Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sweet Spots: Halifax, Nova Scotia

Doing genealogy for Halifax, Nova Scotia has been like a frolic through a genealogical sunny meadow. I've never seen a place that made it so easy to find original records, to use a new website, or trace multiple generations of a family. Quite frankly, when I die and go to genealogy heaven, it's gonna look like Canada.

There's an essential trifecta which allows this to be the case, and our friends to the North deserve mad props for a job well done. So if you're doing Maritime genealogy, there are three resources you need to be using.

Library and Archives Canada

Before you sign up for, get your census records here! They have census records available for free, which you can download. The only one you have to pay to see is the 1921 Canadian census, which LAC sold to But if you take a visit to a local Latter-day Saint family history center, you can search the 1921 census there for free.

LAC is also your first stop for doing war research, especially WWI. My great great grandfather Lester Ince was one of the few black men admitted to the Canadian Expeditionary Forces in 1915. I got free access to his attestation papers, which I could also download for free. When I looked into what it would cost to buy copies of his personnel file, I was a little irritated to see it was .40 a page for a file of 25-75 pages. But it didn't last long, because I discovered that all of these personnel files are being digitized in honor of the 100th anniversary of World War I. By next year, I'll be able to download this information for free.

More countries should be taking lessons from Canada. 

Nova Scotia Archives, Historical Vital Statistics

The Nova Scotia Archives website itself is average. Every time I go onto it I find myself in a new section for the first time, not sure how I got there, and not really where I intended to go. But that's not the website on which I want to focus.

Buried in that website is THIS treasure trove:

Not only can you search for birth, death, and marriage records... but you can search for them all on the same website... and you can see the originals!

I know, right?! Unheard of! But now that I've seen that someone has managed to do it, I can't for the life of me figure out what is wrong with the rest of the world.

Halifax Public Libraries

So my 3x great grandfather was a pretty amazing dude. He didn't let any sort of racial prejudice keep him from being a successful provider for his family. He lived a long life, fought the good fight, and after his death he actually had an obituary. And you wouldn't believe the struggle I've been through to find it.

I won't describe it, it's painful to my cerebrum.

Within 24 hours of contacting the Halifax Public Library and submitting my inquiry, they found the obituary I wanted. With incorrect information to search with, I might add. And not only are they going to send me the bill WITH the obituary, they're only gonna charge me $5 Canadian.

They didn't come at me with some nonsense about hiring a genealogist, or let's charge you $30 a year to be a part of our genealogy society first, or refuse to help me because I'm not a resident of their library system. Heck, I'm not even a resident of their country. But they gave my request their full attention until it was resolved, and they barely asked me for anything in return. And because of that, I'm going to give them a donation.