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May 2017 meeting and AGM

Our next Toronto Branch meeting will take place on Monday 29 May starting at 7:30 pm at Eglinton St George’s United Church at 35 Lytton Blvd in North Toronto (in the Sanctuary).

We’ll begin with our Annual General Meeting, including a review of Branch accomplishments in the past year and priorities for the year ahead. This is our 50th anniversary year and we have reason to celebrate!

Our featured speaker at the May meeting will be Jane MacNamara, with a presentation titled Life on the Farm: Your Ancestor’s Place in Ontario Agriculture. We often think of farming as a traditional occupation—something that hasn’t really changed much. But that is not and was never the case. Jane will introduce us to some of the records that reveal just how innovative some of our farming ancestors were.

The Members Network will be gathering in advance of the main meeting from 6:15 on in the Eglinton Room. All Branch members are welcome to join in and share their family history experiences and questions in an informal setting.

Eglinton St George’s is located a block west of Yonge Street between Eglinton and Lawrence Avenues—a short bus-ride or a reasonable walking distance from either the Eglinton or Lawrence subway station. If you’re driving, there is some local street parking and there are also three “Green P” parking lots close by.

To find out more about future Branch meetings, please visit our Meetings page or browse through our Calendar.

A soldier found… and a family mystery solved

Thanks to two determined Toronto Branch members, a Scottish family’s long search for a lost relative has come to an end… and a First World War gunner has been honoured with a military headstone at an east-end Toronto cemetery, nearly 100 years after his death.

In January 2016, a query arrived on the desk of Sue Henderson, who manages the Genealogy Room of the Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries, from a Reverend Harold Steven, of Bearsden, Scotland. For decades, Reverend Steven had known only that his father’s older brother Ian Hector Steven had gone to Canada, had been wounded in the war, had married and had died shortly afterwards. Reverend Steven had recently confirmed that his uncle had died in Toronto in 1918 and he wanted to find out where he was buried. Sue checked the Mount Pleasant Group records, and he wasn’t there, so she reached out to her fellow Branch member Heather Ioannou for help, and together they took up the challenge. It wasn’t long before their search led them to an unmarked grave at St John’s Norway Cemetery, where Ian Hector was interred along with his wife Evie.

But Sue and Heather didn’t stop there. They continued to fill in the gaps in Ian Hector’s story, using their genealogical skills to scour vital and military records and war diaries for evidence. They learned that he had emigrated to Canada from Scotland in May 1913, and had been barely in his 20s when war broke out. He had been among the first to enlist with the Canadian Expeditionary Force. In early 1915, he had been severely wounded and had been shipped home to military hospital In Toronto. He and Evie had married in August 1916, but had both died, childless, within days of each other, just two years later. The immediate cause was the Spanish Flu, but Sue and Heather were able to gather enough documentation to satisfy the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that Ian Hector’s war wounds had contributed to his death. This meant that he was entitled to be officially recognized as a casualty of the Great War.

Wreaths and Canadian flag at headstone

Headstone for gunner Ian Hector Steven in St John’s Norway Cemetery

The final chapter in this story was written on Sunday 7 May 2017, when Reverend Steven, Sue, Heather and other representatives of Toronto Branch gathered at the site of Ian Hector’s grave for a military ceremony complete with honour guard, the consecration of a CWGC headstone engraved with his name, and a celebration of his life.

Toronto Branch Meetings

7:30 pm Life on the Farm
Life on the Farm
May 29 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Life on the Farm @ Eglinton St. George's United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
Life on the Farm: Your Ancestor’s Place in Ontario Agriculture Speaker: Jane E. MacNamara We often think of farming as a traditional occupation—something that hasn’t really changed much. But that is not and was never[...]
7:30 pm Mining Databases for Information
Mining Databases for Information
Jun 26 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Mining Databases for Information @ Eglinton St. George's United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
Are you really finding it all when you search?   Mining Databases for Every Nugget of Information Speaker: Marian Press Many family historians confine their searches of Internet search engines and online databases to the[...]

Courses starting & Workshops

6:15 pm Using Adobe Spark to Create Gene...
Using Adobe Spark to Create Gene...
May 30 @ 6:15 pm – 8:15 pm
Using Adobe Spark to Create Genealogy Videos @ Toronto Reference Library, Learning Centre 1 | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
This course is jointly sponsored by the Humanities and Social Science Department at the Toronto Reference Library and the Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society. This course will be on two Tuesdays: May 30 and June 6,[...]

Other Events

all-day OGS Conference 2017
OGS Conference 2017
Jun 16 – Jun 18 all-day
OGS Conference 2017 @ Algonquin College | Ottawa | Ontario | Canada
Our Canada—Your Family: Building a Nation/ JUNE 16–18 Members of all 34 branches and special interest groups of the Ontario Genealogical Society and other family historians from across North America and around the world will[...]

Did you know?

That Toronto Branch OGS has more than 600 members? That members get a discount on publications, and course and workshop registration fees? And that Toronto Branch belongs to the Federation of Genealogical Societies, which means our members can also subscribe to at special rates?