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Toronto’s Early Police Detectives
Feb 25 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm

Speaker: Ellen Maki
Visiting the haunts of felons and searching pawn shops for stolen goods were some of the duties of Toronto’s Victorian police detectives. Who were the policemen who became detectives, and was their work as thrilling and glamorous as that of Maureen Jenning’s fictional Ontario detective, William Murdoch? The talk will include a discussion of how Ellen first compiled a roster of detectives (since personnel records do not survive), and then used a range of easily accessible resources, such as census records, vital records, directories, and tax assessments, to flesh out the details of each man’s background, family, and career. She will also discuss where to find relevant records for Toronto police.

Ellen Maki holds a doctorate in statistics and works as a consultant in the health care industry. She has been researching her family history in England, Ireland, the U.S., and Canada for 30 years. Her passion for genealogy has led her to study in the University of Strathclyde’s genealogy, palaeography, and heraldry program, where she is currently completing a master’s degree. She has presented at Toronto Branch meetings and blogs about her genealogical discoveries at

Mini-presentation: Melanie Parker: Kilgour House

Hands-On Early Ontario Land Records
Mar 7 @ 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Hands-On Early Ontario Land Records @ Archives of Ontario | Toronto | Ontario | Canada

Course runs on three Thursdays: March 7, 14 and 21, 2019.

Registration is now full. If you would like to be placed on the waiting list please send your email request  to

Land records are a rich source of information about settlers in Ontario. This course deals with the earliest period, when land in Upper Canada was being granted by the Crown. This 3-session course provides an introduction to the land granting process and the main types of Crown Lands records. Learn how to use the finding aids and collections at the Archives of Ontario (including those digitized and on microfilm from Library and Archives Canada) to document a person’s acquisition of (or attempt to acquire) land in Upper Canada.

Participants will work in small groups following case histories through the records. Registrants will be expected to do some assigned background reading before each class. (Assignments will be distributed by email.) It is important that participants commit to attending and participating in all three sessions.

This course is offered in partnership with the Archives of Ontario.

Course Instructor: Jane E. MacNamara
Jane E. MacNamara is the author of Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and other Records for Family Historians (OGS/Dundurn, 2013) and writes about genealogy at A long time member of OGS, Jane lectures about research methodology, Ontario, and English family history to genealogical and historical groups throughout southern Ontario. She teaches courses for the OGS Toronto Branch, most notably hands-on courses about Ontario records.

The Archives of Ontario is on the Keele campus of York University.

By public transit: The Archives of Ontario is just steps from the new York University subway station. A number of regional bus services also stop at the campus. For information on transit options and directions, see the University’s webpage.

By car: The York University campus has some visitor parking. To see travel directions for drivers, go to this webpage.

The Archives of Ontario building is wheelchair accessible. For more information about our policies on accessibility, visit our policies page. For assistance with a specific accommodation request, please send an email message to

The Bachelorette New France
Mar 25 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
The Bachelorette New France @ Lansing United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada

THE BACHELORETTE NEW FRANCE: Stories of Bigamy, Incest, Witchcraft and Murder

Speakers: Dawn Kelly and Carol Ufford

In 1630 New France was populated mainly by men. France recognized that there were threats to its economy from the British in the south, and set out to grow the colony by encouraging young women to immigrate, marry and populate the young colony.

Between 1634 and 1663 the Company of 100 Associates sponsored young women immigrating to Canada. These 260 young women were known as Les Filles à Marier. The Company of 100 Associates was disbanded in 1663 and the government of France took over the governing of the colony. At that time King Louis XIV established a program to bring young female immigrants to New France. These 768 women were known as Les Filles du Roi.

Who were these women? Contrary to popular belief, these women were not prostitutes. Many were from poor families looking for a way out of their predicament. These young women were given a choice in marriage, and because men far outnumbered them, they had plenty of choice. They have fascinating stories—including stories of bigamy, incest, witchcraft and murder!

Dawn Kelly has been a radio newscaster for 34 years. For the past 21 she has worked as a national newscaster at The Canadian Press, earning national and international awards for live broadcasts ranging from Pierre Trudeau’s funeral to the countdown to the new millennium on New Year’s Eve 1999. After embarking on a search for her Irish ancestors, Dawn discovered she has deep French-Canadian and Acadian roots. Between her mother’s and father’s trees she can count 31 Filles à Marier and 42 Filles du Roi that she descends from directly.  With some family lines still to explore, that number may rise.

Carol Ufford has been researching her family history off and on for over 20 years.  Since retiring in 2016, she has been able to devote more time to her hobby.  Her family has deep roots in Ontario, but she is jealous of her husband’s deep French Canadian roots on his father’s side, which include 35 Filles à Marier and 34 Filles du Roi.  Carol has served on the Toronto Branch Executive, and is currently the administrator of the branch Facebook group.  Last year Carol took on a genealogical challenge, and created a blog to write a story about one ancestor a month for each month of 2018 .  The result was 12 Ancestors in 12 Months.

Mini-presentation: Larry Foreman: A Courtship through Postcards

Tracking an 18th Century Regiment
Apr 29 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Tracking an 18th Century Regiment @ Lansing United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada

Speaker: Sam Allison

Genealogists can benefit from the techniques and sources used to write history books. Driv’n by Fortune is about a Scots regiment that settled in Canada. The 78th Fraser’s Highlanders (1756–63) defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham, and then attracted thousands of their fellow countrymen to settle land in what is now New York and Vermont as well as Canada. (1763–76). Those soldier-settlers in the 13 English Colonies became the backbone of Loyalist regiments in the American Revolution (1776–83), then, re-migrated to take up land in Canada. Their descendants were “first to cross the Continent” partly because of their good relationships with the First Nations and French Canadians.

This talk analyzes the sources used to track these military migrants before, during, and after their time in the 78th Fraser’s Highlanders. It illustrates the problems of same names, false names, spellings, changing place names, false assumptions, and statistical errors. The dangers of historical myths are outlined.

Sam Allison was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1968. After teaching high school history, he then taught in McGill’s Faculty of Education. He served on committees for Quebec’s Ministry of Education, and has written educational books, articles, and websites. He lives in Brossard, Quebec.

Sam’s most recent publication, Driv’n by Fortune, will be available for sale at the meeting.

Mini-presentation: Mary Brock: Toronto’s House of Industry for the ‘deserving poor’ 1837-1947

OGS Conference 2019
Jun 21 – Jun 23 all-day

The 2019 OGS Conference provides a great opportunity for family historians to attend stimulating workshops and lectures from engaging speakers from Canada and around the world, see what’s available in the genealogy Marketplace, catch up with old friends and make new ones.