Where do I come from? Seems like a pretty easy question to answer. Some might say the city or country they were born in, while others might take the more obvious approach and respond with “my Mom”. For myself the question is not this cut and dry, because a large portion of my family’s history was lost when the world went to war for the second time. It is for that reason I decided, last year, to act upon my curiosities and began researching my families lost roots.
When I sat down to begin researching I realized I had no idea where to begin. I decided I would talk to my parents and extended family to see what they might know. I was excited to find out that my late uncle, on my father’s side, had started working on our genealogy. However, I quickly hit a wall when I contacted my cousins. Turns out, since his passing sixteen years ago, they had not come across any information. So, I was right back where I started, only having a few stories which might or might not have been true. Being that I didn't have much to go on, I decided to follow the green leaves and signed up with Ancestory.com.
Once I was signed up with Ancestory.com, and had submitted my credit card number to be billed the monthly minimum, I had access to their Canadian records and began my search. Luckily, Ancestory.com is a very user friendly website and anyone with a credit card can get an account to use it. It was just like the commercials say, “Simply type in a name” and see who you will discover. As it turns out my uncle had been using Ancestory.com to research some of the family, unfortunately his searches had not rendered many results. Thus, the second wall. So where do I go from here? I then remembered a school project I worked on which required me to use the public library archives to access information. It got me wondering, what if some of that information has been put online now.
The first website I visited in my search for information was the Canadian Government Archives, looking into census records. Sure enough, there was more information. I had finally found pay dirt. There in front of me on the screen shining brightly was the names of my ancestors, along with countries of origin, ages at time of census and so much more. I finally had my starting point. From there, I was able to search a number of provincial archive sites to locate even more information. Thus far I have managed to fill in a number of missing pieces of my family’s complicated puzzle, however there are many pieces still missing. I have hit another road block in this journey but I intend to break through it to find as much as I can regarding my family.
The most amazing outcome from this journey, into my families mysterious past, is that it has laid before me a path I had never expected. I have always loved a great mystery and lost genealogy is one of the greatest mysteries of all. Attempting to rediscover information about my loved ones sparked a fire in me for research. Therefore, I have decided to have a midlife career change and went back to school to become a librarian. As a librarian I hope to use my spare time to gain more information into my families past and help others who might be venturing out on a similar journey as me.
So if you are like me and have an interest in searching for your family roots, I leave you with this advice. Searching for family history can be very difficult at times and you will run into walls which you must break down brick by brick. Fortunately, there are a number of online sources available to the public which can aid in their searches. Unfortunately, there is a large amount of paper information stored in many library archives which has yet to be put online. This means you might have to go old school and spend time in a musty room in the back corner of the library. Lastly, I leave you with this thought, I am only one branch in my family’s tree, and however the roots grow deep, which give me strength to weather any storm.