news from the West Kootenay Family Historians Society

WKFHS Meeting on Sept. 8, 2014 Will Feature Guest Author Sylvia Crooks and WKFHS AGM

by Sam McBride

The first monthly meeting of the 2014-15 year of the West Kootenay Family Historians Society (WKFHS) will be on Monday, Sept. 8, 2014 starting at 6:45 pm in the lower level of the Castlegar Library.

The first part of the evening will feature a presentation by guest Sylvia Crooks, whose new book, timed appropriately with the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, is “Names on a Cenotaph“. The second part of the meeting will be the annual general meeting of WKFHS, including the election of officers for the coming year.

names on the cenotaph cover march 2014 001

To understand the Kootenays, you need to understand the region`s history. And nothing in recorded history impacted life in Nelson and settlements around Kootenay Lake more than the four years and three months of the First World War. Bad as the Second World War was, it resulted in about a quarter of the Kootenay soldier deaths in the Great War a generation earlier.

“Names on a Cenotaph“ is a remarkable achievement of rigorous research, thoughtful analysis and interpretation, and lively writing. The poignant stories of many of the soldiers are accompanied by hauntingly good studio photographs which provide a good feel of who they were. The details of where the men came from born, where they settled and their jobs or professions are fascinating, particularly the large number of Englishmen who were enticed to come to isolated spots around Kootenay Lake as fruit farmers.

Each Remembrance Day we are encouraged to remember those who gave their lives for their country, but, aside from relatives or friends of the family who died years before we were born, we have not known the names and circumstances of those honoured in ceremonies held next to a cenotaph. In the chaos and anxiety of the war years, the first and overriding concern of authorities when men died in battle was to replace them with new recruits. The needs of mourning relatives and any individual memorials to the war dead were secondary considerations. Excessive grieving in public was frowned upon as possibly damaging to the war effort. Even after the war, authorities did a poor job of remembering the Kootenay fallen, as the cenotaphs erected with lists of names are riddled with errors and omissions. By using a wide array of sources to properly identify the men and tell their stories, Sylvia Crooks is righting a historic wrong, and providing a base for future studies.

Kootenay men were in virtually every significant battle Canadians fought in throughout the war, including the famous victory at Vimy Ridge. But until reading this book I did not realize what a huge role Kootenay soldiers had in the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, arguably the most important Canadian action of the war. Without their heroic stand against a poison gas-led German attack with only improvised protection, the Germans could have broken through and possibly knocked Britain out of the war. Going through school in Nelson I remember learning about Canadian soldiers withstanding the surprise use of poison gas in an important battle, but the fact that 18 – more than 10% — of the Canadians who died holding off the key attack on April 24th were from the Kootenay and Boundary region was not mentioned. Now we know, and it is something Kootenay folks of today can take pride in and think about on Remembrance Days.


Full house of 50 participants at Tracing Your Family Tree workshop at Selkirk College

On Saturday, May 3rd the West Kootenay Family Historians Society (WKFHS) had its 25th annual workshop/conference at Selkirk College.

The event was filled to capacity, with people coming from across the West Kootenay region.

After the opening presentation by Donna Fraser on Gleaning Additional Family History Data from Historic Census Records the group enjoyed lunch in the college cafeteria. Following lunch, Greg Nesteroff brought local history to life in a showing of images from his collection of historic Slocan Valley postcards, and discussion of what can be learned from them. Then workshop participants had the option of attending either the classroom session on the universal genealogy web site http://www.familysearch.org led by Richard Wolff, or a session on aboriginal issues led by Jackie Cole in the Gathering Place. In the concluding session, Donna Fraser presented on Strategies for a Successful Family History Trip. During the day, participants also viewed displays of work done by members of the WKFHS. About one-third of the registrants came away with door prizes donated for the workshop by West Kootenay businesses, who are listed in the previous posting.

The WKFHS conference committee will be evaluating feedback from workshop participants to help make future educational events like this more effective and enjoyable. This will include discussions at the last WKFHS meeting of the 2013-14 year on Monday, June 2, 2014 at 7 pm at Stanley Humphries Secondary School. All interested are welcome to attend. Below are some images from the workshop.

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Presentations by Donna Fraser from Vancouver Island



Richard Wolff describing ways to make the most of the web site http://www.familysearch.org.

gathering place session

Presenter Jackie Cole with WKFHS president Sam McBride at the unique Gathering Place facility after the session on aboriginal issues in genealogy.


nesterof session

Greg Nesteroff interprets historic images, and is pictured with Sam McBride of the WKFHS.


Wonderful support for genealogy workshop from West Kootenay businesses

The following ad will be in all four regional editions of the May 13, 2014 Pennywise

WEST KOOTENAY FAMILY HISTORIANS sincerely thank the following businesses for supporting our 25th Anniversary genealogy conference May 3rd at Selkirk College: CASTLEGAR — Canada Safeway, Chamber of Commerce, Kootenay Savings Credit Union, Shaw Cable, Shoppers Drug Mart, Sandman Inn, Canadian Tire; NELSON — Big Cranium Designs, Otter Books, Oso Negro, the Dollar Store, Cole’s Books, Mountain Waters Spa and Wellness, Digerati Computers, Packrat Annies, the Hume Hotel, Touchstones Museum, Save on Foods; AINSWORTH — Ainsworth Hot Springs; TRAIL — Teck Trail Operations, Hall Printing, the Colander; ROSSLAND — Cafe Books West.

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West Kootenay Family Historians workshop Saturday May 3rd, 2014 at Selkirk

This week is the last chance to register for the “Tracing Your Family Tree“ workshop at Selkirk College on Saturday, May 3, 2014, co-sponsored by the West Kootenay Family Historians Society (WKFHS) and Selkirk College. The event commemorates the 25th anniversary of WKFHS conferences.

Scheduled for 10 am to 4 pm at the college, the workshop will have sessions in the Sentinel Wing and Gathering Place. Presenters will include West Kootenay residents Richard Wolff, Jackie Cole and Greg Nesteroff, as well as Donna Fraser from Qualicum Beach, B.C..

The presentations include Did you glean all there was from the Census record?; Local history as viewed through historic West Kootenay postcards; Aboriginal issues in genealogy; Effective use of the universal genealogy web site https://familysearch.org; and Planning a successful family history research trip.

Registration for the workshop has topped the initial target of 40, but a few remaining spots are available. Register through Selkirk College Registration 250 365-1208 or email castlegarce@selkirk.ca. The fee of $30 plus GST includes lunch in the cafeteria.

In addition to the presentations, the event will include displays of genealogy work of WKFHS members, and there will be draws for more than a dozen genealogy-related door prizes donated by West Kootenay businesses.

We gratefully acknowledge financial assistance provided to the 25th anniversary event by Teck Trail Operations and the Kootenay Savings Credit Union.

Note for out-of-towners who need accommodation on the evenings of Friday, May 2 or Saturday, May 3: The Sandman Inn in Castlegar has a special rate for conference attendees. Quote reservation code 223814.

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  With a month to go, we have 37 people registered for the May 3rd workshop. We may have to announce a cut-off date, so it is best to register now to ensure your place. Call Selkirk at 250 365-7292 to register. Details of the workshop are in the March 2014 postings on this blog. […]

Genealogy workshop on Saturday, May 3, 2014 at Selkirk College

Don`t miss “Tracing Your Family Tree“. Register through Selkirk College Registration

Shaw Kootenays TV program on Family History is now on You Tube

Many thanks go to Shaw Cable for helping to publicize the genealogy workshop in May, and their interest in the West Kootenay Family History Society and family history in general. The video is from an interview with WKFHS president Sam McBride in Castlegar in January 2014. Historic memorabilia displayed include a top hat owned and worn a century ago by the Hon. Edgar Dewdney, a painted portrait of Dewdney, a scroll presented to Dewdney`s nephew in 1907 in a farewell party put on for him by his friends in Rossland, a framed photo of Mary Cunard (daughter of Sir Samuel Cunard), photos and keepsakes of the Peters family that moved from Charlottetown to B.C. in 1898, including letters and a Christmas 1914 sent home by Frederic Thornton “Fritz“ Peters, who won medals for valour in both world wars.

“Tracing Your Family Tree“ Genealogy Workshop May 3rd in Castlegar

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the West Kootenay Family Historians Society, the society and Selkirk College are sponsoring a genealogy workshop on Saturday, May 3, 2014 designed to meet the needs and interests of family tree beginners as well as experienced researchers.

selkirk poster for may 3 event 001The “Tracing Your Family Tree“ workshop will go from 10 am to 4 pm at Selkirk College. The workshop fee of $30 plus GST includes lunch.  Register through Selkirk College Registration at 250 365-1208 or email castlegarce@selkirk.ca.

Did you glean all there was from the Census record? – Donna Fraser, 10am-11:25am, Sentinel Wing, Room 220
Census records are one of the most useful sources for family history research. They show the family living together on a given date with names, relationships, age, occupation and place of birth. Those are the main topics that researchers are interested in but there is often much more if we dig a little deeper. In this talk Donna will show the additional information that you can learn about your family.

Local history as viewed through historic West Kootenay postcards – Greg Nesteroff, noon–12:45 pm, Room 220
Greg will present a show of historic Slocan Valley postcards from his collection.

Effective use of the universal genealogy web site https://familysearch.org – Richard Wolff, OPTION A, 1pm–2:20pm, Room 219
The old way of doing things at Family History Centres involved Personal Ancestry File (PAF), an early genealogical program going back to the 1980s; the International Genealogical Index (IGI) with 187 million names (including 58 million from England and Wales), Ancestral File, integrated Latter Day Saints (LDS) member-submitted genealogies; and Pedigree Research File (PRF) of stand alone submitted genealogies. These have been succeeded by https://familysearch.org , encompassing:
Search – billions of names across hundreds of collections;
WIKI – Get research advice or learn where to find record collections;
Forums – Ask and answer questions;
Catalogue – Search the catalogue of books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, and publications;
Learning Centre – Hundreds of online genealogy courses;
Family Tree – The family of man starting with you; and
Indexing – Volunteers create digital indexes for scanned images of historical documents.

Aboriginal issues in genealogy – Jackie Cole, OPTION B, 1pm-2:20pm, Gathering Place
Jackie will share the “Four R`s of Indigenous Story Work“ as laid out by Joanne Archibald of UBC. She will use her family and the topic of genealogy to explore how we learn value for our current lives by exploring our personal stories from our ancestors. The 7-generation perspective will be part of this.

Planning a successful family history research trip – Donna Fraser, 2:30pm–4pm, Room 220
This talk is based on Donna’s experience in the last dozen years with travel across Canada, trips to Salt Lake City and annual trips to Britain to do family history research. She’ll demonstrate the preparation you should do before you leave home, explain the types of record repositories that you’ll use, and give tips for planning your visit, mapping a strategy and how to spend your time wisely once at your destination. This presentation will help you plan a research trip to the nearest LDS Family History Centre, a library or archives, or a trip to your ancestral country of origin.

Plus exhibits, displays, prize draws and demonstrations

DonnaDonna Fraser is Director of Education for one of the largest family history societies on Vancouver Island. Donna has been doing family history research for over 25 years and is passionate about the subject. She has given presentations to various family history societies within British Columbia and Britain and looks forward to her return visit to Selkirk College.

Elder Richard Wolff_edited-1Richard Wolff is a lifelong genealogist and Director of the Family History Centre in Trail. Richard and his wife Nina were among the founding members of the West Kootenay Family Historians Society, and continue as active members of the society today..

Greg mugshot 3Greg Nesteroff, writer and historian, is renowned in the West Kootenay and beyond as a skilled reporter who keeps on top of the issues of the day, and as an enthusiastic and rigorous researcher uncovering remarkable stories of the region`s past.

brighter jackie coleJackie Cole is a Metis woman whose family have been moving slowly west across Turtle Island for the last 500 years. She has lived in the West Kootenays for most of her life and finds inspiration and peace in the territory of the SINIXT people. As a Music Therapist and Aboriginal Educator she is constantly interweaving story, culture and history into her interactions both professionally and personally. She is a descendant of fur-traders, slaves, farmers, European aristocrats, slave owners, and peasants spanning 12 cultures. Jackie lives in the Slocan Valley with a partner who is of Doukhobor heritage, and says her two sons are the only people she knows who have more cultural diversity than her.

Thank you:
The West Kootenay Family Historians Society gratefully acknowledges the financial support of this workshop by Teck Trail Operations and the Kootenay Savings Credit Union.


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News from the West Kootenay Family Historians Society

WKFHS March 2014 newsletter 001

 “Tracing Your Family Tree”

25th anniversary Genealogy Workshop

 Saturday, May 3, 2014, 10 am – 4 pm

at Selkirk College, Castlegar

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the founding of the West Kootenay Family Historians Society, the society and Selkirk College are sponsoring this workshop designed to meet the needs and interests of family tree beginners as well as experienced researchers.



 Gleaning additional family history data from historic census records

–          Donna Fraser, Director of Education for one of the larger family history societies on Vancouver Island


Donna Fraser

Effective use of the universal genealogy web site www.familysearch.org

–          Richard Wolff, lifelong genealogist and Director of the Family History Centre in Trail

Elder Richard Wolff_edited-1

Richard Woolf

Local history as viewed through historic West Kootenay postcards.

–          Greg Nesteroff, writer and historian

Greg mugshot 3

Greg Nesteroff

Aboriginal issues in genealogy

–          Jackie Cole, music therapist and aboriginal educator

brighter jackie cole

Jackie Cole

Strategies for a successful family history research trip

–          Donna Fraser, veteran of numerous research trips across Canada and to Salt Lake City over the last dozen years, as well as annual trips to Britain for family history research

Plus exhibits, displays and demonstrations by WKFHS members.

Fee of $30 plus GST includes lunch.  Register through Selkirk College Registration

More info: wkfhs@shaw.ca