Canadian Genealogy · Genealogy How Tos

Genealogy gold part 3: More tips on prairie local histories

I thought you might enjoy the fantastic tips and advice on prairie local history I have received since posting Genealogy gold part 1.

On prairie local histories

From Beverley:

…they are a great resource and those of us who live on the Prairies have long used them. One caution, if your relatives did not submit a story they won’t be in the family section. If you are lucky, there may be a picture of a sports group, church group, class etc with names and you can determine a bit more about them. Means reading the whole book. You also won’t get negative information very often as people rarely write about that.

I’ve looked on the Peel site and and found some. A note or phone call to the local libraries may tell you if they have any copies. Don’t forget the major centre libraries and genealogical libraries (Calgary:AFHS and Winnipeg: MGS).

They are sometimes for sale at thrift shops too.

From Sean:

A whole bunch were also produced in 1980 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Alberta and Saskatchewan becoming provinces. The provincial governments provided funding for most towns to make one.

Like any source material, be cautious when relying on these books. They were produced through a lot of volunteer effort and fact checking wasn’t always possible. More significantly, most of these books have a section on family histories, generally written by someone in that family. These family histories can be replete with errors.

A lot of these turn up in used book stores, so keep your eyes open!

From Mary:

… don’t forget Books We Own.

About the Local History Collection at the University of Calgary

From Garth:

This was formerly the OurRoots website that many of us used in the past, now a part of the University of Calgary-Libraries and Cultural Resources Digital Collections.

From Judy:

Not all the books that were on the previous OurRoots website have been uploaded. If you know of a book that used to be online and isn’t now, the university will upload the book at your request.

British Columbia Archives

From Shirley:

I had coffee yesterday morning with the man who was the publisher’s salesman. He had a copy of every book published and donated them to the archives… Victoria and some are at Trinity Western College in Vancouver.


From Patrick:

The Saskatchewan Legislative Library has a book listing the local histories for Saskatchewan called “Saskatchewan Local Histories at the Legislative Library”. The Manitoba Historical Society has an online finding aid for Manitoba local history books including those that aren’t online.


From Sheila:

They were a Confederation project produced in 1967. My cousin was part of the group from Russell, Manitoba collecting and compiling as much information as they could by contacting family members of the original pioneer families in their respective areas…they phoned and wrote hundreds of letters asking for info.

photo of old books
Free archivum. Photo by St. Mattox from FreeImages

Links mentioned in this post

Here are some the links mentioned above:

Alberta Family Histories Society

Books We Own – volunteers offer to look up information on books they own

British Columbia Archives

Local histories (previously on OurRoots) – University of Calgary

Manitoba Genealogical Society

Peel’s Prairie Provinces


With thanks and appreciation to the genealogy community and most particularly to everyone in this post.


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