Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Ontario Genealogical Society Conference - 2016 - Reflections

The Ontario Genealogical Society Conference 2016 is now over and it is time to reflect on the conference. 

The conference was well attended and whenever we gathered in the large meeting rooms there was a real buzz of conversation as attendees waited for the beginning of the session to begin.

Pre-conference Workshops and Activities

I headed down to Toronto on the Wednesday as I had been organizing with a small committee a pre-conference afternoon of business skills workshops for the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists. We were so pleased with the registration numbers and we welcomed a group of mainly non-OCAPG members. Therefore the topics chosen must be what people considering becoming a professional genealogist or those interested in expanding or repurposing their business were looking for.

We had three workshops. Two were presented by Thomas MacEntee of Chicago and High-Definition Genealogy. He spoke on "The Business of Genealogy" and "Genealogy Marketing". Thomas provided so much information in the workshops and I hope to implement some of his suggestions. The second presenter was Jeff Hauley of Newmarket of Hauley Accounting who spoke on "Financial Management for Genealogists". He provided solid information for everyone in attendance. In Thomas' second workshop he shared so many helpful ideas and gave us an extensive handout. One volunteer received specific suggestions about determining her niche in the marketplace and about branding. It was a very successful, worthwhile day. Thank you Thomas and Jeff.

The conversations continued when about half of the group went out for supper.

Friday morning --  I attended a workshop with Judy Russell. It was indeed a workshop despite the large numbers as it was participatory. The handouts showed the screen shots of different records Judy talked about so that we could see the information provided in each record. Her topic was "No Vitals? No Problem! -- Building a Family through Circumstantial Evidence". This is one area that I want to work on as a part of my professional development.  

Friday afternoon -- I set up the Ontario Chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists' table in the Expo Hall and spent most of the afternoon there. I did a consultation with the "Ask the Expert". I hope that some of the suggestions that I gave him work out and he finds more information about his ancestors.

Friday Night Opening

Friday night after eating out with friends, we attended the official opening of the Conference with Judy Russell (the Legal Genealogist) as the keynote speaker. Her topic was "The Ethical Genealogist in the 21st Century". She shared the three basic rules for handling sensitive information found in our genealogical research.


The morning started early with the Keynote Lecture by Lisa Louise Cooke. Her topic was "Future Technology and Genealogy: 5 Strategies You Need". 

Next I attended the lecture by Daniel Earl, "A New Look at Research Methodology and Brick Walls". For him, a brick wall exists "when there is the reasonable assumption that there are records that could yield information of value." One suggestion, I particularly note, is to organize documents (timeline) in the order in which they were created not by the date of the event. I can see how this is useful for showing how the information provided is distant from the event. The date of birth given in a death record is removed from the event, so in the timeline it would go at the time of death not birth. 

I chose to attend Judy Russell's lecture "Beyond Ancestry: Other "Don't Miss" Genealogy Resources". The majority of the websites she shared focused on Canadian resources. I appreciated her commentary on each.

After lunch, I attended the Ontario Genealogical Society's Annual Meeting. After it was over, I went to the Expo Hall. I looked after the OCAPG table and visited some of the vendors. I met Lynn Palermo and bought three of her books. Now to get some writing done.

I attended a Pop-up talk about making quality photos and taking in to consideration where you are going to use it. She shared too some suggestions for preservation.

I went out for supper with a group of friends.


Before heading to the first lecture, I started to take things to the car. Jane MacNamara spoke about "Finding the Footprint of Your Ancestor's English Village". She shared some of the websites that help a person envision the place where their ancestors lived.

That was the last lecture I would attend at this conference. I checked out of my hotel room. I spent time at the time in the Expo Hall. Before the closing, I packed up the table and loaded in the car. 

The conference came to a close with the closing ceremony and the keynote lecture with CeCe Moore talking about DNA in "Lessons from the Cutting Edge".

Final Thoughts

It was a good conference. I purchased the printed version of the syllabus so I will be able to review what I heard but to also read the information from the lectures that I did not attend. I also downloaded the syllabus so I can use the links to easily visit the many websites that the speakers recommended.

Thank you to all the volunteers who spent many hours over the last two years preparing for this weekend. 

2016 Janet Iles Print


  1. It was nice to meet you Janet! Let me know how you make out with your writing.

    1. Lynn, it was great to meet you too at the conference. I enjoy meeting people in person who I have only connected with in social media. Yes, I must get more writing done.Your books should give me some good suggestions.


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