By Darren Lum
Published March 19 2019
Lit by the faint blue light of the projection screen showing names from a time forgotten Gayle Kitchener looks with interest at one corresponding to her grandfather on her father’s side.
With just a name and a place of birth Kitchener came to the Haliburton Highlands Museum to shine a light on a branch of her family tree with the help of Adele Espina at the Ancestry Roadshow organized by the Haliburton Highlands Genealogy Group and the museum.
Espina who is the vice-chair for the genealogy group told Kitchener these kind of searches are like a human jigsaw puzzle. It’s important that people start with what they know whether that is one name a place of birth or date of birth. The more specific the better.
She was happy to help and said this is what her genealogy group is about.
“We were happy to participate in the Ancestry Roadshow at the Haliburton Highlands Museum as these kinds of activities are part of our mandate as an all-volunteer group” she said.
The Haliburton Highlands Genealogy Group started in 1990 as a response to the Ontario Genealogy Society’s effort to prepare a single province-wide index of information recorded on all cemetery headstones in Ontario. During the process of research gathering the group interested in local family history and genealogy was born.
The genealogy group is offering a new series of free instructional workshops each month on how to research family history at the Haliburton County Public Library branches in Minden and Haliburton.
Afternoons with Ancestors is open to everyone and will be held the first and third Tuesdays from 1 to 3 p.m. in Haliburton and then the second and fourth Tuesdays in Minden.
Espina’s instruction will be on how to use the free library access to Ancestry.com and other related resources for genealogical research.
She said the genealogy group welcomes the public to its five meetings held each year featuring a guest speaker. The group publishes a quarterly newsletter and has a genealogy resource room in the Minden library branch.
Espina hopes this event at the museum is not the last.
“The Haliburton Highlands Museum and the Haliburton County Genealogy Group hope to do more family history programming in the future focusing on including the whole family in the process of discovering their forebearers” she said.
The museum’s director Kate Butler said people often come to learn about family history and try to connect the dots.
The event supports the museum’s mandate to educate.
“It really dovetails with a lot of the work that we do here helping researchers and we know everyone that is involved with the genealogy group is a really passionate researcher as well. It just seemed like a perfect way to bring the two groups together and we can work toward a common cause and help all the people that want to do the family research. It’s a hot topic for people” she said. “It has been for several years now but there have been so many people who want to find out about their family history: Where they come from and what those stories are in their own history. We all feel it shapes who we are today. We all love those unusual stories about someone from our family who might have been a bit of a character.”
She has connected the various individuals in a variety of ways for family history research whether it was helping them themselves or with other museums or with the genealogy group.
“It’s all about celebrating our community’s history … people who come to us to do research are also contributing to our stock of knowledge. It goes both ways. We can help them and they can help us and that better fills out the story of our community’s history which is our mandate to preserve and to celebrate” she said.
An annual membership with the genealogy group is $12 and includes regular issues of Original Roots magazine as well as unlimited queries related to surnames.
Anyone interested in joining or learning more about the group can look at www.hhgg.ca.