Canadian Family Associations (National Institute)

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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course Canadian Local Histories and Special Collections  by Michelle LaBrosse-Purcell, B.Sc., MLIS. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Because there are so many family associations (and the list is growing every day), it is impossible to list all the associations out there. It is up to each of you to find (or start) a family association that suits you. In general, members of a family association are people who share a common ancestor or surname. They form an association for a variety of reasons to exchange genealogical information, to share current news about family members, to have reunions, and to promote the family name and family pride.

Some family associations attempt to collect information about people with their surname all over the world. These associations are usually called one-name studies. Associations like this can be helpful if the family name is uncommon, but tend to be useless if you are attempting to find information on a family member with a common last name. Just because two people share the last name Baker doesn’t mean that they’re related! Names such as Baker, Smith, Farmer, etc., all signify an ancestor’s occupation, and that makes finding family links that much more difficult. Family associations which bring together family members of a relatively small family group in a specific geographic area are much more helpful when researching an ancestor. For example, the association for the Descendants of William A. Baker of Calgary, AB is a much more exclusive association.

Family associations can be run in different ways, depending on the desires of the members. Some associations are not terribly interested in genealogy, and instead tend to focus on current family news and family reunions. Other associations are much more concerned with the genealogical aspect of the family, and solicit family members for any genealogical information to add to the family tree.

Some family associations are highly organized, incorporated societies, while others are run more casually. Many family associations do incorporate themselves into non-profit organizations, complete with president, secretary, treasurer, etc. For example, the following is the Charter for the Jewett family of America. It shows the purpose of the association, as well as the founding members and the date of incorporation.

Charter for the Charter for the Jewett Family of America

Jewett Family12E.jpg

The easiest way to find a family association is to check on the Internet. A great resource is Cyndi’s List, that is available online. If you’re very fortunate, you might be able find the very family you’re searching for, and the family tree might even be posted on the website.


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online courses Canadian Local Histories and Special Collections offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about these courses or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.