Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Memories Part 4 ( I think my counting is right?)

Ah ! Christmas morning and its 5 am., but who’s watching the clock? Time to check out the loot! First drag Mom and Dad out of bed - not that they can sleep through the whisperings any way. First we had to have breakfast ( personally I think that this was mom’s punishment for getting her up so early). Then we grouped around the Christmas Tree while Dad, whose job it was, handed out the Christmas presents. The rest of the morning was spent playing with our gifts, and checking out who got the largest haul. In the early sixties I would be found curled up on the sofa reading my latest Hardy Boys’ adventure.

In the afternoon we would be bundled up and hustled over to Grampa and Grandma’s. By the late fifties my grandparents had sold their farm, and relocated to London to be near Aunt Verna who was wheelchair bound. For my family this was a short trip while the rest of the clan drove down from Chatham. Looking back I suspect that the daughters-in-law did not have much of a choice. December 25 was also Grampa’s birthday, and my grandparent’s anniversary. Grandma was the boss.

The grandchildren did not object. There were thirteen of us, and on the whole we got along very well. The oldest kept the youngest entertained. I remember that grandma (ever the farm woman) put on a feast that probably could have fed a 30 man threshing crew with food left over. What I and my siblings remember the most is the hot fresh home made bread. I have tried over the years but never quite duplicated it.

We came home in the evening a very tired bunch.

We were not a church going family. That became, for me, an activity later in life. For us it was the dinners at our grandparents with the entire family of parents, siblings, uncles, aunts, and cousins.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Memories - Part 3 (I’m pretty sure it is !)

What did we want for Christmas in the late 1950’s ? In a ten year olds’ mind a religious holiday be damned this was about the toys ! Of course, it also was about anything else you could haul in. By the 1960’s I was far more interested in girls, dinner, and girls. Pretty much in that order.

This is not an exhaustive list. At this stage I can not remember everything. I did not pay much attention to what my sisters’ got, although I can remember two or three things. I can not remember at all what Mom and Dad got for each other. I do remember that my sisters’ felt it was a huge joke to buy Dad a pair of the wildest boxers that they could find usually two or three sizes too big for him. I wonder what he did with them ? He must have had a half a dozen pair.

The most popular toy that my brother and I played with throughout the fifties was an electric train - Canadian Pacific, of course.

A hit for the whole family was a hockey game. I doubt that any Canadian household at that time did not have one. I was usually the Toronto Maple Leafs, and my brother the Montreal Canadians - sibling rivalry.

Archives of Ontario
Slinky was a must have.
Archives of Ontario
I had a set of Roy Rogers pistols in the early fifties - I would have preferred the Cisco Kid.

Board games were popular. As a family we would sit down and play. Activities that are missing in today’s world. As I remember, my sisters were a heck of a lot more ruthless than either myself or my brother.

As for my sisters, I do remember their first Barbie doll. Probably because they were so hell bent on getting one.

One of my sisters, and I forget now which one, had Mr. Potato Head.

Finally there was the Hula Hoop. Even tried it myself once. I was not very good at it.

Had I known that she was a Hula Hooper I would have practiced.
By 1960 interests changed, and I was into the Hardy Boys. That was what would be found under the tree for several years after. I wonder what ever happened to that collection?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Memories - Part 2 (I think ?)

It’s the late 1950’s, school is out and it's a week before Christmas. It’s present shopping time ! As far as I can remember I usually had twenty dollars to spend on five gifts (Yes, I am a product of the middle class !). Mom would take me, my brother, and two sisters into downtown London to shop, and see the sights.

London has changed since then. Very few of the stops that we made then are in business today. Downtown was where you went as the shopping malls did not then exist until the 1960’s. It was a vibrant place to be.

First stop Kingsmill’s Department Store (the only department store left in downtown) - the “quiet store”. This was the store where children were seen but not heard. Mother went here for her linens. The elevator to the second floor was operated by what I viewed through the eyes of a 10 year old as an old man (about the age I am now I would think). Money for purchases were fed into a tube which went whizzing through pipes to the offices on the second floor. Fascinating. I could spend hours watching those suckers go.

Kingsmills 1950's. The Regional Room, London Public Library.

Bribery for being good (and quiet) was a visit to Kresge’s a couple to stores to the east of Kingsmill's for a glass of honeydew. As far as I know, the only time in the year a greedy little boy could get it.

The Christmas display in the Simpson's Department Store windows was a must see. The Eaton’s display came later in the 1960’s, but we viewed Simpson’s as much superior. So far I have been unable to get a photo of the Simpson’s Christmas window; however, The Ontario Archives have some of Eaton’s.
Eaton's Christmas window display, 1961. The Archives of Ontario.
The store where I did my Christmas shopping was Woolworth’s (F.W. Woolworth’s), a five and dime store that fit right into my budget. It was located right next to Simpson's.

Lastly, off to Young Canada (This is also where the Easter bunny was to be found. The fact that the Easter Bunny was in fact a very pretty young woman probably explains why Dad took us there.) to meet Santa with our lists in hand, and greedy little minds working at warp speed.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Memories Of Christmas

Under the Christmas tree there would always be Christmas colouring books. Probably not the thing for today’s children. But we had fun. You can get this complete 1950’s era colouring book from the Ontario Archives.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Santa Claus - A Local Look

I thought to start off the Christmas season by looking at that icon for children everywhere - Santa Claus.

How was he portrayed in the local newspapers in times past? What does this say about our ancestors ? (That I will leave up to you) .
Needless to say, I have not gone through every December edition of the local papers; however, one does get the idea that businesses very quickly caught on to the use of the Santa image to sell sell sell.

I am not going to go into a history of the evolution of the Santa Claus as we know him today. But an image that we would recognize came about a lot earlier that I thought. One of the first artists to portray Santa Claus much as we know him was American cartoonist Charles Nast in “Harpers Weekly”, December 29, 1866.

Harper's Weekly, 1881
You can see how Santa evolves in the local papers. Surprisingly, the images are not numerous, and are almost all advertisements.
The London Advertiser, 1892. Caption reads "Something For The Children: Just Look !"
The London Advertiser, December 1901
I always thought that a lump of coal in your stocking meant that you were a BAD BOY. I guess in 1901 you did not look a gift horse in the mouth. Why only one lump when you can get a ton! Boy that must have been some stocking !
The London Advertiser, December 1914
The first Christmas of the First World War, and the only instance where I found that the image of Santa Claus was used to make a statement rather than to sell something. As attitudes harden that will change.
The London Free Press, December 1931
Interesting advertisement during the time of the Great Depression. In spite of rough times they are still selling. You can see where the power centers in the family were even in the 1930's.
The London Free Press employee publication, December 1953
Yes it is moi. That year I had to be on crutches for nine to ten months - oh well - I did get to meet Santa ! I got a swell (50's jargon) gift. It also says something about editorial policy. The crippled boy gets front page.

Now it's 2010 and I have both the belly and the grey beard. It's also GOOD TO BE SANTA !

This is not me - worst luck !

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cure Alls in 1901

I think that I have mentioned that I am easily distracted while researching - actually when I am doing anything at all. While researching Boer War veterans I couldn't helped by being distracted by cure all ads in the papers of the time. All of these ads come from "The London Advertiser", December 1901. Put these in a genealogical context !

Castoria was a herbal soda pop - seed of this and seed of that in carbonated water. What popped into my head was Castor Oil ! My experience was that the crying usually occured after a dose.

I can see that corset pain must have been a scourge for women in 1901. Not only that but Omega Oil apparently cured back pain, arthritic pain, headache pain (probably due to the corset), and nervous anxiety (also due to the corset, I bet.). What more did you need ladies ?

In case the Omega Oil didn't work for dyspepsia just snap your fingers people, and try Royal Baking Powder. Baking powder for dyspepsia ?- who knew !

Now for my personal favourite.
An electric belt can do that? What about in a thunderstorm? I wish I knew about this sucker when I was in my 20's. Talk about looking good on the beach. Gee and all that sweating in the gym that I did. No kicking sand in this guy's face!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Modern Generation

Here's one way to portray a generation of Hillmans.

The father: William Bruce 1948-present.

The heir: John Andrew 1982-present.

The spare: Anthony Bruce 1987-present.

Artwork by John Andrew Hillman.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Elgin County Book Launch

On Saturday October 30th. Jeff Booth’s book “Dreams of Food and Freedom” was launched at the Elgin County Military Museum in St. Thomas, Ontario. The book launch was well attended by surviving veterans, and their families. My brother and I took dad along although I am not sure that he had entirely clued in to what the event was all about. Nevertheless He did recognize some of the items in the displays, and had some interesting comments about them. A few of the other veterans also started to reminisce.
Two of the veterans represented the other side. I approved whole hardly. It was interesting to hear from them about their experiences in a Canadian prisoner of war camp.

Jeff Booth holding book with the veterans who could make it.

The book covers most of the wars in which Elgin County boys participated - The War of 1812, the American Civil War, the South African War, World War 0ne, and World War Two. An excellent addition to the library for a genealogist researching families in Elgin County.
I bought one! The book is available from the Elgin County Military Museum.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bits and Pieces

Canadian Naturalization Data Base
Library and Archives Canada has released a new data base “Canadian Naturalization 1915-1951”. This is a data base with a list of those who applied for Canadian citizenship. The reference numbers can be used to request copies of the original naturalization records.
Elgin County P.O.W.’s

Jeff Booth’s new book “Dreams of Food and Freedom” will be launched at the Elgin County Military Museum in St.Thomas on October 30th. from 2pm. to 4pm. The book is a look at the men from Elgin County who were P.O.W.s in both World Wars. Hopefully around seven surviving veterans (including my father) will attend.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Library and Archives Canada - New Data Base

On September 23 Library and Archives Canada launched it’s new data base “Upper Canada Land Petitions (1763-1865)". The data base contains more than 77,000 references to petitions for grants or leases of land by individuals who lived in Upper Canada (Ontario after 1867) from 1863 to 1865. This data base will give you a reference to the microfilm that contains the petition.

For example, a search for Hillman results in six names of which George Hillman(great great great grandfather), and John Hillman (great great grandfather) are listed.

Name: HILLMAN, George
Place: Zone
Year: 1848
Volume: 245
Bundle: H 4
Petition: 127
Microfilm: C-2100
Reference: RG 1 L 3

What remains now is getting my hands on that microfilm.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Blue Eyed Family

You should know Cary Brothers' song “Blue Eyes”. If not shame on you.
“Cause Blue Eyes
You are all that I need
Cause Blue Eyes
You’re the sweet to my mean”
I have no idea what sweet to my mean means? I’m not with it. Must be a generation gap.

Occasionally I surf through scientific web sites not necessarily understanding what I am reading. I did tend to duck science and math at school as fast as it was thrown at me. Mind you not as fast as I ducked philosophy, and sociology definitely would send me fleeing for the nearest exit.

However, an article in the “Science Daily” web site hit my weird bone. Apparently blue eyed people have a common ancestor who lived sometime during the Neolithic. Mother Nature had thrown up a genetic mutation that had created a switch which turned off the ability to produce brown eyes. ALL RIGHT! We are mutants - what’s my special power? - can I join the X-Men?

I grew up in a blue-eyed clan. My parents, my grandparents, my children all have blue eyes. Sooo - should I come across a Hillman with brown eyes I’ll just cross them off as possible ancestors. Eh!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogical Fun- Your Genealogical T.V. Show

Randy Seaver’s  September 3rd. “Saturday Night Genealogical Fun”  asks for a timeline and ideas for a genealogical based T.V. show. Be funny or crazy. Well since I am either one or the other we can certainly do that.

For sometime now I have been thinking that some of the episodes in the lives of my ancestors could fit well as a novel (fiction of course). Perhaps it would work in a movie or T.V. show? I am thinking more along the lines of Monty Python.

My great grandfather was in the local militia during the Fenian Raids(1866-1870). His militia unit guarded the town of Sarnia against those nefarious Fenians. Needless to say not a shot was fired. The young men volunteered to protect Queen and country. They supplied their own equipment - muskets, fowling pieces, pitch forks. They rode whatever horse that their father would let them have - broken down plowing horses generally - generally Belgium mixes. Did I mention that this is a cavalry unit. They will be trained by an English officer on loan from the barracks in London. I was thinking that John Cleese would fit this role very well.

In one scene our heroes will practice charge a hill that supposedly The Fenians could be occupying. Think “Charge of the Light Brigade”, although with Belgium crosses perhaps it should be a “Charge of the Heavy Brigade”. Any one who knows anything about these horses knows that a run for them is probably a leisurely stroll for a thoroughbred. Since the average weight of men at that time was around 140 lbs. (60 in the unit), picture 8,400 lbs. of Upper Canadian manhood on 60 tons of horse. Meanwhile, there is time for the British officer to set up a table and chairs for a spot of tea, and cucumber sandwiches, while he watches the action (courtesy of the local farm ladies). I'll work on the love interest later.

Call this action adventure “The Wardsville Raiders”. or “What Did You Do During The Fenian Raids Daddy?”.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

This Week's Favorites

The film collection of the Canadian National Exhibition has been made possible on Youtube through funding by the EMC Heritage Trust. The C.N.E. or simply the Ex was founded in 1879 in Toronto and bills itself as the fifth largest fair in North America. This is more nostalgia than genealogy; but I love it!

They are at it again, it seems, in La La Land. Now they are feeding booze to cattle apparently to improve the texture of the meat. If true it would seem that my days of sweating over a hot stove trying to make a red wine sauce are over.

John D. Reid reports that Glen Wright’s book “Canadians At War, 1914 - 1919: A Research Guide to War Service Records” is published an will be available at Library and Archives Canada. Not of much interest I think with the general public - but I am getting a copy.

I highly recommend Colleen Fitzpatrick’s “Forensic Genealogy”. I even get some of the quiz’s correct! Imagine that.

James Tanner has an excellent article on rules for buying a new computer for genealogy.  Mind you I have never been good at following the rules so I will probably be breaking them.

Thomas MacEntee’s new book “Approaching The Lectern: How To Become A Genealogy Speaker” is now available in print. Having heard many Genealogists, and Historians, speak at conferences I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to them. However, as for myself, I prefer to wing it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - Three Brothers Go To War

William Donald Hillman 1914-1986
John Arnold Hillman 1920
Bruce Ivan Hillman 1921-1945

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday's Blog Roundup August 15 -21

I have noticed that most of the “best of” very rarely mention Canadian Blogs or Bloggers. So Here we go in trying to put together a list of Canadian Blogs for the week.

Searching Middle Names” in “Anglo-Celtic Connections” by John D. Reid. I have logged before about how I wish my own ancestors made use of more middle names. It sure would have made genealogical life easier for me. I am impressed with  John’s blog overall.

Brenda Dougall Merriman in her blog called of course “Brenda Dougall Merriman” has been posting highlights of her interesting trip through Scotland.  Ah - the Eld Country as they say in Dunwich Township.

Lorine McGuiness Shultz in her blog “Olive Tree Genealogy Blog” has been posting an ongoing  series entitled “Sharing Memories”.

Diane Rogers in her blog ‘CanadaGenealogy, Or Jane’s Your Aunt” keeps us well informed as to what is happening in La La Land (for non-Canadians that is British Columbia).

Speaking of La La Land I try to keep track of the humour (Canadian spelling - live with it) of it all with “Family Trees May Contain Nuts”. Personally I think the bear at the picnic table is as guilty as they come.He is probably the Godfather of the Black Bear Clan.

Looking4Ancestors”. Oh well looks like the summer holiday bug hit here!

On that note if you are suffering from insomnia or have nothing else to do there is always my other blog “Veterans Of Southwestern Ontario”.

Randy Seaver over at “Genea-Musings” hosts a “Best of The Genea-Blogs” which is well worth looking into. At the end he writes. “Did I miss a great genealogy blog post? Tell me! I am currently reading posts from over 660 genealogy bloggers using Bloglines, but I still miss quite a few it seems“. He is so darn polite that I wonder if he has any Canadian ancestors in his family tree?.

Let me say here that I do not suffer from insomnia, I have never suffered from insomnia. There is no way I am going through 660 blogs. Ever!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Library And Archives Canada - Microform Digitalization

The data base at Library and Archives Canada is huge. In my other bog Veterans Of Southwest Ontario I try to deal with the data bases relating to the military. On this blog I will deal specifically with the data bases relating to genealogy.

Recently Library and Archives Canada has been releasing a data base of documents in microfilm and microfiche format. The data bases of interest to the genealogist are:

1.Form 30: Border Entry Records, 1919-1924. There are 96 microfilm reels in this collection. The first reel contains 5,165 pages so overall you will need the patience of Job to get through all of them. Also none of these records seem to be searchable.
sample page, Library and Archives Canada

2. School Files Series, 1879-1953. These on first glance appear to be records from the Department of Indian Affairs. They contain information on the reservation schools throughout Canada. The first reel of 317  contains 2,136 pages.
sample page from Library and Archives Canada

3. Ocean Arrivals, 1919-1924. Pages of immigration papers. The first reel of 310 contains 3,723 pages. Note that in these years they had no problem asking if there was any insanity in the family! I wonder if those who did not speak English realized what they were being asked?
sample page, Library and Archives Canada  

4. Sir John Thompson Fonts. These will be of more interest to historians as Sir John Thompson  was a former Prime Minister of Canada in the 1890’s.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

August Genealogy News

Thomas MacEntee has just released his “A Genealogy Blog Primer: Everything You Wanted To Know About Genealogy Blogs But Were Afraid To Ask”. It is in PDF format and well worth a read.

Family Search Record now has parish records for the County of Cornwall online. This is of value for me as my mother’s maternal grandparent’s the Thomas’s were from Cornwall.

The Elgin County Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society has a new site online which has been very much improved over the previous one.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Another Saturday Night Genealogical Fun

Randy Seaver has an interesting challenge for “Saturday  Night Genealogical Fun”. Chose an article that I am proud of, copy it, and paste it to “I Write Like:.

I took my article “Canada’s Copyright Law - Or Lets All Tip Toe Through The Mine Field”, and its seems I write like William Shakespeare. Well son of a gun. It's writing plays no one understands for me now. Eat your heart out Randy! Eh.

I write like
William Shakespeare
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Elgin County News

The Elgin County branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society have added some vital statistics information to their web site.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New Profile Picture

I changed the profile picture. Thought maybe the graduation photo of June, 1974 added an aura of Yep I really did get those degrees!

Friday, July 9, 2010

What I do? Meme and Why

Meme and Why. Sounds a bit like that old shtick about the Philosophy professor asking the question on an exam - Why? The enterprising young know it all writes Why Not? For his A+.

It looks like Thomas MacEntee’s idea of sharing knowledge and expertise in the genealogical blogging community is catching on. So far I have read three bloggers ,whom I respect, ( James Tanner, Dear Myrtle, and Randy Seaver) outlining what equipment they use to maintain their genealogical databases, and businesses.

I used to think that I was older than two of them (we won’t name which two); however, it looks like in techi-ness  I am older and far more of a Ludite (look that up in your Funk&Wagnalls) than all of them. I should be utterly ashamed to put in my two cents worth. Nope - shame is one thing that I lost years ago.

Mind you the above genealogists are professionals (and packed for bear) - I merely an historian, and scribe.

* Hardware: I have two computers. One is an I.B.M. Thinkpad circa 2000. I acquired it in 2004 for $800. I see now that I can buy a much more powerful used Lenova Thinkpad for $280. Who knew?
Having learned my lesson my second computer is an I.B.M. knock off of questionable origin. Cost $80. I think that I am winning? CIV 2 works great on it.
* External storage: Nope. Use flash drives. Love them. So far not lost any. Knock on wood.
* Online storage: non
* Backup: Disks. I should organize them some day.
* Firewall: AVG
* Virus protection: AVG
* Spyware: AVG
* File cleaner: It needs cleaning?
* Printer: Not yet but I am looking. A used one of course.
* Phone: Land line.
* Mobile media: That’s something my 20 something sons are - mobile.
* Music player: What ever it is it seems to work.
* Car audio: What car?
* eBook Reader: non
* Browser: Explorer and Firefox. Explorer crashes, and Firefox losses its plugs - maybe its my 2000 vintage computer?
* Blog: 2 blogs which are both blogspot
* RSS: not yet. I’m not exciting enough
* FTP: need to look that one up?
* Text editor: Microsoft Works
* Graphics: I have Paint  I think I played with it in 2005. It’s around somewhere.
* Screen capture: Another one I have to look up!
* Social media: Facebook
* Social bookmarking: none. I don’t even know what that is? Or care.
* Social profile: none. I might lose all my Facebook friends, and I am building an impressive Zoo.
* URL shortener: Really! Why?
* Office suite: Microsoft Works
* E-mail: 3 actually of which I use one, and get interesting promises on the other two.
* Calendar: Carry it in my bag.
* Accounting: Quicken
* PDF generator: Primo PDF
* Genealogy database: Legacy 7.4
* Genealogy tools: pens, paper, files, file cards. A Ludite to the end.
* Other tech stuff: I just acquired a Kodak something or other digital camera. Used of course. Run to the Kodak outlet every two or three days to find out what the buttons are for.

Well there you are. Am I ready or what?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Canada Day 2010 in London, Ontario

Canada Day 2010 and the parties are on!

The Main Street Party on Dundas Street in the downtown.

World War One re-enactors based in the R.C.R. Military Museum run through their paces in front of Eldon House the oldest home in London.

The Canadian military are prominent this year with displays of equipment, personnel, and history in Harris Park.

Battle of the Longwoods re-enactment society brought a British flavour to Canada Day.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Ontario Archives

I have blogged in the past about Library and Archives Canada’s holdings. Maybe its about time to discuss what is available in the Ontario Archives. Birth, marriage, death, divorce, and land records are a provincial responsibility. As well, there are some records available in the Provincial Archives if you are looking for immigrants.   

The best place to start is to click on the link “Start Your Research”. Scrolling down you will find guides in PDF or HTML formats that can help you find the information that you are looking for. If we access the HTML for “Sources Of Family History” we get the following example:

10. Immigration, Naturalization and Citizenship Records
10.1: Ontario Government immigration records
10.2: Federal Immigration Branch records
10.3: Naturalization and citizenship records

The link “Ontario Government immigration records” shows us what is available on microfilm. This will allow you to find what series of microfilms you might need for your research. You can either go to the Archives or access the microfilm (if you are in Ontario) through Library loan. I know that some of the microfiche, and microfilm records, are available in the London Room at the London Public Library in my home town.

For those like me with an interest in the military the Ontario Archives also have a collection on The War of 1812 up to The Great War.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

London and Middlesex Genealogy Society-June Meeting

Finally,  I was able to attend a meeting of the London & Middlesex Genealogy Society Tuesday evening. Speaker for the meeting was Mr. Al Neely, librarian at the Westmount branch of the London Public Library. His topic was “Google for Genealogists”. This was a very entertaining and informative talk on using Google for genealogical research. My list showed 30 different aspects of Google that one could use from search, advanced search, book search, alerts, google books, news & news archives, cache for old web pages, etc. I think that I will look into Google a bit more, and try some of these uses for my own research.

Monday, May 31, 2010

News from Library and Archives Canada

Library and Archives Canada seem to be doing more digitalizing. A quote from their “what’s new”:

“Numerous documents belonging to the Library and Archives Canada collection have been copied to microfiche and microfilm. Some items from this collection are being digitized for access over the Internet. These digitized microforms are available on the Browse by Title page. Please note that this is not a database, therefore the images are not searchable by keyword.

Once you have selected the specific microform series you wish to access, you will be presented with links to the digitized images for that set of records. This online access to microforms attempts to duplicate the experience of going to a reading room. Use these links as you would an actual reel or fiche of microform. Each digitized reel or fiche is presented in sequence from beginning to end.”

I belong to a generation that can live with microfiche or microfilm reproductions. Bravo!!!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Genealogy Challenge #19

The Genea Bloggers’ “52 Weeks To  Better Genealogy Challenge #19” is to examine genealogy and military records that are available at the US National Archives. For non-U.S. folks (that’s me!) we can examine the military records at our own National Archives. The Canadian Archives! - Yikes now that’s a challenge- Eh!

The National Archives is based in Ottawa. Its taken me several years to get comfortable with a web site built by government bureaucrats . John D. Reid in his blog “Anglo-Celtic Connections” has been following the ongoing tale of what the Archives does and does not do. Mostly not do!

There are several data bases that are useful and free.

“Faces of War” is an online collection of photographs of the men and women who served in the Second World War.

“Soldiers of The First World War” is a data base containing the attestation papers of over 800,000 Canadians who served with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. This data base duplicates what is on Ancestry.  You can access this by either surname (hopefully its not Smith), or if you know it, a service number. Regardless you will need that number to pursue your research any further. If you are lucky your ancestor’s battalion is also listed. Don’t get too excited as many of the battalions were broken up in England as reinforcements for the front.

“The Canadian Virtual War Memorial” contains information on the Canadians who are buried overseas. Canadians from the First and Second World Wars are included.

“War Diaries of the First World War” is a data base containing the battalion diaries. Now this data base is heavy going. If you know which battalion that your ancestor served in  (that is the trick) then these diaries can give you a feeling for their lives on the Western Front. But do not expect to find your man unless you are prepared to spend hours going through the diaries. Even so, lots of luck.

The Canadian National Film Board although not part of the National Archives, but nevertheless a government agency, has “Images of a Forgotten War” of photographs of the Western Front.

So you want to find information on your relative? The first place to start is with “Soldiers of the First World War” either by using the government data base or Ancestry.  If it is the government data base use the search option and enter Surname and Christian names or the regimental number if you know it. The results will give you the information that the individual answered on the form. Do not believe everything you read. Keep track of the regimental number as you will need it.

If the individual died in Europe you can search The Virtual War Memorial by using the regimental number.

If it is one thing that the military is it is a bureaucracy - it produces a ton of paper work!. Service files are not online. For the First War these service files can come in several forms.

There is the Record of Service which can show you  the name of the ship that the serviceman arrived on in England or France, the battalion he was sent to, as well as promotions, transfers, injuries, etc.

If a casualty there is the Casualty Form.

If you are lucky pay sheets ( $1.50 a day). But not what they spent it on - that is another story.

There could be as many as 30 to 60 documents in a file. To order the file use the order form from Library and Archives Canada. The cost is $.40 per copy plus taxes if applicable, and could take as much as 4 weeks to arrive. If sent by Canada Post tack on another week. Be aware that not all of the records are available as there was some damage to some of them in the past.

On a personal note I ordered the service records of both my father and his younger brother who were in the Royal Canadian Air Force in the Second World War. Ordering these records are a little bit different as some of the servicemen are still alive. If not you need to provide proof of death or in my father’s case I was able to get him to sign for permission to access his files. Use the same order form as above. What I received 4 weeks later were two tomes. My father’s files (largely I think because he was a Prisoner of War for a year and a half) generated an amazing amount of paperwork. What I have is an incredible record of his service from 1940 to 1945. In an aside, I also found out that he was engaged while in England. Boy did I query him on that one!

The above images are all from Library and Archives Canada

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Canada’s Copyright Law- Or Lets All Tip Toe Through The Mine Field

Monday last was the chat session for my Pro Gen group. One of the discussions centered around how copyright affected genealogists.  As the lone Canadian in the group I could see that there were some subtle differences in the Canadian Copyright Act and the U.S. one. Also, that people can get pretty worked up about it.

The Canadian Copyright Act is available online through the Canadian Ministry of Justice. As well there are two blogs one by David Canton, and one by Michael Geist that deal with the Act, and the changes that are coming. Both are legal beagles so you had better have your lawyer-speak up and running.

In Canada the Copyright Law does not protect ideas but how those ideas are expressed. For genealogists that would be for anything that is written - articles, books, or blogs. So for the genealogist, and I might add the historian, what can I print and what can I not print. How do I cover my ass?

For published material Section 6 provides that works are protected for 50 years after the death of the author. Section 12 provides that government documents (Federal, Provincial, Municipal) are protected for 50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the document was created. So the 1916 Western Canada Census has become available; but something other than copyright is holding up the 1921 Census.

Section 10 states that photos taken by an individual are copyright according to section 6 of above. If the photo was taken by a corporation ( ie. newspaper) then the photo is copyright for 50 years from the date in which the photo was taken. The choice of who gains the copyright comes down to who it is that owns the camera or digital camera.

As I read these sections of the Copyright Act most historians would be in violation of the Act. However, the loophole is “fair dealing”. Fair Dealing in Canada as opposed to  “Fair Use” in the U.S. apparently is not as flexible in its use. Common to the Commonwealth countries fair dealing  as I understand it has its basis in common law. This would seem to be the loop hole through which historians work. Section 29 states that “Fair Dealing for the purpose of research or private study does not infringe copyright”. (here I should have a footnote so have a peak at the act above). Section 29.1 goes on to state that you must give the source (footnote), and the author ( all that goes into a footnote, author, title, year published, page reference).

If you are writing for research or educational purposes you are within the copyright rules; however, if you are being paid then you have to be really careful of you know what! The Canadian judiciary seems to frown upon “the motive of gain”.

Canadian bloggers be aware of the upcoming changes in the Copyright Act they may well change everything.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Do These Look Familiar ?

One hundred years has gone by but there remains products that are as popular today as they were for our ancestors. It's fun to look at what some of these products looked like years ago. Chances are that if you mentioned them to your great grandfather he would know what you were talking about.

The first is Canada Dry ginger ale- the champagne of ginger ales! Pharmacist and chemist John J. McLaughlin (yes it was his family that sold their car business to General Motors) opened a small plant in Toronto, Ontario in 1890 to manufacture soda water, which he sold to drugstores as a mixer for fruit juices and flavoured extracts. In 1923 the company was sold and a corporation, Canada Dry Ginger Ale, Inc. was formed.

In 1845, industrialist Peter Cooper obtained a patent for powered gelatin. Fourty years later  a New York based couple Pearle & Ann Wait  added flavouring to the powder and in 1897 Jell-O was born.

Wilkinson Sword in 1804 were makers of bayonets. Better blade making techniques led to  the making of swords, and that led in 1890 to the making of straight razors. In 1894 the first safety razor is introduced. The rest as they say is history.

Gum chewing apparently has been around since the ancient Greeks. When North America was been settled people found that the natives were chewing a resin found in spruce trees. In the nineteenth century paraffin wax was substituted for pine resin. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, of all people, introduced Thomas Adams, Sr. to chicle which is derived from the Sapota or Saodilla trees. The first patent for chewing gum was awarded in 1869. In 1893 Juicy Fruit and Wrigley’s Spearmint gums were introduced.  Dentyne and Chiclets were introduced in 1899. As early as 1888 vending machines for chewing gum appeared at subway stations in Manhattan.

Some things as they say never changes.

An excellent source for looking at popular products of the past is The Digital Deli.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Randy Seaver’s  Saturday  Night Genealogy Fun  asks you to create a family timeline on the family tree software that you use and post it to your blog. I use Legacy 7.4. Creating a timeline is easy enough using Legacy; but posting an image to blogger is beyond my poor computer skills. So I took the easy way out and created a PDF file and uploaded to Google Docs, and then linked it to this blog post.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday

Today is Treasure Chest Thursday at Geneabloggers. Sometime around 1926 Grandfather decided to immigrate to Florida. Why? No one knows for sure. The family stayed for two years until the farm just outside of Dutton became available. It did give father a lot of stories about  swimming with snakes and alligators that he enjoyed telling us over and over and over.

Actually Grandpa was born on the 25th. December; but who's counting!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Spammers At It Again

James Tanner in his blog  “Genealogy’s Star” notes that spammers have high jacked the genealogy social forum “Genealogy Wise”. Apparently they have also hacked into the Facebook aps  "Farmville".

Bored With Genealogy

Thanks to Chris Dunham’s blog “The Genealogue”  for putting me on to a ridiculous rant in the “Times” on genealogists and librarians by  Sathnam Sanghera . Rather typical I thought, although I have met some of these views from professional historians. Mind you  the historians would disagree with him over his views of libraries and librarians.

Sanghera’s view of genealogists :

“But I can’t think of a single revelation produced by a single genealogist that hasn’t made me think: meh.”


“Though perhaps a better way of putting it is that genealogy is the academic equivalent of endlessly googling yourself.”

Or on libraries:

“-when it comes down to it, anything, up to and including financial destitution, is better than spending too much time in a library.”

I imagine that  the last is a good excuse for not bothering with facts when writing.  Research is hard work.  Ignorance is bliss.

Monday, March 29, 2010


James Tanner in his blog Genealogy's Star has written an interesting (for me) blog post where he is trying to come up with a definition of genealogy  that moves genealogy from its present unstructured state to a more focused and practical discipline. Such a debate I feel is due. Mind you historians have been arguing a definition of history for centuries now, and usually end up agreeing to disagree.

I consider myself a historian and researcher first, and a beginning genealogist second. As such I come at a definition from different angles than James.

James states that “Neither is genealogy genealogy without history and neither is history history without genealogy.” There we agree. He also states: ”the study of the basic underlying structure of all societies no matter at what scale.” Here I am inclined to nitpick a bit. Are we talking about the Gaelic speaking highland Scottish society where families were fluid but the clan structure constant?  Is the clan then the family? Perhaps it is and can be called an extended family. I would suspect though than the concept of the extended family in this context would drive genealogists wild as many people would not easily fit on a family tree. The only group I am aware of so far with the concept of a “kissing cousin”. I have two “kissing cousins” myself who are considered family but not blood relations. Wait until genealogists 30 to 50 years down the road try and fit them into my family tree!

I tend to view the great events of history as influencing the family, and not the other way around.  Also, a definition of family over history is fluid. It changes over time as social, economic, political, and geographic influences come to bear.

Genealogy should not be simply collecting names. These are people. They can tell you something about their times.

Genealogists and historians use much the same sources. True, but they view those sources from different perspectives.

From where I sit genealogists do seem to be moving towards making genealogy a discipline. The starting point has begun with professionalizing the discipline through education. What I am waiting for now is the first great thinker to produce a book that weaves genealogy and history together.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ancestry.com Update

Ancestry.com has updated their birth (1869-1909), marriage (1801-1926), and death (1869-1934) records for Ontario which are available for World Deluxe Members. I tend to use the Library Edition for my own research. So far I have found little of use for my own family trees. Especially for marriages. I suspect that what needs to be done here is to find the records (if they still exist) for the traveling ministers (mostly Baptist and Methodist) from before the 1840s in Upper Canada..

For those with Deluxe memberships it might well be worthwhile checking it out.

Ancestry.com has also re-indexed the 1790, 1800, and 1810 US Censuses.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Revising Educational Textbooks

An ongoing debate about the state of education has (although in a lesser extent in Canada)  been heating up in the U.S. This article from the Toronto Star outlines changes the right in Texas want to make in history textbooks that students in their educational system must adhere to.

Generally I have read with interest about the trends in education. In the past I have remained silent but unhappy about how we in Ontario teach history to our children. To my mind little is cast in iron. Researching history is a chancy affair. We have to cut through decades of propaganda, and in many cases faulty research. We also have to beware of judging our ancestors through 21st. Century  biases. One thing that bothers me is that our leaders today seem to have little or no appreciation for our past.

I have been always been in favour of open debate. But it looks like human nature will win out at least for the moment.

Friday, March 19, 2010


James Tanner in his blog Genealogy’s Star has an interesting discussion of the rules of copyright as they exist in the U.S. Copyright laws are of particular interest to genealogists and historians. Especially as they would relate to the Internet.

In Canada copyright law follows the American example to an extent. For example, an author has immediate copyright protection for his work as soon as it is published, during his lifetime, and 50 years after his death. Copyright also extends to the Internet. For a fuller explanation see Canadian Copyright Act- An Overview.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

2010 Year Of The British Home Child

2010 has been designated as Year of the British Home Child in Canada.

From 1869 to 1939 various workhouses, sheltering homes, orphanages and child care organizations in Great Britain emigrated over 100,000 orphaned, abandoned, pauper children ages 1 to 18 to Canada today known as the British Home Children.

Canada Post is issuing a stamp to commemorate the British Home Children this October.

It is estimated that 12%, over 4 million of the Canadian population, are a descendant of a Home Child.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ontario Genealogy Society Conference 2010

View Larger Map

The Ontario Genealogical Society’s Conference 2010 will be held May 14 to May 16 in Toronto. For more information on the Conference to  http://torontofamilyhistory.org/2010/

For those who not know Toronto I have included a map of the location. Don’t you just love google maps?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Genealogist as a Historian

I went through school when the “Great Events, Great Men” theory of history was central to the curriculum. By the time I entered Graduate School the fight was on between those who viewed the  “Social” trends as the most important aspect vs. the old guard.

Regardless of what assumptions on history are the flavour of the year I believe that a good genealogist has a working knowledge of the history of their country and region. To quote James Tanner in his blog “Genealogy”s Star”


“I find that the missing link in most, in fact almost all, genealogical research is a total lack of awareness of relationships and context“.

A simple lineage line like the one I have done below can help. I have listed my male lineage next to some of the important historical events for Ontario.

1800                                               George Hillman

War of 1812
                                                         John Hillman

                                                        John David Hillman
Fenian Raids
Confederation 1867
                                                       William Wallace Hillman
Northwest Rebellion 1885
Boer War 1899-1902

Great War 1914-1918
                                                        John Arnold Hillman
Great Depression

World War 2
                                                       William Bruce Hillman

Korean War

How can this help? For one thing it can help you understand your ancestors. George and John Hillman were Englishmen who settled in Ontario. Why Ontario? One thing that the War of 1812 decided was that the English Colonies in North American remained British. One will never know but it might explain why I am not Australian. John David Hillman was a Canadian of English descent. Two it can point you to where your research might be successful. For example, William Wallace Hillman lived at a time where the Northwest Rebellion highlighted events in Western Canada. Members of Ontario’s militia went out west. Some stayed. Some came home and then returned. Looking for missing ancestors during this period? Go west young man. John Arnold Hillman (my father) was raised listening to stories of trench warfare. So in 1940 he joined the Air Force.

I can go on but hopefully I have made a point.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Genea-Bloggers Winter Games 2010 Heritage Flag

This flag, which also appears to the right, represents the various heritages that have over the years contributed to our family. The Hillman's are English/Scottish, in my case also Cornish, with a strong American (Pennsylvania Mennonite) presence. And of course I am Canadian.

Google Maps

I am of two minds on the value of Google Maps. Perhaps for those who are geographically challenged it is indeed a good way to get an idea of where your ancestors came from.

The Hillmans were originally from the town of Westbury (or near to as they were, as far as I can tell, farmers), Wiltshire, England. My great great grandfather John Hillman purchased 150 acres next to the hamlet of Clathan, Aldborough  Township, County of Elgin, Upper Canada (from 1867 Ontario).

My preference is to actually go to the areas where my ancestors lived. Clathan I know. Today, if you blink you will miss it. One hundred and fifty years ago it was a prosperous little hamlet. In the future I plan to visit Westbury to get a feel for the area. I suspect that Westbury  and Clathan are nothing alike.

View Clathan, Elgin County, Upper Canada in a larger map

View Westbury, Wiltshire, England in a larger map

Winter 2010 GeneaBlogger Games

Winter 2010 GeneaBlogger Games

Participating in GeneaBloggers is an excellent  way to practice and hone your writing and research skills. Winter 2010 GeneaBloggers games challenges have forced me to think about tidying up. I tend to view organizing my files in the same way as vacuuming or doing the dishes. Usually I go for a lie down until the urge to do goes away.


Challenge 2: Back Up Your Data

Task B, C, D- plan, secure hard copy, backup digitally
Actually I have been doing this for the last several months. Rather than a DVD I prefer using a flash drive. Each flash drive is colour coded for photos, raw data such as birth & death Certificates, and of course my Legacy files.  Photos are in a fire proof file. Those of my photos that relate directly to my family’s military service will be going to the Elgin County Military Museum in a month or so.

Task E- storage of data
I still rely on paper(showing my age here). All paper documents are stored digitally. Mind you I must admit that I tend to turn to my files for information before I use the flash drives. Thirty years of habit I suppose.

Task A- planning

I find that that evolves over time. I tended to depend on my files with which I am most comfortable. With flash drives; however, I can better secure my photo collection. Not to mention that relatives can send me photos online without mailing me the photo itself. Great savings of time.
Regardless of security against fire or water damage some of the photos are deteriating with time. That made me think about donating them to museums with better  facilities.

Friday, February 12, 2010

I Am Canadian

The Olympics are almost on us so for a little bit of fun:

Ten giveaways that show you are Canadian.

1. You find -40C a little chilly.
2. You end every sentence with “Eh!”. Or better yet “Eh!” is the sentence.
3. You know that Toronto (pronounced “Trawna” ) is not a province.
4. You dismiss all beers under 6% as for the elderly or Americans eh!
5.You know that a mickey and a 2-4 means that the party starts now!
6. You know four seasons - Winter, Mosquito, Summer, What! Winter Again! Eh!
7. If there is a social problem you turn to your government to fix it- not to stay out of it.
8. Sexy is tube socks and a flannel nighty with at least 12 buttons down the front.
9. In Ontario our Civil War (The Rebellion of 1836) was basically a bar fight that lasted little more than an hour. The only one to be hanged was an American mercenary who slept in, missed the fight, and then showed up just in time to get caught.
10. We elect Prime Ministers for very logical reasons. English speaking- French speaking- English speaking- French speaking.  The only time we changed was when we elected a Prime Minister who couldn’t speak either English or French. Made for a confusing election though. Eh!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday

Today is Genea-Bloggers Treasure Chest Thursday. My father John Arnold Hillman's birthday was January 10. on that day he turned 90, and still going strong. The photo is his baptismal record. Maybe as the family was Baptist grandpa & grandma waited until dad was 6. Or they did not go to a church near where they lived. The family lived outside of Caledonia from 1912 to 1928 when grandpa decided to move to Florida until he bought his farm outside of Dutton around 1930. Grandma's home church was Duff Presbyterian Church, Largie, Dunwich Township. I suspect Grandma was behind Grandpa's change from Baptist to Presbyterian.
Note that Dad was baptised  in Aldborough probably at the Baptist Church in Clathan. Presbyterianism must have come later.