Branch News: 2009-2010


30th Anniversary Lapel Pin 
(Available for purchase while supplies last.)
To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Quinte Branch commissioned the design of lapel pin as a commemorative memento. Searchlight editor, Larry McQuoid, submitted the winning design which was then produced by Reilly’s Awards and Embroidery in Trenton. It is 3/4 inch round cast metal pin featuring the Quinte Branch tree logo with the words “Since 1980” and “With Strong Roots” underneath. This attractive collector’s item is now available for sale at $5 which includes postage. There is only a limited number available so don’t miss this chance to participate in Quinte Branch’s 30 years of service to the genealogical community in the Bay of Quinte region.

Quinte Branch Celebrates 30th Anniversary
Article by Tina Gemmell
Logo Design by Larry McQuoid
Photography by Georgette Green

From a little seed, a mighty branch grew and grew. On June 19th, Marilyn Harry, Branch Librarian and Anniversary Chair, welcomed guests, friends and members to the Quinte Branch 30th Anniversary celebration. The afternoon was filled with greetings, door prize draws, recognition of charter members, past-chairs and volunteers, amusing genealogical readings and the sharing of “Eureka” moments. Gladys Smith, also known as “Pinnie Mearl” entertained the group before the delicious anniversary cake was cut by Branch Chair Peter Johnson, UE.

Marilyn presents a Lifetime Membership to Rodney Green, Charter Member, for his continuous service over the past 30 years.
  Branch Chair Peter Johnson UE, accepts a plaque from City of Quinte West Mayor John Williams.   Craig Desjardins, Trenton Ward Councillor and Chair of the City of Quinte West Public Library Board extends greetings...
… and more greetings from Nancy Trimble, President of the Ontario Genealogical Society.   Four charter members were present. Left to right: Noreen Smith, Roy Bruce, Betty Bruce and Rodney Green.   Current branch executives, committee chairs and volunteers receive
“Volunteer Extraordinaire” awards.


Left: Gladys Smith entertains the group as “Pinnie
Mearl”. Right: Peter Johnson UE prepares to cut the
anniversary cake.


Irish Research 101
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

Even though St. Patrick’s Day was two months ago, it was a good day for the Irish at Quinte Branch. Seventy people crowded into the Quinte West council chamber to hear Terry Findley’s presentation on Irish Research 101. Most of those in attendance indicated, by a show of hands, that they had Irish ancestors or thought they did. Terry opened by saying that there are three kinds of people in the world (1) Those who have Irish ancestors (2) Those who don’t and (3) Those who wish they did.

Having found a large number of both his and his wife’s ancestors, Terry explained how he was able to make the link from North America to the Emerald Isle. He started by explaining the geography of Ireland with Provinces, Counties, Baronies, Parishes, Towns and Townlands. The most important rule is to start at home with resources available in Canada particularly at Library & Archives Canada and the Canadian Genealogy Centre. Whether it’s a census record, WW I attestation paper, church record or newspaper obituary, Canadian resources can usually pinpoint the location of origin for Irish immigrants. If that doesn’t work, then it is worthwhile looking in Scotland or England as they may have gone there first or check military records as nearly one-third of the British army was made up of Irish men seeking a way out of poverty.

Terry provided a lot of websites and examples plus a bibliography of written sources and has kindly given permission for these to be available on this website.

Marilyn Harry, branch Librarian thanks Terry Findley for his presentation. Terry has succeeded in tracing over 20 direct Irish ancestor lines back to Ireland with genealogical proof.


The key is to start your research at Library & Archives Canada and an understanding of Ireland’s administrative units is significant in helping to wade through the Irish records.

Genealogists take a Perilous Trip to Rebellious New York & New Jersey
(at the OGS Region VII Annual Meeting)

Article by Bob Dawes and Peter Johnson UE
Photography by Georgette Green

Genealogists joined Quinte, Kawartha and Durham branches for their annual regional meeting which was chaired by Regional Director, Carole Foshay. Branch reports were delivered by Anne Delong (Durham), Alvina Seabright (Kawartha) and Dick Hughes (Quinte) followed by a presentation on OGS activities and projects by Don Hinchley, OGS President. After a pot-luck lunch, Quinte Branch Chair Peter Johnson UE, gave a talk on the perilous journey of United Empire Loyalists through New Jersey and New York states on their way north to Ontario illustrated by many slides of villages and cemeteries sporting names very familiar to the Quinte area.

Larry McQuoid, Newsletter Editor, thanked Peter Johnson who wore the uniform of a musketman in the 2nd Battalion of the King’s Royal Regiment of New York. With two battalions, this regiment was the largest Loyalist Corps to settle in what is now Ontario. Peter referred to several Loyalists in his presentation, including John Keller and Pte. Henry Young from the Hoosick River Valley in New York who were both in this regiment. Generally, the men in the King’s Royal Yorkers were from the upper half of New York State and areas of what is now Vermont. The 2nd battalion settled in Fredericksburgh Township in 1784, in the area south of Napanee.




Cemeteries in the 2010 Quinte West Discovery Guide

The 2010 Quinte West Discovery Guide lists cemeteries as one of the eight major attractions in the Quinte area. Researchers can start their search at the Quinte Branch Research Library where the volunteers are highly knowledgeable and happy to assist. The branch maintains a database with more than 1,014,000 names from church baptisms, cemetery transcriptions, genealogies and newspaper indices which can be accessed in the library or on the branch website. Branch Cemetery Coordinator Rodney Green is currently working closely with Quinte West to develop an accurate and complete listing of all Quinte West cemeteries.[full_width][/full_width]

Read the article in the 2010 Quinte West Discovery Guide.

Visit the Quinte West Chamber of Commerce  to request a copy of the guide.

Using the Prince Edward County Archives in Wellington
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

The first day of spring brought out many Quinte Branch members and friends to learn about the treasures held by the County of Prince Edward Archives in Wellington. The speaker was Krista Richardson who is the archives manager and she explained about their collections and how to access them. One of the interesting items in her presentation was their digitization project which is scanning a lot of documents for eventual publication on the internet. The PEC Archives is located at 261 Main Street, Wellington and is located behind the public library building. It is open from Tuesday through Saturday and holds land records, BMD’s, church records, newspapers, company papers such as cheese factories, photographs and many other collections relating to the history of Prince Edward County. The archive staff is very friendly and welcome inquiries by phone or email at (613) 399-2023 or Krista also explained their cataloging and preservation techniques and welcomes new collections or artifacts that pertain to the county. She can be reached directly at the above telephone number or

For more information about the archives visit[full_width]

Krista Richardson, manager of the Prince Edward County Archives with Larry McQuoid, editor of the “Quinte Searchlight” journal for the Branch.

Family Day Open House at the Quinte Genealogy Centre
Article by Richard Hughes
Photography by Georgette Green

On February 20th, Quinte Branch held its first Open House to mark the provincial holiday of Family Day. Featuring colourful displays and numerous free brochures and charts, the research library welcomed a good number of visitors to the branch research library. A full roster of branch volunteers introduced the visitors to the resources of the library and, in many cases, located long-lost relatives. Quinte Branch has long sought to introduce new people to family history research through its outreach programs. This year, as part of a provincial OGS initiative, the Family Day event was the first open house. Based on its success, it can be anticipated that it will be repeated in the future. The OGS donated an annual membership to be drawn as a door prize which was won by Nanci Anderson of Brighton.

Damned Rascal: Captain John Walden Meyers
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green and Bob Dawes

After a break for lunch, the general meeting got underway in the council chambers with an audience of sixty-five. The presenter, Doug Knutson is the owner and operator of Windswept Productions, a video production company based in the City of Belleville that specializes in documentary production on historical topics. He presented his updated documentary “Damned Rascal” the story of Captain John Walden Meyers the founder of Belleville who was a soldier, loyalist, spy and adventurer. The film portrays Captain Meyers from his life in New York before the Revolutionary War to after the War of 1812. We would like to thank Peter Adam of The City of Quinte West for giving up some of his weekend to get the technology working so we could show the DVD. At the end of the meeting, more door prize draws sent both Bill Hunt and Stacy Goddard home happy.
[full_width][/full_width]Doug Knutson (right) is thanked for his presentation by branch Chair Peter Johnson UE.

Doug Knutson, representing Captain John Walden Meyers, with some of Meyers family members.

For more information about Captain John Walden Meyers see Capt. John Walden Meyers on Randy Saylor’s website.

A Moment of Silence
was observed for late member Laura Bush and John
Babcock, Canada’s last World War I veteran

The Migrations of our Pioneer Ancestors: Understanding Their Life and Times
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

A mild mid-January Saturday brought out sixty people to listen to the annual Crouse-Wannamaker Lecture which opens the 2010 general meeting syllabus of Quinte Branch. The meeting was even graced by an impromptu visit from the Mayor of Quinte West, John Williams, who was very pleased to see the council chamber being put to good use.

New Chair, Peter Johnson UE, opened the meeting by asking branch Librarian Marilyn Harry to explain the reason for recognizing Gordon Crouse and the Wannamaker’s with a special meeting each year. Marilyn explained that Gordon Crouse was the first chair of Quinte Branch in 1980 while Lorel and Mildred Wannamaker were made honourary members of the branch for their contribution to genealogy in the area. Peter then introduced the guest speaker, Randy Saylor to speak on the migration paths of early settlers in Upper Canada.

Randy started by explaining the various routes used by the migrants from the US through New York, Pennsylvania and along the St. Lawrence River. He used newly discovered Quaker letters and journals to recount family stories of the hardship and perils encountered by these early residents of Upper Canada. While they settled along the north shore of Lake Ontario they didn’t stay put for long and were soon moving on to other places in south-western and northern Ontario. The circle was then completed with many returning to the US to settle in the mid-western states. It was interesting to learn how much they travelled back and forth or wrote letters to stay in touch with family and friends.

New Chair Peter Johnson UE opened the first Quinte Branch meeting of 2010 Randy Saylor (left) is thanked for his presentation by Past Chair Dick Hughes

Google “Randy Saylor” to go to his website “Family & Bay of Quinte Records“!

Rum Runners, Gamblers, and Flyers:  A Look Back at Quinte’s Fascinating Past
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

Quinte Branch’s final meeting of the year featured local author William C. (Bill) Hunt who recounted area stories from his books. Bill covered the use of Deseronto as a training facility for Royal Flying Corps during WWI. He has done extensive research into the young men who trained there and then went overseas as well as listing the many casualties from training accidents and enemy action. The establishment of several flight training centres in Ontario gave rise to the start of the aircraft manufacturing industry and aeronautical engineering programs after the war which saw aircraft for the US Naval Air Service built in Canada. An interesting anecdote was that the wartime industry during WWI employed more than 600 women at the same wages and benefits as men. Bill’s book which covers this period is called Dancing in the Sky.

He then went on to expand on his other books about prohibition and rum-running from the county. These books are Booze, Boats and Billions and Whiskey and Ice. Bill told stories of local families who were involved in the rum-running trade and how the big distilleries got around the rules.

Robert Dawes thanks Bill Hunt, historian, raconteur and author of
“Dancing in the Sky”, “Booze, Boats and
Billions” and “Whiskey and Ice”.
Deseronto was a training facility for the Royal Flying Corps during WWI.


Researching British Immigrants to Canada
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Georgette Green

Seventy people filled the Quinte West council chambers at the branch meeting on October 17th to hear John Reid explain how to trace their Canadian ancestors back to England. John started his presentation by reviewing the immigration patterns from the UK countries of Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Éire during different times throughout the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries. John outlined a shopping list of different record types and their value by using the Parato Principle or 80-20 rule where 80% of your results come from 20% of the records – he concentrated on just the census and vital registration records as his primary resources to demonstrate how to backtrace Canadians to the UK.

Using three case studies, John showed the audience how to trace surnames as hard as Smith through the different records. He started with the 1911 census for Prince Edward County and then used the Ontario vital registration records for births and marriages to find out as much as he could before leaping across the pond. By doing this he was able to identify a husband’s middle name, the wife’s maiden name plus their county of origin in the UK. He then used both FreeBMD and Ancestry to find the immigrants and trace them back through two generations to 1841 when the census and vital registration records start to dry up.

John finished his presentation by adding some colour to the lives of his case studies through early church records, city directories and newspaper accounts of their prize-winning produce at the local fair. Throughout the presentation, he would constantly refer to Google Maps to show the relationship of the various villages and parishes with each other and how these people travelled throughout their lives. John has kindly reproduced all of the websites he used on his blog Anglo-Celtic Connections where you can use the links to access the same resources.

His final piece of advice was to make your ancestor unique by finding out as much as you can about the correct spelling of their surname, full middle names and maiden names before crossing the pond.

Council Chambers were packed for John Reid’s presentation.   John is thanked by Quinte Branch Past Chair Carole Foshay.

History of the Family Dairies of Prince Edward County
Article by Richard Hughes
Photography by Georgette Green

On a spectacular Autumn afternoon on October 3rd, an enthusiastic audience gathered at The Victory in Picton to hear historian Phil Ainsworth present the history of the family dairies of Prince Edward County. In a county filled with fascinating history, Ainsworth has chosen to document the families who established no less than 15 dairies from about 1900 into the 1960s and which have all now disappeared.

Beginning with private farms, these enterprising families generally began by selling raw milk at the farm gate and expanded to the door-to-door delivery by horse-drawn wagons. The early dairies were simple farm buildings with hand washing of the glass bottles. The presentation was coloured with tales which many in the audience could recall including the early morning sounds of the delivery man and the dairy horse which could plod through the route without any guidance.

Gradually government regulations required pasteurization and progressively other sanitary procedures, with the result the smaller producers were either forced to close down or to sell out to larger producers. By the 1960s all of the local, family dairies in Prince Edward County had disappeared.


Rodney Green thanks local historian, researcher and author Phil Ainsworth for his presentation “When Milk Came in Glass Bottles”. Phil’s articles are published quarterly in The County magazine.

Sandra and John Horwat transcribe 9,600 stones during nearly 100 visits to the Belleville Cemetery
Article by Richard Hughes
Photography by Bob Dawes

As Quinte Branch launched its Fall program of public information presentations on Saturday 19 September, it also announced the completion of its largest-ever cemetery project, the new transcription of the Belleville Cemetery on CD-ROM. This massive project, undertaken by Quinte Branch volunteers, Sandra and John Horwat, required one year and almost 100 visits to the Belleville cemetery to examine every stone plus the Columbariums, Niche Walls, Mausoleum, Urn Garden and Scattering Garden. The 31,700 names drawn from 9,600 stones is a record of the early settlers, the United Empire Loyalists, community and political leaders, soldiers and the thousands of residents over the 137-year life of this cemetery–an extensive history of the people and families who settled and developed this area.

The Quinte Branch has published this 1,500-page fully-indexed cemetery transcript on a searchable CD-ROM. Copies are available from Greenley’s Book Store on Front Street in Belleville, at Quinte Branch meetings, or by mail order (click here for details). The cost is $25.00, plus postage and handling.


Branch chairman Dick Hughes (right) presented Sandra and John Horwat with the first edition of the Belleville Cemetery Transcript on CD-ROM to thank them for doing such a great job.

Family Research at the Archives of Ontario, On-Site or from a Distance
Article by Bob Dawes
Photography by Bob Dawes

Over eighty people attended the Sept. 19th meeting to hear Sean Smith of the Archives of Ontario explain how to use the new archives building and website. The new archives building is located at 134 Ian Macdonald Blvd., Toronto and is on the campus of York University. Parking can be a problem but the site is well served by the TTC, Go Transit and York Region Transit so he suggested that you park your car elsewhere and take public transit to the archives.

While the reading room is 75% bigger than the old location and contains state of the art microfilm viewing and printing equipment the downside is their hours of operation have been reduced to normal business hours Monday through Friday so the days of evening or weekend research at the archives are over. Another change is the new readers ticket which will now be permanent rather than needing to be renewed annually. While the new microfilm equipment is capable of using USB flash drives and the internet these features have not been enabled yet so you will still need to copy or print whatever you find.

The collections are basically the same as the old location although these are now growing quickly because of the additional storage space. A lot of the collection is located off-site so it is wise to check that your material is available or have it ordered in before you visit. They have a new automated phone system at 1-800-668-9933 which makes it easier to
get to the department you need using voice menus.

You can view all of the holdings on the Archives of Ontario website at A lot of new research guides for specific types of documents and collections have been added to the site, so it is a good idea to have a look at the list to see what’s available before you visit. The best way to drill into the catalog is through the Descriptive Database under the Start Your Research button on the home page. Sean explained that this will allow you to look at individual items, groups of records by type or listed by their origin or creator.

Sean Smith, Senior Reference Archivist at the new Archives of
Ontario facility on the York University Campus, demonstrates how to use the archives website on the large screen in the Quinte West Council Chambers.
Over eighty family historians gathered to learn how to do research at the archives and how to access the archives from a distance using their website.

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