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.

Spring! And a family historian’s mind turns to… cemeteries.

The Victoria Day long-weekend is the traditional time for Ontarians to open their summer cottages, dust off the patio furniture—and for genealogists—to think about transcribing cemeteries.

Members of the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Toronto Branch have been very busy this winter and spring preparing to host close to 800 guests at the largest genealogical gathering in Canada, OGS Conference 2010. Forty-five of our “guests” had a look at the Toronto Necropolis as part of the “Toronto’s Irish Heritage” bus tour. But the conference is all done now!

Toronto Trust Cemeteries Project

We were very pleased that Stephen Young from FamilySearch in Salt Lake City was able to come to Conference 2010 and talk about our Toronto Trust Cemeteries indexing project as part of a session called “New Toronto Research Tools”. It has inspired several new indexers to join the project, and now that the conference is out of the way, it is full steam ahead for the rest of us! To become an indexer, contact us at:

Transcribing at St. James Cemetery

If you’re in Toronto this weekend, you can join the transcription team at St. James Cemetery on Parliament Street, just south of Bloor. A sun hat and gardening gloves would come in handy. We’ll be there from 9:00 am to noon on Saturday, in Section 2. (There’s a map just inside the gate to help you get your bearings.) It is a beautiful and fascinating place. I wonder if our single-minded cardinal companion will be there? (You’ll just have to come to find out more about that.) For more information about transcribing and the schedule for St. James, contact:

Mount Pleasant Cemetery Tour

This Sunday, May 23, at 2:00 pm, you can join historian Mike Filey for a tour of the west side of Mount Pleasant Cemetery. Meet just inside the Yonge Street entrance. Expect a very large crowd! Here’s a map.