Our History


CHARTER DATE: 25 October 1980

How We Began

The Niagara Peninsula Branch of the Ontario Genealogical Society operates under the By-Laws and Regulations for Branches of the Ontario Genealogical Society.

The Branch objectives are those of the Society but with specific emphasis on the old Lincoln and Welland Counties.

“How we began” was written by Mabel St. Angelo, Newsletter Editor of Notes from Niagara, and appeared in Volume I, January 1981.

03 May 1980, the day of the L.D.S. Genealogy Seminar in Hamilton, Ontario was where it all began — where a challenge was taken up and met.

In attendance at the Seminar were 5 persons, who were to play a key role in the founding of the Niagara Peninsula Branch of O.G.S.; Mabel St. Angelo and Jean Pett of Niagara Falls and Martha Hedden, William Lowe and Robert Gravelle of St. Catharines.

Upon the completion of a session outlining the Ontario Genealogical Society, Mabel St. Angelo was approached by Brian Gilchrist of O.G.S. to form a branch in the St. Catharines – Niagara Falls area and introduced her to William Lowe and Robert Gravelle and indicated that these two gentlemen were interested in forming a local branch of O.G.S.

Meanwhile, the other session with David Pratt, guest speaker from Salt Lake City, produced the same results. Martha Hedden was challenged by David Pratt to “get a branch going in the Niagara area”. Brian Gilchrist advised Martha that there were persons already interested in doing so and as she already had experience with O.G.S., she should be actively engaged in starting a branch.

Mabel and Martha felt that it could be possible with a lot of hard work and determination. In discussing the situation with Bill and Bob, they were advised that a group of researchers were using the St. Catharines library facilities on Tuesday evenings. They approached the group the following Tuesday for the possibility of starting a branch.

Present at that meeting of interested Peninsula members, was formed what is now known as the “Niagara Peninsula Branch of The Ontario Genealogical Society”. The Group functioned as a genealogical society with monthly meetings, an active recruiting programme and a busy executive until the 25th of October 1980 when the official charter was granted.

The founding members present on the 24th June 1980, signed the petition indicating their desire for a local branch. These 14 original founding members were:

Mabel St. Angelo Lester Wilker
George Hedden June Long
Martha Hedden William Petrak
Beverly Craig Robert Gravelle
Lynn Skulj Jean Pett
William Lowe Lloyd Bagley
Edith Albrant Sylvia Bagley