A 40+ Year Chronology of Sudbury District Branch Activities, Events and Newsletters
The Sudbury District Branch was founded June 20, 1979. In October of 1979, the Sudbury District Branch became the 15th Branch affiliated with the Ontario Genealogical Society. The first newsletter was published November 1979. Branch meetings were held at the Lo-Ellen Park Secondary School Library. Gary Peck was Branch President, Mary Shantz was Secretary-Treasurer. The price of birth, marriage and death certificates increased forty percent to $5. Members were encouraged to read J. Brian Gilchrist’s column in the Toronto Sunday Star titled “Tracing your roots”. The first wedding held in Markstay was November 6, 1893, of Mr. J. J. McMaster and Miss Annie McDonald.
The third meeting in 1980 was a ‘Show and Share’ evening, a resounding success. Alan Hayne, President of the OGS spoke at the Branch Annual Meeting. The evening of June 3rd, 1980 was the date that transcribing began at the Anglican Cemetery on Regent Street, Lynn Gainer was the Cemetery Coordinator. Genealogy and the branch were promoted on Cable TV’s talk show “Fifteen by Four”. The decision was made to host the annual OGS seminar in Sudbury in 1983. Gary Peck was chairman of the Seminar Committee.
In the March 1981 issue of Ancestor Hunting, the First Public Library opened in the Johnson-Washburn Block and included twelve volumes of books donated by Aeneas McCharles in 1896. The first Librarian was T. Fournier. Branch meetings were held at St. Andrew’s Place. In March, eleven branch members attended a seminar put on by the Nipissing Branch. An Ancestor File was started of early settlers in the Sudbury area. A voter’s list for 1889 for the Municipality of McKim was published.
The official telephone directory for Copper Cliff and Sudbury in 1904 was published in 1982. Members were asked to complete a pedigree chart. Help was also requested on a project “Riding Through Capreol” 1913 – 1981, sponsored by the local Lion’s Club, to trace genealogy of citizens of Sellwood, Milnet, Norman and Capreol. Transcribing the Eyre Cemetery was completed and work begun on the Roman Catholic Cemetery.
Seminar ’83 was hosted at Laurentian University. The theme was “Many Cultures – Many Heritages”. Over two hundred and sixty delegates attended from across Canada and the United States. Organizing committee members included Pat and Roger Martin, Jean Lye, Margaret Grandy, Bob Boudingnon, Velma Belan, Gary Peck, Lynn Gainer, Linda Vincent, Fred Hackett, Micky Ten Eyck, Jeff Caddel, and Betty Kainola. The newsletter included a review of “Over the Years” a 100th Anniversary of Little Current United Church and history of Sheguiandah, Green Bay, Rockville, Honora and Cold Springs.
In 1984, Beverly Forbes succeeded Pat Clark as Newsletter Editor. Families in Sudbury before 1915 included Hammell and Sturgeon. Work progressed on the Branch Bicentennial project, abstracting marriages, births and deaths from The Sudbury Journal, published from 1891 to 1918. Members were requested to submit pioneer sheets for family in the District before 1915, and photocopies of any bible records and marriage certificates. Four hundred tombstones were transcribed at the Roman Catholic Cemetery on Lasalle Blvd. A transcript of the Rydall Bank United Church Cemetery past Bruce Mines was provided. Surnames from the book “Noelville” were indexed.
Pioneer Families – Their Odyssey, Their Settlement featured a story on Joseph Corbeil, who gave his name to the village of Corbeil. OGS projects in 1985 included Ontario Church Records and the Silver Anniversary Collection of Family Histories. Speaker at the March meeting was Mrs. Carole Larrett, of the Skead Road Women’s Institute on the Tweedsmuir Histories. The Sudbury Mormon church opened a branch of their library in late fall. The Sudbury Branch won $100. from OGS for the most members who became members of OGS. The Branch held a Christmas money tree raffle. The Sudbury Reference Library was looking for old telephone books.
A Regional Meeting and Workshop was held in April of 1986. Guest speaker was Ryan Taylor on “Interviewing for the Genealogist” and “Long Distance Genealogy”. OGS’s new motto and crest were unveiled. The Branch received a grant for $1,120. for purchase of a film reader which was then donated to the LDS Library.
J. Brian Gilchrist was guest speaker at the Regional Meeting and Workshop held in Sudbury in March of 1987. Gary Peck’s columns from The Sudbury Star “The Not So Distant Past” were published in the Newsletter. Instructions for pasting in a scrapbook using rice flour glue were printed.
OGS Regulations for Branches were published in 1988. Cemetery transcribing was conducted at McFarlane Lake Cemetery. The Branch raised $272. at the Christmas auction. In 1989 the Branch celebrated its 10th Anniversary. Creighton celebrated a homecoming celebration. St. Michael’s Church in Creighton was dedicated in April of 1917. The church was closed in 1986.The 10th Birthday Bash and Regional Meeting was held in April 1989 at the Sudbury Curling Club. The event included a pot luck supper. Prizes and awards were presented. The OGS President Judith Mitton spoke at the meeting. A poem was written by Zona Sauve.
In 1990, students at St. Francis School did tombstone rubbings at the Anglican and Eyre Cemeteries. Fees for birth, marriage and death certificates increased to $21.
Newsletters in 1990 through 1992 featured queries and published articles from The Sudbury Star, The Triangle, The Globe and Mail, and OGS. In January of 1992, Gary Peck spoke on “Early Sudbury History Through Photography”. Bruce Pitfield spoke on “Families in the Algoma and Manitoulin Districts” in 1993. John Allan reported that the enumerator in the 1891 census for the Sudbury area listed names, starting with Mc or Mac in a questionable order (e.g. NEIL, John Mc). A Genealogical Record of Early Settlers for the Sudbury District was issued.
At a May meeting in 1994, members were asked to bring baby pictures. Ancestor Hunting was published three times per year instead of quarterly. A 1995 issue featured The Case of the Missing Mayor – Murray Clement Bigger. In 1996, a Research Surname Index form and new Pedigree Chart were published. In 1997 “July and August were Cemetery months”. Ancestor Hunting included advertising. Branch publications were for sale from $1. (five pages) to $8. (one hundred and fourteen pages). Gerry Lougheed spoke on “Information found in Funeral Homes and the Future of Cemeteries”. The December social was held at the Cedar Hut and included their Black Forest Cake.
The Region IX Meeting in April 1999 was held in Sudbury at St. Mark’s United Church. J. Brian Gilchrist was guest speaker. The branch library moved with the Reference Department to the Main Branch from Civic Square. A letter writing campaign was conducted for access to census records. The Branch 20th Anniversary project was for members to produce their family stories. Sudbury was one of five Branches participating in OGSPI.
The September 2000 newsletter recounted transcribing at the cemeteries of Chapleau. In April of 2001, the Branch hosted “Migration and Habitation” Discovering Native, French, English Ancestory at the Clearview Golf Club in Val Caron.
In March 2002, the 20th anniversary contest winning logo was replaced with the current Branch logo. The Branch received a grant in 2002 to hire a student for the summer. The student worked at the Land Registry Office in Sudbury, entering data into a computer. An anonymous donor gave a collection of postcards to the Greater Sudbury Public Library. In 2004 the Archive Committee of the Branch made a presentation to City Council on the need for a central repository in the city.
Branch volunteers were requested for an Antique Show, Regional Meeting and Schools Heritage Fair in 2005. The Archives Association of Ontario held their annual conference in Sudbury. A number of Branch members were working towards incorporation of The Sudbury District Archives Interest Group. Dr. Robert Masih spoke on “Extreme Genealogy – Using DNA in Your Research” in February of 2006.
In 2007 OGS began a project to collect strays. The April meeting was hosted by the Societe Franco-ontarienne d’histoire et de genealogie. Pat Nolan was the first person buried in the Eyre Cemetery. Work began in March of 2007 on transcribing Mond Hire Records. Branch meetings were held at the Parkside Centre. Xstrata Nickel donated the Edison building to the City for a community archives. An oral history workshop was presented by The Ontario Jewish Archives.
A display was set up for Sudbury’s 125th anniversary in June of 2008. Articles by Gary Peck were printed on ‘Postcards and Genealogy from the Sudbury District’. The book ‘Two in the Bush’ about John and Ruth Moore and their adventures in Northeastern Ontario after WWII was reviewed. The Branch accepted a Certificate of Appreciation at a special presentation ‘Celebrating our Partners’ hosted by the Greater Sudbury Public Library.
In 2009, Ed Palmer was presented with the Branch’s first Honorary Membership for his contributions to genealogy and the history of Sudbury. Seventy-seven registrants signed up for the Region IX meeting held at Cambrian College in May. Speakers were Fawne Stratford-Devai and Rich Roberts. The Branch and the Parkside Centre teamed up to offer a computerized genealogy course.
The June 2010 newsletter featured a story on the Gatchell family. That year featured stories on British Home children and Barnardo girls and boys. Six branch members were awarded Ontario Volunteer Service awards for continuous years of commitment and dedication to the Sudbury District Branch OGS.
In 2011, OGS celebrated their 50th anniversary. Robbie McCauley won The Mike Brede Genealogical Essay Prize. Sudbury Branch tied with Toronto for the 2010 Dr. Don Brearly Best OGS Newsletter Award. Six branch members received Ontario Volunteer Awards for five to thirty years of service. 2012 articles featured ‘Filles du Roi’. The Sudbury and District Archives opened.
The Branch launched a Facebook site in 2013. Cemetery transcriptions continued at the Lasalle Roman Catholic Cemetery. Four Branch members were recipients of Ontario Volunteer Awards. Two Branch members celebrated their forty year membership in OGS. A new section in the newsletter was called ‘Family Treasures’. The Greater Sudbury Public Library and Heritage Museums started a ‘Sudbury Memories’ project.
In 2014 Branch member Brenda Cavallin was part of Ireland’s ‘Come Home’. The Facebook site celebrated their first year anniversary, and a new Branch website was published. The September meeting was a wonderful celebration of the 35th year anniversary of the Sudbury Branch of OGS. During the summer Pauline Emond had taken on the project of indexing the Jackson & Barnard Funeral Home records so that they could be uploaded on the OGS TONI site. With some excellant help the files were uploaded in October. Helen Nicholson had been spearheading the Apolrod project to repatriate and save the Sudbury District Land Abstract Index. She was successful in bringing it back to the Sudbury Archives.
Two long term members were recognized with 40 year pins from OGS in 2015. Pat Horner and Elsie Lawrence joined OGS before the Sudbury Branch was formed. Work continued on cemetery transcriptions with many volunteers and new publications available for purchase. The last meeting in June was an auction of genealogy publications and memorabilia donated by members. A great time was had while making a nice profit for the Branch. In July we lost long time member and treasurer Jerry Rosenfield; he will be missed.
In 2006 the Branch was presented with an opportunity to index the Mond Nickel Company hire cards. Jerry Rosenfeld and Ron Jodouin attacked the task but with 1000s of cards it took a very long time. Garth Wunsch and John Vary were able to come up with a method of taking digital photos of the cards that remarkably sped up the process. Many volunteers stepped up to type them into a data base. In 2016 the project was completed and the index of 10,124 cards was added to the website with copies of the cards available for sale. These cards are a treasure trove of valuable information. Some include next of kin, home addresses and countries where employees came from.
2017 saw the Branch embrace Sesquicentennial, or as we preferred to say, Canada’s 150th birthday. Gary Peck took the lead on our 150 Project, inviting members to provide a story or two on ancestors who had arrived in Canada in 1867 or before. Once all the stories had been submitted a book was together . As Canada’s birthday was July 1, 2017 the project was extend into 2018.
At the end of 2018 submissions from most members had been received. In February we had our guest speaker came to us via Zoom from England. Kirsty Gray, a well known British Genealogist, won the British Rock Star Genealogist award, and was the owner of Family Finder. The Branch also introduced afternoon Help Sessions at the Sudbury Public Library. A few of our experienced members met with newer members to help them with questions about basic research, how to use Family Tree Maker and general inquiries. This was very successful with numerous sessions being held. Our newsletter Ancestor Hunting won OGS’s Best Newsletter at Conference. Kudos to great content from numerous contributors.
June 2019 was the 40th anniversary of the Sudbury Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. During the year we held numerous help sessions at the library and had an information booth at the YMCA Parkside Seniors Fair. Nancy Vaillancourt began indexing the Jean Lye Collection of 21 articles Jean had researched. Jean was a long time member who passed in 2017. An end of year meeting once again saw us hold an auction which provided many laughs, a great way for members to clean out their book shelves and generate revenue for the group. On October 19th a full day workshop was held with Lesley Anderson from Ancestry. The event was a great success with attendees coming from around the north.
January and February 2020 started out quite normal but with rumblings of a possible virus that could turn into a potential pandemic changes happened. Mid March 2020 saw Ontario go into a lock down when COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. This meant that in-person meetings were no longer allowed. Online computer platforms were quickly learned and used to meet virtually on either Zoom or Team Meetings. Branch meetings, Council Meetings and even the OGS conference were conducted virtually. This presented challenges but also opportunities. Our Branch was able to expand our guest speakers past the confines of our geographical area, and have members ‘from away’ to participate. We had many wonderful professional genealogy speakers that we would otherwise not been able to have. We even had a second virtual visit from Kirsty Gray in England. Life continued on with COVID restrictions and online meetings so that at the end of 2021 we were still meeting virtually. Lock down provided many people with extra time to spend on genealogy, with reports of some very interesting finds!