The last weekend of May was the OGS Conference held at Georgian College in Barrie Ontario. I went with my friend Elise who happens to be the Local Collections Librarian at the Oakville Public Library. It was the first OGS Conference I have attended in a while where I was an attendee and not a speaker. It was nice to have the time to meet new people and have acquaintances become friends. This was a fun conference.
One job I did have during this conference was handing out “Blogger Beads.” This is a ritual started by Thomas MacEntee at the US conferences. If you are a blogger then you get to wear beads and everyone knows you write a blog. This was the first time it was done at the OGS conference and I sponsored the beads. There were about a dozen sets of beads handed out and a lot of people were asking what the beads were all about. I gave the first set to Thomas MacEntee just before the start of his workshop on Friday. I am hoping to do it again at OGS Conference 2016 in Toronto.
We had signed up for the deluxe conference package. We had all the meals, attended two workshops and then the two day conference. We stayed at the Georgian College residence which was comfortable and fairly close to everything. There was a long walk from the lecture halls to the marketplace but they very cleverly divided the space and served the meals there on Saturday and Sunday so it brought everyone to the marketplace.
The marketplace included a demo section and I attended a few of them. There were a few technical difficulties but they are to be expected and were soon fixed. Some demos were very informative. The ones I attended were: What to do after having DNA done; The Ontario Name Index (TONI): An Introduction; The Surname Society; Conference 2016 and Other Happenings and Society for One Place Studies.
What I noticed missing from the marketplace was Findmypast and a more obvious FamilySearch presence. There was a small table for FamilySearch but it was a local Stake and not what I am used to seeing at the US conferences. I realize that the OGS conference isn’t as large as the ones in the US but I feel the companies are missing the opportunity to connect with Canadian customers. We don’t have large conferences so this is their chance.
There was a research room where you could access numerous subscription databases for free and get some research advice.
The meals were catered by the college and some of the students were involved in the event planning and catering programs at the college. The food was very nice.
On the Friday I started by attending the workshop by Kirsty Gray called “What is a Surname Society and Why Do One?” It was very interesting and Kirsty was a great speaker. I got to know her much better during the conference. I had also joined the Surname Society by the end of her presentation!
In the afternoon I attended “Maps and Mapping for the 21st Century Genealogist” with James F.S. Thomson. He did a great job with a lecture that had so much information to share in a short time period.
We had dinner with some friends and then attended the Opening Session with Keynote Speaker Kirsty Gray. Her topic was “If I Could Turn Back Time” and she was fantastic. She had the audience laughing and that is always a good thing.
First thing Saturday morning we attended the Panel Discussion “Tracks through Time” with Thomas MacEntee moderating and the panel were: Richard M. Doherty, Dr. Maurice Gleeson, Kirsty Gray and Dave Obee. There were some technical difficulties but Steve Fulton and his trusty team soon had them sorted. They worked very hard during conference.
My first session of the day was Dave Obee’s “A Sense of Place and Time.” This was “understanding the local geography and history of the areas where your ancestors lived.”
The last session of the day was Kirsty Gray’s “Searching of Surnames: Challenges, Pitfalls and the Downright Ridiculous” and again she didn’t disappoint.
Saturday ended as it always does with the Banquet. Elise and I shared a table with Thomas MacEntee, Dick Doherty, a group of ladies from Toronto Branch and other new friends. The chat was full on and interesting. Dr. Maurice Gleeson was the Keynote Speaker and he talked about “Genealogy 2020 – All Aboard.” He was a very entertaining speaker and is so knowledgeable on the topic of DNA.
Sunday felt like a very early start. The last day always does at a conference. Time to pack up and check out. The first lecture of the day was “Putting Your Ancestors in their Place: an introduction to one-place studies” by Dr. Janet Few. Dr. Few was in England and her lecture was streamed in. It was so informative. I wish we could get some of the books she recommended here.
“They Came From Scotland: Tracking Your Immigrant Ancestors” by Christine Woodcock was next. I was a room monitor for this one and introduced her.
In the afternoon I got to attend “The Route of DNA from Flanders to Barrie, via London and Limerick” by Dr. Maurice Gleeson. A brilliant lecture that included some cousins of Dr. Gleeson’s in the audience.
The last lecture of the conference for me was “World War I British Army Research” with James F.S. Thomson. Again he provided a wealth of information and tips for researching from Ontario.
Kirsty Gray opened the conference and so it seemed fitting that she closed it. Her topic was “Back to the Future” which she tied in with the opening session very well.
The organizers of this conference have much to be proud of as it went very well. They did a lot of hard work and the volunteers should be commended. There were many young people helping out which was nice to see.
Now we look forward to Conference 2016 “Genealogy on the Cutting Edge” to be held in Toronto from June 3rd to June 5th. Two speakers already announced are Judy G. Russell and CeCe Moore.
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