August 1, 2015

Murdoch Mysteries aka The Artful Detective Coming to USA

Murdoch Mysteries aka The Artful Detective Coming to USA
This morning my Twitter Feed was buzzing with this tweet

Great news, U.S. viewers! Season 8 of aka debuts on on Sat Feb 21 at 7pm!

I live in Canada and I've been watching Murdoch Mysteries since Day 1. If you've never heard of it or never been able to watch it, you are missing out. Murdoch Mysteries is a Canadian television drama series and is called The Artful Detective in the United States, featuring Yannick Bisson as William Murdoch, a police detective working in Toronto Ontario around the turn of the twentieth century. The television series is based on characters from the novel series by Maureen Jennings.

It's funny, it's serious, it's historical and it has really interesting story lines. The writers often choose a historical event or person and craft an episode around that.  For example I first heard of the Jubilee Singers from a Murdoch episode! Murdoch is somewhat of an inventor with wonderful ideas on using fingerprinting, using black light to see invisible organic matter and other modern techniques which were not in use during his time. 

The historical aspect of the show is fascinating as is Murdoch's creative mind and the interaction of the main characters. For those of us in Canada it's also lots of fun to see the individuals who are coaxed into appearing on the show, including our own Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who had a brief scene as a desk clerk at the Police Station in one episode.

One of the episodes (Murdoch Ahoy) was filmed not far from where I live. You can read about the ship they used at The S.S. Keewatin is Back Home!

Murdoch Mysteries is worldwide now:

CBC in Canada
Ovation in the United States
UKTV’s Alibi and Drama Channel (Freeview 20) in the UK
Distributed in 110 countries worldwide by ITV Studios Global Entertainment
And on France 3 in France

July 31, 2015

Skeletons of Four original settlers of Jamestown Colony identified

Skeletons of Four original settlers of Jamestown Colony identified
The bodies of four original settlers of Jamestown Colony have been identified! They are minister Robert Hunt, Sir Ferdinando Wainman, Captain Gabriel Archer and Captain William West.
"One of the bodies was just 5 feet 5 inches long, and missing its hands, most likely from four centuries of deterioration. It had been jostled during burial, so the head and shoulders were scrunched long before the wooden coffin lid and the weight of the dirt above had collapsed on it. Flesh no longer held the jaw shut; when this skeleton was brushed free late in 2013, it looked unhinged, as if it were howling. The bones, now labeled 3046C, belonged to a man who had come to the New World on the first trio of ships from England to the spot called Fort James, James Cittie or, as we know it, Jamestown. He survived the first wave of deaths that followed the Englishmen’s arrival in May of 1607. Over the next two years, he conspired to take down one leader and kill another. This man had a murderous streak. He died, along with hundreds of settlers—most of the colony—during the seven-month disaster known as the "starving time"." [Source:]
 Read the whole story at New Jamestown Discovery Reveals the Identities of Four Prominent Settlers

July 30, 2015

J. K. Rowling on Who Do You Think You Are? This Sunday

J. K. Rowling on Who Do You Think You Are? This Sunday
Who Do You Think You Are? “J.K. Rowling” (US premiere, originally aired in the UK)
Tune In: J.K. Rowling’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? airs Sunday, August 2 at 9/8c on TLC , the leading family history company, is teaming up again with TLC as a sponsor. As part of the show sponsorship, Ancestry provides exhaustive family history research on each of the featured celebrities to help make discoveries possible and build out the story of each episode.
Famed Harry Potter author and philanthropist JK Rowling is eager to trace the  French roots of her maternal side, having always been very close with her mother who’s passed away. She knows that her great-grandfather, Louis Volant, received the Legion d’honneur for his WWI efforts, but she doesn’t know why. 

She embarks on a journey in France to trace her mother’s roots. She discovers that a family war story might not be what she thought when military records reveal a surprising truth. Tracing the trail even further back, Jo learns of her 2x great-grandmother, who had plenty of struggles both as a poor, single mother and a witness to German invasion during wartime, which forced her family to choose sides in a time of turmoil.   

I'll be watching! Will you?

Photo credit: Andrew Montgomery

July 29, 2015

Nominate Your Favourite Sites For Best Canadian Genealogy

Nominate Your Favourite Sites For Best Canadian Genealogy
Now's your chance to nominate your favourite site for Canadian genealogy.  Nominations are open until August 3rd so don't delay.

Local society and municipal sites, and sites that are primarily blogs are excluded. Any site you nominate must have substantial Canadian content. 

I'm pleased to see Olive Tree Genealogy website on the list of pre-nominated sites! Check the list and see if there are some missing that you think need to be considered.

July 28, 2015

Banished Gets a Thumbs Down From Me

Banished Gets a Thumbs Down From Me
Banished is a new 7-part series on CBC Television, premiering July 27, 2015 at 9pm. In 1788, Britain banished its unwanted citizens & convicts to Australia. Last night's episode focused on two convict lovers who are forbidden to marry, and their best friend. 

(Semi-spoiler alert ahead!)

I was looking forward to Part 1 but confess that it disappointed me. It had a very predictable storyline and characters. We had the obligatory evil convict, the hero convict who will suffer death rather than relinquish what he believes are his rights as a human being, the good-guy convict who puts on a good show of bravery but in reality is a coward. 

Then you have the oh-so-horrid soldier, the overly practical officer who sees all problems in terms of what's best for the troops (with no humanity shown), the governor of the colony who is at heart a decent man constrained by rules and laws, the overly sympathetic and empathic minister's wife and on and on it goes! 

Every major character was straight out of a beginner's handbook on writing romance novels. 

Even the costumers and sets were too polished. The convicts' clothing was not dirty or torn enough. The soldiers in the field had immaculate uniforms. Everything looked like a stage set to me. Yes Elizabeth Quinn's hair was matted and rumpled, but it looked like the way we teased our hair with rat-tail combs back in the 60s. It just didn't have the ring of authenticity. 

I was expecting more history, more of a documentary feel, and not quite so much fluff. 

Yes I will watch the next episode (reluctantly) if only because I hope the writing and story line will improve.

July 27, 2015

Banished, a New Series on CBC Television Starts Tonight!

Banished, a New Series on CBC Television Starts Tonight!
Banished is a new 7-part series on CBC Television, premiering July 27, 2015 at 9pm.

In 1788, Britain banished its unwanted citizens & convicts to Australia.

Among the first convicts to be exiled are close friends Elizabeth Quinn (MyAnna Buring), Tommy Barrett (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and James Freeman (Russell Tovey).

In this new world, relationships between convicts aren't allowed, but Elizabeth and Tommy break the rules.

When their romance is revealed to the soldiers in charge, it sets in motion a series of events that put friendships and ideals to the test, at a time, and in a place, where survival depends on having the back of those you love.

Image: Screenshot from CBC website. 

July 26, 2015

Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 27V Nurses & Staff

This Photo Archive consists of a small autograph album (6.5" by 5.25") kept by Constance (Connie) Philips as a memento of her time serving as a nurse during World War One. 

The majority of the photos and items are from 1915, when she served as a nurse in France and Britain.

Nursing Sister WW1 Photo Album: 27V Nurses & Staff
Nursing Sisters & Staff

 The album and all photographs, postcards, and other ephemera contained in the album belong to Karin Armstrong and may not be copied or republished without her written permission. The images will be published on Olive Tree Genealogy with permission.

Each image has been designated an "R" for Recto or a "V" for Verso plus an album page number. Recto is the right-hand side page of a bound book while Verso is the left-hand side page.

I will be posting the entire album and my additional research on the individuals identified in Connie's album over the coming months so please check back frequently to view these historic photos. The easiest way to see what has been published is to click on the topic "Nursing Sister WW1 Photos"

July 25, 2015

The Origins of Red-Haired Mummies in China

Red-Haried Mummies in China
 Archaeologists and scientists  have found the oldest and best-preserved mummies in the Tarim Basin area of China. Within a Bronze Age cemetery first discovered by Swedish archaeologists in 1934, some of the oldest mummies every found have had their DNA tested. The findings were a surprise. 

Previously the origins of the earliest settlers in this area were thought to be either  nomadic herders from the steppes of Russia and Kazakhstan, or from modern Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan. But DNA results indicate the most common mtDNA haplogroup was C, suggesting origins in southern Siberia.

“Considering the presence of haplogroups H and K in the Xiaohe people and the geographical distribution of shared sequences, we conclude that the west Eurasian component observed in the Xiaohe people originated from western Europe, and maternal ancestry of the Xiaohe people might have close relationships with western Europeans,”

Continue reading at DNA Reveals These Red-Haired Chinese Mummies Come From Europe And Asia

Credits: Image is a screenshot from