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November 16, 2009

Family History in Perspective

Among my Heritage Perspective columns over the last 10 years I have occasionally touched on my own family history and in general the recording of family history.  Genealogy is one of the most popular hobbies people are involved in as a result of computers, genealogical societies, scrapbooking and the like. 

My brother is my family’s genealogist and I have belonged to the remarkable Ontario Genealogical Society (OGS) for years.  I regularly use the Nipissing Branch Library in the North Bay Public Library and the resource people there.  But as a historian I am not as interested in genealogical dates as I am in the stories or the history of which genealogy is only a part.  Some will argue that good genealogy includes the stories bit I prefer more emphasis on the stories. 

My membership in the OGS ($45) and the Nipissing Branch ($10) is worth it as I mentioned but I live too far away to attend their fascinating monthly meeting.  I have spoken to their group on a couple of occasions and wish I could get to more.  I hope to hear Paul Walker the CEO of the North Bay Library speak on “The History of North Bay on Post Cards” on November 3 (check with the Branch for details.) 

Nipissing District Branch O.G.S presents their  newly published transcription of Terrace Lawn Cemetery to Dorothy-Rae Stevens
Left to right: Ann Staines  Dorothy-Rae Stevens  Audrey Kunkel

Some of the reasons I am writing this column is because I get numerous requests for people asking about a relative from the area who lived in the area in the past.  I help if I can but I usually send them to the Nipissing Branch which has a service called “Queries” where you can get help for a very reasonable rate.  You can also go to the North Bay Library and visit the Branch Library and research the numerous resources they have there.  They have volunteers on hand to help.  They are open Wednesday to Friday 1-4pm 7 Sat 1-3.  (volunteers permitting). 

If one is serious about a genealogical project membership in OGS is a good investment.  www.nipissing.ogs.on.ca.  You can’t just join the Branch.  In my opinion the Branch Newsletter “The Nipissing Voyageur” which comes out 4 times a year by mail or online is worth the price of membership.  It is loaded with useful and interesting information. 

A Nipissing Voyageur 

The September 2009 issue is 10 pages long and is loaded with interesting material – photographs, historical information and updates on information sources.  A profile of Tomiko, along with photographs provided an interesting insight.  It was a railway stop that closed in 1971 and is now a gohost town with many stories to tell.  It is one of several profiles. 

New books are listed.  Barbara Aiken has written 4 books listing Local Histories and her latest (1997-2007) lists 859 publication any one of which might be a goldmine to someone from that community now doing a family history.  It also lists various religious archives available.  Another reference in the newsletter lists Cemeteries in Quebec.  www.interment.net/can/qc/index/html.  The Newsletter also lists 2 new local cemetery lists St. Rosa de Lima, River Valley and Terrace Lawn, North Bay.  There are numerous other new websites listed. 

The Genealogical Sources 

There are various Genealogical Groups outside North Bay in the Community Voices area.  I regularly send people to Joan O’Hare who knows the Mattawa area (condie@sympatico.ca)  The Almaguin Highlands Group has regular meetings and services.  Call Dona Crawford at 705-382-1093.  In the Temiscaming area call Cathy Blackburn at timetrav@nt.net.  For North Bay queries contact Muriel Gartner 472-2265, cgartner@cogeco.ca 

Francoise Noel’s new book launched this week in North Bay.

 Nipissing History Professor Francoise Noel who is active in the Nipissing Branch (She is their webmaster) has put some of her students on assignment at the Branch.  Francoise’s fascinating new history book Family & community Life in Northeastern Ontario will be launched Thursday October 15 from 7-8:30pm at Gulliver’s Books North Bay where signed copies are available. 


Another popular family history approach that has taken off is family scrapbooking where, in addition to traditional paper and glue methods, computer based activity can be used to develop bound books of photos with support material.  Check your yellow pages for information.  Photo Metro on Lakeshore in North Bay has some excellent material.  A neighbour is a consultant with Creative Memories, another source of quality products.  A “Croptoberfest”, a full day of scrapbooking with a group is scheduled for October 24 in Powassan.  Call Bernadette Kerr at 724-6368 or Teresa Emmerson at 724-3460 for more information. 


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