TRACING FORWARD: Searching for Relatives in Recent Times

Ontario Genealogical Society coat of arms

Presented by the Toronto Branch of
the Ontario Genealogical Society and
the Canadiana Department of
North York Central Library


Saturday October 26, 2013 from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EDT
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North York Central Library
5120 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M2N 5N9

Link to Google Maps

By public transit:
The North York Central Library is connected directly to the North York Centre subway station, on the Yonge line. Inter-city trains and buses link with the subway at Union, Dundas, or York Mills stations. Allow at least 35 minutes from Union or Dundas, or 15 minutes from York Mills, to get to North York Centre.

By car:
North York Central Library is at 5120 Yonge Street, Toronto M2N 5N9, on the west side at Park Home Avenue (about halfway between Sheppard and Finch). From Highway 401, exit northbound at Yonge Street; proceed north to Park Home Avenue (6th or 7th traffic light) and turn left. The most convenient parking ($5 per day on Saturdays) is under the building—enter from Novotel on Park Home, or from Beecroft Road (parallel and west of Yonge Street).


Novotel Toronto North York is adjacent to the North York Central Library. For general information about the hotel, visit or call directly at (416) 733-2929.

For further information contact:
Toronto Branch OGS

North York Central Library is wheelchair accessible. For more information about our policies on accessibility, cancellation and refunds, late and at-the-door registrations, and copyright, visit our courses page.

Tracing forward to find living relatives and those who may be recently deceased is increasingly being recognized as an essential strategy for all genealogists. For the first time, the Toronto Branch is devoting a full day of lectures to this important topic – whether you are just testing the waters or looking for innovative ways to track down elusive cousins, this will be an event you won’t want to miss. Toronto Branch events are casual and relaxed, but they do fill up quickly. Be sure to register early!  

PROGRAM (subject to change without notice)
Registration and Coffee

9:00-10:30  Tracing Forward and the Law: Navigating Privacy and Access Rules
This keynote session will lay the foundation for a day of exploring new techniques, resources and strategies for searching for relatives in recent times. Our speaker will provide an overview of how legal constraints can impact on “tracing forward” research, and offer “how to” guidance on protecting privacy, resolving privacy issues, and accessing information held by institutions and government.
: Dr. Margaret Ann Wilkinson is a Professor and Research Scholar at Western University where she focuses on intellectual property, information and technology law. Educated as both a lawyer and a librarian, she was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1980. She is the author of Genealogy and the Law in Canada (OGS/Dundurn Press, 2010) as well as many articles and contributions to legal texts.

10:30-10:45 Refreshment Break

10:45-11:45  Designing an Efficient and Effective “Tracing Forward” Project
This session will draw on actual case studies to demonstrate the importance of designing an efficient research plan to yield quick results when “tracing forward”. Learn key guiding principles that will help you succeed in finding those “lost cousins” sooner rather than later.
: Paul Jones is a former Chair of the Toronto Branch of the OGS and is well known in Toronto genealogy circles for original and often humorous presentations. A committed genealogy volunteer, he is also an award-winning writer and currently contributes regularly to the “Roots” column in Canada’s History magazine. He relishes the challenge of taking on family history problems that have stumped the experts.

11:45-12:45  Heir Searching in Ontario: Lessons learned working with the Public Guardian and Trustee of Ontario
An insider’s perspective on the challenges and pitfalls of searching for heirs in Ontario. Our speaker will share her personal experiences as a researcher with the office of the province’s Public Guardian and Trustee as well as some of the important lessons she has learned along the way.

: Janice Nickerson is a professional genealogist whose expertise includes Upper Canadian history, criminal justice records, fur trade history, and turning bare bones genealogies into full-fledged family histories. In addition to helping her private clients discover the richness of their ancestral heritage, Janice does heir-searching for the Public Guardian and Trustee of Ontario and writes how-to articles and books for the genealogical market.

12:45-1:45 Lunch
There are various outlets to choose from in the food court in the adjacent mall and restaurants nearby on Yonge Street. Or feel free to bring your own bag lunch.

1:45-2:45   Getting the Story: Tips and Tricks from an Investigative Journalist for Finding Sources, Connections and Facts
Family history is all about piecing together, recording and telling the stories of people in our past and present. In this session, we’ll tap into the expertise of an investigative journalist who makes his living tracking down people and stories.
: Jim Rankin is an award-winning reporter-photographer with the Toronto Star newspaper. In 2002, he led a team of reporters, editors and researchers involved in a Michener Award-winning investigative series into race, policing and crime in Toronto. He is currently assigned to the Star’s features team and enjoys finding new ways and using new technologies to tell his stories.

2:45-3:00 Refreshment Break

3:00-4:00  Using Living Cousins to Find More Living Cousins: A Role for Autosomal DNA Tests in Family History Research
An autosomal DNA test will find relatives on all lines of your family back 5 or 6 generations. By testing known cousins and comparing matches you will be able to assign new "cousins" identified through DNA to different family lines. Our speaker will discuss identifying who to test and share her experiences in finding and persuading people to test.
: Linda Reid is a retired librarian and has been researching her British roots for over 25 years. She volunteers in the Toronto Family History Centre and speaks at genealogy conferences and workshops throughout Ontario. She is actively involved in the Toronto Branch of the OGS, presently serving as program co-ordinator and compiler of the Branch electronic bulletin.

4:00-5:00 Cold Case Investigations: Gumshoe Techniques
In our closing session, we’ll meet a 21st century Sherlock Holmes. Discover the techniques a private investigator uses to crack cold cases and locate people who may not want to be found – and learn how to adapt them to your own family history research.

: Debbra MacDonald is the President, CEO and Privacy Officer at C3 Investigations Inc. and has nearly three decades of experience in investigative services in the insurance, corporate and criminal areas. She specializes in background investigations including ring fraud and staged accidents, and has served as a subject matter expert in establishing training standards for Ontario private investigators.

Registration fees

Ontario Genealogical Society members:
Early-bird price until September 30: $40
After September 30: $50

Early-bird price until September 30: $55
After September 30: $65
We accept payment through PayPal using your credit card or PayPal account, or you can mail a cheque. For all payment methods, click the button below.

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