The land now known as British Columbia has been inhabited for many centuries, but most genealogical records started after the 1858 Gold Rush, which prompted many arrivals from California. Today, the province leads the rest of Canada in its commitment to making available a comprehensive collection of valuable resources. This session will enable researchers to make the most of those sources, and build a better understanding of your family’s connections to British Columbia.
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About the presenter
Dave Obee is a journalist and genealogical researcher who has written a dozen books and given more than 700 presentations at conferences and seminars in Canada, the United States and Australia since 1997.
He is Editor and Publisher of the Times Colonist in Victoria, British Columbia. He has worked as a journalist in British Columbia and Alberta since 1972.
In 2012, Dave was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by the University of Victoria for his work as a historian, genealogist and journalist.
In 2017, Dave was awarded the annual Bill Good award, which recognizes a B.C. journalist, leader or educator who has made a significant impact in journalism and in the community at large. In 2014, in recognition of his work as a community volunteer, he was presented with the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award, now known as the Sovereign Medal for Volunteers.
In 2021, the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International named Dave a Paul Harris Fellow, in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.
He was a member of the services consultation committee at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa for four years. He is also a former member of the board of Canada’s History Society, which publishes Canada’s History, the magazine formerly known as The Beaver, and Kayak, which is a history magazine for children, as well as related websites.
Dave is a columnist for Internet Genealogy magazine and Your Genealogy Today magazine, formerly Family Chronicle. Dave has also written about family history for Canada’s History as well as Your Family Tree in the United Kingdom.
In 2012, the British Columbia Historical Federation named Dave’s book, The Library Book: A History of Service to British Columbia, one of the province’s top three examples of historical writing in 2011. The book is a comprehensive look at library service and development over the past two centuries. His work on the book led to Dave receiving the B.C. Library Association’s 2010/2011 Keith Sacre Library Champion Award, the association’s top award for non-librarians.
In 2016 Dave received a Heritage Advocate award from North Vancouver District in recognition of his work on the history of the district’s library system, published in 2014 as Fifty! With a Fabulous Future.
In 2009, the British Columbia Historical Federation awarded Dave a Certificate of Appreciation “for his many contributions to British Columbia History.” The certificate says Dave “has researched, spoken, written, campaigned, lobbied and published the province’s heritage.”
Dave has also received a Certificate of Recognition from Heritage BC, for his work on the British Colonist website, which features 100 years of the leading newspaper in Victoria. The website was based on an idea hatched by Dave and university professors John Lutz and Patrick Dunae. This site makes a top resource available to researchers around the world.
In 2012, Dave published Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census. Dave is also the author of Destination Canada: A Genealogical Guide to Immigration Records, published in 2010. He wrote Making the News, published by the Times Colonist in Victoria, British Columbia, in 2008 to mark the 150th anniversary of the newspaper. It is a comprehensive history of Vancouver Island, drawn from old newspapers. Dave is also the co-author (with Sherry Irvine) of Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner’s Guide, published by Ancestry in 2007.
Dave’s latest book is the second edition of Royal Oak Burial Park: A History and Guide, a 192-page look at the largest cemetery on Vancouver Island. The book includes 400 mini-biographies of people buried or cremated at Royal Oak.
Dave was one of the founders of the annual Times Colonist book drive, which has raised more than $2 million in support of school libraries and other literacy projects since 1998.
For several years, he taught family history courses for the continuing education department of Royal Roads University in Colwood, British Columbia. He has been speaking at genealogical events since 1997. A complete list of genealogy sessions is on Dave’s schedule page. This site also has more about Dave’s topics. There is also information on Dave’s books.
Dave runs CanGenealogy, a link site that is selective and sorted for ease of use. He also runs Volhynia.com, a website dedicated to the old German colonies in the northwest corner of Ukraine.
Dave has visited 17 countries in Europe, and has done genealogical research in most of them. He has a keen interest in world war battle areas in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. He served as president of the Foundation for East European Family History Studies from 2004 through 2007.
Dave was born in British Columbia, and his roots there go back to the arrival of his great-great-grandfather from Manitoba in 1890. Some of his paternal ancestors arrived in North America two centuries ago, settling in New York State and Ontario. His mother was born in a German colony in the Soviet Union, and came with her parents to Canada in 1928. Dave has lived in many areas of British Columbia (including Victoria, Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, Prince George, Smithers and Fernie) and Alberta (including Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Falun).
He has been researching his own family history since 1978, when he took a continuing education course through Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia. After puttering about for a few years, he started making real progress with the guidance of Rena Derricott at the Family History Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta.
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