Submitted by Janis Carter

An initial meeting of interested genealogists took place at the Whitby Library, March 2, 1982. The meeting was instigated by Dale and Gil McIntosh and Stephen and Lori Wood, by placing a small ad in the paper. Forty-three people attended and thirty-one became paid members that evening. It was decided to form a group and to approach OGS about becoming a branch. The name Whitby-Oshawa was selected for the group, membership fees were set at $4.00 and meetings would be held at the Whitby Library the first Tuesday of every month. An executive was voted in, consisting of Gil McIntosh – Chairman, Stephen Wood – Chair, Dale McIntosh – Secretary, and Lori Wood – Treasurer.

The following month had 60 paid members and many projects were started, such as a newsletter, queries, cemetery recording, and pedigree charts. Nancy Trimble volunteered as the Branch Librarian.

The first newsletter was published in June. Later on, a contest was held to choose a name for the newsletter. The winning name, Kindred Spirits, was submitted by Kellie Love. The logo of a tree was submitted by Janis Carter. It is interesting to read old newsletters and see how they helped us celebrate not only Branch happenings but personal events as well. I found notices of babies joining our member’s family trees. Those babies are now grown and have babies of their own.

The June meeting started one of the branch traditions that carried on for 20 years, by inviting prominent Toronto genealogist, Brian Gilchrist as guest speaker. At that time his fee was supper and homemade pie.

Whitby-Oshawa officially became OGS Branch # 22 in July of that year.

Within the first year, Irish and English research groups were formed and beginner workshops were held. A current, very strong research group is the DNA group, meeting once a month.

Having a local branch with so much interest was helpful in the establishment of a Family History Centre at the Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints Church, at the corner of Rossland and Stevenson Roads in Oshawa.

In 1984, the first fundraising project in the form of a yard sale was held at the home of Stephen and Lori Wood, another tradition that still carried on until the 19 th year of the branch. Proceeds of the sales went to the purchase of library books.

Some projects over the years have been Doug Grandy Awards, 1871 Census transcription, Robert Thornton records transcriptions, From the Hearth Cookbook, and transcriptions of The Bowmanville Statesman, Wesleyan Methodist Baptismal Records. Other fundraising projects have been the collection of A&P receipts, collection of printer cartridges and cell phones, quilt and afghan raffles, and 50/50 draws. Other volunteer projects have included 1891 census transcriptions, Places of Worship, Ryan Taylor Memorial Yearbook, Memorial or Funeral Card Collection, 1-Room School House collection and Mall and event displays.

Possibly the Branch’s largest project has been the transcription of stones of all cemeteries in Durham Region and some beyond. In 1984, summer meetings were cancelled and cemetery transcribing meetings were held; nine cemeteries were completed for a total of 2400 stones, in the first year of transcribing. Currently the project is to update cemetery transcription recordings, and to digitize all the transcription.

Another current project is TONI or The One Name Index, hosted by O.G.S. with many members involved in making many of our resources and name list electronic.

Meetings have been held in various locations. Moving from the Whitby Library in November 1992, meetings were held for a few years in the Cafeteria of the Henry St High School, in Whitby. Sept 1995 the meeting location changed to the Arts Resource Centre in Oshawa. Following that the branch meetings moved to the auditorium of the Oshawa Public Library. Our 35 th anniversary meeting also marked the end of meetings at the Library and meetings were held in the Bobby Orr Lounge at the Civic Recreation Complex. Currently meetings are held at the Northminster Church, at the corner of Rossland Road and Simcoe St. The COVID pandemic ushered in an era of Branches learning to deliver meetings from a distance so that people could continue to attend, while staying home. This has evolved into the Branch offering some meetings in person and all on-line over Zoom.

The Branch has had 3 different office locations; in a Chamber of Commerce Building on John St. in Oshawa, in the Arts Resources Centre in Oshawa and at the Oshawa Airport. The current office is now housed on the third floor of the Northminster Church at the corner of Simcoe St and Rossland Rd, in Oshawa. Until the year 2017, the Branch Library was always at the Whitby Public Library. The Library now resides in the same location as the Branch Office and has recently had a name change to the Stephen and Lori Wood Durham Region Branch Library.

In 1985, O.G.S. divided all branches in the province into Regions. Whitby-Oshawa along with Simcoe County Branch made up Region VI. In 1988, there was a re-alignment and Simcoe County Branch became part of Region V, who they share more history with, and Whitby- Oshawa joined Kawartha and Quinte Branches to form Region VII. Region VI became non- existent. A further reorganization of O.G.S. eliminated the Regions and created a Board of Directors with members at large instead of Regional Directors.

In 2005, the Branch name was changed to Durham Region Branch to closer reflect the area covered and local membership.

The Branch has very successfully hosted 2 of the Annual O.G.S. Conferences, both held at Durham College, Oshawa.

The Branch has had many wonderful and dedicated volunteers over the years, some who have taken on jobs on the executive and some who have preferred to serve the Branch in other capacities. Throughout our years the Branch has maintained a strong membership and a goodslate of volunteers. Thanks should go to everyone who has had a part in making our Branch the success it is today.