Celebrating all those yesterdays today
Forty years ago, Gillian Gaiser read an article in Chatelaine magazine about genealogy.
The idea of researching her family’s past intrigued her, she said, but, with two young boys, there just wasn’t time to do that kind of work.
“I thought, ‘I’ll do it when they’re older’,” Gaiser said.
Years later, she saw a similar article in Westworld magzine on Tom Warren, the head of the B.C. Genealogical Society.
Still intrigued by the idea of the many generations that had preceded her, Gaiser called Warren, met him in Vancouver “and that was the beginning of the end.”
She was hooked and, since then has gone back generations in her late husband’s family and her own.
Thirty years ago, she decided it would be fun to “talk to other people about this, to share the excitement,” so she posted notices in the newspaper, and on bulletin boards at the Kamloops Library and Kamloops Museum and Archives.
‘The first meeting was held in the library and Gaiser was surprised to find 20 people attend.
The Kamloops Family History Society was born.
Tonight (Sept. 27), its members will welcome others who used to belong but have moved on for what Gaiser said will be a fun evening that celebrates the anniversary of the organization.
There will be also plenty of talk about ancestors and reseearch ideas and sources, she said, because, once that hook is set, it’s hard to get rid of it.
“You don’t want to know how many hours I’ve put into this,” Gaiser said.
It’s meant buying and reading many books on everything from the history of areas where her family lived in years past to instructional books on research.
It’s meant trips to Salt Lake City, where one of the largest repositories of genealogical reference material is housed.
It’s meant poring over gazeteers and maps — “lots and lots of maps” — and spending hour after hour online.
Gaiser has taken one family line back to the 1400s but she’s stalled on another line, not able to get back past 1850.
She hasn’t found any skeletons in those dusty old closets, but discovered answers to questions she didn’t even realize she had.
For example, as a child in England, she said, when Sunday School ended, she and her siblings would often be taken to an area nearby to play and have some fun.
“I never knew that was where my grandparents were born,” Gaiser said. “I never knew why we went there and now I do.”
She’s uncovered sad stories from her past and wonders why her parents never shared those with her “because they’re all part of our history.”
At least one society member has discovered cousins living in Kamloops the member didn’t know where relations, Gaiser said.
“You never know what you’ll find out.”
Much of the information gathered by society members is housed in the Family History Centre in the Church of Latter-Day Saints at 2165 Parkcrest Ave.
It’s open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
The centre is closed during the summer and for three weeks in December around Christmas.
It can be reached at 250-376-2515.
When it’s open, there’s always a society member on hand to help anyone coming in to do research, Gaiser said.
‘“It’s a good place to go to get help.”
The society meets every fourth Thursday at Heritage House, 100 Lorne St., at 7 p.m.
That’s also the site of tonight’s celebration.
Sine she got started, Gaiser has written one book on one side of her family’s past and given the book to her sons so they have a record of where they come from.
She’s thinking about doing another on one of her sides of the family history but acknowledged the work is massive.
Just tracking down photographs can be daunting, Gaiser said as she showed KTW a wall of pictures shehas managed to collect and frame.
“My parents burned a lot of them when they came over,” she said of the trouble she’s encountering in her photographic search.
“They could only bring so much with them when they came to Canada.”
Notwithstanding the challenges, Gaiser said she’s going to continue on her search of the family past — and she’s hoping at least one of her sons will carry on the quest.
But, today, she’s going to enjoy the present with a community she said is like its own big family — “very sharing, very giving.
“It’s really neat.”