BCGS Canada 150 Seminar – Celebrating our Canadian Ancestors

2017 British Columbia Genealogical Society Seminar
Celebrating Canada’s 150th Anniversary


Friday, June 9, 2017 at Burnaby Village
6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, BC V5G 3T6
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Dave Obee will present – A Sense of Place and Time: Putting Ancestors in Context.

Saturday, June 10, 2017 at the Best Western Plus Coquitlam Inn Convention Centre
319 North Road, Coquitlam, BC V3K 3V8
9:30 am to 5:30 pm

Sunday, June 11, 2017 Tour at Fraser Cemetery with Archie and Dale Miller.
Fraser Cemetery
100 Richmond Street
New Westminster, BC
10:00 am to noon


DAVE OBEE – Keynote Speaker

Well known as a Canadian genealogist, author, historian and journalist.
See his biography here.

She’s a descendant of early BC families and became intrigued with family history as a teenager. Her long experience with Canadian, British and Dutch records has been influenced by her educational background in anthropology, and she’s been very active in genealogical education. Learn more about Claire.

She grew up on the farm in Saskatchewan where her great grandparents homesteaded and even though she now lives in Kelowna, her roots are deeply planted in the prairies, She’s very active in the Kelowna & District Genealogical Society and currently is Editor of The Society’s newsletter, The Okanagan Researcher. Learn more about Mary.

A professional genealogist with over 40 years of experience, she has written many genealogical articles and was previously Editor of Chinook, the newsletter of the Alberta Family Histories Society. She speaks regularly on Eastern European research topics, including Austrian, Ukrainian and Germans from Russia. Learn more about Xenia

Susanne is a reference archivist at Library and Archives Canada in the BC Regional office where she facilitates access to Federal Government Records while protecting the privacy of individuals and third parties. Learn more about Susanne

Seminar Tickets –

Full Seminar – all 3 days – BCGS & affiliate members $75.00; for non members $100.00.

Saturday only – $55.00 for BCGS & affiliate members; $80.00 for non members.

Friday evening only – $10.00

Sunday Cemetery tour only – $10.00

For registration, contact Susan Snalam now at or call her at 604 273 8209.

Register with cash, cheque, or Visa by contacting Susan or pay with PayPal here on the BCGS Canada 150 Seminar page. Tickets will also be available at BCGS meetings. We will acknowledge receipt of payment and tickets will be ready for pickup at the monthly meetings, or tickets will be waiting at the event.

Please send mailed payments (no cash) to

British Columbia Genealogical Society
P.O. Box 88054, Lansdowne Mall,
Richmond, BC, CANADA, V6X 3T6


BCGS 2017 Seminar Tickets
Please add names of attendees


Saturday’s talks – download a printable .pdf timetable here. Subject to change.

Session 1 – 10:00 to 11:30

Susanne Sulzberger – Library & Archives Canada – online databases

Session 1 – 10:00 to 11:30

Dave Obee – Destination Canada

Session 1 – 10:00 to 11:30

Xenia Stanford – Ten Steps to Smash through Brick Walls in Eastern European Genealogy

Lunch break 11:30 to 12:30 – and then shopping at the Boutique

Session 2 – 12:30 to 2:00

Dave Obee – DNA- Finding Distant Cousins

Session 2 – 12:30 to 2:00

Claire Smith-Burns – Church Registers Online

Session 2 – 12:30 to 2:00

Mary Read – Prairie Provinces

Break – 2:00 to 2:30

Session 3 – 2:30 to 4:00

Dave Obee – A Fresh Light on Old Newspaper

Session 3 – 2:30 to 4:00

Claire Smith-Burns – English Parish Chest Records

Session 3 – 2:30 to 4:00

Xenia Stanford – Finding Your Ancestral Place of Origin in Eastern Europe

Break – 4:00 to 4:10

Session 4 – 4:10 to 5:30

Claire Smith-Burns – Online Parish Clerks of England

Session 4 – 4:10 to 5:30

Xenia Stanford – Locating and Using Emigration and Immigration Records for Your Eastern European Immigrants

Session 4 – 4:10 to 5:30

Mary Read – Research in the Prairie Provinces: Finding Your Family Story

Our presenters & their topics

Xenia Stanford’s Topics:

1. Ten Steps to Smash through Brick Walls in Eastern European Genealogy: This step-by-step guide will assist you in tracing your Eastern European ancestors. Countries covered include the former Austria-Hungarian Empire and former USSR, such as Poland, Ukraine, Russia (e.g. Germans from Russia) and others. When the Berlin Wall came crashing down, genealogists looked forward to much easier experiences in finding their ancestors in these countries. For many, hopes were dashed because these are still among the most difficult countries for access to records —difficult but not impossible when you follow the steps outlined in this session.

2. Finding Your Ancestral Place of Origin in Eastern Europe: Using gazetteers, atlases, guidebooks and maps including online and Google maps can help you find your ancestors’ place of origin in Eastern Europe. First you will learn what records can give you clues to place names. Armed with this information, you will be shown how to make sure you have the right location. Knowing variant spellings of place names, differences in languages, changing borders and differing jurisdictions over time will help you pinpoint the place your ancestors originated. This will ensure you visit the right village, discover the records you need and perhaps find living relatives. I did and so can you!

3. Locating and Using Emigration and Immigration Records for Your Eastern European Immigrants: Knowing the ins and outs of migration records can lead you to uncover another layer of understanding of your ancestors’ lives. You will learn the differences between emigration and immigration. Also, you will discover how to find migration records including and beyond passengers’ lists. Even if you have already found a passenger list for your migrant ancestor, you will find out why you should not stop looking. Just because you may have found one, more may be waiting to be uncovered. Further, you will be shown the possible shipping routes that may surprise you. You will leave knowing more and having possible leads to uncovering records that await you.

Claire Smith-Burns’ Topics:

1. Church Registers Online: An ever-increasing number of transcriptions and digital images of religious baptisms, marriages and burials (and other church records) are accessible online. Learn how to find these and their usefulness for your own family history research. Our survey will include examples from the UK, Canada, US, Ireland and Europe plus tips on downloading and organizing digital images.

2. English Parish Chest Records: Historically, the Parish was responsible for the maintenance of the parish church, civic infrastructure, raising of militias and the welfare of its people. The records, created over many hundreds of years, are termed “Parish Chest” materials and include a treasure trove of documents which can provide very personal insight to your ancestors’ lives. Learn about the records, plus strategies for accessing and interpreting them.

3. Online Parish Clerks of England: To date, eighteen English counties have an OPC website where dedicated volunteers offer document transcriptions, indexes, photos, expertise and look-ups. This is a FREE resource to help you in your English family history. We will explore this service, as well as ways YOU can get involved!

Mary Read’s Topics:

1. Prairie Provinces: It’s all about the land! Our ancestors were drawn to the Canadian Prairies by the promise of land. The immigration of these new Canadians created a trove of records across the 3 provinces, documenting the homestead process and the life of our ancestors in their new country. Learn how to pinpoint an individual plot of land, what records were created, what information they provide and where to find the documentation of your family’s part in the story of the prairies.

2. Research in the Prairie Provinces: Finding Your Family Story: Research in the Canadian Prairies was affected by the unique history of the settlement of the area. Often information can be found in unusual places and not in the record you would expect. Learn where to look for basic genealogical information but also how to search further for interesting facts to flesh out your family story.

Susanne Sulzberger’s Topic:

Library & Archives Canada: The presentation will highlight the extensive databases that are available online at LAC. It will also provide some information on Aboriginal genealogy and the records that LAC holds to support that. Also to provide and update on additions made to certain database and finally to mention the new location and the services that will be available there.

Dave Obee’s Topics:

1. Destination Canada: More than seven million people arrived in Canada from Europe, the United States and Asia between 1815 and 1930. This session deals with the wide variety of sources that deal with immigration to Canada, including ship passenger lists (available from 1865 through 1935), border crossing records, and naturalization and citizenship documents. Many of these sources have been indexed and placed online, making it possible to access them quickly and easily. It pays to know, however, the scope and limitations of those Internet resources, and how to obtain information from other sources.

2. DNA: A dozen reasons to get moving with genetic genealogy (and a few reasons why you shouldn’t bother) — Here are some genetic genealogy success stories, all back up by documentary research. They provide sound examples of ways that DNA testing can make a difference in your family history research. Please note: This session will not get into the science behind DNA testing; there will be no mention of STRs, SNPs, or centimorgans. It is all about finding distant cousins, confirming ancestral links, and making the most of the most amazing new tool at our disposal.

3. A Fresh Light on Old Newspapers: Researching in old newspapers no longer means sitting at a microfilm reader for hours on end, winding through a seemingly endless string of news stories and advertisements. Today, the results we seek could be a matter of minutes away, thanks to the many digitization projects that have placed millions of newspaper pages on the Internet. But what are the pitfalls? This presentation takes you through the digitization process, from hard copy to your computer screen. It is designed to help you achieve the best results from your work.


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