British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa
British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa

25 years of success

Founded in 1994, we celebrated our 25hth anniversary in 2019. We're not bragging but our friends and supporters are!

• What will the next 25 years bring? – Debbie Kennett 
• One of my all-time favourite conferences – Chris Paton
• Show off their small slice of Heaven – Diahan Southard
• It’s good to see an active genealogy society thrive and grow – Else Churchill
• Made to feel very welcome – Helen Osborn
• It truly is a small world – Janet Few
• Thank you for all you do – Lisa Louise Cooke
• Always left BIFHSGO meetings feeling greatly inspired – Lucille Campey
• Could not have asked for a better introduction – Dr. Maurice Gleeson
• Some of our best experiences in North America – Ulster Historical Foundation
• Grow and blossom over the next 25 years – Paul Milner

• Constantly impressed by the quality – Rick & Sandra Roberts
• We had been parked right under a "Family Tree"! – Malcolm Moody
• Providing excellent educational programs and conference experiences – Edward Zapletal
• Awoken that curiosity in me – Austin Comerton

Many miles from their origins in the British Isles – Ian Waller 
• Many more years of co-operation – Doug Gray
• Cheers to more amazing years to come! – George Brown
• Comhghairdeas! – Bryan Daly and Clare O’Connell Noon
• Enjoying every meeting that they have attended – Rose Mary Sarsfield
• Bobby socks and boomers sucked into the vortex of ancestry
Bryan Cook

• Many more years of collaboration – City of Ottawa Archives
• Particularly pleased with the progress – Dr. Guy Berthiaume
• Such a blessing to the community –Shirley-Ann Pyefinch
• Distinguished itself as a not-for-profit genealogical organization – Mayor Jim Watson
What will the next 25 years bring?
From Debbie Kennett
Congratulations to BIFHSGO for reaching your 25th birthday.
I was honoured to be invited to speak at the BIFHSGO conference in 2014. It was a fantastic and well-organised conference held in the splendid building of Library and Archives Canada.
I have very fond memories of my time in Ontario. After the conference we stayed on for a holiday and got to see some of your beautiful country – Kingston and the 1000 Islands, Montreal, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake and Toronto.
Everyone was so friendly and it is clear that our shared ancestry has created a very strong bond.
It is astonishing how much the genealogy world has changed since I was in Ottawa.
Autosomal DNA testing was then in its infancy with only two companies offering such a test. Few people were getting much in the way of meaningful matches. Fast forward six years and DNA testing has gone mainstream and the databases are beyond anything I would ever have dreamed of.
What will the next 25 years bring?
I feel sure that BIFHSGO will build on its solid foundations and continue to be at the forefront of genealogy research in Canada.
Here’s to the next 25 years. 
One of my all-time favourite conferences
From Chris Paton BA (Hons), HND, PgDip (Genealogical Studies) Scotland's Greatest Story family history research The GENES Blog (GEnealogy News and EventS)
Congratulations to BIFHSGO on your 25th Anniversary!
I have had the pleasure to speak at two BIFHSGO conferences in Ottawa―the first in 2012, the second in 2015. I spoke on Scottish topics on both occasions and thoroughly enjoyed both experiences.
I always think that the mark of a good conference is when you can attend and take away as much personally from it as you yourself brought to the party.
In 2012, I learned a lot about the seigneurial system at play in Canada, heard a superb talk from Lucille Campey on the Scots in Canada, managed to retrieve the service records of my grandmother's cousin at Library and Archives Canada (thanks to John Reid, who kindly pre-ordered them for me prior to my visit), and visited a superb exhibition on the War of 1812―which, it is safe to say, has been almost completely forgotten in the UK.
Probably the funniest moment was when I tried to explain the significance of the Scottish poor law records in one of my talks, and then realised that nobody had a clue what I was referring to because of my Ulster Scottish pronunciation of the word “poor”!
In 2015, I was fortunate to be able to speak on the last day of the conference, having been a speaker at another event in Toronto a day earlier.
I think this BIFHSGO event has been one of my all-time favourite conferences: it had a real buzz to it, was so well attended, and with a lot of laughs and info to share and take away.
The conference took place a year on from the Scottish independence referendum, and at one point I was asked what a woman describing herself as “independent” meant in the 1841 Census. Before giving a more relevant answer, I responded that she was probably 170 odd years ahead of the rest of us―which got a huge laugh!
The conferences I attended were warm and welcoming, and I have so many great memories of meeting folk such as Ken McKinlay, John Reid, Christine Woodcock, Pamela Cooper, who were so helpful and professional.
I hope to catch up with you all again someday―but until then, keep up the good work, and here's to another 25 years!
Show off their small slice of Heaven
From Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide
One of the very best parts of my job as an international lecturer is the chance to meet people all over the world, and experience a little bit of what they call home.
My time spent with the members and organizers at the 2018 BIFHSGO conference introduced me to some kind and enthusiastic genealogists who were eager to show off their small slice of Heaven.
I wasn't sure I could measure up to the excitement of a tornado just a week before, but as it turned out, it just made everyone more grateful for simple things like power and clear roads!
I am sure the 25th Anniversary celebration will be one for the books as their conference team once again works together to orchestrate an amazing event. Hopefully sans the tornado this time.

It’s good to see an active genealogy society thrive and grow
From Else Churchill, Genealogist, Society of Genealogists
Congratulations on the 25th anniversary of BIFHSGO.
I have fond memories of my visit to Ottawa, to speak at the conference in 2005.
John Reid and his colleagues who acted as my hosts and guides were very welcoming and friendly and the attendees seemed to enjoy themselves.
I was fascinated to speak with the society volunteers working on the British Home Children research project which was just getting under way at that time and delighted to see it come to fruition.
It’s good to see an active genealogy society thrive and grow and wish the Society all the best for the future. All the best from me and the Society of Genealogists.
Made to feel very welcome
From Helen Osborn, Pharos Teaching & Tutoring Ltd
Congratulations to BIFHSGO on reaching your 25th birthday!
I had a great time speaking at the 2011 Conference, was made to feel very welcome and enjoyed wonderful hospitality.

It truly is a small world
From Janet Few, The History Interpreter
The invitation to speak at the BIFHSGO 2015 conference was the cause of great excitement.
I had spoken to Canadian audiences virtually but this was to be my first ‘in person’ Canadian appearance.
The visit was combined with a road-trip of Canada and I know conference organisers were anxiously following my holiday blog as I neared Ottawa― would I make it in time? I’ll be honest, those first few days on the Trans-Canadian Highway, I doubted if I would arrive unscathed.
I especially remember how friendly everyone was. It was great to meet people who had previously only been names on the end of a computer.
I could not believe the connections I made. I knew I would meet again friends who had made the trip to the UK, including those with links to my one-name study and the small village where I live.
I also encountered people originally from the Isle of Wight, where I spent thirty years, a descendant of one of the emigrants who features as a case study in one of my talks and others with North Devonian links.
I am well away of the many migrations between my home region and this part of Canada but I wasn’t expecting so many―it truly is a small world.
It was particularly pleasing to be able to deliver presentations on two of my obsessions― providing hints on how to engage young people with history and heritage, and introducing the audience to the addictive world of one-place studies.
I also had the privilege of listening to excellent sessions by Thomas McEntee and Sher Leetooze.
It was a wonderful occasion; I would love to return.

Thank you for all you do
From Lisa Louise Cooke, The Genealogy Gems Podcast
BIFHSGO leads the way in supporting the genealogy community with ancestry in the British Isles.
I have fond memories of speaking at the 2013 annual conference, and continue to cheer you on from here in the United States.
Thank you for all you do and congratulations on your 25th anniversary!

Always left BIFHSGO meetings feeling greatly inspired
From Lucille Campey
Happy 25th Anniversary BIFHSGO!  I am delighted to congratulate the Society on reaching this important anniversary.
Well done for the high standards you set and the many achievements that you have had.
Thank you for being such a good friend to me. Most of the books that I have written on British Isles immigration to Canada have had an airing at one of your meetings or conferences.
The first talk that I gave at BIFHSGO was in 2005 when I introduced my book on Upper Canada's Scottish pioneers (see Believe it or not that was fourteen years ago!
With your kind support I have been speaking to BIFHSGO members since then as I continued to write about Scottish, English and Irish immigration to Canada.
I always left BIFHSGO meetings feeling greatly inspired by the knowledge and enthusiasm of the members.
BIFHSGO has many successful years ahead. I offer you my very best wishes for the future.

Could not have asked for a better introduction
From Dr. Maurice Gleeson MB, Genetic Genealogist, Education Ambassador
I had the honour of speaking at the Annual Conference back in 2016.
This was my first time in Canada and I could not have asked for a better introduction. The conference was so well organised and a great success for all concerned.
I also had the pleasure of meeting many Canadian cousins with whom I had merely communicated by email prior to that. I enjoyed myself so much I even came back the following year.
Congratulations to BIFHSGO on your 25th Anniversary - keep up the good work!
Grow and blossom over the next 25 years
From Paul Milner
Greetings and congratulations to all the leaders and members of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa on celebrating 25 years of growth and genealogical education.
You have done an excellent job of bringing in top notch speakers from around the world for education purposes at your conferences.
Your volunteers have worked diligently to index and provide remote access to major databases for those of us with British Heritage.
Having twice been a main speaker for your annual conference I celebrate with you and look forward to joining you again in future.
I also hope that you will continue to grow and blossom over the next 25 years.
Some of our best experiences in North America
From Ulster Historical Foundation
Congratulations BIFHSGO on your 25th anniversary!
Ulster Historical Foundation is pleased to send our greetings and wish everyone involved a successful conference.
Gillian Hunt, Fintan Mullan and Dr William Roulston have all thoroughly enjoyed the time we have spent with you. BIFHSGO always run a very well-organised programme which as speakers we really appreciate.
In addition the participants at the events are enthusiastic and welcoming and ask really great questions, this combination makes your workshop always one of the highlights of our tour itinerary.
In fact some of our best experiences in North America have been at your ‘Ulster days’.
We would like to thank the current and former committee members for all that you do and wish you every success for the next 25 years! 
Constantly impressed by the quality
From Rick & Sandra Roberts, Global Genealogy
We offer our heartfelt congratulations on BIFHSGO's 25th anniversary.
Having exhibited at every annual BIFHSGO conference since the beginning, and speaking at many of them too, we are constantly impressed by the quality of history and genealogy programs and projects that the executive and volunteers provide to an eager and growing membership.
We wish you continued good fortune as you build on the past, for another 25 years of exceptional service to those interested in the history and genealogy of the British Isles.
Cheers, Sandra & Rick Roberts
We had been parked right under a "Family Tree"!
From Malcolm Moody, President, Archive CD Books Canada Inc.
We have been pleased to support the BIFHSGO Annual Conference almost every year since we opened the Canadian branch of the Archive CD Books project back in 2003/4.
In those early (for us) years the Conference & Marketplace was held in the impressive, but rather intimidating, Library & Archives of Canada (LAC) up on Wellington St., with the marketplace set-up in the marble lined entrance hall. It felt like one of those places where you had to speak in a whisper! Later the venue was switched to the equally impressive, but way more friendly Nepean Centrepointe building with the Marketplace being spread out in their vaulted Atrium.
We arrived here one year to do our set-up (always a stressful & rushed activity) to find we had been assigned to an excellent location which was already partly occupied by the most enormous tree, growing in a 4 ft. high by 4 ft diameter fake terracotta pot! Clearly not something we were going to move aside and had better learn to live with!
The exact location - and geometry - of our allocated spaces at a Marketplace always comes as something of a surprise so our first activity, on arrival at a new venue, is to figure out how we should lay out our tables to give our customers their best access while we can get mains power to each of our computer / sales locations, etc., etc. We were used to having a flat (or curved) wall behind us, being in a corner, out in the middle of a large room, even to accommodating various architectural "expressions," and these we could deal with.
But sharing with a tree was a new experience for us, so we approached the situation as a problem to be solved and sure enough the solution was soon found. We and the tree could peacefully co-exist - and we only bumped into each other occasionally!
As I said we had been assigned this excellent location so we were happily busy and had little time for "Higher Thoughts," or of contemplating "Our place in The Universe."
We did, however, fulfill our primary mission: to make many new friends, and to help a few people with some aspects of their research.
Best of all (remembering that we are an online enterprise) we could spend some real face time with our existing friends and previous customers. Altogether a successful show.
It was not until some weeks later, when I was downloading some pictures from the show, that I realized that the indoor tree which had seemed to be "in our way" was such an appropriate background to our display of Family History research materials. We had been parked right under a "Family Tree"!
Unfortunately, more recently, this giant potted plant has vanished. Doubtless it became rather too "imposing" - not to mention somewhat pot-bound. Here's hoping it has found a "nicer & more spacious" site to live out its retirement from civic duty.

Providing excellent educational programs and conference experiences
From Edward Zapletal, Publisher, Moorshead Magazines Ltd.
On behalf of Moorshead Magazines Ltd., publishers of Internet Genealogy, Your Genealogy Today and History Magazine, I'd like to congratulate the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa for your continued success in providing excellent educational programs and conference experiences to family historians, locally and from afar, for the past quarter century. And we wish you continued success well into the future!

Awoken that curiosity in me
From Austin Comerton, Irish Radio Canada
There comes a point in all our lives when our curiosity is aroused as to who we are and where we came from. Knowing where to turn has been made easy in this era of online research and DNA.
BIFHSGO has awoken that curiosity for me and finding the time to devote to breaking through brick walls still is a challenge.  Our links to the past are an integral part of who we are, even if we are unaware.
As BIFHSGO starts into its next 25 years, I am confident that the awareness and interest in the community will only grow.

Many miles from their origins in the British Isles
From Ian Waller, Publicity Officer for the Family History Federation (formerly FFHS)
On behalf of the Family History Federation we offer our congratulations to the Society on the occasion of your 25th Anniversary.
Your programme for your celebratory conference looks to be very full and interesting. We hope that you have a very successful event.
It is always a pleasure to see societies thrive in times when many are suffering membership losses probably because many people think all research can be done online.
May you, as a society, continue to prosper and offer much needed resources to your members who are many miles from their origins in the British Isles.
Many more years of co-operation
From Doug Gray, Chair, Ottawa Branch, Ontario Ancestors (OGS)
Congratulations to the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa for 25 years of helping, educating and encouraging research into family history.
Facilitating networking and education through monthly meetings and the Annual Conference, as well as working with other organizations, has been a benefit to the genealogy community in Ottawa and beyond.
Ottawa Branch OGS continues to look forward to many more years of co-operation with BIFHSGO and to working on more projects in the future.

Cheers to more amazing years to come! 
From George Brown, Chair, Scottish Society of Ottawa
Congratulations on achieving this significant milestone.
Here’s to 25 years of connecting us to our roots and encouraging us to research our own family histories.
Cheers to more amazing years to come! 

From Bryan Daly and Clare O’Connell Noon, Irish Society of the National Capital Region
The Irish Society of the National Capital Region congratulates BIFHSGO on your first 25 years!  Comhghairdeas!

Enjoying every meeting that they have attended
From Rose Mary Sarsfield, Lanark County Genealogical Society
Congratulations BIFHSGO on your 25th Anniversary!
The British Isles Family History Society Saturday meetings are very informative with a variety of speakers and topics. The Fall Conferences are also very well organized and have featured an excellent group of speakers on current topics of interest.
Our members have reported enjoying every meeting that they have attended, and of making connections with others with similar interests or who are on the extended branches of their families.

Bobby socks and boomers sucked into the vortex of ancestry
From Bryan Cook, on behalf of Karen Lynn Ouellette, President, the Board and members of the Historical Society of Ottawa
The HSO Recalls How time flies!
Twenty-five years
and 500 strong,
bobby socks and boomers
sucked into the vortex
of ancestry,
thrilled by the chase of
lives lived from
the dawn of surnames
propagating from old Blighty and her Isles
across oceans and continents.
Overflowing filing cabinets
and hand-drawn charts have yielded
to software discipline
and instant global networking,
trees have become forests
the proof standard oft neglected!
Thank goodness for BIFHSGO
to ground us in excellence
with a collective wisdom
of research rigour, the latest in digitized archives,
and our blogging newspaperman!
Our trees are no longer bare
but painted in the colours of history,
seeing and experiencing the world
through Their eyes.
Canada’s Home Children
now respected among the pioneers;
digitized troves of military, migration
and diary data;
Award winning Anglo-Celtic Roots
edited for excellence
in the telling of  ancestral tales
and the conquest of brick-walls;
Special Interest groups of Scots and Irish,
of British Colonial America, the written word 
and software mastery;
thematic conferences of international renown;
monthly education and research presentation;
tables laden with rare books and maps;
pioneering the burgeoning sciences of DNA,
measuring divergence from Y Adam and mitochondrial Eve,
discovering deep ancestry and distant relatives.
It is with pride that our Historical Society of Ottawa
continues our partnership in the exploration of our
National Capital roots. Our mutual challenge for
the next 25 years . . . the younger generations.   
Happy Silver Anniversary!
Many more years of collaboration
From the City of Ottawa Archives
The City of Ottawa Archives would like to congratulate the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa on the occasion of their 25th annual conference.
Over the past two decades, the Archives has hosted BIFHSGO's specialized research library.
We look forward to many more years of collaboration and success.
Particularly pleased with the progress
From Dr. Guy Berthiaume, National Archivist and Librarian (LAC)
I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Society on its 25 years of operation.
As you know, family historians like your members are a major client group for Library and Archives Canada (LAC). I am particularly pleased with the progress that LAC and your volunteers have been making with the database containing information about British Home Children that is hosted on the LAC website.
Such a blessing to the community
From Shirley-Ann Pyefinch, Director, Ottawa Family History Center
Best wishes to BIFHSGO on your 25th Anniversary!
Thank you for offering quality programs and educational opportunities for the community.
This society is such a blessing to the community.  May you have many more years of success! Thank you.
Distinguished itself as a not-for-profit genealogical organization
From Jim Watson, Mayor/Maire On behalf of Members of Ottawa City Council
It is my distinct pleasure to extend congratulations to the founders, along with Duncan Monkhouse, President, and the other executive members of the Board of Directors, in addition to the members and partner organizations of the British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO), in recognition of its 25th anniversary promoting family history research.
Founded and incorporated in 1994, BIFHSGO has distinguished itself as a not-for-profit genealogical organization dedicated to encouraging the research of family trees for persons with ancestral ties to the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.
BIFHSGO also merits accolades for the quarterly production the journal Anglo-Celtic Roots, as well as for working in collaboration with Library and Archives Canada to host a website on British Home Children.
In addition, BIFHSGO deserves praise for facilitating a BIFHSGO library at the City of Ottawa Archives, and for donating material to the genealogical collection of the Ottawa Public Library.
As Head of Council, I want to offer my best wishes to the membership of BIFHSGO for continued success with its educational mission.
Sincerely, Jim Watson, Mayor
J’ai l’immense plaisir de féliciter, au nom des membres du Conseil municipal d’Ottawa, les fondateurs de la British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa (BIFHSGO) ainsi que Duncan Monkhouse, président, et les autres membres du conseil d’administration, de même que les membres et les organisations partenaires de la société historique à l’occasion du 25e anniversaire de cet organisme qui fait la promotion de la recherche généalogique.
Fondée et constituée en personne morale en 1994, la BIFHSGO se distingue en tant qu’organisme de généalogie à but non lucratif voué à encourager la recherche généalogique pour les personnes ayant des liens ancestraux avec le Royaume-Uni et la République d’Irlande.
La BIFHSGO mérite également des éloges pour la production trimestrielle de la revue Anglo-Celtic Roots ainsi que pour son travail en collaboration avec Bibliothèque et Archives Canada en vue de l’hébergement d’un site Web sur les Petits immigrés anglais.
En outre, la BIFHSGO mérite notre reconnaissance pour l'aménagement d'une aire de bibliothèque qui lui est consacrée aux Archives de la Ville d’Ottawa et le don de documents d'archives à la collection généalogique de la Bibliothèque publique d’Ottawa.
En tant que chef du Conseil, je tiens à souhaiter aux membres de la BIFHSGO beaucoup de succès dans la poursuite de la mission éducative de la Société.
Meilleures salutations, Jim Watson, Maire