British Strays in Canada
by Mary Kearns Trace
Canada is a land of countless 'strays,' after all we are, for the most part, a nation which was settled and developed by immigrants from many countries of the world. The British Isles have undoubtedly provided more immigrants to Canada than any other country. Therefore, encountering British strays in Canadian records is very common.
For our purposes we have collected references to individuals found in Canadian records whose place of origin is given as England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Channel Islands, Isle of Wight & the Isle of Man. The term 'British' has been used to collectively describe these individuals as it is a term still widely used in Canada to describe persons who come from these countries & islands which formed Great Britain. In this instance 'Ireland' comprises the present day countries Eire and Northern Ireland. Differentiation is seldom made in our records, especially in the most of the time periods we are dealing with.
IN ADDITION we have chosen to include anyone who is connected to the British Military (Army, Navy, Air Force) and Merchant Seamen in this index. I have no doubts, somewhere along the line, some have been missed and others have been included who may not have been born in the British Isles, but at least we will have gathered up a few of these elusive characters. Military research can often be very frustrating. Trying to trace these wandering souls can be a trial indeed. Perhaps this may help someone, somewhere.
TYPES OF SOURCES vary greatly. They include such things as Monumental Inscriptions (cemetery recordings), local history books, Membership lists & Applications, newspapers (marriages & obituaries & miscellaneous news items), gaol (jail) records, church records (baptism, marriage & burial), funeral directors records, biographical material etc. The possible list of material is endless. We could tackle census records, but for the time being we will be leaving this area alone as Canadian census records do not provide specific places (ie: parish/city/county) of birth. All that is given is the country.
British Residents with Canadian Connections
Soon after we started compiling the Strays Index we realized that there were a great many interesting and worthwhile references amongst our material which referred to British Residents with Canadian Connections. Many of these references had been collected as strays in error.
A lot of records refer to relatives who were actually living in the British Isles. Often in the case of marriage and death announcements, the origin of the bride, groom or deceased is not specifically stated, but that of their parent or spouse is. Deaths and marriages which took place in the British Isles were sometimes published in our papers, no doubt for the benefit of relations living here. We have included these.
These are the types of things to be found in this index as it seemed a shame to discard the information simply because they were not Strays. We urge you to check this index in addition the Strays. It could be useful to researchers in Canada looking for origins of their immigrant ancestors as well as to UK researchers looking for links in this country. This index is no where near the size of the Strays one, but we offer it as a 'companion index,' and know that over time it will grow.
This article was used with permission and is copyright by Mary Trace. (Granted Feb/2001)
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