As we often hear that, other than those of the First Nations, Canadians are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Except for that mysterious Native American ancestor lurking somewhere in my family tree, which repeated DNA tests insist must exist, my first ancestor in the New World arrived about 1620, almost 400 years ago, while my most recent immigrant ancestor arrived in 1903.
As far I as know, none of my migrant ancestors were wealthy people. As with many migrants today, they fled poverty, war, famine, and oppression in their own countries, seeking a better life in a new one. Often, they were strongly encouraged in this decision by their rulers, who saw the New World as a solution to their "surplus population" problem.
I was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, ground zero for my map of migrations below, which explodes into the past centuries, spreading back to the old countries. These maps were created using RootsMapper, which leverages my family tree entered in FamilySearch. It's a fun and easy-to-use tool, once you go through all the trouble to get your tree updated in FamilySearch.
On this migration map, each number stands for a generation. There is a 1 for each parent, a 2 for each grandparent and a 10 for each 8x great grandparent, at least those whom I know about. If a family lived in an area for several generations, the numbers stack up so you might not see all of them.
The pink lines are my Mom's ancestors, the blue lines are my Dad's ancestors. Clearly, pink is more straightforward, traveling back to Bekevar in southern Saskatchewan and then back across the ocean to Karcag. Bezded. Zahony, Eperjeske, and the other towns and villages where my great grandparents were born. As far as I can tell, those families, such as the Dakus and Debrecenis, lived in those areas since at least the 18th century.
While the map displays only a couple pink lines going to Hungary and numerous blue lines going to France, I am far more Hungarian than French. Those pink lines lead to great grandparents while the blue lines lead to 8x great grandparents.
My Dad's family clearly shows a lot more movement than my Mom's family, as many of his ancestors began their travels as far back as 400 years ago while all of my Hungarian family only hit the road 115 years ago. If we set my Grandma Grace as the roots descendant, the pink lines are the ancestors of her mother, Emily Campbell, and the blue lines are the ancestors of her father, Charlie Davis.
My Dad's maternal family is mostly Scottish, Irish, and Cornish, migrating to Ontario in the early to mid 19th century to Ontario, before moving west to Saskatchewan. The one anomaly in this sea of Britishness was my 3x great grandfather, Charles Berlinguet, born in 1832 near Montreal. Charles had many ancestors who migrated to Nouvelle-France in the 17th century and are represented by the large number of blue lines below. Most of these men and women originated from France but one sailed from Lisbon and another from Genoa.
The long pink line from Ontario to Saskatchewan tracks the migration of Peter Campbell and Emma Jane McGregor in 1878, who would have a daughter Emily Campbell in 1891. The long blue line to Saskatchewan was Charlie Davis in 1903, who would marry Emily in 1909.
My Dad's paternal Simpson family, meanwhile, has deep roots in Colonial America. If we set the root descendent as Lowell Simpson, my Dad's father, the pink lines are the ancestors of his mother, Emma Hethcot, and the blue lines are the descendents of his father, my great grandfather, Thomas Simpson.
Ancestors from Ireland, Scotland, and England sailed to Delaware and Pennsylvania and others from Switzerland and England migrated to Virginia. Eventually, they all journeyed west, through Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, and Nebraska and, finally, north to Saskatchewan in 1915.
It's easy to see that these migrations happened much earlier than the others, except for my French Canadian ancestors, as their journey westward is slow, moving a little further west with each generation. With a couple exceptions, these ancestors were seldom first into a region but arrived with the building of roads and, in later years, the railroad.
Given my percentage of African DNA and debated heritage of my Hathcock ancestors in North Carolina and Virginia, there is also at least one undocumented line coming from West Africa.
Of course, my ancestors migrated from place to place before these maps. Mass migrations, caused by wars, disasters, or deliberate resettlement policies have moved huge numbers of people from one part of Europe to the other many times. However, as records grow rare and surnames disappear, the only good way to track where my ancestors were in all these movements is to use Y-DNA and mtDNA.
By testing my Y-DNA, I've learned my direct paternal ancestor may have been Scandanavian 1200 years ago. My cousin Jim Daku's Y-DNA testing shows that he shares a 2000 year old ancestor with an Italian man, which doesn't help us pinpoint who that ancestor may have been but perhaps some day another match will provide more insight.
Until then, it's still very interesting to know where our more recent history comes from.