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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Searching an Elusive Ancestor in Ontario after 1929

Adrian asked
I seem to be stuck in a loop where I can't find out anything about my ancestor James Henry Kirk - such as when he died - until I have prrof that he's dead! As his elder brother made 88 (in 1979) it is possible that he hasn't been dead for twenty years, but as no-one seems to remember him much after the mid-1950s he could have died at any time in about a thirty year period.He lived in the Windsor Ontario area and is first found there in 1929. Can you help?

Olive Tree Answer: Hi Adrian, I edited your original email question but I can see that you have done some really in-depth research on your ancestor. Since Canadian records are hard to access after 1920 or so, due to privacy laws, and 1911 is the last available census, you will have to be quite creative in your search methods.

Here are some ideas for you.

1. Phone books. Great way to find folks. When their name disappears from the phone book they likely moved or died. If you find a widow in the next year's phone book you have your answer re death.

2. City directories. Same as phone books.

3. Abstract Indexes to Deeds. Did he own a house? Own land? If yes, get the Abstract Indexes to Deeds for that piece of property. Find out when he sold it -- with luck it will be shown as a transfer on his death and that gives you a death date.

4. Current Newspapers! Write to the Windsor paper - to the editor. Explain your plight (You are in England), and who you are looking for (briefly) Ask him to run your "looking for anyone who remembers xxx last heard of in Windsor in 19xx..." Give a very brief rundown of dates and names, and plead your case eloquently.

4. Newspapers of the time. Get hold of some 1929 and 1930s papers from Windsor, and start reading. Are any indexed? Check out Windsor and what they have

5. Tax records. He must have paid taxes. Are there any available in Windsor area?

6. Cemetery records. Did he die in Windsor? If yes, write to every funeral home and ask if they have burial records for him.

7. National Registration File of 1940. This is a great census substitute and I just talked about it yesterday, so please read What is the National Registration File of 1940

8. Start a search for his death records Death Registrations after 1934 are held by the Office of the Registrar General. You can order a 5 year search of the records for your man.


Office of the Registrar General
189 Red River Road
P.O. Box 4600
Thunder Bay, Ontario
Canada P7B 6L8

Tel: 416-325-8305
1-800-461-2156 (toll-free in Ontario)

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