Sunday, 21 June 2015

Ottawa's Mini RootsTech: A Quiet Success

Having used up all my genea-monies to trek to the REAL RootsTech in Salt Lake City this past February, I begrudgingly missed the 2015 OGS Conference "Tracks through Time" in Barrie, ON. Knowing I will also be missing OGS Scottish Special Interest Group's SYMPOSIUM and the One World, One Family conference (both held in Brampton, Ontario) coming up in August, I made a point of busting my furry hump to get to Ottawa's FREE, mini [very, VERY mini in comparison] version of RootsTech: the "Voices from the Dust" conference hosted by the Ottawa Stake Family History Centre. I had to forego the semi-regular FREE Professional Development webinar hosted by Gena Philibert-Ortega on the same afternoon for The National Institute of Genealogical Studies [see Information > Virtual Learning Room for the list of upcoming FREE live meetings] but placated myself with the knowledge I will be able to watch the recording at a later date. 

I have been to Ottawa's FHC before on a tour for a class taught locally by Lesley Anderson and [shamefully, only...] a couple of times since then to do research on my own. Those times, one could only enter through a back door indicated by a Family History Centre sign. For this event, all doors to the church and remainder of the facility were accessible.* It's a nice location, set back from the East side of Prince of Wales Drive (#1017) and surrounded by trees. There are two entrances/exits from the road - the Northern one usually being used as an entrance. Then you can drive around the whole building to exit from the drive on the other (south) side. Ample FREE parking surrounds the facility.

Inside, some of the decor is a little dated but the facility is clean, cool, quiet and peaceful. When you arrive to research, you don't have access to much of the building -- just the research room, a couple of the rear rooms (including a Mother-Baby room) and your gender-appropriate washroom. I knew there was more to it but didn't expect it to be was quite so large. There are multiple class/meeting-type rooms, a gymnasium with a stage (avec drapes), a simple and serene chapel and probably more that I did not encounter. Although there were signs on the walls indicating which presentations were taking place within, it was a bit of a maze finding my way around. Once I got over the fact that I would have to wander and nobody cared if I stumbled into the wrong room [and realized the place wasn't so big I would be forgotten in the abyss if I did get lost], all was well.

Since the event was open to all and advertised as a FREE event, I expected the bare minimum -- rooms with chairs and presenters. Which was perfectly fine with me. I was pleasantly surprised, however, to meander into a mini exhibition hall which remained open throughout the event: 
Mini Exhibition Hall
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone) by LDC, 20 June 2015.
Opposite view of Mini Exhibition Hall.
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone) by LDC, 20 June 2015.

Societies local to the Ottawa area and a few relevant, local vendors displayed their swag. Display and information only, no sales. I think I got all of them, except for the one or two vendors who did not show (empty tables). In the order I pulled their pamphlets out of my purse, they are:

At the far end of the exhibition hall, a table offered lemonade or bottled water. Another table offered a small selection of finger foods like cheese and crackers, fruit and cookies. Not surprisingly, this area was always crowded.
View of the crowd at the food table in the Mini Exhibition Hall.
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone - hey at least I don't have to worry about identifying people!!) by LDC, 20 June 2015.

As you can see, it was not a huge crowd of participants (at most 100 souls over the course of the day, perhaps) so the atmosphere was relaxed and accommodating, probably less intimidating for newbies. I heard at least two individuals exclaiming that this was all new to them, their first time attending a conference - so, clearly, even smaller efforts like this community event should be given their due merit.

I think there were six attendees, MAX, who could have been close to my age, including two presenters, two hosts of a display table and one bored kid on his laptop in the lobby. This is not a new experience for me as far as Canadian/Ontarian genealogy events go. I'm usually the youngest in a sea coloured shades of grey.**

I arrived a little late and missed the opening remarks [which I didn't even realize would be happening, that's how low-key I thought it was going to be]. I will know to arrive on time next year! Three live tracks for each session were scheduled with an additional track showing select videos recorded during RootsTech 2015 (and available for your FREE! viewing pleasure HERE).

Session 1
A) A Place for You and Me by Shirley-Ann Pyefinch 
B) Parish Records – A Resource For Family Historians by Gloria Tubman
C) Your Family History in Book Form as an Enduring Heirloom by Magdalene Carson
D) RootsTech Video: You've Mastered the Census and Basic Search, What Next? by Karen Auman

Session 2

A) Keeping the Past: Storing and Preserving Family Archives and Memorabilia by Kyla Ubbink
B) Doing Family Tree Research in Your Pajamas by Ken McKinlay 
C) Genealogy Resources and Services at the Ottawa Public Library by Romaine Honey 

D) RootsTech Video: Family History on the Go Using SmartPhones and Tablets by Rhona Farrier and Crystal Beutler 

Session 3 

A) Researching Your Family History at Library and Archives Canada by Sara Chatfield 
B) Learn FamilySearch Indexing by Brenda Bowman 
C) Overview of the City of Ottawa Archives by Grace Lewis 

D) RootsTech Video: Building a Genealogy Toolbox by Thomas MacEntee

I thought I'd end this post by sharing a few of the tidbits that stood out for me from each presentation I attended. The quality of all presentations I attended was excellent and I can only assume the rest followed suit.

Parish Records – A Resource For Family Historians
by Gloria Tubman
- parish records are the best substitute for civil registration
- civil parishes are NOT necessarily the same as ecclesiastical parishes
- another reason for a large gap in dates between a birth and a baptism is that some churches charged a fee to perform religious rites

Keeping the Past: Storing and Preserving Family Archives and Memorabilia
by Kyla Ubbink
Rockstar Preservationist presenter, Kyla Ubbink getting started!
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone) by LDC, 20 June 2015.
- use acid free boxes and folders, please!
- get artifacts and pictures out of yellowing plastic immediately!
- use spacers and/or stuff gaps with cotton to reduce damage of artifacts stored in boxes
- use Mylar (brand) polyester clear plastic envelopes, sleeves, folders, etc
- use ONLY a Stabillo Marking Pencil to write on the backs of photos
- store photos vertically (not stacked) to avoid pressure which = heat that ruins them
- do NOT use bubble wrap when storing your items
- little white dots on books and shelves = book lice [*scratch scratch*]
- supplier recommendations: Chris Green Stamps (Bank & Second, Ottawa),, art supply stores (but NOT student materials!)
- visit the Canadian Conservation Institute for more information:
[There really were sooooo many tips and tricks that I can't do her talk justice by only showing these few but I don't want to steal her stuff either!]
Kyla Ubbink demonstrating how to safely remove photos from those awful "sticky" albums. HINT: dental floss!
Ottawa Stake FHC, "Voices from the Dust" Conference
Photo taken (with blurry camera phone) by LDC, 20 June 2015.

Overview of the City of Ottawa Archives
by Grace Lewis 
At this point, I have [shamefully] not done any research at the City of Ottawa Archives on Tallwood Drive although I have attended a couple of DNA Day events there.
- open Tuesday through Saturday
- free parking
- sign in at security, then make your way to the third floor
- purpose is to collect and preserve corporate and community documents
- community collections include: Billings Estate, Ogilvie Family Papers and much more including over 3 million photos
- partner collections include: United Church of Canada, BIFHSGO, Ottawa branch of OGS, UEL library, Railway library.
- free, in-archive access to, British Newspaper Archive, Ancestry and more

All in all, it was a very informative day for me. I left, once again, marvelling at just how much I do not yet know - in general and about our area in particular. Wondering if I will EVER feel as though I have a good enough understanding of ANYTHING to speak about it... [not that I want to]. And with yet another list of blasted books I need to buy!!!

Yes, The Asterisks Mean Something

* I mention this because, when you arrive to do your research and park far from the door actually used as the entrance to the FHC part of the facility [yes, okay, like I did], it's a pain in the buttinski. 

** I was going to say "lone brown spot" in a sea of grey... however, number one, that's not true - there were many attendees without greying follicles and, number two, that phrase led me to imagine floating poop and, although I may at times exude my fair share of smelliness, I refuse to label myself a piece of bobbing excrement. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the report - I missed it because of schedule conflicts


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