British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa
British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa
22nd Annual
BIFHSGO Family History Conference
September 9 - 11, 2016
Ben Franklin Place
101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa
In partnership with the Ottawa Public Library and the City of Ottawa Archives

Conference Program & Registration

Two themes: Irish Family History and DNA in Genealogy
Click on the following to discover the different ways you can attend our conference:
All of the above options include the Friday evening Don Whiteside Memorial Lecture and opening reception.
Scroll down this page to see our conference program of topics and speakers.
Registration Options & Fees
After reviewing the conference program you have options on how to register:
1. You can register online here and use PayPal to pay with your PayPal account or credit card; or
2. You can register online here and pay with a mail-in cheque; or
3. You can download the registration form here and mail it in with a cheque.
The 2017 conference and seminar fees can be seen here.
For more information about registration, contact the Conference Registrar at or by telephone at 613-722-6753.
Public Transit, Parking, Hotels and Lunches
Our Local Information page has information on:
  • Location of Ben Franklin Place and its WiFi service
  • Parking at Ben Franklin Place
  • Map and links to local restaurants
  • OC Transpo Trip Planner
  • Links to local hotels

Conference Program - Friday, Sept. 9

The Friday evening program is open to all conference registrants.
17:00–19:00    Marketplace and Registration open
19:00–19:15    Official Welcome in The Chamber
                        Representatives from BIFHSGO, the City of Ottawa Archives,
             and the Ottawa Public Library
19:15–20:15    Don Whiteside Memorial Lecture
Easter 1916, a Family Affair
The year 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, an armed rebellion against British rule that shaped Ireland’s future. For six days in April 1916, volunteer forces occupied locations around Dublin in a bid for an independent Ireland. The Easter Rising of 1916 and the British reaction to it defined Ireland in the 20th century and, arguably, into the 21st. Dr. Keogh will discuss his recent research on the British Administration and the Easter Rising, and will take a look at the leaders on both sides. He will examine how the Easter Rising was also a fratricidal conflict, with 35 percent of the British soldiers killed during the Rising being Irish-born.
20:15–21:30    Reception with dessert and coffee

Conference Program - Saturday, Sept. 10

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 biography.
09:00–10:15     SESSION 1: Plenary in The Chamber
Advances in Irish Research Over the Last Five Years
New records and indexes are now online at commercial and archive websites. For example, the Irish offerings on Ancestry have expanded. There have been changes at Irish repositories such as Dublin’s National Library and PRONI in Belfast. More records are now available on microfilm through the Family History Library. Useful information can be found at Irish county libraries. Kyle will explain how researchers can keep current about the online and offline offerings, and he will also discuss newly published guides and sources, the activities of genealogical societies, Irish genealogy blogs, and Irish genealogy conferences.
10:15–10:45     Break and Browse the Marketplace
10:45–12:00     SESSION 2: Concurrent Lectures
The Peter Robinson Irish Immigrants to the Newcastle District in 1825
The presentation will focus on what is often referred to as the “Peter Robinson Irish,” who came to the Newcastle District of Upper Canada in 1825. Using extensive primary documentary evidence and numerous secondary sources,  Dennis will examine the socio-economic makeup of these Irish immigrants, their experiences travelling from Cork to Peterborough, the settlement and cultivation of their farms (or in some cases the establishment of skilled trades) and the impact of their descendants on the region. Information on the individuals, their family stories and the current state of research on this significant “Irish tile” in the Canadian mosaic will be provided.
Connecting with Cousins Through Autosomal DNA
Autosomal DNA (atDNA) testing examines over 700,000 DNA markers on your chromosomes; it may uncover “matches” that help you reconnect with long-lost cousins, and possibly those with genealogical evidence you’ve been searching for. This presentation looks at how you can use atDNA in your own family tree research, how to interpret your results, and how to use them to best effect. Maurice will explain a step-by-step approach to assessing your atDNA matches and how to narrow down the number of candidates for the common ancestor that you share. He will also discuss newer techniques for analyzing autosomal DNA matches and explore possible future developments in this area.
12:00–13:30     Break (Lunch not provided)
                       A list of nearby eating places is available in Local Information. Note that the cafeteria
     at Ben Franklin Place is closed on weekends.
13:30–14:45     SESSION 3: Concurrent Lectures
Irish Land Records
This presentation will cover various types of records: the Registry of Deeds, Freeholders, the Land Registry, the Land Commission, and Landed Estate Papers. You can use the Registry of Deeds to advance your research even if your ancestors weren’t wealthy. Freeholders lists from the early 1800s can be an informative census substitute. Kyle will explain how to identify your ancestor’s landlord, how to find the relevant estate papers of the landlord, and how to use them in your research.
Women on Ancestry
Our female ancestors can be mysterious and they are waiting for you to come and find them!  In this session Lesley will share with you specific tools and strategies when searching for women in the Ancestry databases, including methods to uncover females using name variations and other search techniques.  Famous and interesting women will be highlighted and the presentation will appeal to new and experienced researchers alike. 
14:45–15:15     Break and Browse the Marketplace
15:15–16:30     SESSION 4: Concurrent Lectures
The Sash our Irish Ancestors Wore: The Orange Order
To many the Orange Order represents religious strife in Northern Ireland. To a family historian, this fraternal organization was an educational institution that taught life skills and benevolence to one’s Irish ancestors. The skills, public speaking, accountability, and responsibility, developed within the Order were instrumental in the public service and community involvement of its members.  Irish ancestors will be used to illustrate the place the Orange Order had in the development of communities in Pontiac County.
Making Connections: Adventures in Genetic Genealogy
Leanne Cooper will share her experience in using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) to confirm the parents of her fifth great-grandmother, who was born in 1776 on Prince Edward Island. Was Charlotte Richardson the daughter of Yorkshire immigrants, or was she fathered by a British army officer?

The talk by Rick Moody will focus on his efforts to break down a brick wall concerning his sixth great-grandfather, John Moody, the father of the Loyalist Col. James Moody (1744 - 1809). Rick will discuss a Y-DNA match to a Glenn family of Irish ancestry, as well as results of Family Finder autosomal DNA testing.

John D. Reid was surprised to learn through autosomal DNA testing that he is part Irish. He will discuss the methodologies used by Family Tree DNA, Ancestry and 23andMe to determine ancestry/ethnicity composition, and to what extent these estimates are reliable.

This session is sponsored by the BIFHSGO DNA Interest Group, which meets several times per year to exchange experiences and acquaint members with the principles and scientific advances of genetic genealogy. Visit our Meetings page for the meeting schedule.

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, Sept. 11

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: Concurrent Lectures
Using Canadian and US Records for Your Irish Research
Kyle will discuss how to trace your Irish immigrant ancestors back to a specific place of origin in Ireland (such as a townland, parish, or county). This will include how to know when you are ready to look at records from Ireland, and when your research needs to stay in Canada or the US. Kyle will detail some of the most useful records from Canada and the US for identifying origins. He will also discuss important strategies, such as identifying and researching collateral relatives and paying attention to types of migration. 
The British Army and Royal Navy in Canada, 1758-1871
From the fall of New France in the 1750s to Confederation in 1867, the British Army and Royal Navy played a significant role in defending Canada. Records relating to the British military presence in North America are a rich, and often unexplored, source for genealogy and family history. The British Army was finally withdrawn from Canada in 1871, but it left behind a vast collection of records. When combined with War Office records, they can document military ancestors, but they also have a far greater reach as an essential source for 19th-century research. In this presentation, Glenn will review the variety and scope of these records, how to access them, and how they can be used effectively in your family history research.

10:15–10:45      Break and Browse the Marketplace
10:45–12:00      SESSION 6: Concurrent Lectures
Atlantic Canada's Irish Immigrants: A Fish and Timber Story
The Irish began arriving in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland a good 100 years before the outbreak of the Great Famine of the 1840s. They were not just escaping poverty; they were attracted by the better life that Atlantic Canada offered — its thriving timber trade, farming opportunities and fisheries were positive factors in the decision to emigrate. Using wide-ranging documentary and statistical sources, Lucille will identify the areas of Ireland from which people came and trace their settlement locations in each the four provinces. She will describe the many hardships and disadvantages that the Irish faced and will highlight the outstanding contribution they made to the development of Atlantic Canada.
My Grandfather was Adopted: Using DNA to Find the Family of Adoptees and Illegitimate Family Members (Chamber)
The adoption community in the US has developed some amazing tools to help adoptees use DNA to reconnect with their birth families. Maurice will examine how this methodology can be applied to adoptees as well as ordinary family tree research to help break down brick walls. Both autosomal and Y-DNA will be covered using real life examples for putting the methods in practice. Autosomal DNA testing is the mainstay of research into adoption. Next, standard genealogical tree building may help identify grandparents of the adoptee, whose living descendants can be approached for further DNA testing. By this sequential process of tree-building and descendant-testing, the focus can be narrowed down to specific individuals and birth families can be identified.
12:00–13:30    Break (Lunch not provided)
    A list of nearby eating places is available in Local Information. Note that the cafeteria
    at Ben Franklin Place is closed on weekends.
13:30–14:45    SESSION 7: Concurrent Lectures
Irish Sources You May Never Have Considered
Because so many records were destroyed or never very well kept, the Irish researcher will want to try to access as many types of records as possible. There are numerous record types to try beyond the most commonly known ones. This presentation includes such important sources as freeholder, freemen and voting records; militia and yeomanry records; prison records; school and educational sources; Catholic Qualification Rolls, the 1841 Morpeth Roll, and occupational records.
What About the Coffin Ships? The Sailing Vessels that Carried Our Irish Ancestors to Canada
So-called “coffin ships” did regrettably claim the lives of many Irish immigrants, especially during the famine years of the 1840s. The deaths and suffering are indisputable. However, the primitive state of medical knowledge meant that infectious diseases at the time could not be contained or cured by outside intervention during a sea crossing. Any vessel could be a potential coffin ship in the sense that a high fever and an inability to eat could be a death sentence. High death tolls and isolated worst-case examples of dreadful crossings do not tell the complete story. Using data to be found in the Lloyd’s Shipping Register, Lucille will provide evidence of the quality and age of the ships that carried the Irish to Atlantic Canada. The shipping data reveal that the Irish generally sailed in good- to reasonable-quality ships. The frequently quoted imagery of leaking tubs manned by rum-soaked crews is not supported by documentary evidence.
14:45–15:15     Break and Browse the Marketplace
15:15–16:30    SESSION 8: Plenary in The Chamber
Using DNA to Identify Soldiers of the Western Front
In 2009, the undisturbed remains of 250 WWI soldiers, mostly Australians, were discovered in a mass grave in northern France. A crime-scene-type environment was created and the remains were painstakingly exhumed. DNA was extracted successfully from the vast majority of the soldiers, and then began the arduous task of trying to compare the DNA from the soldiers with the DNA of possible living relatives. This presentation follows the fascinating story of how these soldiers were exhumed, identified and reinterred, of how DNA played a key role in this identification process, and what the implications of this project mean for the thousands of WWI soldiers who remain undiscovered and unidentified, lying under the green fields of France to this day.
16:30–16:45      Conference Closing