104,498 at the previous update). Years with major additions of more than 10,000 records are, for births 1986-88 and 1990-91, and for marriages and deaths 1986-90. Also over 7,000 marriages were added for 1969.

Sunday Sundries

Miscellaneous items I found of interest during the week.

An “Epidemic” of Fake News a Century Ago

Archives ‘replace hands that have vanished and lips that are sealed’

Europeana – Seven tips for digital storytelling with cultural heritage

Technology in the Service of Remembrance: Yad Vashem’s Search for the Six Million Victims’ Names

Conservatives’ susceptibility to political misperceptions
Conservatives are less able to distinguish truths and falsehoods than liberals, and the information environment helps explain why.

OGS News
At Saturday’s AGM, which was very efficiently run, it was announced the 2022 conference will be hosted by Ottawa Branch and run as an in-person and online hybrid.  An award was given to Patti Mordasewicz and the award for the best branch website went to Ottawa Branch.

Thanks to this week’s contributors: Anonymous, Gail B., Judy Humphries, Sheila F., Unknown — and thankful for my second Pfizer shot on Saturday.

Ancestry Adds Worcestershire Electoral Registers

New at Ancestry, Worcestershire, England, Electoral Registers, 1837-1974  has 7,306,656 records. Electorial registers are great for helping bridge gaps between censuses.

The bar chart shows the major increase when women got the vote. The other variation likely just reflects the availability of registers.

The index, created using text recognition software, is subject to error. In searching the name Northwood I found four instances in 50 with the continuation of an entry to a second line not recognized and a separate record added. There never was a person Northwood Halt! Always check the linked image of the original.

You will also find cases where a business address is given — not a different person — just a separate entry from that for a home address that may not be in the county.

The originals are from the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service.