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We all have a story to tell!
Jan 27 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
We all have a story to tell! @ Lansing United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada

Speakers: Marian Press, Sheelagh Hysenaj, Carol Nichols and Diana Varma

We all have a story to tell! This meeting will give you insight on how best to tell yours.

Our presentation will take on a different format than the usual. We have three presenters who have published their family stories in various formats, and we have one print professional who will give us the scoop on the various methods of publishing our stories.

Each family historian has a unique method for getting their stories out there. Marian Press has created a traditional family history book, Sheelagh Hysenaj publishes genealogy stories in her local newspaper as well as having published a book, and Carol Nichols will speak to her unique family history brochures. Diana Varma, print professional from Ryerson University, will give us an overview of how and where to get our stories out there. They will have examples of their work for us to view.

Each presenter will outline their methods and then we will have an interactive discussion in a panel-like setting. Please bring your questions as we are expecting some lively discussions!

There will be a break with light refreshments.

Marian Press, Toronto: Marian is a retired academic librarian. She is a frequent speaker at genealogical workshops and conferences and a writer on family history topics. She teaches courses on various aspects of the use of online resources for genealogy for the Toronto Branch of OGS.

Sheelagh Hysenaj, Toronto: Sheelagh has been a member of Toronto Branch since 2013 and has presented at the Branch in the past. Sheelagh is a regular contributor to her home community newspaper, Apsley Backroads.

Carol Nichols, Toronto: Carol is a retired teacher who enjoyed a career in Scarborough. After retiring, she started researching her husband’s family with her sister-in-law and niece, back to the early days of the American colonies.  Realizing very little was known or recorded about her own family history, she has researched all her lines back to England, Ireland and Scotland. She has traveled, met relatives and learned so much about their stories. Now she is writing and sharing what she has learned with family. She enjoys helping others beginning their addiction to family history.

Diana Varma, Markham: Diana is an award winning instructor at The School of Graphic Communications Management, Ryerson University, teaching both print management and book making. She is a columnist with Graphic Arts Magazine, a monthly publication for the print industry with over 130 articles published to date.

York’s Underground Railroad
Feb 24 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm


Speaker: Guylaine Petrin 

In honour of Black History Month, Guylaine Petrin will give a special presentation on York County and the Underground Railroad. 

1910 store and delivery wagon

Elgin Mills, 1910

During the last 30 years, York county, especially Vaughan and Markham township have changed so much, transforming from their rural roots into urban landscapes and modern cities. Sometimes when all those changes take place, it is easy to forget one’s history. 

As part of the expansion and changes, there have been various archaeological assessment done on various sites along the Yonge Street corridor. In 1987 and 1989 two sites on Yonge Street, named by archaeologists the Murphy-Goulding, and the Bernard sites were excavated and searched for sites of archaeological significance. Other archaeological digs have also taken place, notably in 1995 where many artifacts dating from the 1850s and onward have been recovered. 

At the time, an old resident of Richmond Hill named George Goulding pointed out to the archaeologist a site associated with the Underground Railroad, a kind of hidey hole, where refugees were supposed to have hidden to escape slave catchers. Archaeologists did find the remains of a cabin, but the idea that somehow Richmond Hill was associated with the Underground Railroad was deemed “highly unlikely” 

Why on earth would escaped slaves find refuge in Richmond Hill? This presentation will address some of these questions, and also explain how genealogical tools can be used for fleshing out archeological questions. 

Guylaine Petrin, Toronto, is a Toronto librarian, genealogist and historical researcher who has numerous publications to her credit including,”The Myth of Mary Mink: Representation of Black Women in Toronto in Nineteenth Century” in Ontario History. Guylaine is a long-time member of Toronto Branch who specializes in Upper Canada history and York County.?   

Mini-presentation: Heather Ioannou: An Underground Railroad Extension? 

Records of Migration at the AO
Mar 23 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Records of Migration at the AO @ Lansing United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada


Speaker: Jane E. MacNamara

Since its founding, Ontario has been involved in supporting and promoting settlement. This lecture will look at the major groups of records surrounding immigration, naturalization, and settlement generated by the province and earlier by Upper Canada and Canada West, as well as a selection of records at the county and municipal level, and in the fonds of organizations and individuals. These are rich sources which may provide clues to motivation and living conditions, as well as the basic immigration information for your ancestors.

Jane E. MacNamara, Toronto, is the author of Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and other Records for Family Historians (OGS/Dundurn) 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 Toronto Branch, most notably hands-on courses at the Archives of Ontario.

Mini-presentation: Michael Nettleton: Where’s Dorothy? 

Closing the Loop
Apr 27 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Closing the Loop @ Lansing United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada


Speaker: Terry Maurice

Researching Eastern European genealogy presents many daunting challenges to the family historian. Unfamiliarity with the languages, history and geography of the regions can present major stumbling blocks to advancing one’s research.

Terry’s own quest to find his father’s family, who left Hlyboka, Bukovina, Austria (Ukraine) in 1914 proved to be much more difficult than he had imagined. His research began in 1971, but political boundaries at that time made it very difficult to obtain information from the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.

After the independence of Ukraine in 1991 and the subsequent microfilming of the Ukrainian records by FamilySearch, all that changed. It was then possible to search for and get the BMD records for family members. Studying the political history, geography and learning to read records in Church Slavonic, Romanian, Ukrainian, Latin and some German, proved to be very interesting. Over the period from 1970 to 2019 his paternal family tree grew from a few known Ukrainian relations to over 1600. Along with these genealogical discoveries, his knowledge of Austrian Empire and its colourful history provided a fascinating and rewarding backdrop to his research.

Although this presentation is focused on Ukrainian research, strategies and techniques for doing research in unfamiliar languages will be presented. The talk will be illustrated using records from, online geographical maps, cadastral maps, online translation tools, social media, professional researchers and Eastern European archives. Engaging in family research can be a great learning experience as this research certainly was. The talk will conclude with a brief overview of his trip to Ukraine in 2018 to meet his family, thus closing the family loop after a one hundred and three year break.

Terry Maurice, Guelph: Terry’s interest in family history began about 1970 and he worked largely on his mother’s Irish side of the family, but in 2017 began serious research on his father’s Ukrainian family. Although he had not been active in family research for over ten years, his interest in genealogy was rekindled with the advent of DNA genealogy. He now is very active in DNA testing and interpretation techniques and is presently the DNA Special Interest Group Coordinator for the Wellington County Branch of OGS. Over the past three years, Terry has presented over 20 workshops that have been designed to assist family historians in using DNA results to further their family research.

Mini-presentation: Romana Bahry: The Forgotten Pioneer of Probiotics