Friday, 24 July 2015

Caroline vs. Genealogy


Have you guys heard of the show Who Do You Think You Are?  The original series was produced by BBC and followed British celebrities as they discovered their family histories, and has since been spun off into many international versions.  I binge-watched the Canadian version last summer, and have been watching the US version online the past few weeks to decompress in the evenings.  It combines history, travel, and pop culture, and I can't get enough!

Ancestry.com is obviously a major sponsor of the show, and after watching several episodes I fell for it and decided to create an account and start building my family tree.  It's free to create family trees, so I haven't had to sign up for the 14-day free trial; I can't access any of Ancestry's documents without a proper account, but I was able to get some details for free.  Even with the scant information I had access to online (and with a little help from my mom), I was able to go back six generations on two branches of my mother's family, and found out I am directly descended from John Rochester, a former MP and Mayor of Ottawa, and Charles Worthington Spencer, the youngest Superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway!  Pretty cool stuff, and I am so not surprised that I am a huge WASP.

John Rochester, looking like a boss (source)

There are family rumours that the Spencer side goes back to the British aristocratic family of the same name and that the Rosses were expelled from Scotland for stealing sheep (!), which I'd love figure out, but I've put my research on hold until I can access archives back home and I have time (and money) to make paying for an Ancestry account worthwhile.

If you are also curious about your family history, check out municipal, provincial, or national archives first; they usually have great records online, and you don't have to pay for your research.  I'd love to know what you find out!

xx, C.

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