How did you get started in genealogy ?
My interest in genealogy came as a surprise, even to me. I inherited an album from my paternal grandmother that was full of photos from the late 1800's and early 1900's of pioneers in Northern Ontario. Smiling faces of young men in uniform; groups of burly men standing atop piles of logs being pulled by horses; elegantly dressed women carrying shot guns, surrounded by deer and moose carcasses; log cabins, steam engines.... Who were these people ? How was I related to these great pioneers of the north ? Although there were very few labels, some of the faces were familiar to me. But most were not. And so the hunt began.
Where did you start ?
I started by trying to name my great-grandmother's siblings. I knew some of them, but not all of them. So I turned to my brother, who almost 30 years ago - before the convenience of the internet - had spent a considerable amount of time researching the family history for the purpose of proving a UEL (United Empire Loyalist) connection. I read through his research to discover the names of the sibilings... and that whetted my appetite. Suddenly I wanted to know more. Within a few months he'd purchased me an up-to-date version of the computer program he'd initially used. And the rest, it seems, would be history. (no pun intended)
Why do you keep at it ?
I think there are two different types of people interested in Genealogy, or Family History. One group are the "facts and figures" type who need to find birth, death and marriage certificates for the sole purpose of creating connections, and going back as far in history as they can. There is some satisfaction in being able to proclaim "I have found my 18th great-grandfather named Theodophilus Randolph the 17th in Great Britain"!
The second group of people are "tell me the story" type of people. These are the ones who tend to have very "branchy" trees, who might be able to tell you about the 6th cousin 10 times removed who was a deck hand on the Titanic. Or how their uncle's first wife died during the gold rush in the Yukon saving their newborn son from a bear attack. Birth, death, marriage certificates still matter to them, to prove connections. But so do newspaper article, books, school records, and that scratched up postcard first mailed in 1842 found tucked in the cover of a cookbook.
I come from a family of story tellers. My grandfather would stand on the driveway of the family farm for hours talking to one neighbour, then a fellow from the next town over who was driving past, and finally the Catholic priest who happened by on his evening walk. My other grandfather had a legendary toothy grin and a bright twinkle in his eyes as he would sit and tell you a story about the days long ago, when men were men and potatoes grew big. And my other grandfather (yes, I had three) was Irish, and we all know the talents of the Irish with words. Beautiful, alluring, fantastical, but true.
That continued on into the next generation. After his recent passing, the most common thing I heard from business associates and friends was how my Dad always told the best stories, and "did you hear about the time he...". And boy could he ever tell a story. He was legendary.
I like to think I've inherited some of those genes. My desire to keep working at my family history - and the reason why it will never be complete - is that I want to tell the stories. Everyone's life, no matter how long or short, how seemingly boring or staid, how public or private - everyone's life holds value, and everyone's life is part of a story. It's my goal to find out as many of those stories as I can, about as many people as I can, and to share them with anyone who cares to listen.
Yes. I currently have a world-wide subscription to Ancestry.ca.
Do you use a computer program to keep track of your family tree work ?
Yes, we use Family Tree Maker.
Do you find all of your information on paid sites ?
No ! We find less than 50% of the data we use on paid sites. That's a large reason why we started this blog. To provide access to our list of sites that we access on a regular basis for researching a wide number of family trees. There are so many resources available to everyone, if you just know where to look, and how to use the information you find to lead to even more.
Have another question ? Feel free to let me know, and I'll be happy to answer it.