Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Family tree tips for digging further

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

Genealogy is one of my hobbies that has evolved into a passion over the past few years. I thought I had learned everything about research online, but recently I discovered something quite exciting that I’d like to share.

My great uncle William Joseph Williams died in World War I in Salonika, Greece, at age 24. Through the internet I was able to acquire a copy of his date of death, his Royal Welsh Fusilier badge number, the date he enlisted and went to France, and even a photo of his grave in Greece in the Karasouli Military Cemetery. I also tracked down his death notice in a Welsh newspaper, which was no mean feat!

I’d wondered for some time if his name had been included on a memorial in his hometown of Blaenau Ffestiniog in North Wales. My husband and I visited the town in May 2017 and checked out the only WWI memorial there but were met with disappointment. I nearly gave up in defeat, but a true genealogy detective is like a dog with a bone; you just can’t let go.

I enjoy a subscription to Family Tree UK Magazine in digital format. While checking out the latest edition a few months ago, I noticed that hovering my computer mouse over the links included in the articles and clicking would take me to the websites listed. I began poking around and I discovered a list of WWI memorials in Wales.

One thing led to another, and I double checked other things using Google and found photos of a WWI list of soldiers from Blaenau Ffestiniog in the local hospital. My great uncle’s name is on it! I nearly fell off my chair with this discovery.

Williams-Memorial-Plaque

Memorial plaque for WWI, parish of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales. Taken by MHS June 2013 from http://www.warmemorialsonline.org.uk

According to the website, three large wooden boards were placed in the hospital’s main corridor at the Blaenau Memorial Hospital on Wynne Road. I checked it out on Google maps and it’s located very close to where we stayed when we visited last year. If only we had known then, we might have been able to see the memorial in person.

However, the hospital is now closed permanently so I don’t know what will become of the memorial. My next mission is to somehow contact the hospital and make inquiries.

Don’t give up if you have a mystery in your family research. Remember that online technology has improved by leaps and bounds, and there are many helpful experts to assist you in your hunt, along with amazing tools.

Loretta Houben enjoys genealogy full time and subscribes to the Ancestry website. However, she often finds many clues for her family research by diligently using Google search and Google maps.

Copyright 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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October 2018 issue of RCC News is here

RCC News October 2018

This issue of the RCC News is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood.

Get your latest issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Three cheers for community volunteer Carla Nissen
  • RCC News 20 years: Green Thumb to the Rescue – Theatre company campaigns to rebuild historic Carleton School House
  • Family tree tips for digging further
  • Eating Out in RC: Zorro’s Pizza and Spaghetti House
  • What you need to know for estate planning
  • Nutrition on a budget
  • Gardening tips for fall
  • The Other Guy’s opinion on marijuana
  • Renfrew Ravine boardwalk native planting

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the November 2018 issue is October 10. We welcome story submissions from 300 to 400 words long. Accompanying photos must be high resolution in a jpg file at least 1 MB large and include a photo caption and the name of the photographer.


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Family Tree Tips: Begin at the beginning

Family-Tree

An example of a family tree. Also look online for examples of pedigree charts. Image courtesy of Margaret Houben

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

The majority of us are the descendants of immigrants. Not too far in our distant past, either our parents, grandparents or great-grandparents relocated to this wonderful country of Canada, and somehow wound up in the Renfrew-Collingwood area.

While growing up here I was aware that my mother’s side of the family lived in Oregon and my father’s side of the family lived in the Lower Mainland. While researching my dad’s past in 2011, I became obsessed with the “hows and whys” of their move from the prairies where they previously lived.

My dad was born in Spalding, Saskatchewan, but his parents both came from Wales. His father came alone to Canada in 1910, and his mother arrived in 1927 as a young woman of 19, along with her parents and siblings.

Although my grandpa was born in North Wales, and my grandma in South Wales, they met on the prairies and eventually wound up here on the West Coast.

My mom’s family are German and moved to Texas, USA in 1910 to escape political and religious turmoil in the land of Russia. They got out just before the Russian Revolution and the First World War erupted close to their farm. Due to their farming expertise, they were able to save up money and purchase acreage in Amity, Oregon.

Through a series of events, my parents met and wound up in the city of Vancouver, far removed from their farm roots. It’s fascinating how the dots connect and if you know how to research you can connect them even further back and discover clues as to how and why your ancestors chose Canada or the USA to move to.

The word genealogy means “a record or account of the ancestry and descent of a person, family, group; the study of ancestries and histories; and the descent from an original form or progenitor; lineage; ancestry.” Everyone’s genealogy will of course be different and unique, which is why genealogy is now so popular, especially with the TV show series Who Do You Think You Are in Britain and the USA.

Thanks in large part to digitized documentation being uploaded to the internet by various organizations, a search into the past is now convenient and fairly easy, although when I began my journey of genealogy research I never knew how addictive it would become! If you have patience and your family information is intact, you will be rewarded as you search.

The first thing to be done is to fill in a family tree. Begin with yourself and your birth date and place of birth. Add your parent’s names and their birth dates and place of birth. If your parents are living, ask them for the names of their parents and dates/places of birth. Hopefully you will have this much to begin with.

I keep my paper copies in binders, inserted into clear plastic sheets. I found some lovely binders at Daiso Dollar Store in Aberdeen Mall in Richmond, which already have the clear sheets inside. They are a reasonable cost of $2 each and have 40 pages. Also keep a copy of everything on your computer and remember to do weekly backups.

A home photocopier/scanner unit is a marvellous asset in your family tree hobby. A clear concise way of keeping track of the information you will be adding is a definite must in genealogy research. You need to make files and update them regularly. Each person has their own system.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Part of the hobby of genealogy is gathering information which is turned into charts but the fun part is the stories that come to light!

Here is a chart so you can begin as soon as possible. The best goal in your family tree research is not to put off to tomorrow what can be done today! And who knows, maybe you have someone famous or well known in the branches of that tree.

In the next installment, popular genealogy websites will be discussed, as well as a local British Columbia genealogical society who host free monthly meetings at the Vancouver library central branch.

Loretta Houben is deeply involved in researching the mysteries in her paternal family tree and has been quite successful in 2013.

First published in the September 2013 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

 


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Family tree tips for creating a memory box

Loretta Houben created this memory box as a tribute to her grandma Helen.

Loretta Houben created this memory box as a tribute to her grandma Helen.

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

A fun way to keep your family history alive is to create a memory box. Many sizes of boxes are available and can be purchased from Michael’s craft stores, Dollarama or Winner’s Homesense. They range in price from $3 to $25.

The focal point of the box could be a favourite photo or a personal keepsake. In my case I chose the earliest photo available of my maternal grandma, Helen Brutke. She was a talented seamstress so I lined the back of the box with fabric similar to the era in which she did most of her sewing.

I glued the fabric to the back of the box and added lace, which I had purchased years ago at my grandma’s favourite fabric store in Salem, Oregon. I included vintage buttons and a scrap of antique lace from her button box.

I played around with where to place the framed photo and the other items, and had fun while doing so! Whenever I look at this special memory box, I wish I had been able to know Grandma Helen, but she died when I was 10 days old. In this way I can’t forget her, thankful that I inherited her love of sewing.

A memory box also makes a wonderful gift for a loved one. (Remember Mother’s Day is on May 11th!) For my dad’s 80th birthday I bought a large box and included photos from all decades of his life, embellished the photos with scrap book images from the dollar store, and used coloured lettering from Michael’s craft store. It was fun to choose the pictures that represented his long life.

This year I’m working on a very special project to celebrate the upcoming First World War centenary. My great uncle, William Williams, who I wrote about in the April 2014 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News Family Tree Tips article, died after being wounded in battle in Salonika, Greece in 1917.

I plan to use a larger memory box and include a photo, a copy of his war medal card, photo copies of Salonika, a photocopy of the newspaper clipping describing his bravery in battle, and possibly his original war medal which was sent to his family after his death. (If I can coerce it from my dad’s possession.)

Visual mementos are a lovely way to keep the memory of our relatives alive, especially if they lived long ago or are ones you never met. Younger generations will appreciate the care and thought which went into making them, and one day they will be precious family heirlooms.

Next month’s installment will focus on searching old journals or diaries, notebooks and even receipts for family clues.

Loretta Houben is a member of the British Columbia Genealogy Society and enjoys finding ways to keep her family history alive and well. Please check the society’s website at www.bcgs.ca for free meet-ups once a month. First published in the May 2014 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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Family tree tips for visiting your ancestor’s homeland

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

Loretta Houben beside her great- grandmother’s grave in Saskatchewan.

Loretta Houben beside her great- grandmother’s grave in Saskatchewan.

I have a curious mind and an adventurous spirit, so this summer when I knew I’d be attending a genealogy conference in Calgary, Alberta, I begged my husband to drive me to three places fairly close by where I knew my ancestors had once lived and worked. He kindly obliged and is now my hero! We travelled over 4,000 km by car to Three Hills, Alberta, and to Saskatchewan.

I’ve never experienced the vast prairie landscape before and it was spectacular. I had done my research ahead of time, but wasn’t exactly sure where my paternal grandpa had actually worked in Three Hills.

Our first stop was to consult the local museum in the town. Staff were very helpful and supplied us with a map to find the ranch. They also gave me a phone number for the owner, who was the great grandson of the man my grandpa worked for 100 years ago in 1916!

Loretta Houben at the Alberta ranch.

Loretta Houben at the Alberta ranch.

The original barn was still standing, and the house. It was fascinating to see the place and get a feel for the area in which he lived until he moved to Spalding, Saskatchewan.

We had booked all our hotels ahead of time. We used our GPS often so we never got lost. After the conference we headed to Humboldt in Saskatchewan. That’s a very long drive, but it was the highlight of my whole trip.

Earlier in 2016 I had joined a Facebook group for Saskatchewan and the members gave very helpful advice. One of them provided me with contact information for a local memorial business, and to make a long story short, the owner made a wonderful marker for my great-grandmother’s grave which had been unmarked for 85 years. Kind family members contributed money to help pay for the cost.

It was quite an experience to see my great-grandmother’s grave no longer lost but with a beautiful marker that included her name, full date of birth and death, and an epitaph which reads “Forever in our hearts.” The process of finding the grave and having the marker made and installed was all managed by email! I was quite impressed.

The next day we headed to Spalding, where my father was born. I had no idea where the farm was located, but thanks once again to Facebook groups, Garth Ulrich, who lived some distance away, said he would take us to all the places we wished to see.

It was a gorgeous day and we followed at 110 km per hour down dusty country roads as he showed us the various farms where my dad had grown up and also the school ground now overgrown with bush but which had a nice plaque to mark the spot where my dad had gone to school.

Another highlight was seeing the cemetery in the middle of wheat fields where my grandpa’s first wife is buried. Garth even provided a map of the cemetery so I could locate where her grave is, as there is one monument for everyone and no individual markers.

I’ll never forget my amazing genealogy adventure!

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident in the Collingwood area and enjoys making her family past come alive.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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August 2014 issue of the RCC News is here

The new issue is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

August 2014 RCCNewsGet your August 2014 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Expert canning tips for summer fruit
  • Squished skunk? Call 3-1-1
  • Tips to find work from the Vancouver Northeast WorkBC Centre
  • Italian Cultural Centre hosts Il Mercato, Vancouver’s first Farmer and Italian Night Market
  • Curbside Fresh Market comes to Collingwood
  • Summer movie nights in the park
  • Get ready for the annual Renfrew Ravine Harvest Moon Festival – lantern workshops
  • New on the CNH Rooftop Garden: Family drop-in gardening program

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the September 2014 issue is August 10. From 300 to 400 words, with high resolution photos in a jpg at least 1 MB file size.