2019 INSTRUCTORS' BIOGRAPHIES
The following presenters will be live at the Family Discovery Day event:
Barbara Doell started compiling her family history over 40 years ago and is a proud 5th generation Canadian with Irish, English, Scottish, American and Mennonite ancestry. For the past ten years, she has been researching the immigrants in her family with trips across Canada and to Salt Lake City, England, Ireland, and Scotland. Barbara is a member of the Victoria Genealogical Society where she facilitates an Irish Special Interest Group. She volunteers at both the LDS Family History Library on Mann Ave and the new VGS Genealogy Learning & Research Centre located at the Royal Oak Shopping Centre.
Carol Stiles has been working on her own family history since 1970. After all her children left home in the mid 90’s, she got serious when she started volunteering at the Family History Centre in Victoria. Within two years, she had made major progress on her own line, her husband's line, and the lines of her stepfather, her son-in-law and daughter- in-law.
When she served as Technical Advisor to the Victoria Family History Centre, she had to learn a little about computers. (She still knows a little). She then served as the Director of the Duncan Family History Centre until January 2011 when she and her husband served a humanitarian mission in Slovakia. There she also helped members with genealogy and taught several classes in a foreign language.
At present Carol volunteers as a Family History Consultant and teaches several classes a year for the FHC at the Duncan Library. Her specialty is finding data online. If it is on the web somewhere, she can find it. She has discovered how to tweak the system to find what she is looking for. She can help you with Canadian, American, English and Scottish research, as well as French-Canadian and Eastern European research.
Chris Hall was born in the heart of Nottinghamshire, England, only a few miles from Sherwood Forest! She has been researching her family history for almost 40 years and has a passion for the history, castles, ruins, really old churches and stately homes of every county she is able to visit. She loves the hunt and although she has several brick walls to break through will leave no headstone unturned or cemetery unvisited if it might yield up that elusive relative. She admits to being really happy when on her hands and knees in some remote ancestral graveyard trying to read 200 year old weathered inscriptions.
Dave Obee is a journalist, genealogical researcher and lecturer who has written a dozen books and given 650 presentations at conferences and seminars in Canada, the US and Australia since 1997. Dave has been researching his own family history since 1978. His family roots in British Columbia go back to 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 Ukraine, and came with her parents to Canada between the two world wars. Dave has visited 17 countries in Europe, doing genealogical research in most of them.
Dave is the Editor-in-Chief of the Times Colonist and is a columnist on genealogy and family history for Your GenealogyToday and Internet Genealogy. He serves on an advisory committee for Library and Archives Canada, and is on the board of Canada's History Society. In 2012 he was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by the University of Victoria for his work as a historian, genealogist and journalist. Dave has also served as president of the Federation of East European Family History Societies. For several years, he taught family history courses for the continuing education department of Royal Roads University. In his spare time, he runs the CanGenealogy link site for Canadian research.
Deborah LeFrank is a Memory Collector and Graphic Journalist. For decades Deborah has been a passionate chronicler of life in family calendars and travel journals. After a lifetime of hearing her father tell stories, Deborah realized that his memories needed to be collected. She took his stories and combined them with her journaling background and created a Visual Life Story. A new passion was ignited!
After a successful career as a landscape architect Deborah shifted gears and in 2013 brought her strong design and communication skills to her new company called Visual Life Stories. Each person’s life story is unique and their visual story represents their character and values, creating a precious legacy.
Elaine has been officially working on her family tree since mid 2012 when, during a road trip to Windsor, Ontario, a friend persuaded her to sit down and allow him to show her how easy it was to find information on her Grandparents; information that she never knew about. It worked and she was hooked! Her initial reason for looking into her ancestral past was to use her searching as a way to re-engage with her mother who had Dementia and who had distanced herself from any personal contact with her children. Elaine’s thinking was that while her mother had short term memory issues she likely still had long term memory and just maybe asking her mother for help would show her mother how valuable her knowledge was to her family learning about their ancestors. It worked!
Elaine has been a member of the Victoria Genealogical Society since 2012 and has assumed several volunteer roles over that time span, including offering workshops on combining Google Earth with Genealogy. As well as volunteering, she has attended a number of workshop sessions both in the Victoria area and online and has made a research trip to Scotland. She has always had a love of geography so learning to use Google Earth to assist in her research and story-telling about her ancestors has been a natural progression for her.
Elaine Hall has been involved in family history research for over 40 years, researching her own family roots in Atlantic Canada and New England. In addition, she has volunteered at the Victoria Family History Center for over 25 years. She became interested in computers when in college, back in 1974. So, when genealogical research joined the computer age years ago, her love for family history grew into a serious experience. She loves to show others the simple steps to using computers for research, especially the basics of the FamilySearch website. As an enthusiastic amateur photographer, the FamilySearch Memories app is of particular interest to Elaine, and she loves to share her passion for recording visual memories there. Elaine and her husband Martin, married for over 41 years, are the parents of four sons, four daughters-in-law and eight grandchildren.
Gerry began genealogical research in a small way in England in the late 60’s when records were only on paper and non-indexed film or fiche. He joined the Victoria Genealogical Society in 1968, and has been actively involved in research ever since, primarily in Canada and Britain. He has been a volunteer in the VGS Research Centre for more than 10 years, and has been giving genealogical talks on a variety of topics for more than 5 years.
In a previous life, he was a faculty member in Chemistry at the University of Victoria.
Gord has been involved with researching family history for about 15 years, but did not become serious about it until assuming the work started by his father. He has British and Irish ancestors and has therefore concentrated on those areas of research. Gord has served as a Family History Centre consultant for the past 6 years and likes to help people with any research or computer issues.
My interest in genealogy started with asking my grandmother to identify the people in her old pictures. But the real spark was when we acquired a dog with a longer known pedigree than what I knew about my own ancestors! The dog has long since gone but I have been researching family history for over thirty years split evenly between Scotland and England – and now have a pedigree that exceeds that of the dog.
Janice Cushman, Emeritus AG® is an avid genealogist and instructor, who specializes in British Isles, Canada, and U.S. research. She has the Family History Certificate (Professional Option) from Brigham Young University and is a retired Accredited Genealogist® professional. Janice’s interest in genealogy was sparked in 1979, when she took an introductory course offered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since then, her genealogical career has included presenting at conference and other speaking engagements, researching for clients, serving as the Director of the Calgary Regional Family History Center for four years, serving in the Calgary Stake Family History Center, and examining thousands of gravestones!
John Borrows B.A., M.A., J.D., LL.M. (Toronto), Ph.D. (Osgoode Hall Law School), LL.D. (Hons., Dalhousie, York & Law Society of Upper Canada) F.R.S.C., is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Law at the University of Victoria Law School in British Columbia. His publications include, Recovering Canada; The Resurgence of Indigenous Law (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2002), Canada's Indigenous Constitution (Canadian Law and Society Best Book Award 2011), Drawing Out Law: A Spirit's Guide (2010), Freedom and Indigenous Constitutionalism (Donald Smiley Award for the best book in Canadian Political Science, 2016), The Right Relationship (with Michael Coyle, ed.), all from the University of Toronto Press. He is the 2017 Killam Prize winner in Social Sciences. John is Anishinaabe/Ojibway and a member of the Chippewa of the Nawash First Nation in Ontario, Canada.
Karen Inkster Vance, MA, is an educator, family storyteller, researcher and writer who has enjoyed documenting her family history for over 25 years. She is the author of Voices from the Past: A History of North Roe (2006), a social history of the village in Shetland, Scotland where her great-grandfather was born. She conducted over 150 oral history interviews as part of the Ex-Cadet Oral History Project at Royal Roads University and oversaw the writing and production of two documentary films, Coming Full Circle: Remembrances of Royal Roads Ex-Cadets (2009) and Ingrained in Us: Remembering Royal Roads (2013), both of which have aired on local television.
After travelling the world to tramp through cemeteries, wade through archives and interview numerous family members Karen has discovered that true joy comes not from just filling in the names and dates on her family tree but from piecing together the lives that her ancestors led. Gathering social history clues, analyzing photos and oral history interviewing are just a few of the creative approaches Karen uses to bring her ancestors to life. She is on a mission to write down and share her ancestors’ stories and help other family historians do the same.
Kathleen Lowe has been researching her family history for several years and has roots in England, Ireland, Scotland and The Netherlands. She has several ancestors who served in the military including her father, grandfather, uncle, two great-grandfathers and great uncles. A professional writer and corporate communicator by trade, she’s worked in Canada and in West Africa and has published more than 100 articles and hundreds of blog posts. A natural storyteller, Kathleen has been searching for and telling stories all her life. Recently, she’s applied her professional experience to researching and writing stories about her family. Visit her family history site at
Kelly has a keen interest in Family History and how it connects people. She has served in the Victoria Family History Centre for several years, assisting others with their research goals. Kelly is currently supporting people in the CRD, as they learn to index documents into a searchable format. The digital resources available at this time are astounding and any assistance with making them more searchable is welcome. Kelly sees indexing as one component of that bigger Family History puzzle.
Liane Lyle is a native of Montreal with a degree in history and French and a passion for family history research. She has invested much of her free time over the past 30+ years in seeking her ancestors’ records in Quebec, Ontario, England, Germany, and the US – and now France.
Liane has served in the Family History Centre of Victoria for many years in a variety of positions. In her professional life, she worked as a high-school French Immersion teacher. As a teacher of Family History, Liane especially loves to help people searching for their roots, to discover those ‘aha’ moments that bring such great satisfaction.
Mary Kathryn Kozy has been working on her own family history for over 38 years, since she first became interested as a young teenager. Over the years she has researched families in the United States from the Midwest to the Deep South, and from both Western and Eastern Europe. She started her own family history website in November 1996 and has continued developing it. She has served in multiple positions in several local societies and on the state level. She currently serves on the board of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Washington State, supports the USGenWeb project, serves as a part-time LDS Family History missionary, and speaks to many groups in the area. Mary is married, the mother of three wonderful children, and is now a grandma of three. She holds bachelor’s degrees from UW in both Zoology and Information Technology & Systems and has completed two certificate programs with the National Institute for Genealogical Studies. She has also completed the ProGen program with an eye toward certification as a professional genealogist.
Dr. Murray Strome is a retired engineer/scientist/research manager who has always had some interest in his family's history, at least to the extent that he collected and saved all the paper “family trees” that had been prepared by relatives. This increased somewhat when he met a distant cousin (about whom he previously had no knowledge) whose wife was collecting information about mutual ancestors. He finally became more serious when the Victoria LINUX Users Group began meeting at the Big Blue & Cousins (now the Victoria Computer Club) clubhouse and learned about the Genealogy 101 special interest group led by John Carruthers. When John retired as leader, Murray was asked to take over. Since then, he has been preparing presentations on various Genealogical research topics for the group's monthly meetings.
Pamela White was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; the youngest of 7 children. Before moving to BC in 1996, Pamela also lived in North Bay, Bracebridge and Belleville.
Pamela started family tree research in 1984 and has since discovered that one branch of her family has been in Ontario since 1797! (before Ontario even was Ontario!)
Pamela's passion for family history research has led her to visit the areas where her ancestors lived and explore their hometowns in England and Scotland. She has served in the Family History Centre for many years where she enjoys helping others learn about their ancestors.
Pamela’s main areas of research are: Ontario, the USA and Britain, however she has also done research for others in most Canadian provinces, France and Wales.
Yvonne Gibbon is a retired elementary school teacher who also taught music education at the University of British Columbia. She is currently a performing harpist and teaches harp on Salt Spring Island. Yvonne has been an avid genealogist for over 35 years and is currently the Family History Director at the Salt Spring Island Family History Centre.
Yvonne has been doing Italian and German research for many years in addition to her interest in Swedish Records. She and her husband went to Italy to research her father's family and had good success there by going to old churches, cemeteries, and municipal halls and by finding cousins.