Page listing Divorce Notifications from Canada Gazette 1889
Courtesy Collections Canada
The Canada Gazette turned 170 years old on October 2. Why is this important? Does anyone know what the Canada Gazette is? Well, for those of you who are not govdoc nerds, it is the official newspaper of the Government of Canada and has been published since 1841. So, why should we care? Well, like some government documents it can be kind of, (how do I put this nicely), dull. But like many government documents it contains all kinds of unexpected and valuable information that can help researchers and genealogists find that elusive next bit of info.
Yes, the Canada Gazette contains information about rules and regulations that govern our lives, but it also contains all kinds of good stuff about people. Did you know that until 1968, to get a divorce, Canadians had to petition the Senate where a special committee would weigh the evidence and then pass and Act of Parliament granting the divorce? The intent to divorce had to be published six months in advance in the Canada Gazette and two newspapers from the district where the petitioner lived. So, if you suspect that great grandpa had more than one wife, you can check to see if he was a bigamist or a serial monogamist. The online version of the Gazette is searchable by name or keyword.
You would actually be shocked at the number of genealogists who find more than one marriage for one of their ancestors. And the often don’t find the divorce documents. As I said in an earlier posting, when you do genealogy, you have to brace yourself for the unexpected. And sometimes that means using resources that you may not have thought of. I always like to try out new sites by running the names I am researcher through the database. When I tried this time, I found that two of my relatives had declared bankruptcy, that an uncle of mine has an unclaimed bank balance and a member of the American branch of my family was given a visa exemption. I also found some land allotments and some company information.
Sources such as this can also be wonderful resources for finding out what was going on in the country at a given time and what was on the minds of Canadians and their elected representatives.
If you are really interested in the history of the Gazette, you can have a look at 160 Years of the Canada Gazette. We have a copy at the Central Library in our Government Documents collection on the third floor. There is also a link to the online version right here: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/cg-gc/book-livre/toc-tdm-eng.html
If you’d like to search the Gazette online, it is on the Library and Archives Canada website right here: http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/databases/canada-gazette/index-e.html?PHPSESSID=l5tc67ddnkvf1afr9qle7k8hr3