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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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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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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,

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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

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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

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The Legacy of Magnus Shewan or “The Will in the Way”, part two

In the last episode, we learned about Toronto bookseller Magnus Shewan’s death in 1884 and that his niece Mrs. Fraser was surprised when she tried to claim her inheritance—at least according to the Toronto Daily News.

The Globe published a death notice on February 5, 1884:

DIED/ Suddenly, on Monday morning, Feb 4th, Magnus Shewan,

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The Legacy of Magnus Shewan or “The Will in the Way”

Sometimes it is what is left out of a will—intentionally or not—that provides the intriguing story.

Magnus Shewan was a Toronto bookseller who operated a shop in the arcade of St. Lawrence Market from about 1845, and from about 1862, on King Street. At the time of his death on February 4, 1884, the bookstore

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A story… from one record

The best thing we can do to get to the truth of an historical event or to understand an ancestor’s life is to look at all the information available. All the documentation we can get our hands on. All the background we can learn about the family, social, political, economic, even meteorological events that were

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