Canadian Headstones

Looking for burial information for a Canadian ancestor?  Have you tried ?  This was a new website to me – thank you Dick Eastman for making me aware of the site.

The site invites you to “browse over  1,510,000 gravestone photo records from across Canada.” Simply pick your province or territory – which takes you to a page for that Province –  and then click on Cemeteries in the blue line of options near the top of the page.  Select Display Cemeteries within the complete province to get a list of all the cemeteries and the number of headstones in each cemetery.  Of course you could just go directly to a Search – but I like to see which cemeteries are available.

Who are Canadian Headstones?   “The mission of this project is to capture digital images and the complete transcription of  headstones of our ancestors. As decades pass, it is becoming harder – if not impossible – to read the inscriptions these stones originally contained. By archiving the images and transcriptions, these important records are saved.

This Headstone Photo Project is a non-profit organization. Success of the Project depends completely upon the activities of many volunteers and other individuals who contribute photographs to the archive.”

Access and searches are free – although they would welcome a donation.  They also allow ads to pay for the site – so watch where you click.

If you have a deceased Canadian ancestor it’s worth a try!

Alternatives would include:

Find a Grave –

Billion Graves –

The indexes to both Find a Grave and Billion Graves are included in searches of Historical Records at

For just in Alberta you should consider:

Alberta Genealogical Society (AGS) Cemetery Database – over 680,000 surnames – database – but only freely accessible online if you are a member of AGS

Alberta Family History Society has a cemetery database – – with over 197,000 names which is free to use

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If Girls Are Sugar and Spice, Why Do We Keep Looking for Boys?

Why is it so hard to find our female ancestors?

This article arrived in my inbox this week – and I thought you might find it interesting to read – If Girls Are Sugar and Spice, Why Do We Keep Looking for Boys?

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Remembering the 100th Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme

1 July 1916 was the first day of the Battle of the Somme.  This was a terrible battle of horrifying magnitude.  The battle lasted 141 days.  One million people were casualties – over 300,000 of them died.  On the first day of the battle nearly 20,000 British troops died!  Such slaughter of human life is unimaginable.  After 141 days the lines of battle had moved just 6 miles. It is good that we stop to remember the Battle of the Somme.

Canadian soldiers took part in this terrible battle.  On 1 July 1916, the first day of the battle, the Newfoundland Regiment was virtually wiped out as they tried to advance at Beaumont Hamel – OK, I know, in 1916 Newfoundland was not part of Canada but still  . . .  “When roll call was taken, only 68 men answered their names – 324 were killed, or missing and presumed dead, and 386 were wounded.”

Want to read more?  This is a link to an article from The Week which tells about the commemoration of the centenary and explains why the battle was significant.  The article ends with this paragraph:

“The horror of the Somme also led to the end of the so-called ‘Pals Battalions’, set up to allow men from the same town to serve together. Amid the carnage it soon became clear that the idea risked devastating whole communities. In one notorious incident on the first day of the Somme, 585 men of the 700-strong Accrington Pals were killed or wounded in the space of 20 minutes.  After the Somme, no more Pals Battalions were formed, while the existing battalions were gradually incorporated into other units.”

Here is a link to an excellent article about the Newfoundland Regiment and the Battle of the Somme.

Did you have an ancestor who was at the Battle of the Somme?

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Happy Canada Day – and enjoy free access to these records this weekend

In case you get tired of Canada Day parties and eating  . . .  or July 4th parties and eating  . .. there are some great free deals this weekend to help with your research in celebration of Canada Day and the 4th of July.

Lost Cousins Newsletter from the UK made me aware of these specials:

Free access to 260m Canadian records at ending July 3

Free access to over ONE BILLION records at Findmypast ending July 6

You may have to register but do not give credit card or bank information

To get the links and details go to the late June Lost Cousins Newsletter

Thank you Lost Cousins Newsletter – and Happy Canada Day everyone.

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FamilySearch –  Digital Books and a New Partnership

Note:  We hope that you have noticed the warning of a technical upgrade at on 27 June 2016.  The website may be unavailable for up to 24 hours. While I don’t know exactly what is being done during that day, I do note the word “technical” so assume they are working on issues in the way the website servers work and are connected to other servers.  We can only wish the engineers well in their work and hope that FamilySearch will return quickly with improved performance.  We are grateful for all the family history information provided with free access.

FamilySearch announced a partnership with the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA) on 22 June 2016 – see .  I found this interesting and went to to learn about DPLA.  I was able to use the site for free and was impressed by the size of their collection – the DPLA is a collection of 13.2 million items!  Wow – definitely a rich resource.  The challenge is finding the family history or genealogical gems that are in the massive collection.  FamilySearch views this as an opportunity to increase access to the digital book collection at FamilySearch – now over 200,000 items.  That collection is really growing!

This lead me to consider how to use the digital book collection at FamilySearch:

  1. You access the Books under the menu Search.
  2. Putting in just a family name produces some interesting results – all things are family history so searching for FH items is easier than a large general digital book collection.
  3. Consider using the Advanced Search – which is very easy to use but gives more search options – and may produce better results.
  4. In the past I have been concerned about the speed of access but recently I have noticed a significant improvement.
  5. After you do a search notice that you have the option to change the sort order.  Default is Sorted By Relevance but you could also select Date-newest, Popularity,  Author, or Title.
  6. We need to think about digital copyright access rules when accessing books. When selecting items we need to consider: as (a) is there a limit on the number of patrons allowed to access one item at the same time?  and (b). is that item available only if you are not in a Family History Centre or the FH Library in Salt Lake? If you encounter one of these situations you may not be able to access the item.  The link Details under each result on the list provides information about the resource, scroll down and you find information about Access Rights – is it Public or Protected?  Protected does not mean you won’t be able to access the book – but it may fall under the access limitations mentioned above.

The digital book collection at FamilySearch is well worth using!  Remember that in addition to Family Histories, there are also some very valuable reference works.  Please try it!

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Using Family Origin Pages at,, and .com

Did you know that Ancestry has Family Origin pages?  Why might you want to see one?

I think these pages would be very helpful for the beginning Family Historian – and I find them interesting.  I hope you do too!

How do you get to a Family Origin Pages?  There used to be a link to them within the Ancestry site but it doesn’t seem to be there any more.  Go to and do a search for YourName Family History – so for me that would be Darby Family History – but you use your family name.  Scroll down the results to find one titled in my example “Darby Family Meaning and Darby Family History at” – in my 3 tries today it was the second on the result list – but it could be a little  further down.

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 7.13.48 PM

Click on the link and you get:

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 7.11.38 PM

An interesting set of information and useful links to information. Notice that the name distribution map offers the option of England and Wales, or Canada.

While you have the Family Origins Page on the screen go to the address bar at the top of the screen, carefully insert the cursor after the a in .ca, backspace one letter, then type (lower case o), and press enter.  You will now see the Family Origin Page from

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 7.12.38 PM

Now the name distribution map adds Scotland and drops Canada.  You will also notice slight differences in the list of options below the map.

The changes are more significant on the Family Origins page at!  Getting to that page is a little more challenging, but you should do it!  I was using the Google Chrome web browser and when I tried to edit the address bar to .com I was just automatically redirected to .ca.  Ancestry have kindly provided me with a solution for this and I  have pasted that in at the end of this article.  For me it was simpler to just start a different web browser – in my case Firefox, which I also like – and do the google search again, but instead of clicking on the link which will come up as .ca, I copied the link (dragged across it, right click, copy) and then pasted it in the address bar.  Then I carefully inserted the cursor after .ca, backspaced once, and added om – so it ended in .com.  This is what I got:

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 7.14.45 PM

Now I have access to the US distibution for my name, and changes in the options at the bottom of the page including an average life expectancy and a link to Civil War records.

Why does it matter if I access the Family Origin page at .ca,, or .com?  It would depend on where your ancestor came from!  If they came from Scotland you wouldn’t want to be on .ca.  If they came from the USA you would want to be on .com.

I find these Family Origin pages interesting to look at.  Now I would suggest you try doing this for other names in your family tree!

One hint:  look at your family names carefully.  If they can be sub-divided into 2 common words it may happen when you do a search!   For me a sensitive is my grandmother Letall.  Searches usually change this to “let all”!  Solution?  I put quotation marks around the word Letall.

Instructions from on accessing .com:

In order to bypass the redirect, you will need to clear your cache and cookies and try again to go to and watch for the box to come up which will give you the option to be taken to the Ancestry site that is being recommended or to continue to the site that you entered in the address bar/searched for. By doing the above you should not be redirected unless you clear your cache and cookies.

I have attached a link below which has instructions on how to clear your cache and cookies.  

Answer Link: Managing your Internet cache and cookies

Thank you Ancestry!  I always find them very helpful when I can’t find an answer and ask them a question.

And thank you Ancestry for the interesting and helpful Family Origin pages!

Posted in | Leave a comment, and – does it make a difference which one I use?

This title would have been a lot longer if I had listed other Ancestry country sites!   This would have included (Australia), (Germany), (Italy), (France) and (Sweden)

Before we begin let me just say that it is getting increasingly difficult to work on if you live in Canada.  We used to be asked if we wanted to go to .com or .ca but increasingly it just automatically assumes that as you are in Canada – yes “they” know where you are – that you don’t want to go to .com.  I have not had problems being automatically re-directed when I try to access  I don’t mind them asking.

Does it matter which ancestry site I go to?   The official answer is “no.”  You can access the same record collections from any of the Ancestry sites.

But there are some differences.  Let me share a couple of them:

1. Go to the Search and then select All Collections (or All Records as it is called on the site) – put in just the surname Letall – make the Collection Focus All Collections and Search. Do this for each of .com, .ca, and

Here are the results from the .com site:

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 3.21.23 PM

Here are the results from the site:

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 3.21.59 PM

What do you get from .ca?  Today as I write this I get the same as  Two weeks ago I got the same as .com.

What I have learned:  if I am searching for someone I know to be in the UK I should use

If I had set the collection focus to England then the search results appeared to be the similar.

2.  Go to Search and then select Card Catalogue (or Card Catalog on .com).  This time the difference is helpful.

What do you get from

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 3.35.38 PM

What do you get from .ca?

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 3.35.48 PM

What do you get from .com?

Screen Shot 2016-06-04 at 3.35.15 PM

Note the option for “Only Records from the UK and Ireland” and “Display Canadian Records Only.” This feature can be replicated by using the Filters but it seems to be a nice option to just check off.

What I have learned:  It is easier to search in the Card Catalogue if you go to the site for the country where you are doing research.

Note also on all three images that there is an important option in the top right hand corner to Sort By – the default is Popularity but there are times when you will want sort by Database Title, Date Added or Date Updated.

I am sure there are other small differences.

Ancestry is to be commended and encouraged to customize its country websites to make researching in that country easier. 

I will try to remember where possible to go to the country site where I am doing research.


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