As part of our International month, we are pleased to introduce RQG member Kathy Chung, from Canada.
“I’ve been doing genealogy for about twenty years, professionally for about 7. In 2020 I earned an MLitt from Dundee in family and local history. My dissertation examined Scottish associational culture in Vancouver’s first century, 1886-1986. The majority of my own genealogical research and that I work on for clients has been focused on Scotland, England, Wales, Canada, and the US. I do genealogical research for clients as well as planning bespoke ancestral tourism trip itineraries primarily for Scotland.
I am currently working for a client in attempting to solve a longstanding DNA mystery involving an unknown parent, and am continuing an extensive, ongoing family history research project focused mostly in the Highlands of Scotland and in British Columbia.
Library and Archives Canada allows free access to Canadian census images up to the 1921 census as well as numerous other resources and records. My most recent useful find there was reasonably detailed reporting about a client’s relative’s experience as a Barnardos Boy around the turn of the last century. Local public libraries in Canada are also very useful. Even if they don’t have extensive family history collections, they do often have digitized or paper resources such as historical phone books and social registers and more. And every province has archives as well as the cities (and even historical associations or local museums in small towns and rural areas). British Columbia’s provincial archives in particular offers a good collection of digitized historical vital records free of charge.
Every non-Indigenous person in Canada is an immigrant or descends from immigrants. The biggest challenge with that is that the records of immigration are often scant, depending on how long ago and where immigration happened. Sometimes the only potential evidence that can be found is a name and perhaps an age on a ship’s manifest. Because of this, making the leap between people in North America and their UK or European roots can be difficult or even impossible unless there are other known family connections such as parents’ names on death or marriage certificates or other personal correspondence, etc. I’ve had several clients for whom the brick wall between an 18th or 19th century ancestor in North America and their specific UK family has so far proven impossible to break through with any certainty. Because none of the immigrant’s documents name anyone left behind, all we know for certain is that they come from, for example, a Fraser family in Scotland. Clients are often surprised by this limitation because they have seen online trees that supposedly trace their family for hundreds of years in the country of origin, but invariably there is no source evidence provided to connect the immigrant with the purported family line in those trees. “