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Toronto Branch monthly meetings are an opportunity to learn and to connect with fellow members. The format of meetings varies but there is always at least one main presentation by a guest speaker. Other offerings may include: short presentations by members about ‘great moments’ in their family history research, sessions where Branch expert researchers help solve members’ brick walls, other learning/sharing opportunities, ‘Discovery’ tables where items of interest to family historians are displayed or demonstrated, and ‘Rescue’ tables where donated gently-used publications are made available to other members.

Meetings are normally held the fourth Monday of the month at Lansing United Church, at the corner of Poyntz Avenue and Beecroft Road in Toronto  (west of Yonge just south of Sheppard). Official proceedings are from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. However, all members are welcome to come early and join the informal Members Network meeting commencing at 6:15 p.m.

The Bachelorette New France
Mar 25 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
The Bachelorette New France @ Lansing United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada

THE BACHELORETTE NEW FRANCE: Stories of Bigamy, Incest, Witchcraft and Murder

Speakers: Dawn Kelly and Carol Ufford

In 1630 New France was populated mainly by men. France recognized that there were threats to its economy from the British in the south, and set out to grow the colony by encouraging young women to immigrate, marry and populate the young colony.

Between 1634 and 1663 the Company of 100 Associates sponsored young women immigrating to Canada. These 260 young women were known as Les Filles à Marier. The Company of 100 Associates was disbanded in 1663 and the government of France took over the governing of the colony. At that time King Louis XIV established a program to bring young female immigrants to New France. These 768 women were known as Les Filles du Roi.

Who were these women? Contrary to popular belief, these women were not prostitutes. Many were from poor families looking for a way out of their predicament. These young women were given a choice in marriage, and because men far outnumbered them, they had plenty of choice. They have fascinating stories—including stories of bigamy, incest, witchcraft and murder!

Dawn Kelly has been a radio newscaster for 34 years. For the past 21 she has worked as a national newscaster at The Canadian Press, earning national and international awards for live broadcasts ranging from Pierre Trudeau’s funeral to the countdown to the new millennium on New Year’s Eve 1999. After embarking on a search for her Irish ancestors, Dawn discovered she has deep French-Canadian and Acadian roots. Between her mother’s and father’s trees she can count 31 Filles à Marier and 42 Filles du Roi that she descends from directly.  With some family lines still to explore, that number may rise.

Carol Ufford has been researching her family history off and on for over 20 years.  Since retiring in 2016, she has been able to devote more time to her hobby.  Her family has deep roots in Ontario, but she is jealous of her husband’s deep French Canadian roots on his father’s side, which include 35 Filles à Marier and 34 Filles du Roi.  Carol has served on the Toronto Branch Executive, and is currently the administrator of the branch Facebook group.  Last year Carol took on a genealogical challenge, and created a blog to write a story about one ancestor a month for each month of 2018 .  The result was 12 Ancestors in 12 Months.

Mini-presentation: Larry Foreman: A Courtship through Postcards

Tracking an 18th Century Regiment
Apr 29 @ 7:30 pm – 9:30 pm
Tracking an 18th Century Regiment @ Lansing United Church | Toronto | Ontario | Canada

Speaker: Sam Allison

Genealogists can benefit from the techniques and sources used to write history books. Driv’n by Fortune is about a Scots regiment that settled in Canada. The 78th Fraser’s Highlanders (1756–63) defeated the French on the Plains of Abraham, and then attracted thousands of their fellow countrymen to settle land in what is now New York and Vermont as well as Canada. (1763–76). Those soldier-settlers in the 13 English Colonies became the backbone of Loyalist regiments in the American Revolution (1776–83), then, re-migrated to take up land in Canada. Their descendants were “first to cross the Continent” partly because of their good relationships with the First Nations and French Canadians.

This talk analyzes the sources used to track these military migrants before, during, and after their time in the 78th Fraser’s Highlanders. It illustrates the problems of same names, false names, spellings, changing place names, false assumptions, and statistical errors. The dangers of historical myths are outlined.

Sam Allison was born in Scotland and immigrated to Canada in 1968. After teaching high school history, he then taught in McGill’s Faculty of Education. He served on committees for Quebec’s Ministry of Education, and has written educational books, articles, and websites. He lives in Brossard, Quebec.

Sam’s most recent publication, Driv’n by Fortune, will be available for sale at the meeting.

Mini-presentation: Mary Brock: Toronto’s House of Industry for the ‘deserving poor’ 1837-1947