Monday, October 01, 2012

My Genealogy Conference Weekend

My husband Michael and I are back from our weekend in Kelowna, British Columbia. It was our first time at one of Kelowna & District Genealogical Society’s annual conferences. This year’s theme was “Harvest Your Family Tree”. Excellent speakers (Canadian and American genealogists), a good turnout (about 200 attendees), a convenient location (Okanagan College campus), and sunny weather all contributed to a great experience for us.

We arrived early Friday afternoon. While Michael checked in at our hotel, I was at the public library where KDGS had an open house and three workshops. About 40 people (myself included) listened to Donna Potter Phillips’ “Leave a Legacy and Not a Mess”. Donna, who’s from Spokane, Washington, is the president of the Eastern Washington Genealogical Society. She’s a dynamic speaker who uses humour, common sense information and personal artifacts in her talk. For me, three pieces of advice stood out in her presentation:
  1. tell the stories of our items and information to our families so that they’ll know why these things are important to us;
  2. it’s our job to put order in our stuff, because we care the most about our research; 
  3. start organizing now, not later, because we never know what tomorrow will bring.
Saturday was a busy day. It began at 8 a.m. with registrations and didn’t end until about 5 p.m. with the last of the draws taking place. (There were numerous prizes, like the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner, as well as a one year premium membership to Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems. Michael and I didn’t win anything.)

View of the conference marketplace.

We each had four workshops: Michael's were "Introducing Family Tree Maker 2012” with Rick Roberts, “Google Earth” and later “Google Search Strategies & Tips” with Lisa Louise Cooke, and “USGenWeb: Finding help and resources in the US” with Donna Potter Phillips. Mine were “Canadian Genealogy on the Internet” with Dave Obee, “Researching Your Ontario Roots Using Traditional & Online Resources” and later “Organizing, Preserving and Sharing Physical Documents, Pictures, Printed Charts & Reports” with Rick Roberts, and “Research Plans that Work!” with Lyn Meehan.

Michael with Lisa Louise Cooke.

In between workshops, we looked at the displays, including a personal family tree that was about 1m x 2m (3’ x 6’) and created by Legacy Family Tree genealogy software. We also had lunch, talked to some of the speakers, chatted with other attendees, and took photos. I bought two books for my personal library: Genealogy in Ontario: Searching the Records, 4th edition (2008) by Brenda Dougall Merriman and Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census (2012), by Dave Obee, who graciously signed his book for me. As well, I bought society journals and a couple of books (Numbering Your Genealogy, by Joan Ferris Curran and Managing a Genealogical Project, by William Dollarhide) to donate to my local genealogy club. (We’re a small group and can use good resources like these ones.)

Michael and I were impressed with the conference. It was well organized and reasonably priced. The speakers were knowledgeable, helpful, relaxed, and approachable. The workshops, geared for beginner and intermediate researchers, featured topics on technology, sources, and resources. All in all, it was good value for money.

Well, now it’s time for me to look over the notes I made during the talks, start reading those newly bought books, and put into practice what I learned this weekend.

Copyright © 2012, Yvonne Demoskoff.


  1. Did you hit up any good pubs while in Kelowna???

    1. No time for "fun" - we were all business that weekend!