Categories

Want to know when I write?

Upcoming Events

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[...]
Oct
22
Mon
7:30 pm Welcoming Newcomers
Welcoming Newcomers
Oct 22 @ 7:30 pm
Welcoming Newcomers @ Lansing United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
WELCOMING NEWCOMERS: CANADA’S ETHNIC BENEVOLENT SOCIETIES Meeting of Toronto Branch OGS Established in the 1830s and before, societies like St. Andrew’s, St. George’s, St. Patrick’s and many other ethnic-based organizations provided guidance, financial and social[...]
website security

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

Continue reading A tale of two Isaac Gilberts

A Toronto farm, 1799-1800

Over the last six months or so, I’ve been digging into the papers of the Honourable David William Smith, Upper Canada’s first Surveyor General, part of the amazing manuscript holdings of the Toronto Reference Library.[1] I’ve dipped into this intriguing collection several times before, but this time I’ve systematically opened every Hollinger box and file

Continue reading A Toronto farm, 1799-1800

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

Continue reading Inheritance Interrupted: Estate files during WWI

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

Continue reading A Stab at Chancery Court Records

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

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

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

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

The life and times of Maude Scales Darby

Sometimes you meet the most interesting people completely by accident. I met Maude Scales Darby in the April 1, 1914, edition of the Toronto World. Of course, I was looking for something entirely different when I stumbled upon her obituary.

Obituary for Maude Scales Darby from the Toronto World on 1 April 1914.

Maude

Continue reading The life and times of Maude Scales Darby

Hot off the press: Inheritance in Ontario

Very pleased to find a box from Dundurn Press at my door last week—the first copies of my new book Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and Other Records for Family Historians.

The book covers wills and related records from 1763 (well before “Ontario” existed) up to current records. For novices and researchers new to Ontario records,

Continue reading Hot off the press: Inheritance in Ontario

The Legacy of Magnus Shewan or “The will in the way”, part three

This is the third and final episode, in which I speculate wildly on the reasons for the animosity between Toronto bookseller Magnus Shewan and his niece Margaret Fraser. If you’re new to the story, it will all make more sense if you read Part 1 and Part 2 first.

In the last episode, we read

Continue reading The Legacy of Magnus Shewan or “The will in the way”, part three

Ma Owned the Farm…

Yesterday morning I spoke at Richmond Hill Public Library as part of its series on “Women in 19th Century Ontario”. I highly recommend the rest of the lectures in this series: Janice Nickerson on March 30 on Women in the Upper Canadian Criminal Justice System; Guylaine Petrin on April 27 on Treason, Bigamy and Adultery

Continue reading Ma Owned the Farm…