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Overheard in GenForum: Mary Kalyn, 1912, SK, Canada
by Rhonda R. McClure

Each week Rhonda answers a question from the GenForum message boards and gives her expert answer here. We'd love to hear anything you have to add. Go ahead and leave your comments on GenForum with the original message.

December 02, 1999
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Q: My grandmother Mary (Kalyn) Honnef, daughter of William & Nellie Kalyn, married Andrew Honnef. She was born at Bonis Lake, SK Canada on June 24, 1912 or 1913. I would like to find out more about her. Thanks.
-- Linda

A: You already have part of the battle won. You know the names of the parents for Mary KALYN. This is more than many people usually have. You also know the place of birth and date. Both added bonuses. The key here is to get your ancestors to a time and place where there are records that can help you push the lineage back further. To do this, it is important that you become familiar with the records and resources for the locality.

Whenever you are working on a new line, especially one that takes you to a new locality, the first step should be to familiarize yourself with the record availability and history of that area. It is essential to learn at what divisional level the records will be found and for what periods of time they cover. While we would love to have everything available online, that is something that is still very much in the future. So until that time, we need to turn to more traditional resources such as vital records, census records and church records.

When researching ancestors through remote methods, it is essential to be familiar with the history and record availability.

Vital Records for Saskatchewan

Civil registration was actually not complete for Saskatchewan until 1920 for births, marriages and deaths. However, there were some areas that were recording these vital records as early as 1878. Fortunately for you, there is a complete index. Both the indexes and the records themselves are available by writing to:

Division of Vital Statistics
Department of Health
T.C. Douglas Building
3475 Albert Street
Regina, SK S4S 6X6
Phone: 306-787-3168

Vital Statistics Unit
Department of Health
1919 Rose Street
Regina, SK S4P 3V7

Please be aware that there is a fee involved in requesting these records. To find out more, you may want to see the forms available in Thomas Kemp's International Vital Records Handbook which was published by Genealogical Publishing Company.

Census Records and Church Records

The available census records would not be of help in learning more about Mary, but the 1881 census, the only one currently available may hold some clues to her parents. You will want to keep in mind that at this time Saskatchewan was still part of the Northwest Territories.

Church records might be of use to you if the vital records do not exist for the time in which Mary was born. Of course, in order to use church records, it is necessary to know what denomination the family was. One way to do this would be to locate William in the 1881 census and see what denomination his family was and then look in those records. Some of them may even be available online through the Family History Library.

An Index of Use

While this source's latest date is 1900, thus a little early in regards to Mary, it could be useful to you in regards to William and his wife. The Genealogy Research Library of Toronto, Canada published about twelve volumes of indexes divided up by region. These volumes (of about 2 million individuals) have been made available on CD through Family Tree Maker. CD #118 Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600-1900 may be of special use to you.

Many of the sources used in this index have been microfilmed or microfiched and may be available through your local Family History Center.


Another resource for vital records are the newspapers. Some of these date back as early as 1878 which may help you with additional details or birth information on Mary's parents. These records are available from the following repositories:

Saskatchewan Archives Board, Regina Office (for southern locations)
University of Regina
Regina, SK S7N 0W0
Telephone: 306-787-4066
Fax: 306-787-1975

Saskatchewan Archives Board, Saskatoon Office (for northern locations)
Murray Memorial Building
University of Saskatchewan, 3 Campus Drive
Saskatoon, SK 57N 5A4
Telephone: 306-933-5832
Fax: 306-933-7305

Saskatchewan Genealogical Society Library
P.O. Box 1894
1870 Lorne Street, 2nd Floor, Room 201
Regina, SK 54P 2L7
Telephone: 306-780-9207
Fax: 306-781-6021

In Conclusion

There are a number of interesting records that might give you additional information on Mary and her parents. The trick will be in learning how best to use these sources to maximize your results.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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