Québec Genealogical eSociety: A New Type of Family Research Society

I just joined the Québec Genealogical eSociety for $45 Cdn.

Johanne Gervais, a professional genealogist who is passionate about researching Quebec records, founded this online research society last month. It operates in both English and French.

In addition to participating in webinars, the membership will give me access to two important Quebec databases: the BMS2000 and the PRDH database.

According to the website:

The BMS2000 database contains:

BMS records (births, marriages and deaths) from 24 genealogical societies of Québec. Close to 10 million BMS records have been collected.

The PRDH database (The Research Program in Historical Demography) contains:

A repertory of vital events, 1621–1849, for Québec, which includes approximately 2.3 million baptismal, marriage, and burial certificates registered in Catholic parishes prior to 1850. Also included are approximately 26,000 Protestant marriages recorded before 1850 and more than 20,000 certificates of various other types: census records, marriage contracts, confirmations, and lists of immigrants.

A genealogical dictionary of families, 1621-1824 for Québec, which offers a reconstruction of the history of all families who settled in the St. Lawrence Valley, or roughly the current territory of today’s province of Québec, from the beginning of French colonization to 1824.

A repertory of couples and filial relations, 1621–1824 for Québec, which specifies for each spouse the names of his or her parents and the names of his or her other spouses, if applicable, with a link to these couples. In addition, a list of the couple’s children who married before 1824 is supplied, with a link to their first marriage.

If you want to learn more about the society, visit their website or stop by their table at RootsTech2018.

Congratulations on your launch Johanne!

Continue reading

Great Long Read: Ontario’s Failed Downtown Malls

Thanks to a friend on a Facebook group, I got to read Sean Marshall’s wonderful round-up story about struggling malls throughout downtown Ontario.

Marshall’s work mostly follows the narrative journalism structure form of notable nonfiction. He begins in the 60s and 70s before outlining the thesis of his article. and moves forward to the recent closing of Sears and how that will effect.

…downtown malls — mostly built with municipal and/or provincial government support — have been, without exception, commercial and urban development failures. Not only did they suffer from high vacancy rates, they helped to wreck the downtown cores they are located in rather than foster the economic revitalization they once promised.

After a brief look at the first Ontario mall in Hamilton in 1954, he then outlines the experiences various towns have had over time, describing creative adaptations to the spaces and demolitions when that occurred.  He ends with the recent closing of Sears and questions how that will effect malls that have functioned as built until now.

His story works well to capture emotion, in part because his overview of what happened in these malls encourages readers to think about their own experiences in them.

As Marshall described municipal attempts to use malls to renovate endangered downtowns, I couldn’t help remembering all the weekends spent at the mall as a teenager in Orangeville, a small town in Ontario. It makes me realize how much of a consumer culture I grew up in. All our meeting places involved buying something, even if it was only a hot chocolate. We met at the mall, at the donut shop and at the coffee shop in those days. Thinking about it, I’m not sure whether much has changed except that now I meet people in restaurants.

I like how Marshall kept his focus on the big picture of the rise and fall of downtown malls. At one point, he describes how various cities, such as Guelph, recovered the urban space taken up by malls. This also struck a chord with me because I spent some of my teenage years in that town also, usually studying at their library. Guelph has a wonderful downtown full of cafés and small boutiques. I didn’t even know it had a mall.

At the other extreme, the City of Guelph purchased its Eaton Centre in 1998, demolishing or rebuilding most of it. The Eaton’s store was replaced by the Sleeman Centre, an arena hosting an OHL junior hockey team and concerts. Most of the remaining mall was rebuilt as Old Quebec Street, designed to look like the original downtown street the mall was built upon.

Whether you live or lived in Ontario, I think Marshall’s story is well worth reading. Many of the trends he describes were duplicated across North America. If you’re in your fifties or older, let me know if it sparks memories of your youth as it did me.

Continue reading

Canada Launches Open Science Platform Today


Today, 33 major academic and pharmaceutical research partners publicly agreed to share health data in an open science system to combat Alzheimer’s, dementia, mental illness, spinal cord injuries and other diseases that affect the brains of approximately 11 million people across Canada.

They did so because they now have secure computer resources within a network called the Canadian Open Neuroscience Platform (CONP).

CONP was made possible through a $10 million dollar grant from the Canada Brain Research Fund. David Lametti, Member of Parliament for LaSalle-Émard-Verdun and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development announced the grant earlier today.

The project is designed to allow researchers to share, store, analyze, and disseminate data using 8,000-10,000 terabytes of storage space from Compute Canada. Partners have also agreed to create and participate in inter-disciplinary training through the new organization.

This step is the next crucial element in creating the vision announced on December 16, 2016 by Larry Tanenbaum in the presence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Tanenbaum, the Chairman and CEO of Kilmer Van Nostrand Co. Limited engineering construction company, donated $20 million dollars to create the Tanenbaum Open Science Institute at The Neuro.

The Open Science Institute operates under five philosophies designed to spur on innovation through unusual collaboration.

Partners agree to:

  • openly publish research results without restrictions,
  • share experimental data freely with international institutions,
  • refrain from obtaining patents,
  • share biological samples if supplies warrant it and patient confidentiality can be maintained, and
  • commercialize open source discoveries.

In addition to the Neuro at McGill, partners in todays announcement included: the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, University of Calgary, University of Alberta, Western University, Brock University, University of Toronto, York University, Queen’s University, Concordia University, McGill University, Université de Montreal, Université de Sherbrooke, Université Laval, and Dalhousie University.


Continue reading

Abu Film in Montreal Next Sunday

An award-winning film called Abu features a  father-son relationship complicated by identity transformations and immigration. Montreal’s rendezvous du cinema quebecois film festival plans to show the film next week.

The screening takes place at the Cinématèque québecoise, 335 boul. de Maisonneuve next Sunday, February 25 at 6 p.m. To see it, pick up tickets for $12 each at the Rendezvous du cinema quebecois website. The English-language film contains some portions in Urdu with English subtitles. 

Plan to stay for a question-and-answer session with director Arshad Khan following the screening. I met him a few weeks ago and he’s a compelling speaker.

Why Make the Film?

Khan told me that his dad died in a tragic train accident. While going through reams of family footage to put together a video for the official memorial, he began considering the idea of making a film about his dad’s life and their relationship.

We carried cameras with us everywhere,” he said. “My father loved photography and he wanted to create memories for all of us. I saw the footage as an opportunity to share my ‘real’ story, but it was a huge decision to really come out and tell people things I had never shared before.”

Focussing on Family Challenges

Khan said that he grew up in Pakistan in a household filled with photography, music and movies. Then his father underwent a religious transformation to become a conservative Muslim. From then on, he eschewed idle entertainment.

After that, Khan began recognizing his own identity as a gay man, something his father could not appreciate.  The racism the entire family faced after immigrating to Mississauga, Ontario added tension to their complicated communication hurdles.

Get a hint about what unfolds next via the film’s Youtube trailer.

Abu means father in Urdu. By making a film about how they related to one another, Khan could process his emotions and share them with others who might face similar struggles.

It has been a truly cathartic process and although it breaks all the rules of not sharing emotions and issues outside of the family, I hope that my father would be proud.”

Film Recognition

Abu won the jury prize for best documentary at three film festivals: the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, the TWIST Seattle Queer Film Festival and the Vancouver International South Asian Film Festival.

It also won audience awards in three others: the Montreal Image+Nation,​ the River to River Florence Indian Film Festival, and Kingston’s Reelout Film Festival.

Cineplex plans screenings in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver in mid-April.

Hope to see you there!

Continue reading
1 2 3 151