Most people's introduction to genealogy occurs sometime in grade school when they are urged to put together a family tree. They begin at the bottom of the page and work upwards to their parents, then grandparents, then great grandparents and so on until their family's knowledge is depleted. What remains on the page is a great branching diagram that can confer a true sense of self, a place, irrevocable, within the family.
This hobby of course doesn't have to stop there, but can grow into a wonderfully satisfying and rewarding hobby as an adult. Really, studying genealogy takes a lot of research and patient searching through many documents. Sources for these documents are often traced back to immigration offices. It is especially the case in Canada where most of the population is descendent of immigrants.
In North America, there are a few points of interest in terms of immigration. In the United States millions of people entered the continent through Ellis Island or Angel Island and in all likelihood many of those people eventually wandered north across the border into Canada. Grosse Isle in Quebec is sometimes referred to as the Ellis Island of Canada for the very large numbers of immigrants who passed through it in the 1800s. It is possible to contact the Canadian government to collect information about people who passed through to help compile your very own family tree.
Of course part of the challenge in developing your own genealogical record is ensuring that the information that you gather is as accurate as possible. For this you will have to employ some tactics that historians use most commonly. Try to use primary documents as often as possible which indicate that there were multiple people confirming that a certain event was happening at the moment of the document's creation. Secondary documents can only be used in the case of a lack of primary documents. Secondary documents are things that were recorded years after the event itself. History documents are secondary documents.
Part of the fun in putting together a genealogy is discovering what life was like for your ancestors. How they lived, how they felt about the times or simply the political and social nature of the times are what you can find out about your ancestors. You never know you may happen to have a very famous relative that you simply never knew about!
The Canadian government provides a variety of links that will help you on your search to find out the identities of your ancestors, but there are also many different online programs to help you search as well. A large community of researchers looking to fill in parts of their genealogies exists and it is more than likely that they will be willing to help you further your own research.
Imagine the treasure of having a family tree for your children or relatives to look at and feel their own place in the world in the context of family. It is an invaluable resource that will bring you together all the more.
Some online resources you can take advantage of in the development of your genealogy:
Census of Canada, 1901
Census of Canada, 1911
ArchiviaNet (A collection of research tools you may find helpful)
Library and Archives Canada, Genealogy and Family
Canadian Vital Statistics Offices
Immigrants at Grosse Isle (Canada's Ellis Island)
Passenger Lists, 1865-1922
Ship Information Data
That's My Family!
Ellis Island Database
The National Archives: Census Records
Family Search: Discover Your Family History
Canada Gen Web
Canadian Genealogy and History Links (A collection of useful websites)
Le Centre de généalogie francophone d'Amérique
Bibliothèque et Archives Nationales du Québec
University of Montreal Demography Research Program