Family History Month – Héritage for Canadian Genealogy1
If you’re doing Canadian family history research, Héritage is a great digital resource.
Héritage is a free database at Canadiana and contains some of Canada’s primary source documents. Héritage searches the archival material of Library and Archives Canada, “Chronicling the country and its people from the 1600s to the mid-1900s, this collection represents a vast and unique resource for Canadian historians, students, and genealogists.”
The free service will search the database for you and return the collections where your ancestor’s name is recorded. Then you will need to go page by page, looking for your ancestor’s name.
In the image below I searched for an ancestor, Jehiel Cass, and Héritage found nine results. With the free service, I would then need to go through each collection, image by image, looking for Jehiel Cass (not knowing if he appears more than once in that collection).
The subscription service will search the database for you, return the collections where your ancestor is recorded, AND tell you on which page(s)/image(s) your ancestor’s record is located.
In the image below, I used my subscription (I quickly signed up for a $10 Canadian, one month, non-recurring subscription), and now Héritage shows nine search results AND links me to the images where Jehiel Cass’ records are found*.
You can see he’s found only once in some collections, but twice in others. I wouldn’t know that without the subscription service so imagine the time I would spend looking through all 1000+ pages of a collection. Definitely worth the $10 in my opinion, especially since these images are mainly scans of handwritten records and those are very tedious to read, page by page.
You can search the entire database or specifically search their collection of Genealogy records.
In the image below, I found my ancestor, Hannah Wells, living in Longueuil, Ottawa District, Canada, the wife of Abel Waters Wells, requesting a grant of 200 acres of land as the daughter of Joseph P. Cass, a United Empire Loyalist, and her request was recommended.
Searches don’t distinguish between upper and lower case or accents: “Héritage” and “heritage” yield the same results
? as a wildcard will replace one character in the middle or at the end of a word (i.e. defen?e will return defense and defence)
* as a wildcard will replace any number of characters, including zero (i.e. labo*r will return labour and labor)
Use quotation marks to search an exact phrase and you can’t use wildcards within quotation marks (i.e. “Jehiel Cass” will return that exact phrase while Jehiel Cass returns any Jehiel and any Cass, not necessarily both together)
Use – to exclude words or phrases (i.e.paris -france)
To find alternative terms use a | (i.e.ontario york | toronto returns ontario with either york or toronto)
Use ti: in front of a search word to search only document titles, use au: to search only authors/creators and su: to search only subject headings/keywords (i.e. ti:ottawa to find documents with Ottawa in the title)
Early Canadian records are hard to come by if you’re not living in Canada, so the searchable collections at Héritage are a lifesaver. Best in your research, whether it’s by fee or free!
*Caveat. I’ve been sent to pages where I can’t see my ancestor named, even though he or she is tagged on that page. I use Ctrl + F to bring up a search window and search for the name I want and then it will search the “tags” and I can see if they really tagged my ancestor, even then, I haven’t always found the person I expected to find. I’ll have to call Héritage and do a follow-up blog on how to really get the most out of my searches.**
**Follow up research: Héritage is very responsive to requests for assistance. When I explained that I couldn’t find my search query on the page where it was tagged as being located, this is the response they sent me, “For Héritage, there are in fact tags that were harvested from finding aids, which could only point us to the first page of the relevant section. Thus, it’s entirely possible that a tag appears on a page preceding the actual appearance of the name .” Many thanks to Daniel Velarde, Communications Officer at Canadiana.org for the quick and helpful response.