Monday, September 23, 2019

Canada’s Ancestors in the Attic

February 18, 2010 by  
Filed under Canada, genealogy

A  Good Year for Genealogy TV

With all the chatter about the upcoming and newly released Genealogy/History television shows, I thought I’d mention a long time running Canadian favourite Ancestors in the Attic”.

I share with you below a short blurb from the show.

Hosted by Jeff Douglas, Ancestors in the Attic is a Gemini-nominated documentary series about ordinary people and their extraordinary stories.Produced by Toronto-based Primitive Entertainment for History Television it takes Canadians on a road trip across Canada and on a worldwide search for their ancestors. The series uncovers the personal dramas that lay in everyone’s family tree, from a woman’s search for her birth parents in Switzerland, to the discovery of long-lost family in Belarus, to a journey through the battlefields of Italy. Ancestors in the Attic provides unexpected, emotional and often life-changing answers to the genealogical questions that haunt many Canadians. does a good job of sharing their research process and creates a fine story of the individuals featured and their search for their ancestors. See the webpage for show times.

It IS a good year for Genealogy TV.  Check out ALL of the family history shows and support them by watching.  The buzz is good for everyone and will generate more excitement about genealogy and family history.  More interest equals more family connections for us all.

2010 Genealogy/History TV shows:

Ancestors in the Attic on History Television (Update – this show has been discontinued)

Faces of America on PBS

The Generations Network by BYU Television

Who Do You Think You Are on NBC  (premiering March 2010)


42 Responses to “Canada’s Ancestors in the Attic”
  1. Anna says:

    how do i get on the ancetry show?

  2. Hi Anna,
    I’m not sure how you get on the ancestry show. Perhaps contact the producers.


  3. John says:

    Ancestors in the Attic was not renewed by History TV Canada. The team is disbanded.

  4. Hi John,
    That would explain why she hasn’t been able to contact them. Thanks for the update!


  5. Connie says:

    Just wanted to say i am sadden to hear it wasn’t renewed. I love the show and I have a serious interest in researching my complicated family history but I have no idea where to begin! I was hoping to contact Ancestors in the Attic for advice. :(

  6. Hi Connie,
    The best place to begin is with yourself. Record all the information you have (birth, marriage etc, including locations), then move to your parents and grandparents and so on recording the vital records on each (birth, marriage, deaths). If you are researching in Canada, I suggest checking census and other records at the following two locations (go to Library and Archives Canada or Automated Genealogy). is another free place to research online. Have specific goals in mind and keep a log of where you have researched. A good family tree program can keep you organized. The LDS church has a free one called Personal Ancestral File (PAF). I have used Family Tree Maker, Roots Magic and Legacy software programs- all good but they cost. Roots Magic has a free version that is very good too.


  7. richard golden says:

    I have been trying to find my great great grandfathers roots i asked before did not get a response he was married in 1858 in york ontario to annie waters he married her as william cowland and we all have the last name of golden we know he was sent to canada because he had the family maid pregnant apparently he was dis in heritedmy grandmother told my mom that in 1916 my gr grandfather recieved a letter from a barrister in london tellin him if he came back to england he could assume the land and title I would like to get in touch with the geneolagist that you use on ancestors in the attic we know you hav e many requests to appear on the show and we are willing to chip in and pay a geneoligist recommended by you wayne golden àwilliam golden ,robert william golden richard golden richard dewey golden and my self richard wayne golden and my son richard brian golden please contact me

  8. Hi Richard,
    As you may have read, the show Ancestors in the Attic has been discontinued. I don’t personally have any connection with the show and don’t know of the genealogist you refer to. I suggest you contact the Ontario Genealogical Society for their guidance. They will know of professional genealogists that would be willing to research for you. I hope that helps.

    Thank you for your question.

  9. Pam says:

    I am very disappointed to hear that the show Ancestors in the Attic has been cancelled. What was so unique about the show, and its appeal, was the opportunity for the average Canadian to have venue to share their storey. One of the many millions of stories that make up the fabric of our great and diverse contry. This show developed a unity within our country by surpassing boundaries of race, religeon, geography and even time. Ancestors in the Attic began to develope a deeper sence that we as people are not as far seperated from each other as it may seem. . The fact remains that we all come from somewhere, and that we all have storey.

  10. I am a Canadian author who has successfully published my autobiography in 2008 by Blue Butterfly Book Pub. Inc. Toronto On. While doing my family research I was very surprised at what I found out about my grandfather who was a Jamaican born Police Inspector. He made great contributions to Jamaica’s early history, and has now been totally forgotten by his country. The reason is based on his race, as he was a 3rd generation white Jamaican born man who’s ancestors arrived in Jamaica in 1754 as Moravian missionaries. This is a case of reverse discrimination, that will make a great and story and I am willing to share it with your program any time. My book is “A Struggle to Walk with Dignity” Take a kook, and get all the info on: just click on title. Good reading for Black History Month. With my thanks, Gerald.

  11. Hi Gerald,
    Good luck with your book.


  12. Hi Pam,
    I know…it was a very unique show and I miss it too.

    Thanks for stopping by to comment.


  13. Tracey Guerrier says:

    I am also very sad to hear that Ancestors in the Attic has been cancelled! It was truly a unique program that never failed to tug at my heart strings every time.

    Do you have any suggestions of where I should go to find information about my great-grandmother? We have very little information about her – just her name – Jenny Gustafson and that she came from Stockholm, Sweden to Canada in 1912-1913. My grandfather, George Edward Gustafson was born in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan on October 7, 1913. He believes he may have been conceived during the voyage. Jenny placed him in the care of the Children’s Aid Society. However, after a week or so, she removed him from the Society and gave him to Mr. and Mrs. David and Maria Rhode. (They had just recently lost their son David in a flu or diptheria epidemic, and renamed my grandfather David Rhode). Mr. Rhode worked for the Robin Hood Flour Mill, while Mrs. Rhode ran a boarding house and was also a midwife. I believe that is the connection between her and Jenny. Apparently Jenny came around for a few weeks, then disappeared completely. There is rumor that she may have died in the flu epidemic of 1918. However, I have researched many cemetaries in and around Moose Jaw, and have no sign of her name. I have had no luck searching census records either. I was hoping I might find her name on a passenger list, but have no idea where to start looking. Any ideas?

    Your help is much appreciated!


    Tracey Guerrier

  14. Zoe says:

    I was watching the show today, and a young girl named Mary was reunited with her birth family. I couldnt stop crying. I’ve dreamt of that kind of reunion for 20 years now. I was adopted from Romania when I was a baby, and I’ve dreamed of finding my parents… Please tell me how I can get on the show. I’ve been trying to find some sort of help for years!!!

    Zoe DuVal

  15. Hi Tracey,
    Thanks for your comment. I asked on the Alberta Family Histories Society newslist for you. One member, Ronna, suggested you post your request on the Canada Forum at

    I hope that helps. Thanks for visiting.


  16. Hi Tracey,
    We have another suggestion from Robert, an AFHS member for you.

    “I would advise her to contact by phone or mail, all of the cemeteries in the Moose Jaw area and ask them about Jenny..Some are on the internet, but some are not!”


  17. jada says:

    I love this show, to bad the host is such an idiot..

  18. Hi Jada,
    Thank you for visiting.

  19. Robert Downey says:

    Hi Joan

    I’d like to find information about my half-brother and half-sister’s dad for them as a gift. My mother didn’t leave very much information for them about him. He was with the British Merchant Navy and was killed in action during WWII. I’m 61 years old. My brother will be 71 this year and my sister 69. All I have about their dad is his name, place of birth and that he was in the Merchant Navy during WWII. We were all born in N.Ireland and now live in Canada, so whatever resource direction you can provide will have to be available through the net. Any ideas?

  20. Hi Robert,
    Thank you for your comment. Have you tried looking for naval records? Christopher Watts wrote a book called My Ancestor was a Merchant Seaman which may be helpful (look for it in your local library).


  21. Dalton Hadwen says:

    I’m disappointed that this show was cancelled, as I have an interesting family history I need help to sort out.

    You see, my great-great-grandmother, Hannah Hadwen’s maiden name was Hannah Hadwen, and the story passed down through the family (starting with herself) was that she was one of five living sisters to the infamous Dalton Gang brothers. She ended up in Canada, raising a family with her husband, John. Earliest Canadian records show around the turn of the century.

    I have done years of off-and-on genealogical research, and at first found records which suggest Hannah Adeline Dalton, one of the five sisters on record, had supposedly died shortly after birth in 1879.

    However, I recently found an excerpt from an interview in 1892, the day after the famous Coffeeville Kansas robberies, with William “Bill” Dalton. Bill states that he is “one of ten brothers and five sisters, all of which were alive before yesterday, except Frank, who was killed serving as a deputy Marshal some years ago”. This suggests that the record of her dying in 1879 are incorrect, which may also be evidence of a lack of records for her in that area.

    This is all the more interesting when coupled with the idea that, the only photo our family has of Hannah as a child is with her Aunt. There is an utter lack of mention concerning her birth parents, at least in any family records.

    There is more mystery surrounding the story, including a pair of pistols- one pearl handled and one with a broken handle, which reportedly her husband put away in a wall of their house when my grandfather was a child, living at his grandparents- but I was desperately hoping I’d be able to have the help of the Ancestors in the Attic team to uncover this mystery…

  22. Dalton Hadwen says:

    I meant to say her maiden name was “Hannah Dalton”, sorry. I made an error, there.

  23. Vesna Rebic says:

    i live in canada and i just love your show i watch it on the BBC every sunday and one the best shows now days i enjoy every one of them
    i was wondering if you every look for people in the other countries like croatia or serbia thank you so much for your kindness and keep up good work

  24. Hi Vesna,
    Thanks for your comments. I suggest you check out Lisa Alzo’s webpage. She has several books and research materials that might be able to help you or at the very least, she may know where you can start looking. Her blog is The Accidental Genealogist.


  25. Kathryn Murray says:

    Hello, I have spent years working on our Family Tree. The Sentell’ and Church’s and have traced back to 1306. Some very famous ancestors include Benjamin Church (war hero) and six family members that were aboard the Mayflower. My question(s) are where should I publish this (the list of names is over 700) and is there a way to contact the Mayflower Society for some sort of validation? I would very much appreciate any info or suggestions.
    withn sincere and warm regards, Kathryn Murray

  26. Kathryn Murray says:

    I forgot to add how much I loved Ancestors in the Attic and wanted you to know that this show inspired me to dedicate hundreds and hundreds of hours to investigate our family tree. Thanks to all who inspired many.

  27. Hi Kathryn,
    I miss Ancestors in the Attic too. That’s great it inspired you to research your family tree :)

    Thanks for visiting.


  28. K says:

    I was disappointed to hear that Ancestors in the Attic has been discontinued. It was a very informative show. CBC also aired a similar show called Who do you think you are and showed some celebrities from Canada like Margaret Trudeau & Randy Bachman. Too bad that one didn’t continue as well.

  29. Re: July 5-2011 – 6:30 am – Ancestors in Our Attic – Dr Duncombe

    1950′s-1960′s – Bertha (Bayliss/Powell)-daughter of Jennifer of Paris-Ontario married Dr Duncombe and moved to Chicago – Illinois-USA

    My daughter – Jen Cumin and her father visited Aunt Bertha Duncombe at the home of Grandmother Lillian – Bayliss-Powell/James/Cumin in the late 1970′s after the death of Dr Duncombe. Grandmother Lill Cumin/Catherwood – 2nd marriage lived in the village of Mt. Pleasant – between Brantford & Simcoe.

    The husband of Bertha Duncombe had one of those paintings – we heard.

    Sincerley – Elisabeth Cumin — Private & Confidential.

    PS – The painting would be in the home of one of the daughters of Dr Duncombe near Chicago Illinois – USA.

    Bertha worked for Dr Duncombe as a Nurse/Secretary – Paris – Ontario.

  30. Hi Elisabeth,
    Thank you for the information and for visiting.


  31. Marlene Stapleford says:

    I also am very dissappointed to hear that Ancestors in the Attic has been discontinued. Have been researching my family for many years and have a mystery regarding the Lloyd’s buried in Quebec in the Mount Hermon Cemetery.
    In the gravesite in Lot No 1225 are:
    my great grandmother, Catherine(nee Woods)(Mrs John Rowe) LLOYD 1925, their daughters, Eva Jane LLOYD 1964, Sarah May Elliot LLOYD 1920and Amy Kate LLOYD 1915, and Charles James Hope LLOYD 1915
    In Lot No. 684 are:
    My great grandfather John Rowe LLOYD 1906 and Mary Stuart (Mrs James) GIBSON 1878.
    In the other lot are
    Fanny Caroline DeKASTNER 1916, Frederic DeKASTNER 1905, Charlotte DeKastner (Mrs Jobidon)1966 and Pierre L. JOBIDON 1983
    The mystery of this is that we have not been able to make a connection with the DeKASTNERs, JOBIDON, Mary Stuart GIBSON or Charles James Hope LLOYD to our family. Perhaps someone out there can help me find the connection
    Also buried are Mary STUART (Mrs. James) Gibson, Charles James Hope LLOYD,

  32. Hi Marlene,
    Good luck with your search. Hopefully someone will see your comment and make a connection with you.


  33. Disa says:

    I am very saddened to hear that Ancestors in the Attic is cancelled. My husband and I watch it every week. Maybe someone will start it up aqain.

  34. Hi Disa,
    I was disappointed when they cancelled the show too. Thanks for visiting.


  35. Gail Gordon says:

    I am sorry this show has been canceled
    I have just discovered it
    If there is another show with similar content
    please let me know.
    Also, a comment by the host saying that National Geographic does testing
    to see where a person originates, I would be interested in contacting them
    Nothing shows on National Geo’s website

  36. Susan (Kitzmann) Charbonneau says:

    I have just discovered the show “Ancestors in the Attic”. I am saddened to learn that it is no longer in production. I have 2 mysteries in my family with little information. My maternal grandmother and my paternal grandfather were both born to single mothers. All are now deceased. One was born in Poland and the other in Hungary. I was hoping that someone could assist me in my quest for more info. Thank you.

  37. Hi Gail,
    Check out Family Tree DNA for genetic genealogy testing to determine deep ancestry or origins. They have an arrangement with National Geographic. The link to FTDNA is here

    All the best,

  38. Hi Susan,
    I suggest posting your query on the Rootsweb forums using these guidelines for writing a surname query. Rootsweb has forums for each practically every surname in existence. They also have geographic forums.

    Good luck.

  39. I note that Gerald A. Archambeau has also posted. I have spoken to this gentleman and he told me his family fascinating story. Here is mine – My grandfather and all his relatives claimed that they were born in Canada and that their parents were from Scotland. The truth is that they were born in Jamaica in the late 1800s, early 1900s. Shortly after the earthquake that destroyed Kingston in January 1907, they boarded a ship on August 28th, sailing from Port Morant aboard the United Fruit Company steamer SS Admiral Sampson, arriving in Boston. They settled in Toronto, Canada. They were “mulatto” and Hebrew, but assumed the identities of white protestants in Canada. The story was that they left one girl behind because she was “negro” at birth. They were originally from the May Hill-Alligator Pond area but moved to Kingston c. 1905. There are references to land they owned called “Gaza”. I contacted the Ancestors in the Attic producers and they were fascinated with the story. Unfortunately the show had already been cancelled. When I asked why, they said that they had funding for only x number of episodes, and that was it! In the USA when a show really takes off (as was the case here) it would be milked till it was dry. But this is Canada, after all… we don’t really want any successful series :(
    Some people asked about the shows and others (e.g. Who Do You Think You Are, Faces of America, etc.). My opinion – not worth it – unless you are a celebrity. Ordinary folks like us who are not rich and famous but still have fascinating stories are out of luck. I think that I stumbled on this Website in 2009 when I was looking for an alternative show, and that’s when I saw the reference to The Generations Project. Yes, I am Canadian but I thought I would submit an application to that US show. To make a long story short, I was accepted, and you can watch my episode online. Final note: I see some people saying “shame on you for cancelling” – well, that message is not getting through to the network (The History Channel – . I believe it is a member of The Shaw Network and they do not read these blogs and they do not care. They do not have a blog or feedback on their own show websites, probably because it would be filled with negative comments that they really do not want to hear about. And they do not have any contacts listed for complaints about their programming. That’s Canadian TV for you. Ironically, I had to go to an American show with my story. Sad, really. One last thing – I was in season 3 and sadly that was the last one for the show. Here is the link :

  40. Gerald A. Archambeau says:

    Dear readers, I as a new Canadian author who has made a donation to York University Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections. My donation is my way to say “thank you Canada” for a good life in a progressive country. My autobiography and other articles, in newspapers, scrap books along with my grandfather’s books as he was an author long before me. My donation is listed under: York U. yFile Archives the new home for memoir on race relations. Please take a look at this write-up of an immigrant experience of success my book is also at the York U. Library contact; Phone: 416 736 5442 “A Struggle to Walk with Dignity-The True story of a Jamaican-born Canadian 2008. With my thanks to All, Gerald.

  41. Brock Kerby says:

    hi eveyone,

    I am looking for information of my great uncle who served and died with the RCAF. His name was Michael Joesph Stewart Kerby, he was a pilot. I have some information, but looking for other Canadian sources.

    Brock Kerby.


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