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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, the consecration of a CWGC headstone engraved with his name, and a celebration of his life.

50th Anniversary Reception

Toronto Branch Meetings

7:30 pm Toronto’s Massey Family
Toronto’s Massey Family
Oct 23 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Toronto's Massey Family @ Eglinton St. George's United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
Toronto’s Massey Family: A Story Told Through Postal History Speaker: Kathy Hartley Kathy Hartley spent decades researching her own family history before becoming a reference librarian at a philatelic research foundation in Toronto. Once there her[...]

Courses starting & Workshops

10:00 am TRL Genealogy Collection Tour
TRL Genealogy Collection Tour
Sep 30 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am
TRL Genealogy Collection Tour @ Toronto Reference Library, 2nd Floor | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
THIS TOUR IS NOW FULL. If you would like to add your name to a waiting list, please contact us at: This tour is jointly sponsored by the Toronto Public Library and the Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical[...]
6:15 pm Basic Genealogy and Family History
Basic Genealogy and Family History
Oct 3 @ 6:15 pm – 8:15 pm
Basic Genealogy and Family History @ 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 evening course is on 8 Tuesdays: October 3, 10, 17, 24,[...]
9:00 am Scottish Family History from the...
Scottish Family History from the...
Oct 28 @ 9:00 am – 4:30 pm
Scottish Family History from the GTA:  New Directions @ Toronto Reference Library, Beeton Hall | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
A FULL DAY WORKSHOP Jointly sponsored by Toronto Branch OGS and the Toronto Public Library Designed for those who have some experience of Scottish genealogy, this one-day event will show you newly available and soon-to-be-released resources[...]
6:15 pm Introduction to Genetic Genealogy
Introduction to Genetic Genealogy
Nov 10 @ 6:15 pm – 8:15 pm
Introduction to Genetic Genealogy @ Toronto Reference Library, Learning Centre 1 | Toronto | Ontario | Canada
This course is jointly sponsored by the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at the Toronto Reference Library, and the Toronto Branch, Ontario Genealogical Society. The course will be on three Fridays: November 10, 17, & 24,[...]

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?