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Canadian Genealogy by the Book

Dave Obee and Shirley Irvine have put out a 269 page book on that very subject called Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide.


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Type: Article
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Word Count: 491 (approx.)
Region: Canada
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Since genealogist Angus Baxter died a number of years ago, Canadian genealogy hasn't been explained in a book form since the last of his books was published in the late 1990s.

But now I see where Dave Obee and Shirley Irvine have taken the plunge as authors, and with the help of Ancestry Publishing, have put out a 269 page book on that very subject called Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide.

I bought the book last fall in Ottawa at the British Isles Family History of Greater Ottawa's Conference. I have recently re-read it cover to cover to see if there is anything new that I should know about, or did it just cover familiar subjects. Well, there is both some new information and new ideas scattered throughout the book.

The first thing I will say is that it is a very "ordered" book. That is, it is set out in a very logical order. There are 26 chapters, starting with the Library and Archives Canada; Canadian Geography; and Finding Locations; and the usual chapter headings - the census, immigration, vital records, land records, and the military.

Chapters 16 to 26 cover the provinces and the territories that make up Canada, complete with maps and webpages.

The book also covers the three distinct peoples in Canada - the Aboriginals, the Acadians, and the Loyalists. It tells their story and where you can find their records within Canada.

Chapter 12, "Other Ways to Find People", covers using directories, voter's lists, the Canadian Genealogy Index (1600-1900)—which is available at—and school records.

In each of the chapters, they give the book more scope in listing websites to check and a short bibliography. They also provide detailed sidebars, which can include definitions—or, in the case of the provinces, a map—and a list of addresses of archives within the provinces.

It contains four appendices - "Research Fundamentals"; "Pay Attention to the Hazards"; "The Internet"; and "Canadian History".

I paid particular attention when I re-read this part of the book - and maybe it should be read first because it contains some very good pointers about doing genealogy.

You should carefully read "Pay Attention to the Hazards" because it goes through ‘Pitfalls with Personal Names'; ‘Pitfalls with Places and Boundaries'; ‘Pitfalls with Dates'; ‘Common Problems with Sources'; ‘The information Could be Somewhere Else'; and ‘Avoid Made-At-Home Pitfalls'. They have just about covered it all in this chapter!

The "Appendix on Canadian History" is very important because it gives timelines for Canada, France, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and the USA. It also gives a timeline on Canadian records that I suggest you read.

Both Dave and Sherry have put together a very good "starter" book. It is a complete package on how to start a Canadian genealogy, which can be quite different from doing research in other countries.

If you are just starting out in Canadian genealogy - this is the book for you!

The website of David Obee is

The website of Sherry Irvine is

Source Information: Canadian Connections, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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