Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Opening Up Canada's West

One of the challenges that I have faced researching both my family lines as well as those of my wife, Ellen, is the relative young age of Canada. This is especially problematic due to the involvement of our family branches in Canada's western, specifically the prairie provinces.

My Hadden family ancestors first immigrated from Scotland to Saskatchewan around 1907 when Helen 'Nellie' Shand and her husband Andrew Gammie took up a homestead near Aneroid, Saskatchewan. I have recounted previously, how in 1923, my great grandfather Alexander Shand Hadden answered his mother's call for some help and he left Scotland with his wife and children and put down Canadian roots that I can now call my own.

I have not yet found Helen and Andrew in the 1911 census records but they appear in the 1916 census records of the Canadian prairie provinces.

Saskatchewan only became a province on Sept. 1, 1905, meaning that are only three publicly available set of census records - 1906, 1911, and 1916. As my family was still in Scotland in 1906, I'm limited to the two remaining record sets.

But (!) thanks to a stalwart group of volunteers, additional Saskatchewan information for genealogists is becoming available - one plot at a time! I have found through the Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project website a small treasure trove of burial locations, date information and numerous gravestone photos of many Latimer ancestors (Ellen's family). A special thanks to volunteer Val Thomas who photographed and indexed the Benson Cemetery, the final resting place for several of Ellen's relatives.

The Saskatchewan cemeteries site contains the transcriptions of more than 1,000 of the province's more than 3,300 cemeteries so while there is still lots of work to do before the 'project' is complete, great work has already been done and made available. The site provides a listing of the transcribed cemeteries along with the municipality to which they are associated.

More than just cemetery transcriptions, the site also includes an obituary index with links to the obituary text that unfortunately does not seem to allow the 'copy and paste' function. This technological aspect is in my opinion not helpful. However, the obituaries, if you find one connected to your family as I did with Ellen's Latimer relatives, are typically full of great information about family members but also about the deceased and their life in the community.

Keep up the good work Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project volunteers!

1 comment:

  1. Brave pioneers. Don't know if I could have done it. Well, I know I couldn't. When I look at Jessie's photos I feel such admiration of how she made such a success of her life and how strong she looks. Nellie Shand (Gammie) must have been another such strong woman.