Saturday, October 23, 2010

OGS Provincial Office Reopens

From OGS Headquarters comes this news -

October 23, 2010

Provincial Office Reopens

The OGS Provincial Office is open for business once again. Our server, phones and fax machines are up and running and we have returned to our regular hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00am - 5:00 pm.

The incident that caused us to be closed happened around 12:00 on Friday October 8th. A worker renovating the library above the office drilled through the concrete floor and into a water pipe in the ceiling of our office. Water poured into our office and knocked out the power to our server and printer, also dumping water on parts of the machines. Sarah Newitt and Marsha Brown were the staff in the office that day and they worked quickly to remove as many objects as possible from the path of the flood that rapidly covered the office with an inch of water. Beyond some pamphlets and in stock OGS publications nothing was damaged that could not be repaired.

The building itself sustained the most damage and required that we empty and close the office so the bottom few feet of most of the drywall could be replaced as well as part of the ceiling. These repairs and the ensuing air quality check took longer than anticipated but are finally complete. Technicians have checked and reconnected all of our electronic equipment and found they were not damaged. The contractor's insurance will pay for the expenses incurred as a result of this.

If you have recently sent us an email that bounced back to you, please try again. The server was unable to receive messages during our closed period and we would like to make sure we do get your email.

Thank you once again for your patience and support during this period. We are happy to be returning to normal and look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the office.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Visit our website,, for some great stuff on Canadian genealogy, history, and heritage.

We have an article on Canadian Thanksgiving -

1. (with dancing turkey)

And we have two articles on Thanksgiving on our blog -

1. Canadian Thanksgiving - (with football-playing turkey)

2. American Thanksgiving -

Enjoy the posts, and to all our readers, "Happy Thanksgiving!", no matter which one you celebrate!


Friends of Laura Secord

(Click on image to make it bigger)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Workshop - The Women in Our Past

Elayne Lockhart reminds us of an upcoming workshop co-hosted by the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library.


Hi everyone.

If you’ve been thinking of coming to the workshop on November 6th, The Women in Our Past: Strategies and Resources for Researching Female Ancestors, I’m happy to tell you that even though the end of September has crept up on you, you haven’t missed the Early Bird deadline. We have extended it to next Monday, October 4th.

We hope to see many members there. We know that our speakers are going to be providing some great strategies to help us all learn to research “outside the box”.


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Vankleek Hill Family & Local History Day

Saturday, October 2nd will be Family & Local History Day at Vankleek Hill - a village about an hour's drive from Ottawa, right next to the town of Hawkesbury.

In the morning are talks given by the Ontario Genealogical Society and the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa on genealogical research. The afternoon session features and and their Library Edition, as well as a Q&A session for advanced genealogy. The Quebec Family History Society will also be there.

To register for either genealogy session, call the Champlain Public Library at 613.678.2216, or visit them online at

There will be special sessions on the Tweedsmuir Histories, heirloom furniture, exhibits at the museum, a quilt shop, Gaelic lessons, and a Masonic Lodge tour. Even stuff for kids.

The Review newspaper will have a special exhibit all day long at the newspaper office. The paper is putting its archives online then—with free access all day—and their will be special guided tours of the Old Jail in L'Orignal.

Go to their site at

I will be there Saturday (all day), and if you see me - be sure to say "Hello!"

Monday, September 27, 2010

OGS Appoints Assistant Executive Director

From the OGS' e-Announce comes news that Sarah Newitt has been appointed as the Assistant Executive Director.

Congratulations, Sarah!


September 24, 2010

Assistant Executive Director Appointed

The Board of the Ontario Genealogical Society is pleased to announce the appointment of Sarah Newitt as Assistant Executive Director. She will become Executive Director next April, on the retirement of the current Executive Director, Dr. Fraser Dunford

Sarah, age 28, has been the Society's Librarian for the past year. She holds a BA in German from Queen's and a MLIS from McGill. She has worked in a number of libraries in Ontario and in Montreal. She has had a life-long association with Girl Guides. A native of Mount Albert Ontario, she has lived in Japan, India and Germany.

She inherited family history projects from her father's father and her mother's mother (a project that requires fluency in German). One of her ambitions is to prove a suspected UEL link.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Passing of John Becker, Editor, OGS Families

From John Becker's wife, Gwenne, comes this news -

"Dear friends and colleagues of John's:

I am saddened to tell you that John passed away on Wednesday, September 22, 2010. His cancer had caused him much pain in the last few months. However, he still enjoyed bantering with the nurses at Princess Margaret Hospital and he became a favourite on the floor.

I have attached an expanded version of the obituary that appeared in the Globe & Mail this morning.



John Adams Becker

July 18, 1932 – September 22, 2010

We honour the passing of loving husband, father, mentor, and dear friend on Wednesday September 22, 2010.

John was a man of passion, commitment, and an ethic of making a difference. In addition to a long career in university administration, he devoted much of his life energy to volunteer work.

Hart House was a major influence in his life and work during his years at the University of Toronto (SPS 5T5) and after, first as a member of the Finnish Exchange program, then as Undergraduate Secretary. He continued his administrative career at McMaster and York Universities from which he retired in 1989.

York was a formative experience for John. He spent over 20 years in various capacities and developed numerous long-term friendships which continued into retirement. The York community was a passion for him and retirement begged the question “was there life after York”.

He was happy to find a very fulfilling life after his retirement. He worked in the family firm, Becker Associates, and was instrumental in steering it in new directions. He also had time to indulge his love of researching family trees, and to develop a new passion for water colouring. Recently he served as volunteer editor of Families, the journal of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

John’s prostate cancer was first diagnosed in 1997 and was kept in check by the wizards at Princess Margaret Hospital during the years since then. Only in early 2010 did he begin to have any symptoms. For the last few weeks he was in the care of the loving staff at the Palliative Care Unit at PMH. Our family cannot thank them enough for the comfort they provided to John and to us.

John leaves his loving wife of 54 years and best friend, Gwenne (née Belsten), daughter Christina, and sons Adam (Benoit Desmarais), and Paul (Christian Garate), grandchildren Carolina, Max, and Lorraine. He also leaves his brother Dean (Lois Kelly Becker) and twin brother Keith (Neil Macvicar).

The absence of his energy, good humour, and caring will leave a large hole in our lives.

A private family service and cremation have been held. On October 13 a celebration of John’s life will be held at Trinity St. Paul’s at 427 Bloor St. West, Toronto, 3:00 – 6:00 p.m.

If friends and family wish to make a donation in John’s memory, the family would ask that it be made to the Hart House Finnish Exchange, University of Toronto.