Oakenwood Research Services provides illustrated presentations on a variety of topics including those relating to local history, genealogy, and research strategy. Choose from the selection below or contact us to inquire about presenting on a subject of special interest to your group.

Tarred & Feathered: Rough Justice in 19th-Century Ontario

Throughout the 1800s, people relied on their neighbours for friendship and mutual assistance; histories brim with tales of work bees like barn raisings, and make clear the necessity of a culture of cooperation. But communities just as often relied on these same bonds to regulate the behaviour of members and keep moral habits in check. Crimes were dealt with by rule of law but moral breaches, such as repeated drunkenness or infidelity, were handled closer to home by one’s own neighbours. From charivaris to tarrings & featherings, this talk explores the often-violent forms of moral regulation that were widely practiced and well understood by 19th-century Ontarians.


Building History: A Guide to Property Research in Ontario

For the uninitiated and the experienced researcher alike, property research can be daunting. This illustrated talk will walk you through the process and explain what information you can expect to find in a variety of resources, so that you’ll feel confident beginning your journey. Whether you’re interested in discovering more about a building or a plot of vacant land, in town or in the country, this talk will guide you through the research process, explaining what historical information is available, and how you can access it.


Murder, Bigamy and New Beginnings: the Infamous Edward Wicklow

Life could be rough for Irish immigrants to 19th-century Ontario but the household of Edward Wicklow was rougher than most. From his early years as a tavern keeper in the wilds of Garafraxa, to the murder that sent him to Kingston, to his final years in Grey County, Edward Wicklow’s life was nothing if not colourful. His story is full of surprising twists and unexpected revelations. Affecting everyone from the two wives and children who relied on him most, to the Prime Minister of Canada, this talk explores the profound and rippling impact of one Ontario man’s life choices and decisions.


Carter and Isaac: A Portrait of the Photographers

Their striking early 20th-century portraits of families at their homes grace the walls of modern-day living rooms and fill the pages of countless local histories. But who was behind the lens? This illustrated talk turns the camera around to explore the accomplishments, hardships, and unique body of work produced by the husband and wife duo, Carter & Isaac. For over twenty-five years they documented thousands of families, houses, and farms throughout southwestern Ontario.  Gain a deeper appreciation of their work while learning about the couple who created it. Valuable to historians and genealogists alike, Carter & Isaac’s photographs are their legacy, but their own story is just as fascinating.

A Grave Offence: Body Snatching in Ontario

Some are surprised to learn that body snatching was widely practiced in Ontario throughout the 19th century and even into the early 20th. Repugnant and disconcerting to most, it was viewed by many at the time as a necessary evil. While no one wanted their own graves or those of loved ones to be disturbed, most recognized the importance of fresh cadavers in providing medical students with the hands-on experience they needed to gain competency in their field. This illustrated talk explores the rich and complex history of a subject that was viewed with distaste at the time, and is almost unfathomable today. It delves into the long history of the practice and, using examples from urban and rural Ontario, examines whose bodies got snatched and how, what became of them, and who was behind this unsavoury practice.


Flowing through Time: The Grand River in Centre Wellington

The Grand River flows through much of southwestern Ontario before emptying into Lake Erie. Along the way, it has carved itself into the very fabric of the land. Towns such as Elora and Fergus became renowned for the majesty of the deep limestone gorges and natural scenery that the Grand River provides. But it hasn’t always been sunshine and sparkles.  Used and abused for its resources and power, this talk follows the Grand River through 200 years of settlement in Centre Wellington, looking at the impact of human activity, evolving attitudes towards the river, early conservation efforts, and the creation of the Shand Dam which has regulated its flow for over eighty years.

What would you like to discover?

Contact Oakenwood Research Services to discuss your needs, get a quote, or make an inquiry. Be sure to include your full name and contact details, and let us know what you’d like to determine, what resources you've already consulted, and any information you already know that will help narrow the search!