Making the walls speak

·3 min read

BRUCE COUNTY – The Bruce County Genealogical Society is hosting a webinar entitled “Making the Walls Talk: Adventures in House History” on June 14 at 7 p.m.

Guest speaker Jodi Jerome is a well-known local writer, researcher and speaker who is fascinated by the connections between houses and history and will take participants along with her in the adventure. Make no mistake – she can and does make the walks talk, quite eloquently, in fact.

“Land records often show things about the people who lived in a house,” Jerome explained. “When there’s a death in a family, for example, all the executors are listed; it’s a way of finding out a woman’s married name if she’s listed as an executor.”

Land records generally provide a good way to learn about women, once they were able to own property.

Sometimes doing the “genealogy of a house” reveals long-hidden secrets. Jerome told about researching a property in St. Joseph’s, and uncovering details of a huge fraud scheme that involved a fake hotel. A list of all the mortgages revealed who the investors in the Great Lakes canal fraud were, she said.

She goes beyond what’s listed in the history books, which often copy the same information. Jerome goes to first-hand documents and primary evidence.

“It’s never the same story as everywhere else,” she said.

There’s so much more to a house than its architecture, she said.

“Each house has a unique story, because of the people who lived in it. Finding the story behind the house – doing the genealogy of a house – provides a glimpse into their lives through their house.”

The concept is what made her “If These Walls Could Talk” columns in Boomers magazine so fascinating. In addition to doing the columns for six years, Jerome has written three books and many newspaper and magazine articles.

She’s been curator of the museum in Wingham, and is presently an assistant branch supervisor with the Bruce County Library in the Paisley-Chesley area. At the library, she’s the “go-to” person if a question on genealogy comes up.

“I loved researching the buildings,” Jerome said, referring to her Boomers columns. “Genealogy dovetails so nicely with buildings.”

Researching a building is so much easier, with the digitization of land registry records, Jerome said. Both Huron and Bruce counties have digitized theirs.

“There’s some amazing stuff … online,” she said.

She intends to use the webinar to share some of the strategies and resource tips she’s picked up, using an old house that was once a store, and other Bruce County content, as an example.

The house in Kincardine belonged to her grandfather. “It was really fun to look at my grandfather’s house,” Jerome said. What makes it especially interesting is the combination of residential and commercial use.

Although her presentation will be pre-recorded (to avoid internet issues), the question-and-answer period will be live.

If you are interested in attending the webinar, register at – or email

Pauline Kerr, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Walkerton Herald Times

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