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Oh, Canada!
6/12/2014
Got ancestors for whom Canada is home and native land? Get started exploring your Canadian roots with this step-by-step guide.
If you want a quick gauge of how Canada has influenced the culture “south of the border” in the United States, just turn on your television. After the nightly news hosted by Canadian Peter Jennings, you can match wits with Canadian Alex Trebek on “Jeopardy!” and beam up a “Star Trek” rerun starring Canadian William Shatner. Flipping the dial, you'll probably spot fellow Canadians Mike Myers and Michael J. Fox. But it's not just TV: Think Celine Dion, Margaret Atwood, Wayne Gretzky, the Cirque du Soleil, Titanic director James Cameron …

The ancestries of Canadians and people in the United States are as intermingled as our cultures. Between 1851 and 1951, for example, more than 6.5 million Canadians immigrated to the United States. Most of them never became as famous as Peter Jennings or got to command the Starship Enterprise — but they may have become your ancestors.

In my own family, the links to Canada are only a couple of generations away. My maternal grandparents emigrated from Quebec to New England at the beginning of the 20th century, leaving behind a portion of their extended family. They traveled back to Quebec several times to visit cousins. I remember visits being surrounded by another language — French — that my mother used when she didn't want the children to understand her conversations with her siblings, and food nothing like we had at home — head cheese and blood pudding. These visits helped me discover new family and a whole history I was unaware of; digging into your own Canadian roots can do the same for you.

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