Registration is now open for the Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society and the Canadian Department of North York Central Library Scottish history workshop.  The program looks like a fascinating featuring three speakers James F.S. Thomson, Chris Paton, and Marian Press.

The when and Where:

Saturday, June 18, 2011
North York Central Library Auditorium
5120 Yonge Street, Toronto
(North York Centre subway station)
(For a Google map, click here)

Use this Registration Form to register for the workshop.
You can enter your information on-line, print out the form, sign it if paying by credit card, and mail it to the address at the top of the form.


9:00 – 9:45
Registration and Coffee:

9:45 – 11:00

Welcome, Introductions & Session A

The Godly Commonwealth

From 1560 until the mid 19th century, the Kirk was Scotland’s shepherd, moral guardian and disciplinarian, its records today providing one of the key resources for genealogical research. But in trying to establish a Calvinist Godly Commonwealth on earth it defied the Stuart monarchs for well over a century, and through its democratic and Presbyterian zeal constantly split into denominational factions over endless points of doctrine. By the time of its greatest ‘Disruption’ in 1843, its ancient enemy, Roman Catholicism, was once again back in force as a result of the Irish Famine. This session will provide a broad sweep of three hundred years of church history in Scotland, and explore its implications for the family historian.

Session B:

Scottish House and Land History

There are various records that can be used to trace the history of property and land in Scotland. From the 12th century to the year 2004 the country was feudal in nature, with historic land records that not only differ substantially to those from the rest of the United Kingdom, but which are considerably more detailed. The presentation will not only decode the jargon of Scottish feudalism, it will show you also how to trace records for land inheritance, property transactions, valuations and rentals.
Speaker: Chris Paton

Session C:

Great New Non-Genealogy Websites for Scottish Research

Information which can be splendidly helpful for Scottish family history research now can be found on new websites (and as new data on existing websites) which do not have a primarily genealogical focus. This session focuses on the practical and perhaps unexpected ways in which this intriguing material can contribute significantly to a genealogical project.

Speaker: James F.S. Thomson


Lunch Break: There is a food court in the adjacent mall and restaurants nearby on Yonge Street…, or feel free to bring your own lunch.


Session D:

The Weavers of Perth

For centuries the right to manufacture in Scottish burghs and their surrounding liberties was exclusively held by craft guilds and trade incorporations. In this presentation the history and records of one such organisation will be examined, the Weavers Incorporation of Perth. As well as describing the many methods of entry into the ‘Calling’, its purpose in regulating the weaving trade of the burgh and the methods in which it looked after its members, the session will also focus on how to locate guild records from other burghs. Why did the weavers of Perth have to pay for a football before joining?! And what ended the monopoly of the guilds? An essential session for anyone with a craftsman in their ancestral tree.

Speaker: Chris Paton

Session E:

Social Scotland

Social networking sites, such as blogs, wikis, Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr have been wholeheartedly embraced by family historians around the world and genealogists have made them uniquely their own for family history. At the same time, other social networking sites have been developed by genealogists specifically for genealogists as a means of bringing related individuals together, such as GenealogyWise.

This session will demonstrate some of the social networking sites that are of direct relevance to those with Scottish ancestry – just some examples being: blogs that specialize in Scottish genealogy; the National Library of Scotland’s presence on Flickr, Facebook and Twitter; community-building sites such as Genes Reunited and; wikis with substantial Scottish content, such as the FamilySearch wiki; and other specialized sites such as Curious Fox.

The emphasis will be on helping family historians find new ways of making contacts with descendants of their branches of a Scottish family or others researching the same names or places in Scotland.
Speaker: Marian Press


Session F:

Doing Scottish Genealogy from the GTA

Perhaps surprisingly, south central Ontario is one of the best places in the world from which to conduct Scottish family history research! Taking account of newly-acquired material and other recent developments, this session shows how a GTA researcher can efficiently structure such research, by taking advantage of both locally-available and online resources.
Speaker: James F.S. Thomson

Session G:

The UK’s longest unsolved murder case happened in Perthshire, Scotland in 1866. Whilst the victim’s brother was away for the day at the local market, she was brutally clubbed to death with a kitchen axe by an unknown killer. Yet this was not the only tragedy, with the repercussions of the crime lasting some twenty years, forcing her brother into a long descent into insanity from which he would never recover.

The victim was the speaker’s three times great grandmother, and he has for many years been piecing together the investigation that followed, from sources held at the National Archives of Scotland, various local county and university based archives, police museums, and extensive newspaper coverage from across the country. Who was the killer? What could the motives have been? And how do you research a Scottish murder?
Speaker: Chris Paton

Speakers’ Biographies

Chris Paton works as a genealogist and writer in Ayrshire, Scotland, running the Scotland’s Greatest Story research service ( A BBC television producer until 2006, Chris holds a Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical Studies, is a member of the APG, and writes regular columns and articles for several British genealogy magazines, including Practical Family History, Discover my Past Scotland, Discover my Past England, Your Family Tree and Family History Monthly. He is the author of Researching Scottish Family History (Feb 2009, Family History Partnership) and Tracing Your Family History on the Internet (Mar 2011, Pen and Sword), and also writes the daily Scottish GENES news blog ( In addition to giving regular talks to local family history societies in Scotland, Chris maintains an online database on First World War British civilian POWs interned at Ruhleben in Germany (

James F.S. Thomson is a University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies instructor and has designed and taught ten (mostly sold-out) advanced and expert-level family history courses co-sponsored by Toronto Branch OGS and the Toronto Public Library.

Marian Press is a librarian at the Ontario Institute for Studied in Education, University of Toronto. She teaches online courses for the National Genealogical Institute, is a frequent speaker at genealogical conferences, and is a regular contributor to Internet Genealogy and Family Chronicle.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

5 Comments on Toronto Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society’s Scottish Family History Workshop

  1. Chris Paton says:

    Thanks Sandy, looking forward to it – should be fun!


  2. Sandy Arnone says:

    I’m delighted! It sounds like a terrific seminar. Wish I could be there. If you’re opening up the presentation to the public in the future I’d be interested to hear about it.

  3. Jennifer F says:

    There are going to be so many interesting workshops. I can not make it, but hope that others come in mass. Very interesting information provided in this posting. Thank you!!!

  4. Chris Paton says:

    Two of the talks will appear in a published format later in the year. More in due course! :)


  5. Dottie says:

    I forwarded this post to my cousin in London, Ontario, just in case he can get to Toronto for the seminar.

Leave a Reply