> Hugh Armstrong's Genealogy Site Index

Book review:
In Search of Your Canadian Roots, by Angus Baxter

Rated one star out of five

I looked at Mr. Baxter's book at the public library and being a member of the Victoria Genealogical Society I was most interested in his observations on our society.

I was shocked at the incredibly inaccurate comments that he had published.

The entry starts with the society's name - which he correctly entered. However he then gives the reader an address that is several years out of date. In early 1993 the VGS changed it's address to: Victoria Genealogical Society, P.O Box 45031, Mayfair Postal Outlet, Victoria, BC, V8Z 7G9. Checking in the Genealogical Research Directories (GRD) it was noted that they have published the correct address since their 1993 edition. To cover himself he states that "the addresses given are accurate at the time of writing" but surely Mr. Baxter has access to the GRD.

The rest of the article continues with inaccuracy after inaccuracy and it becomes clear that Mr. Baxter has not done any research into the VGS.

He states that the society "holds few meetings". The fact is that for most of our twenty plus years the VGS has held regular, well-attended meetings ten months of the year.

No meetings are held in July or August. Meetings always feature a speaker.

He states that the VGS "does not appear to have any ongoing projects". One large project can be seen on the B.C. Archives website, namely the indexes to births, marriages and deaths. These indexes, produced mostly by VGS members, set a standard that other provinces should emulate. He does mention the indexes briefly under the B.C. Archives stating "Please note, the indexes to Birth, Marriage, and Death registrations are located in the Vital Events section of the Web site". No more details are given to this most useful tool. Among the other ongoing projects are the extraction of details from coroner's reports and the indexing of stones and burial records of Royal Oak Cemetery. So far over 67,000 burial records have been extracted at Royal Oak and all the stones have been recorded. This is a work in progress and will be published in the future.

He states that the VGS "produces a Surname Index only at occasional interval". The last two were produced in 1997 and 1999. The 1997 version was produced on paper and microfiche. The last one is an ongoing surname index and can be viewed on the VGS website. It is being updated regularly.

To try and justify his contention that the VGS is "the least active of all the provincial-capital societies" he quotes an un-named and totally un-identified person. This person states that "this lack of activity is caused by the fact that only a handful of our 150 members have any British Columbia or Vancouver Island roots". We actually have nearly 400 members and are very active.

He omits to mention that the VGS has one of the finest genealogical libraries in Canada. He also omits the fact that the VGS has an active and effective queries committee.

He fails to mention that the society has hosted two very successful daylong seminars in the last two years. Lady Teviot, May 1998, and Cyndi Howells (of Cyndi's List fame), Oct 1999, were the feature guests to the sold out events.

What a pity that Mr. Baxter was too lazy to check the VGS website . Why didn't he write a letter to our president asking for comments or find some way to give the society a chance to defend itself against such untrue statements. When writing a fact based book every effort should be made to be thorough, accurate and fair. On just this one page I have been very disappointed to find that a man who produces many genealogy books may be too busy to get the facts right.

In his book I was not able to find any comments on the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid (OCFA) or the British Columbia Cemetery Finding Aid (BCCFA). These are two of the best research tools and are freely available to all but he does seem to know about them.

Both are produced by two members of the VGS. He also makes only a passing comment on the extremely important 1871 Ontario Census Index. He seems to think that there is a provincial genealogical society in B.C. In fact the British Columbia Genealogical Society is the Vancouver area genealogical society and has no status as a provincial body and does not claim such a status.

I won't read the rest of his book or any other of his books. He has lost my trust. An abbreviated version of this review was submitted to I gave 1 out of 5 stars, the lowest possible rating. > Hugh Armstrong's Genealogy Site Index