Great Call for Presenter Results for SGS “2020 Vision” Conference

The Prince Albert Branch is hosting the provincial conference “2020 Vision: Seeking Ancestors Using DNA and Digital Tools.” In early July 2019, members met to review the results of their call for presenters. While no presentation is finalized, members see great potential.

Diane Rivet’s first choice would be a DNA presentation like “Cautions and Unexpected Revelations When Using DNA to Grow Your Family Tree.” Other people’s DNA results show great diversity.  What does it really mean when hers say 50% German and 50% English? Also, she believes DNA will help her prune her family tree and remove “gremlins” who don’t belong.

Sheila Soulier recently emailed a digitized photo accompanied by 11 names—too many for a file name. The presentation “Write on the Back of Your Digital Images with Adobe Bridge With the IPTC Cultural Heritage Panel” might be an amazing innovation for her family history photo files. 

Ed Glynn, conference coordinator, puts “Online Source for Scottish Genealogy Research” at the top of his list. He has hit a brick wall in his Scottish research and hopes the presentation might breakdown the wall.

The Branch is committed to informing successful submissions by the end of July. Once replies are in, they will determine the optimal schedule for the concurrent sessions.

Call for Presenters

The Saskatchewan Genealogical Society Conference 2020

“2020 Vision: Seeking Ancestors Using DNA and Digital Tools”


17-19 April 2020 in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada

Deadline: 28-Jun-2019

The Prince Albert Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society is hosting the Society’s biannual conference on 17-19 April 2020 at the Coronet Inn in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, Canada. The Branch is seeking speakers for its theme “2020 Vision: Seeking Ancestors Using DNA and Digital Tools.” The one hour sessions run Saturday morning and afternoon and Sunday morning.

The subject should be relevant to the conference theme. Suggested areas include (but are not limited to):

  • Using DNA to grow your family tree
  • Using digital tools such as databases, social media, archives, etc.
  • Using digital devices such as scanners, cameras, recorders, camcorders, etc.
  • Using digital tools to create and share family history

Please submit one or two expressions of interest with the following details:

  1. Proposed title
  2. Paragraph describing the content of the session and the target audience

Also send:

  1. Brief description of your expertise in the area
  2. Willingness to do the presentation virtually
  3. Expectation of remuneration

If your proposal is accepted, we will be in touch by 26-Jul-2019 to discuss details and confirm your participation.

Expressions of interest should be forwarded to us by 28-Jun-2019. Please reply to this post and we will connect with you.


Cemeteries Valuable Historic Resource

This article is reprinted with permission from Teena Monteleone, Director of Information Programming, at paNOW

In the coming days, local resident Jim Wilm will join his fellow members from the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society (SGS) in Prince Albert’s Memorial Gardens to “read the cemetery.”

“We’ll work in pairs and check the gravestone information against the current records and add new gravestone information and take photos,” Wilm said.

According to the society’s website, the SGS Burial Index contains over 500,000 records of individuals buried in cemeteries or burial sites in 299 rural municipalities in the province. Wilm said he got involved with the program to preserve records as a matter of community pride.

“We want to encourage other communities to look after their cemeteries. Some of them have been overgrown or vandalized or damaged and we want the communities to maintain them,” he said. “They are the historical remembrance of those people who lived there and unless we look after them…they won’t be around.”

He added cemeteries are among the most valuable of historic resources offering reminders of settlement patterns, historic events, religion and genealogy. Through his own research and with the help of DNA testing, Wilm was recently able to determine his family’s link to an important piece of Saskatchewan history.

“My great-great grandfather was a North-West Mounted Police in the Louis Riel rebellion,” Wilm said. “I even found his regimental number and other details about when he joined and what his involvement was. That was something I would have never known about if it wasn’t for the research that showed up about Great-Grandpa Williamson.”

Often times, he said, headstone inscriptions provide the one missing link that leads researchers to other information, so maintaining the deteriorating ones and recording them are an important step to preserving the past. Wilm and other members of the SGS meet at the Lions Club in Prince Albert once a month. They’ll meet one more time before taking a summer break to update the cemetery records which will then be made available in the online database.

Connie Gerwing’s German and Ukranian/Polish Women Homesteaders Research

On her journey towards a history degree, Connie Gerwing became aware of a lobby by British women to change the homestead law. Under the homestead law in Canada, only widows with dependent children could apply. Concerned that “riff raff” such as Eastern Europeans might come in large numbers and populate the prairies, a group of women of British background campaigned to allow British women to homestead even if they were single.  The lobby was not successful, but Connie wondered about the “riff-raff,” those from Eastern European or other European countries.

As she has German and Ukrainian/Polish ancestry, she asked,

“Did widows from these countries file for homesteads? Who were they? What were their commonalities? What were shared problems?”

She searched First for “Mrs.” This reduced the numbers from 36,000 to 4,500.  Next, she eliminated any women on homesteads originally filed by men. Then she looked for German, Ukrainian, and Polish surnames and checked block settlement maps.  In the end, she identified 222 German and 89 Ukrainian/Polish widows.

Connie Gerwing presents research on German and Ukranian/Polish women homesteaders.

To uncover stories, she searched local history books. She also recommended looking at theses. For example, Paul Paproski’s “The German Catholics of St. Peter’s Colony: 1903-1930.” Or “Les Autres Metis: The English Metis of the Prince Albert Settlement 1862-1886” by Paget Code.

Theresia Lutz’s story highlights commonalities. A widow, she was excited about the opportunity of a quarter section, 160 acres, for a $10 registration fee. Her adult children did their best to discourage her, but she packed supplies and hired a railcar for the trip from Nebraska to Saskatchewan.  She, her dependent children, and a son and his family, waited three weeks for the spring runoff to subside to cross the North Saskatchewan River. Like Goldilocks, she did not homestead on the first land she tried but looked for something “just right” before filing a claim.  Like other widows and most other pioneers, homesteading was a cooperative labour of clearing, breaking, seeding, and harvesting.  After 3 years, Theresia “proved up” her homestead.

These widows shared some issues even though they often couldn’t communicate with each other because of language issues. First, they often didn’t speak English and this made it difficult to fill in the paperwork to complete homestead applications. The Ukrainian/Polish women signed with an X which implies that they were illiterate although it may be that they were illiterate in the Roman alphabet but could read and write in their Cyrillic script. The widows tended to be older, often in their 40’s or 50’s with older children who could help out. Most of them chose homesteads near some of their adult children who helped them fulfill the requirements to obtain the homestead. Evidence of children who lived nearby is common.

Connie’s process and strategies paired with persistence are an admirable model for family historians.

Scanning Film and Slides with Epson Perfection V600 Photo

At the January meeting, a member demonstrated her Epson Perfection V600 Photo using film negatives. The V600 does photos and documents but its magic is it comes with trays for slides and film. She talked about her choices for settings, file naming, and organization.

  • The Epson Perfection V600 comes with film and slide trays.
  • The tray tabs (A, B, C) match spots on the scanner so the tray sits precisely.

  • The document type choices are photo, color positive, color negative (current setting), B&W negative, illustration, magazine, newspaper, and text/line art.
  • As I want to reprint as 4×6 photos, I set the resolution to 600px. If I want an 8×10, I would experiment with a higher resolution.
  • If I’m doing magazine or newspaper, which uses dots, I’d “descreen.”
  • The color restoration is effective for photos that need it.

  • File Save Settings gives you location choice.
  • I’ve chosen the prefix NegYYYY_. The start number accumulates and indicates I’ve done 127 scans for 1985. The next scan will be named Neg1985_128.jpg.


  • The software recognizes each photo. Previewing offers:
    • Unchecking any unwanted photos.
    • Negative film is 4.5×6 allowing a 0.5 adjustment.

  • When all files go in a NegYYYY folder.

Genealogical Riches in Provincial Archives

Reference archivist Christine Charmbury gave the Prince Albert Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society a great start to our year.  She presented “Demystifying Archival Research: Introduction to Archives and the Provincial Archives of Saskatchewan” on September 12, 2017.

Charmbury explained how archives are organized, how to find and access archival records, and how researchers can best prepare to conduct research at the Provincial Archives.  She also detailed the various types of records available in the Permanent Collection, many of which are valuable sources of information for genealogical research.

Archival collections are made up of records of enduring administrative or historical value.  They are unique primary sources.  The text, photos, maps, audio/visual, financial records, newspapers, pamphlets, etc. remain in the archive’s controlled environment.

After an initial registration and reference interview, researchers may then sign in at either the Saskatoon or Regina Archive.  With direction form the archivist, researchers complete retrieval slips to request records, and originals or copies are delivered to the reading room.  Charmbury recommends researchers diligently record the reference codes and file numbers and take notes.  Photocopying and digital scans can be made of records in the collection for a fee, and for in person researchers scanning from microfilm records to a personal USB key is free.  Also, flash free photos are permitted in the reading rooms for no charge.  Their fee schedule is online at

Researchers benefit from preparing specific research questions.  Return to the archivists as you find and refine your questions or don’t find answers.  Questions can also be answered from a distance by submitting an enquiry through the Provincial Archives website at

Charmbury also cautions that progress is typically slow because the resources can be “dense,” “elusive,” the Archives have limited hours and resources might have to be brought in from the other office or an off-site location.

Archives are not organized by subjects like libraries.  They are organized by creators and creator organizations.  For example, one of Charmbury’s favourite creator organizations is the Department of Natural Resources.  Both offices of the Provincial Archives will have guides to their collections (also called finding aids) and a master index to all of the guides to help researchers find records.

The Saskatoon Archive has central to northern creators plus early government records.  The Regina Archive has central to southern creators plus recent governments, court records, and more audio/visual.  It is always best to check at which office records are located in advance of your visit.  The hours, location and contact information is available here:

For genealogists, Charmbury recommends exploring first.  Particularly the Family History Research page, in the Using the Archives section. Look for the link below at


Descriptions of many of their records can also be searched on the webpage here:

Charmbury expanded on some of the types of resources available:

  • Census records on microfilm shared out by the National Archives (Library and Archives Canada)
  • United and Anglican Church records, other than births, deaths, and marriages.
  • Prince Albert had 14 including a French language newspaper.
  • Personal papers.
  • Government records, mostly provincial but including some municipalities like the city of Prince Albert.
  • Organizations and businesses.  CCF is often researched but please prepared a specific question.
  • Pioneer Questionnaires.  Done in 1955, the questionnaires have different topics and are searchable by name or location on the website here:
  • Local history books.
  • One shows the river lots in Prince Albert.
  • Photographs are searchable.

After thanking Charmbury for her first class presentation, there were many excited discussions while members and guests enjoyed coffee and homemade puffed wheat cake.

Letters to Santa

After sharing our traditional Christmas supper, members of the Prince Albert Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical society shared their “Letters to Santa.”  The top item was time.  Time to:

  • trace new questions from military medals
  • demolish a brick wall for Irish ancestor who joined the British army at age 21
  • create a multi-generational wall chart
  • genealogy and a kick-in-the-butt.

Time also played big in the next item on our list to Santa, a time machine to talk to ancestors. The final common item was money for DNA kits and online subscriptions.

The laugh of the evening was someone who asked Santa that she not be related to Donald Trump.

One member made time to write this thoughtful and amusing letter to Santa and generously gave permission to share it.


Dear Santa;

My Genealogical Society has asked me to write a letter to you, asking for something relevant for you to give me for my Christmas gift this year.  I think that I have been a good person and that I am deserving of a gift from you.  I have been attentive to the needs of my family members and to the needs of other people who have reached out to me, plus, I have made small cash donations to many of the charities that contact me for their various causes. 

After giving it some thought, I am asking for a calendar with 365 free days.  I will use some of those days for my own personal needs and for home and yard maintenance.  I will also use some for special family events.  There are always birthdays to celebrate and there may even be a new baby next year that I will have to knit a new Christmas stocking for.  There are young children in school who invite me to various things that they are involved in, like concerts and end of year celebrations.  Then there are all of the special holidays throughout the year that we usually manage to get the whole family together for.

That should still leave enough free days to spend on my genealogy projects.  I had intended to do a multi generation pedigree wall chart some time ago, but never got beyond my own name.  It would be nice to finish that.  I would also like to do more work on my Legacy Family Tree program.  I succeeded in transferring my family tree to Legacy from a long time ago, but there is so much more that one can do.  And beyond that, I have for a long time wanted to write some kind of history, focusing on my life from birth, but going beyond that to include as much as I can about the people that I descended from.  I had originally thought that I would have had that done by 2017, in time for Canada’s 150th anniversary.

And one more thought; I would like to record living family in genealogy format.  I have a brother and sister with children and grandchildren.  I would have to consult them directly to get the information and I am hoping that there will be someone among them who will be prepared to take over my records when I pass on.  I might need more than a year to do all of that.  But I would really appreciate it, Santa, if you could put a calendar with 365 free days under my Christmas tree on December 25th.

Sincerely,  Carol

What items would your list to Santa have?  Whether Santa delivers or not, we can all use this wish list to set goals and priorities for genealogical success in 2017.