Ontario Genealogical Society  new logoDurham Region Branch of the Ontario Genealogical SocietyDurham Region Branch 2018  logo

• at our “Bring and Brag” Zoom Meeting on Tues., Dec. 6 th at 7:30 pm.

an ajax bomb girl

The Durham Region Branch celebrated with a hybrid meeting for our end-of-year Christmas social. For decades, our end-of-year highlight event has brought us together - in a real room - to enjoy personal family history stories, along with tasty seasonal treats, hot apple cider, and a very unstructured sharing evening.

Last year's virtual event was a great success followed by a wonderful sharing session. This year's event will be hybrid, so this is an opportunity to gather together in person or keep our distance using Zoom. Anything can be shown: photos, medals, heirlooms, a tricky piece of research or even a plea for help! The hybrid meeting drawback is that holding items up to a web camera is often not clear enough for all participants. Thank you to those who sent images to Chair Nancy Trimble ahead of time. Her email is durhamchair@ogs.on.ca

A recording of the entire meeting is on YouTube... https://youtu.be/W3NeIRImG4Y

• at our November 1st., 2022 meeting...

“Bomb Girls: Life at the D.I.L. (Defence Industries Ltd.) Plant in Ajax”, one examination of life on the Home Front.

an ajax bomb girl

Our speaker is Elaine Lievaart of the Ajax Public Library.  

Prior to the Spring of 1940, Ajax did not exist. This all changed when two government surveyors arrived in Pickering Township, looking for land upon which to build the largest munitions plant in the British Commonwealth. We’ll take a tour of this plant, learn about what life was like on and off the production lines and how it eventually morphed into the Town of Ajax.

Elaine Lievaart has worked for the Ajax Public Library in various roles for the past 18 years. She is currently a Community Engagement Associate who works primarily with older adults where she organizes programs which are designed to educate, enlighten, enrich and, mostly, entertain. The other hat she wears is looking after the Local History and Genealogy collections at the Library. Elaine has a love of history and received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Toronto with a double major in Anthropology and History. She is never happier than chatting with people about the unusual story of the founding of Ajax or being let loose in the Town’s Archives to see what treasures she can find.

Elaine brought some artifacts from the munitions plant for us to see!

This presentation is available in the Members Only Area. Elaine's PDF handout will be avialble here, for a short time. The business portion of our meeting is on YouTube... https://youtu.be/KqWYHEHhFz0

cake cutting

Whitby-Oshawa Branch was formed in 1982 as the 22nd branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. We were assigned the area of the old Counties of Ontario and (part of) Durham. In 2005, our name was changed to better reflect that area of coverage: Durham Region Branch. First, we will be holding a very short AGM in order to present an update for the branch and welcome any new volunteers. Following our special speaker, we will be presenting certificates of appreciation, showing a slideshow of our activities through the years and, of course, celebrating our Ruby Anniversary with cake.

• at our October 4th 2022 Meeting...

Jennifer Weymark

Stop the Presses: Historic Newspaper Collections in and Around Durham Region

Newspapers are a treasure trove of information for all sorts of researchers. There are vital statistics such as births and deaths, there are articles highlighting the current events of the days and there are stories and advertisements that showcase social issues and community focus. Archives and libraries have worked to preserve their local newspapers so that they are available for researchers.  This talk will focus on where to access newspapers from collections in and around Durham Region, the challenges faced by those preserving these collections and by researchers accessing them and some of the interesting ways local newspapers have been used to help tell local history.  

Jennifer Weymark has been with the Oshawa Historical Society for 23 years, 22 of those years spent as the Archivist. This role has given Jennifer the opportunity to put to good use her undergraduate work in history and cultural anthropology, while also putting into practice the theories and skills learned while earning her Masters Degree in Museum Studies. In this position, Jennifer has not only devoted time to digitizing and reorganizing the archival collection, while maintaining the day-to-day collections management work, but she has also been focused on filling in gaps in the archival collection through focused collecting practices and original research. She has had the pleasure of sharing her work through presenting at conferences, developing and leading workshops for local students and speaking to various community groups. Handout with live links.

Jennifer has kindly permitted posting of her presentation, on our YouTube Channel, along with the entire meeting contents (Q&A, business portion, news and announcements)... https://youtu.be/o0_EfZPs7fw

• on September 6th at 7:30 p.m. we held our first hybrid meeting!

Jane MacNamara

Ontario's Records of Inheritance on Family Search

Are you ready to go beyond census and births, marriages, and deaths? Estate files are rich source for finding family connections and revealing our ancestor’s social and financial circumstances, maybe even personality. As court records, they tend to be very reliable—and even come with indexes.

Now that FamilySearch.org has digitized an extensive collection of Ontario surrogate court records—we can discover these treasures from home.

This session will give a brief overview of how the court system worked in Ontario and a step-by-step explanation of how to access the records. It will concentrate on records for Durham Region available through FamilySearch.

Speaker Jane E. MacNamara is the author of Inheritance in Ontario: Wills and other Records for Family Historians (OGS/Dundurn) and writes about genealogy at wherethestorytakesme.ca. A long time member of OGS, Jane lectures about research methodology, Ontario, and English family history to genealogical and historical groups throughout Ontario. She teaches courses for the OGS Toronto Branch, most notably hands-on courses about Ontario records—both onsite and online.

[This was be the branch’s first hybrid meeting, that is, both in-person and via Zoom. It was be held in the basement meeting room of the Northminster United Church, Simcoe St. N., Oshawa, Ontario (NW corner of Simcoe St. N. and Rossland Rd. W.)] Here is a recording of the business portion of our meeting, without Jane's presentation... https://youtu.be/yXocNE9je84

Jane has made her presentation available on YouTube; it will be available in the Members Only Area for a year.

Be sure to visit Jane's blog (linked above) for her posts related to the recently digitized/unlocked "Durham Region Surrogate Courts" records, or download Jane's PDF version of this presentation.

Durham Branch’s Virtual Library Monthly Drop-In -


Durham Branch’s Virtual Library Monthly Drop-In, Thursday, August 25th.

Nancy Trimble: Chair, Durham Region Branch

You are invited to join “Durham Branch's Library Drop-In”. We have a permanent day and time now: 4th Thursday at 11:00 am via Zoom. Drop-in and let’s talk genealogy!

We have booked Zoom meetings from June to October. It is one link and you can book all dates at the same time or pick and choose which “drop-ins” to attend.

All are Welcome!  Kindly register at:

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email about joining the meeting.

Watch our (under 3 minute) tour of the library and office: -https://youtu.be/sHdO2sMYW0A

• On June 25th. we held a DNA SIG meeting, open to the public.

Ancestry DNA

Exploring AncestryDNA™ at Ancestry.ca® with Nancy Trimble

Nancy Trimble, PLCGS, (team leader of the DNA Special Interest Group of the Durham Region Branch, Ontario Ancestors) guided us through an exploration of Ancestry.ca’s DNA portion of their website.

She explored the DNA Story, DNA Matches and the Thru-Lines areas of the website in detail, showing how you can glean hints from each as you explore what your DNA is telling you.

[Nancy Trimble is a graduate of the National Institute of Genealogical Studies and is currently the Chair of Durham Region Branch, Ontario Ancestors, as well as Co-Chair of the branch’s DNA SIG. Having a medical background, she has a keen interest in the application of DNA to furthering your genealogical goals.]

Now available for viewing on YouTube: - https://youtu.be/V2c_W1YjZiQ

• at our Durham Branch Zoom Meeting on June 7th., 2022.

virtual tour

An Introduction to GEDmatch, with Mags Gaulden

We will talk about all the things you need to know before your sign-up, terms of service and privacy updates (changes in the last month!) and the things you can do once you are registered. It's all about uploading your DNA data and using the tools and analysis available to discover new DNA cousins and hopefully make exciting discoveries in your family tree.

Mags Gaulden is a Professional Genealogist and the founder of Grandma’s Genes in Ottawa. She is an international Genetic Genealogy lecturer, blogger and social media maven. She serves as admin of various Facebook groups including the ISOGG Facebook group. Mags non-profit work includes Wiki-Tree and mito-YDNA.org

In lieu of a handout, Mags offers a shorter version of her slide presentation - GEDmatch IntroShort [5MB PDF]

A slightly editted version of the entire Zoom meeting, including Mag's presentation, is here: https://youtu.be/vR2rGS3VqAY

• at our Zoom Meeting on Tuesday, May 3rd., 2022

Bob Dawes Scotland


The video [link below] covers the main meeting, held on Zoom, including announcements, news, and a Mini-talk by president, Nancy Trimble, on a new feature available to those whose DNA is on Ancestry. Bob Dawes was the main speaker, on the topic, "Scotland from Abroad - the Next Level". He has made his presentation and handout available in the Members Only Area.


• at our Zoom Meeting on Tuesday, April 5th., 2022

Sher Leetooze

Sher Leetooze - Canadian Resource Review

Sometimes, when we are researching our families, one of them goes missing.  Before you jump to conclusions and check death records, why not check out other provincial archives.  Here in Ontario land was taken up at a rapid rate by the first wave of incomers, so when the sons and daughters were ready to take up land, there was precious little left.  In order to make a life for themselves they went farther afield.  I've found many Ontario people out west in the later 1800's. Manitoba has a wonderful online BMD site for researching the whereabouts of relatives.  And if you are researching in Quebec, Quebec Genealogy/Drouin is one of the best genealogy sites I've ever used. From coast to coast we have great archives - provincial archives, university archives, county /regional/district archives, libraries specializing in genealogical material, historical societies, genealogical societies...; the list goes on and on.

I will try to present a good cross-section to you - giving you url's &/or e-mail addresses. [https://sherleetooze.com/about/]

Sher's presentation is in Members Only.

Stephen Wood's mini talk featured the New General Registry Office (GRO) for England and Wales (1841-1861). President Nancy Trimble chaired the meeting and updated news regarding future genealogical events, including Conference 2022 in June... https://youtu.be/RZHbFdhYagc

• at our meeting on Tuesday, March 1st., 2022

Jennifer Debruin

Do you have a captive ancestor in your family tree?

In fact, many North Americans can count at least one captive ancestor!
Durham Region Branch invites you to join us as Jennifer DeBruin takes us back to the time of the French and Indian Wars on Tuesday, March 1st at 7:30 p.m. via Zoom.
Riveting, complex and heartbreaking, the captive story is one of tragedy and triumph. As the battle for continental supremacy over the colonies in North America raged over generations, people were swept up in its wake – many of them children. The audience will be taken on a treacherous journey, exploring the many complexities of life in ancient lands, and the result of French and English claims to its riches.
Time Period: Early-1600s – Mid-Late 1700s
Jennifer DeBruin Researcher | Author | Speaker
With deep ancestral roots in Quebec, Eastern Ontario, and Colonial America, Jennifer has a passion for researching and sharing the stories of ordinary people who experienced extraordinary history.
With a focus on North America from the 16th - 20th centuries, she seeks to expand the
understanding of our complex history from a variety of perspectives.  
Author of three fact-based historical fiction novels based on North American history, Jennifer is currently writing her first non-fiction book, based on her popular presentation, Loyalist Espionage, and will follow this with her fourth creative non-fiction. She also writes historical pieces, which have appeared in several publications.
In addition to her research and writing, Jennifer has been a professional speaker for over 20 years, is an active volunteer in the historical community, and her most recent venture is an historical podcast, the aWOKEning, which presents information that expands the historical narrative and our understanding of the past, present and future.


Jennifer's presentation was in Members Only, until Aprl 1st. 2022. The rest of the March meeting, including the Internet Archive min-talk, is here... https://youtu.be/m70HDp3jO-c

• at our meeting on Tuesday, February 1st., 2022

Claire Wilton by Michael Hudson

Claire Wilton spoke on Zoom... “Finding Your Ancestors in the Anglican Diocese of Toronto”.

photo credit - Michael Hudson

The Anglican Diocese of Toronto is quite large and holds records covering the areas of Halton-Peel, Toronto, York, Simcoe, Durham, Northumberland, Kawartha Lakes, Peterborough and Haliburton. We expect this talk to be of interest to a wide number of researchers.

Claire will be covering the oldest records held, as well as the types of, access to and information found in the records. She will also highlight examples of searches they have done, as well as challenges with the records. The Archives is currently working on increasing their accessible information (fonds descriptions and finding aids).
Claire Wilton, MLIS, has worked at the Anglican Diocese of Toronto Archives for 11 years, first as Archives Assistant for 8 years and currently as Archivist and Privacy Officer since March 2019. A keen amateur genealogist herself, she has conducted research into her own ancestors (primarily in Bermuda and Scotland). She brings her enthusiasm to the challenge of the search for her own ancestors and to helping others in their genealogical searches of the Diocese of Toronto Archives. Claire is always happy to provide guidance and suggestions on search strategies for ancestors that lived within the Diocese of Toronto.
The 2022 February 01 meeting video is now viewable in the Members Only Area, along with a bonus mini-presentation by Stephen Wood - How to Find Lot and Concession Using Schedule 4 on the 1871 Canadian Census (works for rural locations).

• at our meeting on Tuesday, January 4, 2022

Dave Obee 2022

Dave Obee Spoke on "Migration"

Noted speaker, newspaper man and raconteur Dave Obee is a familiar speaker at OGS Conferences and Branch Zoom Webinars.

“In Search of Home: Migration into, out of and within Canada”

Understanding the flow of people will help you understand how your family fits in the history of the country. In some cases, records are available in Canada and in other countries, but in other cases researchers will need to consider social history and traditional migration routes to understand the lives of their ancestors. Includes a look at the social history of the arrival of the railway, which helped bring massive development to the four western provinces. The railways brought settlers, and helped them get their goods to markets. The railway companies had a keen interest in bringing settlers, and ran colonization schemes designed to entice people to the West. Dave is the author of the book, Destination Canada.
Dave Obee has written a dozen books and has given more than 700 presentations at genealogy and history conferences since 1997. His topics range from general genealogical information, to Canadian research, to technology and more.

Dave's presentation is now in Members Only: - https://durhambranch.ogs.on.ca