Thursday 24 September 2015

Lesser Known Databases For Scottish Research - Halton-Peel Branch OGS

On Sunday, Sept 27th, I will be speaking to the Halton-Peel branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society on Lesser Known Databases for Scottish Genealogy Research.

The meeting takes place at the Oakville Public Library on Third Line at 2 pm. If you are in the area, drop by for some learning, networking and great craic! Hope to see you there.

BHC Day Saturday Sept 26 & 27

This weekend, Sept 26 - 27, the British Home Child Group International ( will be at Fanshawe Pioneer Village in London as part of the Doors Open Event. 

People will be on hand to assist you with your genealogy research. There will be an open mic so that you can share the story of your BHC ancestor with others in attendance. There are LOTS of door prizes to be won and the event is FREE!

The cafe at the Pioneer Village will be offering a three course meal for $14 on both Saturday and Sunday. 

Sandra Joyce will be launching her new children's book "Trees and Rocks, Rocks and Trees"

Claire Halstead will be on hand on Sunday to talk about the Child Evacuees.

Former Home Boys George Beardman and Cecil Hewitt will also be on hand on Sunday. 

This is a family event and we look forward to seeing you there. 

Tuesday 22 September 2015

Lesser Known Databases for Scottish Genealogy Research Talk

I will be at the Halton-Peel branch of the OGS on Sunday, September 27th at 2pm. I will be speaking on: 

Lesser Known Databases for Scottish Genealogy Research
Beginner/Intermediate Level

Description: There comes a time when you have done all of the online researching you can do using the standard databases. In this workshop you will learn of lesser known databases to assist in breaking through your brick walls. These include:

  • FindMyPast
  • Deceased Online
  • British Newspaper Archives
  • Emigration Databases
  • Military Databases
  • Poor Law Records
  • Medieval Ancestry
  • Local, Offline resources

Abstract: Scotland is a world leader when it comes to preserving their national history and national memory. Archivists all over the country are working to conserve, preserve, digitize and make available records that can be used for genealogical research. This lecture will assist you in learning where you might find information on your Scots ancestor that will help you to fill in their story and add to your understanding of their social history.

The meeting takes place at the Oakville Public Library 1415 Third Line in Oakville.

Hope to see you there!

Cracking the Top 10 on Three Lists!

Last week was a whirlwind of announcements and congratulatory messages as the Genealogy Rock Star Award winners were announced. In addition, I was trying to get ready for the BIFHSGO conference in Ottawa. As a result, I didn't get to share the full results (for ME anyway) from the various announcements last week. 

The awards are issued according to where your voters reside. 

I took SILVER in the Canadian Awards

I made the top 10 list for Scotland, England and Wales, placing 9th

I made the top 10 list for the British Commonwealth, placing 6th

I feel terribly honoured by the outpouring of support by the voters. And I feel deeply humbled by being on the same lists as some of the best in the genealogy world. 

Although the words seem over used, I really do mean it when I say:

REMINDER for Scottish Genealogy Research Webinar TOMORROW Night

Sept 23: Scottish Genealogy Research Basics
7:00 pm Eastern

This 90 minute webinar will get you well and truly started on your researching your Scottish ancestors. In addition, you will learn about a number of resources that are helpful in researching Scottish ancestry. Included are:

- where to start
- why the ScotlandsPeople website is critical to your research
- why geography is important
- Old Parish Records vs Statutory Records
- Census Records
- Records of Corrected Entry
- Citing Sources
- Scottish Naming Pattern
- Scottish Marriages
- National Archives and what is available for Scottish genealogy
- National Library and what is available for Scottish genealogy
- Local Archives for genealogy research
- University Archives for genealogy research
- Using Newspapers for genealogy research
- Scottish Family History Societies

Cost for 90 minute webinar: $19.95

To register:

If you are not able to attend the "live" event, you can register and pay and you will then get up to 30 days to access the recording of the webinar. 

BIFHSGO Conference 2015 Was a BLAST!

Just back from the 21st annual conference of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa. This year's conference themes were: Scottish Research, Technology in Genealogy and Photography. 

The three different streams allowed for attendees who were across a broad spectrum of topics, making it about more than just the country their ancestors emigrated from. It also allowed a nice variety of speakers. 

I had two in-depth pre-conference seminars on the Friday. The were just too much fun. We spent the morning really digging in to the basics of Scottish genealogy research. In the afternoon, we walked through the website for Scottish research, This included some live searches for the last half hour or so. 

On Friday evening I was treated to dinner by Ed Zapletal of Moorhead Magazines (Internet Genealogy and Your Genealogy Today and his wife, Lynne. It was a great night with lots and lots of laughter as well as great food. 

I had the chance to hang out with Thomas McEntee between sessions on Saturday. We had a blast. 

Saturday night was a pay-as-you-go dinner which took Thomas and I by surprise. We patiently waited at the venue after the conference ended, being told that the dinner was an hour later. We arrived, what we thought was 15 minutes early to find there were only two seats left (at different tables and on opposite sides of the room). This meant we didn't get a chance to visit with people we had hoped to catch up with during the conference. Not only were we seated with a table of unknowns, many people in the room were already eating!

After dinner, I headed over to the airport to await the arrival of Chris Paton who was coming up from his gig in Toronto. I knew I was early, but was looking forward to some down time and the chance to read. No sooner in the door of the airport than I received a message from Chris that his flight was delayed by half an hour. No...wait...hold that delayed 45 minutes. Every time I looked at the arrival board, the time got later and later. In the end, it was 75 minutes delayed. Not to mention the 25 minutes waiting for the luggage to be unloaded. While I often feel very connected to Chris through social media, I rarely get a chance to see him, so it was nice to have the chance to get caught up with him even if it was around a luggage carousel. 

Sunday was another full day and once Thomas and I were finally able to drag Rock Star Chris Paton away from his adoring public, he made the very astute observation that it was "Beer O'Clock" The three of us found a lovely, homey wee pub a block or so away from the hotel and enjoyed a cold one, a wee nosh and some brilliant, brilliant craic. 

Thank you Ottawa. Thank you BIFHSGO. Thank you to my colleagues for making the weekend such a fun time and for making the conference such a terrific one. 

Wednesday 16 September 2015

Top Ten Canadian Genealogists Are .....Well.... NOT CANADIAN

This has been a week of celebration in the Genea-World. The annual Rock Star Genealogy Awards have been announced. This is a "People's Choice" of Genealogy awards, thanks to John Reid of Anglo Celtic Connections ( John has rounded up nominations across the genealogy globe, has hosted online voting, and most importantly, has tallied the results.

Some genies don't like the awards. They find them frivolous, not adding value to the profession, perhaps even 'tacky', But those of us who were nominated have been delighted. We have unabashedly engaged in self-promotion, have crossed our fingers, toes, eyes and waited with baited breath for the winners to be announced. What we also understand is that this "People's Choice" award, whether a nomination, a top 10 placement, or a win, adds credence to our genealogy repertoire in terms of getting speaking engagements. Attendees at such talks have spoken by their vote and have let the planning committees of the genealogy and local history societies know who is popular, who will draw a crowd to their event and who will be engaging enough to hold the audience's attention. So, thank you John, for allowing all of us this opportunity. 

The categories are International, US, Canada, UK (Scotland, England, Wales), Ireland, Australia/New Zealand and DNA. The winners in each category are announced according to where their voters reside. Not where the genealogist resides or where the area of specialty for the genealogist is.

The Bronze and Silver winners were announced on Monday. Results can be found here:

Gold winners in each category were announced on Tuesday. The results of the Genealogy Super Stars can be found here:

The genealogy world has been a buzz of congratulatory messages, accolades and thinly veiled humility from the winners ("oh my, I never thought...." "Really? Me?" "Oh gosh, thank you") Of course in reality we were all screaming "WE ROCK!!!" WE. ROCK!!

Over the rest of this week, John will share the "top ten" in each of the categories outlined above. Those nominated, but not awarded the top three coveted awards, are all hoping they placed in the top five but will take anywhere in the top 10. The placement on these lists adds a boost to their marketability. 

The top 10 for Canada were announced today and the results were nothing short of disappointing:

1. Dave Obee
2. Christine Woodcock
3. Dick Eastman
4. Thomas MacEntee
5. Chris Paton
6. Lisa Louise Cooke
7. Judy G. Russell
8. Kirsty Gray
9. Gail Dever
10. Maurice Gleeson

Don't get me wrong. These are among the top genealogists in the WORLD. Not just in Canada. The genealogy elite in many respects. Those we all rush to hear when they give talks, or host webinars. We devour their written advice on blogs, in magazines, quick guides, books. If my own sense of self-worth were not so incredibly (perhaps pathologically) intact, the fact that MY name is on this list should be incredibly surreal. Little old me. From Canada. And there's the kicker. Only 30% of this list of top 10 genealogists, held in such high esteem, are actually FROM Canada. And, if you take me out of the equation (my specialty is Scotland, after all), the showing for Canada is nothing short of shameful. TWO out of 10. TWO.

How does that work? Easy peasy when you look at the big picture, and when you contrast it with the other top 10 list announced today - that of Australia and New Zealand where 70% of the top ten are actually from the area.

Canadian genealogists are not well promoted in the genealogy world. Those of us who are promoted and well known, have engaged tirelessly in self-promotion. We have not been held in esteem by our own genealogy society. The Ontario Genealogical Society is the largest in Canada. They have an annual conference. The "headliners" are rarely ever Canadian. Ok, Dave Obee might be the exception to that statement. But give Dave his due, he has been in the biz for a very long time.

This past May, the headliners for the conference were from the U.K. and the U.S. The conference for 2016 has already been announced. The headliners are, again, U.S. Why? No, really, WHY?

No offence to my U.S. or U.K. colleagues. As I said, these are the genealogy elite. Some of them, I even consider to be my friends. (The ones I don't are because they have no clue that I even exist, and to consider them friends would be unfair to them). 

Why is it that the OGS doesn't spend the effort in promoting their own? The handful that have been well promoted in the past are promoted because they already worked hard to make their mark. ONLY after they have tirelessly promoted themselves to make a mark in the genealogy community, will the OGS think, "oh, maybe we should give them a try. BUT not as a headliner. We need to hedge our bets, so let's import the main speakers and fill in with our own". Making us wonder if we are really just an after thought. 

Contrast the OGS conference, with the BIFHSGO conference this coming weekend. Out of 11 speakers, 6 are local. LOCAL. Sure, none of us are headlining, but some of us get equal time to those who are headlining. BIFHSGO actively promotes and supports their members. They have their own members speak at their monthly meetings. This builds confidence, allows exposure and gives back to the members. The exposure to the talent that is among the membership really IS a benefit of membership. 

OGS, take a page out of BIFHSGO's book. Look to your members. The people who PAY to be in your organization. Support them. Promote them. Let them shine. When you do, they will make you shine in return. It's a win-win. 

The 2017 conference is in Ottawa, for the 150th birthday of Canada. The conference theme is: Our Canada - Your Family: Building a Nation. PLEASE OGS, don't insult the intelligence of the Canadian genealogists by importing speakers. Look locally to members who excel in their knowledge of:

The Loyalists
French Canadian Research
Scots Immigration
Scots-Irish Immigration
British Home Children
Eastern European Immigration

The people who are the fabric of OUR country. The people who built OUR nation. The people we proudly call our ancestors. 

Tuesday 15 September 2015

BIFHSGO Conference 2015

Later this week I will be heading to Ottawa to take part in the annual conference of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa. Each year, the conference features a different country from the British Isles, and this year the focus is on Scotland. In addition to Scottish research, the conference will feature topics on Technology and on Photographs - both as they relate to genealogy. Something for everyone.

The BIFHSGO conference is well run, has a variety of topics on offer and has a large marketplace. Online registration is closed, but you can arrive in person and register onsite.

I will be leading two pre-conference seminars on Friday. These are three hour sessions where we will delve into specific topics in Scottish research.

Friday morning focuses on getting started with your Scottish genealogy research.

In Search of Your Scottish Ancestors: 
Search Your Roots-Discover Your Heritage

While many people want to know more about their Scottish heritage, they often don’t know where to begin. Knowing where to look is usually where we falter. Fortunately, researching our Scottish ancestors is a fairly easy task. This seminar will get you started with researching your Scottish ancestry and will help you make the most of your research. Topics include: starting your search, the ScotlandsPeople website, the Scottish naming pattern, Scottish marriages, Catholic parish records on ScotlandsPeople, Scottish family history societies, Using Scottish Libraries and Archives, Scottish newspaper research, Scottish clans, and Connecting with others researching their Scottish ancestry.

The afternoon workshop is a walk-through of using the ScotlandsPeople website.

Dinnae Waste Yer Credits, Then:
Navigating the ScotlandsPeople Website

ScotlandsPeople is the website that provides you with actual images of the statutory records for Scottish research. This is a pay-per-view site using credits. If you don't know how to use the website effectively, you can waste a lot of credits, spend a lot of money and endure a lot of frustration. In this seminar, you will learn how to get the most success out of your ScotlandsPeople searches. Topics include: how the credit system works, how to narrow down your search, which records are the most relevant, where to find past search results, how to trace female ancestors, where to get help, and what to do when you can't read the documents.

On Saturday, I will be sharing ideas for Tracking Your Scots Emigrant Ancestor:

Learn the importance of Understanding Emigration in the Historical Context of Scotland, the  Passenger Vessels Acts of 1803 & 1842, the role of Colonial Societies, and both Online and Offline resources for tracking Your Scots Emigrant Ancestor.

And on Sunday, I will be highlighting some of the Lesser Known Databases for Scottish Genealogy Research:

Scotland is a world leader when it comes to preserving their national history and national memory. Archivists all over the country are working to conserve, preserve, digitize and make available records that can be used for genealogical research. This lecture will assist you in learning where you might find information on your Scots ancestor that will help you to fill in their story and add to your understanding of their social history.

Genealogy Tours of Scotland will have a table in the Marketplace throughout the conference. Please drop by to say hello, share your stories and ask for some ideas on where to turn next in your quest to trace your Scottish ancestor.

Monday 14 September 2015

Drum Roll, Please.............I Took SILVER!!

The Bronze and Silver medalists for the Genealogy Rock Star Awards have been announced, and to my surprise I took Silver in the Canadian Division. Fair chuffed given this was the first time I was nominated!

As I said when I learned I was nominated, just being on the list with some of the best in the Biz was already a huge honour. And once again I am in fantastic company among the other Silver and Bronze medalists across the globe. Here are the other winners:

I was delighted with some of the feedback from those who voted. And I owe a huge debt of gratitude to each and every one of you. 

Now we all sit with baited breath wondering who will get the coveted Gold in each category. Roll on tomorrow!

Monday 7 September 2015

Vote for Your Genealogy Rock Star(s)

Voting for the Genealogy Rock Star Awards is now OPEN 

Genealogy Rock Stars are:

".... genealogists are those who give "must attend" presentations at family history conferences or as webinars. Who, when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. Who you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter?"

You can vote for as many as you like. As John Reid says, this gives Societies, Organizations, and Conference planning committees the chance to see who they might want to have speak for them - genealogy speakers that will draw a crowd AND provide valuable information on their topic of expertise. 

The votes are tabluated according to the country you acknowledge you are from on the first page of voting. You don''t have to limit your vote to genealogists in the country where you reside. 

Ready?   Set?


Wednesday 2 September 2015

Guess Who Made the List of Genealogy Rock Star Nominees?

You know those days when life throws absolutely every curve ball it can your way? Well yesterday was one of those days. No air conditioning on the hottest day. Moving kids to college with a million things going wrong. Deadlines that had to be met and a wee voice in my head screaming how much happier it would be if I took a day to do nothing. 

After a looong day, I arrived home and retrieved my phone - yeah, it had decided charging wasn't on the agenda for yesterday either. Just as I picked it up, I received a message from my Genea-buddy, colleague and friend Kirsty Gray. I have to say, Kirsty & I haven't known each other long, and we don't chat every day, but somehow those times when we do connect seem to be the time when we are most in need of a pick-me-up, a helping hand or a comforting shoulder. Genea-intuition? 

Kirsty was congratulating me on my nomination as a Genealogy Rock Star. WHAT? Then I thought she was wanting me to congratulate HER. No, she was congratulating me. She even sent me the link to John Reid's blog, Anglo-Celtic Connections:

Kirsty had alerted me to the fact that the nominees were listed alphabetically (sort of) so I scrolled down to the bottom to make sure she wasn't pulling my leg. Sure enough! I scrolled back up and read the criteria to make the list:

Rockstar genealogists are those who give "must attend" presentations at family history conferences or as webinars. Who, when you see a new family history article or publication by that person, makes it a must buy. Who you hang on their every word on a blog, podcast or newsgroup, or follow avidly on Facebook or Twitter?

Yes! I totally rock every one of the criteria! (Did I mention few Scots have self-esteem issues?) Then I read through the list. WOW! To be on the same list as many of the genealogists nominated is a huge honour in and of itself. Truly it is. 

And to see some of my good Genea-buddies on the list was a real treat. The friends I have come to know through this mad passion of ours. Friends I get to hang out with at conferences and workshops and chat with online. People I can reach out to and who will reach back. Friends that, when I am at a conference with them, I get to witness attendees coming up to them and complimenting them on their work, their talk, their helpfulness. That makes being their genea-buddy all the more enriching. We truly do share in each other's successes and enjoy when the others get the spotlight. 

So, the contest is ON. The voting starts September 7. I can't wait to see the winners in each category because I know that no matter who wins, the title will be well-deserved. 

Thanks to each and every one of the nominators for putting together such a fantastic list, and for including me among some of the best in the biz. I am truly honoured.