How A Few Little Lines Can Change Everything

11 April 2015, Chriss Coleman

The writing about genealogy hasn’t made much headway, mostly due to busy days, many hours of painting and the sore muscles that come with it, not to mention the lack of a desk or even a comfy chair. However, the research has not stopped. Some days it is only a record here or there, sometimes I get a bit further. Whilst I’ve been dabbling a lot in my own family tree, my biggest breakthrough of late has happened up my husband’s line, namely his biological grandmother. Her family settled in a region near to where we’ve relocated and I thought it would be worth another look given our proximity to local records holdings, cemeteries, etc., that may have information about this family.

Brick Wall
Brick Wall – Image courtesy of GenealogyInTime Magazie,

Due to privacy laws I was having a lot of issues finding the information I needed to take this tree further back. I knew his grandmother’s name was Lillian Cameron, and that she was born in the Barrie, Ontario area around 1916. Thanks to a rather vague letter from the Children’s Aid Society (CAS) I also knew that her mother died when she was a young child, but not much more. I also found a mis-indexed record for the 1921 Canadian Census that may possibly be our Lillian, but with a middle name we’d never heard before. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t enough to make me certain I was climbing the correct tree.

Since I wasn’t having much luck with official records, I turned to newspapers to help me bridge the gap between our family and the accessible records. Whilst I couldn’t find the marriage announcement I’d had hoped to find, I did find a single sentence that completely changed everything. The second paragraph of the Anten Mills social news gave me the lead I needed.

Lillian Cameron visits her sister
Clipping from the Northern Advance, local and social news section for Anten Mills, Simcoe, Ontario.1

Miss Lillian Cameron, who has been spending a few weeks with her sister, Mrs. C. Cole, has secured a position in Barrie.

This would like have been about a year before Lillian married her husband Vincent in Barrie. Whilst it didn’t confirm a family connection, or even that it was our Lillian Cameron, it was a lead. With this small nugget of information, I started researching the Mrs C. Cole mentioned in the clipping. I was able to easily flush out her family tree. By combining records I found on Ancestry, cemetery photos posted on the internet, and more newspaper articles, I was able to find obituaries for her parents and grandparents, including one for her mother Lucy Ann (Butler) Cameron, wife of Lachlan Cameron, who died in 1923. Lillian would have been about six at this time, which fit both with the information from the CAS letter, and also matched up with the 1921 Census record I found.

Some caption text
1921 Canada Census for Vespra, Simcoe county, Ontario, household of Lachlan Cameron2

Lachlan Cameron, Head, Male, Married, 48.
Lucy Ann Cameron, Wife, Female, Married, 38.
Margaret Ann Cameron, Daughter, Female, Single, 15.
Janet Mabel Cameron, Daughter, Female, Single, 13.
Alexander Cameron, Son, Male, Single, 12.
Angus Cameron, Son, Male, Single, 8.
Lucy Cameron, Daughter, Female, Single, 7.
David Cameron, Son, Male, Single, 5.
Lillie May Cameron, Daughter, Female, Single, 4.
Allan Lauder Cameron, Son, Male, Single, 2.

The Lucy Cameron that appears on this census would eventually marry and become the Mrs. C. Cole mention in the newspaper. The newspaper articles I had found matched the census records and other vital records on Ancestry. This was all the same family.

But was this our family?

I continued researching and could only find one other Lillian Cameron in Simcoe county and I was quickly able to rule her out using the Canadian Voter Registry and Phone Directories. To put it simply, the other Lillian was still single at a time when I knew that our Lillian was married.

More convinced than ever, I took a leap of faith and I messaged a fellow Ancestry user in hopes that they may have heard something – anything – about our line. More than anything I wanted some confirmation that this was the right family. They were quick to respond, we emailed back and forth, and we were able to confirm through their genealogy notes that their Lillian had married an O'Hara.

Not only had we found our family, we found new cousins who still live in the area. I greatly look forward to opening a dialog and sharing information with them. It is my hope, even with all the hard effort put forward by several people in this line of the family, I will have additional information that will help fill the tree out further for everyone.

But more than anything, I’m finally able to start filling in a very blank section of our family tree, all thanks to a few little lines in a newspaper and a kindred spirit.

  1. “Anten Mills”, visit of Lillian Cameron, Northern Advance, Barrie, Simcoe county, Ontario, Canada, 24 Jan 1939, page 10, column 5; digital image, Barrie Public Library Newspaper Index ( : accessed 22 Dec 2014)/ 

  2. “1921 Census of Canada”, database and digital image, Ancestry ( : accessed 21 Dec 2014), entry for household of Lachlan Cameron, Vespra, Simcoe North; citing RG31, folder 86, Ontario, district 127 Simcoe North, subdistrict 25 Vespra, page 4, dwelling 44, family 44.