Archive for September, 2010

Gems in the stacks

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

There are many straightforward  genealogical resources in the OGS library, but we also have materials other than census and vital statistics, or passenger lists and cemetery transcriptions. Over the years, the provincial library has collected books that tell historical stories. Reading these hidden gems may help you flesh out your family history and show you more about the type of life your Ontario ancestors lived.

By the Labour of their Hands: the Story of Ontario Cheddar Cheese
by: Heather Menzies

This book relates the history of cheesemaking in Ontario. It describes dairies and the process of cheesemaking, using accounts that begin around 1864, and carries through to the industrialization of cheese. The process of making cheese is described in detail as well as the sideline crafts of cheese presses and moulds. The book goes on to describe the growth of the cheese factory into the hub of rural communities in Ontario and its subsequent decline after World War II.

Through the discussion of specific companies and family anecdotes, the book puts a human face on the Ontario cheese industry and the mark it has left on the province.

By the Labour of their Hands: the story of Ontario cheddar cheese
By: Heather Menzies
338. 1

Request the book at the provincial library, or find it at your local library

Celebrate the Year of the Home Child with Brant County

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Image: Tom Curtis, link below

In commemoration of 2010 being the Year of the British Home Child in Canada, the Brant County Branch of OGS is holding a two day open house for descendants of home children and anyone with an interest in the stories of the home children who came to this country. 

The open house will be held Saturday, October 23rd from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, October 24th from 1 to 8 p.m.
at Smokey Hollow Estates,
 114-118 Powerline Road,
 Brantford, Ontario, Canada.

Opening ceremonies will be on Saturday at 11 a.m. Admission $2.00 per person.

*Come, meet and talk with other descendants. Renew acquaintances. Make new friends. 

*Put faces to the names on Rootsweb, and wear your t-shirt and a name tag so we’ll know you! – - Everyone welcome! 

*1:00 p.m. on Saturday meet MP Phil McColeman. 

*We’ll have displays, trunks and the Memorial Quilt made by Gail Collins, St Catharines 

*Be sure to bring your research binder or a display. There’s lots of room. 

*There’ll be BHC books and pins for sale. 

*Our adjacent library will be open. 

*Meals will be available both days at $7.00 per person.
              Saturday: lunch 12-2, dinner 4-6 
              Sunday: dinner only 4-6

For more information:
email –
phone – 519.753.4140
Everyone is welcome!
Hope to see you there!

In Memoriam: John Becker

Monday, September 27th, 2010

We are are saddened to learn of the recent passing of John Becker: long time OGS member and former editor of our journal, Families. John’s enthusiasm for genealogy was palpable, and his dedication and skilled hard work brought Families up to professional standards.

He will be sorely missed.

 You may read his obituary at

On Our Website: Keffer Writing Contest 2010

Monday, September 27th, 2010
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Image courtesy: Renjith krishnan, link below

It was announced in Families, but you can also find out about the annual Marion Keffer writing contest on the OGS website.

The contest has been created to recognize unpublished genealogical writing.

Winning entries are published in Families and a generous benefaction from Marion Keffer, genealogist and long time OGS member, provides prizes to the award winning authors.

You have until November 1, 2010 to enter the contest.

Find more information on the Essay Competitions page of the OGS website

Image: renjith krishnan /

Long Form Census Debate Returns

Friday, September 24th, 2010

Image: jscreationzs, link below

A few months ago, the plan to scrap the long form census was all over the media, even here at the OGS blog. The opposition to losing the long form census and replacing it with a voluntary National Household Survey was loud and full of fire, leading to the resignation of Canada’s Chief Statistician. And then, the topic seemed to disappear.

This week, the debate returns. Several media sources report that the federal Liberals have submitted details of a private member’s bill that seeks to amend the Statistics Act to include the long form census, making it mandatory once again. At the moment, the Statistics Act, only requires that a census be held and does not specify the exact nature of the census or the questions to be asked.

 The proposed bill also seeks to remove the possibility of jail time for those who neglect or refuse to fill out the census form, although it would still require that those people be fined.

The leaders of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois indicate that they would support such a bill.

Visit the following articles for more information:
Liberals tout bill to re-introduce long-form census Vancouver Sun
Opposition to fight for long-form census Winnipeg Free Press
Opposition will try to salvage census - Calgary

Image: jscreationzs /

Figuring out your photos at the library

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

We all have them, those photos full of strangers who might be our relatives…or maybe just their friends. The Ontario Genealogical Society has amassed such a collection of mystery photos, we’ve even started a Lost Photographs Service.

But we also have books to help you at least sort out WHEN these photos were taken even if they are less helpful in letting you figure out WHO is in them.

Dating Old Photographs, 1840 – 1929 and More Dating Old Photographs, 1840 – 1929
By Andrew J Morris, published by Family Chronicle Magazine
These two volumes show examples of photos from different time periods allowing you to compare your mystery photos with the clothing and hairstyles of the dated photos.
The second volume has an introduction by Maureen Taylor, noted conference speaker and author of Preserving Your Family Photographs

Dating Twentieth Century Photographs ~ By Robert Pols, Published by the Federation of Family History Societies.
This book focuses on photography in the 20th century and offers tips for dating photos with regards to the evolution of film technology, fashion, and changing trends in photography practices.
It includes dating charts to help the reader date their own photos. Some of the information supplied is very England centric.

Understanding Old Photographs ~ By Robert Pols, published by Boyd Publications.
This publication goes in to more depth about photographs. The process of sitting for a photo is explained as well as details of the creation of the item itself. The book also suggests ways to analyse photos in order to determine more about the people in them than just when they lived.

Photography for Family Historians ~ by Robert Pols
Now that you’ve sorted out your mystery photos, this book gives advice on how to become a great photographer and take family history photos of your own. It also suggests methods to document your photos and details to include in your descriptions so you avoid leaving mystery photos to your descendants.

Find these books and more by searching the Library Catalogue

On Our Website: Calendar of Events

Monday, September 20th, 2010
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Image courtesy: Renjith krishnan, link below

The genealogy community is buzzing. There’s always something going on, some opportunity to get together with other genealogists. It could be a chance to swap stories and look for common ancestors. It could be a chance to learn some new skills or be introduced to some new resources. When genealogists get together, anything can happen.
On our website we have a Calendar of Events that helps keep you informed of all the upcoming genealogy events from OGS branch meetings to contest deadlines to international conferences.
Click on the Calendar tab on our home page to see the calendar for yourself.

OGS Anniversary Cruise

Friday, September 17th, 2010

All Aboard!

Image: Michal Marcol, link below

Explore history and your heritage on this cruise for genealogists! 

Sears Travel’s Canada and New England Cruise in support of the Ontario Genealogical Society offers a 7 night Carnival Glory cruise from Carnival Cruise Lines, departing from New York City on September 10, 2011. 

Image: Michal Marcol, link below

Ports of call include:

New York, NY
Boston, MA
Portland, ME
Saint John, NB
Halifax, NS

Prices from USD $405
taxes and port fees USD $256

 For more information call 1-877-891-1161  – Sears Travel Station Mall, Sault Ste. Marie

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Ontario Genealogical Society in style!

 Images: Michal Marcol /

Interview with a Volunteer: Susan Smart

Thursday, September 16th, 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.

Susan Smart is a member of OGS and the following branches:  Toronto, Halton-Peel, Simcoe, SIG-IP and York Region

How long have you been involved with OGS?
In 1996 I took a Toronto Branch genealogy course with Ruth Burkholder, “Introduction to Genealogy”. Ruth told the attendees at the end of the course that OGS really, really needed someone to send out OGS publications to the Branches, book reviewers, etc. I thought “I can do that!” and have been involved with OGS since then.

What hats do you wear / have you worn?
Well I went from sending out the publications to being a member of the OGS Publications Committee and the Joint Imprint Committee (with Dundurn Press). I’m also the OGS Strays Co-ordinator and Chair of the York Region Branch.

What project or event has been a highlight of your work with OGS?
I’d have to say that the project to index the Upper Canada Land Books has been the highlight (so far). When first asked to take it on, I was very hesitant – 22 large books of old-fashioned writing covering the years from 1787 to 1841 – but Cliff Collier (former Publishing Division Co-ordinator) was wonderfully supportive. The number of volunteers varied, but at one point there were 18 volunteers across Canada and the U.S. working away entering names, places and dates into WordPerfect. We started in the spring of 1997 and completed the project 9 years later. The latest project I’m very happy about is writing a book about death and burial in 19th century Ontario. The manuscript has just gone to the editor and I’m quite excited and looking forward to actually seeing it in print.

How did you become interested in genealogy?
About 30 years ago, my teenage son became interested in our family history and methodically kept track of all the answers he received from questioning his grandparents. After his interest shifted to something else, I discovered his notes and thought they were really interesting. So, on and off for the past 30 years, I’ve been picking up where my son left off.

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 was astounded to discover that part of our family history is a connection to the Irish Palatines. I had never heard about this until researching the Detlor name led me to Eula Lapp’s book “To their Heirs Forever”. This, in turn, led to a Loyalist connection.The whole history of the Irish Palatines and their coming to the States and then Canada is fascinating.

Many thanks to Susan for her years of hard work!

On Our Website: Strays Database

Monday, September 13th, 2010
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Image courtesy: Renjith krishnan, link below

There are several databases full of Ontario genealogical information available on our website through our Members Only section. Become a member to take advantage of these resources.

One of these databases is the

Strays Index

A “stray” is someone who had significant life events in more than one place, such that it is not easy to tie them all together. For example, a person may be born and married in Ontario but died in Alberta. To a genealogist working on the Ontario family, this person just disappears, with, at best, a family story that he “went west”. This is a common genealogical brick wall.

The Strays Index breaks down that brick wall. As an OGS member you have access to  the searchable index and can make use of the information found there to overcome your own genealogical brick walls.

The strays project is worldwide, with information being sent to and from other genealogical societies. The information is gathered by volunteers who during their research keep an eye out for people “from away”. The researcher fills out a strays form and sends it in. The system works because genealogists are willing to gather the information.

We have tens of thousands of strays. Some have been transcribed and are now online. The rest will go up as quickly as they can be transcribed, so remember to check the Index often.

If you are interested in contributing to this project, you can get paper reporting forms or a simple Excel spreadsheet to fill in, by e-mailing

Image: renjith krishnan /