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Maps and the lost Placename

5 Nov
Old Newspaper article National Railways Western Lines Map depicting Port Arthur / Fort William and Churchill to Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island. BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario Larry Walton

Old Newspaper article National Railways Western Lines Map depicting Port Arthur / Fort William and Churchill to Prince Rupert and Vancouver Island. BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario Larry Walton

“In cartography, as in medicine, art and science are inseparable. The perfect map blends art and science into an effective tool of visual communication.” ~ Dr. Keith Harries

How to travel to a homestead or unofficial placename in Saskatchewan or Western Canada.

How to determine distances between contemporary placenames and ghost towns.

Do you have an historic document or correspondence which has a placename that you have not heard of previously?

The homestead or locality which does not appear on a modern map are an enigma to the traveller trying to find the ancestral home. The genealogical researcher may wish to locate a local history book, or cemetery to glean more information about their family tree, however where would one locate the Saskatchewan place name “End Lake” or “Roderickville” for instance?

One very excellent resource is Geographical names in Canada | Natural Resources Canada Looking up a placename for any locale in Canada will produce the latitude and longitude along with a map, legal land description along with nearby placenames and the distance from the longitude / latitude supplied or the distance from the placename searched.

Another is the Online Historical Map Digitization Project showing maps, atlases and gazetteers from 1862 to the mid 1950s, genealogists and historians can find a variety of maps are a valuable reference tool for information about places, place names and their locations.

Old Newspaper article National Railways Western Lines Map British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba, Ontario.  By Larry Walton

Old Newspaper article National Railways Western Lines Map British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan Manitoba, Ontario. By Larry Walton

In Saskatchewan, take the initiative to also check the two Atlas of Saskatchewan books along with Bill Barry’s Geographic Names of Saskatchewan for placenames and their locations book ISBN1-897020-19-2. Saskatchewan local history directory : a locality guide to community and church histories in the Prairie History Room, Our Towns: Saskatchewan Communities from Abbey to Zenon Park By David McLennan and Saskatchewan Ghost Towns are other major resources to help you on your way with your preliminary research online. Search Saskatchewan Placenames amalgmates placenames from the National Archives resources, various books and atlases, and historical maps.

An historical location may be defined by the legal land location. How easy is it to locate Roderickville located at section 20 township 15 range 10 West of the third meridian?

“A map is the greatest of all epic poems. Its lines and colors show the realization of great dreams.” ~ Gilbert H. Grosvenor

Roderickville appears on Larry Walton’s Canadian National Railways Western Lines Map a part of the Online Historical Map Digitization Project and Roderickville also shows up in Geographic Names of Saskatchewan. It then becomes apparent that Roderickville is located just west and south of Swift Current near Rush Lake on the Canadian National Railway. Travelling to Roderickville, now becomes much easier with such bearings.

Obtaining a modern Rural Municipality map then provides current roads for the area. The determination of which Rural Municipality needs to be contacted can be derived from one of these maps which will help locate the legal land description, in this case section 20 township 15 range 10 West of the third meridian for Roderickville. This legal land location can be identified by

Rural Municipality Coulee No. 136
Latitude Longitude
50.273554 -107.345313
50° 16.413′ N 107° 20.719′ W
50° 16′ 24.79″ N 107° 20′ 43.13″ W
Township Road 154 Range Road 3105
MGRS/USNG UTM NTS
13U CR 32882 71677
13N 332882 5571678 C-28-C/72-J-6

So by entering in the degrees longitude and latitude into Geographical Names of Canada, the determination is made that:

Neighbouring placenames to Roderickville are

  • Braddock 24-13-11-W3 is a nearby Locality 19 kilometers
  • Burnham 16-15-11-W3 is a nearby Locality 9 kilometers
  • Coulee No. 136 is a nearby Rural Municipality 13 kilometers
  • Fauna 16-11-W3 is a nearby Railway Point 16 kilometers
  • Hallonquist 25-13-10-W3 is a nearby Hamlet 19 kilometers
  • Herbert 17-9-W3 is a nearby Town 19 kilometers
  • Neidpath 1-15-10-W3 is a nearby Hamlet l 9 kilometers
  • Rush Lake 1-17-11-W3 is a nearby Village 15 kilometers

By contacting the individual Rural Municipality for their map, driving on township and range grid (gravel) roads becomes very easy to arrive at your destination. Saskatchewan Geographic Perspectives

Do you wish to discover how to travel to an unincorporated hamlet? Pay attention to the road signs as you travel along the country gravel road. There is a pattern to the township and range Roads in Saskatchewan as are assigned by the Saskatchewan Provincial  Standard System of Rural Addressing.

“I am told there are people who do not care for maps, and I find it hard to believe.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

The other method to arrive at Roderickville section 20 township 15 range 10 West of the third meridian would be to use an online legal land converter which determines the latitude and longitude and the GPS bearing for any legal land location. Then plug this number into any GPS system.

Ascertaining which localities are close to Roderickville and which Rural Municipality Roderickville is located within, also helps to know which cemeteries are nearby and which local history books are written for the area. Use any library catalogue and type in the rural municipality or larger municipality name. Genealogists may be interested in neighbouring cemeteries to locate an ancestor. In Saskatchewan, a number of the cemeteries are online by a variety of groups, as they are for many countries and provinces across Canada. The Saskatchewan Genealogy Society, for example lists cemeteries by rural municipality.

  • Village population of at least 100
  • Town population of 500 or more
  • City 5,000 residents.

Ghost towns are communities that no longer exist or former Villages/Towns that have become unincorporated hamlets. Delve into some historic maps and placenames which have disappeared from contemporary maps. Before the motorized vehicle was in common use, pioneers and homesteaders relied on horse and cart or ox and buggy for transport to take grain to market, or to drive into town for mail, groceries and supplies. So how far could a horse travel for example? How far a horse travels in one day – Cartographers’ Guild suggests;

Horse / Horse and Cart Travel Distances
Geographic surface
Level or rolling terrain: Without a cart With a loaded cart
On Roads / trails 40 miles/day 64 kilometers/day 20 miles/day 32 kilometers/day
Off-Road (or unkempt trails etc)
Hilly terrain: 30 / 51 15 / 24
Mountainous terrain: 20 / 32 10 / 16
Level/rolling grasslands: 30 / 51 15 / 24
Hilly grasslands: 25 / 40 12 / 19
Level/rolling forest/thick scrub: 20 / 32 10 / 16
Very hilly forest/thick scrub: 15 / 24 7 / 11
Un-blazed Mountain passes: 10 / 16 5 / 8
Marshland: 10 / 16 5 / 8

According to Chapter 7 Settlement Evolution since the Late Nineteenth Century. Saskatchewan Geographic Perspectives by Hansgeorg Schlichtmann and M.L. Lewry, towns “were usually spaced 12 to 15 km apart along a railway line so that, in the age of horse-and-cart traffic, a farmer could make a round trip to town and back in one day. Along GTP lines (e.g. the Regina-Fort Qu’Appelle-Melville line) they were rather more closely spaced and, subsequently, more of them have declined or even disappeared more than towns on other trunk lines.”. Local Improvement Districts (LID’s) and, Statute Labour and Fire (SLF) Districts improve the local community, establishing cemeteries, honouring war dead, providing health care, roads, bridges. The horse and cart were greatly assisted by the work of the early precursors to the RM and to the Department of Highways and the ensuing Rural Municipality formation. LIDs and SLFs were replaced by Rural Municipalites (RM) following the Spencer Commission findings. Roads were straightened in the 1960s following World War II as more families had access to motorized transport with improved technologies from World War II. When the veterans returned home, society made further improvements. These improvements phased out the need for travel by horse, horse and cart, and ox and buggy. Gradually the extensive railway system saw branch lines closing due to the same phenomena. The one room school house gave way to the consolidated school in town. Families shifted away from the rural farm following the drought and depression in the 1930s seeking economic recovery in the urban centres. The consolidated school also attracted younger families to urban centres and away from living a rural existence.

“First, farms became larger and the rural population declined, so that the sales volume of small-town stores decreased and many businesses ceased to be viable. Second, motor vehicles became more affordable and highways were improved, thereby increasing mobility. Third, this mobility, along with greater disposable income, enabled rural people to purchase goods and services available in higher-order, more distant central places. Fourth, to achieve costs savings, many smaller grain elevators, and public service facilities such as schools and hospitals were replaced by larger ones, at fewer locations. …A number of small settlements have disappeared.” Schlichtmann

Good luck on your journey, and have a lot of fun discovering where once there was a thriving and active community of settlers, which may no longer exist. What can be found today? Does the foundation of a store, or a school district flag pole still remain? Here is another mystery; McMichael near Melfort on Larry Walton’s Canadian National Railways Western Lines Map. This placename of McMichael does not appear on contemporary maps, and is not discovered by Bill Barry in his book, so what is known of this placename that has disappeared? Are there any other placenames on historic maps which are not listed at Search Saskatchewan Placenames? Lost places collect placenames without a location, and the Search Saskatchewan Placenames seeks to update its listing with new additions as they are submitted.

Have fun on your genealogical journey discovering what are the neighbouring communities of an ancestral ghost town. By locating a historic settlement it is easier to find resources such as local history books, libraries, museums, historical societies, cemeteries and perhaps a descendant still farming on the “Century Farm” to help discover further information for the family tree. If you are tracking down a historic placename in correspondence or a treasured historic letter, please bear in mind, that pioneers and settlers often referred to their placename where they lived as the name which may be indeed the one rom schoolhouse district as it was an integral part of the new community, and settlers gathered together at the school house for meetings, dances, rallies, the Christmas play etc.

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Related Posts:

Country Roads Leading Home

Where were Saskatchewan homesteads located?

How do I locate my Ancestors Home Town in Saskatchewan?

Locate Your Saskatchewan Place-name

How did pioneers travel to their prairie homesteads?

Maybe the Ghosts Will Live Again! Saskatchewan Ghost Towns… Do you have oral history about a Saskatchewan placename not on a current map? How do you find those communities which were once dotted around the prairie every six miles or so?

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Cemeteries, the silent historian

20 Dec

Graceful Delight

Cemeteries, the silent historian

This is part 2 of a 7 part series

Cemeteries do indeed, silently document the past local histories and biographies. As William Dollarhide, notes, genealogists do make ancestral discoveries at cemeteries, and are not “obsessed with death, burials, or other ghoulish activities.” It is from the cemetery records or tombstone inscriptions that an ancestor can be located with certainty, unless there are no records, no tombstone erected or if the cemetery is unkempt. In Saskatchewan, it is invaluable to learn legal land nomenclature, the township, range and meridian survey system, to augment Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and view historical placenames in the vicinity of the cemetery. These placenames lead to compiled family histories published mainly for the 75th anniversary of the province (1980), however some books went to print in 1955 (50th provincial birthday) and others in 2005 (the 100th anniversary). These local history, family biography books contain a variety of records, cemetery history and occasionally the cemetery transcription as well. The imperative of keeping proper citations, digital records, differentiating between primary source and secondary source records is noted the book Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian written by Elizabeth Shown Mills for genealogists.

Locating homestead locations will help to ascertain the locale, city or rural municipality. Then the cemetery, funeral home, newspaper used for an obituary and death certificate fall into place. However cemetery and probate records may fall short if the ancestor decided upon cremation or drawing up a personal will. Sharon Debartolo Carmack  delves into additional records of death such as “autopsy and coroners’ records, death certificates, obituaries, death notices, wills and probate, prayer and memorial cards and funeral home records, and mortality schedules.”

The practice of erecting a grave marker made of wood in the shape of a cross was erected to commemorate a grave site may have succumbed to one of the numerous prairie fires which historically ravaged the prairie grasslands in blazing sweeps hundreds of miles across. The lack of stone or permanent grave markers, erosion, surface land cultivation, landscaping, prairie fires, exodus of local families and the subsequent deterioration of community and services contribute to the neglect of a grave site, the location unknown to future generations. As John P. Nickel notes, “in the early days when there were no cemeteries, many burials were done in school yards, gardens or fields.” ” “When people died, they would essentially bury them there, wherever it happened, everywhere. There were no cemeteries,” said Germann in a CBC news report, “With settlement and erosion, these things get exposed.”

“Ever wonder what happens when a church closes, members move away, and a cemetery is left uncared for?” asks the Heritage Cemeteries Project. Unmarked cemeteries are particularly hard to find, and derelict abandoned cemeteries quite often have no burial register, cemetery plot map, death certificates, grave markers or other markers such as the case for Efremovka and Spasovoka Doukhovor Cemeteries. “In some cases, a burial spot may be an abandoned cemetery,” reports Colorado Cemeteries, “when the owners of the property have left the area, and the property is no longer the responsibility of anyone.”

Typically there are family cemeteries, church owned, private, national, city, town and municipal cemeteries. Cemeteries may have undefined property boundaries, no signage or access roadways creating difficulty when locating graveyards.

The dates of cemeteries can be reflected by the types of monuments demarking the grave sites. Tombstone markers have evolved from wooden markers, stone mounds or circles, sandstone slabs, marble stone work, granite tombstones and the contemporary polished granite and marble. Additionally, in a cemetery, there may be headstone, footstone, ground tablet, basal table grave, ruin, cross, pedestal obelisk, pedestal column, Funeral home plaque, or bedstead set in an urban, country, family, private, isolated or rural setting. Mausoleum architecture, be it Romanesque, Gothic Revial, or Art Deco, they, too, reflect time periods in history, social values and chronological trends.

From the inscriptions, the names and dates are vital to the genealogist assembling a family tree. Additionally, symbols, backgrounds, art, Religious iconography, accomplishments, commemorative items, epitaphs, carvings, and sentiments are recorded by those remembering their dearly departed. These symbols may indicate a social identity such as membership in organizations giving way to additional information and further genealogical research. Family burial plots show groupings or symbols indicated they are related in some way.

According to Robert Redfield, “acculturation” is the “phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups.” The adaptions of ethnic bloc settlements is evident in their burial customs, cemetery tombstone styles and the language chosen for the tombstone inscriptions.

Young pupils do not have to wait till University, they can be exposed to archaeological studies by visiting a cemetery and studying the culture of the community and the changes it its culture. Cemeteries tell the story of the deceased, those who mourned them, their views of death, and the society in which they lived.

Trends and customs in burial customs of ethnic, cultural and spiritual communities demark cemetery sections or complete graveyard styles of internment and tombstone design. Such was the case for Verna Elinor Gallén who detailed “variations in the expressions of social identity provided by the different Saskatchewan Finnish cemeteries” in Silence We Remember: The Historical Archaeology of Finnish Cemeteries in Saskatchewan. Noting the details of both tombstone and grave yard tells a story of communities in Saskatchewan, their growth and development, in times of sickness, war, and health.

Note: This program (Saskatchewan Genealogy Society ~ Saskatchewan Cemetery Care and Maintenance Program SCCMP ) has been discontinued, however it ws intriguing, so the information is left here in this blog online

Additional Resources:

Links

Canada Gen Web Saskatchewan Cemeteries Project

Network Canadian Cemetery Management September 2010 Vol 24 No 10

Saskatchewan Gen Web Cemetery Resources and Organisations

Saskatchewan Genealogy Society Cemetery Index

Saskatchewan Historic Cemetery Manual

 SCCMP “The Saskatchewan Cemetery Care and Maintenance Program”

Books

Victorian cemetery art by Edmund Vincent Gillon

Bibliography:

Links to sources are embedded in text above.

Additionally:

Redfield, Robert, Ralph Linton and Melville J. Herkovits

1936 Memorandum for the Study of Acculturation. American Anthropologist 38(1):149- 152.

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Saskatchewan From Many People’s Strength ~ A Birthday Quiz

8 Aug

Peaches and Cream ~ Spring Avens

Saskatchewan’s birthday celebration arrives on September 1. On September 1, 1905, Saskatchewan became a province, with inaugural celebrations held September 4. September 1, 2005 was the 100th anniversary of our province, and in 2012 we carry on the tradition with the 107th anniversary celebration!

Who were some of the people within the Saskatchewan communities? What were some of the local histories and events? The provincial motto Multis e gentibus vires is Latin meaning “From Many Peoples Strength.” If you were to delve into the history of the province of Saskatchewan what questions would you ask? What questions would you form about the people and its residents?

Here is a short quiz centering upon the province of Saskatchewan, its people culture and formation.

1. Amongst its various nicknames, The City of Bridges, The Hub City, POW City, and Paris of the Prairies, which city is referred to?

2. Regina is the provincial capital city, what was its earlier nick name?

3. What is the name of the Crown corporation formed in the year, 2000?

4. Name one of the very first naval engagements which involved the Canadian forces.

5. Where was the first “University of Saskatchewan” incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1883?

6. Who was Canada’s first commercially licensed aviation pilot?

7. Would prairie fires, sickness, neighbourhood rivalry be included as a part of the Saskatchewan Homestead Record files? True or False.

8. Following the First World War (1914-1918), returning soldiers had to be re-settled in Canada what program was put into effect?

9. On March 27, 1883 Regina became the capital of the North-West Territories. Before this which two placenames had been the territorial capital (both within the area now known as Saskatchewan)?

10. When did schooling change from Hudson Bay Company sponsored missionaries established by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Methodist and Presbyterian Churches to each provincial and territorial government?

11. Who was Saskatchewan’s first woman Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) who successfully achieved the demarcation of historical sites throughout the province?

12. In 1873 the “Cypress Hills Massacre” instigated a group of men to gather for “The Great March” acting on the motto “Maintiens Le Droit” (Uphold the Right) What was the name of this column of men on horseback?

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Related links:

Saskatchewan Quiz

Saskatchewan quiz – Canada.com

Saskatoon 100 Quiz CBC Saskatchewan

Celebrating Saskatchewan’s Heritage Artifact Quiz ~Saskatoon Public Schools

Sask Gen Web for Kids of all ages ~! Genealogy puzzlers and History Games

Land Claims in Saskatchewan Quiz ~ Saskatchewan Schools

Saskatchewan Trivia ~ Government of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan Roughriders 100 years Quiz 2 Regina Leader Post

Saskatchewan Roughriders 100 years Quiz 1 Regina Leader Post

CBC Saskatchewan “Tales from the Tornado 1912-2012” Tornado Quiz

Fransaskois Quiz ~ Canada’s Offical Languages Newsletter

Oline Heritage Quiz ~ For Teachers and Students – Tourism, Parks, Culture and Sport – Government of Saskatchewan

Virtual Museums of Canada Quiz in Prairie Museums

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Related Posts:

Homestead Locations Township and Range Quizzes

Test Your Knowledge of Saskatchewan’s Placenames. Quiz One.

The Value of Standardizing Placenames for Genealogists. Quiz One. Answers.

Landmarks and Geophysical Saskatchewan Placenames. Quiz Two.

Uncovering Historical Census and Cemetery Records ~ Answers to Quiz 2

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