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Upcoming Talks

Feb
1
Thu
4:00 pm Hands-on Early Ontario Land Records
Hands-on Early Ontario Land Records
Feb 1 @ 4:00 pm – Feb 15 @ 7:00 pm
A THREE-WEEK COURSE ON THURSDAYS: FEBRUARY 1, 8 AND 15. An enormous amount of information about the people and families who lived in early Ontario survives in land records. The records of the Crown Lands[...]
May
17
Thu
7:00 pm The Search for Alban Leaf
The Search for Alban Leaf
May 17 @ 7:00 pm
The Search for Alban Leaf @ Uxbridge Public Library | Uxbridge | Ontario | Canada
MEETING OF UXBRIDGE GENEALOGY GROUP This presentation demonstrates the use of many English record types—in a period well before census and civil registration. The search for the subject of this case history, Londoner Alban Leaf[...]
Sep
25
Tue
7:00 pm Life on the Farm
Life on the Farm
Sep 25 @ 7:00 pm
Life on the Farm @ Wellington County Museum and Archives | Fergus | Ontario | Canada
LIFE ON THE FARM: YOUR ANCESTOR’S PLACE IN ONTARIO AGRICULTURE Meeting of Wellington County Branch OGS We often think of farming as a traditional occupation—something that hasn’t really changed much. But that is not and[...]
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Braving the complexities of Toronto land records: Part 1

Plan 43, registered 26 Oct 1852. This certified copy from the Toronto LRO was made 15 Jan 1953. I’ve added the red box to show area covered by the later Plan 356.

Toronto land records are not for the faint of heart. In the city, Upper Canada’s standard 200-acre farm lots were replaced by

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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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The Other Directories: Society Blue Books

My ancestors were not listed in anybody’s “blue book.” Nevertheless, blue books or society registers provide a fascinating glimpse into the way the other half lived, and to which my relatives may have aspired.

Selected blue books in the Marilyn & Charles Baillie Special Collections Centre at Toronto Reference Library

Why blue? Blue seems

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My accidental encounter with Reverend John Saltkill Carroll

I feel a little guilty using John Carroll’s colourful middle name, because I know he didn’t like it. But it makes him easy to identify and there’s a good story behind it, so I’m confident that he’d understand. More about that later.

In November 2016, I became part owner of an oil painting of Rev.

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A picture of Ontario farming in 1881

As part of the preparation for my presentation “Agriculture: Was Your Ancestor on the Cutting Edge?” at the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Conference 2016, I spent days reading a government report—five lengthy volumes. Sounds like fun, eh? Actually, I was riveted. Just ask the friends and relatives who happened to talk to me during those days—and

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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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Exploring the Lennox and Addington Archives

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to visit the new Lennox and Addington County Museum and Archives in Napanee. I’d been asked to do a presentation for the local historical society there, and well, who can resist an archives!

I have no ancestry in the area, and although my interests in Ontario history are

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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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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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A tale of two Isaac Gilberts

In my last post, I showed you a sample of the fascinating papers of the Honourable David William Smith[1], Upper Canada’s first Surveyor General, in anticipation of a lecture at the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2014. The conference and the talk are now history themselves.

Letter to Surveyor General D.W. Smith from Secretary to

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