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Gordon Watts Reports
Column published: 07 February 2008
By: Gordon A. Watts   Biography & Archived Articles

Gordon A. Watts
Topics in this column include:
  • Library and Archives services consultations
  • Are we ready for it yet?
  • Mailing list for Canadian genealogy societies
  • Upcoming genealogy conferences

Scroll down this page to read the complete articles...

Library and Archives services consultations

The second meeting of the Library and Archives Canada Services Advisory Board (LAC-SAB) has been scheduled for 7 March 2008. It is expected at that time that improvements to the current 'manned' hours of service at the LAC reading rooms and the Canadian Genealogy Center may be finalized. Subsequent to the inaugural meeting held on 30 November 2007, members of the SAB were presented with a survey that contained a number of different options that might be implemented within the bounds of available funding. The options presented in that survey were based upon opinions and suggestions presented at the November meeting. For a summary of what took place at that meeting check the LAC webpage.

As promised by LAC at the time the SAB was formed, the general public will have an opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions regarding LAC's public services. As a result, all interested parties are invited to attend a Consultation on LAC's Public Services to be held on Tuesday, 26 February 2008. The consultation will take place in Panel A, located on the main floor of the Library and Archives Building, 395 Wellington St., Ottawa. There will be two sessions: the first will take place from 2:00 - 4:00 p.m., followed by a second session from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.

These sessions represent the first in a series of meetings that will form part of LAC's new consultation initiative focusing on the delivery of its public services. These ongoing consultations are open to all LAC users and will include both public meetings and opportunities to provide feedback through the Internet, by telephone or by mail. Additional information on the consultation process and future public sessions will be posted on the LAC website.

Those unable to attend the February sessions may submit their concerns and opinions by email or by Canada Post at:
    Public Consultations
    Library and Archives Canada
    395 Wellington Street, Room 211D
    Ottawa, ON K1A 0N4

Are we ready for it yet?

In my columns of 30 November and 19 December, 2007 I wrote about the possible formation of a Canada-wide Genealogy Association. The responses received from those articles were mostly positive. However, insofar as being able to immediately proceed with the formation of a Canada-wide association of genealogical societies the number of responses has been woefully inadequate.

Responses were mainly from individuals, rather than representatives of genealogical organizations. In my view, in order to proceed further what is needed is for genealogical societies to commit to the concept of joining a Canada-wide association, and to appoint a member of their board, or a member at large, to be their spokesperson/contact for that association.

The few individuals who have so far been actively interested in forming such an association cannot do it on their own. Ask yourself the following questions:
    "Are we ready for a Canada-wide association of genealogy societies, with a goal of having a strong united body prepared to speak to government and other entities, on issues relating to the interests of genealogists and family researchers? If so, is the genealogical society that I am a member of prepared to commit to join such a Canada-wide association and to elect/appoint a spokesperson/contact for that association?"
If your answer to these questions is 'YES' I would urge you to attend the next meeting of your genealogical or family history society, and to ask these questions there. The response of your society can be sent to me at". In such responses, please give full contact information for your society, and state the number of members involved so that we might have some idea of how many people would be represented should a Canada-wide association of genealogists and family historians become a reality.

Mailing list for Canadian genealogy societies

Subsequent to my first article regarding possible formation of a Canada-wide association of genealogical and family history societies I was contacted by Nelson Denton, administrator of 100+ genealogical mail lists. Nelson indicated that he was applying to Rootsweb for yet another mail list that he intended would bring together various genealogical and family history groups across the country to discuss items of common interest. While such a mail list would certainly aid in discussion of the formation of a Canada-wide genealogical association, it is not intended that this be the only topic allowed.

The official description of the mail list is stated as the following:
    "A mailing list for the various genealogical and historical societies of Canada and individual researchers to share information and resources in ways that will help each group to more effectively work at their specialities and help promote their own group's interest."
In his message to me, Nelson stated: "Too many know of the history of things and not the genealogy and vice versa. Ask a building historian about the people who founded a great church and he will give you details on every stone and measurement and date. Ask the clergyman and he will tell you all about the ministers. Ask about the wife and kids of the founders and you will get blank stares. Ask a genealogist and they will say. "Did my gg-grandpappy build that? WOW, I never knew???"

Nelson has indicated that the new mail list is not intended for individual queries and look-ups, and hopefully these will be kept to a minimum, although during its initial period of operation some posters were obviously not aware of that. It is hoped that posts will be kept to subjects of interest to a wide variety of genealogists and family historians, rather than one that may be of interest only to the person who posted it.

In its short period of existence, the list has included subjects such as cataloging major collections, LAC hours of operation, pioneer/old cemeteries, and announcements of various genealogy society meetings and conferences. It is hoped that the subject of a Canada-wide association of genealogical and family history societies will generate some interest as well.

To join the Can-Genealogy-Societies mail list, send an email to To subscribe in Digest mode, change the L in the address to a D. In either instance, include only the single word 'Subscribe' (without the quotes) in the subject line and body of the message.

Upcoming genealogy conferences

With the start of the New Year, notices are coming out regarding a number of 2008 Genealogy Conferences. Not the least of these is the Ontario Genealogical Society Conference, this year titled 'Wired Genealogy', to be held May 30 - June 1st, 2008 at Fanshawe College, London, Ontario.

Touted as the largest genealogy and technology Conference in Canada there are 46 sessions and workshops planned, plus two special presentations. The program will include presentations by Dick Eastman, Steve Morse, Colleen Fitzpatrick, Geoff Rasmussen, David Lifferth, Fawne Stratford-Devai, Louise St. Denis, Valerie Adams, Paul McGrath, Dick Doherty, Halvor Moorshead, Rick Roberts, Lesley Anderson, Ruth Burkholder, Alan Campbell, Bob Dawes, Fraser Dunford, Brian Elliott, Karen Marshall, Alastair Neely, Kathie Orr, David Elliott, John Sing, and Stephen Young.

As the Conference title suggests, most sessions will explore how technology & the internet can enhance genealogical research. The Marketplace & Exhibit area will include more than 70 exhibitors, having the most complete selection available of material relating to family research in Ontario as well as material for other provinces and countries.

For further information and registration, visit the Conference website. As with most such conferences, there are some monetary benefits to registering prior to a pre-determined date.

The International Association of Jewish Genealogy (IAJGS) has announced the 28th International Conference on Jewish Genealogy to be held in Chicago, 17 - 22 August 2008. The conference will be held at the Chicago Marriott Downtown Magnificent Mile. The IAJGS will co-host this conference with the Jewish Genealogical Society of Illinois and the Illiana Jewish Genealogical Society.

Sixteen Special Interest Groups (SIGS) will host sessions concerning their research focus such as German-Jewish Genealogy, Ukraine, Poland, and Litvak Jewish Genealogy research. A number of specialists or archivists from Europe or Eastern Europe will be in attendance to make presentations and advise attendees about resources available in their country. Some of the SIGS will hold luncheons with a featured speaker.

At least sixteen smaller groups, Birds of a Feather (BOF), will hold meetings such as the BOFs for Yiddish Theater, Suwalki Lomza, Posen Prussia, and Lublin & Zamosc Area.

To register or find information regarding the many additional features and sessions available at this conference, see the conference website at:

Until next time.

Gordon A. Watts

Your comments regarding this newsletter, and suggestions for future articles are welcome. Click here to send me a message with a subject line of "Gordon Watts Reports".

To view back issues of Gordon Watt's columns, visit Gordon's biography page where all of his archives articles are available.

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The Merivale Cemeteries
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