Victoria Genealogical Society’s DNA seminar offers four sessions this Saturday

The Victoria Genealogical Society in British Columbia will host the virtual DNA seminar, Harness the Power of Genetic Genealogy, on Saturday, April 20, from 9:15 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Pacific time.

There will be four sessions.

The fee to attend is $35 for society members and $55 (about US$40) for non-members.

Read the session descriptions and speaker biographies and learn about the schedule and registration on the Victoria Genealogical Society’s website.

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Ontario Ancestors hosts nine virtual presentations this week

It’s the third week of the month, and that means several branches of Ontario Ancestors will be busy hosting virtual presentations. The topics include online research,, genetic genealogy, university websites, and the American Revolution.

Seven branches and one special interest group will host a free presentation. The Genetic Genealogy special interest group’s webinar is free to society members and $10 for non-members. All are open to the public.

The times below are in Eastern time.

Monday, April 15, 7:00 p.m. — Sudbury District Branch
Doing Family Tree Research in Your Pajamas by Ken McKinlay

The overarching focus of this presentation is to look at various online resources that can be used to find information on your family’s history. I start the talk by touching upon how one might organize the material (paper or electronic) and mention various software before diving into online resources and key types of records. Register to watch online.

Tuesday, April 16, 7:00 p.m. — Nipissing District Branch Tips & Tricks by Ann Smith

Ann Smith has been working daily with for the last two years and has accumulated tips and tricks that she would like to share with you. She will give a basic overview of the site and then will dive into some of the ways she has discovered to achieve better search results.

Thanks to a generous donation from, we will be offering a one-year Publisher Extra subscription as a prize to a lucky person whose name will be drawn from those who watch the presentation.

This is a hybrid meeting. Attend in person at the North Bay Public Library or register before April 16 to watch online.

Wednesday, April 17, 10:00 a.m. — Scottish SIG
People Lie! How to unravel the truth when you are tracing your family history by Emma Maxwell

Genealogist Emma Maxwell will use case studies to demonstrate how to untangle truth from fiction. When you are tracing your family history, conflicting evidence can be very confusing. Perhaps an ancestor’s age fluctuates or a person’s parents just don’t seem to exist. Perhaps an ancestor says she is a widow but you can’t find a death certificate for her husband. It’s not unusual for facts to vary from one source to the next. Our ancestors may have been willfully deceitful to cover something up or they may just have been confused. Whatever the motive, the challenge for us is to unravel the truth and trace our family history accurately. Register to watch online.

Wednesday, April 17, 7:00 p.m. — Thunder Bay District Branch
My Ancestors in the Hudson’s Bay Fur Trade by Janice Nickerson

Janice will share captivating stories about her ancestors linked to the Hudson’s Bay Company and reveal how she discovered these tales through her research in the Hudson Bay Archives. She writes, “The archives of the Hudson’s Bay Company at the Provincial Archives of Manitoba are vast and rich with information. And much of their records are now accessible online if you know where to look and are willing to invest the time.” Register to watch online.

Thursday, April 18, 7:00 p.m. — Genetic Genealogy SIG
Genetic Genealogy DNA: Tips and Learn How to Get Organized and Introduction to The Ancestor Assessment Chart by Shirley Monkhouse

This presentation will provide ten tips and a method to organize your genetic genealogy DNA research using the DNA Research Binder. By working your way through the tips and the process of creating your own DNA Research Binder, you will be more organized, you will reduce time and effort in future analysis, and also have a better understanding of your family history research and DNA results. 

There will be one case study to show how the system works and introduce the Ancestor Assessment Chart, which was created to help assign your DNA matches results to your ancestors.

This webinar is free to all society members. Non-members can purchase access to the live presentation and the recording for two weeks for a nominal fee of $10. Register to watch online.

Friday, April 19, 7:00 p.m. — Niagara Peninsula Branch
University Websites for Genealogists by Janice Nickerson

If you thought your university days were over, think again. University websites can help your research in countless ways, and you don’t have to be a student to use them. From farmer’s diaries to coroner’s inquests, this lecture will share a few of my favourite finds and introduce you to a whole new world of family history resources. Register to watch online.

Saturday, April 20, 10:00 a.m. — Kingston Branch
Iron Lungs and Wax Faces: A Journey Through the Museum of Health Care at Kingston by Rowena McGowan

The Museum of Health Care is devoted to telling the history of health and healthcare. But what does that actually mean? Curator Rowena McGowan provides a whirlwind tour of the museum’s exhibits, collections and programs/research, exploring what the museum does, how it can be a challenge and why it matters. Register to watch online.

Saturday, April 20, 1:00 p.m. — Ottawa Branch
Restorations of Biblical Proportions by Kyla Ubbink

Family bibles are the most common family heirloom, but it took centuries for them to come into being. The story begins with rebels, such as Wycliffe and Tyndale, and innovators including Gutenberg and Koberger, who brought bibles into the hands of the common man. Family bibles were usually given as wedding presents during the Victorian era, but were also often purchased at the arrival of a first-born child. Although many bibles have remained in the same family for centuries, “family bibles” are defined by having pages printed specifically for recording births, marriages, and deaths. If these pages have been filled in, they are a primary source of family history. But these books are also a tangible connection to the past. Your ancestors learned how to read from them, and their geography and history lesson were derived from them. They held, touched, and cherished these resources, as you are doing now. Family bibles fell out of fashion in the 1920s, but not out of use, rendering most of them in poor or even terrible condition today. Covers have become detached, the glues are failing, the pages are loose, and sometimes even the leather is rotting away, but family bibles can be saved. Old glues can be replaced with new glues, the pages secured, and tears repaired. Bindings are restored by inserting new material beneath the original leather, and dyes and leather dressings return luster and beauty. It takes technical knowledge, patience, an aptitude for meticulous work, and on occasion leads to uttering under your breath to an all-knowing deity.

This is a hybrid meeting. Attend in person at the City of Ottawa Archives, 100 Tallwood Drive (Room 226), or register to watch online.

Saturday, April 20, 1:00 p.m. — Quinte Branch
Shades of Allegiance: Hidden Loyalties of the Gerow Family in the American Revolution by Jane Simpson

This family saga opens as Daniel Giraud, a Huguenot, escapes the French king’s clutches in the 1690s, in the southwest of France. Fleeing to New York City; he, his wife, and small child seek safety and religious freedom. The family joins other Huguenots on Long Island Sound. Now grown, his son persuades him to move north in Westchester County to become a tenant-farmer of the land-owning Van Cortlandt family. Hard work is rewarded by prosperity.

Years later, the grandson and inheritor, Daniel Gerow, serves in the Westchester militia in both the French and Indian War, and in the American Revolution. Life for Daniel and his family becomes one of chance and fate as Cortlandt Manor becomes a nucleus for both Revolutionaries and the British Army. Gerow family members perish or are exiled in the conflict.

Author Jane Simpson weaves fact and fiction as she traces her family’s history as tensions rise through the intricacies of deceit, loyalty, and dangers of the American Revolution. Register to watch online.

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This week’s crème de la crème — April 13, 2024

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Crème de la crème of genealogy blogs

Blog posts
LAC’s Vision: What Future for the Past by Allan Greer on Active History.

Finding Cemeteries With Your Computer – Part 1 and Part 2 by Dick Eastman on Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter.

Let’s hear it from the girls! New project to release women’s voices by Claire Santry on Irish Genealogy News.

What Day was That??? by Linda Stufflebean on Empty Branches on the Family Tree.

Contact That Courthouse: It Might Pay Off! by Janine Adams on Organize Your Family History.

How to Not Be Overwhelmed at the Archives by Melissa Barker on A Genealogist In The Archives.

Evidence Explained 4th edition, by Elizabeth Shown Mills – review by Chris Paton on Scottish GENES.

Dusty Ancestors by Debbie Mieszala on The Advancing Genealogist.

Exploring Google’s NotebookLM: Potential and Pitfalls for Genealogists by Dana Leeds on Genealogy with Dana Leeds.

Acadian Ancestors and Their DNA by Roberta Estes on DNAeXplained.

Using GEDmatch DNA Segment Tools in a Research Project by Diana Elder on Family Locket.

Honouring Indigenous Aid Towards Irish Famine Relief In Canada by Beryl Menezes, Ottawa Life Magazine, Ontario.

For more gems like these throughout the week, join the Genealogy à la carte Facebook group. When you submit your request to join, you will be asked to answer two quick questions about your family history research.

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Gearing up for the 200th anniversary of the Peter Robinson Settlers

Next year marks the 200th anniversary of the Peter Robinson Settlers from the Ballyhoura Region in Ireland establishing a new life in what we now know as Peterborough, Ontario.

In Ireland, Ballyhoura Development, which is a local non-profit organization, has planned a homecoming from September 21 to 25, 2025.

Celebratory plans are starting in Peterborough.

In May 1825, nine ships set sail from Cork, Ireland with 2,024 emigrants aboard. Passenger lists from these ships are available on the Trent Valley Archives website.

Peter Robinson, who was a member of the Legislative Assembly of Upper Canada and a prominent businessman from York, Upper Canada, led this exodus from Ireland. Scott’s Plains was renamed Peterborough in his honour.

Robinson interviewed families and individual males to make the long voyage. These families had to meet specific criteria in order to be eligible for the voyage. The specifics required for Robinson’s settlers were that they had to be Catholic, poor and with a knowledge of farming. Males had to be less than forty-five years of age, in good health, and families were unrelated.

The majority of the Irish emigrants hailed from northern County Cork and southeastern Limerick, but there were others from Tipperary, Kerry and Clare, as well as one from Wicklow and another from Kilkenny.

Ballyhoura Development has identified the families who left the region almost 200 years ago to Ontario and the Ottawa Valley in Canada. This is based upon the records of the emigration scheme maintained by Robinson.

The records of the scheme list the passengers on each ship under family headings and give ages, occupations and former residences.

Looking for stories
If you have ancestors who were on board the ships that left Cork for Peterborough, stories of those who left, those left behind, or of recent connections with family in the new world, Ballyhoura Development would like to hear from you. 

More information
Information about the homecoming, the Peter Robinson Settlers, and related resources are available on Ballyhoura Development’s website.

As for this side of the pond, watch for plans in the Peter Robinson Settlers in Canada Facebook group. You’ll need to join the group to read posts and make comments.

In spring 2025, the Kawartha Ancestral Association (KARA) will publish three volumes of Robinson Roots — Footprints of the Past that trace descendants of the Peter Robinson Settlers of 1825.  
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Saskatoon city archives prepares for move to permanent home

Saskatoon City Archives has started the task of packing thousands of records, including 450,000 photos, 4,000 feet of shelves, 3,000 linear feet of records, and thousands of maps, plans and blueprints to prepare for the move to its new permanent home.

Since 2010, the archives have been held at the Cardinal Crescent location near the airport but will now be housed at the old post office building at 202 Fourth Ave. North, across the street from city hall and the downtown Saskatoon Public Library.

Photo: Vincent Groeneveld, Pixabay.

According to local radio station 650 CKOM, the largest collection the archives holds is the negative photo collection from the Star Phoenix newspaper, dating from the 1940s to 1999.

Saskatoon City Archives started packing this past Monday.

“We’re excited about moving City Archives into this new space. It’s larger, better organized and more secure than Cardinal Crescent,” says Jeff O’Brien, City Archivist.  “This move is timely. We’ve simply outgrown our current space. ”

Mr. O’Brien added, “For city staff, the new location will also make archives more accessible as we’ll be right across the street from city hall.”

Construction of the new City Archives space is scheduled to be complete on May 1. City Archives’ move-in day is tentatively scheduled for May 6.

Employees will be unable to access records or reply to public inquiries until the new location fully opens in June 2024.

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Montreal’s archives moves back to city hall after six years

The Archives de Montréal will return this summer to city hall, and on-site research visits will return soon after.

As of August 6, researchers will be able to book an appointment to visit the Archives de Montréal’s renovated facilities at city hall in Old Montreal. Photo: Jean Gagnon, Wikimedia Commons.

In 2018, Montreal’s archives had to be moved to a temporary location on rue Saint-Denis because city hall and the archives’ vaults were being renovated.

Due to the move, the consultation room on Saint-Denis will close May 16. The virtual consultation room (catalogue), however, will remain available to researchers.

There are more than 5.6 km of archives and about two million photographs that must be integrated into the new space. Among the approximately 30,000 items to be moved are 18,000 boxes, 11,000 registers, thousands of glass plate negatives, 17th-century manuscripts, and large old maps.

Users will be able to send research requests by email until June 2.

During the move, from June 3 to 30, service to users will be interrupted.

Email requests for research will be resume in July.

Starting August 6, the new consultation room at 275 rue Notre-Dame East (ground floor) will be accessible to users by appointment. 

Les Archives de Montréal can be reached by email at or by telephone at 514-872-1173 or 514-872-2615,

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Ontario Ancestors’ webinars — Land records, adding social history to your family history, religious repositories, and a 19th-century race from Toronto to Montreal

All four of Ontario Ancestors branches’ virtual presentations this week are, as usual, free and open to all who register to watch via Zoom.

The times are in Eastern time.

Monday, April 8, 7:00 p.m. — Oxford County Branch
OnLand from a Genealogy Perspective by Ken McKinlay

Once we know where our ancestors lived, the next step in our research journey is to see if we can find the land records, such as deeds and even wills. In this presentation, we will take a look at the Ontario Land Property Records Portal, AKA OnLand, to help us locate the documents concerning the properties where our ancestors lived. We look at the various historical books, try to find a property in an urban area, and even walk through placing an order for an instrument. Intermediate to advanced. Register to watch online.

Tuesday, April 9, 6:30 p.m. – Lambton County Branch
Adding Social History to Your Tree Story by Dr. Penny Walters

Social history is concerned with the lives of ordinary people, viewing history from what could be termed the “bottom up,” not “top down.” Looking through the lens of the past will enhance your understanding of how people lived, worked, and played in their daily lives. If we found an ancestor on censuses, and hopefully a birth, death, and marriage certificate, that only adds up to about 10 anchor point days of their total life. We want to know what our ancestors and relatives did all day. This session will help you insert your ancestor or relative in a specific time period and place with local, nation, and world events, which had social and historical impacts and aid writing their micro history. Register to watch online.

Tuesday, April 9, 7:00 p.m. — Essex County and Kenty County Branches
Genealogical Research Using Religious Repositories by Dez Nacario

Religious institutions are rich in local and familial historical records. Dez Nacario, Archivist for the Diocese of Huron, will highlight research services available to genealogists, using the Anglican Church archives as an example. Register to watch online.

Wednesday, April 10, 7:00 p.m. — York Region Branch
38 Hours to Montreal: William Weller and the Governor General’s Race of 1840 by Dan Buchanan

Governor General Charles Poulett Thomson is in a hurry. In response to the Rebellion of 1837-38, he has been urgently tasked by his masters in England to modernize and improve the governments in the Canadian colonies. In just three months in Toronto, the governor general has managed to pass all the legislation he wants, but with politics heating up in Quebec and his bosses in England dangling a peerage over his head, now he must get to Montreal as fast as he can to do the same thing there. Enter “The Stagecoach King,” William Weller, who is famous for operating the Royal Mail Line of stages between Toronto and Montreal. Weller utilizes a complex system of stage stops staffed with experienced workers and is confident he can take the governor general to Montreal in under thirty-eight hours. Driving a very unique sleigh, specially modified for this trip, Weller pilots the governor general and his aid-de-camp Captain Thomas Le Marchant over 370 miles of snowy and muddy roads, avoiding dangerous obstacles and constantly moving forward. Register to watch online.

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BIFHSGO hosts two must-watch presentations this Saturday

What do you get when you put together one of Canada’s best genealogy speakers with the Chief Historian and Director of Research at the Canadian War Museum?

You get a terrific program for family historians, presented by Ken McKinlay and Dr. Tim Cook and hosted by the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa on Saturday, April 13.

This is a free hybrid meeting. You may attend in person at Knox Presbyterian Church (Lisgar St. and Elgin St.) in Ottawa or register to watch on Zoom.  

Here’s the schedule in Eastern time:

9:00 a.m.
Back to Basics: Church Records by Ken McKinlay

Prior to the establishment of civil birth, marriage, and death registrations in England, Scotland and Ireland, there were parish registers. In this Back to Basics session, we will be looking at various registers and where to hopefully find those sometimes elusive records.

10:00 — 11:30 a.m.
Vimy: Exploring the Battle and the Legend by Dr. Tim Cook

Vimy is more than a battle from the First World War. It is common to hear that Vimy marks the “birth of a nation.” Yet what is meant by this phrase? How did the four-day battle of Vimy in April 1917 transform into an origin story?

The idea of Vimy was invigorated with the building of Walter Allward’s monument on the ridge. The monument’s unveiling in 1936 by King Edward VIII was attended by more than 6,000 Canadian veterans. Since then, Vimy has been incorporated into Canadian history, although its meaning has changed with each generation.

Based on his award-winning book, Vimy: The Battle and the Legend, Dr. Tim Cook will explore the emergence of the Vimy idea, its changing meaning, and its endurance as a symbol of Canadian service and sacrifice.

Dr. Cook is the Chief Historian and Director of Research at the Canadian War Museum.  He is the author of sixteen books and over a hundred academic articles and book chapters. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal for his contributions to Canadian history and in 2013 he received the Governor General’s History Award. He is a director of Canada’s History Society, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and a member of the Order of Canada.

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This week’s crème de la crème — April 6, 2024

Some of the bijoux I discovered this week.

Crème de la crème of genealogy blogs

Blog posts
TPL Recovery Continues by John Reid on Anglo-Celtic Connections.

LAC: The Scandal of the Archives by Allan Greer on Active History.

BillionGraves Eagle Scout Cemetery Projects by Cathy Wallace on BillionGraves Blog.

Losing a Tree by Jenny Hawran on Like Herding Cats.

From New York to Canada: Why Did Joseph Becker Immigrate? by Nancy Gilbride Casey on Leaves on the Tree.

Review of Leaving a Legacy: Turn Your Family Tree into a Family Book by Diana Elder on Family Locket.

5 Easy Steps to Preserving Newspaper Clippings by Melissa Barker on A Genealogist In The Archives.

Preserving Your Personal Archives: A Beginner’s Guide by Sarah Glassford on University of Windsor Archives and Special Collections Blog.

Family ChartMasters Announces New Ownership by Crista Cowan on The Barefoot Genealogist.

Is Your Family Tree Biologically Correct? by Dr. Leah Larkin on The DNA Geek.

A senior took a DNA test decades after being adopted. He found 6 siblings he had never met by Dorcas Marfo, CTV News, Canada.

Brock celebrates the world of archives by Colleen Patterson, Brock News, St. Catharines, Ontario.

Harvard Law School Digitization Project Publishes Nearly 7 Million Court Cases Online by Hiral M. Chavre and Ava H. Rem, Harvard Crimson, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

A New Chapter for Irish Historians’ ‘Saddest Book’ by Ed O’Loughlin, New York Times, New York.

For more gems like these throughout the week, join the Genealogy à la carte Facebook group. When you submit your request to join, you will be asked to answer two quick questions about your family history research.

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New NFB film, A Quiet Girl, brings Canada’s secretive adoption history to light

A National Film Board of Canada feature documentary by Montreal director Adrian Wills follows him as he searches for his biological mother in her home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Each step closer to his mother takes him deeper into the history of adoption in the province, where many unwed pregnant women in deeply Christian towns surrendered their babies to be brought up by someone else.

In “A Quiet Girl,” available to watch on YouTube, Mr. Wills learns his biological mother became pregnant with him when she was 18, in 1972. Her family at the time was poor and devout. She gave birth to him in a hospital in St. John’s.

Mr. Wills discovers, on camera and in real time, the startling truths of his complex beginnings in Newfoundland. Shocking details drive him to the core of his birth mother’s resilience, and ultimately his own. In this documentary that combines 16mm footage and contemporary images with deeply personal conversations, Mr. Wills’ voyage transforms from an urgent search for identity into a quest to give a quiet girl her voice.

Jean Ann Farrell, the coordinator of Newfoundland Adoption Services in the 1970s, told Mr. Willis that at any given time, there were “hundreds of babies” available to adopt in the province. The provincial government even advertised the babies in newspapers.

In a December 2023 article, the Canadian Press reported, “Similar stories were playing out across Canada, in staggering numbers, according to Valerie Andrews, the executive director of Origins Canada, an Ontario-based non-profit supporting families separated by adoption. She’s also a PhD student in women’s studies at York University and author of the book, ‘White Unwed Mother: The Adoption Mandate in Postwar Canada.’

“She has pored over adoption data from across the country documenting the period from the 1940s to the 1970s, and she estimates at least 300,000 babies were surrendered for adoption in that time, often under intense societal and religious pressure.”

Anne Sheldon, who runs a Facebook group called Newfoundland and Labrador Adoptees, told the Canadian Press that more of these stories need to be told. Each month there are many new posts from adopted people born in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s, looking for their biological family members in Newfoundland. The group has more than 14,000 members.

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