Book Review: Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide, by Sherry Irvine and Dave Obee

Prepared by Gena Philibert-Ortega.

Starting a new research project? It's always good to read a good how-to manual full of advice, information and resources when you research a new area. For those looking to research their Canadian ancestors, "Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide" fits the bill. Packed with information about crucial websites, researching each province and what records to look for, this book should be your first stop in learning how to research Canadian ancestors.

The book begins with a chapter on Library and Archives Canada. This foundation provides the genealogist with a better understanding of what records exist in this national archival and library resource. Once the researcher understands this website, what is available and how to search it, it will become easier to find what is needed to learn more about your ancestor.

While you could flip straight to the chapter detailing research in the province you are interested in, I would caution against doing that. The beginning chapters of this book lay a foundation much needed for the beginning Canadian researcher, including geography and most-used documents such as those relating to immigration, census, vital records, church records, cemetery, probate, military, land and newspapers. It is with this background that you can then go on to understand what is available on a national level versus the province level. Maps of each province provide the opening to each chapter on individual provinces. Bibliographies are also included that will help you with your continued study.

Some of my favorite parts of this book are found in the appendices. Appendix A, "Research Fundamentals" goes over methodology that is crucial to any research project, whether you are new to family history research or more advanced. Here you will learn about sources, both primary and secondary , the notion of "proof" as well analysis of your findings. Appendix B describes some of the "hazards" genealogists face such as names and all the ways a name can be searched, changed, indexed, misspelled and altered. Other research problems like place boundaries, sources and information are also covered. One step missed by most genealogists is getting to know more about the history of a place which can then inform what records do or do not exist in that region. Appendix D of the book is a timeline of Canadian history; a crucial piece in understanding more about your ancestor's lives.

"Finding Your Canadian Ancestors" is part of a series of books published by Ancestry.com that includes Finding Your Irish Ancestors, Your Swedish Roots, Finding Your African American Ancestors, Finding Your German Ancestors and Finding Your Mexican Ancestors.

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