Ryan Taylor Toronto branch offers full-day workshops
Toronto branch


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By Ryan Taylor

Do you have an English or Irish research brick wall? In genealogy, you reach a brick wall when you seem to have done everything possible to solve a problem, without result.

The Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society is holding full-day workshops to help you find a way around it.

Their Irish day is 19 August and the English day is 29 October.

The Irish day will feature eight presentations. The first is an examination of the Great Famine.

38,000 Irish came to the Toronto area in 1847 alone, the height of the famine caused by several years of failed potato crops in Ireland. Toronto itself had only about 20,000 people, so the effect on the little city can be imagined. These immigrants then spread across Ontario and beyond.

The speaker will be Robert Kearns, who heads a foundation proposing to build a commemorative park on Bathurst Quay in Toronto next year, to be called Ireland Park.

Mark McGowan, principal of St. Michael's College at the University of Toronto, will also examine records left by the migrants from the perspective of routine genealogical resources -- census, tax records, directories -- which provide more information than is generally thought.

Oakville's Ruth Blair will give advice on how to prepare for a research trip to Dublin. Preparation is the key to success when working overseas. Blair is the author of a recent book on this subject, Planning a Genealogy Research Trip to Ireland: the Research Trail in Dublin.

Richard Doherty will look at Irish records in both Ontario and Ireland and veteran OGS member Wanda Sinclair will examine one family's records, demonstrating how they work together to answer genealogical questions.

In all, the day will offer information about both records in Ireland, and Irish lives in 19th century Ontario. There will also be a question and answer session, when you can ask for help with your brick wall.

This event will take place at the North York Central Library Auditorium, 5120 Yonge Street, Toronto (North York Centre subway station). The OGS library is located at this branch of the Toronto Public Library.

The English day on 29 October is scheduled for Toronto Botanical Gardens, 777 Lawrence Avenue East (at Leslie). It features Christopher Watt from England, who has written a number of the My Ancestor Was... series published by the Society of Genealogists (London).

He will be lecturing on The National Archives, Britain's largest archival resource, military records and underused British records. These include estate duty (probate) books, marriage licences, tithe maps, manor rolls, land tax records and lesser-known items from the parish chest.

In addition there will be talks on photographs in genealogy, job-related records, recent developments on English Internet sites, and 16th and 17th century records. The seminar brochure also states, "Much of the content will also apply to Welsh records."

Toronto Branch has always seen genealogical education as an important part of their role. Every year they offer long and short courses on a variety of topics, with experienced lecturers providing the instruction. Autumn 2006 courses include an introduction to genealogy, the British in India, Scotland, scrapbooking, writing your family history, and an overview of the Archives of Ontario. Obviously, they are trying to provide something for everyone.

They deserve a lot of credit for the amount of work and organization which goes into making these seminars available. You do not have to be a member of OGS to participate.

Posted July 4, 2006
Column copyright © 2006 Ryan Taylor

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