Connect with us online:

Make a donation and help preserve Loyalist history
Make a donation and help
preserve Loyalist history

Annual Conference: 2006

Two steams of speakers are being offered on Friday afternoon of Conference 2006. One steam focuses on Loyalist genealogical research and the other on Loyalist history. The first seminar in each group will begin sharply at 1:30 and we expect the seminars to conclude about 4:30. The sequence of speakers is not yet finalized for either stream. There will be a short break between each speaker.

1. "Vital Signs Absent" by J. Brian Gilchrist

Documenting your ancestry before Confederation in Upper Canada/Canada West

Documenting the "vital" statistics of an ancestor in Upper Canada is not a simple process. Many people have a problem in finding birth, marriage and or death information of the grandchildren of the Loyalist’s. Application for membership in the UELAC hinges on providing copies of documents which prove the relationship of one generation to the next. This session will discuss the myriad of resources that are available to search and how to locate your family in the records. Finally some suggestions will be made as how to preserve the results of your search for the generations yet to come.

J. Brian Gilchrist is one of Canada's most knowledgable, informative and entertaining speakers on matters of genealogy, family history and heritage in general. He is a fourth generation Torontonian and ninth generation Canadian being descended from families of English, Irish, Scottish, Germanic and American backgounds. A graduate in History from the University of Toronto, Brian is the author of many works, two of which are of national significance. The first of these publications, as commissioned by the Canadian Institute for Historical Microreproductions in Ottawa, is entitled Genealogy and Local History to 1900. It is a subject, place and name classification of some 6000 publications of genealogical and historical research value.
The second publication in the 'nationally significant' category (which Brian co-authored with Nancy Duffy) bears the title Index to Canadian Parliamentary Divorces, 1867-1930. A popular guest on radio and TV shows, Brian has spoken in several Canadian provinces, many states and has papers presented at various international symposiums.
Brian is a member of the Ontario Genealogical Society (since 1971); a founder of several OGS branches; a member of the Ontario Historical Society; a member of the Association of Canadian Archivists; a founding and charter member of the International Society for British Genealogy and Family History; a member of Salt Lake City's Association of Professional Genealogists, a charter member of the Ontario chapter of the Association of Professional Genealogists; a founder, charter member and director of the Board of The Friends of The Archives of Ontario; and the reference archivist at the Region of Peel archives in Brampton, Ontario.
A descendant of families of English, Irish, Scottish, Germanic and American backgrounds, Brian is a ninth generation Canadian and a fourth generation Torontonian. During the years 2006/2007, he is marking the 40-year point in his genealogical sleuthing.

2. "Crown Land Records" by Ruth Burkholder

Documenting your ancestors in pre patent land records - The acquisition of land and the records generated acquiring that land is a source that is indispensable to Ontario research.

The Patent is the Pivotal Point between two major record groups dealing with land in the Province of Ontario. Before a patent was received the land was owned by the Crown ... after the granting of the patent ownership was vested in an individual or a private company. This presentation will examine the steps taken by settlers, particularly Loyalist settlers, to acquire that patent. It will also suggest places to look for records if your ancestor’s name does not turn up in the usual places.

Ruth Burkholder has been an active member of the heritage community in this province and a professional genealogist for many years. Her research endeavours have taken her across Canada, the United States and England, providing much useful experience and information for the teaching, lecturing, writing and professional work which occupies much of her time.
As Founder and President of the Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents [APOLROD], Ruth became well known throughout the province working with volunteers and provincial government officials to inventory and transfer our Land Registry Office Records to local repositories. Gaining a greater knowledge and understanding of these records and how individuals obtained their property was an outcome of this endeavour, as was the guide to the records written co-operatively with Fawne Stratford-Devai.

3. "Documenting Your Ontario Loyalist Ancestry" by Kathie Orr, UE

Proving your ancestry requires searching for original primary records. The sources include such records as census, church, court, Heir & Devisee Commissions, land (pre & post patent), municipal, Upper Canada Sundries, and vital statistics. Emphasis will be place on locating and accessing these acceptable proofs generation by generation.

To receive a certificate from The United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada you have to supply documented proof of your direct ascend to the original Loyalist for each and every generation. This search requires you to find original primary documents that state the relationship between two individuals. Many applicants find this a daunting task. They are unsure of what records are required – what are “acceptable proofs’, where they might find them and how to evaluate what they do find. They are confused by terms such as primary, secondary and preponderance of evidence.

Starting with an applicant approximately 50 years of age and using Ontario examples the process and documents will be will be presented and explained generation by generation. The many and varied records include such resources as vital records, church records, court records, land records (pre and post patent), militia records, municipal records, newspapers, records of the Heir & Devisee Commissions and the Upper Canada Sundries. Also covered in the discussion is how to locate and access these records in various archives, local repositories and now in some cases online. A handout detailing the steps, sources, websites and a selection of secondary Loyalists sources will be supplied to those registered.

Researching original records can be a worthwhile and rewarding endeavour if one is willing to take a little time and effort. New sources continue to be found and in searching through the documents one comes away with a greater understanding and appreciation of our ancestors and the lives they lead.

Kathie Orr is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario (specializing in Canadian history). She now works as a genealogical researcher and speaker. She is a long time OGS member, a Trustee & Past-President of the Toronto Branch, United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, a founding member and Director of APOLROD (Association for the Preservation of Ontario Land Registry Office Documents), a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists, and a former Board Member of The Friends of the Archives of Ontario. Kathie has taught courses for various organizations such as the Friends of the Archives of Ontario, North York Board of Education, The Ontario Genealogical Society, Simcoe Co. Branch OGS, Toronto Branch OGS, New York Genealogical & Biographical Society and the Flint (Michigan) Genealogy Society and Public Library.

1. "Government Seat to Carwash: The History and Archaeology of Upper Canada's First and Second Parliament Buildings" by Dr. Ronald F. Williamson

People strolling along Front Street today, between Berkeley and Parliament Streets, in downtown Toronto, would find a car wash, a parking lot, a car rental agency and a Porsche dealership. However, if it was possible to peek underneath the pavement, one would find an impressive relict of our national history -- archaeological remains of Upper Canada's First and Second Parliament buildings (1797-1824). Built between 1795 and 1797, the brick structures of the first Parliament buildings housed what would eventually become Ontario's Legislature. Sadly, these buildings were destroyed by American troops in 1813. Within a few years, the second Parliament complex had been built on the same site. Coincidentally, these structures were also destroyed by fire in 1824, the result of an over-heated chimney flue. Although the south wing was saved from complete destruction, it was decided not to rebuild and the property was abandoned. Although the land overlying the Parliament site has since been used for institutional and industrial purposes for over a century, historians have always been aware of the area's importance. Indeed, the Canadian Club had commemorated the parliament buildings with a stone tablet on the property in 1899 and almost a century later in1997, the City of Toronto designated the property under the Ontario Heritage Act.

In the fall of 2000, Archaeological Services Inc. was requested to conduct an archaeological assessment of the site. Our objective was to determine whether or not any buried remnants of the Parliament buildings still survived. To the delighted surprise of heritage advocates and the archaeological team, evidence of the east wall of the southern building of the first Parliament buildings was uncovered. While footings similar to those at the Fort York garrison were documented, even more startling was the discovery of charred floor joists and floorboards overlying soil that had been reddened by fire, probably the remnants of the American military visit. Taken together, the combined historical and archaeological evidence demonstrates that the remains of the parliamentary buildings of Upper Canada -- a site of local, provincial, national, and international significance -- still exists beneath the pavement of the modern city.

Dr. Ronald F. Williamson is an archaeologist with over 30 years of field and administrative experience. He holds an Honours BA from the University of Western Ontario and MA and PhD from McGill University, all in Anthropology. In 1980, he founded ASI and has since directed over a thousand archaeological assessment, excavation, and planning projects throughout the Northeast.

In 1987, he directed an international team of scholars in the exhumation and analysis of twenty-eight American soldiers who died near Old Fort Erie during the War of 1812. These remains were eventually repatriated to a national cemetery in the United States. This project resulted in the publication of both a scholarly volume and a more popular account of the investigation. He has also directed excavations at the complex 80 acre Peace Bridge site in Fort Erie over the past fifteen years. That work resulted in the publication of a scholarly technical volume and again a more popular account, which was awarded the Ontario Archaeological Society Peggy Armstrong Public Archaeology award in 1998. He is the author of numerous other books and articles including Government on Fire: The History and Archaeology of Upper Canada's First Parliament Buildings, which he co-authored with Frank Dieterman. In 2004, he and Susan Pfeiffer of the University of Toronto co-edited Bones of the Ancestors: The Archaeology and Osteobiography of the Moatfield Ossuary, which was published by the Canadian Museum of Civilization and he has just finished editing a book honouring the lifelong work of Canada's most preeminent prehistorian, Bruce G. Trigger, to be published by McGill-Queens Press this year.

Dr. Williamson is an adjunct professor in the department of anthropology at the University of Toronto and is an associate member of the graduate faculty. He is also a former president of the Canadian Association of Professional Heritage Consultants, a national organization dedicated to furthering the cause of heritage resources conservation and excellence in heritage consultation. He has also been involved in several senior level policy development activities with the Province of Ontario, most recently with revisions to the Planning Act and Stage 1-4 guidelines for archaeologists. He served on the National Aboriginal Heritage Committee of the Canadian Archaeological Association, for three years, and co-chaired the Ontario Provincial sub-committee with Sylvia Thompson of the Chiefs of Ontario. He currently sits on the Heritage Toronto Board and is Chair of the Heritage Conservation Committee.

2. "Iroquois Warfare, 1754-1814" by Dr. Carl Benn

On the northern front of the American Revolution, Loyalist forces commonly found themselves fighting alongside Iroquois warriors. In this lecture, Dr Carl Benn explores the characteristics of Six Nations warfare, focusing on its place within First Nations culture as well as on weapons, tactics, and other aspects of Iroquois combat during the period.

Dr. Carl Benn is the Chief Curator of the City of Toronto's Museums and Heritage Services. He has worked in the heritage field for 30 years, where he fulfilled duties in most areas of the museum endeavour. Carl has curated about 20 museum exhibits and has worked on 11 historic building restoration projects. He is author of Historic Fort York, 1793-1993 (Toronto: Natural Heritage, 1993); The Iroquois in the War of 1812 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1998); The War of 1812 (Oxford: Osprey, 2002); and approximately 100 other articles and reviews. Currently he is editing and annotating a book of Native memoirs from 1812-15. Beyond his full-time work with the City, he has been active elsewhere in the history field, and teaches graduate Museum Studies at the University of Toronto.

3. "Black History" by Dr. Rosemary Sadlier

One of the many myths about Canadian history is the idea that the Loyalists were all of British origin! In this lecture, the intersection of Black history with Loyalist history will be discussed with specific reference to Nova Scotia and Ontario.

Dr. Rosemary Sadlier was born and raised in Toronto, and has a teaching degree and a graduate degree in social work. She has been president of the Ontario Black History Society since 1993, and was instrumental in making the celebration of Black History Month a national event in Canada. A noted author, her books work to highlight the historical contributions and experiences of Black people in Canada. Her much-praised titles include biographies of Harriet Tubman and Mary Ann Shadd and Leading the Way: Black Women in Toronto.