Recent Book Reviews – “The British Columbia Genealogist”

This page lists recent reviews of books and other genealogical and family history related publications published in The British Columbia Genealogist. Included for each is a snippet from each review and links to the publisher or author. For the full reviews, see the appropriate issue of the journal, or contact the BCGS Editor.

2014 Book Reviews – The British Columbia Genealogist

House Calls by Float Plane – Stories of a West Coast Doctor by Dr. Alan Swan, Harbour Publishing, 2013.

House Calls is a very well-written, detailed book about Dr. Swan’s life caring for people on the Sunshine Coast….

He relates tales of traveling to places only accessible by boat or plane and caring for loggers and their families, spending twenty-two years there….. Although life was rough, he managed to inject humour into his story….

Reviewed in March 2014.

A Call to Nurse – Memories of Life on and Off Duty in a Hospital Training School by the Royal Columbian Hospital School of Nursing, Alumnae Book Committee, 2013.

Right from Chapter I, my interest was engaged, with lots of illustrations and photographs, especially of many various medical apparatus, and an easy to read narrative…..

From a family history perspective, this book is an excellent resource for any researcher who finds a nurse, especially from the Royal Columbian Hospital School of Nursing, in the family.

Reviewed in March 2014.

Seeking a Better Future: The English Pioneers of Ontario and Quebec by Lucille H. Campey, Dundurn Press, 2013.

She has distilled a copious amount of research into an informative and engaging book that clearly addresses the English immigration to Upper and Lower Canada during the 1800’s. I would highly recommend this book for those interested in this period of immigration to Canada.

Reviewed March 2014

2013 Book Reviews – The British Columbia Genealogist

Thorley Park to Brock House: From Family Home to Heritage Landmark, 1912-2012 by Jo Pleshakov, Brock House Society.

Charming, informative, and detailed, this book is an excellent example of a “house history”, and a very welcome addition to thos interested in Vancouver’s past.

Reviewed December 2013.

The Kurrajong Tree  Loves and Lives of Three Women in Colonial Australia by Elinor Martin, Eastcot Publications, 2012.

She has succeeded in writing a readable and plausible story woven around her well-researched “verifiable facts”.

The harrowing voyage “out” for steerage passengers, as endured by the 17-year-old Irish Rebecca Nixon in 1854, is particularly vivid. While the book reads like a novel, it is a novel full of detail about the times adn places and events that were so momentous to these “characters: – real people.

Reviewed in December 2013.

Imperial Immigrants – Scottish Settlers in the Upper Ottawa Valley by Michael E. Vance, Dundurn Press, 2012.

Imperial Immigrants gives a history lesson in how Great Britain obtained the lands south west of Ottawa in the 1819 treaty with the First Nations – the Rideau Purchase….

…I particularly liked the final Chapter 7 – Recalling and Retelling. Letters, diaries and first hand accounts complete the story of Canada’s early immigrant experience.

Reviewed June 2013

La Mauricie et ses navigateurs 1634-1950. First in a series, published by Société de généalogie de la Mauricie et des Bois Francs, 2013.

La Mauricie et ses navigateurs 1634-1950 is a series of articles, arranged chronologically, focused on the men and vessels working on the water around the Mauricie region of Quebec…

Anyone researching the Mauricie area of Quebec will find this useful, as will anyone interested in Canadian maritime history.

Reviewed June 2013

2012 Book Reviews –The  British Columbia Genealogist


Tracing Your Servant Ancestors: A Guide for Family Historians by Michelle Higgs.
Pen & Sword Family History Books:

Higg’s many tips are always to the point and, indeed, several of the suggestions here will be valuable for researching servants anywhere in the world.

Overall, I found this a well balanced guide. I would have no hesitation in recommending Tracing Your Servant Ancestors to other researchers.

Reviewed, December 2012


The English Travelers – Three Narratives by Sharon M. Hope.

The English Travelers – Three Narratives by Sharon Hope is fascinating in that it covers three generations of the ESTLIN family using original documents.

The reader empathizes with each character, is awed by their courage, may question their choices, but always cheers them on.

Reviewed, December 2012

Unpuzzling_Your_Past-coverUnpuzzling Your Past: The Best-Selling Guide to Genealogy by Emily Anne Croom, 4th Edition, 2001, Reprinted: 2010: Expanded, Updated and Revised. Genealogical Publishing Company

Ms. Croom whets the appetite of all researchers as she skillfully uses the metaphor of researcher as detective with references to Agatha Christie.
I strongly recommend this text to the new genealogist with American ancestors. It is a clear, detailed road map and ensures success on your journey.

Reviewed, December 2012



Researching Your Irish Ancestors at Home and Abroad by David R. Elliott, 2012. Dundurn Publishers

I would recommend this book to Irish Researchers, especially those who may be planning a trip to Ireland, and plan to add this to my personal library.

Reviewed, December 2012


GENEALOGY TO GO! The War of 1812: Canada and the United States by Elizabeth Lapointe, 2011. E-mail: or see her website, GenealogyCanada

The source lists, and the lists of the military groups and others (natives, blacks, Loyalists) who were involved in the War on both sides are exhaustive and detailed and include many online sites.

Reviewed, September 2012

Land_of_Our_Own-coverLAND OF OUR OWN: how four immigrant families united on Canada’s Manitoulin Island, being the ancestry and history of Legg(e)s, Luthers, Parkins and Reids of that island, including relatives on branches elsewhere in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.A. by Tom W. Parkin. Self published, 2011.

This family history caught my eye as I also am researching families who settled on Manitoulin Island when it first opened up for settlement by people from the westerly part of Ontario.

The author follows the families in a genealogical order, not chronological order. I liked how the book was laid out and found it easy to follow. It is a good example for those people getting ready to begin their family history. I recommend this book to all the budding authors in the Society.

Reviewed, September 2012


GENEALOGY TO GO! Migration: Canada and the United States by Elizabeth Lapointe. E-mail: or see her website, GenealogyCanada

ort, Guide deals with a topic almost all Canadian researchers need to know more about at some point.

A list of some famous Canadians who made it big in the U.S. winds up this interesting publication.

Reviewed, September 2012

Raincoast Chronicles Fourth Five - book coverRaincoast Chronicles Fourth Five: Stories and History of the BC Coast, Howard White, Editor (Madeira Park, BC: Harbour Publishing, 2012. First published 2005).

“Those not familiar with Raincoast Chronicles (such as myself) will certainly be impressed by the breadth and variety of this beautiful paperback edition….”

Reviewed June 2012, full review, page 69

The Complete Beginner's Guide to Genealogy, the Internet, and Your Genealogy Computer Program - book cover.The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Genealogy, the Internet, and Your Genealogy Computer Program by Karen Clifford, A.G (Baltimore, USA: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2011, updated edition. First published in 2001.).

“Primarily written for Americans, Karen Clifford’s book is a textbook to help beginners to genealogical research gain an understanding of the specific vocabulary of the genealogist, and to learn the methodology of sound research.”

Reviewed March 2012, full review, page 27.

2011 Book Reviews, The British Columbia Genealogist

Erin's Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada to 1863, Volume IV - book cover.Erin’s Sons: Irish Arrivals in Atlantic Canada,Volume IV by Terrence M. Punch, FRSAI (Baltimore, USA: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010).

“As in the earlier books in this series, the lists of names are extracted from many sources which we on the West Coast may not be aware of. A useful index that will lead you to these new sources.”

Reviewed December 2011, full review, page 164.


A Canadian Heraldic Primer - book cover.A Canadian Heraldic Primer by Kevin Greaves, illustrated by Bruce Patterson and Gordon Macpherson (Ottawa: Heraldry Society of Canada, 2000).

“Anyone wishing to design a Coat of Arms would do well to read this book before embarking on this most exacting of tasks, and keep it on hand during the process.”

Reviewed December 2011, full review, page 164.



Westmorland Hearth Tax, edited by Colin Phillips, Catherine Ferguson and Andrew Wareham (British Record Society and Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, 2009).

“In the past, access to these [Westmorland Hearth Tax records] has been restricted to copies of the originals and the odd transcription. This volume provides an excellent introduction to the tax and has tables, maps and the lists.”

Reviewed June 2011, full review, page 78.

Directory of Scots Banished to the American Plantations 1650-1775 by David Dobson, Second Edition (Baltimore, USA: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2010).

“Finding an ancestor’s listing in the approximately 3,800 names in this book would be a genuine boon to family research leading one back to a specific area of Scotland or a starting point in North America.”

Reviewed June 2011, full review, page 78-79.

Genealogy At A Glance: Scottish Genealogy Research by David Dobson (Baltimore, USA: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2011).

“This useful guide, a folded, 4-page laminated sheet, starts from the perspective of a descendant of an emigrant Scot and their first question: when, why and to where did they emigrate?”

Reviewed March 2011, full review, page 29 .

Genealogy and the Law in Canada by Dr. Margaret Ann Wilkinson (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2010).

“All in all, this is a very informative book for professional and amateur genealogists researching Canadian families.”

Reviewed March 2011, full review, page 30.

2010 Book Reviws,The British Columbia Genealogist

National Burial Index for England and Wales, 3rd Edition (Rochdale, UK: Federation of Family History Societies, 2010).

“This is an extremely useful resource for researchers but is should be remembered that the index is an abbreviated finding-aid which leads researchers to an original source which should then be checked….Included with the index is mapping software that interacts with the data and displays parishes covered by the burial index.”

Reviewed September 2010, full review, pages 126-127.

Genealogical Standards of Evidence: A Guide for Family Historians by Brenda Dougall Merriman (Toronto: Dundurn Press, 2010).

“This book should whet your appetite to find out more on the topic. The quality of your research will improve.”

Reviewed September 2010, full review, page 127.

Conserving, Preserving, and Restoring Your Heritage: A Professional’s Advice by Kennis Kim (Toronto; Dundurn Press, 2010).

“This is an excellent book, clearly written, easy to read and certainly one that I will put on my bookshelf and frequently take down to consult. It was truly exciting to read a book by someone who knows her vast topic so thoroughly, and conveys the information so well.”

Reviewed June 2010, full review, page 79.

Parish Registers – A History and A Guide by Stuart A. Raymond (Bury, Lancashire, England: The Family History Partnership, 2009).

“The aim of this book is not only to outline [English and Welsh parish register] history, where they can be found, and how to use them, but also what pitfalls to look out for.”

Reviewed March 2010, full review, page 36.

The Rise of Jewish Life and Religion in British Columbia, 1858-1948 by Cyril E. Leonoff, Volume XXVIII, The Scribe (Vancouver: Journal of the Jewish Historical Society of BC, 2008).

“…a comprehensive exploration of the history of the Jewish community in BC. Many well- known (and less well known) colourful figures of BC lore are described in detail…”

Reviewed March 2010, full review, page 36.

Quicksheet: Citing Databases & Images by Elizabeth Shown Mills (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009).

“Convenient for desktop use at home or in the library, this new Quicksheet….demonstrates how to note common sources…arranged in the standard format.”

Reviewed March 2010, full review, page 37.

Jewish Ancestors? A Guide to Reading Hebrew Inscriptions and Documents by Rosemary Wenzerul (London, England: Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain, 2005).

“A very practical book, well organized and illustrated with sketches and photographs.”

Reviewed March 2010, full review, page 37.