Genealogy Hints #01 – Getting Started

You’re new to Family History research and you don’t know where to start?

Start with yourself and work back through time.

Even if you have a specific ancestor you’d like find out more about, start with yourself.  If you begin with a rudimentary sketch, it will help provide a backbone with which to hang your work.

Our Ancestors didn’t just  manifest in time and space independent of everyone and thing around them, so give them a tether to their family, and most importantly to you.  This will help you develop a relationship with those relatives that  lived long before we ever existed.

You don’t need a genealogy program before you start.  The important part is the starting itself.  So get a notebook, some fun coloured pens, or normal ones if you prefer.  Find a comfy place to settle in with a beverage of your choice and just start writing down what you can think of about yourself and family.

Here’s what you start with:  Name, birthdate and place, where you went to school and when.  Where are each of the places you have lived up to now?  What places have you worked at?  Are you a member of different groups and organizations?  Play for a sports team? Can you think of any times you might have made into a local newspaper or online news site?  Do you go to church, if so which one and were you baptized or married there?  Do you have siblings?  Who are they and when were they born?  When, where and who you married or partnered-up with.  Do you have children of your own?  When and where were they born?

Then you move back a generation.  Who are your parents?  When and where were they born and married?  Do you have Aunts & Uncles?  What do you remember of your Grandparents?  All those questions – and any others you thought of on your own – you ask about the next generation individuals.

There are a lot of handy charts online that you can download for free to help shape your research and get the basic information gathered.  A Pedigree Chart will be your backbone and the Family Group Sheet will help you create limbs.  Once your first pedigree chart is filled out, more sheets can be printed to carry on.  And Family Group Sheets can be printed for each couple through the generations – Yourself, your Parents, your Grandparents, etc..

Why do we do this?  Firstly it draws the knowledge out of you that you might not necessarily recognise you have.  All those family stories you tried to ignore in favour of playing with your siblings and cousins during holiday get-togethers are locked away back there somewhere.  These questions help you answer things that are part of what define you from another person in your community with the same name and age.  You’re building a resume of what makes you different from everyone else, and building out your family cluster which anchors them in time and place.  As you do this for each ancestor, you’ll get to know a little about who they are by things that influenced their lives.  They’re more than names and dates.  Their experiences and deeds led to your existence – make sure you’re tethering the correct individuals to you – even if you discover some shady folk in your lineage, you never know what extraordinary ones existed before them !

Just remember to start with yourself first, you know more than you think.  And when you do run out of knowledge, go find those relatives that can help fill in the blanks.  Snacks and tea/coffee are encouraged 😉

Above all, enjoy the process of discovery – of both yourself, and your family.

Romancing the Capital 2018

Another fantastic RTC con!

This conference is consistently one of the most fun conferences I have the privilege of attending.  This past weekend (2-4 Aug. 2018) in Kanata Ontario, just wrapped up the 4th year of Romance Authors and Romance Readers coming together for a fun-packed weekend of panels, events, food, dancing, awesome swag and books.

So many BOOKS!

I was disappointed Deb Cooke couldn’t make it, but was very pleased to see Barbara Devlin again this year.  She is such a treat and one of my favourite people.  Yes, I would listen to her read her medieval studies papers, regardless of how boring she thinks it would be 😉

Among some of the books kindly donated, I brought home Barbara Devlin‘s “A Taste of Magick”, Deborah Cooke‘s “Snowbound” and Shannon Mayer‘s “Peta”.  One of my BFs picked up a copy of  Nathan Burgoine‘s “Triad Soul” (follow up to “Triad Blood”) which I look forward to reading too.


Happily, there were many returning authors from previous years among some new faces as well as new and old friends to enjoy conversations and laughs with.


Swag: Eve Langlais, Cathryn Fox, Jennifer Carole Lewis, A.M Griffin, Desiree Holt, Shannon Mayer, C.M Seabrook, Milly Taiden, Elle Rush, Amy Ruttan, Mina Carter, Carey Decevito, Olivia Rigal, Viola Grace, Susan Hayes, Shannyn Leah. There was also swag from Mandy Rosko, Barbara Devlin, Anne Lange & Sharon Page.  Barbara Devlin’s Mr. Darcy Doll was a very popular event prize.

This year, I bought book 2 “Metamorphosis” of Jennifer Carole Lewis‘s Lalassu Series, because I enjoyed book 1 “Revelations” so much.  And I decided to try some new-to-me authors Gracen Miller‘s “Elfin Blood”, as well as Shannon Mayer‘s “Witch’s Reign”, “Aimless Witch” and “Fury of a Pheonix”.  Unfortunately, A.M Griffin was sold out by the time I was able to squeeze my way to her table in the dealer’s room during the signing.


Thursday’s Writer Workshop panels were all great – I attended: “Beyond the Furrowed Brow” with J.C. Lewis, “Let’s Talk about Audio”, “Alphaholes: Writing the Anti-Hero”, “Queer Inclusive Writing” with Nathan Burgoine, and “Writing Despite & Thru Adversity”.

Viola Grace celebrated her 400th book with cupcakes! Yumm! The Lemon Drops were my favourite 😀

Ottawa Romance Writers Association (ORWA) also had a meet & greet session for any local writers to come and ask question and get to know members.

Some of the many, many Events: “Soldiers, Cowboys & Dukes, Oh My”, “People Aren’t a Sub-Genre” , “Complex Urban Fantasy” , “RTC Against Humanity” – so much fun! , “Cyborgs: Part Machine, All Man” , “Seriously Sidekicks” , “Going to Hell – and Loving It!” , “Let’s Talk about Sex.. Through the Ages” , “Sexy Cover Puzzles” , “Basics of Burlesque” , “Totally Tubular Eighties Trivia”.

Any time you have Eve Langlais and Viola Grace in the same room together, things happen and there are explosions of laughter – which is always a great thing 😉

For authors interested in attending next year, there is an “2019 Author Interest Form

Readers interested in attending 2019, keep an eye on the RTC website, or the RTC facebook page.

Looking forward to next year, as always.


Elizabeth “Lizzie” Currens Fountain

CURRENSElizabeth-1920aFred & Lizzie Fountain, Mille Roches, ON, Canada, 1920’s.

Elizabeth Currens immigrated from Ireland to Canada about the age of 15 around 1881, and perhaps on her own. Family stories suggest that she came to Canada to work in the household of a cousin in Eastern Ontario where she remained for some time before migrating to the village Mille Roches, Ontario. Mille Roches village no longer exists because it was one of the Lost Villages of the St.Lawrence Seaway Project.


She was born 29 May 1866. According to her birth certificate, the family resided at 6 Furnace Row in New Mains, Cambusnethan, Lanarkshire, Scotland. Her father Joseph worked as a “Blast Engine Fire man”, likely a position with the coal mines of Cambusnethan parish. There is a photograph of Furnace Row viewable online (original photo from North Lanarkshire Heritage). Historical maps of Scotland can be accessed at the National Library of Scotland Website.  Elizabeth was the only one of her siblings to have been born in Scotland, everyone else before and after were all born near the village of Cookstown, Tyrone County, Northern Ireland. She was the 3rd of 8 children born to Joseph Knox Currens and Elizabeth Holland, who married in 1859 Cookstown, Derryloran Parish, Tyrone Co, Ireland.  A more complete version of Elizabeth’s birth registration is available at  And the Irish vital registrations for many of her family members are available at .

Elizabeth’s siblings were: Henry Charles b.1862, Margaret Jane b. 1864, Joseph Knox 1868-1901, David George Allen 1870-1909, Martha b.1872 , Samuel James 1875-1894, and Mary b.1877. Irish Townlands the family lived in were: Killycurragh, Tullycall, Drumglasseragh and Unagh, all in Tyrone County. These townlands mostly exist as ‘roads’ now.  But they can be seen on website, using the Place search.  The historic map has a modern overlay.

At this time, Elizabeth is the only child known to have immigrated to Canada. Her brother Joseph and his family were in Glasgow, Scotland at the time of his death during the Boer War. However, not all of the children have been tracked down the generations as yet either.

CURRENS-FOUNTAIN-1890a.jpgBy September of 1890, when Elizabeth married Frederick Fountain, they were both listed as residents of Mille Roches Ontario. Fred is the son of Robert Fountain and Marilla Sweatland. The marriage occurred in the town of Cornwall Ontario, by License 8 September 1890.  A copy of their Marriage registration is viewable on the website. The witnesses, Charles Fountain and Aggie Denneny are Frederick’s siblings.

All of their 9 children were born in Mille Roches where Lizzie and Fred lived out their lives. Even though the couple had many children, they also had many tragedies, having lost several of their children at very young ages. Four daughters and one son lived well into adulthood.


Children of Lizzie & Fred Fountain

Their children were: Mary Catherine “Cassie” 1891-1904, Elizabeth May 1893-1961, Margaret Jane 1895-1965, Martha Agnes 1897-1898, Frederica Winifred 1901-1975, David Curren 1903-1904, Martha H. 1903-1904, Matilda 1906-1969, Joseph Robert 1909-1974.

The family appears in all of the Canadian Census records 1891-1921.  This one is from the 1901 Census for Cornwall and Stormont, pg.11:


There are a few photographs of Elizabeth in her later years.  Most known photographs were taken during her daughter Maggie’s visits with her family from Guelph Ontario.  Maggie’s husband Jim Mahaffey was usually taking the photos.

CURRENSElizabeth-1923a.jpg1923 Mille Roches, Ontario, Canada.  Adults: Lizzie, Fred, Maggie and Unknown. Children: Margaret, Robert, baby James Mahaffey.


CURRENSElizabeth-1927a.jpgJim Mahaffey (also a native of Northern Ireland), Lizzie & Fred.  Children: Robert, James & Margaret.  ca. 1927

CURRENSElizabeth-1930a.jpg“Lizzie” Elizabeth (Currens) Fountain, 1930, Mille Roches Ontario Canada.

Struggling with breast cancer the last two years of her life, Lizzie died 2nd of September 1931 at the home she shared with her husband Fred in Mille Roches and was buried in the village cemetery.  Fred joined her in 1942.  A copy of her Death Certificate is available on 

CURRENSElizabeth-1931b.jpgObituary posted in Cornwall newspaper, September 1931.

About 30 years after Lizzie’s death, her surviving children are seen in this photograph from July 1961.

FOUNTAIN-1961aMargaret Mahaffey and Joseph Fountain along with Elizabeth Walker, Winifred Ray and Matilda Smith. (order of 3 women on the right unknown).




Archivos Podcast

I’m a Podcast junkie.  I’ve come to acknowledge and accept that.  I make no apologies.

I was thinking about how much I really enjoy some of the podcasts I listen to, and the incredible amount of information there is out there to be consumed and enjoyed.  I began collecting Podcast subscriptions in an attempt to fill my brain with ‘stuff’ during my morning walks, and long drives, and during the tedium of housework etc..

At first, the pickings of good and interesting shows were slim, depending on subject matter (I’d listened to all of BBC History Magazine’s episodes and needed more!).

As a writer, finding shows built around helping other writers build up there skills was a must.  So, among some of the podcasts I discovered whilst podcast collecting, was “The Roundtable Podcast” (2012) created by Dave Robison, and which is now “Archivos Podcast” (2017).  Dave’s enthusiasm is infectious and vocabulary is impressive and entertaining.  This man is just “full of frothy goodness“!

This podcast is all about enabling writers (of all levels) to develop their craft through the process of Brainstorm workshops with established and experienced writers, who are also interviewed for writer Insights.  I subscribe through iTunes, but listeners can link in through their website too.  Check out Episode 1 from March 2012.  Six years later, there are over 120 episodes to listen to, and well worth the time.

I have a handful of favourite long-term podcasts, and this is my top choice for Writer /  Story Teller development.  The show is geared toward storytellers of all mediums, not just writers.

And maybe some day, I’ll work up the courage to request a workshop for one of my stories!  ❤




Gene-O-Rama & QFHS – 2018

I recently discovered two more Canadian Genealogy Conferences.  I’m undecided if I will attend either of them as yet, but they do look pretty tempting!

GENE-O-RAMA – Presented by the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society April 13 & 14, 2018 at the Confederation Education Centre on Woodroffe Ave, in Ottawa Ontario.  If interested, you can register for the two day event and workshop for beginner genealogists.

QFHS – The Quebec Family History Society will hold it’s International Conference May 18-20, 2018 at McGill University in Montreal Quebec.  The first day of the conference will be Ancestry Friday, followed by Opening Ceremonies with the rest of the lectures and activities held Saturday and Sunday.

The schedules for both conferences look really tempting and I just want to sign up for all of the conferences …

Traitors, Spies & Heroes – Jennifer DeBruin

Last night I attended the Smith’s Falls and District Historical Society monthly lecture held at the Smith’s Falls Heritage House Museum, where Jennifer DeBruin gave her talk entitled “Traitors, Spies & Heroes – Loyalist Espionage During the American Revolution“.

Jennifer’s talk was an entertaining evening of story telling about some key members of the Smith family that founded Smith’s Falls, along with several other notable characters that founded some of the other communities along the Rideau corridor.

This talk was especially exciting for me since I have St. Lawrence Region Loyalist ancestors that I am researching, and now need to find out if they also might have done spy work for the Crown! I’ll be poking around some more in the Haldimand Papers at Library and Archives Canada

It was a great talk for anyone interested in learning about the spy network that existed during the Revolutionary War, citizen life in the colonies of New York and New Hampshire/Vermont, Loyalist movements during the war and settlement afterward.  As anyone who has studied the Revolutionary War knows, it was a civil war where hard choices had to be made, almost a century before the American Civil War, and no one was allowed to remain neutral.

Jennifer will be presenting this talk at the The American Revolution in the Mohawk Valley Conference June 7-10 2018 hosted by the Fort Plain Museum.  Check out Jennifer’s upcoming events and past publications.

World Building Workshop with Derek Kunsken

This week I had the opportunity to attend a World Building Workshop hosted by The Ottawa Independent Writers at the Hintonburg Community Center.  This two hour workshop given by Author Derek Kunsken had a wealth of valuable points to consider when thinking about how you want to shape the setting of your novel.

While Derek is a successful Science Fiction author, he approached the topic from a All-Genre  angle, referring to World Building as a writer’s core crafting tool rather than something that was only used by genre fiction writers.  Any setting that may require some research has to be built.  And science fiction and fantasy genres were cases of “extreme setting”.  It was refreshing to hear references from Literary Classics, Historical Fiction, and Historical Romance, as well as Science Fiction and Fantasy all used to illustrate story building points throughout the workshop.

Derek is the author of The Quantum Magician due out later in 2018.  Although Derek’s focus is in the science fiction genre, he dabbles in other fields too.  Check out his list of publications.  Derek is also developing longer length writing workshops.  Something to keep an eye out for in the near future.