I have been interested in genealogy for most of my adult life and since moving to Toronto in 2007, have gotten involved with the Toronto branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society. In the past year, I’ve joined the Enquiries team, a small group that responds to requests for information that come in to the Branch from researchers around the world who would like assistance accessing records available in local libraries and archives. I have done “look-ups” at the North York Central Library (mostly the Canadiana Room) as well as the Archives of Ontario and these are of great help to me as I learn about how to access these records while doing the work.
Recently, a request came in for records from the London Insane Asylum. The Archives of Ontario holds these records and they are available in a couple of forms. Lists of patients are available in their original notebooks, stored in archival boxes, and I was able to take digital photographs of these for our client.
The actual case files are on microfilm, and the film-readers are driven by computers that let you save the images to an external storage device like a USB stick or portable hard drive.
I find this kind of research very interesting and I try to undertake a few lookups for my own personal research when I’m at the Archives or library.
Late last year I was asked to blog for Simcoe’s Gentry, a project of the Toronto Branch that is documenting the original Park Lots granted under Lord Simcoe in the Town of York. Their website is an ongoing repository of research, and the blog will help to introduce people to the work. The first post was in February and is here. You can scroll through the posts using the navigation at the upper right of that page. This is a very interesting project and I’m getting to know a lot about the history of Toronto.
[1851 Township of York – The original map can be seen at the Toronto Reference Library (call number 912.71354b68)]
Finally, I have taken on the role of Twitter-mistress for the branch, sending out announcements of interest to our followers every couple of days. These can include meeting reminders, course information, history or heritage events of interest to genealogists in Toronto, and links to new online resources. We set up the account in late January and hit 100 followers today, which suggests that we are offering a service of value to both our members and other followers with similar interests. You can follow us at www.twitter.com/TOfamilyhistory.