Monday, 4 April 2016

Gene-O-Rama 2016

Genealogists from as far afield as Burlington and Nova Scotia, more than anticipated, were attracted this past weekend to the 32nd Ottawa Branch OGS Gene-O-Rama event held at the Ottawa's Confederation Education Centre. Gene-O-Rama has been held annually since 1981 except for a few years when the branch was hosting a larger OGS event.

Friday evening's Pat Horan Memorial Lecture featured Glenn Wright on Getting to Know You: The Past and Future of Family History Research. Presently digitization initiatives focus on name-dense records and those on microfilm easy to digitize. He mentioned a long list of original paper format resources trapped inside archives boxes which may never be digitized, illustrating their significance for the family historian with stories. Often they are difficult to find as they are not well catalogued and described. An example given, one of many, was Mounted Police (LAC Record Group 18) files that included investigations of "missing" people.

The Saturday program had parallel sessions. I started with listening to Nichole Watier speaking on What's New in Genealogy at Library and Archives Canada. That got into more detail than in an short overview given the previous evening by Robert Grandmaître. Of particular note was the update of over 3.8 million names to the database formerly known as Passenger Lists for the Port of Quebec, 1865-1900. Additions include arrivals at Quebec City 1900-1922, Halifax 1881-1922, Saint John 1900-1912, North Sydney 1906-1912, Vancouver 1905-1912, Victoria 1905-1912 and Eastern US ports 1905-1912. Asked about passenger lists later than 1935 Nichole mentioned they were still with the originating department and considered operational, something that should surely be challenged for pre-WW2 records. Both Robert and Nichole mentioned the renovations and reorganizations going on in the genealogy area which will include new computers. I wonder when some of the museum piece microfilm readers on the 3rd floor will be replaced.

Glenn Wright was back, this time with Lesley Anderson, presenting on Creating Ontario: Immigration to Upper Canada and Canada West, 1791 - 1867. They spoke of the history of the province from the time it was part of a French colony to confederation. Resources at the Archives of Ontario and Library and Archives Canada as well as online were covered illustrated by examples.

Over lunch I had an extended conversation with Mike Quackenbush. He mentioned that the Great Canadian Genealogy Summit he is co-organizing is attracting lots of US-based participants. I was found out that he, as a descendant of a Middlemore British home child, is not one who emphasises the negative, how some home children were mistreated, and some were exploited. He appreciates how generally they were much better off they were in Canada than they would have been in the UK.

I had to leave early after visiting several marketplace tables and chatting with friends old and new, including Louise St-Denis from the National Institute for Genealogical Studies who was back following several year's absence. Before leaving I stopped in late of hear Shirley-Ann Pyefinch speak on Research Breakthrough Strategies using a case study from her family history. As usual her presentation was well organised and clearly illustrated.

In the evening I was the invited speaker at the conference banquet on the topic of Blowin' in the Wind: Ottawa Weather Events and People. Thanks to Doug Hoddinott for A/V assistance.

It appears there's some hope for those of us looking for digitized Canadian newspapers that PostMedia may now be ready to make their newspaper archives available in searchable form.

Doug Gray, Heather Oakley and a host of volunteers are to be congratulated on another milestone event for local genealogy.

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