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Upcoming Talks

Oct
3
Tue
8:15 pm Basic Genealogy and Family History
Basic Genealogy and Family History
Oct 3 @ 8:15 pm – 10:15 pm
This 8-week evening course is on Tuesdays from October 3 to November 21. The course is designed for those just beginning to research or looking to upgrade basic research skills. The course will cover terminology,[...]
Oct
28
Sat
10:00 am Oakville Family History Fair
Oakville Family History Fair
Oct 28 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
OAKVILLE’S FIRST ANNUAL FAMILY HISTORY FAIR 10:00am to 4:00pm At 2:30pm, I will speak on: City and Rural Directories for Family History Research. Directories are a major source for family historians, particularly in North America.[...]
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Taking care of their own: Ethnic benevolent societies in Ontario

Established in the 1830s and before, societies like St. Andrew’s, St. George’s, St. Patrick’s and many other ethnic-based benevolent organizations provided guidance, financial and social support for their countrymen and women arriving in Canada. The list below was compiled as I was researching a presentation for the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Conference 2017, “Welcoming Newcomers: Canada’s

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St. Andrew’s Societies in Ontario: A look at the records

St. Andrew’s Societies were formed in many Ontario communities by Scottish settlers and their descendants. They helped new immigrants, provided fellowship, preserved Scots values and culture, and in some cases provided security and support for their members.

St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, unofficial home of the non-denominational Toronto St. Andrew’s Society. Photo by James Esson,

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Big indexes to consider for every Ontario ancestor

Tried and true genealogy research techniques tell us to start with what we know—and to make previously done research and indexed records a priority. But more records are being indexed almost daily, and it is hard to keep track of what’s out there. This list was compiled for a session at the Ontario Genealogical Society’s

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Genealogy “Summer Camp” 2015

I’m pleased to announce that after a one-year hiatus, “Summer Camp” will return this year, starting with a get-together on Sunday evening, June 7, and running until Friday, June 12.

Genealogy Summer Campers are on the move every day of this innovative week long program. Each day, participants will travel as a group on public

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Toronto Customs House Records

As mentioned in the previous post, the Archives of Ontario holds more than 2,600 collections or fonds of private documents—some amazing, fascinating things that I love to dip into from time to time.

The Toronto Customs House fonds (F 214) is one of these private fonds. The Archives Descriptive Database tells us that the Lt.-Gov.

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The Archives of Ontario… How do I find what’s in it for me?

While most family historians are comfortable—or at least familiar—with libraries and their filing systems, archives are very different matter. Many of us will have never visited any archives before we became family historians.

Libraries, museums and archives have complementary roles. Generally, libraries collect published material (books, microform, published sound and visual recordings, and digital publications).

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Inheritance Interrupted: Estate files during WWI

This past weekend, I spoke at Gene-O-Rama, the annual conference of the Ottawa Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. My topic for the keynote lecture was “Inheritance Interrupted: World War I reflected in Ontario Estate Files”.

Over the last few months, in preparation for the talk, I’ve dug pretty deeply into records spanning 1914 to

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A Stab at Chancery Court Records

In contrast to the last couple of posts, where I’ve attempted to lead you step by step through a set of records, this time I’m writing about records that mystify me. I can’t give you a straightforward route into them, because I haven’t found one. I have used chancery court records, and I’ve been lucky

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Finding an 1896 estate file in York County: A step-by-step example, part 2

In part one, we started with the 1895 death of prominent Toronto tobacconist Joab Scales and located his name in the indexes produced by the York County Surrogate Court. When we were unable to decipher the illegible grant number, we consulted the court’s register to find it. We took the newly found grant number 11255

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Finding an 1896 estate file in York County: a step-by-step example

Most Ontario counties have published indexes to estate files for the period 1859 to 1900, and some indexes go beyond those dates. But York County is an exception to the rule. It was the most populous county, containing the City of Toronto, and the prospect of creating a modern index was, and is, daunting. Those

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