Posts Tagged ‘OGS projects’

Message from OGS President: Vigilence is Needed to Preserve Ontario Cemeteries

Saturday, December 13th, 2014

In My Own Backyard!

Vigilance is necessary regarding unregistered cemeteries. I was reminded of this recently when bulldozing of a stand of trees on a farm at 8947 Petrolia Line, Brooke Township, right in my own county of residence, Lambton, resulted in damage to a pioneer cemetery. Dana Thorne, Archivist at the Lambton County Archives, provided the following article about this Methodist Episcopal Cemetery for the Lambton County Branch of the OGS newsletter, Lambton Lifeline [December 2014 issue].

Alan Campbell President

Click here for the full article.

More Unregistered Cemeteries Sent to the Registrar

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

OGS, spearheaded by our unsinkable provincial cemeteries committee, has been advocating for many years for the registration of all cemeteries in Ontario

The joint OGS and OHS Cemetery Committee continues to compile comprehensive information about all Ontario cemeteries and then to send our records of unregistered cemeteries to the Registrar of Cemeteries, Michael D’Mello whose department is charged with working to get these cemeteries registered.

Registration is the highest form of protection a cemetery can have in the current environment.

This week we sent to the Registrar details of unregistered cemeteries for the counties of Halton, Hastings and Huron so that they can be registered and protected.

Many thanks also to all of the Branch Cemetery Volunteers who have worked so hard to add to our records.

We are working through the Ontario Counties alphabetically.
The modern information we seek includes:
• Street addresses
• GPS coordinates
• Property ownership information

For more information about the Ontario Genealogical Society’s continued efforts to identify and protect Ontario’s cemeteries, please visit the Unregistered Cemeteries section of our website at:

If you have information about local cemeteries, please share this information with your local branch chair or branch cemeteries committee.

Reminder: OGS on Facebook

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Have you liked the OGS Facebook page yet?:

Find us on Facebook and “Like” our page to get the latest OGS news and genealogical information delivered to your Facebook newsfeed.

Many of our branches are already quite active on Facebook; Niagara Peninsula, Quinte and Nipissing are but a few.

Click here to view other branches on Facebook.

How to Research Your Family History: Part 5

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

Now that we have laid the ground work on the How of starting your family history research – it’s now time to look at the Where.

Records:Where to Look

Vital Stats, Land Records, Wills and Probate Records, Military Service Records – the list goes on. With so many records to hunt down – just where does one start? In a word – Archives! Start with your local Archival Institution – not just for the records, but for the invaluable assistance you will receive from the Archivists. Yes, you could go online and start your search there, especially if accessing an Archive is not easily accomplished. Just keep in mind though, you might not know what – or who – you are looking for BUT you do need to know what – and who – you have found. This may be the most important distinction between doing your research solely on-line vs utilizing an Archive or even a Library: Guidance. Archivists and Librarians not only know their collections – they know how to search – consulting these professionals will save you time, effort and perhaps even money.

Being the Ontario Genealogical Society, our primary focus is on Ontario records. For these, your point of reference will be the Archives of Ontario. Here is a basic guide of the genealogical resources you will find here:

Ontario Births:

  • Prior to 1869
    • Civil registration for births in Ontario did not come into effect until 1869, so you will have to rely, where possible, on church records.  The Archives of Ontario (AO) website offers some tips on how to search for church records.
  • 1869-1913
    • Reading Room at the Archives of Ontario
    • Local Library, Archives or Family History Centre
    • Through the AO’s Interlibrary Loan Service, provided your local library or archival institution is a member of the Interlibrary Loan Network
    • Microfilm reels – index and registration –  may be purchased through the Ontario Genealogical Society (Pending approval of the Archives of Ontario)
    • (free genealogy website)
    • Paid subscription to genealogy website (check your local library to see if they subscribe to any of these sites)
  • 1914-1916
    •  Reading Room, Archives of Ontario.
    • Through the AO’s Interlibrary Loan Service, provided your local library or archival institution is a member of the Interlibrary Loan Network
    • These records are not available for sale.
  • 1917
    • These records are closed for scanning. According to their website, the AO is planning to make 1917 births available in microfilm format sometime in late 2014.

Ontario Marriages:

  • Prior to 1869
    • As with births, the civil registration of marriages in Ontario began in 1869. The Archives of Ontario has some marriage registrations dating back to 1780, but the collection is not extensive.  As with pre-1869 births, you will have to rely on church records for early Ontario marriages where possible.
  • 1869 -1928
    • Reading Room, Archives of Ontario
    • Local Library, Archives or Family History Centre
    • Through the AO’s Interlibrary Loan Service, provided your local library or archival institution is a member of the Interlibrary Loan Network
    • Microfilm reels –index and registration –  may be purchased through the Ontario Genealogical Society (pending approval of the Archives of Ontario)
    • Paid subscription to genealogy website
  • 1929-1931
    • Reading Room, Archives of Ontario.
    • Through the AO’s Interlibrary Loan Service, provided your local library or archival institution is a member of the Interlibrary Loan Network
    • These records are not available for sale.
  • 1932
    • These records are closed for scanning. According to their website, the AO is planning to make 1932 marriages available in microfilm format sometime in late 2014.

Ontario Deaths:

  • Prior to 1869
    • Deaths were not registered in Ontario before this date. Your best bet is to try to locate Estate Files from the Surrogate and Probate Courts. For more information on how to search for and locate these records, follow this link to the Archives of Ontario’s pathfinder page for Ontario Court of Probate and Surrogate Court Records: Wills and Estate Files.
  • 1869-1938
  • 1939-1941
    • Reading Room, Archives of Ontario.
    • Through the AO’s Interlibrary Loan Service , provided your local library or archival institution is a member of the Interlibrary Loan Network
    • These records are not available for sale.
  • 1942
    • These records are closed for scanning. According to their website, the AO is planning to make 1942 deaths available in microfilm format sometime in late 2014.

Vital Stats are of course not the only sources genealogists may use when documenting their family histories.  Crown Land and Land Registry records, as well as divorce records and of course newspapers, are but a few of the resources available to genealogists and family historians.

The Archives of Ontario is your best resource for accessing all of these record collections. Click here for the Research Guides and Tools page on the AO website. Don’t forget to check out the Citing Archival Records guide-book as well.

Contact Information for the Archives of Ontario:

Mailing Address:

The Archives of Ontario (map)

34 Ian Macdonald Boulevard

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

M7A 2C5

Email Address:


1-800-668-9933 Toll-Free Number (Ontario only)



If you are searching for service records for Canadian Soldiers of the First World War, Library and Archives Canada has digitized many of the records and continue to do so as part of the Government of Canada First World War commemoration initiative. You can find out more about this initiative, and access the database by visiting the Library and Archives of Canada website.

If you are researching ancestors from a specific region in Ontario, you will find that nothing beats local knowledge. OGS has 33 branches and special interest groups spread across Ontario. Click here to see if we have a branch in your region of interest.

Guaranteed access to OGS Webinars for volunteer technical hosts

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

In preparation for our 2015 Webinar series, we are working to grow our team of Technical Hosts.

Webinar Technical Hosts work alongside the Webinar Co-ordinator to run each Webinar. They arrive early to set up the Adobe Connect virtual room and run a technical check with the Speaker and Co-ordinator. They assist members as they sign on for the Webinar and they are present for the talk and work with the Co-ordinator to mute and unmute microphones for questions.

No one volunteer will be expected to handle all webinars.

If you are interested in assisting with this, please contact the OGS Executive Director at:

Full training will be provided.

Keffer Writing Contest

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

It has recently come to our attention that the word count for the Keffer Writing Contest has to be adjusted due to the increased content now asked for in the endnotes.

While the number of words in the text remains the same (1,500 to 2,000 words), the endnotes will not be counted in the total number of words.

The deadline for essays is November 1st, 2014.

For more details about the Keffer Writing Contest, please visit the Essay Competitions page on the OGS website

Why Join OGS? – A Past President’s Perspective

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014
Our Mission

“To encourage, bring together and assist those interested in the pursuit of family history and to preserve our Ontario genealogical heritage.”
more information on Mission & Objectives

Every effort The Society and its individual entities make is to this end and we are well respected for this around the world.

During the past several years, I visited many Society Branches and Special Interest Groups in my role as Vice President and President and represented OGS at many functions. I was regularly asked about why people belong to The Ontario Genealogical Society. Conversely, I attended events where members shared their excitement about belonging to OGS or when new people stepped forward to find out how to join enabling me to gather some of the answers “on the road” as well as from my own experiences.

The answer is simple: OGS has been and continues to be all about COMMUNITY, EDUCATION and ADVOCACY.


From the very beginning, the formation of individual Branches, prior to the creation of The Society in 1961, was based on Community. Individuals came together with a shared interest in genealogy and family history. They wanted to share with and learn from each other and to work jointly on projects that would benefit the whole. When The Society itself was created from those participating Branches, the goal remained the same – to work together in mutually beneficial ways to enhance genealogy for all.

Whether it was as individual Branches, or as a Society, members worked on projects in their own areas, knowing that they could count on others across the province doing the same. This reciprocal relationship ensured that although a person might not be living in an area of genealogical interest to them, their efforts were valuable to someone else; conversely, others were working on their behalf to make information available that would affect their ancestral research. This was and continues to be our symbiotic relationship. The projects and interactions may be different now but the relationship continues.

Through our Branch, and now Special Interest Group (SIG) and Society meetings, we all benefit from one another’s knowledge and skills. Often people meet others from the same family line or with the same geographic area of interest. That introduction and subsequent relationship often plays a major role in breakthroughs for one or both parties. Discussing family research with an individual or in a group setting that is provided through the general and special meetings throughout our organization allows people to share methodologies, best practices and skills.

Can non-members attending one or several meetings benefit from some of the same things? Yes, of course. However, becoming a member takes one to a different level of involvement and understanding. That sense of camaraderie and companionship often develops into deeper participation and commitment to ensure that others will have the same opportunities to access records, to develop a deeper understanding of family history research, and to work and advocate on behalf of items of specific interest to genealogists, not only within the area, but across the province, the country and around the globe.

That community extends again when people meet one another at conference or in other, larger settings. Again, yes, non-members can take advantage of this opportunity but it is the collegiality of the members that strengthens the bond and makes the connections and learning opportunities more likely. OGS is as much a service organization as it is anything else. Members strive to serve one another and the broader heritage community.


The educational component of the Society and its individual Branches/SIGs stems from this sense of community but also expands it. Think of the many educational opportunities that arise through individual contacts, through general membership meetings, through one-day seminars or workshops and also through the annual multi-day Society Conference which is only made possible through the efforts of our Member Volunteers, the Board of Directors and Provincial Office Staff. Branches and Special Interest Groups have created their own publications, as has the Society, both alone and in partnership with Dundurn Press.

The Society journal Families and both The Society and Branch/SIG newsletters expand the community and educational aspects of membership. Now, OGS members have free access to instructional and educational webinars each month. Additionally, through an arrangement with The National Institute for Genealogical Studies, members have access to free and discounted courses (print materials not included). Publication sales and reduced conference fees are but two other benefits.


Advocacy has been a major part of OGS and its beliefs since its inception. Members strive together to protect, preserve and make accessible various record groups and other items of importance to genealogists and family historians. The following are but a few examples.

  • Cemeteries. With the Ontario Historical Society, OGS members continue to transcribe, photograph and preserve cemetery information and work towards the location, identification, registration and preservation of cemeteries with the goal of seeing them registered with the local land registry offices and protected by The Ontario Registrar of Cemeteries. OGS continues to have an ongoing, productive dialogue with The Registrar. Read more about our ongoing cemetery projects and our work with unregistered cemeteries.
  • Census. OGS has a strong history of advocating for the preservation and release of census records. We continue to be in communication with both Statistics Canada and Library and Archives Canada and have been told that census records in any form, since they seem to be changing, will be preserved and released but the time may be extended to 100+ years since people are living longer.
  • Fegan Boys Distribution Home. The former Fegan Boys Distribution Home (Home Children), 295 George Street, Toronto was discovered to have inscriptions of the boys’ names and the dates they had been at the home in some of the exterior bricks. OGS was afraid this building would be demolished in preparation for re-development. The City of Toronto has purchased the property and has indicated they hope to save the building along with others in the area. OGS has offered to assist in preservation or filming of the inscriptions. OGS monitors this situation but has been receiving updates from Councillor Wong-Tam’s office.
  • Infant Home Records. In response to a member request, OGS has contacted both the Ministry of Children’s Services and now the Association of Children’s Aid Societies (ACAS) to see what is possible with regard to the release of these records to interested parties if they are still in existence and accessible. Recent information from the ACAS indicated that legislation regarding this will be reviewed in 2015. OGS will contribute to the discussion.
  • Library and Archives Canada (LAC). It is great to see a new Librarian and Archivist of Canada who is already reaching out to the heritage community. For a few years recently, we were granted no communication with LAC. We were finally able to set up correspondence, both email and telephone, with the LAC Director General, Content Access Branch. We have had several discussions about preservation of and access to documents. LAC is committed to both, but the realities of this era are upon them as well as everyone else. They cannot function in a vacuum and have formed partnerships with other entities such as Ancestry and to get materials prepared for use by researchers more quickly and cost-effectively. For example, they granted Ancestry the rights to their digital images of the 1921 census. Ancestry had it on their website for free in browse format only at first but quickly had the index completed. The arrangement was that this would be available on the Ancestry site for three (3) years (for free to anyone with a Canadian IP address) and after that period, the digital files and index would be available for free on the LAC site, but become part of the Ancestry paid subscription package for those who chose to access it there as part of other research they were conducting. LAC knew they could not handle the indexing quickly enough (even though the heritage community tried to offer their free services); nor could they handle the immediate flow on their server which was several billion hits in the first few weeks. Many felt they had sold out to Ancestry and given up our rights. The contrary was true. They maintained ownership, got the info out ASAP and made arrangements to have it free on their site in the future. Similar arrangements have been or will be made for other records. We continue to maintain contact, to ensure we understand situations as they arise and to monitor decisions and activities affecting family historians.
  • Libraries and Archives (general). In 2013-14 both The Royal Society of Canada and the Canadian Archives Summit held reviews of libraries and archives in Canada. OGS contributed detailed papers to these discussions with member input. We monitor the outcomes of those reviews as they endeavor to set a future course for libraries and archives across Canada.

Now, back to the question….

In the past few years, I have also heard the question, “But what do we get for our money?” OGS does have member benefits such as those mentioned above, as well as agreements with some other provincial societies and FindMyPast to provide reduced rates, and is working to arrange more; however, the truth of the matter is, the people joining now do not join because of the benefits. They, like our previous and many current OGS members, join to be a part of an organization that works on behalf of family historians. They recognize skills they have and offer to use them to serve OGS and the genealogical community by supporting its Branches/SIGs, projects and advocacy.

People can gather information online, but they soon realize it is not all there, or they do not know if what they have is their “family line”, or do not understand how to use or organize the data they have located. OGS may not be the first place they come any more, but after they have found “the low-hanging fruit” they join to find out what else there is and to connect with people who have learned from their own errors and are ready and willing to lead and share that knowledge. They join to help make a difference by offering their background skills and knowledge in leadership, technology or many other volunteer roles.

OGS is a membership-driven organization but it is also a service organization. Some members join for a short while to get all they feel they need and move on. Many others did and still join in order to better equip The Society in meeting its mission and objectives. Many see the vision of OGS to be so important that they donate their dollars to its projects. Others donate their time and skills. Like other service clubs whose members work together to serve their communities’ greatest needs by promoting service, fellowship, values, or pride, our organization works together for the community of genealogists.

Why belong to OGS? How can one not join? Please consider how you fit into an organization that believes in these values and principles and that strives to meet your family history needs. Join OGS.

Shirley L. Sturdevant, Past President

Other things change us but we start and end with the family.
~Anthony Brandt~

The OGS Ontario Locator: A GPS for Genealogists

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

The Province of Ontario covers a lot of ground and making sense of the different geographic areas can be a brickwall in itself. For instance, did you know that Ontario has two Aylmers – one in Elgin County and the other in the Sudbury District?

The Ontario Locator shows every municipality in Ontario (city, town, village, township, regional municipality) and all of the geographic townships which have belonged to a municipality. In other words, everything that has or had a local government is here. If nothing else, the locator will assist you in narrowing down specific areas in the search for your Ontario ancestors.

Click here to access the Ontario Locator on the OGS website.

And don’t forget, our OGS Branches are specialists in regional and local area knowledge. Click here to access our branch listings.

Join the OGS First World War Society

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War, OGS has launched a new Heritage Society.The First World War Society is a lineage Society open to anyone who can show descent from a person who served in a documented capacity on the Allied side of the First World War.

To qualify for this Society, your research must show that your named ancestor(s) fits in the category above, and then show the line of descent from that ancestor(s) to you or the person you wish named on the certificate.

For more information and an application form visit the Heritage Societies area on the OGS website:

Announcing the next installment in our Members only Genealogy Webinar Series

Saturday, February 22nd, 2014

Date: Tuesday March 4, 2014

Time: 7:00 pm

Speaker: Lisa Alzo

Storyboard Your Family History with Scrivener
Scrivener is a combination word processor and project management tool that’s affordable and simple to use. Learn how to set up your writing projects, how to use Scrivener‘s virtual “corkboard” to storyboard-visually plot out the story you want to tell, how to store notes, citations, images, and research materials, compile your finished draft for printing or exporting for final formatting, manage multiple projects, and much more!

Lisa Alzo has a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from West Virginia Wesleyan College in 1987 and a Master of Fine Arts in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh in 1997. An avid genealogist for 22 years, Lisa teaches for Family Tree University and the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. She is the recipient of the 2002 Mary Zirin Prize given by the Association for Women in Slavic Studies to recognize the achievements of independent scholars. Lisa lives in Ithaca, New York.

OGS Webinars are offered using Adobe Connect software and all members are invited to attend for free. Access to the webinar is available from the OGS Members Only area.

The virtual room will be open 20 minutes before the webinar is scheduled to start.