Geneaology…Exploring Our Past

Pipestone Flyer

Canadians with Irish, Polish, Scottish, German, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Austrian, Swedish or any other ethnic background, have something in common. They all have ancestors that came to Canada from another county seeking a better life. Today, some descendants know a great deal about their ancestors and have created family trees crossing the ocean, several countries and extending to 9-10 generations. However, most know very little and are frantically searching for pieces of information to fill huge gaps. In many cases it is a race against the clock as grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings and others with critical information are passing away and taking critical information with them.

    On October 19th, 2013 approximately 30 people gathered at NorQuest College in Wetaskiwin to attend the annual genealogy workshop hosted by the Wetaskiwin Branch of the Alberta Genealogical Society. All were seeking useful guidance on how to approach the never ending puzzle of searching for their roots; a puzzle that is very time consuming, sometimes frustrating but always exciting. 

“Genealogy is a fascinating and rewarding field of research, which involves working like a detective. Our search for our roots gives us a window on our place in the world. If we do more than the basic list it can be interesting to ourselves and to our children and grandchildren. I believe that every person, every parent, should have at least a brief biographical outline to pass on to our children or our community,” Andrew Gregorovich.

    Thank goodness there is help. At 8:30 in the morning, newcomers and advanced genealogists attended the workshop. They were about to begin a day that would provide a great deal of guidance and helpful advice about what to do, and what not to do when conducting a search. Guiding the process was Lyn Meehan, author, historian and library professional who shared her 30+ years of research, experience and insights about effective genealogy search strategies.  She carefully described how to use various sources (printed  and electronic) in genealogical research.

    Joining Meehan was John Althouse, author, historian, educator who described the process on how maps can assist with genealogical research; where to find maps and what online tools will  help searchers understand the history of their ancestors’ homeland. 

    The presentors shared detailed information about useful search tools:

• Family bibles… were passed down from generation to generation.

• Vital Statistics… (birth, marriage and death certificates).

• Church Records… usually include baptisms, confirmations, marriages, burials, and minutes.

• Obituaries, memorials cards… death notices can be a gold mine of biographical information or sparse.

• Local Family Histories… in Canada were compiled and published by local communities in the early 1980’s funded from federal grants.

• Biographies, Diaries, etc… give information about persons who lived in a particular area.

• Community, Municipal, County and Provincial Histories… tell of the events in a community or larger area.

• Probate Records… Wills, Administrations and inventories show a court's decisions regarding the distribution of the estate of a deceased person to his or her heirs or creditors.

• Newspapers… Local newspapers report local, regional, national, and global news. They also include notices of births, marriages, deaths, obituaries, etc.

    The event was planned and hosted by long time genealogy advocates Alice Hoyle, Claudia Malloch and Sharon Aney, members of the Wetaskiwin Branch of the Alberta Genealogy Society.

    Want to start or expand your journey into exploring your ancestry? Learn more about how to search genealogy records, databases and resources for Canada and its provinces including surname origins, cemeteries, census records, immigration records, libraries, archives, and birth, marriage and death records?  

Start your journey by joining the Wetaskiwin Branch of the Alberta Genealogy Society at a monthly meeting held on the third Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm at the LDS Church 5410 – 36 Avenue (use NE back door off parking lot) Wetaskiwin, AB.

    Note from Barry – For all of my life I wanted to know more details about the handed down statement that my ancestors came from “Brody in the province of Galicia in Ukraine”. What kind of community did they come from? What kind of house did they live in? Who were they? And so much more. Although my search continually ran into what was appearing to be insurmountable walls, one evening in October 2009 while sitting in front of my computer I emailed a longshot email inquiry in to Karen Lemiski, curator of the Basilian Fathers Museum in Mundare, about 70 kilometres east of Edmonton,with the message:

    "Hello, I am trying to track history of the Stablyk family.  Matt McDonald (Demetrius Stablyk) was born in the Mundare district in 1905. Do you have, or know of any church records that might verify?"

    Her exciting response was, "The parents of the children were Andrii Steblyk and Eva (maiden name Dolaba). Both were from the town of Konjuszkiw (Koniushkiv), district of Brody (in the northeast corner of Galicia)." The birth records of my father and his four siblings uncovered a lifelong mystery. Our grandparents had left a small, rural Ukrainian village in the early 1900s. Their destination: Mundare, Alberta, Canada.

    From the moment I read the curator's email, I knew I had to visit Koniushkiv. And I did. I went to Ukraine for a month in the spring of 2012 and again in 2013. I have been to the village of Koniushkiv that my grandmother came from and the adjacent village of Bilavtsi that records show my grandfather came from. I have visited the archives in Lviv, small farms, schools, villages and historical sites in Ukraine with my gifted and respected researcher, translator and guide,  Irena Golovachova. We studied 1844 cadastral (municipal property) maps. We identified  properties from which my ancestors came. We met a gentleman, Vasyl Dolaba, who in all likelyhood is a relative.  In 2013, we  met with a 95 year old neighboor who lived across the street from the Dolaba property, who provided new information about my ancestors. (Now am digging again because from what the lady told us, my great-grandfather was married twice – so where does my grandmother fit in with this). Yes, geneaology is a puzzle that is very time consuming, sometimes frustrating,  but always exciting. And never ending. 

     For information about joining the Wetaskiwin Geneaology Society or attending a meeting, phone Claudia@ (780) 352-0685 or Alice@ (780) 352-2150 or email wetaskiwin@abgensoc.ca