Wednesday, September 17, 2008

When did your ancestors get off the boat?

For mine, the year was 1954 at the port of Montreal -- with me toddling alongside, actually, fast as my little legs could carry me. "Mummy," I said to my ancestor, "Where are we?"

So my family did not make the cut for this new database of shipboard migrants arriving at Canadian ports, released yesterday by the genealogical webco The collection covers the years 1865 to 1935 -- too early for us, too late for my in-laws -- but still running to 7 million names of immigrants.

This is material long available from Library and Archives Canada if you knew or were willing to learn how to research in them. But Ancestry has digitized it and put it online, making it instantly available for searches by name (and other categories) in exchange for their fee.

Ancestry is adding data, but the venerable Quebec Literary and Historical Society is shedding some, disposing of 1500 very old books in its collection -- to some outrage.
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