Nanaimo Family History Society – Beginnings

Our  society first  began in 1981 when Joan Blair and Pat Mahoney advertised in the local papers for people interested in forming a family research club. Thirty people attended that first meeting. After that initial meeting we became the Nanaimo Genealogy Club, a member of the British Columbia Genealogy Society, remaining a member for two years before becoming the Nanaimo Genealogy Club; in 1989 we registered under the Societies Act of British Columbia as a non-profit association and became the Nanaimo Family History Society.

For the first few years our library was in a member’s house; from 1984 to 1991 it was in the basement of the Fitzwilliam Street library, where we also held our meetings.

In 1991 member Marj McLellan offered the rec room of her home for our library and, for several years, books, periodicals and microfiche were available for use by our members. This was a big improvement over the cold Fitzwilliam library basement!

With increased membership and BC Gaming Commission Funds, in 1996 we opened a small centrally located library at 3999 Victoria Avenue, Nanaimo, and the library was moved into the new premises.

Our inventory of books and periodicals steadily increased.  The library was staffed with  volunteers willing and able to help our members.

Donations helped the library start up. Gaming funds helped purchase special  collections, microfilm readers and books. Later, we made larger investments in computers, microfilm reader/printers, books, film, CD’s and fiche.  We also published several useful indexes and lists and our members transcribed passenger lists of ships entering the port of Montreal.

Our society hosted the first Vancouver Island Genealogy Fair on October 30, 1999. This event  earned us  support from many genealogy clubs and businesses catering to genealogy. It was a great day for all those who participated and a success for our society.

In 2015 we were forced, due to finances,  to close our library on Victoria Avenue, but  we retained much of our book and resource inventory, storing it at Beban Park and in members’ homes.  These resources are available to members for borrowing.

From that first meeting of thirty people our membership grew dramatically to what it is today — a vibrant and interesting society!