Search-engine access to historic Canadian newspapers

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Search-engine access to historic Canadian newspapers

Post by smcarberry » Thu Nov 10, 2022 2:52 pm

I posted several years ago about the Google news archive and other similar cumbersome websites providing access to news articles of the 1800s and early 1900s. Recently, through a Reddit posting by someone who must be a Canadian resident, I learned of better sites for both old and contemporary obituaries appearing in Canadian newspapers. Here those are, in order of usefulness/ease of use:

1. "Our Ontario"

I provide the link directly to the Advanced Search page, since that search utility works so well. OCR (word recognition) is accurate and fast. Inputting a search term as a phrase does result in articles having that phrase, with some a few extra not on point. For example, using "of Clare" in any search engine available to us amateurs will result in any instance actually having "of Clare" as well as some undesired results such as Clare, Michigan and Mrs. Clare Henry. However, I didn't see results with the other usual recognition error: producing items with Claire for Clare, or showing truncated versions (split between newspaper columns or lines) of "declared" and "declares." There are various filters to select, to customize search results according to location, year, etc. At the very bottom of the webpage, a selection can be made of the media or collections involved, such as newspapers or ships. Within "Genealogical Resources" are several directories of the late 1800s for various cities, counties, and the province of Ontario. Note that Ontario newspapers regularly reprinted articles from Montreal newspapers and as originally published in Ireland and England.

Depending on the involved publication, search returns have the search term either highlighted on the page or you can find the term using a search engine to search the publication provided from your search. Both ways are easy and quick.

I hope more archives provide additional data to this site. Coverage is a bit hit or miss. Although the site disappointingly has nothing much for Toronto (its public library has contributed only historic photo images), in such a search I have never found an entire army publication available as a pdf file with its own search engine. Here is the direct link, to the 1867 all-Canada militia list, providing men's name for all levels of officers as well as some lower ranks: ... 54961T.PDF

Likewise in "Genealogical Resources." you can reach a June 1849 letter of two former Cratloe residents reporting marketing practices of their ship's captain, Allen of Limerick. It appears that Capt. Allen was using landing facilities outside of Quebec city and touting it as better for the immigrants' work prospects. If the link doesn't work, the involved emigration report will appear in a search for "parish of Cratlow" and is on pages one to two of that report.

As an example of the obscure finds that can be made, here is an obituary from the Daily British Whig, edition of 20 May 1921:
"Sister Mary Maloney, one of the older members of the Sisters of Charity in Kingston, passed away at the Hotel Dieu on Thursday. The deceased was born at Broadford, County Clare, Ireland, seventy-one years ago and came to Canada when a child with her uncle, Rev. Father Clune, for many years in charge of the parish of Smith’s Falls. Sister Maloney entered the Hotel Dieu in 1873 and was forty-three years a nun. Her life was one of ministry to others, and her warm sympathies won for her hosts of friends…"

2. Here is search-engine access to various collections placed online by the Ontario Genealogical Society, covering newspapers and other categories useful for gen. research (I didn't use it much after I started with "Our Ontario"):

3. A search facility set up for historic newspapers of all Canadian provinces:
However, the searches are not as satisfying from my perspective, and, more importantly, the search terms are not highlighted in results (so you may have to read several pages to reach the intended article, death mention, or obituary).

4. A search facility for Canadian obituaries of the past decade, which returns the involved newspaper title and some initial lines of an
obituary: ... bituaries/

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