History of LGS

The Lakeshore Genealogical Society had its origins with a group of students who took a continuing education course on genealogical research in 1986/7. Having experienced the complexities of searching a myriad of resources for their family trees, they decided to continue getting together monthly to share techniques and sources - and to have fun! They met informally but opened the group to anyone wishing to join and named it as we are known today.

The upper room of the Cobourg Public Library, when it was at 86 King St. West, was the earliest venue. Two library relocations, membership tides and rising costs for space led to several other places, culminating in our current use of the Rotary Room at the C. Gordon King Centre, operated by the Cobourg Public Library. In between, LGS has convened at the old Knights of Columbus Hall at King & Green, the Market Building behind Victoria Hall, C.R.Gummow Public School on Gravely St., St.Peter's Anglican Church hall and St. Peter's Court at King and College, and the Chapel St. location of the Cobourg Public Library.

Founded before the era of the Internet and the incredible power it has brought to finding and searching resources for genealogy and family history, LGS undertook to produce a directory of reference sources for school, land registry, funeral home and church records in Cobourg. It was first issued in 1988, revised and expanded periodically, kept on a local history reference shelf and sold at the library for $4.

Barnum House, on County Road 2 east of Cobourg, near Grafton, is Ontario's first house museum, built in 1819 for Eliakim Barnum, an 1807 emigrant from the United States whose tavern and distillery prospered, in part, from the War of 1812. Five LGS members took on a 15 month project for the museum directors to research and document Barnum's genealogy. They traced back as far as Stephen deBarnham, member of Henry VIII's Privy Council, and produced three 4-inch binders covering his English, American and Canadian ancestry and descendants, presented to the museum in 1997 where they remain.

Heritage Days, held annually more or less in Cobourg or Port Hope, have had an LGS display since 1989, showing collections of class photos, family histories, CemSearch and family tree computer software. In 2009, LGS hosted the Toronto Post Card Club and presented a public exhibit of hundreds of vintage postcards of Cobourg and area, borrowed from the now Northumberland County Archives and private collections.

Membership has ebbed and flowed, rising from 22 at the end of its formative year to a peak of 84 in 2000/1. For the last six years, it has hovered in the 50-60 range. Initially, the group took donations at the meeting to defray room rental. Then a $5 annual fee was instituted until it was raised to $10 in 1997/8, then $15 in ??? and $20 in 2009/10. In the early years, guest speakers were given $10 for gas money and promised an interested audience; now they get a little more.

The Library and Society shared a natural affinity from the outset: the library has resources needed and used by our members; the Society has added to those resources and promoted awareness and utilisation by the wider public. LGS has donated microfilm, microfiche, books, CD-ROMs, magazines and money to help develop a rich Local History and Genealogy resource. LGS now enjoys the use of a well-equipped meeting room at manageable rates and a substantial improvement over the original upper room.