Victoria Genealogical Society
GENEALOGY & VGS NEWS Archive - 2011

Archive of news bulletins and announcements from VGS and beyond.
Our most recent news articles are located on our VGS Home page.

Emily Carr Visited VGS - December 8, 2011

Posted 7 Jan 2012

Molly Raher Newman as Emily Carr - Dec 8,2011Our VGS December meeting was blessed with a visit from Emily Carr, as portrayed by Molly Raher Newman, who has been playing the role of Emily Carr since the last century - August, 1999.  In the twelve years since she has introduced this famous Canadian to school children and their teachers, tourists, convention visitors, historians, writers and readers, art gallery patrons and museum members, and a host of many other people from all parts of the world.  Now the Victoria Genealogical Society can be added to her list of happy audiences.

Molly, dressed in period costume and taking on the character of Emily Carr, read selections of her writings about Christmas in Victoria - downtown Shoppes on Wharf and Government Streets, Victorian decorations and fresh firs, family holiday traditions, ending with the delightful story from her House of AllSorts Book - "John's Pudding". 

As well as being a talented actress, Molly is also an accomplished musician and singer, playing multiple instruments.  Emily Carr also played an instrument in her time (perhaps the mandolin).  So Molly brought along her ukulele and sang a beautiful song (Emily's Waltz),  words set to music in the late 1940's following Emily Carr's death in 1945.  Molly's performance was so enjoyable, she left us wanting more!

One of many interesting articles about Emily Carr and Molly was written in 2007, another in 2006 about Molly "Becoming Emily", and a biography of the historical Emily Carr containing additional links will provide additional information.


VGS Website Update Policy

Posted 4 Dec 2011

Due to continuing problems with hackers, we will not be updating information on this site until the source of the problems can be identified and blocked.  In the meantime, please watch your email for the latest "Members Update" and "Resourcefully Yours" bulletins for the latest VGS information and activities.  Thanks again for your patience and understanding. 

Hope to see you at the VGS Christmas general meeting on Thursday, Dec 8, 2011 -  as it is our year-end party, please bring finger food (appies, desserts ...).  Thanks!


VGS Website Status

Posted 15 Nov 2011

This website was recently hacked, and for a time was redirecting viewers to a malware site - not a good thing to happen at all.  We are doing everything possible to rectify this, restore the site, and make it a safe place to visit.  We will be working with Google to get the status of the site restored.  Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Remembrance Week at the BC Museum - Nov 7 to Nov 10

Posted 8 Nov 2011

The BC Museum in Victoria BC is presenting their Remembrance Commemorations during the week of Nov 7-10. VGS has been asked again to take part in this event, so please stop by and say hi to our volunteers when you are visiting the museum this week.

Bart Armstrong, VGS member and past president, has also been asked to do a presentation on his research into the US Medal Of Honor, a passion of his for over a decade.  Bart, along with Victoria Genealogical Society volunteers, has spent many years researching the 100 plus “Forgotten Canadians” or those with connections to Canada, who earned the US Medal of Honor. Bart’s work has been internationally recognized and our embassy in Washington, DC commends this historical research. Bart lives in Victoria, BC and for a second year, will be presenting his exciting display.


Meet and Greet with Lisa Louise Cooke

Posted 4 Nov 2011

Lisa Louise Cooke with group at VGS Meet and Greet event, Victoria BC What a treat it was to meet Lisa Louise Cooke, world renowned genealogy speaker, podcaster and blogger from California, who was in Victoria recently to present four separate talks at our recent VGS annual genealogy seminar. 

Lisa was kind enough to attend a "Meet and Greet" event at the VGS Resource Centre on October 28, 2011, the evening before the seminar, the first time VGS has scheduled such an event.  Those who attended were thrilled to meet Lisa, and each had time to talk with her personally and ask questions.  Lisa is extremely personable and friendly, and very willing to share her stories and the "genealogy gems" she has learned along her own journey.  The room was buzzing with conversations all around.

Refreshments were served, and pictures were taken at the end of the evening, showing some of the happy faces who attended.

Visit Lisa's website Genealogy Gems to "meet" her too, sign up for her free newsletter and watch her informative podcasts.


Thrifty  Foods Smile Cards Help Reach Fundraising Goal!

Posted 3 Nov 2011

Thrifty Smile Card Fundraising Program
Thrifty Foods Smile Card Fundraising Program
meets $1500 goal thanks to
you and Thrifty Foods.

We are excited to report that our Library Acquisitions Fundraising Program has been a resounding success again this year and our Goal has been reached! Congratulations to all our members and friends who participated by taking and using a Thrifty Smile Card. With 104 Smile Cards being used by our members and friends we reached our goal limit of $1500 set by Thrifty’s. That funding is sorely needed to continue providing Library resources like the well received subscription.

If you have balances remaining on your Thrifty Smile Cards they still work so use up those balances.

More good news - Thrifty Foods has invited us to reapply for funding from their next fiscal year’s Smile Card Program, which begins May, 2012. Our Project Director, Merv Scott, will be making that proposal at an upcoming meeting of the VGS Executive Committee, so stay tuned for more news and don’t throw away your Smile Cards as we may be able to access this fund again. If you are afraid you may lose your Smile Card in the meantime you can always return them to our friendly volunteers at the VGS Resource Center.


If you have any other questions about the Thrifty Foods Smile Card Program, please send them to Merv Scott at


"Ask Granny!" Program Received Anonymous Donation

Posted 2 Nov 2011

Ask Granny Program, Welcome Poster The Victoria Genealogical Society recently presented another “Ask Granny!” seminar, with thanks to a special and welcome donation from an anonymous donor.  We are very grateful for the continuing support of our generous members and community, who provide us with funds necessary to run such worthwhile programs and services.

Volunteers from the Victoria Genealogical Society were at The Kensington retirement residence in Saanich on Wednesday, October 26, presenting another of the Society’s on-going “Ask Granny!” educational outreach seminars. With 15 participants and a few on-lookers this was the best attended seminar to date, exceeding the advertised enrollment limit of 12. The group also included our first centurion student who was not only a quick thinker but a very popular participant as well. Fortunately the great facilities at The Kensington could accommodate the larger group and there was enough table work space for elbows and smiles all around.

Attendee at VGS Ask Granny seminar in October 2011During an “Ask Granny!” seminar the participants are provided an introduction to genealogy, then guided in the making of their very own ancestor charts. Their charts are provided to the seniors with a booklet of the information presented at the seminar, all in a handy folder labeled “A Genealogical Gift To My Family”.

The seminar and the materials are provided free to the seniors thanks to the Victoria Genealogical Society, its volunteers, and a recently received donation of $500 from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. The Society provides an “Ask Granny!” seminar monthly and, thanks to this generous donation, the program is now fully funded through this season’s bookings and well into next year.

For more information about the "Ask Granny!" seminars, visit our VGS programs page, or email


VGS Seminar Now Expanded!

Posted 26 Oct 2011

Genealogy Treasures - Google LogoOur annual VGS Seminar is scheduled for this coming Saturday, October 29, 9:30 to 4 pm at the VI Tech Park, Markham Road, Victoria BC. Free parking and a delicious lunch are included.

Our world renowned guest speaker, Lisa Louise Cooke, Family History Author, Speaker, and Media Producer of the Genealogy Gems Podcast, will be presenting 4 lectures on the amazing resources of Google and how you can take advantage of them for your genealogical research:

Lisa Louise Cooke, VGS Seminar Presenter
  1. Google: Search Strategies & Tips
  2. Google: A Goldmine of Genealogy Gems
  3. Google Earth for Genealogy
  4. How to Create Captivating Family History Tours with Google Earth


We've added a 5th lecture! Dave Obee will wrap up our day with a motivational talk, giving us tips and suggestions on how to take advantage of what we've learned during the day and offering encouraging words as we continue on our ancestral journey.

In summary, that's 5 lectures and a fabulous lunch. What are you waiting for? Register today by contacting Sarah (our registrar) at and she will hold a place for you (and this will also help us we can confirm numbers with our caterer ensuring we've ordered your lunch).

We still have a couple of spaces still for "Friday Evening with Lisa" - a special opportunity for VGS members to meet our guest, Lisa Louise Cooke, and her about some of her adventures in genealogy. Please see the attached registration form for more details.

Saturday, October 29th will see a great seminar!


VGS Supports Women's History Event

Posted 6 Oct 2011

On Sunday, October 2, 2011, the Victoria Genealogy Society participated in the Women's History event hosted by Merna Forster ( held at Emily Carr House in Victoria.  Merna Forster, an historian as well as a VGS member, launched her new book, 100 More Canadian Heroines: Famous and Forgotten Faces.

An excellent article with photos on this Heroines at Emily Carr House event has now been published on the site.  It looks like Emily Carr herself was even in attendance!

Merna Forster will also be the special guest speaker at our upcoming October 13 VGS meeting - hope to see you there!


New and Improved Search Capability for VGS Library Catalogue

Posted 29 Sep 2011

On Monday, Sept 19, 2011, the Victoria Genealogical Society upgraded its library catalogue system to Eloquent Librarian 5.1, thanks to the hard work of Janice Mason and her technical team, including Claudia Boorman, and the able support staff of Eloquent Systems Ltd.

Thanks also to our busy library volunteers lead by Pat Acton, VGS Library Director. Special mention and thanks go to Diana Gaiger, Heather Shave, Susan Myerscough, Betty Thacker, Jo Little and Don Smith. As part of the system upgrade, the British Columbia section of material has been re-catalogued and more search words added.

The revamped search screen now has a brand new look, and offers improved search functions to help you find what you are looking for from our selection of almost 5000 books, CDs, journals, maps, and microforms. Users report that searches are often quicker and return more selections than before.

Try it out for yourselves - you're liable to discover some new treasures to explore further. Use the Search Catalogue Quick Link button above, (near the top of our VGS home page) or visit our VGS Resource Centre page and click on the Catalogue Search link.


VGS "Gadgets and Gizmos Open House - 17 Sep 2011

Posted 28 Sep 2011.  Submitted by Diana Gaiger, VGS Resource Centre & Volunteer Coordinator.

The Victoria Genealogical Society held its latest Resource Centre Open House on September 17, 2011, and was one of the best so far. A number of our members brought their gadgets and gizmos to share with others. The questions were flying with answers quickly following. I hear that a number of the people went straight from the open house to their favorite store to shop. Thank you to the members that brought items for display and demonstration. The time they took to spread their knowledge about these items was greatly appreciated by all.

We signed in 84 people between 10:45 am and 4 pm. There were 52 non-members which was wonderful. Out of those 52, 14 became new members. Two members renewed their membership. It was a social event but very soon all four computers were hunting down that lost family member with the help of one of a number of volunteers who stepped up to help the day go smoothly. As always we had a great variety of food donated by many to go with the tea and coffee. The door prizes this time were free registration to one of 3 upcoming workshops. The 3 winners were very pleased when phoned about their wins. The conversation never seemed to pause and laughter broke out at regular intervals.

Thank you to everyone who came and to all the members who took an active part in the day. Without the help of our great volunteers, the Resource Centre would not be the wonderful place that it is. Welcome to our new members and happy hunting.


VGS presents Ask Granny! seminar at Ross Place

Posted 22 Sep 2011 by Merv Scott, Project Director. Photo courtesy of Merv Scott.

Ask Granny Seminar at Ross Place, Victoria BCOn September 21, 2011, volunteers from the Victoria Genealogical Society presented yet another in their series of Ask Granny! seminars, this time at Ross Place Retirement Residence in Victoria. Ask Granny! is a seminar that was designed to provide senior citizens the opportunity to create a genealogical gift for their children. Ask Granny! is provided free to residents in retirement homes thanks to the generosity of the Victoria Genealogical Society membership.

We would like to thank Kelsey King the Recreation Coordinator at Ross Place for her support in hosting the event held at the lovely surroundings of Ross Place. A special thanks to the attendees as well as our volunteers. It was great fun.

Victoria Genealogical Society volunteers host an Ask Granny! seminar each month and are now fully booked thru till March 2012. Congratulations to all the volunteers involved.

For more information about the Ask Granny! seminars visit our VGS Programs page, or email to arrange for an Ask Granny! seminar for your seniors.


New Youth Activity Book Now Available For Sale!

Posted 18 Sep 2011

The Victoria Genealogical Society has published a new genealogy book for youth, which will make a great gift this Christmas and any time of the year. Who’s in your family tree? A step-by-step guide for the detective in your family was written by our very own Merv Scott and is now available for sale at the Victoria Genealogical Society Resource Centre, 947 Alston Street, Victoria.

Youth Genealogy Activity Book CoverThe book leads the reader through an introduction of genealogy with activities like filling in a family tree chart, interviewing their family, finding the origin of their surname on the internet, and more. The book also offers a write in (or email in) Youth Family History Research Challenge, where those entries selected will be published in our Victoria Genealogical Society Journal. The book comes with a 3 generation family tree chart and includes a 4 generation youth ancestor chart insert allowing the reader to take on the more challenging chart if they wish.

Support the Victoria Genealogical Society. The price is only $5.00 CAD (Canadian dollars). Taxes included. Postage and handling extra.

Visit our publications page for more information, a view of some sample pages in the book, and directions on how to order the book.

Family history societies and youth organizations take note! Your non-profit organization may be authorized to re-sell this book as part of your own fund raising campaign. Email to request this authorization or for more information on our fund raising offer and volume discounts for bulk orders.


VGS Website Improvements Respond to Members Survey

Posted 8 Sep 2011  -  Submitted by Merv Scott, VGS Project Director

Have you checked out the VGS website lately? There certainly is a lot going on! We’ve been working to reconfigure the home page to make it easier for you to find things and see all the many things that VGS is doing.

On the home page is a new ‘Quick Links’ section ( designed to address feedback we received in the on-line website survey we conducted that some important topics took too many clicks to get to.

Along with the recent addition of the new ‘Genealogy in the Classroom’ pages ( you may also notice a few other changes and improvements.

We’ve added a new ‘Youth’ button on the uppermost menu bar to give quick access to all these new pages. News is now front and center on the home page and can also be found under the “Home” button on the uppermost menu bar. All the information ‘About Us’ can still be accessed thru links in the home page’s introduction as well as by using the “About Us” button on the uppermost menu bar.

We hope you like these changes and our efforts to keep your website informative as well as inviting and easy to use. Of course we thank Claudia Boorman, our tireless volunteer Webmaster who puts in an incredible amount of hours on our behalf to make all of this possible.


Genealogy in the Classroom is now available on-line!

Posted 2 Sept 2011

Genealogy in the Classroom website development team
L-R: Merv Scott, Margaret Kirkpatrick,
Claudia Boorman, Christina Thomas,
Maureen Helmersen.

Over the past year, a small team of dedicated volunteers from the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS) has been working hard to develop a fun and engaging way of introducing genealogy research tools and techniques to school-aged students. Their solution was Genealogy in the Classroom, a web-based resource for students and teachers, which is now available on-line from the VGS home page at Click on the Genealogy in the Classroom button in the "Quick Links" menu on the left side of the page to visit our VGS school house, where you can then enter the school room of your choice.

Click on the Classroom for student activities or go to Teacher’s Corner for Teacher Guides and links to some teaching resources developed by others. All the printable charts and forms used in our activities can be found in the Supplies room. The other rooms in the VGS schoolhouse are also designed to introduce genealogy research tools and techniques to students. Click on the Family History Club and you will find a long list of fun activities and projects. Visit the Library and read some articles about genealogy research, or go to the Computer Lab where you can watch videos about genealogy. If it’s just games you want, then you should check out the Playground. There’s more, so look around our school house and remember to have fun with genealogy.

“Our team of volunteers has done an incredible job developing Genealogy in the Classroom” said Melanie Arscott, President of the Victoria Genealogical Society. “Our congratulations and thanks goes out to team members Margaret Kirkpatrick, Christina Thomas, Maureen Helmersen, Claudia Boorman (web developer) and Merv Scott (Project Director).”

For more information about Genealogy in the Classroom contact Merv at

Download our formal Genealogy in the Classroom News Release in PDF format for more details.


VGS Resource Centre: BC Re-Cataloguing Project

submitted by Diana Gaiger, VGS Volunteer Coordinator
posted 26 Aug 2011

Many members will know that some of our volunteers have been working very hard for a number of months now at re-cataloguing our British Columbia section of books. This has been a huge project as new categories were made for BC instead of using authors to shelve books. Now all books for a place will be found together.

Many thanks to Betty Thacker, Jo Little and Don Smith for their many donated hours to tag all 643 books with their new location. Heather Shave spent extended hours changing all the location and key search words in Eloquent, our catalogue database software. Jan Mason formatted and printed out the new card labels. Diane Clarke created new spine labels. The weekend of Aug 20th and 21st saw Betty Thacker, Jo Little, Lynn Davies, Diane Clark, Heather Shave, Bev Harvey and myself removing all the BC books, putting new spine labels and card labels in the book, then putting them back on the shelves in their new location.

OnOne of the great things that came out of this project was that I got to have a look at many of the books. As researchers and volunteers we all say that “when we have time” we will have a closer look at our extensive collection of books, but sadly many of us do not get around to doing this. I found an 1890 telephone exchange for New Westminster and Burrard Inlet. It is hard to believe that this tiny book was the start of today’s phone system for that area. There are too many wonderful books to name.

Please use our Eloquent catalogue system to check out what we have at the Resource Centre for all around the world. You can do this from your home at any time of day or night by visiting our online catalogue search page. Or come into the Resource Centre and have a good look at what we offer. You may find the answer to your brick wall!!!

Many thanks to our great volunteers for getting the first step in our re-cataloguing project done!

Children's Summer Program Schedule Updated -

posted 15 Jul 2011, updated 18 Aug 2011 - PROGRAM CANCELLED

Star in your own Detective Story children's program advertThe schedule for our children's summer program,  "Star in your own Detective Story!  Hands-on Genealogy for Kids in Grades 4 and 5", has now been updated.  Times have been switched to 2 afternoons a week, and each program lasts for 3 sessions.  Two programs are now scheduled to start July 28, 2011 and Aug 18, 2011.  For further details, please download our Detective Poster, in PDF format.

This is an excellent opportunity for children in grades 4 and 5.  Registration forms are available at the Resource Centre or by emailing

Space is limited, so please register early to avoid disappointment.

More information is available about this and other Programs and Services
offered by the Victoria Genealogical Society.


'Ask Granny!' seminar provided to "On the go again"

posted 1 Jul 2011 - Happy Canada Day!

Ask Granny seminar attendees - June 29, 2011On June 29, 2011, the Victoria Genealogical Society provided another 'Ask Granny!' seminar, this time to a group from "On the Go Again", a collaborative project of the Saanich Volunteers Services and Saanich Silver Threads. Twelve members of "On the Go Again" participated in the seminar as Victoria Genealogical Society member Merv Scott led them through the 'Ask Granny!' materials.

"This is the fourth 'Ask Granny!' seminar we've presented this year", said Merv, "and a total of 39 very special students have successfully completed the seminar". The next seminar is already booked for September.

For further information about 'Ask Granny!' email or visit the VGS Programs page on this Victoria Genealogical Society's website.


The Victoria Genealogical Society takes ‘Ask Granny’ to Beechwood Village!

posted 22 Jun 2011 by Merv Scott, Project Director. Photo courtesy of Merv Scott.

Ask Granny workshop at Beechwood Village Victoria BCOn June 21, 2011, volunteers of the Victoria Genealogical Society provided another 'Ask Granny!'' seminar, this time to residents of Beechwood Village in Sidney. 'Ask Granny!' is a seminar that was designed to provide senior citizens the opportunity to create a genealogical gift for their children.

AA special thanks to the Victoria Genealogical Society’s volunteers who provided this seminar: Heather Shave, Diana aiger and Merv Scott.

For more information about the 'Ask Granny!' seminars visit our VGS Programs page, or email to arrange for an Ask Granny seminar for your seniors.

When You Shop at Thrifty Foods You Can Support Our Library!

posted 18 Jun 2011

Thrifty Smile Card Fundraising Program
Thrifty Foods Smile Card
Just by buying groceries,
Thrifty's will contribute to
the VGS Library fund

Thrifty Foods has approved the Victoria Genealogical Society’s application to participate in their Smile Card Fundraising Program again. We hope that you will support the Library Fund Raising Program and reactivate the Smile Card you previously received from the Victoria Genealogical Society, or pick up a new Card. Smile Cards are available at the VGS Resource Center and are free for members and non-members .

Thrifty Foods Smile Cards work like most other gift cards you may have seen, but when you ‘load’ money into your Smile Card, Thrifty’s makes a donation to our VGS Fund Raising drive for new books and subscriptions for our Library. Thrifty’s donation is equivalent to 5% of what you’ve ‘loaded’ or paid into your Smile Card….which clears up the misconception that your card is only loaded with 95% of what you paid and the other 5% was sent to VGS. False. Thrifty’s pays the 5% from their revenues which is a real win for you.

Even if you only shop at Thrifty’s occasionally you will be helping our Library.

Our Smile Card holders can pay by cash or credit card when they ‘load’ their Smile Card at the Customer Service counter or a cashier in any Thrifty’s store they shop. Remember to load your Smile Card before your groceries are rung in.

Members in the Thrifty’s loyalty program still collect points when they use the Smile Card to make a grocery purchase and the balance remaining on your Smile Card shows on the receipt. Smile Cards can be re-loaded so don’t throw them away!

IIf you have any questions about the Smile Card program, please contact Merv Scott at - NOT Thrifty’s. Merv has a contact at Thrifty’s to sort out our questions.


Fun at the Victoria Highland Games

submitted by Susan Webb, VGS Events Coordinator
posted 30 May 2011

VGS volunteers at the Victoria Highland Games 2011The 148TH VICTORIA HIGHLAND GAMES AND CELTIC FESTIVAL was held in Victoria BC on May 21st and 22nd, 2011, and the Victoria Genealogical Society was there. Susan Webb, our new and energetic VGS Events Coordinator, shares her impressions ...

Scotsman at the Victoria Highland Games 2011 "My relatives would be so proud. Actually, I don’t think any of the living relatives even know that we really have Scottish ancestry, but I do, and records to prove it. So, with that in mind, I was very anxious to volunteer for the Highland Games. I wanted to see what would be there, who would be there, what they were wearing, what they were eating, and more so wanted to talk to them. That we did….several volunteers joined me and others came throughout the day, both days, actually. I thought the weather was good: cloudy, but that was great. Parking is always a problem (something to realize and prepare for it). I arrived at 8:00 am and people had been there setting up since 6:00 already. There were no problems as a volunteer getting in the gates. We were made to feel very welcome. I was glad it wasn’t too hot and I went prepared for whatever would happen.

Falcon at Victoria Highland Games 2011WWell, there was sheep herding and shearing and men, women and children who tossed the cabers and delightful youngsters who danced around the swords, even sword fighting. The kilts were beautiful and everyone of them had meaning….to someone, some special family….some Mc or Mac or Stewart or some “clan”. Hmmmm….made me think…..I must learn more about my “clan”. I missed the haggis hurling….is that because no one will eat it?  All kidding aside…I have had haggis and have lived to tell you. Now, the Malt Whisky School sounded interesting. I actually think they continued into the Sunday learning about it!!! It was great to wander around, listen to the bagpipes and see so many people having so much fun.

VGS booth at Victoria Highland Games 2011My thanks go to the volunteers of our society who represented us very well. It was a delightful two days. We met some interesting people and were able to provide them with the means of tracing their family, some ideas, and shared some of our wisdom and expertise. We heard some great Scottish jokes and shared some wonderful stories. It was a most interesting day.

Will I do it again next year? You bet I will. Will you join me? I hope so….."


Summer Youth Program Announced!  Registration now open.

posted 11 May 2011

The Victoria Genealogical Society is proud to announce that a new Youth Program will be provided this summer.

Star in our own Detective Story graphicStar in your own Detective Story!: Hands-on Genealogy for Kids in Grades 4-5 will feature fun-style, hands-on activities to provide youngsters with a basic understanding of beginning genealogy. Activities will include finger printing, guessing games, crafting a timeline, collecting family stories and names, computer videos, and assembling a detective’s take-home toolkit.

All sessions will be held at the Victoria Genealogical Society Resource Centre, 947 Alston Street, Victoria.  Each series is held over a 3-week period:

  • Detective Adventure 1: July 13, 20, 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
  • DDetective Adventure 2: August 3, 10, 17 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Fee: $35, detective tools included (payable by cash or cheque).

Registration forms are available at the Resource Centre or by emailing

Space is limited, so please register early to avoid disappointment.

Download a copy of this information as a Detective Poster in PDF format.
More information is available about this and other Programs and Services offered by the Victoria Genealogical Society.

Happy Mothers Day

posted 8 May 2011

Today it's important to celebrate our mothers, the heart of our families.  Obviously, families are especially important to genealogists, as we strive to preserve our family histories, stories and heritage.  So treasure your Mom while she is still on this earth, and  honour her memory if not, every day, not just on Mothers Day.

The following poem is currently doing the rounds on Facebook in honour of Mothers Day, and is so appropriate to share with you here.  It's enough to bring tears to your eyes:

"If you have a Mom in Heaven:

If flowers grow in heaven Lord, then pick a bunch for me
place them in my Mother's arms and tell her they're from me.
Tell her that I love and miss her, and when she turns to smile,
ღ place a kiss from me upon her cheek and hold her for a while.
I Love You Mom...
Miss you"

So to all Moms everywhere, Happy Mother's Day!


Flowers fro VGS Research Volunteer

posted 3 May 2011

VGS volunteer Diana receives flowers from Bob.Our VGS Resource Centre is certainly becoming a busy and productive place, with many members and visiting guests finding new information about their family, and receiving help in their genealogy research from our capable and friendly volunteers.  Here is our latest success story, submitted by Diana Gaiger, our VGS Volunteer Coordinator.

Pictured here with the roses and the pages of newly found family information are Diana and, Bob who was very pleased with the information gathered by Diana. The objective was to find a grave in Scotland so that a lady's ashes can be laid to rest with her father this coming September.

Diana believes that these are the first flowers presented to one of our researchers for the  work and assistance that they have provided.

Thank you for your thoughtfulness Bob. Glad that we could help you!


The Victoria Genealogical Society takes ‘Ask Granny’
to Shannon Oaks!

posted 27 Apr 2011

Ask Granny iconOn 21 Apr 2011, the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS) provided another of its newly launched ‘Ask Granny’ Seminars. The materials for Ask Granny were designed to provide senior citizens the opportunity to create a genealogical gift for their children. The Ask Granny Seminar is provided free to the residents of local retirement homes thanks to the generosity of the Victoria Genealogical Society’s membership and this event’s co-sponsor Down Memory Layne.

The Seminar Leaders, Lynn Davies and Merv Scott (VGS Project Director), provided the seminar to 14 residents of the Shannon Oaks Retirement Residence in Oak Bay. We would like to thank Linda Bartel of Shannon Oaks for her wonderful assistance and support of this event.

More Ask Granny Seminars are being scheduled. Stay tuned to this website.

Also read about our first pilot 'Ask Granny' Seminar held earlier this month.


Easter Egg Hunt Event at VGS Resource Centre

posted 26 Apr 2011

VGS Easter Egg Hunt winner Colleen with presenter Pat Acton.VGS Easter Egg Hunt winner Melanie with presenter LeilaRodgers chocolates, Easter eggs and prizes for copies etc were enjoyed by the members that dropped by the VGS Resource Centre on April 22nd and 23rd.

One of our members made a huge jump forward in her research so the Easter Bunny was extra kind to her.

The $20.00 gift certificate went to Colleen, one of our newer members who has been enjoying the Resource Centre on a regular basis. Colleen is pictured here with our Library Director Pat Acton.

The pink paper went to Melanie who we all know as an active member of VGS. Melanie is pictured here with our hard working Leila.

Happy Easter everyone!!!!


‘Ask Granny’ Seminars Successfully Launched

posted 14 Apr 2011

VGS volunteer helps 2 "grannies" prepare their family trees.The Victoria Genealogical Society is proud to announce that we have successfully developed and delivered our first “Ask Granny” seminar - an outreach workshop designed specifically for retirement home residents. The Victorian on Feltham was the site of our first Ask Granny seminar and the feedback from the attendees certainly indicates it was a successful pilot. One attendee even took the time to send us a wonderful card saying “It was most kind to awaken us to this possibility of knowing and valuing our roots resulting in more respect and admiration for our heritage”.

"Granny" works on her family tree.A special thanks goes out to our Victoria Genealogical Society members who volunteered their time to assist and instruct the residents at this initial seminar - Lynn Davies, Heather Shave, Jo Little and Merv Scott (Project Director). “Your enthusiasm and knowledge were contagious” said one attendee describing our volunteers.

The ‘Ask Granny’ seminar is based on materials designed by its creators in the U.S.A. Our project team worked closely with these original founders to maintain the principle messaging and approach of their seminar but take on a more Canadian and Victorian focus. “We are so excited to hear of the successful implementation of the Ask Granny materials by the Victoria Genealogical Society” said co-creator Judith Russell. “It is evidence that our program is fulfilling an international need to help senior citizens capture on paper their irreplaceable memories of family names, dates and places”.

Elderly workshop attendees concentrate on creating their family trees.Thanks to our membership the seminar materials are provided free to retirement home residents, in accordance with the principles of the Ask Granny founders. A special thanks goes to member Layne Mikoda of for her financial contribution towards the materials at this event.

A second Ask Granny Seminar is already booked for Victoria and it’s expected many more will follow. If you have any questions about the seminar contact Merv Scott at




Celebrate Volunteer Week

posted 14 Apr 2011

It's national volunteer week (Aprl 10 - 16) according to the Canadian Volunteers site.  What better time than to recognize all the energy, enthusiasm and hard work that all our dedicated VGS volunteers deliver year round for the benefit of our society.  We literally couldn't do it without you!  Thanks to you all from the bottom of our hearts!

Here's a poem for all our special volunteers!

Like Ripples in a Pond

By Laurie Eytel

We thank you for all
the great things you do.

Large and small,
they all have meaning
to the families you help and to us.

One act
can make all the difference.

Like ripples in a pond
kindness spreads outward,
reaching and touching others
and can change a life forever.

The smiling faces we see say it all…
Thank you…you are our stars!


VGS Helping to Locate Owner of Mystery Photo Album

posted 3 Apr 2011

VGS President Melanie Arscott has been in the news again recently.  Check out the following links for more information:

Laurel Point Blog - One Step Closer To Solving Photo Album Mystery

Times Colonist Article - Mystery of Hotel Photos Solved

posted 8 Apr 2011

Follow all the excitement!  Here's a more complete list of recent media coverage surrounding the search for the owner of an old family photo album with the help of VGS.

Inn at Laurel Point
Laurel Point's blog with lots of great pictures. Don't miss postings on Apr 4, Apr 1, and  Feb 23, 2011:

Times Colonist Articles:
Feb 24, 2011 - Victoria Hotel Seeks Owner of Photo Album Dating Back to 1914
Feb 25, 2011 - Mystery Photo Album Sparks Interest and Leads
Feb 26, 2011 - Sleuths Take Challenge to Identify Family
Apr 1, 2011 - Mystery Photo Album Left at Victoria Hotel Solved
Apr 1, 2011 - Found Living Link to Photo Album Left at Victoria Hotel

Victoria News Articles:
Apr 5, 2011 - Technology helps unlock photo album mystery

Television on YouTube:
Feb 24, 2011 - Forgotton Photo Album
Apr 1, 2011 -  The Photo Album Mystery

Feb 24, 2011 - BC photo album


VGS Library Fundraising Program Reaches Goal!

posted 3 Apr 2011

Thrifty Smile Card Fundraising Program
Save your Thrifty Foods
Smile Card!
We will be reapplying in May
for additional funds for
our VGS Library fund.

We are proud to report that our Library Acquisitions Fundraising Program has been a resounding success and our Goal has been reached! Congratulations to all our members and friends who participated by taking and using a Thrifty Smile Card. 94 Smile Cards were taken and our goal limit of $1000, set by Thrifty’s, was reached quickly. That funding is sorely needed to continue providing Library resources like the well received subscription.

If you have balances remaining on your Thrifty Smile Cards they still work so use up those balances.

More good news - Thrifty Foods has invited us to reapply for funding from their next fiscal year’s Smile Card Program, which begins May, 2011. Our Project Director, Merv Scott, will be making that proposal at an upcoming meeting of the VGS Executive Committee, so stay tuned for more news and don’t throw away your Smile Cards as we may be able to access this fund again. If you are afraid you may lose your Smile Card in the meantime you can always return them to our friendly volunteers at the VGS Resource Center.


If you have any other questions about the Thrifty Foods Smile Card Program, please send them to Merv Scott at


Upcoming Easter Egg Hunt - April 21 and 22, 2011

April’s contest will be an Easter Egg hunt for members only. Each egg will contain a prize. One egg will contain a $20.00 gift certificate to be used in the Resource Centre. One egg will contain the gift of a package of pink printer paper. There will be a limit of four eggs per person. Please watch the web site for any addition information. Yes we are open over the Easter weekend!

Questions? Please contact Diana


St Patricks Day Contest Update

posted 24 Mar 2011
submitted by Diana Gaiger

In February, we announced the details for our Mar 17, 2011 St Partrick's day contest.  It was open to VGS members who had Irish ancestors with unusual occupations from the past, picked by Diana from a long list of job descriptions from the Newry, Donaghmore, Loughbrickland and Banbridge web site on rootsweb.

Diana reports: "We had 22 people in the VGS Resource Centre for St Patrick's Day. I have never seen so many shades of green at one time. There was lots of visiting, exchanging of ideas & information along with the green cookies and tea. Our lucky winner was Wanda who took the green paper to print her family tree on."  Congratulations Wanda!

Here is a list of the eligible occupations and what they mean:

Occupation Meaning Occupation Meaning
Amanuensi Secretary or stenographer Artificer A soldier mechanic who does repairs
Bluestocking Female writer Colporteur Peddler of books
Cordwainer Shoemaker, originally any leather worker using leather from Cordoval/Cordoba in Spain Fell monger One who removes hair or wool from hides in preparation for leather making
Fletcher One who make bows and arrows Hacker Maker of hoes
Jagger Fish peddler Lavender Washer woman
Ripper Seller of fish Snobcat One who repairs shoes
Tipstaff Policeman


VGS Web Survey Results Are In!

posted 10 March 2011

In an effort to ensure the VGS website is effective and relevant, the Executive Committee endorsed Claudia Boorman and Merv Scott's plan to conduct an online survey as a initial step to obtain base line data on the website and it's present users. The survey ran through the end of February 2011, and the results were presented at the March 10th General Meeting of the Society.

The response to the survey was very heartening, as were the positive results. A significant number of respondents also took extra time to provide comments and constructive suggestions, which we greatly appreciate. We will be be reviewing this feedback in more detail in the weeks ahead.

If you wish, you can now download a PDF version of the 2011 VGS web survey results slide show.

Questions about the survey or the findings can be sent to Claudia (your VGS Webmaster) via email at .


Local Mystery - Seeking Owner of Old Photo Album

The Laurel Point Inn, Victoria BC has been in the news recently (February, March 2011) - they are looking for the person who left an old photo album containing 203 black and white images, some dating back to 1914, at the hotel about 30 years ago.

Several related stories in local papers have piqued the interest of local genealogy enthusiasts.  Here are some of links to published stories and photos:


March 17, 2011 - St Patricks Day Contest for VGS Members

What occupations are in your Irish background? Do you already know or will you need to look them up?

If you are a VGS member and have an Irish ancestor with one of the following occupations, bring in proof to the Resource Centre on March 17. 2011 between 10 am and 3 pm to be entered in a draw. First prize is a $20.00 gift certificate for the Resource Centre for prints, workshops etc. Second prize is a package of green printer paper.

Eligible Occupations:

Amanuensis Fell Monger
Artificer Fletcher Ripper
Bluestocking Hacker Snobcat
Colporteur Jagger Tipshaft
Cordwainer Lavender  

We will also have knowledgeable members attending all day to answer your Irish questions. Irish cookies will be on hand along with tea and coffee.

Anyone wishing to share their Irish knowledge on March 17th at the Resource Centre is more than welcome. Please contact Diana

See you on March 17, 2011!

Victoria Genealogical Society's Resource Centre -  947 Alston Street, Victoria, BC - 250-360-2808


Feb 22-24, 2011 - Saanich Celebrates Heritage Week

Saanich announced their celebration of Heritage week with 3 free evening speakers.  All speakers are at 7:00 p.m. at Saanich Municipal Hall, 770 Vernon Avenue. Refreshments will be available.

  • Feb 22, 2011 - Explore the Cultural and Natural History in Saanich Parks - Dianne Murray
  • Feb 23, 2011 - Balancing Heritage Value with Energy Efficiency Targets - Pam Copley & Natalie Cushing
  • Feb 24, 2011 - The Past is Present: The story of a community told through its buildings - Nick Russell, PhD

Feb 14, 2011 - VGS Valentine's Day Contest Winner

Leila presents VGS gift certificate prize to WandaA happy Valentine’s Day and congratulations to Wanda, the winner of our VGS Valentines Day contest.  Wanda was the first member to arrive at the VGS Resource Centre with proof of an ancestor’s wedding on February 14th (any year, any place). 

Wanda was awarded a VGS gift certificate, redeemable for any service in the VGS Resource Centre, by Leila, our hard wording VGS volunteer and Queries Coordinator.  Wanda is shown holding the proof of the winning Valentines Day marriage.

Thank you to all the members for their interest in this event. We also wish to thank our "Cookie Lady" for the great Valentines cookies!

♥   ♥   ♥   ♥   ♥

This contest was the first of our monthly events
to celebrate special days each month.
Watch for details of upcoming events here on our web site
and in our "Resourcefully Yours" e-bulletins each month.




Feb 5, 2011 - VGS Display at the BC Black History & Heritage Day

VGS president Melanie Arscott with display at Black History eventThe Victoria Genealogical Society supported and put on a display at the BC Black History & Heritage Day event on the afternoon of February 5, 2011 at the James Bay New Horizons Centre, 234 Menzies Street.  This event was organized by the BC Black History Awareness Society (BCBHAS), based in Victoria BC.

VGS Resource Centre display board. One of the highlights of this event was a talk on British Columbia's Black Pioneers by Crawford Kilian, author of "Go Do Some Great Thing".  Watch and listen to a You tube full video of the speaker Crawford Kilian’s talk

Due to the participation of 5 additional Societies (our Victoria Genealogical Society - VGS; Old Cemeteries Society of Victoria - OCS; Saanich Pioneers Society; United Empire Loyalists' Association of Canada, Victoria Branch - UEL; Victoria Historical Society) and of course  the BC Black History Awareness Society, each displaying a theme related to Black History, the content of information about Black History was certainly enhanced. In addition, this year’s Speaker was very informative and well received, combining to make a totally successful event. The turnout was excellent again this year.

VGS Black History display board



Throughout the year, VGS creates and sets up displays at svarious local events of genealogical interest,
to support these events and to raise awareness of the Victoria Genealogical Society (VGS).

We welcome enquiries, and are also looking for VGS members
to be involved in manning VGS displays at these events.
Please contact VGS.


 Photos courtesy of Janice Mason.

Genealogy is a Family Affair

Posted February 10, 2011 - Claudia Boorman, VGS Webmaster

The Victoria Genealogical Society's Resource Centre is an excellent place for members and the public to advance their family research, attend genealogy workshops and Special Interest Group meetings, and even to volunteer. I happened to be attending a volunteer's meeting there recently (and fortunately had my camera with me), when a whole family group arrived. In fact, it seemed to be a mini reunion, as some members of the group had not met each other before.

They seemed to be having so much fun learning more about their family history, that I asked their permission to share their story, along with a few photos of their visit, on our website. How wonderful it was to see so many family members participating in their joint family history research.

Here is their story:

Visitors at VGS Resource Centre - 29 January 2011

by Kathy Antonson

Kathy and relatives at the VGS Resource Centre, mini-family reunion.Relatives Gary, Maeve, Wendy, Chris & Deb, had an exciting meeting with cousins Alf (Bill) Morgan and Kathy Antonson. We shared family stories and pictures, and of course the genealogy of the family.

Bill and relatives at the VGS Resource Centre, mini-family reunion.We are all related to John Williams, Sr., who was born in Brompton, Kent, England in 1796 and decided in August 1853 to bring his family to Fort Victoria. Also on the voyage were 7 of their children, along with their spouses, and grand-children.

Thomas Albert Williams, the son of Edmund Austin and Amelia Rebecca Williams, was born in Victoria in 1868, and was in Lac La Hache in 1891. Thomas was a stage driver around 1903 on the Cariboo Wagon Road from Lillooet to Williams Lake. Thomas A. Williams married Henrietta M. Johnston in 1903, and Gary, Maeve, Wendy, Chris & Deb are their related descendants. Bill & Kathy are descendants of Edmund Austin & Amelia Williams through their son Alfred Charles Williams.

Thanks to the VGS Resource Centre for allowing our relatives to visit. They had a wonderful time and are planning a return visit in the future to share more pictures and stories.

[Editor's note: Any groups wishing to visit our VGS Resource Centre are requested to reserve space ahead of time,
as other meetings or groups may already be scheduled, and space is limited. We want your visit with us to be enjoyable.]

Photos courtesy of Claudia Booman


VGS Resource Centre - Notice of Change of Opening Hours

February 3, 2011 - Effective immediately the Resource Centre will NOT be open in the evenings. The Tuesday Night SIG (1st Tuesday of every month) and the Genealogy 101 SIG (3rd Tuesday of every month) have been cancelled due to lack of interest.

Once the weather improves and daylight hours grow longer these SIGs will be re-considered if there is sufficient interest. Let Sarah Hamster SIG coordinator ( know your thoughts.

Note: The Resource Centre continues to be open: Monday - Friday 12 noon to 3:00 pm, (except Thursday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm) and Saturday 12 noon to 4:00 pm.


Shedding light on forgotten heroes

In January, 2011, the CFB Esquimalt "Lookout" Navy News Online published a story based on an interview with VGS member and Past President Bart Armstrong.  The full article and photo is posted at


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