Archive for July, 2010

5 Summer Flicks for Genealogists

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Image: Francesco Marino, link below

Hot sticky days are upon us and one way to beat the heat is to dim the lights, pop some popcorn, and enjoy a movie. Here are some action filled films with family history as part of the plot:

 The Man in the Iron Mask (1998) – This interpretation of the classic Alexandre Dumas story is a popcorn munching spectacle of action and genealogical surprise. After D’Artagnan refuses to betray his monarch, the three (aging) musketeers scheme todepose the cruel and hedonistic Louis XIV and place his secret twin brother on the throne in his place. Ties of friendship and blood are tested and a stunning twist reveals that the royal family tree is much different than anyone knew.

Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) – This dark British satire of turn-of-the -century England follows Louis Mazzini who is intent on becoming the 10th Duke of Chalmont by killing off his mother’s aristocratic relatives, one by one. Sir Alec Guinness plays the eight aristocrats including the aging Suffragette, and they all die in inventive fashions as Mazzini struggles to re-arrange his family tree. It is, after all, “so difficult to make a neat job of killing people with whom one is not on friendly terms.”

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2009) – This chilling family whodunit, set in the Swedish winter no less, is based on Stieg Larsson’s bestselling novel of the same name. It tells the story of a down and out journalist who is hired by the patriarch of a powerful family to solve the murder of his niece. The investigation follows the path any genealogist may travel as he attempts to piece together the murder and family history through newspapers and legal records. The twists and turns along the way make for fascinating film but be warned that this movie contains disturbing images and deserves its R rating.

The Star Wars Trilogy (1977) – In these epic sci-fi films Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and a band of freedom fighters battle the Evil Empire to restore peace and democracy to their galaxy far, far away. The fate of the galaxy comes to rest on how our hero will handle a genealogical revelation that makes him question everything he thought he knew about himself and his destiny.

The Da Vinci Code (2006) – At the heart of the controversy and outrage this film unleashed is the subject of genealogy. Based on the religious conspiracy novel by American author Dan Brown, the adventures of symbologist Robert Langdon and his companion Sophie Neveu focus entirely on revealing family secrets and piecing together a pedigree chart with a shockingly unexpected name at the top.

Do you have any genealogy movies to recommend?

Image: Francesco Marino /

Len’s Expert Advice: Think outside regional boundaries

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Searching for vital records: 

Births, marriages, and deaths are registered (if they are in fact registered!) in states and provinces, and an index can usually be searched for time periods up to twenty years, but place is constraining on a search, although useful as a criterion.

 It’s important to remember that people moved around more than we imagine, and a marriage in the next county over from the known county of residence can be the right one after all. But it will be excluded from your results if you only search for marriages in the county of residence.

Now, what would the next county be?

- 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 

New at the Library – July

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

This month, the provincial library received several new additions to the Places of  Worship Vital Statistics series.

They include but are not limited to the following:

Regent Park United Church
(formerly Methodist and Presbyterian)
Baptisms 1880-1925,
Marriages 1897-1925,
Burials 1913-1925.

Halton County United Churches
(formerly Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian)
Baptisms 1838-1925,
Marriages 1858- 1925,
Burials 1901 – 1925


Davisville and Eglinton Communities Toronto United Churches (formerly Congregational, Methodist and Presbyterian)
 Baptisms 1834-1925,
Marriages 1837 – 1925,
Burials 1836-1925


To find these books and more,
go to our library catalogue and search under
Places of worship registers inventory

Summer Students: Sarah

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Every summer, OGS applies for grants so we can offer summer employment to university students who have an interest in history, heritage and genealogy. This year we had the privilege of hiring 2 hard working students for seven weeks each.

Sarah Gletnak has worked at OGS provincial office for two summers now. She has worked hard to scan books for the e-library scanning project and then to proof those scanned books to make sure they’re ready to be added to the e-library. She has also helped catalogue our microfilm collection.

Sarah recently graduated from Queen’s University with a history degree. She focussed her studies on 20th century British history and particularly enjoyed researching the evacuation of children from England to Canada and other parts of the United Kingdom during World War II. As part of her studies, she read the autobiography of Ben Wicks which she recommends to anyone with an interest in these events.

She also spent a term studying in England where she fell in love with the closeness of historical sites. She notes that there are many great historical sites in Ontario but it was amazing to be able to see ancient buildings and ruins that were only a few minutes away from where she stayed.

Working with OGS has not been Sarah’s first experience working in the genealogical community. A few years ago she worked at St. George’s on the Hill Anglican cemetery in Etobicoke, near her native Mississauga. She assisted in organizing the cemetery records and digitizing their maps. She spoke with several genealogists who visited the cemetery and used the results of her project to do their research. This piqued her interest in genealogy even if her work here has required her to spend more time struggling with 5” inch binders that are hard to scan than doing her own genealogical research.

What she has enjoyed most about her work here at OGS is the opportunity to explore family histories and to see the care and pride genealogists take in their work. Sarah hopes to continue her history studies either here or in the United Kingdom and we wish her well wherever she goes.

OGS Blog email alerts

Monday, July 12th, 2010

You can now subscribe to the OGS blog  and have new posts sent to your email so you never have to worry about forgetting to check the blog. The service we are using has been provided by Google Feedburner

To subscribe, go to the side menu at right of this blog post. You will see a box labelled “Subscribe to this blog”. Enter the email address you wish to use to receive notifications and click “subscribe”.

The program will send an email to the email address you have provided. Go to your email and open the message. You will be asked to click on a link to confirm your subscription. Please do so.

Once you have gone through these steps, you will receive an email every time something new is posted to the OGS blog.

On Our Website: Visit the e-store

Monday, July 12th, 2010
web address graphic

Image courtesy: Renjith krishnan, link below

For years now, OGS has published and sold books and other genealogical materials. We are the largest publisher of genealogical books  in  all of Canada. 

And for years now, our books could be purchased only through attending a conference or by contacting the Provincial Office. Now, books can still be purchased this way and we look forward to seeing you at our conferences, but there’s no need to wait anymore.

Now you can buy books from our E-Store !

By clicking on the link above or by visiting our website, you can browse our new books and check out what’s on special . You can also search our Books by first letter to find a particular one.

To purchase a book, simply add it to your cart. When you’re done your shopping, you can view the items in your cart and then go through the secure check out process. Your books will arrive by mail.

To make the process shorter, you can also set up an account for yourself and simply log in, instead of filling out the purchase form all the time.

We sell books, CDs and DVDs as well as cemetery transcripts and microfiche indexes. We also sell the Ontario Vital Statistics microfilm reels on behalf of the Archives of Ontario and and archival supplies to help you preserve your family history treasures but these cannot be purchased online. You may view our offerings and then contact the office in order to make your purchases.

Googling your genealogy

Friday, July 9th, 2010

If you’re reading this blog, you are likely reasonably web saavy. You may use online databases: subscription and free. You may regularly visit the websites of other genealogists and follow their blogs or tweets. And you likely use Google on a regular basis.

Image: graur razvan ionut, link below

Google. It’s so popular it’s a verb. It’s become a generic term for searching the web for information, no matter what search engine you may actually be using at the time. Often though, Google results can be both overwhelming – You have 6,679, 258 results - and disappointing as they offer opportunities for you to buy a product that happens to share a name with the ancestor you were seeking. 

Here are two articles written to help you get the most out of Google when you’re using it to do genealogical research in the untamed jungle of the free internet: offers some “Hot Tips” on using Google for your research. It takes the reader through the advanced search options the site offers and discusses issues such as country bias and how they may affect your results.

The genealogy section of has an article that helps you use Google’s features best for a genealogy search. It also contains reminders about Google “Stop Words” which could impede your search if you don’t take them into account.

Happy Googling!

 Image: graur razvan ionut,

Walter Kidd Genealogical Museum opens

Friday, July 9th, 2010

Wilberforce, Ontario

If your summer travel plans will be taking you anywhere near Wilberforce Ontario, you may want to stop by the old Walter Kidd Schoolhouse.

According to the Haliburton Echo, the historic Walter Kidd Schoolhouse has been converted to a genealogical museum that is scheduled to open its doors on July 18th, 2010. On top of funding by the Trillium Foundation, the Schoolhouse Historical Society raised close to $20, 000 over seven years which was used to move, restore and convert the old building to a museum and genealogical resource centre.

Their grand opening on July 18th will be celebrated with a barbecue, pony rides, live music and a genealogy display.

Read the full article.

Summer Students: Elizabeth

Thursday, July 8th, 2010

Every summer, OGS provincial office applies for grants so we can offer summer employment to university students who have an interest in history, heritage and genealogy. This year we had the privilege of hiring 2 hard working students for seven weeks each.

This is the second summer we’ve had the pleasure of having Elizabeth Atkinson join the staff here at the provincial office. She has been involved in our e-library scanning project and has also worked hard to help update our databases and tidy up our library catalogue.

Elizabeth is a Pickering Ontario native who recently completed an undergraduate degree in English and History at Queen’s University in Kingston. She particularly enjoyed combining her love for literature and history when taking a course discussing literature and history outside of the confines of the book. It was for this class that she wrote a paper studying the trend of kitsch architecture in Montreal.

While she didn’t know much about genealogy before being hired for the summer student position, she found it interesting instantly and learned about us through our website. Operating the large book scanning machine is the part of the job she most enjoyed and loathed at the same time. Each book comes with its own quirks and challenges and the book scanner’s settings must be adjusted to take many factors into account such as the dimensions of the book and the thickness of its pages. She found the investigation and problem solving part of it appealing, but sometimes she wished the problems could be solved faster.

We will miss Elizabeth but we hope she enjoys the rest of her summer and wish her well this fall as she begins studies for a Master’s of Library and Information Studies at University of Toronto’s iSchool.

Home Children at the library

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

The Canadian government has designated 2010 as the Year of the British Home Child in Canada. Many Canadians researching their family history will find that they are descended from one of the British orphans sent to the colonies.

 You can find information about Home Children at our library!

 When searching our Library Catalogue , here are some good words to use in our SUBJECT field:

  •  Home children
  • Foster children – England 
  • Immigrant children – England
  • Orphans – England
  • Indentured servants

Here are some books to start with:

 Nation Builders: Barnardo Children in Canada by Gail H. Corbett
This book uses archival materials and records of first hand accounts to tell the stories of the thousands of children who emigrated from Britain to become Canada’s Home Children

 The Golden Bridge: young immigrants to Canada, 1833-1939 by Marjorie Kohli
Considered to be a comprehensive resource for Home Child research, this book not only tells the stories of the children themselves but also offers background information on the many people and agencies involved in bringing the Home Children to Canada.

 Fegan index of Home Children Database by Catherine Gollinger-Lorente from Fegan records provided by Doug Fry.
JWC Fegan opened a series of homes and camps for young boys in England in the latter half of the 19th century. In 1884 he started sending many of these boys and young men to Canada where a Fegan Home was opened in Toronto. This is an index of the records of this home. It contains information about more than 3000 boys.

 On the Web:
Some websites to visit for more information were mentioned on the June 18th, blog post

Here are a few more:

 The British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa  is working with Library and Archives Canada to index the Home children found on Passenger Lists as well as other groups of Home Children. You can find more information about this project on their website.

 Library and Archives Canada also has a site dedicated to the Home Children The Canadian Museum of Civilization’s Trunks and Travel page exhibits some examples of the types of luggage that would have been used by Home Children on their journey to Canada. It is at the bottom of the page.