Monday, June 20, 2011

Finding Ontario Ancestors

Just received this press release from the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogy Society (OGS) -

“The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Canadiana Department of the North York Central Library are co-sponsoring "Finding Ontario Ancestors", a one-day summer workshop exploring the richness of Ontario records. Find out how to get the most from familiar records or discover a new source to expand your understanding of your Ontario ancestors. You’ll enjoy this relaxed, information-packed day with speakers who revel in the intricacies and richness of records – and love to share their knowledge. The workshop will be held in the Auditorium of the North York Central Library, 5120 Yonge Street, Toronto, at the North York Centre subway station. Early registration rates are available until 15 July 2011. Discounts are available for OGS members. For program, cost and registration details, visit To check availability, call 416-733-2608 (voice mail) or e-mail”.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

War of 1812 Database

New on the Ontario Genealogy Society (OGS) site at they have a Records Page, and today, they have added a "collection of War of 1812 Militia Documents".

The person who has worked hard, and many hours transcribing the Records from the Library and Archives Canada is Genealogist Fred Blair.

The first two sets of Records are from the York Militia, and they are -

2nd Regiment of York Militia – Payroll at

2nd Regiment of York Militia and 5th Regiment of Lincoln Militia - Flank Companies and Others at

He offered them to the OGS with the understanding that they would be available to ALL researchers – free of charge!

I went and took a look at them myself, and Fred did an impressive job. Besides transcribing the records, he also put his own notes in with the Records, and you should read them to see if they apply to the ancestor you may be looking for in your family history.

This is just the beginning of the Records he will be allowing the OGS to place on their site, so stayed tuned as Canada goes into the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 in 2012.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Version of the Lower Canada Land Petitions (1626-1865) Database

I have just received this notice from Library and Archives Canada -

Ottawa, June 8, 2011 - Library and Archives Canada is pleased to announce the release of a new version of the online database Lower Canada Land Petitions (1626-1865). This version includes digitized images of the actual petitions for all individuals listed in the database. Corrections to entries, including suggestions received from users, have also been integrated into this updated version. Many staff members contributed to the success of this project, and their efforts are much appreciated.

The database is available at:

For more information, please contact

I tested the database myself by putting in David Barclay. I found two names that matched David Barclay, and the years (1783-1804) seemed to be right.

He was the son of a United Empire Loyalist (Andrew Barclay) who settled in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, but one of his sons didn't stay, and I am alwats looking for him to show up somewhere. I have no idea where he went, so I am always searching databases worldwide to see where he went.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

OGS Conference 2011 – Day 3

Although lectures did not start until 9:00 o’clock on Sunday, I had an early day, starting with the First Annual Families and NewsLeaf Breakfast at 7 o’clock.

We were all set to take a picture of the group to share with you, but the conversation got so interesting, and with Dick Doherty dropping by, we plumb forgot about it.

Joyce Fingland, the new editor of NewsLeaf and e-NewsLeaf was there, as was Judy Mills, one of the associate editors of Families, along with Kathy Baker, one of the proofreaders, and a couple of other guests, including Sarah Newitt, OGS Executive Director, and Fraser Dunford, the Executive Director Emeritus.

Then I went to the marketplace to say my hellos to people I promised to stop and talk to, and it included Ed and Rick's wives (Lynne and Jennifer, respectively) at the Moorshead Magazine table (Ed and Rick were still making their way back from NGS in Charleston, South Carolina), the OGS table, and the Dundurn Press table, where I heard of the exciting year they have planned for books. I also met with Louise St. Denis of The National Institute for Genealogical Studies, having just arrived from the NGS Conference 10 minutes before I saw her.

I also had my own aha! moment at the Conference. Talking to the nice folks at the Brant Branch table, I discovered some information on John Millership Merriman, who had come over to Canada in the 1920s, and ended up writing for the local newspapers. It was the latest discovery in a line of aha! moments stemming from a "Hi! Do you have anything on John from Canada?" letter I received a couple of years ago :-) (more on this in a later post) ...

So after I had my own “Meet and Greet” session, it was time to go to the closing plenary session to hear Dave Obee talk about social networking in his talk, “Blogs, Posts, Tweets and Apps”.

It made a good closing talk because it followed Brian Gilchrist's Houston Lecture talk Friday evening in that he explored all of the technology (which he says were invented for genealogists - why else would it have been invented?).

If you want to read some of the talks given at the Conference, you will be able to do so in the August issue of Families.

If you want to read Families, but are not an OGS member, you can now join for half a year, staring in June - in addition to regular membership benefits, you will be able to receive the August and November editions of NewsLeaf and Families, and four issues of e-NewsLeaf.

You can apply for membership at

Next year’s Conference 2012 will be held in Kingston. The theme will be Borders and Bridges, and the War of 1812 will be explored.

Friday, June 10, 2011

OGS Conference 2011 – Day 2

Saturday morning started off very early with the Opening Plenary, given by Stephen Young from

In “Descendancy Research: Branching Out on Your Family Tree”, he talked about his Ontario family, and he stressed the importance of tracing your cousins to find out more information about your family.

After the AGM, I went to hear Brain Gilchrist's “Does Your Research Make Sense?”.

He took us on a journey through some of his research, always asking the question, “Does it make sense”? And he told us stories about the results of his own research that wouldn't make sense if you didn’t know the whole story.

For instance, if you look at his parent's divorce papers, it says that there weren't any children from the marriage. Since Brian was of the age of majority when the divorce was granted, there weren’t any children. However, there was issue from the marriage! So watch the words you use - the meaning can be very limited!

Jane MacNamara's, “Discovering Rural Ancestors”, was an interesting and informative look at the Women's Institute of Ontario and the Tweedsmuir Histories, which the Ontario Genealogical Society is about to scan and make available in the “Member's Only” section of their website.

Nuala Farrell-Griffin—in her give her talk, “Shhh! It’s a Locality File”—emphasizes creating a locality file as the basis of research, rather than in Ireland or in Canada, or anywhere for that matter.

In the evening, at the OGS Golden Anniversary Banquet, guest speaker, Dick Doherty, gave us “Serendipity: A Lighthearted Look at Genealogy”, and was it ever lighthearted! Dick had us laughing all night long at his stories, jokes, and pictures of funny epitaphs and the like. As if the banquet supper itself and the chatter we had with the many interesting people at our table wasn't good enough (and indeed, it was!), it was worth it just to listen to Dick.

Both Mario and I were honoured to have been joined by Lisa Alzo, who herself gave five lectures during the weekend. One thing she mentioned was how impressed she was by the quality and quantity of questions asked of her during her sessions.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

OGS Conference 2011 – Day 1

We went down to Hamilton last Wednesday, planning to do some research before the OGS Conference started on Friday, but the “car gods” had something to say about that - we never got to do any research!

The car broke down in the express lane of the 401 in the middle of Toronto (just past the Don Valley Parkway) in evening rush hour. After getting a ride in a tow truck to the Hamilton hotel where we were staying, we spent the next two days babysitting our car while it went through hours of testing to finally realize that it was simply a sticky throttle!

So Friday evening was the first time we were able to go to Conference.

After opening remarks by Nancy Trimble, President, and The Honourable Vivienne Poy, Senator (Honourable Patron of the OGS), the excited conference-goers sat earnestly listening to The Houston Memorial Lecture as given by J. Brian Gilchrist entitled, “Looking Forward by Looking Back: the changing face of genealogy and family history”, in which he gave a lighthearted review of where the OGS has been in the last 50 years, and where it is going in the next 50.

He has been involved in genealogy since he was 10 years old, so he answered some of my questions I have had about genealogy in Ontario - for instance, when was the first genealogy book written in Ontario (in the 1860s), who wrote the first guide books, who was the first president of OGS, etc.

He made extensive use of videos in his presentation, which kept it lively and interesting to the very last word. Anyone who has heard Brian speak knows that he is a very good speaker, and he ended his talk by asking us who will carry the OGS into the next 50 years.

Brian said that technology will carry the OGS in the next 50 years. He went through all the things technology does for us now - online databases, blogs, Twitter feeds, etc - but there will be a lot more before it is over. By the time he was finished his talk, we were as enthusiastic as he was - and looking forward to the future.

You will be able to read his Houston Lecture in the August edition of Families (of which I am its editor), along with the opening remarks given by Senator Poy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Voices from the Dust

This family history event is being hosted on Friday, May 20th by the Ottawa Ontario Stake Family History Centre (located at Prince of Wales Drive, Ottawa).

Always informative, it's a great chance to meet some very dedicated genealogists, and to take advantage of some valuable resources.

For details on speakers, topics, and location, please go to

See you there!