Congratulations 2011 project volunteers!

I thought you’d like to hear that we managed to index 81,624 names in 2011. That’s an amazing 75 percent more than 2010! Thank you all for your contributions to this total.

Forty-three volunteers participated in the Toronto Trust project in 2011. As I’ve said before, there’s no quota and every page you index is valuable, but I think you agree that these eight volunteers—Verna, William, Marg H., Heather, Marg K., Joyce, Vera, and Barry—who each indexed (and in some cases arbitrated) more than 5,000 names deserve some special kudos!

Our 2011 total is added to the 2010 figure of 46,658 names and 2009’s 32,000 names. (Isn’t it great to see the numbers increasing each year?)

We’ve finished indexing the York General Burying Ground and the Toronto Necropolis records, and are well into Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Arbitrators are completing the Necropolis, and there’s still lots of both indexing and arbitration to do on Mount Pleasant Cemetery and Prospect Cemetery.

It was very exciting to see the first fruits of our labours available on in June. It is just a fraction of what we have done, and what is waiting for us.

Please consider working some indexing into your daily schedule in 2011. The system lets you set targets for yourself, but even without a target, there’s something very satisfying about watching that little total mount up as you complete a page!

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need help with passwords or other instructions—or a second opinion on that careless clerk’s handwriting!

Happy New Year to all.

Jane MacNamara

I think Thomas Carfrae, one of the founders in 1825 of what became the Toronto Trust Cemeteries, would be pleased to see his family members recalled on

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.

Making Toronto historical records available

We are the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society, located in Toronto, Ontario Canada. We have more than 600 members in the Greater Toronto Area and around the world. Family historians are intent on researching their own families or the ancestry of their clients, but we also realize the importance of making records available for other researchers. We transcribe, index, and explain the records that are in our home areas—even if our own ancestry is elsewhere. We know that other volunteers are doing likewise all over the world.

This blog will provide information to our volunteers and others about projects in progress.

And if it inspires you to help with our projects, or one closer to your home, we’d be very pleased.