Friday, December 4, 2009

Christmas Memories

Genea-Bloggers has what I think is a very good idea leading up to Christmas. A Christmas Advent outlining your memories of Christmas pasts. I will get us started with childhood memories of my own (even though these are going to definitely date me).

My father worked for the London Free Press, and in the 50’s the company was family owned. Walter J.Blackburn took a particular interest in his employees (the old if you work for me you are family attitude). One of the highlights of the year was the employee’s family Christmas party. Of course, for us children the fact that the presents were good ones might have coloured our attitude. It was a big event throughout the 50’s largely because there were so many of us. Sometimes I think that the attitude at that time was that if you did not have a minimum of 4 children you were not really trying.

There was candy, popcorn, ice cream, hotdogs, the company’s cartoonist “Merle Tingly” drew cartoons of each child.; and of course Santa appeared and gave each child a gift.

The company’s employee news sheet  took pictures of the event, and the picture of me (yes there I am at age 5) appeared in the Christmas 1953 edition probably because at that time I was on crutches ( a picture of the child on crutches naturally got front page).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Library and Archives Canada Pathfinder Projects

 John D. Reid in his blog "Anglo-Canadian Connections" Noted today that Library and Archives Canada(LAC) have placed online four pathfinder projects “ that seek  through practical projects, to validate the four guiding principles and the key roles of the Documentary Heritage Management Framework developed by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) during summer and fall 2009."

They are:
Canada's Military Documentary Heritage: Challenges and Opportunities
Long-Term Loans: A Client-Focused Collaborative Approach
Rethinking the Stewardship of Newspapers in a Digital Age
Exposing Union Catalogue Metadata Via Third Parties

I looked through the paper on Military Hertitage as that is where I have an interest. Frankly I am not encouraged by what I see. There is little or nothing there that relates to the online researcher or for that matter anyone from outside of the Ottawa area. I wonder if what they are proposing is to download their responsibilities onto others- local museums, libraries, etc.

The paper promises consultation; but given past experience with LAC I wouldn’t hold my breath on this one.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Canadian County Altas Project

If your ancestor was a farmer and you want to find out where he lived the Canadian County Atlas project is a resource that can’t be beaten. It has been around on line since 1999, and has been updated and approved.

There is a section that explains the what and why of the county atlas’s. In total 40 counties are covered by these atlas’s which were published between 1874 and 1881.

My own ancestor John Hillman can be found. In the search option I put in his name, in Elgin County, township of Aldborough. The search record looks like this:

Full record for Hillman, John
Last Name Hillman
First Name John
Post Office Clachan
Township Aldborough
County Elgin
Atlas Date 1877

Concession and Lot Lot size
II, 2 125

Hit locate on map and you get the result as shown above. A larger map of Aldborough appears to the right of the screen showing the farm’s location relative to the township , and to the left the farm itself(as shown above). A handy site indeed!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Esau Hillman(1831-1906)

From “Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Essex Ontario" 1906(1996)

Esau Hillman was only a year old when brought by his parents to Canada, and he passed his boyhood in Zone township, County of Kent. His opportunities for obtaining an education were very limited, as the schools in those early days were “few and far between”, in fact, all the helps which the boy of to-day meets at every turn were totally lacking. It was hard to obtain even the barest necessities of life. Things that the pioneers could not provide with the meager resources at their command were conveyed by water from Detroit or Windsor to Stoney Point, and thence carried on horseback or on the men’s shoulders through the woods. Deer, wolves, wild turkeys, and other game abounded. Civilization made slow progress at first, for the settlers during the first few years.

He remained at home until twenty-three years old, when he bought 100 acres in Mersea township, County of Essex, erected a log house thereon, and commenced farming on his own account. In 1860 he sold out and removed to his present home in the township of Tilbury West, where he purchased another 100-acre tract on Lot 8, Concession 8, and began all over again, erecting a log house and taking up the work of clearing.

Mr. Hillman was married in Mosa township, Dec. 4, 1853, to Nancy Bright, who was born in Hamilton, Ont., and who has roved a most devoted and efficient helpmate. They became parents of thirteen children, George Allen died when fifteen years old, Laura Ann married Conrad Simons, of Rochester township, County of Essex. Hannah Jane is the widow of Jesse Ford , of Comber. Nancy married John Coatby, of Comber. Fannie is the wife of Henry Jury, of Detroit. Phebe married Edward Jury, and resides in Michigan. Esau, a farmer, married Almina Thorne. Edward, who cultivates the homestead place, married Sophia May, daughter of John May, and they have one child, Maude Pearl. Bertha is the widow of Ransom Thorne. William is a farmer in the township of Tilbury West. Three died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Hillman are members of the Methodist Church. In political faith he is a Conservative, but has never cared for public position.

Monday, November 23, 2009

James Hillman 1800-1860

From “Commemorative Biographical Record of the County of Essex, Ontario (1906)(1996).(I know it's 19th Century technology; but there is a great deal that you can find out by digging through books.)

James Hillman was a brick maker by occupation. He married in his native land(Westbury. Wiltshire) Mary Smith, and they had a family of four children when they left their native home for the New World in 1831. After a seven weeks’ ocean voyage on a sailing vessel the family landed at Quebec, coming thence to Ontario and locating in the wilderness, the father drawing a 100-acre tract of bush land, a Talbot grant, in Zone township, County of Kent. A log house was erected, and Mr. Hillman set about clearing the place. He was quite successful in his work, and made considerable improvement during his residence thereon. Selling out, he removed his family to the County of Essex, and again began the life of a pioneer, locating on a bush farm of 100 acres in the 8th Concession, township of Tilbury West. He built a log house, and commenced the work of clearing and improving, which he continued until his death, for he passed the remainder of his life on this place. Mr. Hillman passed away at the age of sixty years, his wife, who survived him, reaching the age of sixty-eight; she also died on the old farm. They are buried in St. George’s cemetery. Both were members of the Methodist Church, and lived most Christian lives. In politics James Hillman was a stanch Conservative, and he was a volunteer in the Rebellion of 1837-38, being one of the British soldiers stationed at Sandwich. Mr. and Mrs. Hillman were the parents of seven children, the first four born in England, viz. Mary, who died young; Elizabeth, who died young; John; Esau; Samuel, deceased; Nathaniel, a farmer residing in the township of Tilbury West; and Mary Ann who married William Brown, and resides in Alberta, Northwest Territory.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Stars Of The Towns

Well worth watching are a series of DVD’s entitled Stars of the Towns-Scenes from around Southwestern Ontario. They are available at the J.J. Talman Regional Collection at the University of Western Ontario or at the Regional Room in the London Public Library.

Rev. Leroy(Roy) Massecar(1918-1986) was a camera buff who went around to some of the small towns in Southwestern Ontario between 1946 and 1949 capturing people on film. He then would return to the town and screen the film in the town hall or community center. The “Stars” of the film would be invited to attend the evening event where copies of the films were sold.

I screened the Dutton film at the public library and was delighted at what I saw. There is no sound and the film is black and white. It really captured post war Dutton of January 1949. Mind you some of the enjoyment for me was that I am of that age(we won’t say what that is!) that I recognized some of the people.
I can certainly say that as far as the buildings are concerned Dutton has not changed all that much. Interestingly, I did not see the McIntyre in the film. Go figure!

To check which towns or villages are included in the series go to , and search ‘Stars of the Towns’ under “series title”.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

65th. Spitfire Squadron(1944 or 45); Lancaster crew of the 426th. Squadron(1944 or 45)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Lt. Col. Daniel Hillman

Daniel Hillman was born to William James Hillman and Margaret Patterson on November 6, 1877 in Aldborough Township, Elgin County, Ontario. He was a civil engineer who spent most of the years before 1915 working for the railroads in Northern Ontario.

In 1914 the French were responsible for all railway construction in Belgium and France. By 1915 the French realized that they needed help. In the spring of 1915 Canada responded to the call from Britain for a Corps of skilled railway construction workers. The Corps of Canadian Railway Troops would lay 1880km(1169 miles) of broad gauge rail and 2275km. (1414 miles) of light track. They played important roles in the battles of Vimy , Passchendaele, Amiens, and the 100 Days battles.

Daniel Hillman joined in January, 1915. I have always found attestation papers interesting for more than just dates. Daniel’s attestation papers show him to be 5’4” tall with grey eyes, and dark brown hair. He was commissioned a Lieutenant and left for England in June, 1915. Before the battle of the Somme he was lent out to the Royal Engineers. He was made a Lt. Col. In 1918. After the Armistice he was involved in work to salvage railway equipment from the Western Front. He returned to Canada in July 1919.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Veterans Week (Nov 5th to Nov 11th

It’s Veterans Week and I will try to keep to this theme this week. The National Archives have a virtual exhibit online at called Faces of War. It is well worth the visit, and you would be surprised at the information that is there.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Surname Saturday-Cannom

The Cannom’s only lightly touch my family tree. My grandmother’s sister Maude Maria Beatrice Thomas(2 July 1886-unknown) married John Earnest Cannom(22 February 1882-13 February 1919) in London, Ontario 28 July 1908. They had three children William Anderson(17 May 1910-1970), Nora(2 December 1912-1970), and Ida May(17 September 1917-unknown).

The Cannom’s were from London Township, Middlesex County, Ontario. John Earnest’s grandfather John Cannom(1816-17 September 18870 immigrated from England to London Township sometime before 1871.
John Cannom married Ann Smith(1826 in Ireland-unknown) at an unknown date. Their son Obadiah was born 16 May 1846 in England and died 13 August 1927 in London, Ontario. He married Isabella Anderson(unknown birth and death dates) 18 October 1871 in Huron County, Ontario. They had four children John Earnest, Ida May(1876-unknown) Drusilla Ruth(16 March 1893-unknown), and Wilhelmina Ethel(16 October 1897-unknown).

I remember Aunt Maude(her photo is in an earlier blog post) quite well. She lived in a little house on East Street in London just six or seven blocks away from my grandmother. My grandmother and her sisters used to get together to play Scrabble, and fight over the spelling of words. Looking back I think none of them were that interested in the game. They enjoyed the verbal battles much more.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Musicians in the Family

As far as I know only recently has musical talent reared its ugly head in my family. I remember with some trepidation the attempts by my mother to get me to play the piano. In grade nine I attempted to learn the euphonium. No go. It held no interest for me when measured with the joys of hockey, baseball, and wrestling.

My ex-wife’s family was naturally a different kettle of fish. She was and is a professional musician. When we were married she played percussion for our local London Symphony orchestra. My two sons, as a result, inherited some musical talent. Andrew plays the violin and percussion. Anthony plays the cello and guitar. Both boys at one time or other have played for London’s Youth orchestra.

Mother played the piano; but as far as I know no one else in my family line have showed any musical talent. Interesting considering the number of Gaelic Scots that appear in my past. Oh well, I expect that the farmers in my line viewed a field of corn as a symphony in itself.

Photo:Anthony and his guitar

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Black Sheep Sunday

Black sheep in the Hillman family line? I wish. I have looked long and hard for just such a person. So far all I have been able to find are hard working Baptists and Presbyterians. If another researcher has been able to find a black sheep in the Hillman tree I would very much like to find out who that person is.

The closest I can come up with is John James McLellan (29 April 1855-April 1910). He immigrated from Scotland in 1872, and was the second husband of my great grandmother Maria Gartrell Rickard Thomas(she is mentioned in a previous blog post).

He died apparently of ‘ an overindulgence of alcohol’. Not an uncommon problem in nineteenth century Ontario. During this period there was a growing Temperance movement which eventually led to Prohibition during the Drury Premiership(1919-1923).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Wiltshire Crowd

Very many thanks to Cora Hillman in sending me information that helps me to round out the various lines of Hillman’s that immigrated to Upper Canada at around 1831(still an approximate date as the are no records to date of when they landed. This date is taken from the Canadian Census returns from various members of the family. But even these are not consistent.).

It all starts with George Hillman and Elizabeth Harman who were from around Westbury, Wiltshire, England. They had two sons George(born 1798 in Westbury-died sometime before 1855 in Middlesex County, Upper Canada) who married Susana Browne 24 December, 1818 in Westbury, Wiltshire England. They had eight children John(born 4December, 1819-died 3 October 1906), James(1 December, 1821-died 17 March 1900), William(born 3 November 1824-died 10 August 1888), Elizabeth(born 1829-died 1884), Reuben(born 20 October 1828-died August 1899), W. Nathaniel(born 6 January 1844 -died 1935), and Mary Ann(born 1844-died?).
George Hillman and Elizabeth Harman’s second son James(born 1800?-died before 1859) married Mary Smith on 29 January 1824 in Westbury, Wiltshire, England. They had eight children. John(born 21 May 1827-died March 1888), Esau(born 31 January 1831- died ?), William( born 1834-died?), George(born 1836-died?), Laura Ann(born 1841-died?), Samuel(born 1843-died?), Matthew(born 1845-?).

From these two immigrant families the Hillman’s spread throughout South-Western Ontario, Northern Michigan, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.

I wish though that they used a wider variety of Christian names! It would have made it easier.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

London & Middlesex Genealogy Society

The London and Middlesex branch of the Ontario Genealogy Society will meet next on Tuesday, 06 Oct 2009 7:00pm-9:00pm at the Westmount Ferraro branch of the London Public Library on 3200 Wonderland Rd. S. Topics include youth and genealogy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

My Favourite Blogs

I am not a big blog reader probably because I prefer blogs that provide useful information that I can use. There are not a lot out there that relate to my research in South-Western Ontario. There are exceptions( aren’t there always!). I do like blogs that look at genealogy in a light hearted way.

These are my favourite ones to date:

Anglo-Celtic Connections
A very well written blog that keeps you up to date on what’s going on in Ottawa, and in the British Isles.

Canadian Genealogy or ‘Jane’s Your Aunt’
A blog based in British Columbia with information on what the Canadian Genealogy Carnival is up to.

Canada Gen Web’s Blog
One should also keep an eye as to what is happening with Gen Web.

Genealogy Canada
Elizabeth Lapointe covers Ottawa through to the Maritimes.

Genea Musings
Randy Seaver’s blog I like for the technical discussions of Genealogy programs.

Then there are my exceptions. These two blogs are great for lightening up the mood and make you see that there is humour in what we are doing.

The Educated Genealogist
The Genealogue

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Two Hundred Years Ago

Well now this is a challenge. One hundred years ago my ancestors were well established in Ontario. Where were they two hundred years ago. It is hard sometimes to describe Upper Canada as it was two hundred years ago. It was a British colony and utterly dependant on Britain. The majority of the people in Upper Canada were what we call United Empire Loyalists. Population was centered around the Niagara and Kingston. London did not exist. The Talbot Settlement along Lake Erie was just getting going. The process of settling the province was getting underway. The War of 1812 was yet to come.

One branch the Shoemaker’s(from my paternal great grandmother) were already in Pennsylvania. What would be my great great great great great great grandfather Jacob Shoemaker was born sometime around 1676(thank you for the Latter Day Saints research) in Switzerland, and died sometime around 1751 in Pennsylvania. From there it runs Jacob Shoemaker(b.1708 in Germany-d.?), Jacob Shoemaker(b.1754 in Pennsylvania-d.1847 in Waterloo County, Ontario), George Tyson Shoemaker(b.1778 in Pennsylvania-d. 1884 in Waterloo County, Ontario), Jacob D. Shoemaker(b.1799 in Pennsylvania-d. 1902 in Waterloo County, Ontario). Martha Shoemaker(b.1831 in Waterloo County, Ontario-d.1914 in Kent County, Ontario), and my great grandmother Hannah McKay(b.1860-d.1947). The Shoemaker’s were part of a migration of Mennonites to Waterloo County in the 1820’s and 1830’s. One thing that the Hillmans and the Shoemakers had in common was that when they found a Christian name that they liked they ran with it through the generations!

The Hillman’s were still somewhere around the village of Westbury, Wiltshire. George Hillman and Susanna Brown were married in Wiltshire(England and Wales Marriages, 1536-1940. Why did they immigrate? They were farmers, and after the Napoleonic Wars things got tough. The tough times resulted in the Swing Riots of 1830. Perhaps they could see what was happening. The Hillmans immigrated to Canada sometime before 1830, probably around 1828-1829. A connection? Maybe so.

The Turners were from the Highlands. Enough said. I often remark that for the highlanders it could often be a choice between starvation, the British Army, the hangman’s noose, or immigration.

The exception seems to be the Thomas’s who were Cornish. From what I can find out they seem to be villagers not farmers. But then again they did not arrive until the 1890’s.

Two hundred years ago the common thread between all of the families seems to be farming. They were pioneers.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

One Hundred Years Ago

One hundred years is a long time and when you think about it the changes have been nothing short of amazing. I often hear people criticize the decisions and the actions of people in the past often by using the moral values of today. Yet our ancestors were the ones who built this country. I find that pursuing genealogical research is also a look into our own history. Perhaps also with a better understanding of how they thought.

London, Ontario, is situated roughly half way between Detroit and Toronto. John Graves Simcoe, the first Lieutenant-Governor of the new province of Upper Canada(which became Ontario) held back the land that would become central London as a possible capital of the new province. As a result, London is a fairly new city. It was not until 1826 that the site for a city was confirmed and the city laid out. It became incorporated in 1855. London was central to both branches of my family. My mother’s branch settled around and in London. My father’s family were on land about 40 miles to the west. By 1909 London had a population of somewhere between 50-55,000 people. Today it has a population of 457,000.

Three items held the interest of Londoners in September of 1909. Dr. Frederick Cook’s conquest of the North Pole, a fire that burned down two livery stables and a good part of a city block, and whether or not to increase the 10 cent fare on the Street Railway Company’s route to a favourite weekend picnic spot (Springbank Park) 3 or 4 miles away (The London Free Press, September 1&2, 1909). Sadly the railway no longer exists. It was sacrificed to the automobile after the Second World War, although I remember the tracks when I was a boy.

None of my grandparents were married in 1909. My maternal grandparents lived and worked in London. They were married in 1918. My great grandfather was a shoemaker in the village of Thorndale just north of London. The other great grandfather had died in 1892.

My paternal grandparents also had yet to marry. My grandfather was a farm labourer both in Ontario and during the threshing season in Manitoba. He was saving for a farm of his own. My grandmother was living with her parents in Detroit, Michigan. Her father was a blacksmith who work for the railroads. My other great grandparents farmed the land that my great great grandfather had pioneered in 1859 in Aldborough Township, Elgin County. My grandfather’s mother’s father was a Mennonite preacher in Elgin County. Bit unusual in a township full of hard shell Baptists- Eh!! Not movers and shakers but solid second and third generation working people.

The photos are from the London Free Press September 1&2, 1909. London has never been to this day the Paris of South-western Ontario fashion wise, and I am not so sure that that is not such a bad thing.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Peckhams

My grandparents William Wallace Hillman(25 May 1881-25 Feb. 1966) and Corlena Peckham(1 April 1888-17 August 1983) were married on 25 December 1912. The Peckhams were an interesting family to research. Grandma’s father Orten(or Orton) Peckham was born in 1855 in Wellandport, Upper Canada and he married Margaret Turner(22 Feb. 1844-7 Jan. 1923) on 25 Oct. 1883 in Dunwich Township, Elgin County.

Orten’s(or Orton‘s) father was George Peckham(1831?-unknown) and his mother Corlinda Cribben(1836 Auburn, New York-13 Feb. 1872). Corlinda Peckham died in childbirth. Their children were:

Orten 1855-1935
Harriet 1858-?
Chauncey 1860-?
George 1862-?
Augusta 1865-?
Sarah 1868-?
Hiram 1872-?

For me Augusta seems to be a very interesting character. She immigrated to the United States in 1895, and as far as I can tell lived in Detroit. So far she seems to have been married three times, and managed to outlive each husband. I’m still digging for more information.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Canadian Copyright Laws

The Canadian Government has begun hearings on changing the copyright laws in this country. It is of great interest to those genealogists who are thinking of writing their research into book form. For example, Douglas Fevens found that his “Fevens- A Family History” was digitized by Google books without his permission. He writes in a letter to the editor to the University of Wisconsin:

“I wrote a book in 2004. It was not created to become a bestseller; only 200 were printed. But it was my book, about my family. I say "was" because the University of Wisconsin, in a commercial venture with Google Inc., has digitized it and now holds virtual copies, which I consider digital printing plates, and an infringement of my copyright.”

David Canton a business lawyer and trade-mark agent writes in his blog E-Legal:
“The Federal government has just launched public consultations intended to lead to a new copyright reform bill. The last few attempts to revise copyright law have not become law - but have been highly controversial. This is an important topic that affects things we do every day. “
How the new copyright bill evolves is of great importance to the genealogical community in Canada. Michael Geist writes in his blog “ In a nutshell, the government is asking Canadians to describe why copyright matters, how to ensure that reforms remain relevant, and what reforms would best foster innovation, creativity, and competition“.

Speak out on copyright changes by following Michael Geist’s new blog “Speak Out On Copyright” or join Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook Group.

It matters.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Latin Quarter 1945

Apparently, my mother's visit to New York was a little more riske that I thought. Not only did she visit two Broadway plays(reported in earlier blogs). There was also a visit to the Latin Quarter. Amazing what you can find when you go through your parents stuff that you never imagined existed.
The Latin Quarter is a magic name even for me. In the 1960's(when I was old enough to appreciate it) there was a Latin Quarter in London, Ontario. With waitress's dressed in bunny costumes, music by Johnny Down's orchestra, it was one of the romantic spots to take a serious date. The other was the Stork Club in Pt. Stanley.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ancestry In Ontario Libraries

From the Ontario Ministry of Culture press release:
“We have completed negotiations for a two year license for Micromedia ProQuest’s Ancestry Library Edition. Ancestry is a genealogy research tool with data from census, military records, court, land, probate, vital and church records, passenger lists, etc. It covers Canada, the US, UK, and some European countries. The license covers Authorized Users of public libraries (i.e., library cardholders, walk-in patrons while they are on-site and library staff) through any workstation in any library branch. The product is not licensed for remote access“. 
All public libraries that submitted a participation agreement by an April due date should have been up and running by May 1st. Others will be added on a month to month basis. Its free(even though our taxes pay for it).
I tried it out at my local public library yesterday. Some of the search features a little different than the previous subscription. Other than that it’s the same old same old: however, I haven’t found a suitable alternative to ancestry that doesn’t involve wading through dusty moldy records. It is a two year agreement so use it or lose it people!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Newspapers In The London Area

For genealogists one of the primary sources for research is the local newspaper. Increasingly many of the major dailies are finding themselves online. Lots of luck for the newspapers of Middlesex and Elgin Counties. How are you with 20th century technology?
For Elgin County the Elgin County Library has microfilms of the St. Thomas times Journal, the Dutton Advance, and the West Lorne Mercury Sun.
For Middlesex County the London Public Library has microfilms of the London Free Press, the London Advertiser, and other smaller papers that were published in Middlesex County. The best and most complete microfilm collection is to be found at the University of Western Ontario. They just about have everything; however, be prepared to write notes as they will not copy any pages for you. For some reason the West Lorne and Rodney papers were put in the regional room separate from the other microfilms, and has gone missing. Darn they will steal anything nowadays!!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Steele’s and Thomas’s

My mother’s side of the family is an interesting one. Matthew Steele(1805-?) and Mary Ann Fletcher immigrated from Scotland to a farm in West Nissouri Township Middlesex County. Their farm was near the village of Thorndale just north and east of London, Ontario. They had five children Donald(b.1845 London-d. 10 December 1914 in Middlesex County), Archibald(b.1847-d. 28 July 1907), Andrew(b.1848-d.?), Laura(b.1841-d.?), John(b.1856-d.?). Donald Steele(my great grandfather married Mary Jane Coleman(b.20 June 1848 Middlesex County-d. 20 October 1933 Middlesex County). They were married 18 May 1881 in Middlesex County. Their marriage certificate shows Donald Steele as a shoemaker in Thorndale. They had two children William Fletcher(b. 15 May 1885 in Thorndale-d. June 1935 in London), Ethel Pearl(b. 1892 in Thorndale-d. ?). William Fletcher Steele married Hilda May Thomas 31 December 1918 in London. They had two children Audrey June(b. 15 May 1921-d.1989 in London), Cameron Fletcher(b. 8 July 1924 in London- d. sometime before 1999 in Hamilton, Ontario).
My grandmother’s family were from Cornwall. Her father Edward John Thomas(b. 1858 Cornwall-d. 13 February 1892 London), and mother Maria Gartrell Rickard(b. 19 September 1862 Callington, Cornwall-d. 2 June 1914 London, Ontario) immigrated to West Nissouri sometime around 1890 as they can be found in the 1891 Canada Census. There is some indication from their son’s census returns of 1911that they came via Boston. They had four children Arthur Edward(b. 17 October 1884- d.6 March 1919 of the influenza outbreak in London, Ontario), Maude Maria Beatrice(b. 2 July 1886 Cornwall- d. ?), Raleigh Ewart Cornelius(1889 Falmoth, Cornwall, England- d. ?). and Hilda May(my grandmother)(b. 29 April 1892 London, Ontario- d. 1970 London, Ontario).

The photo is of Hilda May and Maude Maria Beatrice 1918.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Canadian Headstones Photo Project

A new attempt to put digital photos of tombstones online is the Canadian Headstones Photo Project.

The mission (as stated on the webpage) of this project is to capture digital images of  headstones of our ancestors. As decades pass -- many stones are becoming harder, if not impossible, to read the inscriptions they originally contained.

By archiving the images, we can help save these important records and also assist researchers using this valuable resource.
This Headstone Photo Project is a privately sponsored, non-profit, educational site. Success of the Project depends completely upon the activities of many volunteers and other individuals who contribute photographs to the archive.
I looked at the Ontario section and there is nothing there yet. But it will come.
The project can be found at

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Canada's 142nd Birthday

It's only been celebrated as Canada Day since 1983; but it remains a day for barbecues and beer. Here in southern Ontario it is cold and rainy but the parties are still on.
Although Canada only came into existence in 1867 many of our immigrants such as the Hillman's came to Upper Canada(as it was then known) well before Canada became a nation. Looking back at your family history can be one of the most satisfying educational trips into our country's past.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Ontario Archives have moved

The Ontario government has partnered with York University to create a new home for the Archives of Ontario. A new and modern facility for the Archives was opened yesterday on the main York University campus, at 4700 Keele Street, in Toronto. 
The Ontario Archives collections have:
over 1.7 million photographs
more than 200,000 architectural plans
approximately 40,000 maps
over 40,000 audio, video and film recordings
And almost 2,500 historical and contemporary works of art in the Government of Ontario Art Collection administered by the Archives.
For those of us who do not live in Toronto York University is far more accessible than was downtown Toronto. Also the Ontario Archives has been developing a strong online presence, , a must see web site for genealogists.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Famous Hillman's

Many eagerly research their family tree hoping to find a famous person. Personally, I tend to follow the line- " we are looking at who to point the finger at!" After years of looking I have found tailors, stone masons, store clerks, one drain inspector, one railroad engineer, and dozens of farmers. No entertainers, no movie stars, no princes or kings, no N.H.L. players(although if I could find the link to Larry Hillman I would be in the money). Equally, I haven't found a hanging or jail sentence yet either. It seems that I belong to a family that has been basically salt of the earth. Not so bad after all.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Dutton Hockey

When going through my father's things I came across two cloth badges that says it all about the state of the hockey teams in Dutton in the late thirties and early fourties.
The high school badge would have been Bruce Ivan Hillman's. Both Bruce and John A.(my father) played for the Dutton Thistles of the Ontario Rural Hockey League from 1938 to 1942.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Steeles & Thomas's

My father John Arnold Hillman married Audrey June Steele 28 June, 1947 in London, Ontario.My mother's family were a mixture of Scottish and Cornish with a dash of English thrown in.
My grandmother Hilda May Thomas(1892-1970) represented the Cornish element while the Scottish and the touch of English was my grandfather William Fletcher Steele(1885-1935).
Edward John Thomas(1858-1892) and Maria Gartrell Rickard Thomas(1862-1914) immigrated to Canada sometime in 1890 or early in 1891. They were from Callington, Cornwall. Their other children Arthur Edward(1884-1919), Maude Maria Beatrice(1886-?), and Raleigh Ewart Cornelius(1889-?) were all born in Callington. Hilda May was born in London, Ontario. Edward John was a market gardener near the village of Thorndale, Nissouri North township just north and east of London, Ontario.
The Steeles were in the Thorndale area somewhat earlier than the Thomas's. Matthew Steele(1805-?)and Mary Anne Fletcher(1815-before 1881) immigrated somewhat before 1845 from Scotland. Their children were Donald(1845-1914), Archibald(1847-1907), Andrew(1848-?), Laura(1851), John(1856-?). All were born in Canada. Donald Steele(my great grandfather married Mary Jane Coleman(1848-1933)(the touch of English). William Fletcher Steele(1885-1935) married Hilda May Thomas 31 December 1918 in London, Ontario.

To the right in the photo is Audrey June Steele in either 1943 or 44. She joined the Canadian Army as a nurse in 1942.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Clathan, Elgin County, Ontario

Clathan has been mentioned several times before. It was here that John Hillman and Isabella(May) Hillman eventually settled in 1859 from Mosa Township.
Clathan is located at the junction of the counties of Elgin, Middlesex, and Kent. Apparently its name comes from the Gaelic meaning a strong or rocky place. Some of the original families to settle around Clathan were Gibbs, McKillops, Scotts, and Campbells.
The first school was built in 1852, and then moved in 1891 between the 2nd. And 3rd. Concessions amongst a grove of oak trees thus the name “Oak Grove school”. It was a bustling little community up to the 2nd. World War with two general stores, a post office(1858-1914), a wagon maker and blacksmith, a machine shop and pump factory, and the Clathan Community Hall(built 1914). The Aldborough Plains Baptist Church was built in 1872, and then moved (and renovated) to Clathan in 1948.

A Pioneering History : Elgin County 1896,1971.
Aldborough: The Township with a Past, Harley Lashbrook.
Map: The Canadian Atlas Digital Project: McGill University 2001.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Happy 89th. Jack

John Arnold Hillman turned 89 today. Happy Birthday Dad.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

William James Hillman 1848-1922

William James Hillman was born 25June, 1948 to John Hillman and Isabella May in Euphemia Township. He died on 12 June, 1922 in Mosa Township. He married Margaret Patterson on the 24th May, 1870.
Their children were:
John Henry Hillman(20 Dec. 1870-1962). He married Annie Rogers 8 Jan. 1900 in Manitoba.
Bella May Hillman(2 June 1873-27 Oct. 1879).
Duncan P. Hillman(26 Mar. 1875-?). I am still researching Duncan Hillman. I suspect that he settled in Manitoba sometime before 1900.
Daniel Hillman (11 June 1877-1975). I have mentioned Daniel earlier. He served overseas in World War1 as a railroad engineer. He married Bertha Jean Smith on 9 Aug. 1920.
Nancy Hillman(30 Sept. 1879-?).
Annie Hillman(1880-?). She married Joseph D. Randall on 2 Aug. 1899.
Mary Belle Hillman(15 June 1881-?).
Margaret Martha Hillman(19 Oct. 1885-?). she married Percy Gosnell 14 June 1905.
William Angus Hillman(16 Feb. 1889-?). He married Grace Ruth Sillette 21 April 1914.