Book Reviews and Awards

Heritage Award, February 2004

On 16 February 2004 I was both pleased and honoured to receive a Heritage Award from the Prince Edward Island Museum and Heritage Foundation. It was accorded for my second book, Vindicator, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island: Vital Statistics, Oct. 1862 to Oct. 1864. There is nothing more rewarding than being recognized by one's peers!

Accepting Heritage Award from PEI Lt-Gov Leonce Bernard

Above: Accepting Heritage Award from PEI Lt-Gov Leonce Bernard (left)
Photo © 2004 Steve MacDonald

The citation for the award reads:

"No one appreciates a shortcut - a trustworthy shortcut - better than a genealogist or historian. With questions so many, and research time so precious, a guide that shows exactly where to go to find an elusive bit of data can be priceless. Dan MacDonald's summary of the vital statistics published in the Vindicator between 1862 and 1864 is just such a guide. More than a simple index, Mr. MacDonald's booklet extracts entire entries describing births, deaths and marriages. Though not intended as a replacement for first-hand research, it provides an invaluable aid to the researcher and a fascinating glimpse into the past for the general reader. For crafting this very useful addition to the Island historian's tool box, we are pleased to present a Heritage Award to Dan MacDonald."

Book Review, "The Herald," March 2003

The following review of my first book, The Herald, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island: Vital Statistics, Oct. 1864 to Oct. 1871 was published in the 1st Quarter Issue (Vol. XVII, Issue 1) of The Sounder, the journal of the Sno-Isle Genealogical Society (Snohomish and Island Counties, Washington State, USA). It was written by Marge Reid, another PEI researcher:

"Dan MacDonald, of Moncton, New Brunswick, has compiled vital statistics data from early issues of The Herald, a four-page weekly paper published in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island from 1864 to 1921. He transcribed in their entirety over 900 articles appearing in the newspaper between 12 October 1864 and 25 October 1871; these articles included birth, marriage and death announcements, Coroner's Inquiries, shipping news, local news, and other items that contained 'vital records information', etc., for Island residents or people with known 'Island connections.'"

"In the preface to his book, Mr. MacDonald writes:"

"Like many genealogists, I do not always have direct or immediate access to the resources used in my research. The Internet, and the on-going digitization of historical documents and records, has facilitated this to a certain degree. Despite the massive amounts of information available over the World Wide Web, it is rarely complete. Often, it appears in bits and pieces according to the specific interests or efforts of the site owner. Only a small portion consists of actual images of the originals. Others before me have extracted, compiled and indexed vital statistics from newspapers, church records and other sources. However, many of my predecessors have limited their books to the basic data, usually abbreviated, omitting the supporting material that often proves more useful to the genealogist than anything else."

"This book, I believe, goes one step further. While it can be used as a finding aid, it is also designed to act as a stand-alone reference. Researchers who do not have direct access to original or microfilmed copies of The Herald can benefit from the articles that have been transcribed in their entirety. They are not left with an index that simply points to data beyond their reach, nor are they left to wonder at what may have been omitted at someone else's discretion. After all, it is the responsibility of each genealogist to determine the significance and importance of the data, not the compiler."

"Copies of this excellent reference book are available for patron use at the SIGS Library and at the Mountlake Terace Family History Center. PEI researchers wishing their own copies can contact Dan MacDonald at for more information. Detailed information on the book, including a copy of the index and a sample page in PDF format, can be found at the author's website at:"

"(Reviewer's note: Reading Dan's book transported me back 140 years to what I consider my 'ancestral turf,' Prince Edward Island - 'Garden of the Gulf,' 'Cradle of Confederation,' 'Spud Island,' etc. No, I didn't find any of 'my' CURRANs, CULLENs or DOCKENDORFFs. I DID find some interesting articles on McNALLYs as well as the death notice for my 2-G Grandfather, Patrick FURLONG. Dan's book also provides a wonderful example of 'self-publishing,' that hopefully will inspire other obsessive-compulsive data gatherers to 'do something' with all those years of notebooks and computer data files!)"