One of the genealogical resources frequently overlooked is local histories. These books are great resources, often containing detailed information not available elsewhere. The biggest problem usually is in finding these books. Luckily, Laval University and the University of Calgary are solving this problem for many Canadian families by placing these books on the Web. The project is funded by the Canadian taxpayer through the federal government.
Quoting from the Web site:
Our Roots/Nos Racines provides universal access via the World Wide Web to unique primary and secondary materials concerning the cultural and social heritage of our nation. These local histories have been written by the community, for the community and represent Canada's history as told by the people.
Another page on the Web site states:
Our Canadian local history consortium is dedicated to providing Canadians and people from all over the world with access to our most important stories. Many local histories reside in private collections or are not easily accessible to the public. Our Roots / Nos Racines is intended to digitally preserve stories and information that might otherwise be lost forever.
This online resource presently contains about 1,500 books in the collection, all digitized and full-text searchable. Many people moved between Canada and the US, and to Canada from the UK, so the collection should be of interest to more people than just Canadians. It's so easy to use that it is worth trying, even if you think the odds are slim of finding anything.
I went to the site and entered some of my French-Canadian ancestral names. It didn't take long to find "hits." In short order I was looking at scanned images of the original books. In my case, most of these books were printed in French. I then tried a couple of other Canadian ancestral names of Scottish origin. I didn't fare so well with these; the names of these farmers apparently were not recorded. However, I quickly found a history book of the small town in which they lived and read a lot (in English) about the area.
The books appear on-screen as scanned images of the originals. You are reading the actual words as published in the books, not transcribed copies with added errors. The Web site does not tell how to make copies of these pages, but I found it easy to right-click on the image of a page and then select "Save Picture As…" from the Web browser's menus. Using this method to save a few pages to your hard drive is trivial although I don't think I would save an entire book this way.
Our Roots/Nos Racines is a great Canadian genealogy and local history resource with its 1,500 books already online. Best of all, the site is free of charge for everyone.
You can access all the resources of Our Roots/Nos Racines at: http://www.ourroots.ca