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Ontario Genealogical Society Open Forum

There is a lot going on at OGS these days. The Board is changing and the Society is taking on new initiatives and incorporating new technologies and we want to hear from you.

OGS invites members and non-members to join in an online discussion forum with President, Shirley Sturdevant. You lead the discussion. Ask questions you want answered and share your thoughts about the changing face of OGS and volunteer opportunities with the Society as we move forward.

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014
Time: 7:00 p.m. EST
Location: Online via Adobe Connect

Even if you cannot make a visit to this Open Forum, Shirley Sturdevant would be happy to hear your comments and answer your questions. She can be reached at president@ogs.on.ca

Hope to see you online.

Together we are all OGS.

Robert "Bob" Crawford

It is with deep sadness that The Ontario Genealogical Society announces the sudden passing of Bob Crawford, Society Secretary, on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 following a brief illness. Bob is Past-President of OGS, having served in that role from 2006-2008, as well as Past-President of the Halton-Peel Branch.

During his time with OGS, cemetery preservation became Bob's passion and he was a dedicated leader in the joint Ontario Genealogical Society - Ontario Historical Society cemetery registration movement. An eloquent writer, he continued to advocate for the discovery and registration of all cemeteries, and was in regular contact with the Registrar to ensure the registration process would move forward to protect all cemeteries in the province. His quiet passion, contributions and in-depth understanding of Acts and Regulations affecting the genealogical community will be greatly missed.

Expressions of sympathy may be sent to the OGS Provincial Office to be forwarded to Bob's family.

Bob was a leader, mentor, advocate and friend to many. He leaves a big hole in our Society and in our hearts.

LAC Answers Questions about Release of 1921 Census

August 12 2013

On Monday, August 12, 2013 I was pleased to be contacted by M. Fabien Lengellé , Director General, Content Access Branch of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) who was very happy to answer questions about the release of the 1921 Census of Canada raised by members of The Ontario Genealogical Society. I shall try to summarize his information below:

Why did LAC go to an outside source and eventually select Ancestry to manage this project?

Going to an outside provider:

  • Freed up LAC staff and funds for other important digitization projects such as the upcoming First World War commemoration project and the microfilm reel project with Canadiana, including the Upper Canada Sundries now available on the Héritage website.

Ancestry’s proposal was far better than the others submitted as it:

  • Offered a fully bi-lingual solution, a robust IT platform and almost no production delays;
  • Was financially neutral to both users and the public purse – free access to the documents online; no staff time, effort or project coordination; no IT staff support; and, no cash investment from LAC;
  • Provides a broad network of free distributors across Canada – municipal libraries -- which are covered by Ancestry province-wide licenses. This provides free access almost everywhere and promotes libraries, which is one of the LAC mandates.

Does Ancestry now have exclusive rights to these images?

  • LAC retains all rights to the 1921 Canada Census and, after three (3) years, will get a copy of the index produced by Ancestry;
  • LAC will then publish the index on their own website through their recently redesigned census platform;
  • Other organizations are welcome to consult the census on the Ancestry site and prepare their own private index should it better meet their needs than the one created by Ancestry.

Why have the microfilms or images not been available at Library and Archives Canada until now?

  • LAC has a microfilm copy for preservation purposes only;
  • The free online images are a much better dissemination vehicle as they require no shipping and are available worldwide instantly.

How do people browse the free images?

  • Go to: http://www.ancestry.ca/cs/ca/census ; scroll down to the 1921 Census icon and click "Start browsing";.
  • Take a moment to read about the census, especially the questions asked.
  • Click "Start browsing" again.
  • On the right, choose a Province from the drop-down menu and a District. Then scroll through the Sub-Districts below to find the description of the one you seek.
  • A screen saying “View Free Records with a Free Account” will appear the first time if you do not already have an Ancestry subscription. This is not the same as a trial subscription.
  • Enter your name and an email address. Ancestry requires an email address for this free account to browse free records but not financial information (e.g., credit card information).
  • If you are not comfortable providing your current email address, set up a free one first through Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo or others who provide this service and use that one with Ancestry.
  • Access through a library computer can be done anonymously.

What should be done if an error is discovered (e.g., missing pages or sections of pages or poorly digitized images)?

There are two ways of reporting an error.

  • When you’re viewing an image from the Census, click on "Tools" in the upper right corner of the image viewer (see image). Select "Report problems". Then select the type of issue to report from the drop-down, and fill out the rest of the information.
  • Contact Ancestry's Member Services team directly by phone at (800) 958-9073.

M. Lengellé wishes to acknowledge the daily help LAC receives from members such as ours who report errors in their census collection. This collaboration benefits everyone. I wish to thank M. Lengellé for contacting me with answers to our questions and for seeking others during the day when members contacted OGS about errors and image problems. We plan to have further conversations in the near future to continue the renewed dialogue between Library and Archives Canada and The Ontario Genealogical Society. I look forward to this opportunity.

If further questions arise, please contact Shirley L. Sturdevant, President at president@ogs.on.ca.

Shirley L. Sturdevant, President
The Ontario Genealogical Society

Library and Archives Canada and Ancestry Partnership Results in Release of 1921 Canadian Population Census

August 9 2013

Genealogists with Canadian ancestry have been watching Library and Archives Canada (LAC) since they took custody of the 1921 Census of the Canadian population from Statistics Canada on June 1, 2013 after the required 92 years.

The Ontario Genealogical Society, along with many other organizations and individuals, sent letters to Library and Archives Canada, The Hon. Stephen Harper Prime Minister of Canada, The Hon. James Moore then Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages and local Members of Parliament. We advocated for the protection of Library and Archives Canada and our Canadian archival documents and for the timely release of the census.

As President of The Ontario Genealogical Society and its 3500 members I offered to be a part of the consultation process. Unfortunately all formal communication with parties outside of Library and Archives Canada ceased. We were eventually told that dialogue was already in progress with a third party and that LAC was committed to making the 1921 Canada Census "rich and complex information accessible and available to all Canadians no matter where they live…"

On Thursday, August 8, 2013 LAC and Ancestry made separate announcements regarding their partnership to make this Canadian census available to the public. At present, the census images can be browsed for free online at www.ancestry.ca and users are told to return for updates since the collection will be indexed this year. To quote LAC, “Canadians will be required to pay for the extra convenience of doing advanced searches from their home.” Free access will be available in person at Library and Archives Canada and through hundreds of libraries across Canada subscribing to Ancestry.ca.

Although The Society is very pleased that these images are finally available to the public, we are concerned about its release through a subscription site. The lack of consultation with Canadian heritage organizations ignored their skills, experience and offers of assistance. Details of the arrangement are still unfolding and we hope that answers to our questions will be forthcoming regarding the arrangement between Library and Archives Canada and Ancestry.

  • Was there no Canadian organization that could handle this?
  • Is this deal exclusive to Ancestry?
  • Has LAC given away its rights to use the digitized images later on their own web page, indexed or not?
  • Might other organizations have access to the images and produce their own indexes as has been done successfully in the past, perhaps then making the information free to all?
  • For how long will there be free access to the raw images or indexed information on the Ancestry.ca site?
  • Is there a limit to the number of years Ancestry will have the sole rights before the census might appear elsewhere or is this material solely in their hands?
  • What of access to the other census schedules?
  • Why have the microfilms or images not been available at Library and Archives Canada until now?

There are many unanswered questions being asked by our members and others in the heritage community. We look forward to more details.

The 1921 Canada Census was taken at a very critical time in Canada’s history. For many family researchers whose ancestors immigrated to Canada after the First World War, this is the first opportunity to have some insight into their families on North American soil. For many born in other lands, birth and marriage records may be difficult to find. This census provides a picture of the individuals and families who resided in Canada on June 1, 1921. Responses to the 35 questions on the population schedule alone will possibly answer many questions about the family and perhaps provide leads to other sources.

Take advantage of these images to investigate your family in 1921. Continue to be vigilant in helping to safeguard our heritage archival documents. Together we represent those no longer living to ensure their lives and contributions to our country are not forgotten. Speak for them whenever you see the need.

Shirley L. Sturdevant, President
The Ontario Genealogical Society

OGS Research Day at the Archives of Ontario

June 27, 2013

On the morning of Saturday, June 22, 2013, approximately 40 OGS members braved construction, long TTC commutes and the odd downpour, to attend the first members only Research Day at the Archives of Ontario (AO). Attendees were welcomed by the AO’s Linda Murphy-Boyer, OGS President Shirley Sturdevant and OGS Librarian/Archivist Frances O’Regan. This was followed by a very informative Orientation Session presented by AO Archivist Serge Paquet.

Event organizer and AO Assistant Archivist Erin Strouth, along with Serge Paquet, then led attendees on a very comprehensive tour of this wonderful new facility and the broad range of resources available to family history researchers.

The afternoon session included the 18 One-on-One Sessions with an Archivist, as well as the opportunity for members to pursue their own research agendas.

The day’s events concluded with the Preservation Session, How to Preserve Your Family Photographs, presented by AO Conservator Dee Psaila.

Thank you to all of our members for the support and enthusiasm for this inaugural event. We look forward to collaborating with the AO in offering more OGS member events in the near future.

The OGS would also like to extend our deepest appreciation and thanks to the staff at the Archives of Ontario for their support and assistance in making our first Research Day at the Archives of Ontario a huge success:

Linda Murphy-Boyer: Welcome Speaker
Erin Strouth: Organizer and 1:1 Session Archivist
Deborah Holder: 1:1 Session Archivist
Serge Paquet : 1:1 Session Archivist, Orientation Presenter
Charmaine: Reading Room Staff
Shannon Coles: Conservator
Dee Psaila: Conservator, How to Preserve Your Family Photographs Presenter
Rachel Lebkovich: Reading Room Staff
Patricia: Lawton: Reading Room Staff
Alyson Hazlett: Reception Staff
Caleesha Murray: Reading Room/Reception Staff
Veronica Thomas: Reading Room Staff

Ontario Genealogical Society Governance Review

June 27 2013
Shirley Sturvedant, OGS President

In the fall of 2012, the OGS Board established a Governance Review Committee to conduct an in-depth study of The Society. Its comprehensive report, found on the OGS website in the Members’ Only section, was approved in principle at the March 2013 Board Meeting and a Governance Task Force was formed to draft a proposed timeline and to determine the recommendations that were: already underway, could be undertaken immediately, required by-law changes, could be addressed later, or would develop over time.

The four members of the Board’s Task Force each looked at the one of the four areas of recommendation:

  • Restructure the Board to focus on corporate strategies and policies;
  • Develop and implement a comprehensive communications plan;
  • Recruit more of the right people for the right jobs; and,
  • Strengthen financial sustainability.

Restructure the Board

A member of the Governance Review Committee attended the Board’s meeting on 18 June 2013 and further discussed the Committee’s recommendation to restructure the Board first “to focus its decision-making on strategic issues and on developing better ways to delegate operational matters to individuals or committees.”

The Board is currently working through the proposed timeline and gathering information from various stakeholders. The first round of input from members came to the Board for the May Board Meeting. Subsequent discussions occurred at the Branch Executive Meeting held at Conference 2013 and the online dialogue with Chairs on 20 June 2013. At the latter, representatives from 18 of The Society’s Branches and Special Interest Groups focused on the restructuring of the Board and ramifications for The Society Branches and Regions.


The Governance Review Report further states that: “At the same time, the Board should develop a comprehensive communications plan.” A call went out recently for volunteers for a Communications Task Force. Members with skills and interest in this area volunteered and the first meeting was held online 24 June 2013. Review their mandate in the OGS Members’ Only section of the website and watch for further communication from them as they strive to develop a strong communications plan to address:

  • Communications for changes to OGS Governance;
  • Communications amongst various individuals and groups within The Society;
  • Communications with people and organizations outside of The Society focusing on both advocacy and marketing.


Watch for further opportunities to comment about proposed changes to The Society. We urge you to get involved. Many members have valuable ideas and skills that will help us all move to the next stage of The Society’s future. If you are not a member, consider joining OGS and offering your skills and talents. Together, for over 50 years, OGS has provided opportunities for networking and sharing, for genealogical instruction and education, for support and direction when family researchers hit ‘brick walls’. We have participated in province-wide projects and advocated on behalf of genealogists. Now we continue to look inwardly at restructuring ourselves and refocusing on who we are and what we stand for. Fifty years sounds like a long time yet we are young in the genealogical world. A long future stretches before us and we want to make every year count.

Special Event for OGS Members: OGS Genealogy Research Day at the Archives of Ontario

May 13, 2013
In cooperation with the Archives of Ontario, we are pleased to announce the first ever Genealogy Research Day at the Archives of Ontario for OGS members.

On Saturday June 22nd, 2013, OGS members are invited to attend a day of activities and information sessions at the Archives of Ontario and have an opportunity to work one on one with an Archivist.

This is a great opportunity to visit a major repository of Ontario genealogical records and explore what they have to offer you as a genealogist. If you’ve never been to the Archives of Ontario before, or never visited them at their new location, there’s never been a better time to do so.

The day will include a joint introduction by Keisha Banhan of the A.O. and OGS President, Shirley Sturdevant. Then will follow an orientation session, a Q and A session with a Conservator, and an information session on How to Care For and Preserve Your Family Photos. Both information sessions will be hosted by A.O. Conservator, Shannon Coles.

Throughout the day, there will be 18 half hour appointments available for OGS members to meet one-on-one with one of the staff Archivists for research guidance and records access assistance.

This event is free but participants must pre-register as attendance is limited.

UPDATED MAY 16, 2013: Thanks to the enthusiastic response of OGS members, the upcoming Genealogy Day at the Archives of Ontario reached maximum registration numbers within 3 days. There are no spaces left for this event.

We look forward to seeing all registrants at this event in June. We also hope that the success of this day will lead to more genealogy events co sponsored by OGS and the Archives of Ontario

OGS Receives Trillium Grant for Phase 2 of Digitization Project

April 4, 2012
The Ontario Genealogical Society is pleased to announce that we have been granted funding by the Ontario Trillium Foundation to begin Phase 2 of our Keeping and Valuing Ontario’s Heritage Project. The funding consists of $156,000 over two years and will allow us to continue to assist Ontario heritage organizations in scanning their materials and making them available to researchers.

Phase 1 began in Fall 2008 with the aim to do the following:

  • provide a digitized version of one-of-a-kind records, increasing security
  • allow small organizations access to digitizing services they otherwise could not afford
  • increase access to records significant to Ontario's heritage
  • allow an income stream to heritage organizations if they wish

Since then we have successfully joined with several Ontario heritage organizations to digitize their records and make them available online through a revenue generating program. We have launched a beta version of The Ontario Name Index (TONI) as the main access point to the Pay-Per-View database. The information available through Pay-Per-View allows access to the history of the people of this province.

Phase 2 seeks to continue to support the preservation of Ontario heritage materials through digitization by adding to the data available on this system and expanding our affiliations to include new heritage organizations. We will improve and expand on TONI while creating new indexing systems where necessary.

We will also create and launch a more user friendly search interface for TONI and Pay- Per-View to ensure that researchers can find and access their information with ease.

OGS gratefully acknowledges the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their strong support of this project and appreciates their ongoing efforts to support the growth and vitality of communities across the province of Ontario.

Conference 2013 Call For Speakers

February 13, 2012
OGS Conference 2013 will be held in Oshawa on May 31–June 2, 2013. The theme of the conference is Pulling Up Stakes – Putting Down Roots, covering migration from all over the world to Ontario.

The Call for Speakers is now available. Please submit your proposals by 31 July, 2012.

Please direct any questions to the Conference 2013 program chair: 2013progcom@gmail.com.

Meet the Winners of the OGS Lottery

The winning OGS 50th Anniversary Raffle tickets were drawn at the board meeting on November 26, 2011. Congratulations to all the winners!

First Prize: Handmade Anniversary Quilt
Jean Warwood, Wiarton, Ontario

Second Prize: Handmade Anniversary Pen Set
Carolyn Heald, Toronto, Ontario

Third Prize: Registration to Conference 2012
Judy Gauthier, Toronto, Ontario

Fourth Prize: Course from National Institute for Genealogical Studies
Fiona Skogstad, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Fifth Prize: Gift Certificate from Global Genealogy
Paul McAlister, Thunder Bay, Ontario

Sixth Prize: Annual Individual OGS Membership
Bonnie More, Montreal, Quebec

Seventh Prize: Gift Certificate to OGS e-Store
Mary Anne Wright, Kingston, Ontario

Eighth Prize: Gift Certificate to OGS e-Store
Clare Westheuser, Belleville, Ontario

Thank you to all who purchased tickets for supporting OGS in its 50th Anniversary year

Archives of Ontario releases the 2011 Ontario Vital Statistics Records

May 31, 2011
The Archives of Ontario released the 2011 Ontario Vital Statistics records on May 30. This release involves the following records:

  • Indexes to Births and Stillbirths, 1914 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-4, MS 931, Reels 28)
  • Indexes to Marriages, 1929 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-7, MS 934, Reel 27)
  • Indexes to Deaths, 1939 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-10, MS 937, Reel 28)
  • Registrations of Births and Stillbirths, 1914 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-2, MS 929, Reels 246-255)
  • Delayed Registrations of Births and Stillbirths, "50" Series, 1914 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-3-1, MS 930, Reels 75-76)
  • Delayed Registrations of Births and Stillbirths, "90" Series, 1914 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-3-2, MS 933, Reels 69-70)
  • Registrations of Marriages, 1929 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-5, MS 932, Reels 881-908)
  • Registrations of Deaths, 1939 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-8, MS 935, Reels 616-635)

This most recent release is all on 16mm microfilm stock, resulting in a total issue of 74 reels. These records are available for consultation in the Archives Reading Room at 134 Ian Macdonald Boulevard, Toronto, Ontario. They may also be borrowed through the Archives of Ontario's Microfilm Interloan Service. For more information see their website.

TONI Launched at AGM

May 14, 2011
As part of the Annual General Meeting at Conference 2011in Hamilton ON, OGS officially launched The Ontario Name Index (TONI) and its associated Pay Per View service.

TONI is a name index created with the eventual goal of indexing all the names of all the people who were ever recorded as spending time in Ontario. The index will then link a researcher to where the record(s) of a given name can be found. If the record is available through pay per view then the researcher will have instant access to the facts around that name.

TONI and pay per view have been available in beta form for the past month. Check out TONI.

Join the new British Home Child SIG

February 11, 2011

2010 was the year of the British Home Child. Over 100,000 children were sent to Canada between the 1860s and 1930s. Many Ontario genealogists have found they have a family connection with a home child and many more will learn this as they continue their research.

As OGS commemorated the year we developed the idea of forming a Special Interest Group (SIG) focused on the British Home Children. This group is now starting up and we're looking for all interested people to join in and share their skills and enthusiasm to continue the growth of the group.

The British Home Child SIG has been formed with the following tentative goals in mind.

  1. To bring together genealogy researchers who have like interests in British Home Children (BHC) to share their research experiences.
  2. To encourage possible descendants of BHC to investigate their ancestry.
  3. To raise awareness of the history and contribution of the BHC in Canada .
  4. To identify resources for research on individual BHC.
  5. To identify resources for research into the social conditions in the UK and Canada which influenced the lives of the BHC.

Visit their website.

Correction, Mar 8, 2011: This article originally described the 100 000 children sent to Canada as "orphaned". Many Home Children were not, in fact, orphans. The word has been removed to reflect this.

Archives of Ontario releases the 2009 Ontario Vital Statistics

The Archives of Ontario released the 2009 Ontario Vital Statistics records on December 1, 2010. This release involves the following records:

  • Indexes to Births and Stillbirths, 1913 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-4, MS 931, Reels 26)
  • Indexes to Marriages, 1928 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-7, MS 934, Reel 26)
  • Indexes to Deaths, 1938 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-10, MS 937, Reel 25-27)
  • Registrations of Births and Stillbirths, 1913 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-2, MS 929, Reels 237-245)
  • Delayed Registrations of Births and Stillbirths, "50" Series, 1913 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-3-1, MS 930, Reels 73-74)
  • Delayed Registrations of Births and Stillbirths, "90" Series, 1913 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-3-2, MS 933, Reels 68)
  • Registrations of Marriages, 1928 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-5, MS 932, Reels 850-880)
  • Registrations of Deaths, 1938 (Archives of Ontario Series RG 80-8, MS 935, Reels 602-615)

The microfilm is available in the Archives Main Reading Room and through their Microfilm Interloan Service program. All of the current listings, including the newly released material, is listed on their website.

Ontario Genealogical Society’s 50th Anniversary

In 2011, the OGS will be 50 years old. The OGS Board has approved the following celebrations and projects to commemorate the occasion.

Conference 2011
To be held in Hamilton on May 13 to 15, this will be our birthday party. Details can be found on the OGS website and through our blog. Don Hinchley, Past President pastpresident@ogs.on.ca, is Conference Chair.
We will hold a genealogical cruise of the east coast of North America in September 2011. This is a continuation of our birthday party. For information on the ‘ports of call’ and the dates and costs please see the website. Mary Rossiter, Director of Region 10 director10@ogs.on.ca, and Cathy Blackburn, Director of Region 9 director09@ogs.on.ca, are leaders of this project.

Golden Anniversary Family Histories
For the 25th anniversary, OGS requested family histories and received 620 of them. We are seeking more family histories for our 50th, with a particular request for updates to the histories produced for the 25th. These family histories will join the 3 500 family histories now in our library and will go into our e-Library, ensuring that the histories are never lost and making them available worldwide. Paul McAlister, Director of Region 11 director11@ogs.on.ca, is leader of this project.

Top 50 in 50
We are asking the OGS Branches and Regions to name three or four OGS Members (current or past, including Family and Associate) who have made a significant contribution to Branch/Region/OGS, with a description of their accomplishments. From these proposals we will select the Top 50 as a way to honour those who have worked mostly in the Branches. Don Hinchley, pastpresident@ogs.on.ca is leader of this project.

TONI (The Ontario Name Index)
Indexes, particularly name indexes, are the most valuable thing a genealogical society can produce. We are going to create a single index of Ontario names, indicating where information about that person can be found. The index will go on the public part of the OGS website so that anyone can access it. TONI will show:
        First name
        Last name
        Record type (birth, marriage, death, obit, tombstone, newspaper article, etc, etc)
        Date of event, at least to the decade
        Location of event, at least the county
        Where the full information may be found

OGS currently has over two million names indexed online but not in one index. It will be straightforward to bring TONI to ten million entries and it has the potential to reach fifty million entries. Mike More, Director of Region 8 director08@ogs.on.ca, is leader of this project.

Treasured Ontario Rural Histories to be Formatted for Online Access

Guelph ON: November 19, 2009
Joy Trimble, President of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario and Don Hinchley, President of the Ontario Genealogical Society, today signed an agreement to digitize and place on line the rural histories known as the Tweedsmuir Histories.

Since 1920 the Ontario Branches of the Women’s Institute have been gathering local history and preserving it in book form. Because the WI is largely a rural organization, these are histories of small communities. There are about a thousand of them, comprising an estimated half million pages of local Ontario history. They are one-of-a-kind and only a few have been photocopied or digitized. Many are in delicate condition and so are at-risk documents. The project will take at least three years. As they are prepared, the digitized Histories will be placed in the OGS e-Library where anyone can borrow and read them. There will be a small borrowing fee; the money will go to the maintenance of the original Histories and to the operation of the lending system. The project will identify, conserve, preserve, and digitize all available Ontario Tweedsmuir Histories.

Tweedsmuir Histories

The Women's Institute has been interested in local history since 1920. In the late 1940s, Lady Tweedsmuir (wife of a former Governor-General of Canada and an active participant in the WI) encouraged the creation of local histories by each WI Branch. Of the then 1 500 WI Branches, 989 are known to have created a local history of their area. The books include a history of the local settlers in the area, the agricultural practices and industries that formed the basis of the local economy, the social institutions such as churches, schools and community centres, and local personalities. For many tiny communities, the Tweedsmuir History is the only history created. Copyright to the Tweedsmuir Histories is owned by the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario.

Women’s Institute

The first Women's Institute was established in Stoney Creek, Ontario in 1897 and has grown to be an international organization. The provincial body for the WI Branches is the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario (FWIO), a not-for-profit charitable organization with affiliations around the world, working with and for women in rural and small-town Ontario. Through the network of Branches, they offer educational programming and community support; advocate for social, environmental and economic change; and work towards the personal growth of all women, for home and country. Originally set up to provide training and education to women and to address concerns in rural communities, the WI now offers women a mutual support structure as well as an opportunity to advocate on important issues close to its members' hearts. The WI has become a fundamental part of many women's lives throughout the world. It is committed to developing women's talents and today has links with over 8 million women in some 60 countries. The FWIO has about 6 000 Members in Ontario.

Ontario Genealogical Society

The Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) is a registered charity, founded in 1961 with the mandate “To encourage, assist and bring together all those interested in the pursuit of family history”. It has slightly less than 5 000 Members, most living in Ontario although a significant number live elsewhere. The OGS has 30 Branches in all parts of Ontario and two Special Interest Groups.

The OGS operates a scanning project named “Keeping and Valuing Ontario’s Heritage” which enables it, in partnership with Ontario's heritage organizations such as archives, museums and libraries, to digitize and place on the OGS website considerable quantities of material of genealogical value. The project has been underway for six months and is still in the datagathering stage. The Tweedsmuir Histories will be a significant component of this project. The project has received core funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Cultural Strategic Investment Fund of the Ontario Ministry of Culture, and the Jackman Foundation.

Additional funding is being sought for the conservation and preservation of the Tweedsmuir Histories and to fund the salaries of interns to help train future professionals in the conservation, preservation, and digitization of paper documents.

Student Paper Competitions

September 16, 2009
The Ontario Genealogical Society has established two essay competitions for students. Both require a paper to be written on a topic within family history. Both carry a prize of $500 and publication in Families.

The Dr Don Brearley Genealogical Essay Prize is open to secondary school students in grades 11 and 12. For this, the first year, it is open to Toronto District School Board students only. In future years it will be available to students in other Ontario school boards.

The Mike Brede Genealogical Essay Prize is open to any full-time student in a university or community college who is either a resident of Ontario or attending an Ontario university or community college.

See the Essay Competitions web page. for more information.

OGS Receives Grant

April 3, 2009
The Ontario Ministry of Culture has given OGS a $40 000 Cultural Strategic Investment Fund (CSIF) grant in support of the OGS scanning project Keeping and Valuing Ontario's Heritage. The grant will enable OGS to hire a Library Technician to assist in placing databases online. The Library Technician will also be able to provide advice on the management of OGS libraries and other data interests.

The project Keeping and Valuing Ontario's Heritage has also received funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Jackman Foundation.  OGS President Don Hinchley declared "This grant will assist OGS to move further into the age of technology by making more genealogical resources available to our membership online"  OGS Executive Director Dr Fraser Dunford pointed out that "this grant is further proof that OGS is moving in the right direction.  Clearly we are doing something that granting agencies respect and support."

Bill 149 - An Act to Protect Ontario's Inactive Cemeteries, 2009

March 21, 2010

Bill 149 has been deleted by the Government of Ontario . Please contact your local M.P.P. or Mr. Brownell jbrownell.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org directly for further information.

If you are unsure of how to contact your local MPP you can look at MPP Addresses and Contact Information. If you need additional assistance, Find Your Electoral District.

The Ontario Genealogical Society Appoints a New Honourary Patron

February 4, 2009
About two years ago our current Patron, Senator Lorna Milne, announced she was approaching the end of her Senate term and suggested the OGS seek another Patron. A search team consisting of Bob Crawford (Past President), Dave Mackenzie (a Past President) and Senator Milne was formed to search for a new Patron. The search committee held a number of discussions and reviewed the qualifications of several potential candidates. The committee made a recommendation which was approved by the Executive and the OGS Board.

It is my pleasure to announce Senator Vivienne Poy has graciously accepted the position as our new Honourary Patron effective at Conference 2009. Senator Poy will be attending the Opening Ceremonies of Conference Friday May 29th.

Senator Poy is an entrepreneur, fashion designer, community activist and Chancellor Emeritus. She graduated from the Fashion Arts course at Seneca College and ran a flourishing fashion business for fourteen years. In 2003 Senator Poy completed her Ph.D. in History at the University of Toronto.

Her interests in history lead the Senator to begin researching her family's history. In 1995, "A River Named Lee" was published, in which she traced her family history in China. Three years later she published "Building Bridges: The Life and Times of Richard Charles Lee, Hong Kong, 1905-1983." Her third book was published in 2002.

On the personal side the Senator loves to read, write and design from clothing to jewelry, light fixtures, and furniture. She is an avid gardener and when she has time likes to bake and cook for her family. Her family includes her husband, children and grandchildren.

As OGS President I extend my welcome on behalf of the Society to our new Honourary Patron, Senator Vivienne Poy.

On behalf of the OGS I would like to extend the Society's thanks to Senator Lorna Milne, Dave Mackenzie and Bob Crawford for their efforts in securing our new Patron.

Don Hinchley, President
Ontario Genealogical Society

New Imprint to Publish Canadian Genealogy Books

December 12, 2008
Dundurn Press and the Ontario Genealogical Society announce the creation of a joint imprint to publish books on Canadian genealogy. The imprint, to be called OGS Dundurn, will be governed by representatives from both organizations. OGS will be responsible for finding authors, receiving manuscripts, and initial screening. Dundurn will be responsible for editing, design, and production. Both organizations will be responsible for marketing: OGS within the genealogical community, Dundurn to bookstores.

Kirk Howard, President and Publisher, Dundurn Press, said "As a long-time member of the OGS, I have admired the many ways in which the OGS connects with the genealogical community. In working together to publish books of genealogical significance we will build on this success and be able to reach a wider readership."

"Our partnership with Dundurn Press will provide those in the genealogical community with new resource material," said Don Hinchley, President of OGS. "We hope to encourage new authors through this partnership."

Dundurn Press has for over 35 years published books of Canadian interest. Based in Toronto, it markets books worldwide.

The Ontario Genealogical Society is Canada 's largest with over 4 500 members and 31 branches across Ontario. It is Canada 's largest genealogical publisher with over 5 000 titles.

Authors interested in publishing with the new imprint should contact OGS at provoffice@ogs.on.ca. We particularly like to see books at the concept stage.

Don Hinchley, President, OGS (left) and Kirk Howard, President and Publisher, Dundurn Press (right)
sign the agreement.

Trillium Grant allows OGS to Preserve At-Risk Heritage Documents

December 12, 2008
The Ontario Genealogical Society has received a grant of $179 400 from the Ontario Trillium Foundation as starter funds for a project to help Ontario heritage organizations digitize parts of their collections. The funds, granted over two years, will enable OGS to hire a technician, obtain equipment, and travel to the heritage organizations to scan the material.

This project will:

  • provide a digitized version of one-of-a-kind records, increasing security
  • allow small organizations access to digitizing they otherwise could not afford
  • increase the exposure of small organizations
  • increase access to records significant to Ontario's heritage
  • allow an income stream to heritage organizations if they wish
  • provide a Canadian not-for-profit portal as an alternative to foreign commercial portals

OGS is working in partnership with Ristech Company Inc, a Burlington , Ontario company that specializes in scanning equipment. Additionally the funds will enable OGS to make improvements to its website so that it can put some of the digitized material online. If it is genealogical material, the heritage organization can choose one of three options on the OGS website: free to everyone, free to OGS Members only, or pay-per-view, the last permitting a royalty stream back to the heritage organization. Non-genealogical material could go on the heritage organization's own website or they could get assistance from Knowledge Ontario.

OGS President, Don Hinchley said "I believe this grant will give many more genealogists throughout Ontario and the world access to materials without the necessity of traveling to the museum or local archive."

This project will help protect the culture and heritage of Ontario some of which is in delicate condition and could be lost if it is not copied.

This project makes the programs and services of many Ontario heritage organizations more accessible to the world By placing material on a website well-known for Ontario genealogical material, small heritage organizations will themselves become better known. This is particularly true for heritage organizations that are currently little known, such as those relating to specific cultures, religions, or ethnic groups, or those in more remote parts of the province. The OGS website can act as a portal leading to an organization's website. The presence of material on the OGS website makes the heritage organization more interesting to the public.

For more information about the Ontario Genealogical Society, the services available online, or to find one of the 30 local Branches near you, please visit the OGS website.

The Ontario Trillium Foundation is an agency of the Government of Ontario. For over 25 years, the Foundation has supported the growth and vitality of communities across the province. It continues to strengthen the capacity of the volunteer sector through investments in community-based initiatives. For more information, please visit their website.

Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is pleased to announce the launch of an online database, Immigrants to Canada.

November 13, 2008
The database contains Canadian immigration records held at LAC, many of which relate to immigrants from the British Isles arriving in Quebec and Ontario; also included are references to settlers in other provinces. Through this new database, researchers can access references to lists of immigrants and other types of records created before 1865, such as declarations of aliens and names of some Irish orphans.

You are invited to visit the database online.

The contributions of many LAC staff were instrumental in the success of this project, and their efforts are much appreciated. For more information, please contact Sylvie Tremblay, Chief, Canadian Genealogy Centre - .

The end of an era in Norfolk County

October 7, 2008
William Yeager, long-time Curator of the Eva Brook Donly Museum has announced plans to retire, effective October 31. Bill has dedicated his career to the preservation of Norfolk 's heritage by collecting artifacts and particularly in amassing one of the foremost archival research areas in Ontario. The Norfolk Historical Society wishes Bill Yeager a fulfilling retirement where he can pursue his other interests of writing, research, and gardening. A public reception to honour the occasion of Mr. Yeager's retirement and to celebrate his achievements will be held at the Norfolk Heritage Centre in the near future.

Special Interest Group for Irish Palatines

September 24, 2008
The Ontario Genealogical Society has established a Special Interest Group for Irish Palatines (SIG-IP). They will have the same status as a Branch but will not be tied to a specific Geographic region. With the inclusion of the Irish Palatines the OGS has a total of 31 Branches across Ontario.

The Palatines were Protestants who left the German Palatinate in 1709 at the invitation of Queen Anne of England. They settled in various British colonies and 185 families settled in Ireland. Beginning in the 1830's many of the Irish Palatines moved to Canada. Today many Canadians have Irish Palatine ancestry, often without being aware of it since all they know is that their ancestor came from Ireland.

The SIG-IP is open to any person who sees value in exploring the common heritage of German language, Protestant religion, migration to Ireland and many ties of marriage to other Irish Palatine families. As a Special Interest Group within the OGS, the SIG-IP will develop regular communications with its members, including a web site. It will offer opportunities for sessions at the annual OGS conference and will produce occasional publications to inform its members of Irish Palatine history and genealogy. Anyone interested in this SIG should e-mail <SIG-IP@ogs.on.ca>.

The Ontario Genealogical Society is interested in establishing other SIGs and seeks suggestions. Since we hold the library of the now-defunct Huguenot Society of Canada, we particularly would like to form a Huguenot SIG. For information on this or to suggest other SIGs, e-mail <provoffice@ogs.on.ca>.

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