Ryan Taylor Finding nirvana in Campbell River
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By Ryan Taylor

Itís genealogical nirvana.

Youíre discussing family history with someone, and they say, "My cousin Joan was married seven or eight times. At least, thatís all I know, because I didnít write down the ones that were annulled."

You shiver with envy. If you had a relative like that, think of the stories! Think of the complications!

This happened to me recently in Campbell River, B.C., where I spoke to the lively Campbell River Genealogical Society. Candy-Lea Chickite, organizer of the workshop, is the lucky person with a cousin named Joan. Both Candyís parents are only children, so she hasnít many relations, but with one like Joan, youíre still well stocked with stories.

Using the internetís search capabilities with telephone books and similar directories, Candy was able to reunite Joan with two daughters who had been adopted, a grand occasion. Candy says, "It was good for me too. I gained two more cousins, and I havenít very many."

The best-known genealogical library on mainland B.C. is the Cloverdale branch of the Surrey Public Library. This suburban library is about a forty minute drive from downtown Vancouver. Lorraine Irving of the British Columbia Genealogical Society kindly took me to see it.

Most of the second floor of Cloverdale is devoted to the genealogical collection, which now concentrates on Canadian materials. Their large British collection has been sent elsewhere because of space constraints. What remains is an impressive number of microfilm reels, including many purchased from the National Archives and the Archives of Ontario. The newest arrival is the film of the Hawke Papers from Toronto.

The Hawke papers are an immigrant agentís records from the nineteenth century, recently found in the United States and purchased for the Archives of Ontario. Judith Argent, the dynamic genealogical librarian at Cloverdale, told me that she has discovered the Hawke papers include information from newspapers of the time about deaths at sea. These include peopleís names.

If you had someone disappear between Britain and Canada, they may well have died on the voyage. We can only hope someone will soon be indexing the Hawke papers so that there will be easy access to the wealth of information.

Cloverdale concentrates on microfilm because of the restrictions of the room. They also have a large collection of printed books, including local histories, genealogical manuals and census indexes from many provinces. There are directories from B.C. municipalities, currently in book form but shortly to be replaced by microforms which weigh less.

There is a guide to Cloverdaleís collection, now in its 13th edition (2000). Canadian Genealogical Resources: A Guide to the Materials Held at Cloverdale Library, edited by Stephanie Kurmey & Judith Chanig sells for $15. It includes the libraryís call numbers so that researchers can plan their visits ahead of time.

Contact the Cloverdale branch of the Surrey Public Library at 5642-176A Street, Surrey BC V3S 4G9, telephone 604 576 1384. It has an informative genealogy page. The library also does research for a fee.

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Many new census indexes, great and small, have become available either online or on CD-ROM. It sure makes our research easier. One of the newest is Heritage Questís Canadians in the 1870 Census. This means the 1870 US census.

The CD indexes American heads of families who stated they were born in Canada, and strays in those households. Most of the census information is included. If you have lost someone who may have migrated south or west, they may show up here. There are over 220,000 names on the CD.

Column copyright © 2002 Ryan Taylor


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