website security

Speakers & instructors wanted

Do you have expertise to share? We are always looking for lecturers and course instructors to speak on any aspect of genealogical or historical research, and on techniques and technology to organize or share research results. Our courses, workshops, and meetings are held in various locations in Toronto. Speakers and instructors receive an honorarium and modest travel expenses.

Specific requests for papers are noted below, but we’re very interested in hearing other ideas, too. Please contact the Education Committee with your idea or proposal for a lecture, course or workshop.


Download Call for Speakers Upper Canada/Canada West Workshop April 11 2015 (pdf)


We asked Toronto Branch members for some suggestions about what they’d like to learn about at the workshop. We got some really intriguing ideas! You can add your voice by sending us an email before November 15, 2014.

We invite potential speakers to have a look at the list. (Topics are not limited to these very specific suggestions. See the call for papers, above.)

IH suggests:

My interest is not just in my family history, but what I like to call the “intersection” between the individuals in my particular family tree and the broader social, economic and political histories of their times. For example, an individual canal worker’s history connects with the wider history of the Rideau Canal. Similarly, I want to pursue how the individual history connects to wider patterns of how settlers to Upper Canada went about pursuing and acquiring wealth. Wealth in Upper Canada was, first and foremost, the possession of land. So I’d be very interested in any presentations that speak to the patterns of land distribution, acquisition, inheritance, and so forth. More specifically, any information related to the Rideau Canal and Leeds and Grenville would be of interest.

I made a copy of one of my ancestor’s land petitions from the 1790s. While I know the Ontario Archives has produced some excellent guides on land records, which I’ve read, it is an entirely different thing to start looking at the actual documents and trying to figure out what information one can extract from them. Any presentation that took one through some specific examples—not necessarily the land petitions, but other documents commonly used in land transactions—would be very helpful.

Any presentation that helps with the palaeography would also be welcome! Again, I’ve consulted some books, but hearing and seeing can be very helpful.

Another topic that would be of interest is the question of treason during and following the War of 1812.

Finally—and I suppose it’s a common issue—it seems much easier to track the males than the females. If anyone has expertise and suggestions about strategies to “work around” that issue, I would again be interested.

JB suggests:

My great-great grandfather came to Canada from Ireland in the 1830s as a stonemason to work on the 2nd Welland Canal. Thousands of Irish came over as labour on the canal. I don’t know what documentation exists for these workers—Brock University has records and studies on the Canal companies and the leaders—but it would be interesting to find out more about the people who actually built the canal.

DC suggests:

My ancestor left the British Army about 1850 at Kingston and settled a little north at Perth Road. Many of the early settlers supplemented their meager farming income by a kind of primitive mining.

I was kind of interested in it from the idea of how the early settlers survived by supplementing their income by producing some other product than farm related or supplied their labour at times to the lumber industry, mining or construction (ie buildings or canals). Or it could be a standalone thing about early mining.

There was considerable mining type work in the early days with limestone, sandstone and granite production for the Rideau Canal and buildings including most of Kingston and Fort Henry to phosphate and mica production all through the Rideau River area and up to Bancroft. Of course there was considerable sand and gravel produced, too.

I am a retired mining engineer and a new member of OGS and Toronto Branch and so do not have much experience with genealogical research but I could help someone who was interested in preparing such a report. [Speakers, if you’d like to contact DC about collaborating, please use this link.]

I am also interested in how the skills of the retiring British Soldiers helped in early Ontario. My ancestor learned to be a tailor in the army. Many were skilled builders etc.

PJ suggests:

I am excited about the April 2015 workshop on Upper Canada and Canada West Research, and as an attendee, would be looking for a session that would be helpful to me in researching those of my ancestors who, instead of settling in larger centres like Hamilton or Toronto, were homesteading in newly available areas of pre-Confederation Ontario. For example, I am researching two lines of ancestors in my family, one who settled in the Minden area in 1863 just around the time the Bobcaygeon colonization road was completed, and the other settled in Somerville Township, Victoria County in 1866.

While the 1871 census and land/tax records have been somewhat helpful, I’d like to know about alternate resources for baptisms/marriages/burials when the church records in these early frontier areas are not available. In the UK, contemporary copies of the baptism, marriage and burial entries in the parish registers are available as Bishop’s transcripts. Is there an equivalent in pre-Confederation Ontario? If so, where could they be found?

I understand that the archives at Trent University might have material pertaining to Peterborough/Lindsay/Victoria County. Is there someone from Trent University Archives who would be willing to present information on their holdings that would be helpful in researching pre-Confederation Ontario ancestors who settled in these areas? Every month, Who Do You Think You Are? (UK) magazine includes an article in which archivists from around the UK highlight a favourite record. Perhaps Trent University’s archivist could highlight a favourite record or collection that would be helpful to early Ontario ancestor researchers.

From this workshop, I’d like to learn if there are any other records, other than those listed above, which would be useful for researching frontier areas that were just opening up to settlement when early Ontario ancestors arrived.