British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa
British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa
21st Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference
September 18 - 20, 2015
Ben Franklin Place
101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa
in Partnership with the Ottawa Public Library and the City of Ottawa Archives

Conference Details and Program

We offer three themes this year: Scottish Family History, Photographs in Genealogy, and Technology for Genealogists.
Click on the following to discover the different ways you can attend our conference:
Scroll down this page to see our conference program of topics and speakers.
Please register in person at the Ben Franklin Centre during the conference. We accept payment by cash or cheque. Online registration has closed. For more information, please contact the Conference Registrar at or by telephone at 613-746-6796.
You may also purchase your 2016 Individual or Family BIFHSGO Membership on site.
Lunch breaks
We are unable to offer catered lunches this year. Visit Local Information for a list of nearby restaurants. Learn more...
Public transit and free parking
For information on public transit and free parking at Ben Franklin Place and local hotel, visit Local Information

Conference Program - Friday

Friday evening's program is open and free to all conference registrants.
17:00 – 19:00      Marketplace Open
19:00 – 19:15      Official Welcome [in THE CHAMBER] Barbara Tose, BIFHSGO President
19:15 – 20:15      Don Whiteside Memorial Lecture [in THE CHAMBER]
Maureen Taylor — Selfies, Mugshots and Instant Pictures: Early Photography and Your Family
Maureen Taylor will open the conference by introducing one of the main themes for the weekend — photography in genealogy. She will take a humorous tour of family photo history that will have you laughing and wondering what our ancestors were thinking.
For a private consultation about your family photos with Maureen,
20:15 – 21:30      Reception: Dessert and Coffee [in the Atrium]

Conference Program - Saturday

08:00                  Registration Opens
08:00 – 17:30     Marketplace Open
09:00 – 16:00     Research Room Open  Free access to online genealogy databases.
                           Bring a USB flash drive to save your findings.
Click on the speaker's name to view their bio
09:00 – 10:15     SESSION 1  Plenary
Thomas MacEntee — Genealogy: The Future is Now [CHAMBER]
Thomas MacEntee will open the day with a talk related to another one of our main themes for the conference — technology in genealogy. Do you have trouble keeping up with technology, especially programs, apps and websites that other genealogists seem to be using these days? You’re not alone. After a quick review of how much has changed in the past 30 years, you’ll learn what’s hot, what’s new, and how to prepare for the genealogy technology of the future. Participants will gain more than just an overview of current technologies used in genealogy; they’ll understand how to seek out new technologies and determine what works and doesn’t work for their own genealogical research.
10:15 – 10:45    Break and Browse the Marketplace
10:45 – 12:00    SESSION 2
Christine Woodcock —They Came from Scotland: Tips for Tracking Your Scots Emigrant Ancestor [CHAMBER]
All many of us know about our Scottish ancestors is that they were "from Scotland.” The puzzle is then to find out from where in Scotland and what it was that brought them to North America. To do this, it becomes important to understand emigration from Scotland in terms of the historical context of the country at the time your ancestor left. Scots began their emigration to the New World in the early 1600s. Initially this involved what are now the New England states and the Maritime Provinces of Canada. From there, many migrated west or over the border between the two countries. If your Scots ancestors were among the early immigrants from Scotland, this lecture will help you learn more about them and why they came to North America. Topics include: understanding emigration in the historical context of Scotland; online emigration databases including Covenanter indices, Jacobite rebellion and prison ship lists, Selkirk settler ship lists and re-created ship lists, the passenger vessels acts of 1803 and 1842, and colonial societies and offline resources.
Maureen Taylor Preserving Family Photographs: 1839 to the Present [STUDIO THEATRE]
From daguerreotypes to digital imaging dilemmas, this in-depth lecture covers everything a family photographer needs to know about caring for photographs. Topics include printing and sharing digital images, and how to safely label grandparents’ pictures.
Janet Few  — Harnessing the Facebook Generation: How to Encourage Young People to Take an Interest in Family History [ROOM 1A]
Have you ever wished that younger members of your family would take an interest in genealogy? Despite its title, this lecture is not about setting up a Facebook page, tweeting, or devising a family history website. Instead, it is about inspiring young people to take up family history, and thus providing us with opportunities to share a hobby we love and at the same time to secure the future of our research. It explains the benefits of doing this and discusses how we can go about making sure that our family’s history is not only preserved but enhanced when we are no longer able to be its custodian. This thought-provoking lecture outlines innovative family history activities that can make the hobby attractive to all ages. It looks at the opportunities that the technological age provides when trying to engage the next generation of family historians. Apart from looking at how technology and social media can be used to harness the enthusiasm of “The Facebook Generation,” Janet will suggest a variety of projects, games and activities suitable for a range of age groups. These ideas for inspiring and enthusing young people will include both the technological and the more traditional.
12:00 – 13:30    Lunch Break
A catered lunch is not being offered this year. Please make your own lunch arrangements. A list of nearby eating places is available in Local Information. Note the cafeteria at Ben Franklin Place is closed on weekends.
13:30 – 14:45    SESSION 3
Sher Leetooze — Lowlands Detective: Searching the Lowlands by County and Parish [CHAMBER]
This lecture will focus on finding every bit of information possible about the area your ancestors came from. Working as a detective, you will be introduced to a different way of thinking about genealogical research. Topics to be covered for each county will include: a brief overview of the history of the county/parish; important local people in the county/parish who may have crossed paths with your ancestor(s); castles and/or manors (even in ruin) that may have existed in the time of your ancestor(s); trades and professions in the county/parish; schools and other educational opportunities — both parochial and civil; the parish church, where it was located, and its history; the parish cemetery or cemeteries and any families known to be buried there (maybe even your own!!). Not all of these topics will be dealt with for all 17 counties located in the Lowlands, but rather a different county will be chosen to illustrate how to find the information about each of the preceding topics.
Thomas MacEntee — Evernote for Genealogists [STUDIO THEATRE]
Evernote is a note-taking application that can do so much more for genealogists than track research.With it you can also clip website content and images, and, better yet, you can synchronize the notebooks across different devices and platforms. See how genealogists are using Evernote, not only to organize research, but to get more information from their finds on the Internet. Learn how to harness the power of this program with many of its features available for free.
Shirley-Ann Pyefinch FamilySearch Apps and Beyond [ROOM 1A]
While technology changes, the need to gather, preserve, and share family history information remains the same for all family history researchers. This lecture will inform you about the mobile applications that have been created by FamilySearch and how to use them. Shirley-Ann will focus on demonstrating and explaining the features of the FamilySearch Tree and FamilySearch Memories mobile software applications. The lecture will also go beyond mobile apps to highlight the tools and resources that are available for Scottish research through the website and through family history centres located throughout the world.

14:45 – 15:15    Break and Browse the Marketplace
15:15 – 16:30    SESSION 4
Gloria Tubman — William Quarrier Children: Orphan Homes of Scotland to Fairknowe, Brockville, Ontario [ROOM 1A]
Rags-to-philanthropist William Quarrier, through his Orphan Homes of Scotland at Bridge of Weir, provided a home and refuge for thousands of orphans and/or underprivileged children from all parts of the country. The Orphan Homes of Scotland was a complete community for these children, with cottages, a school, a hospital and training facilities. More than 5,000 thousand of these children came to Canada under the British Home Child immigration initiative. The majority were placed through Fairknowe, the Quarrier-owned facility in Brockville, Ontario. The discussion will include: the life of a child at the Orphan Homes of Scotland; the Canadian receiving homes used by Quarrier — Marchmont in Belleville and Fairknowe in Brockville; and the available records for the British Home Children who came to Canada through the Quarrier organization. 
Maureen Taylor — Google Images and Beyond [STUDIO THEATRE]
Add new photographs to your family album by learning a few basic search techniques. A single photo can connect you to new genealogical data and a network of information.
Janet Few — Putting Your Ancestors in Their Place: Reconstructing Nineteenth-Century Communities [CHAMBER]
Our ancestors did not live in isolation; they had neighbours, communities, homes and workplaces. This lecture describes how to build up the history of a locality and provide a context for our ancestors’ lives. Focussing mainly on the nineteenth century, the sources described range from the well-known to the more obscure. Janet will explain community reconstruction, which involves dissecting a small, definable, geographical area to conduct a detailed examination of the individuals, buildings and processes of the past. This includes reconstructing the physical surroundings, populating the community and creating kinship networks between its inhabitants.
17:30                   Informal pay-as-you-go Saturday evening dinner
                            At the nearby Summerhays Restaurant, 1971 Baseline Road.
                            Sign up before Saturday noon at the Conference Welcome Desk.

Conference Program - Sunday

08:00                  Registration Opens
08:00 – 15:30     Marketplace Open
09:00 – 15:00     Research Room Open Free access to online genealogy databases.
                           Bring a USB flash drive to save your findings.
09:00 – 10:15     SESSION 5
Chris Paton — Using Scottish Land Records [CHAMBER]
Scotland has some of the best-kept land records in the world. Not only can they help to reveal who owned, leased or inherited land in the country, they can also help to bridge the gap when the parish records fail. In this talk Chris will describe the sasine records used to record every transaction and inheritance in the country from the early seventeenth century to the present day, the records of forfeiture in the aftermath of rebellion against the Crown, the rental records that can show the presence of ancestors across time in one small community, and the documents showing how land was inherited from one generation to another. As well as explaining how the records worked, he will also describe some of the tools available to hand to help decipher both them and the old Scots language in which many were written. 
Sher Leetooze — Finding and Presenting Other Visuals When Family Photos Are Lacking [ROOM 1A]
This lecture focuses on finding visuals for an otherwise text-only presentation of your family history. Many families do not have any family photos, and, because only better-off families could afford to engage portrait painters, it is generally impossible to find images for the generations who lived before the invention of photography. Books, however, are much more interesting if visuals are included. Fortunately, presenting their everyday lives is not a difficult task, even back as far as 1000 AD. What did their parish church look like? What does the cemetery, where they were all buried, look like today? What did the town/village look like then or now? These sites are all possibilities for visuals. Sher will also explain how to find and customize maps that will best illustrate your unique family situation.  She will present ideas on what to look for, where to find it, and how to present it in your work, as well as how to record source information in your captions.
Thomas MacEntee — Self-Publishing for Genealogists: Tips, Tricks, and Tools [STUDIO THEATRE]
Advances in recent technology mean that it is no longer necessary to be tied to a publishing house or printer for your next genealogy book. Self-publishing puts control over the entire process in the hands of the genealogist and the genealogical society to reach a wider audience at a reasonable price. There are many benefits to self-publishing, but you should know the difference between digital and print and what your audience wants. Learn the ins and outs of the self-publishing world, including vendors and providers, the self-publishing process, and even how to format your printed work for e-book selling. Both genealogists and genealogical societies can benefit greatly from the print on demand methodology, which is revolutionizing the publishing world.
10:15 – 10:45      Break and Browse the Marketplace
10:45 – 12:00      SESSION 6
Chris Paton — Scottish Inheritance Records [CHAMBER]
In Scotland, there are two types of estate that can be passed on following death, known as moveable and heritable estates. The records of moveable estate—such as the possessions owned by a person in the house and the money in the bank — have been historically conveyed through wills. The court records for the confirmation of these wills up to 1925 are available online through ScotlandsPeople. Prior to 1868, however, the heritable estate, namely land and buildings, could not be bequeathed in a will. Instead it had to go through a very separate process that involved first confirming the identity of the prospective heir — just one of many such differences between the laws of inheritance in Scotland and those in the rest of the UK. From the records of “confirmation,” to the conveyance of “conquest,” and from the “Services of Heirs” to “precepts of clare constat,” this talk will explain the unique inheritance systems at play in Scotland and where to find the records generated by them.
Maureen Taylor — Kodak Moments and Technicolor Dreams: 20th Century Photos and Films in the Family Archive [STUDIO THEATRE]
Images of 20th-century life range from black and white snapshots to DVDs. Learn how to identify, preserve and share recent photos and moving images in your family archive. This seminar includes an explanation of simple techniques to stop the destruction of colour photos and low-cost storage solutions.
Gail Dever — 21st Century Genealogy: Taking Advantage of Social Media for Your Research [ROOM 1A]
Imagine there are genealogists around you 24/7 — sharing resources, advising you and perhaps learning from you as well. That’s social media. This presentation will focus on how genealogists can benefit from the most popular social media like Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook and blogs. Gail will explain how to use social media, find the best resources, maximize your time, manage privacy, and connect with genealogists around the world. Genealogists who are not using social media to help with their research or are who are leery about giving it a try will especially benefit from attending this presentation.
12:00 – 13:30    Lunch Break
A catered lunch is not being offered this year. Please make your own lunch arrangements. A list of nearby eating places is available in Local Information. Note the cafeteria at Ben Franklin Place is closed on weekends.
13:30 – 14:45    SESSION 7
Cristine Woodcock — Lesser-Known Databases for Scottish Genealogy Research [CHAMBER]
There comes a time when you have done all of the online researching you can do using the standard databases. In this lecture you will learn of lesser-known databases to assist in breaking through your brick walls. These include: FindMyPast, Deceased Online, British Newspaper Archives, emigration databases, military databases, poor law records, medieval ancestry, and local offline resources. Scotland is a world leader when it comes to preserving national history and national memory. Archivists all over the country are working to conserve, preserve, digitize and make available records that can be used for genealogical research. This lecture will tell you where you might find information on your Scots ancestor that will help you fill in their story and add to your understanding of their social history.
Dena Palamedes —  Planning Your Scottish Family Research Adventure [ROOM 1A]
In this lecture, Dena will cover all three of the conference themes — Scotland, photography and technology. She will show how to employ the tools and technology to go on a trip and how to ensure that one is well prepared to make the most of your trip once there. Calling on personal experience from trips to Prince Edward Island (for her Scottish ancestors) and to Scotland, along with an extensive photo collection, she will show how to plan the trip using TripAdvisor, Google Maps and Google Docs, how to prepare the research materials, and how to maximize the use of technology while on the trip, including software ideas for data management, transcription (DragonSpeak), photo editing and backup. She will also provide suggestions on what to pack, including such items as cameras, hard drives and other equipment. Dena will offer tips on how to work together when one person is tech savvy and their companion is not, what she learned in each of the archives and societies about what they will or will not let you do when it comes to the use of technology, and how to share the results when you get home.
Thomas MacEntee — Managing the Genealogy Data Monster [STUDIO THEATRE]
It is so easy to let the large amounts of data involved with genealogy overwhelm you, to the point that family history research is no longer fun! Learn how to tackle the three main problem areas of genealogy data — research data, project data and file data — so you can put the fun back in your research. Attendees will learn the basics of working smarter instead of harder when it comes to managing genealogy data. We will cover setting up genealogy projects and tracking them to completion, using a research log to track research, and learn how to better manage genealogy data files.
14:45 – 15:15    Break and Browse the Marketplace
15:15 – 16:30    SESSION 8 Plenary
Chris Paton — Scottish Marriage: Instantly Buckled for Life [CHAMBER]
Suppose that young Jock and Jenny, say we two are husband and wife, the witnesses needn't be many, they're instantly buckled for life. Until 1939 and 2006 there were many ways you could be legally married in Scotland that were not found elsewhere in the UK, thanks to the unique Scottish legal system, which is based on Roman law. This talk will explore the various Scots methods and the law surrounding the engagement in marital bliss, from marriages by declaration and Kirk-sponsored ceremonies to modern civil and humanist ceremonies. Why was Gretna Green just so important for eloping English couples, how did the Kirk take to challenges to its authority on issues of marital law, and what was the one and only principle that had to be agreed on for a Scottish marriage to be valid?
Warning — May include references to antenuptial fornication!
16:30 – 16:45    Conference Closing [CHAMBER]

Please consult onsite signage to confirm the locations of the sessions