Sunday, 29 October 2017

Bringing it home, part 3 – starting the conference

The reason, well excuse really, for my trip to Nova Scotia was to attend the [Great Canadian Genealogy Conference]. I had needed a reason to go back and the conference provided dates that I could work around. Besides, I wanted to check out what was heralded as a new concept in Canadian genealogy conferences, one that would move from one part of the country to another and involve  local experts. I was looking forward to hearing the presenters but the day before the conference as an option, a day at the Nova Scotia Public Archives was offered. 

I had been at the archives before and remembered my time there as being all too short. Perhaps I should have done more work in preparation because I didn’t find as much as I wanted to. The staff was very helpful with my main query about a death in Halifax but, unfortunately, the records just didn’t exist to confirm a death around 1881, as there are gaps in the records. I was able to fill in some omissions from my previous research but I now know that I need a good research plan and much, much more time to go through their records.  

After our time at the archives, the summit itself kicked off with a mini-buffet and a keynote speech by Jan Raska from the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. He told us about the museum and touched upon major events in the Canadian immigration story. He was obviously knowledgeable about his subject and suggested that we follow the immigration museums blog to find out more. The passion of Joe Raska’s address promised a great caliber of speakers for the rest of the summit. 

The blog for the Canadian Immigration Museum can be found at


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Bringing it home, part 2 - on location.

Just being on location and walking the streets can give a researcher a better idea of the lay of the land. How close did your family live to major buildings and roadways? Was there anything noteworthy about their house or neighbourhood? You won’t know what questions you can answer until you visit. 

One of the families that I was researching lived close to Spring Garden Road in Halifax. When they lived there, the street was called Rottenburg but the name was changed to Clyde. The area has been redeveloped so the original houses no longer stand but I got a sense of the area, with its short blocks, and some idea of the houses that had been there by checking out streets close by. The area is known as Schmidtville. Maybe a search for histories of the area will give me a better idea of the family’s living conditions and why anyone would call a street Rottenburg.

Besides looking at areas where the family lived, being in Halifax gave me access to other information sources. The brand-new Halifax Library has a large area for local history research. I spent some time there looking at Acadian resources but, I am sure there were resources there that would have answered some of my questions about Schmidtville. I just have to come up with a game plan for my next visit. 


The new Halifax Library

One of the highlights of my trip was a visit to the Immigration Museum at Pier 21. I went there on a whim because none of my family actually came through Pier 21 when entering Canada. The information there was about the whole immigration experience. There were photos of families entering at different time periods in different places including Dorval Airport, my own point of entry.

Canadian Museum of Immigration - Pier 21

While at Pier 21, I went to the Scotiabank Family History Centre. My aim was to confirm my grandfather’s point of entry in 1911, after all, I had that research pretty well nailed down. I gave my information to the young lady at one of the computer terminals and she came up with two possibilities for my grandfather’s point of entry. You know what, the second entry, the one that I didn’t have, looks like a better bet. It just goes to show that it pays to keep an open mind!