Meetings Held in 2011


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January 15, 2011 -- "My Interesting Ancestor, Part 1" -- Four branch members -- Nancy Cutway, Douglas Morren, Art Sparks, and Ned Chown -- spoke about a particularly interesting ancestor.

February 19, 2011 -- "Restoring Old Monuments: How Art Conservators Use Reflectance Transformation Imaging to Read Degraded Surfaces." -- George Bevan, assistant professor of Classics at Queen's University, assisted by a fourth-year Classics student, gave a fascinating presentation on their work to use this emerging technology to make unreadable characters readable. (Professor Alexander Gabov was regretfully unable to attend.) While their research normally focuses on archaeological sites, this technique can also apply to local tombstones.

This particular research project focused on some of the oldest tombstones in Cataraqui Cemetery, Kingston. George and his students photographed a number of unreadable and barely readable tombstones, then applied the imaging technology to draw out the characters on the stones. Their presentation showed the exciting results of their work as the characters on the stones appeared before our eyes. As an additional step in the project, a student used the death records at the Archives of Ontario to flesh out gaps in the newly found information.

George gave us a list of the equipment we would need to carry out the photography ourselves, as well as the cost. It is intriguing that an integral part of the equipment is a red or black billiard ball. (It provides excellent reflectance.)

You can read more about the technology at George Bevan's blog.

March 19, 2011 -- "My Interesting Ancestor, Part 2." Branch members Paul Juniper, Paul Woodrow and Joyce Fingland spoke about their particularly interesting ancestor. All gave fascinating talks, accompanied by well-organized slide presentations.

April 16, 2011 - Region VIII AGM and Genealogy Day. This day-long event was held at Edith Rankin Memorial United Church, a facility which provided sufficient room for each branch and non-OGS group within Region 8 to have tables displaying their books and other materials. Registrants attended from all parts of eastern Ontario plus some members from the Toronto area. There were three speakers:

May 21, 2011 -- "Google for Genealogists". Nancy Cutway presented a webinar recorded in January by Thomas MacEntee of High-Def Genealogy and Geoff Rasmussen of Legacy Family Tree which demonstrated how genealogists can use Google for much more than searching for an individual name. Further details can be found at the Legacy web site.

September 17, 2011 -- "150 Years on the Railroad". William E. Boulton gave an interesting talk on the Grand Trunk Railroad's history in eastern Ontario, illustrated with photos of original stations and some workers. He mentioned that 14,000 men were employed in building the Canada West GTR line; and that in the 1900s, the Belleville Roundhouse had over 1,000 workers servicing up to 34 trains at once.

(By the way, your webmaster asked why train men always are shown wearing a red bandanna. The answer was, so they could pull it up over their nose and mouth to filter out dust and smoke. The colour might not matter, although red would show up better if they had to use it to flag another train.)

October 15, 2011 -- "The Canadian Heraldic Authority". Deputy Chief Herald of Canada Bruce Patterson proved that heraldry can be fascinating, artistic and witty. He explained various technical aspects of a coat of arms, and showed some historic examples as well as more modern ones created by the Canadian Heraldic Authority, established in 1988. You can learn more about their work -- and find out how you might be able to apply for your own coat of arms -- here.

November 19, 2011 -- "The Role of the American Civil War in Canada's Confederation". Paul Van Nest, a member of Kingston's Civil War Roundtable, explained how events beginning in 1861 led the British colonies to unite for greater strength to resist a potential invasion from the south. After the Union defeat at the Battle of Bull Run, Britain sent 2400 troops to Canada, thereby increasing their number to three soldiers per mile of border (up from two!). The arduous trek fron New Brunswick to the end-of-railroad in Quebec -- via sleighs across hundreds of miles of snow in the winter -- made the British government aware of just how vulnerable their supply and defensive lines were, and that led to the Charlottetown Conference in 1864 that started movement toward Canadian Confederation. Paul also mentioned Confederate spies operating in Canada and raiding into the northern states.
      Over 50,000 Canadian-born men served in the Civil War. Many had been in the US for decades; others came for the $200 signing bonus (enough money in those days to buy a farm). Twenty-nine Canadian-born men won the Medal of Honor, and a Canadian serving in a Michigan cavalry regiment, John A. Huff, killed the great Confederate general Jeb Stuart.
      For further reading about Canada and the U.S. Civil War, Paul recommended The Civil War Years: Canada and the United States by Robin W. Winks (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2nd edition, 1999), as well as magazines such as Blue and Gray, North and South, and The Civil War Times.


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A condensed version of the speaker's presentation from each meeting is also published in our newsletter, Kingston Relations. All members of Kingston Branch receive a copy of our newsletter through the mail. Find out how you can join Kingston Branch and regularly receive your own copy of our newsletter.

We welcome you to join us at our next meeting.