Kelowna Genealogical Society hosts conference

The Kelowna & District Genealogical Society is one of the largest and oldest in our province.

  • Aug. 24, 2014 6:00 p.m.

Claire Smith-Burns


You may be surprised by how many people in the Central Okanagan are in hot pursuit of their family roots.

With more than 130 active members, the Kelowna & District Genealogical Society (KDGS) is one of the largest and oldest genealogy societies in our province.

The KDGS is a charitable non-profit society founded in 1984, celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Every second year  since 1996, the KDGS has convened Western Canada’s largest genealogy conference, entitled Harvest Your Family Tree.

This conference is a three-day event which will be held this year from Sept. 26 to 28 in Kelowna.

More than 200 genealogy enthusiasts are expected to attend from across Western Canada and the northwest U.S.

This year, the eight keynote speakers are coming from as far as Australia, Rhode Island, Salt Lake City, Regina and Victoria.

Dave Obee

Well-known Canadian genealogy guru Dave Obee is a conference regular.

Besides being a prolific genealogy author, Obee  is the webmaster of the CanGenealogy website.

He was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Victoria for his work as a historian, genealogist and journalist.

His other hat is serving as the editor-in-chief of the Victoria Times-Colonist newspaper.

Maureen Taylor is an internationally recognized expert on photograph identification and genealogy.

Taylor brings together her knowledge and skills in history and research into family stories while giving insight into the invention and development of photography itself.

She hales from Rhode Island and is the author of several books, which she will have available to buy at the Conference Marketplace.

We are thrilled as well to have Helen V. Smith from Brisbane, Australia, the first time this well-regarded genealogy expert has spoken in Canada.

Smith is a molecular epidemiologist by day and a very busy genealogist at all other times.

At the conference, she will speak about DNA along with Australian and English genealogy.

Our two speakers from Salt Lake City will be are Stephen Young and Dwight Radford.

Young is a project manager with FamilySearch, the leading-edge initiative spearheaded by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to digitize and index collections of original records and make these accessible (for free) to family historians around the world.

A Canadian, Young also has a keen interest in WW II Canadian Naval Records and will be giving a workshop on that topic.

Radford spoke at our 2012 conference, a professional genealogist, specializing in Irish research.

As well as a workshop on Ireland, Radford will present some very unique workshops involving research strategy and the genealogical proof standard.

He will also talk about a project he has worked on recently—The 1811 Vulgar Dictionary.

He has spent several years examining the unsavoury descriptive language used by our ancestors, so this workshop will be entertaining as well as revealing.

May Chan

Also on the guest presenter list will be May Chan, the prairie history librarian at Regina Public Library where she maintains their local history and genealogy collections.

Chan is one of Canada’s leading experts on Chinese-Canadian family history, a topic she will address at the conference along with other genealogy issues.

Other speakers will include Ann ten Cate, of the BC Archives, and Xenia Stanford, a KDGS member, who is a professional genealogist specializing in Eastern European ancestry, as well as Métis and First Nations.

The Okanagan Regional Library has partnered with the KDGS to present three workshops Sept. 26 at the downtown Kelowna library branch.

The KDGS Genealogical Reference Library is located at that library branch and host an open house at the same time, to show how you can find free advice regarding your family history project.

That evening, the Conference Reception will be held at Okanagan College.

This will feature a Meet the Speakers panel, refreshments and a huge array of family history displays.

On Saturday, Sept. 27, the conference will offer 24 concurrent workshops also at the OC Kelowna campus, along with a large marketplace of vendors and exhibitors.

This will feature two used bookstalls, including The Bookshop from Penticton, offering titles of interest to family historians as well as several vendors of new genealogical books.

There will also be supplies and services, such as Shop the Hound, sellers of the Flip-pal and IRIScan Scanners; TJK Photo Solutions will offer digital photo books, slideshows and other creative ideas for photo displays; and information tables provided by several museums, archives, genealogical associations and the Okanagan Regional Library.

We have developed a reputation for great door prizes and this year we are very excited to have many wonderful items, including an IRIScan Mouse Scanner, one-year subscriptions to Ancestry and FindMyPast, a full Legacy 8 software package, and lots of gift certificates.

All registrants are also invited to a free Pioneer Cemetery Tour on Sunday, Sept. 28, led by  noted local historian Bob Hayes.

Look for conference registration forms at the Kelowna & District Genealogical Society website, printed forms at the KDGS Genealogical Reference Library, located on the second floor of the downtown branch of the Kelowna Library on Ellis Street;  email; or call 250-763-7159.

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