Metis Ancestors: Resources from the Glenbow Museum

If you have Metis ancestors, then you know finding resources for them can be difficult. One of the sites you should be book marking is the online collection at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary. This online collection contains genealogies with source citations.

Metis in Canada are the descendants of marriages between Indigineous and non Indigenous people. For the most part, the marriages were between Indigenous women and the European men employed in the fur trade. The Glenbow\’s collection deals with Metis in what is now Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta. Some parts of the Northwest Territories, Ontario and British Columbia are also covered.

 In their online collection are several resources. They do warn that the researcher will need to trace the family line back pre 1900 for their collection to be helpful for research. They have included on the site a PDF of a pedigree chart to help in research.

Not everything is digitized. However, these are still important because they give the important file numbers you need. This way you can provide the exact file numbers to staff when you visit in person. Even if you hire a researcher to do the visit for you, giving them this number will save a lot of valuable research time.

Charles Denney fonds and Métis genealogy files
This collection comprises of genealogical files for Prairie Metis as well as those families connected to the Red River Settlement. The collection was compiled between 1967 and 1985. Among the collection is charts, photographs, and correspondence. It also contains indexes and microfilms of census and parish records. There are genealogies of approximately 1200 family lines in the collection. The majority of it has not been digitized, but there are a few. It is divided into 9 subsections:

  • Series 1 Scanned Document Family history files : alphabetical list. — 1967-1985
  • Series 1-A Family history files : microfilm copies. – Microfilmed 1990 (originally created 1967-1985)
  • Series 2 Denney\’s indexes to family history files. — 1967-1985
  • Series 3 Scanned Document Collected reference materials. — 1956-1990 (originally created 1709-1985)
  • Series 4 Denney family personal papers. — 1906-2001
  • Series 5 Scanned Document Photographs. — [ca. 1855]-2000
  • Series 6 Elsie Denney\’s family genealogy. — [ca. 1900-1996]
  • Series 7 Miscellaneous writing. — 1924-2000, predominant 1972-2000
  • Series 8 Subject files. — [ca. 1910]-2002
  • Series 9 Priscilla Gilmour\’s papers. — 1927-1945, predominant 1942-1945

Now, if your file of interest is digitized, you will see this:

Just click on the \”View now\” to see the digitized documents in the file. They are digitized as a PDF, so can be downloaded to your computer. Onsite, the collection has restricted access for conservation reasons. They have microfilms available.

Pat McCloy Genealogical Collection
This collection, compiled from the 1970s to 1996, has a wealth of information. Along with index cards, there is also primary source material. It has wills, certificates, correspondence, newspaper clippings, obituaries, and photographs. There are 8 subsections:

  • Series 1 Genealogical research files. – [ca. 1970s-1996]
  • Series 2 Alphabetical files. – n.d.
  • Series 3 Miscellaneous genealogical files. – n.d.
  • Series 4 Thomas Rennie \”Pat\” McCloy personal papers. – [1900-1970s]
  • Series 5 McKay genealogical index cards. – Compiled [ca. 1970s-1996]
  • Series 6 Genealogical index cards. – Compiled [ca. 1970s-1996]
  • Series 7 Research notes index cards. – Compiled [ca. 1970s-1996]
  • Series 8 Scanned Document Photographs. – [ca. 1870s]-1941

Only Series 8, Scanned Document Photographs. – [ca. 1870s]-1941, has digitized images. The 9 images contained people and places in the Prairies and British Columbia. Onsite, there are no restrictions on access.

Warren Sinclair\’s Metis Genealogy collection
This collection contains 450 Metis biographies and 910 descendancy charts. The collection also includes indexes for both the biographies and charts. As a side note, this collection is also available at the HBC Archives in Winnipeg. The collection appears to be fully digitized, and is divided into two subsections:

  • Series 1 Scanned Document Tables of contents, biographies, and indices. – 1997-1999
  • Series 2 Scanned Document Descendancy tables. – 1997-1999

Both the biographies and charts have extensive source citations. A real bonus for us, since we can go straight to the horse\’s mouth so to speak, to verify. If you\’ve never used a descendancy chart before, they are titled with the earliest known ancestor couple, and work down the successive generations that were born pre 1900. Onsite, there are no restrictions on access.

Geoff Burtonshaw\’s Metis Genealogy Research collection
This is a collection of photocopied material from Library and Archives Canada, churches, and libraries. It also includes correspondence, researcher lists, and the personal memoirs of Geoff Burtonshaw. Not all of the collection is digitized. It is divided into 6 subsections:

  • Series 1 Scanned Document Geoff Burtonshaw\’s writings. — [ca. 1990s]
  • Series 2 Scanned Document Metis genealogy reference files. — [ca. 1981-2009]
  • Series 3 Alphabetical files of Metis researchers. — [ca. 1981-2009]
  • Series 4 Terry Punch correspondence. — 1989-2003
  • Series 5 Personal papers. — 1881-1980s
  • Series 6 Photographs (unprocessed). — [ca. 1940s-2000s
Those familiar with Maritime research will recognize Terry Punch\’s name. Very little of the collection has been digitized. Onsite, there are no restrictions to access.
The Glenbow Library Newspaper Clippings files
This last online collection does not have digitized images. It\’s function is more of a finding aid to prepare for an onsite visit. You can either search or browse by:
  • Keywords or Phrases
  • People
  • Place
  • Subject
They have included some instructions to maximize your searches on the collection\’s main page.
The results page will tell you what collections to ask to look at when you visit. For instance, when I typed in \”Ferguson\” as a surname, I received results that looked like this:
The Archives notes on the main page that this section is a work in progress. They will continue to add search terms as the collection gets examined over time. In other words, keep checking back to see what new items turn up.
A Final Note
The Library and Archives reading room at the Glenbow Museum is now closed. They have been moving their collection over to the Glenbow Western Research Centre. The Centre is located on the second floor of the Taylor Family Digital Library on the University of Calgary’s main campus. They have requested that any research inquiries for material access be directed to

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