Using Google Maps for Genealogy

George Speed with his aunt Meg Wilson Forret

George Speed with his aunt Meg Wilson Forret at 6 Corby Avenue, Toronto, Ontario circa 1921

Today I was looking at my collection of old family photographs when it dawned on me that I should see if some of the houses in the photos are still standing.

The above photo has been in my possession for over 30 years. With the help of the internet and especially Google Maps, I was able to do some detective work and find this house today. I’ve used it in the past on client’s reports and it’s fascinating to see if 1. the house is still standing and 2. how much it’s changed since the photo was taken.

First, I knew that the family had emigrated to Canada in 1920 because the wife was a WW1 widow and came over with the pension she was given for her husband’s service.

Secondly, I looked up the family in the 1921 Canadian census through my subscription to Ancestry. I found them (the widow and her 3 surviving children) living at 6 Corby Avenue, Toronto.

The boy in the photo is the youngest son of the widow. I wanted to know if this was his home or the home of the woman who is with him (his aunt). She lived someone where else in Toronto.

Thirdly, I looked up the aunt’s information in the 1921 Canadian census and found her to be living at 121 Perth Ave, Toronto.

Finally, I did a search on Google Maps with both of these address and found both of the homes still standing. I compared them to the above photo and discovered that the above photo was taken at 6 Corby Ave which is the home of the widow not the aunt.

Here is what the house looks like today!

 

 

6 Corby Ave Toronto 2016

You can see that the house is exactly the same in regards to windows, and doors but that the exterior of the house has been modified extensively. This street is now in what is called “Little Italy” in Toronto. Ironically, this was the home of my husband’s great grandmother who was Scottish and I’m Italian and when my parents emigrated in the 1950s, they lived only a few houses away on the adjoining street!

It’s a fun thing to do if you have old photos and you have an idea of where the photo was taken.  You should try it!

In the next photo, you can see the same boy from above with his much older sister. They emigrated in 1920 and by 1925 she had died so I know that this photo was taken in the 4 years since they arrived and at the same house.

The detective work of genealogy is always so much fun for me!

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Genealogy work is real work.

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View from Tintagel Castle in Devon

I’m sorry I’ve been away from my blog for awhile. It’s been tough trying to maintain my household, 2 part time jobs (that I need because my genealogy work isn’t paying the bills) and surviving the job of being mom to 16 and 20 year old young men!

Guess what people? Genealogy IS a real job! When I went back to university to get my Professional Learning Certificate in Genealogical Studies (which took 2 years), I had this pie in the sky idea that once I had graduated that I’d magically have enough clients to make a living. I marketed myself through my blog, my business Facebook page and my website. I have written articles and contributed to many events. It just never ceases to amaze me that whenever I get a request from someone to help them solve their family history story that they are shocked at what I charge. Really??

I work for my clients after my other jobs well into the night. I travel to archives and libraries and subscribe to many databases to help  find the information they are looking for. I spend way more time on their reports than I charge for and yet there is this feeling that what I do should cost less. Almost every time I get an email request there is the question of what I think it will cost and then the almost certain response that this is a lot more than they were planning on paying.

Some of these people have been doing their own genealogy work for decades and are stuck. They want the advice and help of someone who knows how to help but are hesitant to pay for it. I’m not bitter about their reaction, just frustrated.

My work is my passion. I LOVE IT! If I could do genealogy full time (24 hours a day) I would! It’s almost always on my mind. It’s a job that doesn’t feel like a job but yet it IS a job. It’s my time and my effort and my skills that are being paid for.

If you want a shocking example….here is one. I work part time as a nanny. I make $20/hour to watch an infant and the same amount to watch 2 toddler siblings. $20 cash….per…hour. People are begging me to do more jobs for them because they need reliable help for their precious children. I get that. I DO! I have 2 sons who I stayed home with for 18 years so that I could give them my undivided attention. I get that I was one of the lucky ones and that some people can’t afford to stay home.

Why can’t potential genealogy clients see what I do in this field as equally important. We are talking about finding information about ancestors that they’ve searched for -for decades-and couldn’t find. There are gaps in their family history or questions that need answering and it’s driving them crazy. I can help. But I need to get paid!

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Italian entry in baptismal record from 1707- transcribed by me!

 

Yet, when I ask for $30/hour for my genealogy work it’s almost always a shock. Maybe there is not enough information out there on what it costs to be a genealogist or how much it costs to hire one. The popular shows out now like Who Do You Think You Are and previous shows like Ancestors in the Attic have added to the already huge trend in genealogy as a hobby. I’m very pleased we are getting more attention because I used to have to actually explain to people what a “genealogist” was in the past. I was a hobby genealogist for 20+ years and I know how exciting it is when you first start. All genealogists share information from time to time and try to help out in volunteer chat rooms or societies to add to the community but at some point we all have to pay our bills.

If you know of anyone who is trying to do their family history, by all means help them if you can. But don’t give away your skills and time for free. Your time and effort are worth something. Everyone is good at something. I’ve invested in my genealogy and now I’d like to try and make a living at it.

There….my rant is over! Lol, sorry if I’ve offended anyone but this post is a long time coming and I work hard for my clients.

 

Have a great weekend everyone!

 

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Genetics- When your children are so different than you are!

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Our adopted sons are SO different than us!

 

Ok, so we’re at that phase in our life when we have a 16 and 20 year old son. That, in itself, is a tough time!

Our boys are adopted. They each come with a completely different set of genes that they inherited from their birth parents.

There is that saying that there is a difference between “nurture versus nature”. All the parenting in the world doesn’t matter when you have 2 children who are so biologically different than their parents. Sure, they will learn from our examples, and hopefully incorporate that in the way that they become caring, successful adults. Nature, on the other hand dealt them cards that I’m wholly unaware of. Who were their ancestors and what did they inherit?

Our sons come from opposite ends of the planet. One is part Italian, Irish and English but born in Canada. The other is part Russian Jewish and part Tajikistani Muslim from an orphanage in Siberia. One was adopted at birth, the other at 15 months.

As a genealogist, it’s in my nature to want to hark back to my ancestors to look for similar traits, features, personality characteristics etc. This is so hard for us as we can’t draw on any of the familiar “YOU ARE JUST LIKE YOUR FATHER” sayings! Or, “THE APPLE DOESN”T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE”, “OH WOW, HE’S JUST LIKE UNCLE so-and so!”

We know little of their backgrounds, especially the younger one. We know that we’ve parented them exactly as we would have parented biological children, with maybe a bit more empathy due to the fact that they would have to deal with loss at some point.

My husband is a jock. Number one reason for being,for him, is to get that adrenaline rush, compete, win, start a new project, create a new business. I’m an academic, with a long history of selflessness and service in my family.

Our boys have no interest in sports, except maybe snowboarding and mountain biking.

They are not competitive. They are also not particularly studious, even though the older one is amazingly bright.

This, is not THE most difficult aspect anyway. The hardest part of having biologically different offspring is that they are EXTREMELY different people than would otherwise be in our family. It’s a constant battle to figure out why they say what they say, do what they do, feel what they feel. It’s a dance where we all try to move to our family rhythm in a way that works for all of us, while not treading on anyone’s toes.

It’s hard on all of us, especially them. I wish I could ask questions of THEIR ancestors to get some insight in how to be a better parent. I wish an unknown great grandfather could whisper in my ear “oh, that’s no big deal, I did that all the time and I became…..such and such.” or “wow, he’s JUST like my dad!”

This would be such a comforting whisper. A bit of a shoulder to lean on to know that we are doing the best we can and they will know it one day. We’ve learned along the way that we can only do our best and so can they. We all love each other and we all try to work on blending….on being part of this “crazy family”, as my son says.

I wish I knew more about their inherited medical history, their bio families mental health issues, and any other important factors that would help me be a better parent.

Being a genealogist with a desire to know a family’s past is so difficult when you have 2 members of your OWN family that you know very little about!!

 

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Private Client Work

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Private Client Work-Good and Bad

 

For many years, the only kind of genealogical work I wanted to do was private client work. That’s where I’m hired by an individual to research a specific question they have about their family history, or they hire me to do a report of their family history.

This can include, but is not limited to, just one direct line of research (for instance, they only want to know about the direct father-son line of their father’s ancestors). This is sometimes because they are interested in the family name. Sometimes,  they want me to do a complete family history which includes every possible ancestor from all their lines as far as I can go!

Now obviously, the latter would take months and months and cost a LOT of money. Most of this cost would be in my time in researching and in documenting all the information and sources in a way that gives them a good report, that’s interesting, and makes sense.

Sometimes the results of this work is excellent and other times it’s unrewarding. You can spend weeks searching for information that just isn’t there.

You can find that some clients give you a family tree full of incorrect or incomplete details that throw you off the path. It’s amazing how many people “remember” details AFTER you have done research and not found it and they suddenly remember that the person’s real name is different, or “oops, I forgot to mention that they were not family, only family friends who we considered family” etc., etc.

You may find that a lot of clients are SO excited to get their family history done UNTIL they find out the cost. Suddenly, it’s not that important or exciting.

It amazes me how some consider what we do as genealogists as “just a hobby” and that our time is not worth anything. It’s a difficult discussion to have with someone trying to explain that we can spend weeks researching and not finding the answer, which is disappointing, but we should still get paid for the effort.

We subscribe to many databases, pay for memberships to various genealogical societies and libraries, archives and repositories in order to get the information we are looking for. We also do a lot of leg work in the form of driving. Most of these places are not near where we live. We can also be asked to go to cemeteries or libraries in other towns. This all costs money. We are accredited or have diplomas in this science…and it is a science! We have to follow a standard and have to provide proof for every single piece of evidence we find and corroborate that with the question we are being asked.

THE GOOD

The response you get from some clients is worth every cent invested in doing what we do. Recently I just finished a family history for a client in the UK. I live in Canada. She found me via my website and asked me to find her “missing grandmother”. She had tried for years to do this online herself. Within an hour, I found this lady and within a few days I had all her answers. Her response was amazing!

“I’m all goosebumps and a bit tearful. It’s 8.00 in the morning here, and I’m just having my breakfast, but I wanted to reply and say thanks straight away.

It is truly fabulous for me to have this info at last (I’m 61).

I can see how it must be so gratifying to do this work – and I’m glad you’re out there doing it for me.

I look forward to the report. I expect I’ll want to take it further at some point – there’s bound to be more questions. But what an amazing start. Thank you!”

THE BAD

Some responses to my work have not been so encouraging. People are funny. They have a pre-perceived idea of what to expect sometimes. My job is to inform the client from the beginning what to expect and what the costs will be, but sometimes this isn’t enough.

One example I had was from a client in the U.S. who’s family story for generations was that they were related to Alexander Hamilton, one of the most influential promoters of the U.S. Constitution. The client had little family history beyond the fact that they came from Kentucky in the mid-1800s and after doing a thorough research and looking at census records, and other original sources that tied into her family (along with a well known family website of Hamilton), I concluded that they were NOT, in fact, related.

This did NOT go over well at all. She believed I was mistaken.

How could this story be in her family for all these years if it were not true? How could there be no connection?

I explained how I came to my conclusion, and showed her the proof with all the documentation. She still was not happy and thought she shouldn’t have to pay for my work. I did get half of the payment up front, but not full payment. This was a very hard lesson to learn on MY part.

Luckily for me, this client was a friend of a friend and the payment was eventually received.

Sometimes we discover family secrets. These secrets can come as a complete surprise to people and are either received as interesting or horrible, unwelcome pieces of knowledge.

It’s a fine line in being tactful about your findings in this respect. A client may be wholly unaware that their grandmother was previously married or had a child out of wedlock etc.

Some fellow genealogists I know refuse to do private client research for just this reason. People are all different and have different personalities, expectations, demands and ideas of what we should provide.

Some only do research, or blog, or write or teach. Others lecture. I continue to do private research work because the GOOD outweighs the BAD for me.

I have learned how to know from the outset what a client is truly expecting and get full payment up front. If this is not how they wish to proceed, they have the option of doing the work in stages. They pay up front for a portion of the work. If they like it, and want to know more, then they pay for another block of time.

 

 

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How do you make money with genealogy?

Aspects of Genealogy

You can make money working as a family historian or a professional genealogist.

There are many different ways to earn some money doing what you love. Granted, from my experience, there are not a lot of genealogists earning a really good income, but most genealogists do it for the love of it too. The lucky few, have found their niche, or specialize in an area of genealogy that make them more sought after. These genealogists have almost always made a name for themselves through marketing themselves as a brand or through social media. They are authors or have worked for organizations like Ancestry or other genealogical societies. They are well known in the genealogical circle because they have devoted themselves to furthering our reputation by developing standards and criteria that must be met in order for us to be regarded as professionals at what we do.

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Blogging

Many family historians or genealogists write blogs. You don’t even need to be a professional because some have made a name for themselves by just posting about their love of genealogy and their own personal family stories. Some have side bars with ads that pay them per click or per subscription by that particular company. Some are associates with other companies and feature them and their products on their blogs.

Writing

Many well known genealogists are also authors. Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FASG is famous for her contribution to our field through her books like Professional Genealogy, A Manual for Researchers, Writers, Editors, Lecturers and Librarians, 2001 or Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian, 1997. She has given the best, in my opinion, resources for genealogists to do their work properly.

From the above book, you can see how genealogy can branch out into many other fields.

Tom W. Jones, CG, CGL, FASG, FNGS, FUGA has also written a book called Mastering Genealogical Proof, 2013 which is the go to book used by genealogists to use the correct method to PROVING their findings.

Lecturing

Some genealogists prefer just doing lectures or speaking engagements. They are seen on a regular basis at various conferences, meetings, schools etc. speaking about their particular fields of genealogy or their specialties in that field, such as specializing in American Civil War history, or Irish ancestry etc.

They usually get paid a stipend or charge a fee for their lectures. Sometimes they are paid for their travel expenses such as hotel accommodation, food and airfare.

In North America we have large conferences such as RootsTech, Ontario Genealogical Society Conference, NGS (National Genealogical Society) Conference , Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR), Federation of Genealogical Societies National Conference (FGS) and more.

Each of these functions requires speakers for their classes or lectures. Some lecturers come from overseas and some are local, but all are paid.

Teaching

Some genealogists write courses for genealogy classes at universities and colleges. They also do online webinars for these institutions.

Archivist, or Librarian

Genealogists or family historians can be hired by local Archives or libraries. They are responsible for helping run and  maintain the archives or library or support them in a customer service aspect by helping people who come to these places looking for help on their own family histories.

Research

This is my personal favourite. Just plain research. I do research for individuals or what we call Private Client Work. This is usually done by someone contacting us via our website or blog or association that we belong to. They hire us to do work for them and we earn money by charging them for our time and expertise in putting together a professional report along with all the sources to prove our findings. Some genealogists do research for other, busier genealogists! They help do some of the leg work because these genealogists have many jobs on the go at the same time.

We also get asked to do research for people, or genealogists who live overseas but need help in the particular area we live in, or in the area of expertise we specialize in.

Genealogical Travel

Some genealogists organize travel/research trips for individuals or groups who want to go to the country of their ancestors but have no idea where to begin to get their research done. The organizer plans everything out- from the airfare, to the hotel accommodations, to the restaurants and sightseeing trips. They also take care of the pre-booked visits to the archives and repositories that are needed for these individuals. For about 6 months to a year prior to the trip, the organizer holds meetings (in person or via a webinar) coaching the participants on what they will need to have in advance (such as making sure they have all the family history documents already in their possession, etc.) They also explain to them what they will actually be doing when they arrive at the archives.

Some of these trips include visits to the local parish churches, cemeteries and villages of their ancestors.

Transcriptions/Translations

One area of genealogy that has become important is transcribing and translations. Most North Americans are originally from somewhere else in the world. If you go back far enough, there is most likely another language involved, such as French, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, German etc.  Even if you are of English, Irish or Scottish descent, the documents from the 17th, 18th and even 19th centuries can be extremely difficult to read. These documents were usually written by a secretary who was trained in a certain handwriting to write these papers because most people were illiterate at the time. Spellings and actual letters were written differently and some documents, like wills, had monetary information that would be different than what we know today. I’ve personally hired these specialists to transcribe a will from 1585 and 1651 because it was nearly impossible for me to read them (even though it was in English and I had taken classes on how to decipher this handwriting!).  These people are experts in what they do and it’s worth the money to know exactly what an ancestor from 400 years ago was saying!

So you see…..genealogy is a multi faceted career. It can be anything from just wanting to do your own family tree to becoming an author, historian, lecturer, blogger, researcher and even an archivist. You can write articles for genealogical magazines, teach, do travel trips and transcribe or translate documents. You can specialize in a specific type of genealogy- like only working on Native American ancestry, be a Military expert or specialize in French Canadian ancestry, DNA research…the possibilities are endless.

Lastly, if you don’t care about making money and want to contribute, you can volunteer by joining all kinds of organizations that do cemetery transcriptions, help at conferences, do look ups for people (if you belong to an organization that allows this), and work for local genealogical societies (most of which are ONLY run by volunteers).

 

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Today is my anniversary!

It’s been 32 years! 1984….that can’t be true!

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May 26, 1984 Toronto, Ontario

our 32 anniversary 2016

May 26, 2016 Caledon, Ontario (just north of Toronto)

 

 

Wow, how does this happen? How do decades go by and children grow up and yet we still feel the same?

My interest in genealogy began shorty before we married. I had this incredible urge to find out where my ancestors came from. I knew that some of my family was coming from Italy for my wedding. I asked my Italian aunt to do some hunting for me. She arrived with a hand-written note with the family tree (as far as she knew it) on it, and the rest, as they say, is history! My obsession began….

Bruce and I knew “of each other” in high school. He was the school jock, with the very pretty girlfriend. He was a grade ahead of me and we both remember catching a glimpse of each other by our school lockers. Well….that’s the only time he remembers me! LOL.

I used to watch him all the time. He was so cool. I was the “browner”, nerdy, academic, with braces and glasses and a really bad perm. It was 1978 and it was in style to have long, straight hair (which I had for most of my life), but, on no, not me! I had to get it all cut and perm it! He too, had glasses and curly hair, but, as you can see by our wedding photo, he was very handsome!

We started dating in early 1979, so we’ve actually been together for 37 years. How blessed are we?

We have almost nothing in common. Seriously!! We don’t. We do, however, have the same values in life and adore our family and friends. We also respect each other’s need to have fun on our own. For him, it’s been serious off road motorcycle riding since he was 13. It’s taken him to Europe, Argentina, Chile, the United States, Mexico and most of Canada. For me, it’s my genealogy. I can spend endless hours researching. For most people, that would be mind blowingly boring, but for me, it’s exciting. He gets that. He laughs at my excitement when I find a new piece of our puzzle which is our family tree. I cheer him on as he continues to race at the age of almost 57. He’ll always be a jock, and I’ll always be a nerdy academic.

And we love each other.

Here’s to another 32 years my love!!!

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When you discover something big!

About 4 years ago I made an amazing discovery.

I was researching my husband’s family tree and I found out that he was descended from “the” branch of Clanranald that is currently holding the Chieftainship. That, on his paternal side, he descended from Hugh Macdonald IV of Boisdale, the last “official” Laird of Boisdale who lived from 1785-1875.

Hugh’s father had his lands on the island of South Uist, in Scotland put in trust as he was hugely in debt. Eventually, all the lands were sold off and his only surviving son, Hugh, moved to England. Hugh was already in his 30s when he left Scotland. He went from Scotland to Plymouth, then Swansea, Wales and eventually settled in Liverpool.

He married a woman with whom he had 11 children.

The amazing discovery was that the current clan chief, Captain Ranald Macdonald, 24th Captain of Clanranald, was awarded the title of clan chief because it was believed that Hugh Macdonald IV of Boisdale, died with no living male heirs. WELL, I discovered that this was not true!

Hugh had a son called Charles Edward Stuart Macdonald (1841-1902) who survived him. His direct male descendant lives on to this day in Liverpool.

WHAT DOES ONE DO WHEN THIS INFORMATION IS FOUND?? I wrote an article about it for the Ontario Genealogical Society Newsletter (as his descendants live in Ontario too).

Low and behold, it was read by someone who is very interested in setting things right. It’s been 4 years now and so many people have been contacted. Letters and emails have been sent, articles written, blog,twitter and Facebook posts….and yet, nothing has really happened – yet. It’s just now catching on that this is important stuff and needs to be addressed. I’m so grateful for the people who have helped me so far. I want the truth out there.

Has anyone else ever discovered something BIG? Something that would change the record books or make for a great story (a movie even?) I’m wondering how others have handled the information they had found. Did they contact certain people or societies? Was there anything done with the information they found?

Please comment and let me know!

 

 

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Family Stories Should be Written Down!

When you hear a family story told, remember to write it down.

Family stories are very important for many reasons.

It keeps family history alive.

Most people were illiterate in the distant past. There were no cell phones, cameras, computers or even paper to record family histories so they were shared orally. In Scotland there were men called Bards who would write songs and poems about families and people from their clans or even their enemies. Elders were respected and told stories of what they experienced. In some clans or tribes, there were designated people who were called upon to tell these stories at special gatherings.

It connects us to our ancestors and we feel a “part” of something bigger.

Without family stories, we wouldn’t feel we were a part of a larger family group. I loved hearing about my parents when they were younger and stories about THEIR parents. Their stories make my ancestors “real” to me. These are people I never met but know so well now.

It makes us realize that we have some incredible ancestors- good or bad.

Some were famous. Some came from noble families. Some were agricultural labourers who never had enough to eat or a secure roof over their head.

Some of the ancestors I’ve researched were incredible in a bad way. Some were bigamists, some left their families completely and some were just plain nasty. The stories about my great great grandfather were passed down from his son, to my grandmother, to my mother and now to me. He was a very mean man. He had a very large family but ran the household like he was a king and they were his slaves. The stories of him and the things he did were not pleasant but they made him real to me. His son and all his descendants told these stories because it was awful and they wanted people to know how they were raised. All of them became very loving doting parents themselves and I think his parenting made them who THEY became.

When I was old enough to understand about the second World War, I realized just how brave and strong my parents and grandparents were. How resilient EVERYONE was- they had to be. The stories were horrifying and yet made me realize that our ancestors were amazingly courageous. Their trauma made them who they were. Their “stories” became part of “my” story. Without them having gone through the war and everything that that entailed, I would not be here in this great country.

When my mother told me the story of how her father was taken away one afternoon by the German soldiers  it broke my heart. She was 6. Her mother told her to run back home as fast as she could and get a cloth full of as much food as she could and bring it back for him. My mother remembers running so fast and then arriving back into the village and all the men were gone. She didn’t see her father for 3 years until he escaped from the labour camp he was in. She felt that somehow, she hadn’t run fast enough, and it was her fault that he was taken away. This story, along with many, many more she’s told me, make me so sad but makes her life a part of history. She LIVED it. She was THERE. I would have a very distant “book” taught idea of what the war was like if it were not for her and her stories. Her parents had gone through two World Wars and a Depression and they had even more stories to tell.

TALK TO YOUR ELDERS. ASK THEM ABOUT THEIR LIVES. WRITE THEIR STORIES DOWN OR RECORD THEM AND SHARE THEM TOO! ONCE THEY ARE GONE, THEIR STORIES ARE GONE TOO.

 

 

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Mom and Sis off to Italy tonight!

So jealous, but happy for them too.

Every year my sister and I, or my sister and I and my mother, travel back to Italy to visit relatives. My mother is 81 and her older sister is 83. This year I couldn’t make it and I’m a little bit upset about it.

Their flight leaves in a few hours. By the time I wake up tomorrow they will be sitting in my aunt’s living room recovering from jet lag and catching up.

Last year was my mother’s 80th. To surprise her, her sister, and 6 other people from Italy came here. It was a huge secret and VERY hard to keep. We knew about it for months. They arrived here May 30th and my mother’s birthday was June 9th. They wanted to get here a little earlier so that they wouldn’t be tired for the actual party.

We had our relatives stay with us for 5 weeks. Between my sister and I we split them up and took them around to all the usual sightseeing places around Toronto. One of their “must do” visits was to Algonquin park to see beavers, and moose! They saw moose but were so overcome by mosquitoes that they cut the trip a bit short. Bad timing to go to Algonquin but they had a blast anyway. They canoed at our cottage, went to the McMichael Art Museum to see the Group of Seven paintings, saw a Blue Jay game, went to the Medieval Feast and ate with their hands while watching jousting and laid by our pool. Overall it was a fantastic time.

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My cousins trying their hand at canoeing for the first time!

 

 

 

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My cousin seeing a moose for the first time.

 

 

I made a video of the surprise of my mother when they came to visit. It was so hard to get her to come to our front door as she always goes through our garage but I came up with a white lie about seeing my new flowers in our front urns. She fell for it!  She was under the impression her sister didn’t care about her birthday as she hadn’t mentioned it at all….and that was all part of the plan!  It was a horrible, miserably cold rainy day and I was just glad that her party was not scheduled for that day.

 

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Boy was she surprised! I was worried she’d have a heart attack. Three years earlier, we surprised her sister in Italy by doing the same thing. We flew over and hid out for 3 days and showed up at her party. How lucky that these 2 sisters who were separated in 1957 when my mother emigrated to Canada, can still spend wonderful times together so many years later. They led very different lives but their bond is so beautiful. I feel this same bond with my own sister.

Here is the video. A lot of Italian speaking going on but the emotion of it is unmistakable. This was a great memory for everyone. My aunt is saying to my mother that she did it to her and now it was her turn to surprise her.
Here’s hoping this trip tonight brings some more wonderful memories for my sister, my mother and my aunt. I just wish I could be there.

 

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I never tire of this!

I’m a genealogical nerd in a big way!

How do you explain the fact that I get up, grab a coffee and start researching the minute I wake up- even when I’m not working with a client! I just research….constantly.

When I’m lucky enough to have a job to work on, it’s like someone gave me a great Christmas present and I get to open it every day and find something new. It’s hard to explain the joy I get from research.

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Some genealogists only want to blog, or lecture, or teach. Others write articles or work in archives or libraries. I was surprised to find out that some genealogists will NOT do private client work. It’s just not their thing. They love genealogy but in a different way than me, which is fine. We all contribute to this great profession in different ways. If it wasn’t for the genealogical bloggers, I would not have starting blogging! If not for the lecturers, I would not know a lot of things that I need to know.

I’ve been told that to be successful as a genealogist you have to find your “niche”. I haven’t found that yet. All I know is that I LOVE TO RESEARCH. I’m like a dog with a bone. I dig and dig and dig until I find what I’m looking for.

It’s not unusual for me to be researching late at night, early in the morning and most weekends. This is not a job for me. It’s a passion.

I’ve just finished working with a client who had me do 3 particular people in her tree that she had spent years trying to track down but couldn’t.

What a blast this was! She’s of French Canadian descent and I managed to find all 3 of these individuals. One was (what she thought) Jean Auldjo. Turns out his name was John Allgeo and he was married twice and had about 13 children but only 2 survived. He fought in the War of 1812.

The second person was a woman who she said was called Julie Beaunoyer. Turns out this woman was Marie Angelique Menard!?? It’s too long a story to tell you how she went from that name to the other, but let’s just say that whoever kept the records in the mid 1800s either was barely literate themselves, or hard of hearing….hahaha. Her name was entered at least 12 different ways with every record.

Finally, John Allgeo’s father David. He was from Long Island and moved to Quebec City in 1760. He not only held several positions in Quebec City, he was a lieutenant and commander of a British sloop during the American’s Seige of Quebec and was captured and inprisoned for 2 years! He was brought back to Boston where he remained until he returned in 1778. His life was fascinating.

Reading all the old records make me kind of fall into a trance-like state that transport me to that actual time and I’m that person or living that person’s life. I’m time travelling through the research, and EVERY SINGLE TIME, I learn something new. It’s not a job for me, it’s fun.

If there are any new genealogists out there, may you have as much fun as I have and enjoy this great career doing whatever you love, whether it be blogging, writing, teaching or doing research.

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