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Family Roots Conference 2024

October 5 @ 8:45 am - 3:30 pm MDT

When: Saturday, October 5, 2024 from 8:45 am to 3:45 pm

Where: Hotel Blackfoot, 5940 Blackfoot Trail SE, Calgary, Alberta (see map here)

Why attend? Come learn and connect with other family historians! Find inspiration and learn about new research skills. Expand your knowledge and make new discoveries.

Registration Fee of $70 (AFHS members) or $80 (non-members) includes:

  • Four sessions
  • Morning coffee refreshments
  • Buffet lunch
  • Digital syllabus

AI in Genealogy: Is it really new?  – Gord McBean

Recently AI (Artificial Intelligence) has been all the news with the release of ChatGPT. ChatGPT might be new, but is AI? Genealogists have been benefitting from AI since about 2000. AI can be used to index millions of historical records, such as census and vital records. It can also extract information from these documents and provide insights into family relationships, locations and occupations. AI has been used to transcribe handwritten and difficult-to-read documents because it can learn to recognize different handwriting styles and even decipher old or faded text. When applied to genetic genealogy, AI can analyze DNA data and identify potential matches between individuals. This technology can also be used for facial recognition, identifying individuals in old photographs. This presentation will look at all of the ways we use AI for genealogy purposes, what is currently new and what new applications are coming.

Western Canadian Military Records for Beginners: Honouring our ancestors by exploring their service – Kendra Gaede

Military records are well worth researching as they provide a wide variety of genealogical data for the family historian. From physical descriptions on attestation papers, to personnel selection reports and commendations, it is possible to paint a picture of a family member we may have never met and follow their progress in the theatre of war. Using examples from WWI and WWII, Ms. Gaede will walk family historians through the process of ordering service records from Library and Archives Canada and the United Kingdom’s National Archives, and how to interpret them once acquired. She will also discuss war-related records available from other important archival centres across Canada, which might help amateur genealogists discover details and photographs of loved ones in wartime. Finally, medals, honours and decorations will be discussed, and questions answered.

If It’s Not a Book – Then What? – Gord McBean

At one time the only option, and the ultimate goal, of genealogists was to create and publish a family history book. Printing and publishing costs make it expensive to publish in the traditional way. Most of us will never really finish our research – so will the “book” have to wait until we have finished? How can we document, preserve and share what we currently know? There are many options now available which we can use. We no longer have to wait until we are “finished.” By producing alternate media we might reach a family member that would never read our book. We need to create something different that will draw them into the family story. By starting with smaller projects we gain confidence and skills we can apply to the next more complicated project. The list of possible alternative projects is almost endless. This presentation will inspire you to share your family project in a variety of ways.

Western Canadian Immigration Documents for the Family Historian – Kendra Gaede

Immigration records are well worth researching as they provide a wide variety of genealogical data for the family historian. Using ship’s manifests, land grants and supporting documents like newspaper articles and census data, it is possible to paint a picture of our immigrant ancestors’ journey to North America and how they forged a new life for themselves in Canada. Discussing the principles of Genealogical Proof Standard, Ms. Gaede will walk family historians through the process of locating and identifying key immigration documents from important archival centres and explain how to interpret these records once acquired. She will also discuss specialized collections, which might help amateur genealogists discover further details and even photographs of loved ones and their homesteads in Canada.

8:45 am Doors open for registration
9:15 am Welcome
9:30 am AI in Genealogy: Is It New? – Gord McBean
10:30 am Morning Refreshment Break
11:00 am Western Canadian Military Records for Beginners – Kendra Gaede
12:00 noon Buffet Lunch (included in registration)
1:15 pm If It’s Not a Book – Then What? – Gord McBean
2:15 pm Break
2:30 pm Western Canadian Immigration Records for the Family Historian – Kendra Gaede
3:30 pm Door Prizes & Closing Remarks

Gord McBean – Gord has been researching his own family for over 50 years in Canada, the USA, and Europe. Road trips to both coasts in Canada and the US have been peppered with research stops. He is a past president of the Manitoba Genealogical Society (MGS). He was the architect and project lead for the creation of MANI (the MGS online database that currently has about 1.5 million indexed name references). He has delivered presentations and workshops on technology and genealogical topics from Vancouver Island to the Quebec border, as well as in the United States.

Kendra Gaede – Born in Alberta and educated in Saskatchewan, Kendra Gaede is a genealogist, writer and former journalist who lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Kendra is a member of the Manitoba Genealogical Society’s Research Committee, is interested in Western Canadian history and has a passion for archives, databases, historical photographs and oral histories.

Our conference committee is looking for donations for door prizes! If you would like to donate something, we will list your business here, include them in our syllabus and add them to the PowerPoint that will be shown during the lunch hour. Please contact familyroots@afhs.ab.ca 

Door prizes will be added to this webpage as they are confirmed.

We hope that you are ready to register! We have great speakers and are looking forward to meeting in person.

Registration will close on September 9 at midnight. There will be no registration at the door of the conference as we have to make seating and catering arrangements in advance.

  • To register online with credit card payment, go to Eventbrite
  • If you prefer to pay by cheque, download and print this registration form and mail it with payment to the address on the form. Mail-in registration forms must be received at our office no later than September 9.
  • We will offer payment by cash, cheque or via Stripe payment machine at the following Society meetings at Bow Cliff Seniors Centre: May 13, June 10 and September 9.

If you have special dietary requests, send an email to familyroots@afhs.ab.ca no later than September 9.

Cancellation Policy – For a full refund, a request to cancel must be received in writing to familyroots@afhs.ab.ca by September 5. Please note that all refunds will be subject to a processing fee. Refunds after this date will not be available as we have to make seating and catering arrangements in advance.

Accommodations: If you would like to stay at the conference hotel, please contact Hotel Blackfoot and reference AFHS Conference 2024 to book your accommodation. Attendees are responsible for making payment directly to the hotel. The rates are as follows: 1 or 2 queen beds – $189.74 (includes all taxes) OR 1 king bed – $223.42 (includes all taxes).

Photography and Filming Disclaimer – Please note that photographs and footage may be taken at this Family Roots event. These may be used for marketing and publicity in our publications, on our website and on social media. Please contact familyroots@afhs.ab.ca if you have any concerns.


October 5
8:45 am - 3:30 pm MDT
Event Category:


Sharon White


Hotel Blackfoot
5940 Blackfoot Trail SE
Calgary, AB T2H 2B5 Canada
+ Google Map