Just a note about how to use this site, as the links in this page refer to more information within this website.
When doing genealogical research it is important to trace name, place and date through various historical records. Start with what each family member can remember about any family ancestry about parents, grandparents, great grandparents, etc. Family members also have old photographs and documents about the family. From these beginnings, it is possible to follow up events which happened in the lives of our ancestors. Some events which they may have experienced are: being born, christened, married, attending school, living in one place and then moving (migrating) to another place, paying taxes, registering to vote, joining or being drafted in their country's armed forces, buying and selling land and / or personal property, applying for homestead patent, various places of employment, joining and participating in the spiritual rites of various religions, joining and participating in various organizations, being recorded in a newspaper or newsletter perhaps because of a birth, marriage, obituary notice, special event, or critical happening. The internet can be a valuable resource to trace the history of the place your ancestors resided in as well as where to locate the above documents about your family. Historical information can help with much more information additional to locating the birth or death dates through primary sources. Genealogical internet sites also give insight into community life, and local experiences of various times. These activities, and inter-relationships help the family tree grow and expand and perhaps also show how the characteristics particular to your family helped the community they lived in evolve and why they made the decisions that they did.
To start off, a bit of history, as Saskatchewan has gone through various political boundaries and names in its past
Present-day Saskatchewan named Rupert's Land:
The British (in 1670) had given Rupert's Land to the Hudson Bay Company which gave the company dominion over lands where there was water passageway from the Hudson Bay. These traders arrived to the Saskatchewan area via Hudson Bay and then travelling westward. In 1774 the first inland trading post (Cumberland House) was built in Saskatchewan. Many of the early settlers in the 1800's came as traders or hunters. The North West Company was of French-Canadian extraction and traders arrived out west in Saskatchewan from Eastern Canada via inland routes. At this time northern area (north of the tree line) was more heavily settled as southern "Saskatchewan" had experienced drought like conditions during early explorer expeditions, and was considered a part of the US desert.
Saskatchewan as part of the North West Territories
Canada became a nation in 1867. Saskatchewan didn't become a province of Canada until 1905, before this it was a part of the North West Territories. The North West Territories was divided into provisional territories on May 8, 1882. What is now known as "Saskatchewan" was divided into three provisional districts of the North West Territories, Athabaska for the north, Saskatchewan centrally, and Assiniboia to the south.
In the late 1800's and early 1900's the railway and the Dominion Government of Canada wanted more settlers out west to bring British Columbia(B.C.) into confederation thereby uniting B.C. with Upper and Lower Canada -the eastern provinces of Canada with British Columbia. The rail lines didn't want to lay track over land with no settlement (the prairies) as it wasn't economically feasible. Around this time also the British demand for furs declined, the supply of furs also declined as the buffalo population neared extinction, and Saskatchewan started noticing the agricultural land capabilies in the middle and southern portions of the province, the drought was over. The industry in Saskatchewan evolved from hunting and trapping commerce to farming and agricultual produce for sale. Settlement, towns and rail lines developed the plains, or prairies, south of the tree line.
Immigrants were attracted to Saskatchewan by the Homestead Act which granted a quarter section or 160 acres to homesteaders if they could 'prove' the land in three years. The land records are searchable online at National Archives. The National Archives site holds records of all those homesteaders who received patent for their land. Letter of Patent can be ordered from National Archives. More information regarding homestead location can be found in the family biography - local history books written about 1981 in most communities of Saskatchewan. The Provincial Archives holds information on homesteaders who applied for land patent or for pre-emptions, as well as those homesteaders who applied for cancellation. Once homestead location is known by a visit to the archives or from the above sources, then homestead records can be ordered from Provincial Archives. The Provincial Archives has historical provincial documents and the National Archives has historical National documents. Provincial archives and they would hold all correspondence and application records in their files for each homesteader while the were proving the land. They would also have records if your homesteader filled out a questionnaire which were randomly sent out in the early 1900's at various times. National Archives has the etter of patent issued by the Dominion Government of Canada. There are a few homesteader records available through the Church of Latter Day Saints Family Research Centers as well.
Speaking of Archives, there archives of university students and faculty specific to the university, if your ancestors held an affliation with either the University of Saskatchewan, or the University of Regina.
The immigrants arriving in the early 1900's travelled by ship, and many passenger lists are available online. Some wonderful Mailing groups have personnel who have the expertise to advise you on where to locate the best place to start your search for passenger lists. "The Ships List" is one of these mailing lists.
The first Canadian census was taken in 1666, however census taking every 10 years began in 1851. Please check with your local LDS family history center or check library holdings.
On the 75th anniversary celebration of Saskatchewan in 1980, many communities compiled family biography - local history books. These have biographical stories submitted by families in the area and write ups about the early history of the community.
To find the book for your community, locate the town name on a map. Use the Canadian Geographical Locator, the National Archives Post Office locator or the Sask Wheat Pool 1924-1984 map site for smaller communities or towns which no longer exist. Early towns generally had a post office and the location given by township and range can be located on the Sask Wheat Pool 1924-1984 map site. In this way, if you cannot find the town of your ancestor on present day maps, you can find the current day community and larger centres (neighboring towns or cities) and know where to search. There are many other online maps, if one doesn't answer your questions, try another, they have all used different formats and layouts for their presenatations.
You may want to search one of the many online library catalogues by town to find the name of the book for your ancestral research. This book may be available by inter-library loan from the National Library, through the LDS family history centre, or by purchase from the local community. Some volunteers who own the book may have offered their time to do a look up in the book, and you may wish to contact them via e-mail. Many of the people who own these books, have roots in the area, and may help you with general questions about the community/area as well. You may wish to post a book or any genealogical information for sale or that you wish to buy one.
The World War I (1914-1918) expeditionary force can also be searched online at National Archives. If you find an ancestor in this searchable database the file can be ordered from National Archives. There are also many other valuable online resources to trace military history and information BR
The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS family history center) has its International Genealogical Index (IGI) as well as its Ancestral File Records online which would help in family and surname searches. They also have a multitude of resources and records available on Saskatchewan which would help in historical and community record searches. Both aspects are invaluable to research family in Saskatchewan
Birth, death, marriage certificates can be obtained from the Department of Vital Statistics. Sometimes information can be obtained from the local churches, libraries, or Community town offices, however they have limited research services available. Many Newspapers are now online with birth, wedding and obituary notices, as well, the National Library of Canada has listed all historical Saskatchewan newspapers they have access to in their files as well. Many cemetery records are online and searchable, and some are in the process of being transcribed. The Saskatchewan Genealogical Society offers many research services, one service that they have online information about is the Saskatchewan cemetery search.
Directories, such as the Saskatchewan phone book, and many other community listings are very helpful to find a familial name. Communilink, Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities, Sask Tourism, Saskatchewan Schools and School Divisions and many other organizations have placed directories or listings online to help find Saskatchewan information.
If you wish help in other areas of Canada, there are some sites which offer excellent links for online research. Also many Saskatchewan roots came from other countries, backgrounds and cultures. There are many Saskatchewan sites which offer cultural information on their place of origin, immigration information, settling patterns. The ancestry of first peoples and other cultures are unique in their history and the genealogical research method used to trace ancestry. Museums also offer historical community information
The railway played an integral part in where settlement occured in Saskatchewan. Many families can trace roots to ancestors that worked for the Rail-lines and there are many excellent sites to find more about the development of the CPR and CNR, the two major lines in Saskatchewan.
If you would like to receive help about a specific community try a mailing list. There are folks on each mailing list that can help answer questions about their locaility. They may let you know if a town exists anymore, or if their are any nearby towns that may still have information on a town that has now disappeared. There are mailing lists that are geographical, as well as surname mailing lists, depending on the nature of your query. There are mailing lists that deal with passenger lists, wars, how to do genealogy, how to use the LDS and a host of many others. Your queries are answered via e-mail by the community on the mailing lists.
Please also place a posting on the various Saskatchewan posting boards. Use the Saskatchewan surname query board, if the town of origin is unknown for your surname research queries, and use the regional query boards if your ancestral town is known. Select one of the following sites, and then go to the link named "query" at the relevant site. Many sites also have other posting boards, biography, and obituaries, which may also be of use in locating family. Rootsweb has made it easy to search these posting boards by making a search engine called the Global SURNAME Search Engine . This will search all "Gen connect" posting boards world wide or by country on the Roots web server for the surname you list in the search engine. Disclaimer: If a site uses a different query posting board and not "Gen connect" then this search engine will not locate the postings.
- Swift Current
- Moose Jaw
St. Joseph's Colony
- Prince Albert
There are many sources being placed online, and as they are submitted to me, or as I become aware of them I try to place them on this website. For Saskatchewan, this should help you to start out via this internet site, and branch off into areas for your particular family history and your family's local interests as one link connects you to yet another. Please check back, as this site is under construction continuously. If you find a site, or contact which has helped you with your research, help other researchers, by e-mailing it in to this Gen Web Project so we can add it to the Genealogy Resources page. Check also the genealogy resource web pages available at the National Archives, Libraries, Church of Latter Day Saints, LDS Family Research Centers, the Saskatchewan Genealogy Society, SGS, Rootsweband Cyndi's list.