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by Ruby M. Cusack

New Brunswick Public Library website offers access to Quaestio, Vision,
Virtual Reference Library
, Electronic Resources and

The New Brunswick Irish Web Portal of the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick is the most comprehensive website of Irish-related information ever assembled in Canada

The teacher seemed to be spending a lot of time with children from other grades while I waited for her to check my long division.

As the sun beamed in, my eyes wandered over to the small cupboard with glass doors that held our library in the one-room school. I had read every book. How I wished I could go to a real library and look at several shelves of books.

I began to fantasize that I was Orphan Annie. Daddy Warbucks had driven me to the library in his limousine. Eight-foot tall Punjab was carrying the big armful of books I had chosen when reality hit. The teacher was standing at my desk sternly requesting I redo my arithmetic. It was messy.

Going to the library is no longer just a fantasy. I have spent many happy hours checking out books on shelves and reading microfilms.

But time changes things. At the Saint John Free Public Library the family history researcher can now sit at one of its computers and connect by Internet to the library version of, which has one of the most significant genealogical collections available today. has unparallelled coverage of the United States and the United Kingdom, including census, vitals, church, court and immigration records, as well as record collections from Canada and other areas. This collection has thousands of databases and billions of names.

From a home computer, one can access a host of information from the New Brunswick Public Library Service. You can search the Vision catalogue by title, author and subject in any library in New Brunswick.

On the Virtual Reference Library site there are many links to assist in one's research.

Quaestio is a free online question-and-answer service designed to answer brief, factual questions or suggest other sources for information.

If you don't have a library card for a New Brunswick library, I suggest you get one. By so doing, the door to electronic resources - databases available online that cover a number of subjects - opens to you, without the need to leave your home computer.


If you are researching your Irish roots, the New Brunswick Irish Web Portal is a wonderful addition to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick website at It is the most comprehensive website of Irish-related information ever assembled in Canada.

The databases consist of:

1) Saint John Almshouse Records with Admission Registers from 1843-1897 and the Saint John Almshouse Admission Registers, 1843-1884 for individuals admitted to the Alms and Work House, the Emigrant Infirmary, and the St. John Emigrant Orphan Asylum are available for viewing through searching or browsing a name index of 33,907 entries and by browsing the 716 digitized register pages on which these entries appear.

2) Brenan's Funeral Home Irish Records capture the descendants of many of the immigrant families who arrived in Saint John and the surrounding area in the mid-19th century.

3) Fitzwilliam Estate Emigration Books 1847-1856: In the years between 1847 and 1856 nearly 6,000 "surplus" or unviable tenants from the Fitzwilliam Estate, County Wicklow, Ireland, were sent across the Atlantic to Canada in reaction to the Potato famine. Three hundred and eighty-three of these tenants were sent to St. Andrews on the Star, their voyage funded by their landlord.

4) Provincial Secretary: Immigration Administration Records, consisting of 3,730 pages, has been fully digitized, along with transcriptions of documents particularly relevant to Irish emigration.

5) Immigrant letters: Life after emigration is best attested to through the words of those who experienced its upheaval in the 12,121 pages. These transcribed materials have also been made available through full text search and indexed by subject and place.

6) Newspapers: Nine-hundred-and-eight newspaper articles highlight the benefits and pitfalls of immigration.

7) Passenger lists: All extant passenger lists located at the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick have been indexed and digitized for this project by name, vessel and year. The database of immigrants contains 10,412 entries, and this only covers 1816 to 1838. Sadly, this represents only about 135 lists, a small portion of all of the immigrants to New Brunswick.

8) Teachers Petitions Database (1816-1858). Irish immigrants in New Brunswick taught in one-third of New Brunswick schools by the mid-19th century, the majority quickly becoming licensed teachers shortly after their arrival and remaining in the profession. The 509 Irish teachers' petitions digitized for this project consist of 1,573 pages of requests for licences or payment for teaching services (containing biographical information including names, country of birth, education, teaching experience and church affiliation), samples of handwriting and certificates from local school trustees or clergymen verifying the character and abilities of the petitioner.

9) New Brunswick Census Irish Records: In 1851 and 1861 New Brunswick conducted full censuses with these returns enumerated the birthplace of immigrants living in New Brunswick, identifying those born in England, Scotland, Ireland, "other British possessions" and "other countries" along with their date of entry.

To give us a feel for Irish famine migration to New Brunswick, 1845-1852, visit "In the Wake of Dark Passage" which gives a glimpse of the cultural, political, religious and ethnic circumstances behind one of the greatest natural calamity of the 19th century - An Gorta Mor, the Great Irish Famine of the 1840s. The exhibition exposes, through 11 galleries, life in Ireland at the time of the Irish Famine, their journey across the Atlantic and the arrival in New Brunswick. The story is told through archival and graphic documents.

When I think of all the hours I have spent over the years, sitting in front of microfilm readers with eyes burning out of my head, neck hurting and back aching, I marvel at the changes in technology that have taken place. Now, while at home, with the click of the mouse, I can access, among other things, the New Brunswick Irish Web Portal which is the proverbial crock of gold filled with genealogical information on the Irish.


Poor Ignorant Children  by Peter D. Murphy and Together in Exile by Peter D. Murphy for sale at  and

Query 1735
Mawhinney: I am seeking the relationship of the grandson of Adam Mawhinney of Pennsylvania, U.S., to the Mawhinneys, he visited in the late 1800s in Maces Bay, Charlotte County, New Brunswick. Also I would like information on the parents, siblings, spouse and children of Johnson Mawhinney who probably lived in Lepreau and died in 1869 and is buried in the Lepreau Cemetery.


Query 1736
Shephers - Longstaff: Seeking information on Edmund C. Shephers and wife Mary E. Longstaff, who were married in Woodstock, New Brunswick, in 1831.

Email Donna Sweet:

Query 1737
Hatfield - Wetmore: Seeking parents and siblings of Mary Hatfield born circa 1808, married in 1829 in New Brunswick to Weeden Fowler Wetmore (1802-1889). Both are possibly buried in Hatfield Point Cemetery in Kings County, New Brunswick. I have not been successful in being able to get details on Mary or her line. Does anyone have a lead for me?

Nancy Hutchinson, Monticello, Maine

Query 1738
Cook - Churchill: Daniel Cook, born 1760, was a UE Loyalist and granted land (twice) in Saint John. Need proof his wife was Lydia Churchill, a marriage date for them, confirmation of their son, Daniel Cook's birth in 1798, George in 1800 and possibly Lydia's death and a sale of his two land grants. His other children were born in Niagara and Lincoln areas of Ontario - John Courcer in 1802, Moses in 1804, Isaac in 1809, Anna in 1811 and Elizabeth in 1817. What is confusing for me, is that in his will, he leaves behind a wife Elizabeth and his children, but I can't find a death for Lydia or a marriage to Elizabeth. Any help that could be provided would be greatly appreciated.

Velda Wiebe, 1457 Francis Place, Port Coquitlam, B.C., V3C 1G6, Canada

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query as the subject. For more information on submitting queries, visit

Ruby contributes a "Family History" column to the Telegraph-Journal on the third Saturday of the month.

New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of
New Brunswick for sale.

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