Hunting for the ancestoral Home

CanWest News Service
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Like many who are interested in genealogy, part of the search for my family's history has included research into details on where my ancestors lived and worked. Expanding this to include the addresses and images of actual buildings provides a visual, more personal and colourful experience to the discoveries.

Taking the experience one step further is the latest trend in family history research - ancestral house hunting. Many Canadians are hopping into their cars, boarding trains or even getting on a plane across the oceans to visit the actual homes and workplaces of their ancestors. Imagine taking your family history off of the computer screen and standing in the very same spot where your ancestors once stood. I have, and the feeling is incredible and deeply emotional.

Like many who are interested in genealogy, part of the search for my family's history has included research into details on where my ancestors lived and worked. Expanding this to include the addresses and images of actual buildings provides a visual, more personal and colourful experience to the discoveries.

Taking the experience one step further is the latest trend in family history research - ancestral house hunting. Many Canadians are hopping into their cars, boarding trains or even getting on a plane across the oceans to visit the actual homes and workplaces of their ancestors. Imagine taking your family history off of the computer screen and standing in the very same spot where your ancestors once stood. I have, and the feeling is incredible and deeply emotional.

Record keeping

Being the "first Canadian" in my family, I searched British census records and directories and found a record showing that my great-grandmother lived at a property called Windwhistle Farm in 1859 with a family called the Platts. Soon after, I planned a trip to jolly old England and you can bet that Windwhistle Farm was on the top of my list of places to visit.

After stopping for directions at a nearby gas station, I ended up knocking on the door of the farmhouse and meeting the current residents. They told me stories of the previous owner - which turned out to be a great-uncle of mine, John Platts, who went by the nickname "Fat Platts." Apparently, he was so big that when he passed away, his coffin had to be lowered out of the upper window because they couldn't get it through the door!

At another English farmhouse, which belonged to my great-great-grandparents that I discovered through researching old county directories, there were still roses in the garden that my ancestors had planted over 100 years earlier. The feeling was truly indescribable.

These stories are a dime a dozen for those who have taken similar journeys of discovery.

Resources available

And if you are interested in researching your ancestors' homes, the good news is that there is no shortage of resources available.

In Canada, the best resources to look at are city and area directories. In late June, Ancestry.ca will be launching a collection that spans almost 90 years of historical directories and includes the names of million of Canadians who lived through most of the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries.

The breadth of information you can learn about your ancestors from records like these may surprise you, including the exact addresses of their homes and workplaces. If these addresses still exist today, this can make for some neat road trips.

The next time you're planning a family vacation, I'd encourage you to consider a trip back to your ancestral roots. It's a different experience than lounging on a beach, but you might find it to be just as therapeutic.

For more information visit

Ancestry.ca

Geographic location: England, Canada

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