Friday 8 April 2022

Happy Spring

 Happy Spring! 

I am delighted to announce that Tammy and I will be teaching 'Introduction to Genealogy' May 2-20 as part of the Edmonton Lifelong Learners Association (ELLA) at the University of Alberta Faculty of Education Building. We absolutely love teaching this course!

Wednesday 18 March 2020 Announcement

Hello! Today, announced the members of AncestryⓇ Canada Family History Advisory Board. . It is both an honour and a privilege to be included in this dynamic group! 

Sunday 12 May 2019

One year later.....

Hello !

It's been a year (that flew by fast!) - time to check in.

This coming week is my and Tammy's last week of instructing "Introduction to Genealogy" through ELLA (Edmonton Lifelong Learners Association) held at the Faculty of Education- U of A. We were fortunate enough to instruct this 3 week course in 2016 and again this year. It's been wonderful to share knowledge and learn from our students too! More to come on this soon.

Alberta Vital Statistics
For anyone just learning about Alberta Vital Statistics, you might wish to review my blog posts from Spring 2017.

Current availability of events found in indexes
Birth Registrations:     1898 and prior
Marriages                    1943 and prior
Death Registrations    1968 and prior

If you are using Ancestry's transcription of registrations, go to the original source and review the indexes found at the Provincial Archives of Alberta website. The correct information is required to order copies of documents.

Is the source you are sharing accurate?

Much activity on genealogy facebook pages - people sharing obituaries from newspaper databases, Sadly, do not source the copies correctly.

One example: Edmonton Journal
Beginning November 14, 1977 the Edmonton Journal started labeling pages using a letter/number system to number the pages in sections.  An obituary published February 20, 1978 is on page E2, not page 54 as shows it to be. Even if it is the 54th page (one doesn't know for sure unless one counts them) page 54 is not correct.  Be accurate. Be precise. The column the article appears is also important to source.

Should we be sharing the information from genealogical databases with others? To find the answer read the site's terms and conditions. Certainly, I have done it but doing it publicly could one get themselves in hot water? Something to think about.

Teaching Genealogy Research or Handing it Over on a Platter

Two quotes have been foremost in my thoughts lately:

Each One Teach One
Give a Man a Fish, and You Feed Him for a Day. Teach a Man To Fish, and You Feed Him for a Lifetime

Sharing our knowledge and experiences we have had on our genealogy journey with others is invaluable.

Teach others how to do genealogy research and do it correctly. Lead them to the website they need. Getting the document online for them does not teach them where to find it.

Simply sharing sources without teaching how it can be done is a further endorsement to the genealogy TV shows and commercials. You know the ones they make genealogy research look so darn easy not to mention fast. So many believe this concept, lets not empower it.

Til next time,

Check out my Alberta Adoption Search & Reunion page on Facebook

Information about the Alberta Adoption ~ Search & Reunion Facebook page
A place for adoptees born in Alberta and for birth parents that relinquished a child to adoption who are searching for each other.  Feel free to visit, post your search, and obtain help and assistance from the Administrator and others.

It is disrespectful to post the names of the birth mother and or birth father without their consent, so please leave full names out of the post, as it is not our secret to disclose publicly.

My name is Shannon Switzer Cherkowski.
I have solved over 450 adoption search files in the last 17 years.

I feel I have been blessed with a gift to be able to conduct this type of research and hope to advise participants on what can be done to have a successful search and reunion.

I offer research services, adoption related searches and Alberta genealogy. Feel free to contact me to discuss.

Friday 27 April 2018


This page has been quiet. It was my plan to take this year off from presentations, hosting conferences and volunteering.....not research.... I could never take a break from that!

I've been asked to provide a presentation at the Strathcona County Library Family Tree Trackers meeting June 14, 2018. The topic is "Newspapers". My all time favorite genealogy topic, how could I resist?  Hope to see you there!

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Genealogy in the Park October 28, 2017

Save the Date

Genealogy in the Park presents

Dave Obee
Genealogist, Author and Journalist
Saturday October 28, 2017

We are very happy to welcome Dave back to Sherwood Park!

**Registration Closes October 25th**

October 11, 2017 - We are close to capacity.
Contact Shannon or Tammy ASAP to ensure you do not miss this wonderful opportunity.
Thank you!

Saturday 1 April 2017

Follow up to release of Alberta historical vital statistics indexes/registers

I have busy ordering registration documents during the last week and 1/2. How could I not? It's a genealogist's dream to have access to these valuable bits of history!

A few hints and tips from what I learned about the indexes in Alberta and access to them:

1. In scanning the typewritten death indexes, it's quite common that a handwritten entry or more are placed at the end of every year. There's no doubt that your "cntrl f" function will not read the handwriting, be sure to scroll and review all the pages for an accurate search.

2.  If you are ordering numerous registrations online, order all of them one after the other, preferably all before 3:00 pm Mon-Friday. If you order them separately, then, they are separate requests and you may be charged the mailing fee for each request.

3.  If you live in the Edmonton area, and are planning a visit to the Reading Room at the PAA, order the registrations online and click on "request to view at PAA in Reading Room". You will receive an email when they are ready for you.

Important: The maximum amount of photocopies, of any type, to receive the same day at the PAA is limited to approximately 12 pages. If the number of pages you need goes over the in-house limit, they will be photocopied in queue, and they will call you when they are ready, or pay the mailing fee to have them mailed out to you.

4. I searched for my Uncle Gerald in Google today (after a hint from a dear friend of mine).
"Switzer, Gerald" 1954
is exactly what I typed in.  The #8 hit, took me directly to the Deaths pdf online at the PAA. Over time, it will be easy for Google to pick up the typed words in the indexes. The handwritten entries? Probably not. Nothing searches better than your own two eyes.

I live within 20 minutes of the Provincial Archives of Alberta. It's been interesting (and fun!) to view the original registrations in person. If you live in the area, please do visit the PAA. There are so many genealogy resources there to help you in your research.

One ah ha! moment for me:
In my review of relative's vital statistic death registrations, a few of the causes of death were not a surprise. To see it in writing helped confirm the stories I was told by my Dad.  One that caught me off-guard was an 9 year old relative died from falling over a log and scraping her knee. She ended up with sepsis. How sad that something so "every-day", seemingly easy to treat nowadays, back then took this little one's life. This one document really cemented for me what family research is all about, honoring those that have gone before, understanding their trials and tribulations, and bringing their stories to life.

Have any tips or comments to share? Would love to hear from you,

Monday 20 March 2017

Historical Vital Statistics in Alberta

Vital Statistics Alberta

For years, the question has been asked:
"When is Alberta going to get historical vital statistics online?"

The time is now! 
The Provincial Archives of Alberta has digitized vital statistics indexes and or registers and are now available online.

Under current legislation, registration documents are available publicly:
  • birth records that are 120 years or older*;
  • marriage records that are 75 years or older* 
  • death records that are 50 years or older* 
  • stillbirth records that are 75 years or older* 

  •                                                                          *from the date of the event

    Indexes are now available online for you to view at the Provincial Archives of Alberta website
    under "How To" then "Find Birth Marriage and Death Records"

    Words of Advice
    ➦ Many of the older indexes are alphabetical by the first letter, then alphabetical by the first vowel.
    For example: 
                        Brown would be found under "Bo"
                        Smith would be found under "Si"
    There are a few exception. I found "Be" surnames in the "Bo" section. Human error, it happened then, it happens now, it will always happen. 

    Information about the registers
    ➦Prior to 1917, letters were used in place of the year

    up to
    II / III

    Once you find the registration you are looking for, write down the following information (you will need it later):
    • Registration Number
    • Event type
    • Year
    • Surname, Given name
    • Place
    In some registers, there is a column for year born and beside it 'pr". The year born column speaks for itself. The province born column uses numbers to represent province/country born. 

    I share with you what I learned from other genealogists over the last 15 years:


    21 - England
    23 - Ireland*
    24 - Scotland
    25 - Wales
    26 - Jersey Channel Islands* 

    33 - 
    35 - 36 - 
    37 - 

    41 - USA
    45 - 

    52 - Austria*
    53 - Belgium*
    54 - Bulgaria
    55 - Czechoslovakia
    56 - Denmark
    57 - 
    58 - Finland
    59 - France

    60 - Germany*
    61 - 
    62 - Netherlands
    63 - Hungary*
    64 - Iceland
    65 - Italy
    66 - 
    68 - Norway
    69 - Galicia *Austria or Ukraine

    71 - Bukovina
    73 - Scandinavia / Sweden*
    74 - Switzerland
    76 - Luxembourg
    77 - USSR

    [*additions to the above list made June 27, 2017, with thanks to Donald K.]

    Over time, when people share what they know the list above can become more complete. I encourage you to contact me and share your findings of what the other numbers stand for.

    ➦be patient, wait for the files to load, they are HUGE files. 

    ➦If you used "ctrl f" to find surnames on the PDF forms and no result was found, review the names line by line. Always be diligent about reviewing forms manually to ensure a complete search has been done. OCR is good but not always reliable.

    Remember that information you wrote down? Now you are ready to order the registration document by clicking on the "Vital Stats request form" button.

    Cost per photocopy: 35¢ 
    Seriously, 35¢ !!!
    Have it mailed to you 
    $3.00 (in Canada) 
    $6.00 (outside of Canada)
    (see below)

    It's a great day for genealogists! Alberta vital statistics for genealogical purposes online. Wonderful!!

    I don't know about you, but I will be busy for the next little while.

    Update: September 27, 2019 costs and services of ordering vital statistic records through the PAA has changed.
    Digital Scans: $5.25  sent by e-mail when complete
    Photocopy 79¢ sent through Canada Post
    Shipping costs remain the same