An organization of family historians, some with Toronto roots, others who live in Toronto, we have ancestors around the world.

From Cornwall to Ontario in the 19th Century

June 8, 2023 @ 7:30 pm – June 15, 2023 @ 7:30 pm
$20 / $15 for OGS members
From Cornwall to Ontario in the 19th Century @ TWO-PART ONLINE SERIES

During the first half of the 19th century thousands of people left their homes in Cornwall. Many of this Cornish diaspora came to Canada and a significant number settled in Ontario north of present-day Oshawa. Wesley Johnston’s English Corners Project examines the relationships between these families. He will explain the strategy he used to untangle these “Family Thickets” and how it can be applied to other immigrant groups. Wesley will also talk about what resources he expects will further his research. Many of the Cornish immigrants were Bible Christians. In part 2 of our series Sher Leetooze will describe how exploring the roots of Bible Christians led to her writing three books about them. Sher will describe some of the original sources she used to understand how the Bible Christian preachers became the glue binding these Cornish immigrant communities together.

Note: The webinars will be recorded, so that registrants who can’t attend the live presentations may watch at a more convenient time.

June 8, 7:30 pm

Cornish Settlers in East Whitby Township: 1830s and 1840s
Conditions in Cornwall in the 1820s and 1830s pushed many families to emigrate, seeking a better life in Canada. Many families from St. Blazey, Cornwall, emigrated together and settled in the east half of Whitby Township. We investigate the conditions leading to emigration and follow the story of one family from St. Blazey to Whitby Township. We explore other aspects of the families and how they interconnected in a “Family Thicket”, seeking an answer to the question of who came first. We finish with two hypotheses that further research might enlighten.

Speaker: Wesley Johnston holds Master’s degrees in Mathematics and History. He began researching his ancestry when his father died in 1954, leaving him the Johnston Family Bible, begun 1861 in Pickering Township, Canada West. He has researched in many countries and languages. His 27 books are on family history, art history and World War II history. He is the Historian of the U.S. 7th Armored Division Association and past president of the American WWII Association Historians Consortium. His family history web page is at

June 15, 7:30 pm

The Bible Christians of Ontario
With a focus on Cornwall, we will look at where the Bible Christians came from, why they left, where they settled and built their chapels. You will also find out why they later migrated to other parts of the province. Their stories will be told using old photos, maps and entries from their diaries. The Canadian census was also useful in filling in the gaps in these stories.

Speaker: Sher Leetooze discovered that her own ancestors were Bible Christians, and so began the process of finding out more about these people. Sher’s research discovered the beginnings of the Bible Christians, who the people were, where they came from, why they left. Sher followed them across the North Atlantic, to the places they settled and built their chapels. The glue that held them altogether were the preachers who served them from their humble beginnings in 1815 to the union that ended the sect in 1884. Sher’s trilogy of books about the Bible Christians includes: A Corner for the Preacher—the story of the people; BC Chapels of the Canadian Conference—the story of the chapels they built; and The Damascus Road—the story of the Preachers and their trials and tribulations of working in the Canadian bush. In this presentation Sher includes information from all three books, including maps, photos and entries from their diaries.