Thursday, February 18, 2010

Ontario Genealogy Society Conference 2010

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

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.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Winter Sports-Carnival of Canadian Genealogy

Does your family participate in winter sports up here in the great white north? For the Hillman’s the answer seems to be yes - any  or all. But hockey was king.

The earliest winter photo that I have is of my Dad’s family .  The little one in the photo is my uncle Bruce who I would guess is about two That would date the photo to somewhere around 1924. That means that the little party is somewhere around Caledonia where grandpa was farming at that time.

By the time that the family moved to the farm in Dunwich Township, Elgin County, somewhere around 1930, hockey was the all consuming interest. Dad still remembers his neighbor Norm Hodder shoveling snow off the pond on the back of his farm so the local boys had a place to play (true pond hockey). Norm Hodder also built a wooden shed to change in. I remember Norm . He also played through the 1930’s, and for a time during and after the war refereed games.

The boys were good at it. Especially my father John Arnold and his younger brother Bruce Ivan. They were members of the Dutton Thistles hockey team from 1938 to the point that both joined the R.C.A.F and went overseas in 1943.. The Dutton team was a strong one. They played in the Ontario Rural Hockey League, and dominated their own division for 13 years. Twice they played in the Ontario finals. It is interesting to note that at that time the hockey season lasted from January to March.

Even after the war hockey was big in our family. Grandma was a life long fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and I do not remember her ever missing a televised game.

Photos from my personal collection. The team shown is the Dutton High School Hockey team of 1938. The goalie is my uncle Bruce Ivan Hillman. Dad says that he hated that position. On the Dutton Thistles he was a winger.