How the Ontario Genealogical Society's Toronto Branch is making records more accessible—and how you can help

Transcribing in full swing at St. James Cemetery

Now that summer is officially here, the Ontario Genealogical Society Toronto Branch volunteer crew will be out transcribing gravestone inscriptions on Wednesday evenings from 5:30 to 8:00 pm and Saturday mornings from 9:00 am to noon.

It is a huge job to preserve the information and make it available for researchers everywhere. We could really use your help.

As you can see from the photo, it is a collaborative process. We work in groups—to locate the plots according to the map and the notes we’ve made from plot records, to find and uncover any markers that have been overgrown with sod, and to read and write down the inscription. We frequently muster the full crew to decipher a particularly puzzling phrase or verse.

What do you need to bring? A pair of gardening gloves would be handy, but we’ll supply everything else. Come dressed for the weather, with sunscreen, hat, drinking water, and perhaps insect repellent. Sensible shoes for uneven ground are in order.

St. James, on the edge of the Don River valley is a haven for birds so you might want your camera, too.

The crew will be out just about every Saturday and Wednesday from now until the fall, weather permitting. Please contact us at to confirm. At this point we are working in Section A p.s. (along Parliament Street), but we’ll also confirm that location when you get in touch.

St. James Cemetery is on Parliament Street just south of Bloor, and easily reached on the #65 bus which runs between Castle Frank subway station and Front Street. The #94 Wellesley bus which runs between Wellesley subway station and Castle Frank station will also work. (Either route, get off at the Wellesley and Parliament stop.) Drivers can park on cemetery roadways. There’s a map of the sections just inside the gate.

Please join us. It is a very enjoyable way to spend a few hours!

The Ontario Genealogical Society Toronto Branch crew transcribing gravestone inscriptions at St. James Cemetery in Toronto on June 18, 2011.

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