What are some of your interests outside of genealogy?
I’m interested in people and the great outdoors. My kids are all adults, happily pursuing their own life’s goals. I work in human resources, and I look forward to resuming my dinner parties, post COVID. I try to work in the garden or ramble in the woods every day. I’m afraid I’ve become that eccentric lady who talks to herself while walking and gardening, because I’m also a storyteller, and telling stories live, without written notes, takes preparation.
How long have you been on WikiTree and what do you spend the most time doing?
I joined WikiTree in July 2016. I’m interested in stories, so I wonder why and look for answers to any puzzles that I can’t explain. This means I’m sourcing, connecting, searching out duplicates, writing biographies, categorizing, and inching my way along.
Aside from my own ancestors, I contribute to the Canada Project as the Atlantic Canada team leader, and I contribute to other projects that overlap these activities, such as the Montbélliard Emigrations to Nova Scotia, 1749-1752, recently started by Mags Gaulden, the Categorization project and le Portail Francophone.
Did you catch the cool bilingual categories we’ve begun to use in bilingual locations, such as Tracadie, New Brunswick? C’est grâce aux efforts d’Isabelle Martin, parmi les autres membres qui partagent l’espoir de pouvoir collaborer, chacun dans la langue de notre choix.
What brought you to WikiTree?
Over supper my father asked me an idle question about an ancestor, but my boxes of paper were 4,500 km away. He teased that I use my phone to answer most other questions, why didn’t I look his up on the internet? A few minutes later, I stumbled across WikiTree, and the rest, as they say, is history.
What is your favorite thing about WikiTree?
I am all about open source and collaboration, and I wouldn’t be a member of WikiTree if it was any other way. I think the best feature is the single shared tree. We all save a lot of time and effort when we build on each other’s research. I have met so many wonderful people, and have learned so much more about my ancestors than I could ever have achieved alone.
What is an example of how WikiTree has helped you with your genealogy or how you’ve helped genealogy with WikiTree?
In 2018 I completed a survey of the founders of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, and discovered fistfights, business transactions, and shared church business between my father’s ancestors and my mother’s, which no one could have imagined. It wouldn’t have happened without WikiTree.
Liverpool was founded by New England Planters, a wave of migrants to Nova Scotia before the American Revolution who have been rather neglected, genealogically speaking. I have over 80 planters in my family tree, and I knew that finding sources was going to be a big job. I was hesitant to bite off more than I could chew.
That was when WikiTree kicked in. Brad Foley suggested I focus on one place only and gave me an example. Soon I found others, and I’d like to give a shout out to Sean Benjamin, Jason Clark, Marcel Muise and Rick Pierpont for setting an example and laying the groundwork, each in your own way.
When I tentatively started, WikiTree happened again. Other members responded to my additions and suggestions and in the end, my ‘impossible’ task was completed in under 9 months, plus the seeds that were planted collaboratively have spread well beyond the scope of my own little garden. The number of profiles categorized as New England Planters has increased enormously beyond the dozens I added, and now includes settlers from across the original twenty English townships.
I’ve just finished a similar survey in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, and am starting to focus on Lunenburg, but the job keeps getting easier because so many other members are putting their sources in before I get there.
Any tips for someone just starting out on WikiTree?
I have two. First, when you edit a page, don’t be surprised if you see some symbols that aren’t usually visible in a modern word processor (but they’re always there, telling the computer to make a list, a heading or a footnote). Please don’t be shy. The standard commands for a wiki were designed for simple storytellers like me to use, and I swear on my dyslexia that no special computer skills are required. The same codes are used in every wiki on the internet, including Wikipedia, and other genealogy sites like FamilySearch, but this tips page is the nicest cheat sheet I have found, and now its yours: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Editing_Tips
Second, have fun!