Canadian Online World War One Records

Assuming that finding an ancestor at the Battle of Agincourt 1415 was a bit of a long shot – is that an archery joke?   Let’s look for some closer records.  Remembrance Day is coming.  Do you have Canadian ancestors who fought in World War One?

Library and Archives Canada  hosts a very fine online database of approximately 620.000 attestation papers from World War One.  “Volunteers for the Canadian Expeditionary Force were questioned at the place of enlistment to complete the two-sided Attestation papers which included the recruit’s name and address, next-of-kin, date and place of birth, occupation, previous military service, and distinguishing physical characteristics. Recruits were asked to sign their Attestation papers, indicating their willingness to serve overseas. By contrast, men who were drafted into the CEF under the provisions of the Military Service Act (1917) completed a far simpler one-sided form which included their name, date of recruitment, and compliance with requirements for registration. Officers completed a one-sided form called the Officers’ Declaration Paper.” (Source: ).  Work is underway to digitize all the service records.

I find it interesting to see the physical descriptions – height, eye colour, hair colour.  Try searching for your ancestors who may have served.  My wife found her grandmother’s brother in this database – Peter Malm.  I found his papers just by searching for his surname and first name without knowing his regimental number. Click Here to get started and then Click on the link Search Database.  We hope you find some interesting new information. 

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Do you have a medieval solder in your ancestry?

When teaching European history one of my favourite questions was:  How long was the Hundred Year War?  Answer:  116 years.  And better than that it really wasn’t a single war but rather a series of conflicts between England and France.

What’s this got to do with family history?  Didn’t you ever wonder if one of your ancestors held a longbow at the Battle of Agincourt?  Now you can find out!  And there is no charge for using this web site.

Dick Eastman started me on this quest – so thank you Dick  – when he reported on 7 October 2016 that the names of 3,500 French soldiers who took part in the Battle of Agincourt have just been added to the online database.  For those of you whose history is a little rusty the Battle of Agincourt was 1415.

Where’s the website and what records are available?   This large database is a joint project of the Universities of Reading and Southampton in England.  The database contains “the names of soldiers serving the English crown between 1369 and 1453. Most were fighting the French. In this second phase of the Hundred Years War major invasions of France were launched, including that of 1415 which culminated in Henry V’s victory at Agincourt 1415. We have also included soldiers serving in other theatres (Scotland, Ireland, Wales, Spain, Calais etc), and in all types of service (expeditions on land and sea, garrisons, escorts, standing forces).

Why do we know so many names? The simple explanation is that soldiers received pay and this had to be audited. The financial officials of the crown were keen to check the soldiers were present and correct. The main way of doing this was by checking off their names at a muster, at the beginning of a campaign or during it, or every few months for troops in garrison. Thousands of muster rolls survive in archive collections in England, France and beyond. We also have the evidence of letters of protection which soldiers bought from the Chancery to prevent legal actions whilst they were absent from home.” ( )

It might be interesting to search some of your British or French surnames.  I found 27 Darbys!  There was even a Peter Darby who was an archer. Unfortunately this is a little further back than my present family tree goes, but maybe I can find a link.  I have a French Huguenot line of refugees who fled to England in the early 1600s but no sign of them here.

I have started looking for military records after finding one of my ancestors away from home for several years during the Napoleonic Wars – early 1800s. 

This website was a wonderful find.  I hope you enjoy using it.

Hint:  TNA means The National Archives at Kew in England

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Keeping Up with Changes at

Familysearch is one of my favourite websites – there are so much there to help us with our Family History.  I could talk about the great tools for hours!  So don’t ask!

Like all good family history web sites the only constant is change as new data sets and features are added. How do you keep up with the ever changing

  1. Historical Records  is almost constantly being updated – there are (as of 24 Sep) 2142 collections – many of these collections include images.  How do you find our what is new?  Go to – click on the menu Search and select Records.   Then in the lower right quarter of the screen click on Browse All Published Collections under the heading Find a Collection.  This will give you a list of all collections in alphabetical order.  Now click on the column heading Last Updated which sorts the list by date with the newest collections at the beginning of the list.  Eleven collections were added or updated between Sept 16 and Sept 23.  A camera at the left indicates that there are images with the collection.  I always find some interesting new collections when I do this. New York State Census 1905 with over 7.5 million records. US World War 1 Draft Registrations cards, a collection of 24.8 million with images looks interesting.  Wow I didn’t know about the 1911 Denmark Census- 2.7 million records again with images.  Because of my research interests I also like to browse the collection by place so I click on the link to the United Kingdom and Ireland – 126 collections – and then click on Last Updated to see which are the newest collections for the United Kingdom.  1.1 million records from Warwickshire Parish Records have recently been added.
  1. The collection of Genealogies has been updated.  At click on the menu Search and select genealogies. This is where you find the very well researched and sourced collection of Community Trees.  Although the project has ended it has left a legacy of information – go to this article at the familysearch wiki to see the scope of the projects .  The Knowles Collection of Jewish Families is very impressive.  Here are two interesting relatively new collections:
    1.   Guild of One-Name Studies – what is it? “The Guild of One-Name Studies is a charitable organisation dedicated to promoting the public understanding of one-name (surname) studies and the preservation and accessibility of the resultant information.” For more information see the wiki article at .
    2. Oral Genealogies – for Africa and the Pacific regions – it is great to see this work being gathered and made available.

Don’t just go the Genealogies area and do a broad search.  Select the collection you want to search.  How do you do that? On the Search Genealogies screen, immediately under all the boxes where you put in information there is a blue Search button and immediately to the right is the word All which when you click on it turns into a drop down menu so you can select the collection you want to search.  Give it a try!  Search the Guild of One Name Studies.  Try the Community Trees.

Remember:  give a computer as little information as possible to conduct a search – just enough to get good results – you can always add information (Refine Your Search and then Update on the left side of the results screen).

Also remember that Pedigree Resource File is a collection of genealogies contributed by users – has some helpful information but often lacks sources – but many people also re-submitted names that were already submitted to the Ancestral File which has no sources so I select if I want to search the Pedigree Resource File or the Ancestral File and don’t do both.

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Changes Coming to Scotland’s People

OK I admit it – whenever I help one of my friends with their Scottish research I am envious!.  ScotlandsPeople   is a wonderful resource for those doing Scottish research.  But wait, you have to pay to use that site don’t you?  You can’t use free sites all the time.  You have to go to where the records are available – and, in the case of Scotlandspeople, for  a very modest fee you get great information.   I wish there was an EnglandsPeople or a CanadasPeople.  Imagine being able to get copies of your ancestors birth, marriage and death records online immediately and not having to wait weeks for the certificate to arrive in the mail as I do for my English certificates.  The nearest thing to the ScotlandsPeople experience is accessing British Columbia certificates on FamilySearch – and that is free of course!

I buy a few credits at a time at Scotlandspeople –  7 British pounds (less than $14) gets you 30 credits— a surname search is free and when I ask to see a page of index results (not the full details) I know it costs me one credit (less than 50 cents) – and then when I ask to see an actual certificate it costs me 5 credits (about $2.30) – where else can you buy a copy of a certificate for so little?  You can do a search for free and only pay if there are results to see.  I will admit that I search all the other resources first – FamilySearch, Ancestry, and FindMyPast – but the last 2 are subscription sites – and the 3 of them together don’t have the resources available at ScotlandsPeople.

Then this week I got an exciting announcement from ScotlandsPeople – they are going to be launching a new ScotlandsPeople web site.   I view these changes very positively – I know not everyone likes change – I like new resources, new ways of searching and better results.

Here is the announcement:  “ScotlandsPeople will be offline from 23.59 (BST) on Wednesday 21 September until Monday 26 September. This downtime is essential as we work towards the launch of our new ScotlandsPeople website.”

Time for a holiday from Scottish research?  Wonder what will be different after the break?

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Ancestry – some facts and figures

I was very interested to read an article by The Ancestry Insider  this week.  He was attending the 2016 Conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  One session was by Quinton Atkinson from Ancestry.  I encourage you to read the article here.  During the session Quinton shared the following information that I found very interesting.  Ancestry has 1400 employees worldwide.  They have 18 billion digitized records from 80 countries, and 18 million user trees.  Users have contributed 300 million sharable photos, documents, and stories.  Total storage space for their data?  Over 10 petabytes – I like that unit of measurement. 

How fortunate we are to have such wonderful resources available to help us with our family history.  I’ll be talking about other websites in future articles.

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Canada Census 2016 “Best Census Since 1666”

Well, I have to admit I don’t remember doing the 1666 Census!  But I did participate in the 2016 Census.

Statistics Canada reports the rate of returns was excellent in 2016 – overall 98.4 % of the people completed either the short or long form of the census.  While most Canadians were asked to answer 10 questions in the short form of the census, one in four Canadians – randomly selected – were asked to complete a 36 page long form version. 97.8% of the long form census were completed – the best ever result.

Almost 68% of the people filled the census in online.  As the recipient of a 36 page long form I was very grateful to be able to complete the form online – it was quick and easy.

As genealogists we are grateful for access to past census information.  Wasn’t it great to participate in building a census?

What do you know about the 1666 Census of Canada?
– This was census of New France – the earliest census in Canada and in North America
– Organized by Jean Talon who largely conducted the census by himself – going door to door
– First Nations were not included nor were members of religious orders such as the Jesuits.
– According to the census there were 3215 people – more men than women.


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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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