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February 23, 2012

A Challenging Search in Canada: A Case Study

Recently Olive Tree Genealogy received a request from Melissa to help with finding a challenging ancestor. Melissa didn't have a lot of information on her family but she did send the following:

I don't have much about my dad's father's side of the family. They resided in Brandon, Manitoba and were on the 1911 Census as Stephi, Annie and Mary Pravada .  I don't know if Stephi was short for something, but his headstone says Steve.

I also know that, for whatever reason, there are 3 different spellings of their last name.  One being Pravada (per censes), one being Prawada and my maiden name was Prewedo. 
My family attended a Ukranian Catholic Church in Brandon. I'd really like to find their immigration record or more about the family.
Melissa's query intrigued me as ancestors with such a variety in their surname are often very challenging to find. And I like a challenge! So I did a little research on Melissa's behalf and thought I'd share with readers how I found records that will provide answers for Melissa and will take her back at least one more generation to the parents of both Stephi and Annie

Census Records

Melissa search of the 1911 census didn't include viewing the actual image on Collections Canada or She relied on a transcript on Automated Genealogy which only shows part of the actual census page.

The image for the 1911 Census on for Brandon Manitoba shows the family as

PRAVEDA, Stephi, b. Dec.1881 Galicia, 29 yrs old, immigrated 1905,  Roman Catholic
Annie b Nov. 1890, 20 yrs old, immigrated 1906
Mary b Sept. 1907 Manitoba, 3 yrs old 

There are several clues in this one census. The immigration years are different for Stephi and Annie. This indicates they may not have travelled together and might not have been married before arriving in Canada.

Keep in mind that immigration years are often mis-remembered but we still can narrow the timeframe for a ships passenger list to 1904-1907. Canadian ships passenger lists are available on and on Archives Canada. Archives Canada are not indexed so you would be best to search Ancestry's indexes.

Since your surname can have many variations and since Stephi is no doubt a nickname or shortened form of his real name, you will need to use wildcards in any searches.

You may want to hunt for a marriage record for Stephi and Annie. That will give you her maiden name and other details such as parents' names for both bride and groom.

How about looking for baby Mary's birth record? That also would give you Annie's maiden name and might provide Stephi's full legal name.

But before we jump into immigration or vital records, I decided to have a hunt in the online 1916 Prairie Provinces census. Bingo there they were - misindexed on as PRURDO but clear on the image as PREVEDO. Do you see why wildcards are helpful? By searching for PR*D* I was able to find the misindexed entry PRURDO.

The census shows (in part)

PREVEDO, Stephen, 34, born Austria, immigrated 1904, naturalized in 1912
Annie, 29, born Austria immigrated 1907
Marie, 7, born Canada
Annie, 1, born Canada
Mike, 4, born Canada

Now you see why it is adviseable to leave a year or two on either side of a given immigration year. Here Stephen and Annie have both changed their immigration dates by one year.  Now we have a  bonus of a naturalization year for Stephi/Stephen

And we could look for the births of  all three of their children.

The birth location will vary as there were many boundary and name changes for those European areas and it is unlikely that you will see a consistent name for their places of birth.

Manitoba Vital Records

Manitoba Vital Records indexes are online at
Using wildcards I was able to quickly find the marriage of Stephi and Annie,  the birth of little Marie, and the death of Stephi.  There may be more records there that you can obtain.

The marriage entry (remember it's only an index) shows the marriage of Stephen PREWDA [sic] and Onna [sic] SNATKO [sic] on Feb. 10, 1908. You can order the full record online after you find what you want in the indexes. It is quick and easy so you can now have the thrill of obtaining the record and getting more details.

Stephi's death is listed as Steve PREWEDO, age 59, Brandon Manitoba, Died 21 June 1941. You can order his death certificate online too

I also suggest ordering Mary's birth record just to get a confirmation of her mother's proper name - both first and last.

Manitoba Cemetery Search

The City of Brandon cemetery is online at

A search reveals several of your family members: Stephen born 16 July 1882 in Austria; Annie born 13 January 1888 died 3 Feb 1943; Michael Stephen born 16 April 1915 died 1 May 1979.

This now provides you with a precise date of birth for both Stephen and Annie which should help in finding them on ships passenger lists and if you decide to conduct research  in European databases.

Church Records

Let's not forget the notation of religion in the census records. Since Stephi and Annie were Roman Catholic you may wish to check for Catholic Churches in the Brandon area. Find out what records exist and where they are kept. Then you may be able to obtain more information on the family by hunting in those church records.

Immigration & Naturalization

Since you do not know whether Stephi and Annie arrived in Canada or in America you will want to keep your search parameters open. I suggest using ships passenger lists search to have a hunt for them.

You'll have to use wildcards but you may have to widen your search even more by not using a surname. You can always try using a date of birth (plus or minus one to allow for variations in manifest information), and a year of arrival plus or minus one or two years to allow for errors. I'd try a partial first name such as STE* for Stephi and Ann* for Annie. Since one index shows her as Onna, I'd also try Onn*

Naturalization records are somewhat tricky. You may wish to read what is available in Canadian Naturalization records and where they can be found, at

Many indexed records are online but you are going to have to write to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to request a lookup in the 1912 records. The complete address and explanation is found at website. Remember to add a year at least on either side of the date Stephi gave in 1916. 


Unknown said...

Great post Lorine! I am a pretty novice genealogist and find it so helpful to be able to track the research process of more experienced (and successful) genealogists. Thanks!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...


I'm really happy if my blog post has helped you in your genealogical research!

I've hesitated to put more of these case studies and research guides on my blog but perhaps I'll add more.

Good luck in your research

Devon Noel Lee said...


I get the double edge sword of posting case studies. You may be inundated with more cases to crack than you can handle. On the other hand, the process is the tough part to learn. So many times Genealogy How To books/posts say gather all information you can and then go dig. Dig where? Who do I pick? How do I know where to go? What do I know once I've accessed a record? What are my next steps? I use GenSmarts and it helps with RootsMagic. But honestly, I've learned more from your case studies than from anything else recently. So thank you.

Celia Lewis said...

Excellent details and analysis, Lorine. It's always helpful to follow through on genealogical research, and understand the process better. I'm not a beginner, but I always find a nugget of gold in these case studies. Thanks for sharing.

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

Devon, thanks so much for your supportive words!

I really like walking genealogists step by step through a case I've helped with, but I have always wondered if others would find it interesting or helpful.

I don't mind how many queries I get, in fact over on AskOliveTree blog that's what I've been doing - getting queries and responding.

But it's becoming too much for me to keep both blogs going on a daily basis, so I'm migrating a few queries to this blog and responding here in full.

I could write up more and with this nice positive feedback and encouragement I think I will!

Olive Tree Genealogy said...

I like case studies too Celia - and enjoy reading how others worked their through a challenging research problem.

Thanks for your comment!

Anonymous said...

"Melissa search of the 1911 census didn't include viewing the actual image on Collections Canada or She relied on a transcript on Automated Genealogy which only shows part of the actual census page."

Automated Genealogy may only have indexed/transcribed some of the census information, but all Melissa had to do was click on 'split view' to see the complete image from the Collections Canada site.