Thursday, May 31, 2012

Exploring Canadian Land Petitions

I recently took part in a wonderful webinar and one of the (many) things I learned was that the Libraries and Archives of Canada has digitized Upper Canada Land Petitions.

My father has several Loyalist branches through his great-grandmother, Marion Wood Allen.  Each of those branches came to Ontario (Upper Canada) following the Revolutionary War and filed land petitions.

I had used the LAC to find my ancestors land petition information before, but I had no idea, until the webinar, that I could actually see the original record online as well.

With my new found information in hand I went looking for the original land petitions.  One person I looked for was Jacob Beam.  He had several land petition results, below is one of them:

Notice the microfilm, C-1620.  When I went to the Microform Digitization page, I searched by that number:

From there, I clicked on c-1620.  This brought up the original images, all 1,084 images in that file.  Once I got the hang of searching, it actually became pretty easy to find my petition among the many other petitions.    I would search by bundle (note that Jacob's is listed as B3 above) and then petition number (Jacob's is given as 143 above).  What is nice is that each page in the petition are marked with the petition number in the corner:

Above is the first page of Jacob's file (digitized image 112) with the petition number in the corner.

Yet another webinar I'm glad I took!  It should be noted that more than just Upper Canada Land Petitions have been digitized, a full list is here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012


This post doesn't have a whole lot to do with genealogy, but it was genealogy that persuaded me to give Duolingo a try.  What is Duolingo?  In a nutshell, it is a way of learning a language (for free, all online).  A more detailed answer can be found here and here and by watching this:

I've always liked languages but made poor choices when it comes to studying genealogically relevant ones.  Unfortunately, the language I chose to study throughout high school and college (French) doesn't help me with my genealogy research.  Likewise, my year of Spanish won't do me much good when researching my ancestors.  My desire to read and understand the languages of my ancestors have made German and Italian educational priorities for me.

Right now Duolingo offers English speakers courses in Spanish and German (yay!), as well as recently released, currently in Beta testing, French.  I signed up for German and have also been brushing up on my French for fun.  When Italian is offered in the future, I plan on learning that as well (hopefully, the Latin I took in middle school will help me out here!).

So why exactly do I want to learn these languages when I could just use a genealogical cheat sheet for records and such?  For a variety of reasons, some of which are: 1) I want to be able to translate whatever I come across (like the letter in German my great-great-grandfather wrote), 2) I want to read and understand materials my ancestors might have come across or that might help my research in the actual native language, 3) if I want a record from Italy, like my great-grandfather's army records, I can just sit down and write for it, 4) I want to be able to communicate with non-English speakers if I need to, like the archivist in Germany or a new found cousin in Italy.  I would also like to one day be able to work on more non-English record batches through FamilySearch Indexing.

Do I expect to become fluent using Duolingo?  No, but I hope (and believe) it will provide a foundation on which I can build.  I also know this will be a process and not something I'll accomplish overnight - but then that is half the fun of learning a new language!

One caveat, right now Duolingo is invitation only.  I signed up for the wait list some months ago and only just got my invite a few days ago.  However, I imagine when if Google acquires Duolingo, the site will go public fairly quickly.

Update (as of 5/23/12):  Duolingo is going to go public on 19 June.  If you can't wait that long, contact me and I'll give you an invite.

Disclosure: I have no affiliation with any of the people, companies or websites mentioned and linked to in this post, nor did I receive any remuneration for writing this post by anyone.