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LIFE ON THE FARM: YOUR ANCESTOR’S PLACE IN ONTARIO AGRICULTURE Meeting of Uxbridge Genealogy Group We often think of farming as a traditional occupation—something that hasn’t really changed much. But that is not and was[...]
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Genealogy Summer Camp 2012 rides into the sunset

The invasion is over! Well, it was a small invasion—ten Genealogy Summer Campers and their camp leaders visited archives and libraries all across Toronto last week.

Genealogy Summer Camp started on Sunday, August 12, with a picnic supper in the peaceful quad of the University of Toronto’s Massey College. We met the campers, who came from Alberta, Michigan, and various locations around Ontario. They got to know each other a bit and we discussed plans for the week. Their mission was to relax and absorb what each research facility had to offer—to focus on the process rather that on a list of results—to be willing to follow the clues as they presented themselves.

Monday took the group to the Toronto Reference Library. We focused on city directories, the Library’s biographical card index, and manuscripts and images in the Baldwin Room. City directories are an important first step in Toronto research and the Toronto Reference Library’s hard copies are the easiest to use.

On Tuesday, we headed north on the Spadina line and the York University Rocket bus to the Archives of Ontario. It was a busy day with tutorials on using the Archives, researching Ontario birth, marriage, and death records, and probate records. It was a good thing the AO was open until 8:00.

On Wednesday, the group divided for the morning and then again at noon, each camper visiting one or two of four denominational archives. There was lots of travel, but thanks to the wonderful efforts of staff at the archives, all the campers had a fruitful day. Some of the campers, who ended the day at the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Archives, adjourned to the St. Lawrence Market for refreshments and then visited Toronto Branch members who were transcribing grave markers at St. James Cemetery that evening.

On Thursday, we headed up the Yonge line to North York Central Library’s Canadiana Department. Canadiana also houses the Ontario Genealogical Society’s library, so cemetery transcriptions were a major research focus. In the afternoon, most of the group headed back to the Archives of Ontario for a tutorial on land records and another opportunity to research until 8:00 pm.

On our final day, Friday, we headed to the newly renovated City of Toronto Archives just north of Dupont station. Campers dug into assessment rolls, valiantly figuring out wards and street indexes. The digitized insurance maps, and magnificent photo collections were also well used. At noon, we headed back to the Archives of Ontario for another afternoon delving into its records, and an informal get-together to end the week.

I was exhausted, but very glad to be part of the happy, relaxed group. They seemed to have enjoyed the chase, as well as appreciating the results. And that was the point.

Many thanks to Ron Junkin who helped me and the Summer Campers all week, and to Ruth Burkholder who helped us ride “madly off in all directions”* on Wednesday. And a very special thanks to the staff at all the libraries and archives, who once a year allow us to run them ragged. They greet us with welcoming smiles and represent their institutions and Toronto so very well.

* Stephen Leacock in “Gertrude the Governess”, Nonsense Novels, 1911. []

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