Tuesday 30 June 2015

Time is Running Out and So Are Research Spots for 2016's Tour

This is the last chance to sign up for the 2016 Genealogy Tour to Scotland next May. There are two spaces left and they will be gone by the time the Highland Games are over in July, so if traveling to Scotland to do your genealogy research is on your bucket list, don't wait to register or you may be too late. There are no regularly scheduled tours beyond 2016. A special tour is planned for 2017 for participants of previous tours to experience a second level of research in records around the country.


The University of Dundee hosts the Centre for Archive and Information Studies program. They are currently offering a significant discount to anyone registered on the #AncestryHour website. This website is free to register and offers Forums, Live Q&A Chats, a Blog and a way to connect with others doing genealogy research. CAIS will be doing the live Q&A chat on July 16th from 7:30 - 8:30 EST and have offered a discount as part of their promotion for this event.

Scottish SIG Symposium

Join Us For A Day of Learning

The mandate of the Scottish SIG (OGS) is to provide opportunities for learning about Scottish genealogy resources. In response to this, we have committed to sponsoring an annual Symposium. This year's Symposium is scheduled for Friday, August 21, 2015 at the Courtyard Marriott in Brampton.

Included in our fees for renting the room at the Marriott we get a continental breakfast and a lunch. This is not an additional charge in your fees. Your fees are for the room rental and the payment for the three guest speakers.

This year's agenda for the Symposium is:

8:00 - Continental Breakfast

9:00 - Piping in the Procession of Speakers
       -  Welcome

9:05 - Intro by D. Bruce McCowan, St Andrews Presbyterian Church

9:20 - 10:20  Dave Naylor, Halton-Peel branch OGS, Understanding  DNA testing
10:20 - 10:30  Q&A

10:30 - 10:45 Coffee & Tea Break

10:45 - 11:45  Melissa McAfee, Special Collections, University of Guelph
Scottish Special Collections & Digitization of the Scottish Chapbooks
11:45 - 11:55  Q&A

11:55 - 12:55 Lunch

1:00 - 2:00  James Fraser, Chair, Scottish Studies Program, University of Guelph,
"Family History and the Historian: a personal story".
2:00 - 2:10 -  Q&A

2:10 - 2: 40  afternoon tea (scones & jam)

2:40 - 3:40 Christine Woodcock, genealogy educator, Scottish records,
Dinnae Waste Yer Credits Then
3:40 - 3:50  Q&A

3:50   Wrap Up


D. Bruce McCowan is a trustee of the Robert McCowan Memorial Scholarship and Co-Author of The Scots Kirk -- An Oral History of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, Scarborough. He has spoken at the Scottish Studies Conference on Lowland Emigration to Scarboroughand to genealogy groups about Scottish history and research. Bruce will be speaking to us about the early history of St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Scarborough, which was founded by some of the early Scots in the area.

Dave Naylor is the webmaster for Halton-Peel branch of the OGS and has spoken extensively on DNA for genealogy. He will be speaking to us about the different tests available and what we can learn from them.

James Fraser is the chair of the Scottish Studies Program. He will be speaking to us about his own journey in unraveling a family lore through genealogy research.

Melissa McAfee is the librarian at the Special Collections Department for the University of Guelph. She has been instrumental in digitizing and making the university's collection of Scottish Chapbooks available online. Melissa will be discussing this as well as some of the other resources of historical importance that are among the treasures of the Scottish Special Collections.

Christine Woodcock is a genealogy educator in the Scottish records. She will be speaking about the ScotlandsPeople website and will be walking you through some key points to assist you in not wasting your credits.


ScotlandsPeople are our sponsor for this event and they are supplying each attendee with 20 free credits for the ScotlandsPeople website. This is a $9 value.

In addition to the workshops, there will be ample time to browse the marketplace and to network with other attendees. Bring your brickwalls and let us see if we can assist you in chipping away at them over the lunch hour.

Here is the link to register:

We have partnered with Whova and all registrants will receive notice a week ahead of the event with an opportunity to download the SIG2015 app from Google Play or Apple. This will provide you with the agenda for the day, handouts, map to the hotel, the chance to network with other attendees via private messages, and for us as the organizers to make announcements about the day.

Tuesday 16 June 2015

History Gets Recorded in Newspapers

Yesterday I spent the day at the Ontario Archives. Since I have no Canadian ancestors, I decided to use my time trawling old newspapers.

I LOVE old newspapers. I love the writing style, the sense of the social norms, the things that became the news of the day. Things that today would be splashed across the front pages are usually found in small little boxes in among the ads.

And oh the treasure trove of genealogical information that can be gleaned from those dusty, brittle old pages.

One that actually made me laugh out loud was this man's notice that he was no longer going to be financially responsible for his former wife:

It reads:

THANK GOD my wife Susan has left my bed and board without the least cause or provocation, therefore this is to forbid all persons harbouring or trusting her on my account, as I will pay no debts of her contracting.

Wonder what Susan had been up to that prompted her to leave, and of course, what became of her after she left the marriage.

Of particular interest are the rather lengthy lists of names published under the column of "List of Letter" that were not picked up from the post office. 

And perhaps the best thing of all, is being able to see history unfold. Here is a list of people who were in support of the Confederation Bill, which had just passed its second reading in parliament. The Confederation Bill, of course, was the union of Upper and Lower Canada as one country, to be known as the Dominion of Canada, 

Interestingly, the new country was originally to be known as the "Kingdom of Canada", but our neighbours to the South were quite uneasy with that notion, so the name of the new country was changed to "Dominion of Canada"

Here's the list of supporters of the Bill:

Just 2 Research Spaces Left for May 2016 Genealogy Research Tour to Scotland

Eleven months out and the 2016 Genealogy Research Tour to Scotland is nearing capacity. Only TWO research spaces remain.

As any family history researcher will tell you, there is great excitement when you find your ancestor in a document. Tangible verification of their existence. And there is a sense of wonder when you see their signature. It is almost as if  you could reach out and touch them. 

Multiply that by infinity when you walk the streets they walked, see the houses they lived in, the factories they worked in, the churches they worshiped in. Feel the deep and lasting connection to them as you stand at their gravesite. 

These moments provide a deep sense of affinity for your ancestors. A deep appreciation of their battles and struggles. A sense of pride as they overcame in order to carry on.

All of this culminates in an irreducible sense of belonging as you come to understand not only their story but also your own history. How you came to be.

If you are ready to experience a sense of being whole, connected, belonging to your Scottish ancestors, join us on our next Genealogy Tour in May 2016.

Only 2 research spaces remain, so book before you miss out on this life-changing experience.

Book now:

Sunday 14 June 2015

Thank You, North Western New York!

I have had the privilege of speaking at two amazing events in the past month. Both in North Western New York

On May 19th, I had the fun of attending the monthly meeting for the Genesee County Genealogical Society in Batavia where I presented a talk on Researching Your Scottish Ancestors.

The meeting was well attended and loads of fun. Great group of people with lots of interesting stories. 

On June 13, I had the joy of attending a special meeting for Niagara County Genealogical Society in Lockport, where I again presented a talk on Researching Your Scottish Ancestors. What a great group! So many great questions and again lots of interesting stories. 

Thanks for the invites, NY State, and thanks for sharing the stories of your Scots ancestors with me!

Tuesday 2 June 2015

And Suddenly, It's Over

After months of anticipation and a whirlwind weekend,'s over. The annual conference of the Ontario Genealogical Society, or as it was known this year #OGSBARRIE2015 took place this past weekend.

The OGS conference is the largest in Canada and brings together like-minded individuals to learn, network and share. While the reported attendance seemed smaller than in past years, the busy-ness suggested otherwise. Unlike past years, the marketplace seemed to have a steady stream of customers, the talks were all well attended and for the first time, there were some pop-up talks, known as Fast Tracks. These were short presentations that were set up in the marketplace and which generally were a big draw. The location of these was ideal in that it meant more people were willing to make the trek to the marketplace, and that, in turn, brought more business to the marketplace, which was a plus for the vendors. 

It was wonderful to connect with people that I only know by name on Facebook - the other members of the various genealogy groups I subscribe to and who show up in my news feed on a regular basis. Thank you to those of you who made the effort to come over and say hello! 

And it was incredible to meet up with my colleagues, many again who I only know from social media or that I only get to see a couple of times a year. 

Mark Olsen, Thomas McEntee, Christine Woodcock, Lorine Massey, Dave Obee, Janet Iles, Kathryn Lake Hogan
Colby and Ryder
photo credit: Hubs Massey; Mark Olsen
What a fantastic hobby/obsession this is! I now have new genie connections, renewed genie connections and a whole new energy for the coming months. 

Plans are already underway for Conference 2016 - being hosted by the Toronto Branch. The theme is On the Cutting Edge and announcements have already been made that Judy Russell and CeCe Moore will be speaking. Conference 2016 is already shaping up to be every bit as fantastic as #OGSBARRIE2015. 

Monday 1 June 2015

OGS Barrie 2015 Banquet

On Saturday night, the OGS conference hosted a banquet which was sponsored by FamilySearch. It was great to see everyone all dressed up and having the chance to just enjoy connecting. 

The meal was fantastic, with a choice of either salmon or beef. The kids who were serving were so much fun to watch. They were high energy, engaging and efficient. 

The after dinner speaker was Dr Maurice Gleeson. He entertained us with lots of laughs in his talk about Genealogy 2020. It was fascinating to think of some of the concepts he shared in terms of where he thinks the world of genealogy will be in five years time. 

After the banquet people had the chance to hang out with friends old and new and to really relax and enjoy the company.