January 13, 2016

Introducing David Pike, Canadian Genealogist

Recently I wrote a blog post called Where (and Why) Are Canadian Genealogists Hiding?

I issued a challenge to Canadian Genealogists to speak up and promote themselves better. As part of my challenge I crowdsourced a list of Canadian Genealogists which you can view at Update on Where Are the Canadian Genealogists Hiding?

Next I invited any Canadian Genealogists on that list to participate in a Guest Biography post here on Olive Tree Genealogy. I'm pleased to introduce you to David Pike. David lives in Newfoundland, and works full-time within the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Memorial University of Newfoundland.

I asked David some questions about his role as a Canadian Genealogist and here are his responses.

1.    How and when did you become involved in the field of genealogy?

    I’ve had an interest in genealogy since I was a child.  I can recall being given a homework assignment in grade 5, consisting of filling out a pedigree chart that went back as far as my great grandparents.  I had the privilege of knowing two of my grandparents, and was able to ask some questions before they passed away.  If only I could now ask them the questions that I’ve since come up with though!

2.    What is your main genealogical focus? 

As I have deep roots in Newfoundland, most of my attention is on Newfoundland.  Unfortunately there is a paucity of reliable records from prior to about 1800, which makes it quite challenging to trace families into earlier times.  Still, gems that lead to breakthroughs can be found by patiently scouring old court records, wills, and various obscure records on both sides of the Atlantic.

Since 2004 I have embraced genealogical DNA testing as a means of answering questions that cannot be answered via historical records, as well as to corroborate what can be determined from traditional records.  In this regard I voluntarily coordinate a number of DNA projects (such as a project for the Pike surname, as well as autosomal and mitochondrial DNA projects for Newfoundland and Labrador).

3.     What are your website(s) and blogs? (Names and URLs)

I have a webpage at http://www.math.mun.ca/~dapike/family_history/ where I have gathered a collection of information about the Pike family and other families of personal interest to me.  At www.math.mun.ca/~dapike/FF23utils/ is a collection of web-based DIY utilities to help with the analysis of autosomal DNA results.

4.    Do you have a Social Media presence? 

I have an account on Facebook, partly so that I can reach out to various relatives whom I have no other means of contacting.  Something that I have been working on doing is locating carriers of my ancestors’ Y-DNA and mtDNA and then arranging for them to be tested at Family Tree DNA... in a few of these cases it was only via Facebook that I was able to get in touch with some of these semi-distant relatives.

5.    Do you believe a Social Media presence is important?

I’m not very active on social media.  It is great for societies, etc., to be able to get out word about their activities and such, but it correspondingly requires that somebody devote the time to maintaining the society’s presence.

6.    Are you a member of any genealogical societies or organizations?

Yes.  I’ve been a member of the Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador for many years, and have served as the society’s President since 2013.  I also serve as the webmaster for the society, the website for which is at www.fhsnl.ca

I’m also a member of various other historical and genealogical societies, including these ones:

-    Newfoundland Historical Society
-    Somerset & Dorset Family History Society
-    Guild of One-Name Studies
-    International Society of Genetic Genealogy

7.    What does genealogy mean to you? Why do you believe it is important?

It means many things, one of which is that is tells us whence we came.  Knowing who your ancestors were, where they came from, how they lived, etc., helps us to better understand who we ourselves are.  It’s also a great way to pursue a natural curiosity about our heritage.

8.    What do you believe is the most exciting development in genealogy today?

This is an easy question.  Without a doubt, the advent of genealogical DNA testing is the most significant development of our time.  Being able to confirm relationships, being able to answer questions that previously could only be hypothesised, and formulating new questions that may not have previously been pondered are among its features.  This is also an activity that is intertwined with the nature of genealogists to share with one another:  cousins who are reunited by virtue of their shared DNA know that they are related… it’s just a matter of discovering how.

9.    Do you have a prediction or hope for the field of genealogy in the future?

More and more records are finding their way online almost daily, so it is easy to predict that this trend will continue.

Likewise, databases for genealogical DNA will continue to grow.  Not only will more and more people test their DNA (especially as the costs of doing so are reduced), but the scope of the testing will itself expand (for instance, full genome sequencing, in contrast to the comparatively small number of markers that have “traditionally” been tested).

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