Have you ever been curious about your family’s history? I’m not talking about the last 50 years or so — I mean, way back to the beginning to those roots that started your family tree. It wasn’t until having my two daughters that I really began to wonder about my ancestors.
While I knew that my maternal grandparents immigrated to Canada from England and my paternal side came from Ireland, I wasn’t really privy to all the details — well, that was until recently.
When This Bird’s Day invited me to explore my family’s history with the help of Ancestry.ca, I jumped at the chance.
The website is the largest online family history resource that includes billions of historical records from Canada and around the world. You can learn about the milestones in your ancestors’ lives with the birth, marriage and death records dating back to 1608 — even their occupations, locations and religion are accessible in this compressive database.
To get started, all I had to do was complete a simple questionnaire, providing as much information I have and let the records reveal my clan’s story. Of course, I didn’t have all the details, which meant connecting with my remaining grandparents and mom to get helping filling in the gaps.
And what a story it was. My ancestor’s history is steeped in mystery, sadness and a bit of racy romance that left me saying “oh my!”
Here’s what I discovered on my maternal side:
It turns out that my grandfather’s parents (Winnifred and Sydney) may have had a bit of a scandalous relationship — at least by today’s standards.
Sydney was 22 and Winnifred was just nine when the two met for the first time. Note: there’s no evidence that the two began a romantic relationship right away.
According to the 1911 Census form, Sydney was first a boarder at Winnifred’s family’s home, but then went on to become the man of the household and take over her father’s butcher shop. While there was no way of telling when the two began courting, Syndey was 33 and Winifred was 23 when they married.
On my paternal side, I learned of a pretty heroic and brave woman named Mary Anne Cahill — my great great grandmother who I’ve never met. This heroic little lady is called Molly by her friends and family — it’s no coincidence that my daughter is named Molly.
According to immigration records, Molly was 56 and a widow when she immigrated from Ireland, along with her two sons, James and John, his wife Christina and their three sons, John, Stephen and Desmond — Desmond is my grandpa and he was just 10 months at the time they traveled over to Canada on the Canadian Pacific Steam Ship back in 1927, landing in Quebec on Oct. 1. Shortly after, the family made their way over to B.C. where they began to start a new life.
And thank goodness they did, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post.
Now, there is still so much more digging to do. With Ancestry.ca, your membership to the site includes unlimited access, which means I can also dig up information on my husband’s side too.
It was such an incredible experience to do all this detective work on my ancestors — with just a simple click of a mouse, there’s no limit to what you can find.
Are you ready to make your first discovery?
Visit www.ancestry.ca, simply start with your name, and they’ll help you search records from Canada and around the world to uncover your family story.
Disclosure: The author received a free subscription to facilitate this article. Opinions are those of the author and are not influenced.
Kristyl Clark is the publisher of She’s a Valley Mom. After the maternity leave of her second daughter ended two years ago, Kristyl decided to leave her full-time job to stay at home with her two little women. When she isn’t up to her eyeballs in mountains of pink laundry, fishing keys out of the toilet bowl or drowning her sorrows in a glass of wine, she keeps herself busy by working as a freelance writer for various magazines, newspapers and online publications.