Friday, 16 September 2011

Annual Conference the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO)

I took the day off work today to attend pre-conference workshops for the 17th Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference in Ottawa.

I missed Lesley Anderson's presentation "I can't find them anywhere -- effective searching, sharing and collaborating with Ancestry."  While I'm sure I could have learned a great deal from Lesley, I wanted to attend Kyla Ubbink's presentation "Storing and Preserving Family Archives and Artifacts."  Kyla is a local conservator with whom I've chatted at previous conferences.  Her talk gave us an excellent overview of the dangers that our archives and artifacts face in our homes as well as practical tips to ensure we store them in a manner that will avoid further degradation.  In addition to suggesting specific products and suppliers for archival storage and conservation, she offered hands-on demonstrations.  Kyla warned us that conservation requires patience, and the hands-on work cannot be done in a bad mood.  Sometimes you need to put the project down for the day; other times you need to take it straight to the professionals.  I can see a certain meditative benefit to cleaning off "old book smell" page by page with a soft brush, but I learned the hard way that removing staples is not my forté.  I must wait for a propitious day before attempting the dental floss technique to remove photographs from the old magnetic albums.

My afternoon session was Linda Reid's "Introduction to English and Welsh Family History Records."  Linda provided an excellent handout which summarized her key points and recommended resources.  Clearly it's time for me to start looking for English parish records for Sweetie's Burrows family.  In her talk, Linda showed how to use several key linking records to fill in a pedigree chart.  It's the same exercise that I took the Bean through earlier this year.  She may only be eight years old, but it's never too early to learn the importance of citing sources for the information on our family tree.

I had a few hours to kill before the evening lecture and spent much of it taking advantage of the resources at Library and Archives Canada (LAC), where the conference is taking place.  In its Canadian Genealogy Centre on the third floor, LAC has some databases prepared by the Société de généalogie de Québec with 20th Century Quebec marriages and deaths.  I was able to find Sweetie's Gita's second marriage as well as his Grandad's second and third marriages.  (Hmm, that may be a worrisome theme?!)   I was also able to confirm Grandad's death, which may now allow us to request his Canadian military records.

The Don Whiteside Memorial Lecture this evening was given by local author and columnist Phil Jenkins.  Phil's presentation, "Thanks for the Memories," was a thought-provoking (and musical) discussion of the potential for ancestral memory or the passing down of ancestral traits.

If you're in or near Ottawa this weekend, you may want to head to LAC, downtown on Wellington Street at Bay.  Walk-in registrations are available.

The conference continues Saturday and Sunday and there will be many interesting topics presented, this year focusing on England and Wales, and particularly on London and the Home Counties. 

If you see me there, come say hello.  And check out the BIFHSGO blogging buzz at Anglo-Celtic Connections, by conference co-chair John Reid, as well as the BIFHSGO Blog, and Elizabeth Lapointe's Genealogy Canada Blog

Before I close, I must extend my thanks to the BIFHSGO volunteers that make the conference a great success each year. 


  1. 5thanks for the dental floss tip. I'm gonna try it.

  2. Sam, the dental floss technique is a lot harder than it sounds. First bend the page a bit to see if the pix pop off. If not, you can use a microspatula to pry them up. The move to dental floss. Make sure you've got at least a free corner so you don't split the image from the paper backing. And keep your floss horizontal so you don't cut the edges of the photos. Good luck!

  3. Did she talk at all about deacidifying paper?