Dave Obee       Local History / Family History


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About Dave Obee

Dave Obee is a journalist and genealogical researcher who has written a dozen books and given more than 700 presentations at conferences and seminars in Canada, the United States and Australia since 1997.

He is Editor and Publisher of the Times Colonist in Victoria, British Columbia. He has worked as a journalist in British Columbia and Alberta since 1972.

In 2012, Dave was awarded an honorary doctorate of laws by the University of Victoria for his work as a historian, genealogist and journalist. In 2023, the university named Dave an honorary librarian and archivist.

In 2017, Dave was awarded the annual Bill Good award, which recognizes a B.C. journalist, leader or educator who has made a significant impact in journalism and in the community at large. In 2014, in recognition of his work as a community volunteer, he was presented with the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award, now known as the Sovereign Medal for Volunteers.

In 2021, the Rotary Foundation of Rotary International named Dave a Paul Harris Fellow, in appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world.

He was a member of the services consultation committee at Library and Archives Canada in Ottawa for four years. He is also a former member of the board of Canada's History Society, which publishes Canada's History, the magazine formerly known as The Beaver, and Kayak, which is a history magazine for children, as well as related websites.

For a decade, Dave wrote the back-page column for Internet Genealogy magazine, Your Genealogy Today magazine and Family Chronicle. He has also written a feature story for Your Family Tree in the United Kingdom.

In 2012, the British Columbia Historical Federation named Dave's book, The Library Book: A History of Service to British Columbia, one of the province's top three examples of historical writing in 2011. The book is a comprehensive look at library service and development over the past two centuries. His work on the book led to Dave receiving the B.C. Library Association's 2010/2011 Keith Sacre Library Champion Award, the association's top award for non-librarians.

In 2016 Dave received a Heritage Advocate award from North Vancouver District in recognition of his work on the history of the district's library system, published in 2014 as Fifty! With a Fabulous Future.

In 2009, the British Columbia Historical Federation awarded Dave a Certificate of Appreciation "for his many contributions to British Columbia History." The certificate says Dave "has researched, spoken, written, campaigned, lobbied and published the province's heritage."

Dave has also received a Certificate of Recognition from Heritage BC, for his work on the British Colonist website, which features 100 years of the leading newspaper in Victoria. The website was based on an idea hatched by Dave and university professors John Lutz and Patrick Dunae. This site makes a top resource available to researchers around the world.

In 2012, Dave published Counting Canada: A Genealogical Guide to the Canadian Census. Dave is also the author of Destination Canada: A Genealogical Guide to Immigration Records, published in 2010. He wrote Making the News, published by the Times Colonist in Victoria, British Columbia, in 2008 to mark the 150th anniversary of the newspaper. It is a comprehensive history of Vancouver Island, drawn from old newspapers. Dave is also the co-author (with Sherry Irvine) of Finding Your Canadian Ancestors: A Beginner's Guide, published by Ancestry in 2007.

Dave's latest book is the second edition of Royal Oak Burial Park: A History and Guide, a 192-page look at the largest cemetery on Vancouver Island. The book includes 400 mini-biographies of people buried or cremated at Royal Oak.

Dave was one of the founders of the annual Times Colonist book drive, which has raised more than $5 million in support of school libraries and other literacy projects since 1998.

For several years, he taught family history courses for the continuing education department of Royal Roads University in Colwood, British Columbia. He has been speaking at genealogical events since 1997. A complete list of genealogy sessions is on Dave's schedule page. This site also has more about Dave's topics. There is also information on Dave's books.

Dave runs CanGenealogy, a link site that is selective and sorted for ease of use. He also runs Volhynia.com, a website dedicated to the old German colonies in the northwest corner of Ukraine.

Dave has visited 17 countries in Europe, and has done genealogical research in most of them. He has a keen interest in world war battle areas in France, Belgium and Luxembourg. He served as president of the Foundation for East European Family History Studies from 2004 through 2007.

Dave was born in British Columbia, and his roots there go back to the arrival of his great-great-grandfather from Manitoba in 1890. Some of his paternal ancestors arrived in North America from England and Ireland two centuries ago, settling in New York State and Ontario. His mother was born in a German colony in the Soviet Union, and came with her parents to Canada in 1928. Dave has lived in many areas of British Columbia (including Victoria, Kamloops, Vernon, Kelowna, Prince George, Smithers and Fernie) and Alberta (including Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Falun).

He has been researching his own family history since 1978, when he took a continuing education course through Camosun College in Victoria, British Columbia. After puttering about for a few years, he started making real progress with the guidance of Rena Derricott at the Family History Centre in Lethbridge, Alberta.


British Isles
Society of Genealogists
Ulster Genealogical and Historical Guild

Ontario Genealogical Society

Germany / Eastern Europe:
Die Arbeitsgemeinschaft ostdeutscher Familienforscher e. V. (AGoFF)
Society for German Genealogyin Eastern Europe (SGGEE)
Foundation for East European Family History Studies (FEEFHS)
Verein für Familienforschung in Ost- und Westpreußen

Personal research interests

Dave has collected extensive information on the German Baptist colonies in the Neudorf area of Volhynia, in the Ukraine. His personal family tree includes names such as Weiss, Scheffler, Tiedtke, Reschke, Tiede, Menzel, Hartmann, Schindler, and Boehnert. Villages include Iwanowitsch, Solodyri, Pulin, Neudorf, Florowka, Skolobow, Rogowka, and Wjasowitz; all are near Zhitomir.

Dave's Volhynian ancestors went there in the 1860s. They had lived in East Prussia, Brandenburg, Posen and Poland. Specific towns include Albrechtsdorf, Bartenstein, and Pr. Eylau, in East Prussia (Ostpreussen); Teetz and Alt-Beelitz in Brandenburg; Nakel and Bromberg in Posen; and Dabie, Drzewce, Lodz and Sadoles in Poland.

His research also includes:

  • Obee, in Kent, England and Ontario, Canada
  • Ellerby, in Searby, Lincolnshire
  • Mayers, in Bucklebury, Berkshire
  • Spring, in Watford, Hertfordshire
  • Montgomery, in Fermanagh, Ireland and Perth County, Ontario
  • McKennitt, in Donegal, Ireland and Grey County, Ontario
  • Bambrick in County Down, Ireland
  • Liddell in Yorkshire, England
  • Chatfield in Brighton and Ardingly, Sussex, England
  • Gladman in Laughton and Ringmer, Sussex, England
  • Hoare and Christmas in the Selborne area, Hampshire, England
  • Shaw in Ottawa, Ontario

    Dave has many American connections, including the Springs of Prince William County, Virginia, the Johnsons of Alpena, Michigan, and countless cousins in Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, and North Dakota. Josh Wilson Road, between Interstate 5 and the coast in Washington's Skagit County, is named after Dave's great-uncle.

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