I don’t remember the exact age I was when I first became interested in my family history and who my ancestors were. Like all kids I had heard the fanciful stories that were told at family gatherings and reunions. These stories were family gospel, designed to make one’s rather pedestrian history more interesting. My family was not immune from this affliction. Buried amongst those stories were grains of truths and half truths that over the years had become embellished and polished. Like precious stones they were handed down, retold and retold until they took on mythic proportions. Ours like any other family had its share. In some cases they reflected the oral nature on one side of my family – the French Canadian side and on the other they reflected the staunchly conservative nature of 19th century Canada – the English Canadian side of my family. My family is an immigrant family, as all families in Canada are,unless you are aboriginal. Families that came from Europe in search of better opportunities, settling into newly found communities, often not moving for generations. They laid down roots and invented their own creation myths built around their own needs and positions.
One would ask why the interest ? Most people who research their family history amass a collection of dates and places and rarely look beyond the names. They share their data on the internet in the hope of finding linkages. It would seem that for many the exercise of genealogy is a neat cataloguing of names, dates and places to produce a family record and nothing more, with the occasional old photograph being thrown in for good measure. They call it family history, yet in the majority of cases there is no history, no context, no situational analysis. The need or desire to learn more is left to those who for whatever reason have a need for roots, and need to know.
I started researching my own family in 1983 while pursuing my under graduate degree in archaeology at the University of Toronto. After getting married I spent a number of years researching my wife’s family lines in Sweden and Galicia.
My Areas of Research:
English Canada with particular emphasis on Ontario and Alberta
War of 1812 – Du Meuron Regiment
Montreal Clay Tobacco Pipe Makers
England – Northumberland
BA Prehistoric Archaeology and Historical Geography – University of Toronto
MA – International Relations – Webster University, Vienna Austria.
Ontario Archaeological Society – Life Member, 25 Year Award
Ontario Genealogical Society
Association of Professional Genealogists