Archive for October, 2010

Military Historians book reading in Toronto

Friday, October 29th, 2010


Are you interested in military history?

Were your ancestors associated with the University of Toronto?

Can you be in Toronto on November 4?

If you answered yes to any of these questions (but particularly the last one), this is the event for you.

The University of Toronto Bookstore invites you to the following event:


Image: Simon Howden, link below

TORONTO, ON – In honour of Remembrance Day, University of Toronto Bookstore will honour the students, staff and faculty who were part of WWI and WWII by featuring four well known Canadian military authors, Thursday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m.  

 The event’s prominent Military Authors and Historians will read from their books, sign autographs and discuss the emotional and physical impact of war on soldiers, family, friends and the community, especially in WWI and WWII.  Jack Granatstein will be discussing The Oxford Companion to Canadian Military History; Andrew Iarocci will be reading from his book, The 1st Canadian Division at War, 1914 – 1915; Thomas Weber will read from his new book, Hitler’s First War; Denis Smyth will read the amazing story, Deadly Deception: The Real Story Behind Operation Mincemeat.

 Event Organizer, Ceri Nelmes says, “There are some remarkable stories of the UofT staff, students and faculty who did some truly amazing things during the wars. Images and artifacts from the Soldiers’ Tower will be on display and some individual stories of the 628 members of the University of Toronto who gave their lives while on active service in 1914-1918 and to the 557 men and women lost from 1939 to 1945 will be told.”


WHAT: The Human Side of War Reading Series Event
WHERE: University of Toronto Bookstore, 214 College Street, Toronto, ON, M5T 3A1
WHEN: Thursday, November 4 at 7:00 p.m.  (Doors open at 6pm)
TICKETS: $15 for general admission and includes coffee and tea.  All proceeds from ticket sales go to The University of Toronto Soldiers’ Tower.

 Visit or call 416-640-5829 for tickets and more information.

Image: Simon Howden /

Provincial Office Reopens

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

As OGS members have already been told through an exclusive OGS member e-announce…

The OGS Provincial Office is open for business once again. Our server, phones and fax machines are up and running and we have returned to our regular hours: Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 5:00 pm. 

The incident that caused us to be closed happened around 12:00 on Friday October 8th. A worker renovating the library above the office drilled through the concrete floor and into a water pipe in the ceiling of our office. Water poured into our office and knocked out the power to our server and printer, also dumping water on parts of the machines. Sarah Newitt and Marsha Brown were the staff in the office that day and they worked quickly to remove as many objects as possible from the path of the flood that rapidly covered the office with an inch of water. Beyond some pamphlets and in stock OGS publications nothing was damaged that could not be repaired.  

 The building itself sustained the most damage and required that we empty and close the office so the bottom few feet of most of the drywall could be replaced as well as part of the ceiling. These repairs and the ensuing air quality check took longer than anticipated but are finally complete. Technicians have checked and reconnected all of our electronic equipment and found they were not damaged. The contractor’s insurance will pay for the expenses incurred as a result of this. 

 If you have recently sent us an email that bounced back to you, please try again. The server was unable to receive messages during our closed period and we would like to make sure we do get your email. 

 Thank you once again for your patience and support during this period. We are happy to be returning to normal and look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at the office.

Plan your next family reunion at the library

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

One benefit of genealogy is that the researcher often comes across new family members. And even if they don’t, learning family stories can leave a genealogist with the desire to get the whole family together and talk about the history.

If you’re considering planning such a family reunion, the OGS provincial library has books to help you organize an event that runs smoothly and is fun for all involved.

The Family Reunion Sourcebook. By Edith Wagner. 1999.
This is a ten chapter book describing the process of organizing a family reunion. The author addresses topics such as food, venues and activities and advises planners not to work alone. the book also touches on more difficult topics such as determining who should be invited and how the event should be paid for. Planning and budgeting resources are included in the appendix.

Family Reunion Handbook: a complete guide to reunion planning. Tom Ninkovich. 1998.
This book offers detailed advice for organizing a family reunion. With chapters labelled “Keeping Records”, “Mailing/Postage”, and “Special Places for Family Reunions” the book includes diagrams and visual examples of planning and publicity tools. At the back of the book are stories of successful family reunions.

Your Family Reunion: how to plan it, organize it and enjoy it. By George G. Morgan. 2001.
This book focuses on the pre-planning of a reunion describing what to expect from different sixed families and touching on topics such as budgeting, publicity and permits and licenses for the event. The book shares web resources and strategies as well as offline ones. Two chapters describe activities for the reunion including advice on the pursuit of genealogy during the event. A series of worksheets at the back of the book are designed to help the planner through the process.

Find these books in our Library Catalogue and then request them at the library.

On Our Website: Wall of Ancestors

Monday, October 18th, 2010
web address graphic

Image courtesy: Renjith krishnan, link below

There are several resources 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 resources is the

Wall of Ancestors

During Conference 2009, held in Oakville from the 29 to the 31 of May, 2009 and hosted by Halton-Peel Branch OGS, a Wall of Ancestors display was set up and maintained by volunteers from Hamilton Branch OGS.

Conference attendees could post a small notice requesting information about people to help them with their genealogical research. During the conference, many people visited this display and made notes of those who could possible help them with their research.

There were more than 800 cards posted during the conference with more than 960 entries.

Now, you can search this valuable database of information. These postings provide a great resource for people searching for information about their ancestors. You may find others who are looking for people who are in your own research files. Maybe you will discover a long-lost cousin and the two of you can blend your information to make a more complete story of your families.

Image: renjith krishnan /

Service disruption at provincial office

Saturday, October 9th, 2010
Due to an incident on October 8th, 2010 caused by the ongoing renovations in the library above OGS provincial office, the office is operating at reduced capacity and may take longer than usual to respond to your correspondence and requests. We ask for your patience and understanding as we work to resolve the situation and return to our usual level of service. 
Updates will follow.
Thank you very much and Happy Thanksgiving!

Interview with a Volunteer: Lynn Gainer

Friday, October 8th, 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.


My name is Lynn Scott Gainer & I am the Chair of the Sudbury District Branch – OGS.  I have been a member of OGS for over thirty years & am quite proud of my OGS # 6018!

I suspect that my interest in genealogy was peaked when my maternal grandmother gave me a small white family bible for my confirmation into the United Church. Inside was a pedigree chart that I immediately began filling in and quizzing my parents about.  Unfortunately, at some point, I dropped it and it was run over by a car but being the packrat that I am – I still have it!

When I was about 14, my paternal Granny provided me with a typed story entitled “Looking Backwards”.  Written by Granny’s 86 year old aunt, it detailed the family’s reason for leaving England, their voyage and her exciting life in Canada (Including of course an Indian encounter while she & her husband worked on the Northern Railway).  Now I was really hooked.

Gary Peck began the OGS Branch in Sudbury in 1979.  A year later, when I attended my first meeting, I was asked to be the new chair.  Not knowing what I was getting myself into, I accepted. Let me tell you, that’s the way to get your feet wet.

In 1983, only four years later, Sudbury hosted the Annual OGS Conference at Laurentian University to celebrate Sudbury’s Centennial & boasted 300 participants who thoroughly enjoyed our theme, “Many Cultures – Many Heritages”.  All this was done with a team of only 13 dedicated members! 

Next we assisted the local LDS Church whose members asked for assistance in obtaining an LDS- Branch Library. Once that was accomplished we put our heads together to figure out how to set it up as boxes of micro-fiche arrived. Members undertook the country they were most interested in – used genealogical information they had proof of and then figured out how to find that same information in the LDS records.  That is how we learned & then were able to instruct others in how to use this amazing resource.  A true treasure for those of us in the North. Over these many years we have shared an extraordinary working relationship with members of the LDS church and Family History Library.

 I have worn many Branch hats over the years, and have involved myself in speaking to interested groups including classrooms presentations, beginner classes, workshops, conferences, church groups and just about any society that has shown an interest in genealogy.

Sudbury Branch has transcribed cemeteries, funeral home records, educated the public as well as our members with interesting speakers, fundraising events and publications. We have made a difference in the way Sudbury sees its past and we know that the future will hold many new projects.

What genealogical adventure or discovery have I most enjoyed?  I could tell you about my trip to Salt Lake City where my husband attended a work conference & I carried all my binders on the plane with me in case they got lost! Maybe the multitude of stories when finding interesting relatives all over the world.  Especially newly retired Dr, Tom Madden, MD, who at age 80 posted his surname on line after

being told by his kids to “get a hobby “, before he drove them crazy! Or possibly Bill Donovan who lives in North Dakota and writes poetry about our ancestors.  He sends me wonderful letters and gifts. I called Bill after a distant relative gave me a letter that Bill had written to them 3 years prior (They had never responded).  He was amazed when I called after so many years, offering him all the Canadian information he needed and he too was just as anxious to share his US connections with me. There have been many connections over many continents, all wonderful – even those who turned out not be related!

 Meeting and corresponding with these folks through phone conversations, letters and in person has been truly a pleasure! 

But, I’d have to say that I felt the most excitement and then sorrow when I discovered after her death, that my maternal “Nanny”, who had shared a bed with me until I was 14 years old, was a Home Child! 

In 1901 at age 12, she & her three sisters aged 14, 10 & 8 were sent to Canada by the Dr Barnardo Home after their mother died tragically in a house fire.  Unable to look after all 10 children, their father had placed these four youngest and given the 4 year old to his brother to raise.  It was so sad for my mother & all the families of these four women to learn of their mothers’ history.  Not one had told of their sad beginnings in Canada.  Thankfully the Barnardo Home was more than helpful in sharing photos and the family history with me and we are so excited to finally see that the Canadian Government has declared 2010 The Year of the British Home Child in Canada.  I will be at Libraries & Archives Canada for the reception this September and expect a few tears when we finally see these children recognized.

I am so thankful to the OGS for the work that they have done over the years to promote genealogical research and protect our historical resources.  Bringing together experts to speak and instruct at our yearly conferences and to be there for the Branches encouraging us to do the same in our areas.

What wonderful people I have worked with, corresponded with and grown to love.  What exciting stories we have shared.  As a beginner once said to me on finding her grandparents signatures on a marriage certificate from the 1800’s “Lynn, do you get this overwhelmed when you find something?”  My answer, “ For sure, I get this overwhelmed when you find something!” 

Genealogy – I love it!

- Lynn (Scott) Gainer

Many thanks to Lynn for her hard work and enthusiasm over the years!

Artistic Family Histories, at the library

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

One of the most common ways genealogists present their research is by writing a book. The library has many books on the subject of writing your family history, but this is not the only way to share the fruits of your research.  The provincial library has a few books covering other creative ways to present your family history to others.

Scrapbook Storytelling: save family stories and memories with photos, journaling and your own creativity. By Joanna Campbell Slan. 1999.
This book offers instructions and tips for presenting your family history as a story scrapbook. It has a workbook component to help you create a plan and describes what items to save and include as well as techniques on how to craft your book.

The Art of the Family Tree: creative family history projects using paper art, fabric and collage. By Jenn Mason. 2007. 
This book shares ideas and techniques for visually displaying your family history through the use of 3 dimensional trees, decorative journals and collages. Many examples of artistic expression are shown to inspire the family tree artist in all of us: tree mobiles, topiary family trees, wreaths, sculpture, and more. If you’re looking for an alternative way to present your family tree, this book is for you.

Crafting Your Own Heritage Album. By Bev Kirschner Braun. 1998.
 Like the first book, this book is a guide to sharing your family history as a carefully crafted scrapbook. This book focuses more on organizing your materials and using archival quality supplies to preserve and store the records of your family heritage. It also shares creative presentation techniques and general genealogical advice.

Find these books and more at the OGS Provincial Library

On Our Website: IOOF Insurance Database

Monday, October 4th, 2010
web address graphic

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

 IOOF Insurance Papers Database

Between 1875 and 1929, the Independent Order of Oddfellows (IOOF) operated a life insurance program. Approximately 60,000 men from all across Canada applied. The program was eventually operated by Empire Life, who held all the application forms. A few years ago Empire Life gave these application forms to the OGS. We have spent nearly four years indexing these forms.

As a member of the Ontario Genealogical Society you can search the index to these forms. It contains: an applicant’s last and first names, his date of birth, the community he was living in when he applied, the province, the policy number, and the policy date.

Once you have found a name you are interested in, you can apply to us for the application form itself.

The actual application form contains a great deal more information about the applicant including health information, marital status, occupation, beneficiary of the policy, number of siblings, and a health status of siblings, parents, and grandparents. It also includes the signature of the applicant and may include interesting attachments.

We can (for a modest fee) send you a copy of any application form that is more than 100 years old.

This information could be very useful to someone researching their family history.

Please note: The presence of medical information in the application forms and the associated privacy concerns with regards to medical information mean that we cannot make available any forms that were created less than 100 years ago. These forms will become available as the 100 year mark is passed.

Image: renjith krishnan /

Ontario Genealogy this Month: October

Friday, October 1st, 2010

 Here are some genealogy activities and events happening around Ontario this month:

 October 9th – Researching Canadian Military Records Using Online and Traditional Resources
Discover which Canadian military records are available for different time frames and for different military conflicts, where those records are, how to access them, plus tips and hints for interpreting Canadian military documents. Case studies, compiled by using internet based and physical records, will illustrate effective strategies, research processes and results.
Instructor:  Rick Roberts
Fee: $15 ($17)
For More information: Toronto Branch Website

 October 9 – 16 - Celtic Quest Research Trip to Dublin, Ireland. If you’ve signed up for genealogist Dick Doherty’s genealogical trip to Ireland, have a fantastic and illuminating journey! If you have not, you can find more information  on the Celtic Quest website and in the brochure

 October 13 – Region 10 Annual General Meeting. This regional AGM is being held in Sault Ste. Marie Ontario

 November 13 & 20 – Publish Before You Perish
This course will outline the steps required to publish your family history in a printed book format. Where do you start? Learn how to plan, prepare and print the story of your family. Topics include: organizing material, designing a layout, creating maps, merging text and images, obtaining an ISBN number and library catalogue entry, choosing a publisher, marketing your book.
Prerequisite: Participants should be familiar with word processing concepts.
Instructor:  Nancy Conn
Fee: $30 ($33)
For More information: Toronto Branch Website

 October 14 – Dinner Celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the Niagara Penninsula Branch, OGS. This celebratory dinner is being held at Betty’s Restaurant in Niagara Falls and features guest speaker Kevin James of Ancestors in the Attic speaking on “Skeletons in the Closet” and “On the Trail of Dark Family Secrets”
Tickets are $25.00
Contact Niagara Branch by email:

 October 16 – Region I Annual Meeting. This meeting is being hosted by Lambton Branch in Wyoming Ontario. Guest speakers include, Lesley Anderson, Alan Campbell, George Pitfield and Brad Grey.
Check out the description for more information

 October 20 – Beyond the Basics Course (4 sessions). Have you lost momentum in your genealogical research? Struck a “brick wall”? This course will offer you an opportunity to look at your research assumptions and rethink your analysis of problem situations so that you can generate new research goals and tasks. The classes will be discussion-oriented and content will be geared towards the interests and needs of the participants. To that end, we are requesting that you register early and, if possible, submit some of your genealogical problems two or three weeks in advance of the class start date.
4 sessions, Wednesdays, 6:15–8:15 PM Oct. 20–Nov. 10
Instructor:  Ruth Burkholder
Fee: $60 ($66)
For More information: Toronto Branch Website

 October 23 – Hamilton Branch 40th Anniversary Luncheon. Celebrate 40 years of Hamilton Branch at this wonderful afternoon lunch an enjoy guest speaker, Brian Gilchrist.
Tickets: $20
View the invitation for more information

 October 23 – 24 -British Home Children Descendants Reunion. 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. 
For more information, visit
As seen on the blog: Celebrate the Year of the Home Child with Brant County

Have a genealogy event you would like us to share? Contact Provincial Office