My wife, Kate, is an avid genealogist (see her family history blog, which has been dormant for a while since she took up her fight against cancer, about which she is also blogging). A great resource for Canadians interested in tracing their family history is the Library and Archives of Canada (LAC). Late last week Kate brought me there to show me around. LAC's resources are vast, as one may hope from a national archive. One of the most fundamental and cool references they have, though, are city directories dating back to the turn of the 20th century and even earlier for the larger cities. The earlier volumes contain some basic yet wonderful information on any city's residents: name, occupation and address.
Kate and I didn't have a long time to spend at LAC this time around, but she suggested I look up my maternal grandfather in the 1933 Montreal city directory - the year my mother was born. So I did. And I found him:
N. Kazurka (Sic), Labourer, 207 6th Avenue, Lachine, Quebec.
Mis-spellings are, apparently pretty common in these directories, so you may have to be a little creative in looking for your ancestors. At the time, I believe my mother's family was going by the name Kaziuka and somewhere along the line some branches of the family went by Kazuke. So, now I know what house my mother lived in when she was born. My family and I travel fairly often to Montreal, so now I am keen to visit the house.
While I had the directory out, I thought I would look up my paternal grandfather. I know when he first emigrated to Canada from Great Britain, he settled in rural Quebec and worked as a farm labourer, but I was fairly sure that by the 1930's he was on the Island of Montreal and sure enough:
Alfred Burrows, Milk Driver, 67 Rolland Avenue, Ville St. Pierre, Quebec.
So, now I have another house to try to find. Working forwards and backwards from 1933 I can track where my maternal and paternal ancestors lived and what they did for a living, at least if they stayed in Montreal or some other city large enough to have a city directory. Hopefully, I will have many X's marking many spots.
I look forward to visiting all these places, but until I manage to get there, I am going to try to see them on Google Street View.