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Oh Canada! Updates on the Canadian Genealogical Community

[Editor’s Note: GeneaBloggers member Elizabeth Lapointe offers our readers an update on the Canadian genealogical community. We’ll be carrying these periodic updates here at GeneaBloggers and in our GeneaBloggers E-News!]

Canada, the second-largest country in the world in terms of land mass, is a country with a population of 34-million, of which 75 percent live within 100 miles of the United States, a country with which Canada shares the world’s longest uninterrupted land border!

There are times when I think of the Canadian genealogical community as a carpet of diverse colours, laying out the foundation where everyone can discover their roots—from the early Irish settlers in Newfoundland, to the Chinese settlers in western British Columbia, to the Aboriginal peoples from coast to coast to coast.

The research we do in our country is the ribbon which ties all of us together, as it runs through the country’s archives, museums, and libraries, bringing our history alive. Genealogy unites cousins right across our two countries in a common spirit, as they try to find out where their great-great-grandparents, for example, immigrated from in England to Canada and beyond, for roughly a quarter of Americans can trace their ancestry to Canada.

Today, Canada is home to at least 80 genealogical groups and societies, hundreds of mailing lists, and to regional conferences in areas such as Alberta (the Alberta Genealogical Society and Ontario (the Ontario Genealogical Society in the spring of the year, and the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa’s fall conference

In 2011, Leighann Neilson, Associate Professor of Marketing, and Del Muise, Professor Emeritus of History—both from Carleton University in Ottawa, and both family historians—designed and created The Canadian Genealogical Survey.

They had such a large response globally that they were a bit late in amassing all of the information. Of the approximately 2,700 people who gave their opinion on everything from “Why Do You Belong to a Family History Society?” (the majority said because they wanted to find out about their family) to “How Long Have You Been Involved With Family History?” (with the average length of time being 15 years), 2,000 of them were Canadian.

It is estimated that between 20-25 percent of the population (in currents terms, about 6.5-8.5 million Canadians) had conducted family research during the past year (2011), and 56 percent of the respondents were producing a scrapbook, diary, cookbook, or a family history. Furthermore, almost 29 percent of the respondents were going to put it online to share with family and friends, with about the same number planning to publish their history for the public.

Professors Neilson and Muise have started a blog at, where you can keep abreast of their findings.

They also have a bibliography on the blog of books and articles from journals, many of them having abstracts, which you can read.

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Elizabeth Lapointe has worked on her family history for the past 20 years. She is a member of various genealogical societies in Canada, is the International/At-Large Director for the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE), is a member of the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists (OCAPG), and is the editor of Families, the journal of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

Elizabeth also has a blog on Canadian genealogy, history, and heritage at She can be reached at