Keynote Session (This Page To Be Updated for 2019)

Welcome to the Victoria Family History Conference Keynote Session:

World War I: The Stories Around Us

Friday March 09, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

701 Mann Avenue, (at Wilkinson Rd)
Victoria, British Columbia
V8Z 6P

Keynote Speaker:

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.


Karen will present a compelling narrative on how seeking out our distant WWI family stories is critical to understanding both our ancestors who served in the conflict and those who remained at home.


The session will cover her own personal journey discovering nearly-forgotten family tales, researching a small Vancouver Island town through the Great War years and her attempts to discover why this is still so relevant today. Attendees will leave the session with a deeper appreciation of the decisions and sacrifices made 100 years ago and inspiration to pursue their own family research.


Karen resides in Surrey, BC, Canada. For further information about Karen and the projects she is working on visit:



Seth Faganello

Accenting Karen's presentation will be letters written home by soldiers from WWI, read by Seth Faganello who's great grandfather (Barry S. Hall) served as a navigator and flying officer in the Royal Canadian Airforce (RCAF) in WWII. He flew over 28 missions in Halifax bombers. Barry met his first wife, Jessica McArthur, who also served in the Bomber Command.  Seth, at 18 years old is representative of many who enlisted as young men. Seth will be wearing his great grandfathers uniform.

  Art Work, Jorgensen, Norman

Musical Presentation:  "In Flanders Field", composer Alexander Tilley

The Poem "In Flanders Field" was composed by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, of the Canadian Army Medical Corp, while at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium. Since then it has been set to music in several arrangements.  Alexander Tilley, a Canadian composer, wrote the musical score that will be performed by Susan Young and Barbara Schindel, Accompanied by: Mandy Weston

Susan Young is a long-time member of the faculty at University of Victoria School of Music.  She is an enthusiastic teacher of voice, music skills, and is the conductor of the University of Victoria Chamber Singers. 


Barb Schindel loves to share her gift of music with her students and her community. She teaches full time in her music studio as well as leading worship in her church in Colwood.  She also enjoys running, hiking with her dog and riding motorcycle with her husband Tim.

Musical Presentation:  by Capt. (Ret'd) Ralph Gonyea , titled, "The Last Post"

Capt. (Ret'd) Ralph Gonyea,  Wanting to be like his father who was killed in Italy in 1944, Ralph joined the army when he was 17 years old.  Ralph did 2 1/2 tours in Cyprus and 2 tours in Germany.  After 12 years in the Infantry he transferred to the Music branch for the next 23 years, serving with the 5th BC Field Artillery Band for 3 years and joined the Cadet Instructor Cadre as an officer and retired as a CIC Captain when he turned 65 in 2008.


Both grandfathers served in and survived WW1.  Each being wounded, one by gas and the other by shrapnel.