Archive for June, 2010

At the Library: Magazines and Journals

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Looking for information about new ideas in genealogy?
Looking for reviews of genealogy books and tools?
Looking for something shorter than a book?

The magazines and journals in our Periodicals collection might just be exactly what you’re looking for.

The OGS Provincial Library collects genealogy magazines, journals and newsletters from around the world to bring the genealogy news to you.

Some of them are commercial magazines. They tend to address the latest genealogical news and trends, review books and genealogy tools, and share tips as well as interesting feature stories about the genealogical community.

Some of them are society journals and newsletters. Like the OGS journal Families, many other genealogical societies publish quarterly journals and newsletters full of research, reviews and society news. We collect journals and newsletters from genealogical societies and family associations from across Canada and around the world.

So the next time you’re looking for a resource, pay a visit to our Periodicals catalogue and find a journal or magazine to read. It just might have the information you need.

Interview with a Volunteer: John Woollatt

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010
Without the hard work of volunteers all across the province, OGS would simply cease to exist. Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. This feature is designed to introduce you to some of them and let you know about the work they’ve been doing.

John Woollatt is a member of OGS and the following branches: Toronto, Perth, Grey Bruce, and Waterloo

How long have you been involved with OGS?
I started not long after Ken Bird became the Executive Director.  I stopped in to enquire about the Family Group Sheets and Canadian Census Forms packages and the next thing I knew I was told to sit at a desk and was given some work to do.

What hats do you wear / have you worn?
I just got a nice new one at the Waupoos Winery on Wednesday, but I don’t think that is what you want to know.  I am willing to do anything that needs to be done from vacuuming around the shredder, to repairing collapsing bookshelves to indexing and data entry.

What project or event has been a highlight of your work with OGS?
There are probably two. 
 Getting the Empire Insurance project completed was a treat.  It was a huge and somewhat complex task and will provide OGS members with real benefits now and in the future.  It gave me contact with some terrific people – Joan Beckly (who is a demon proofreader),  Michael Ball (ace date enterer), Larry Binns plus a whole raft of students who spent up to seven weeks entering data while retaining their sanity and senses of humour. 
The other big project was the index of the Ontario World War II deaths. Cliff Collier did an amazing job editing the original script but it was hard to avoid thinking what a horrible waste of human life the whole thing represented

How did you become interested in genealogy?
 guess I am a curious person (my wife says in both senses of the word).  I just wondered where my various families came from and what theirs lives must have been like.

Would you like to share a favourite genealogical adventure you have had or tell us about a part of your family history that you particularly enjoyed learning?
I have Len Chester to thank for this.  When I began using the internet to do research, it never occurred to me that individual members of my family might be part of something posted on the net.  As a result I started off with such succinct queries as “woollatt family” and wondered why what I got was vague rubbish.  

Len told me the way to proceed was to be as specific as possible and to enclose the name you were searching in quotation marks.  I typed in the name of my grandfather’s oldest brother “George Henry Woollatt” and got an amazing newspaper article from a newspaper in Workington Cumbria.

The article described how GH and his family had been harassed by the local citizens because it was thought that GH was a German spy.        These events occurred in 1914.  GH was the principal of the local Technical College and not only was a fluent German speaker but believed very strongly that the Germans had a lot to teach the British about technical education.  He also had strange work habits and could be seen at various hours of the day and night prowling the college (sending messages to Germany?).  He also looked like Kaiser Wilhelm.  There is a lot more to the story and it lead me eventually to his descendants.

Many thanks to John for his hard work over the years!

On Our Website: OGSPI

Monday, June 28th, 2010
web address graphic

Image courtesy: Renjith krishnan, link below

One thing OGS has on its website that you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else is our very own OGSPI which stands for the Ontario Genealogical Society Provincial Index.

This index is a massive, ongoing OGS volunteer project that attempts to index the names found in an unlimited range of publications that might help a genealogist search for their Ontario ancestors. Since 1997 the volunteers involved in this project have indexed everything to be found that contains genealogical information: OGS branch publications, census records, military records and obituaries from many different newspapers and they have compiled all the data in one place to make it easier for you to track down your ancestors.

You can search for a last name of your choice using the first two letters as a starting point. Check out the How to Use OGSPI page to find out how to make this resource work best for you.

P.S. If you’re looking for information that is less than 50 years old, this is not the best resource for you. We have made efforts to ensure that we only index data referring to dates more than 50 years ago to reduce the likelihood that a search will retrieve information about anyone who is still alive or recently deceased. We’ve done this out of consideration for issues of personal privacy and the risk of identity theft.

Image: renjith krishnan /

Early York Settlers Project

Friday, June 25th, 2010

York Region Branch  is compiling a database of all early pioneer settlers to our Region.   We hope to include in this list basic information on the original pioneer settler, such as place of origin; date of arrival in the Region; place of settlement, i.e. township, lot and concession number, if known; name of wife, if known; if accompanied by family; if part of a group migration such as a Berczy settler, Quaker group, etc. 

Please submit your entries to the Branch via mail, attention Doris Bourrie, or by email to   If the information is taken from a published source, please include a complete citation for the published material, so that it can be listed as a source for possible further research.  It is not necessary that there be any ancestral connection to the settler.

Len’s expert advice: do your own searching

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

Using online genealogy services:

Many genealogy web services invite you to simply put in names and let them search the databases for you, but this searches all of the records they have. This generally retrieves a large number of records most of which will be for the wrong time or the wrong place, and all of which will have to be sorted through… by you.

Skip this basic type of search.

 Search particular records for a selected place at a relevant time. Learn the virtues and vices of each record type, and select the best record – most detailed, most reliable – that includes the information you seek.

 - Len Chester

Len Chester is the Resident Genealogist at the Ontario Genealogical Society’s provincial office. He is a retired librarian and Family History Centre volunteer with over 40  years experience assisting others in conducting their genealogical research.  He is available to help you puzzle out your records. Contact him at .

At the Library: Family Histories and Family Charts

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Genealogy is a collaborative process. Research may sound like a solitary activity and it may conjure up the image of an individual reading microfiche in a darkened room,  but many genealogists learn a lot from discussing their research with others and from reading the work other genealogists have already done.

Our Family History collection and  our collection of Family Charts are designed to help you benefit from the research of others.

We love it when people turn their research into a book and OGS strives to collect any and all family histories relating to Ontario. If you’ve written your family history and wish to donate a copy to us, contact us, and let us know. We have about 3500 such books in our library. They are in our catalogue and can be searched for by family name.

A Family Chart or pedigree is similar to a family history in that it shows the generations of a family. We have over 2000 family charts (family trees) that genealogists have constructed based on  their research. We have indexed them and the database is searchable on our website. Once you’ve found names you are interested in, visit our provincial library and request them.

Take a look at these resources. You never know who you may find.

On Our Website: All about Cemeteries

Monday, June 21st, 2010
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Image courtesy: Renjith krishnan, link below

At some point, most genealogists wind up dealing with cemeteries and cemetery records. Not only does a tombstone tell you the date of birth and death of an ancestor, some of them also share the names of relatives or details of the life that ancestor lived.

 We have many passionate members who have worked hard over the years to make it easier for you to find out who’s buried where.  Visit our Ontario Cemetery Ancestor Search page to search for the names you need in the indexes of cemeteries all across the province.

 Then check out our Cemetery Locator  and find the location of any known cemetery in Ontario so you can visit the cemetery to learn more. You can also follow the link to the OGS Branch website and buy a transcription of many cemeteries. Over the years, volunteers have transcribed most of the cemeteries in the province. The transcription process continues as more and more cemeteries are discovered everyday.

 Just because we’ve found a cemetery, doesn’t mean that it’s been preserved. Take a look at our Unregistered Cemeteries page  and find out how you can help preserve these spaces for the future.

Image: renjith krishnan /

Home Children Memory Quilts

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Genealogy Grab Bag

2010 has been declared the Year of the British Home Child in Canada. This is of interest to genealogists who may find they are descended from one of over 100,000 children displaced from Britain to a hard life as an orphan in the colonies, sometimes under suspicious circumstances.

Volunteers at OGS Perth County Branch are spreading the word of the Memory Quilts for Home Children which will be displayed at museums in Stratford and Belleville over the summer in recognition of these children, the lives they led, and their legacy. You are invited to visit the museums to view the quilts. 

One of two quilts will be displayed at the following museums on the following dates:

 Stratford Perth Museum, Stratford ON – Sunday June 27 – Saturday July 10
Hwy 8 – just west of city limits
Hours of Operation
Sunday – Monday       12 pm – 4 pm
Tuesday – Saturday    10 am – 4 pm

Glanmore House, Belleville ON -  Wednesday July 14 – Wednesday July 28
257 Bridge St. E.
Hours of Operation
Tuesday – Sunday    10 am – 4:30 pm

If you’re interested in learning more about the Home Children, here are some websites to explore: - This site is an extension of the British Home Children mailing list. The site is dedicated to the recognition and memory of the home children.

Pier 21′s Online Collection - Pier 21, Canada’s Immigration Museum in Halifax has an online collection of the histories of many Canadian home children. They are available to be read in pdf format.

Cyndi’s List – Home Children and Child Migrants - Cyndi’s List is a popular source for links to genealogical resources. If you’re researching home children in your family tree, there are some useful sites listed here for you.

At the Library: our catalogues

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Libraries are essential to genealogy. Even with all of the online databases and resources available these days, most genealogists will eventually find themselves walking into a library in order to track down some information necessary to firmly attach another limb to their family tree.

Many public libraries have a genealogical section and have one or more librarians on staff who have received special training in order to assist you in conducting your family history research in their library with their resources.

The Ontario Genealogical Society has libraries as well. Our Provincial Library is in Toronto, housed in the Canadiana dept, on the sixth floor of the North York Central Branch of Toronto Public Library.  It is a special collection within their own local history and genealogy department, and the librarians are experts at helping you navigate the records.

You can use our Online Catalogue to look for books, magazines and journals, cemetery transcriptions, or family charts. When you find something you’d like to take a closer look at, you can simply request the item from the librarians who will retrieve it for you to use in your research.

OGS doesn’t just have one library though, we have many. Most of our Branches have a library collection: some are housed in local libraries like the Provincial Library, other branches make their library materials available to members at the monthly branch meeting, and still other branches have their own library as part of their branch office.

Several of our branches have their own online catalogue to help you discover the resources they have for you.

Brant County - Our Brant County Branch has a series of Resource Guides on their website which are organized by genealogical subject area and list the materials they have for each subject area.

Halton-Peel - The Halton – Peel Branch Library is part of the Brampton Public Library, Four Corners Branch and their library catalogue is integrated with that of Brampton Public Library.

Kingston - Like in Halton – Peel, the Kingston Branch library is part of the Kingston Public library and the collection is housed in their local history section at the central branch of the library. Their books can be accessed through the public library catalogue.

Nipissing – The Nipissing Library is part of the Joan Duquette room in the North Bay Public Library. Branch volunteers staff it as often as possible to assist researchers. They have an excel spreadsheet listing their books.

Ottawa -  The Ottawa Branch has an online catalogue and their collection is in the City of Ottawa Archives. 

Quinte  -  The Quinte Branch has their library in the Quinte Genealogical Centre which is located in Quinte West Public Library. A list of the books in their collection is published in a pdf document available on their website.

York Region – The York Region Branch library is in the Richmond Hill Public Library. Their holdings are listed on their website and can also be found by searching the catalogue at the library.

On our Website: for beginner genealogists

Monday, June 14th, 2010
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Image courtesy: Renjith krishnan, link below

The OGS website isn’t just a place to come to find our address or to renew your membership. There’s plenty of other information and resources to check out as well.

 If you’re a new genealogist, just getting started on your family history, we have a page on the website to help you. We call it How to Research Your Family History .

 This is a quick guide for beginner genealogists which gives a brief overview of the process of family history research so you know what you’re getting into when you first decide to embark on your genealogy journey.

 On top of sharing some basic research strategies such as the principle of moving from the known to the unknown. You can find information there about useful resources that will help you in your search. We also promote our own books as resources here and we hope that this section will give an aspiring genealogist a place to start and a sense of the journey they are beginning.

 Bon Voyage!

Image: renjith krishnan /