Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living at Onoway, Alberta, Canada. This blog will describe my experiences as I research my family history and help others.

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Location: Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada

I am a retired online school teacher. During July 2007 - January 2010, and September 2011 - March 2014, I provided part-time support for This is very rewarding. I have helped others with the Family Tree and related FamilySearch products.
Since April 2010, I have served in the Edmonton Riverbend Family History Centre. I have a FHC blog at Bill's Family History Center Blog For information the Latter-day Saints and family history click

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Buchanans of St John's Derg Parish, Castlederg, County Tyrone, Ireland

My Buchanan family lived in this parish during at least part of 1815-1824. It was a Church of Ireland (Anglican) parish, although the Buchanans usually identified themselves as Presbyterians.

The latest Genealogy In Time newsletter mentioned records newly available for County Tyrone. Among them is a set of index cards from  St John's Derg Parish, Castlederg, County Tyrone. The first three births are obviously our family, but there is an excellent chance that the others are related to our family too. When our family emigrated to Canada in 1847, they undoubtedly left relatives behind.
Derg: Parish
Name Date of Baptism Book Ref.
ROBERT 2nd April, 1815. AA 438
CHARLES 26th May, 1817. AA 524
WILLIAM 28th March, 1824. AA 736
ELIZA 25th January,1829. AA 959
WILLIAM 3rd March, 1839. AA 1352
MATTY lst June, 1841, B 8 97
ELLEN 24th September, 1843. B 187
ELIZA 7th June, 1846. B 295
REBECCA 29th April, 1849. B 350
MARGARET 30th June, 1852. B 428
MARY 28th May, 1865. B 846
BUCHANAN (2) Derg Parish
Name Date of Baptism Book Ref.
ELLEN 23rd December, 1875. B 1199
SAMUEL IRWIN lst January, 1885. B 1409

Probably related:
BUCHANAN Derg Parish
Martha 18 Feb 1866 A 501
Willaim 3 Feb 1867 A 523
Sally 31 Mar 1875 A 679
Sarah 11 Feb 1894 B 194
Marriage Date   Name & Surname  Age  Condition  Rank or Profession  Residence at time of marriage  Father’s name & Surname  Rank or Profession of Father  Witnesses:
September 21st 1869
William Patton 27 Bachelor Labourer Ballylennan John Patton Labourer Thomas Crowe
Rebecka Buchanan 22 Spinster Ballylennan William Buchanan Labourer Thomas Funston
October 12th 1869
Thomas Crowe 32 Bachelor Labourer Ballylennan John Crowe Labourer Andrew Chism
Mary Buchanan 30 Spinster Spamount William Buchanan Labourer William Funston


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Finding Alberta Homesteads and Farmsteads (made easy)

As I was reading a recent newsletter from, it referred to homesteads and had a link to the following site:

I looked up the homesteads of my grandfather Richard Ing and his brothers James and Thomas.
Then I wondered whether my other grandfather William Andrew Buchanan had ever taken out an Alberta homestead.

Sure enough!

BUCHANAN, William Andrew Section 17 Township 41 Range 5 Meridian 5 Film # 2956 in Accession # 1970.313 at Provincial Archives of Alberta File # 2210868

Where on earth is that??? The 5th Meridian is just 5 minutes drive west of me, so it would have to be somewhere in the western part of Alberta, but where?

After a few false starts I found this site.

Then I followed this helpful note to plot the location using Google Maps! 

NOTE: If you will use these numbers with a GIS tool, like Google Maps or a GPS, you must put a MINUS sign in front of the longitude result. For example, 110.0079112 should be -110.0079112 when entered into Google Maps.

The result was a somewhat remote place roughly 20 miles or 30 km north of Leslieville, Alberta. This made good sense, since my dad had attended school in the Leedale-Leslieville area. Now I knew exctly where they lived!

You might want to give it a try for some of your ancestral farms in Alberta.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Family Vacation

The week of July 26-Aug 1, 2015 was a fun-filled week, centered on our first real family vacation since the children were teens.

Sunday 26 July 2015
After church, we went home and changed into our travel clothes. Then we went to Evelyn's. We also met with Laurel and Chris, so the 3 vehicles traveled together to Leduc, where we dropped in for a visit with Mom. Our timing was awkward, as it was lunch time. But they directed us to another room where we had a nice visit. It was a special treat because of A.'s present for her, a picture she had painted of my Dad, and of excellent quality for 7-year old.
After the visit, Evelyn followed right behind us. We stopped at Olds and again in Cochrane, arriving at Radium about 7 PM. Andrew, James, and  Laurel all got there before us. We had a spaghetti supper, courtesy of James and Karin, and spent the rest of the evening visiting and planning.

Monday 27 July 2015
After a visit to the Kootenay Valley viewpoint, the family went on the Cobb Lake hike. I stayed back at the cars because I did not think I was physically capable of it. It proved to be a difficult hike for many members of the family. Judy went most of the way and then waited for the others to pick her up on the return journey. Andrew helped her on the way back. I was glad I had not gone, as Judy is a better hiker than I am.
We were planning on doing the little hike at Olive Lake, but everyone was tired and hungry so we returned to Radium.
In the afternoon we all went to the hot spring. We enjoyed the naturally hot water but also spent some time in the lukewarm "cool" pool. There, Karin did diving and swimming with two of the older (and more adventurous) grandchildren C. and D. Some of the younger children rode the slides into the water. After spending the previous day driving, I enjoyed the hot pool. Still the driving was not as hard on me as I thought it might be. I hadn't driven for more than 3 hours at a time for 2 or 3 years, and an 8 hour drive proved to be very manageable. That is a blessing, as I will also have to drive back!
Judy and I seized the opportunity to go to Edgewater, where I grew up. The house my parents rented from Harry Moore for $30/month back in 1954 is still there, and so is the house built by my parents. Both are looking very good for their age.
Later, Andrew and his children went swimming in the recreation centre included in the house rental.

Tuesday 28 July 2015
Everyone else went to Fairmont to go horseback riding. This was something that A. was especially yearning to do. Later, she told me all about her experiences riding a horse named Wendy.
I used the time to view the Columbia River wetlands from the “mile hill”, now known as Radium Hill. Then I proceeded to Windermere to visit the “stolen church”. The story of this church is interesting. It was built in Donald, BC. Then in 1900, when the Canadian Pacific Railway decided to move its divisional maintenance point from Donald to Golden, they offered to move the buildings to Golden for free. St Peter's Anglican church was one of the buildings loaded for moving to Golden, but it never arrived! The bell arrived, but not the church. A family from Donald had moved to Windermere, and decided to take the church with them. They stole it and it remains in Windermere today. When I visited it, I noticed that the family that stole it added a nice stained glass window to the little wood frame church.
I also visited the Columbia Valley Museum in Invermere, which my brother Lloyd had highly recommended. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I noticed that they had a flat iron exactly like the one I had been carrying around in the trunk of my car since the move from our acreage. I asked if they wanted it, and they cheerfully accepted it. So Mom's old iron is now in the museum. I am sure they would have accepted some of the other old things that I threw out in preparation for the move. Ah well...
Then I rejoined the family in Radium. After lunch we went to the amusement park in Windermere. There, we played miniature golf on an 18 hole course, and the kids did go-cart racing. The fellow looking after us was absolutely super! We paid for 8 minutes and he gave us much more time than that. When one of the kids crashed into the wall, he just brushed it off as a non-event. E. was disappointed that he had to ride with an adult, but Chris was absolutely super as his driving partner. He really knows how to make people feel good. Andrew rode with his daughter. The older grandchildren each drove a car. When these were finished their turns, Evelyn rode with her son, while her daughter and Laurel, and J. drove individual cars. Everyone thought it was a blast and I got some excellent photos.

Wednesday 29 July 2015
The big thing for the day was the rafting. I thought we were just going to be rafting from Invermere to Radium on the Columbia River ... a relaxing but boring trip. Instead we were signed up for a half-day rafting trip down the Kootenay River, an excellent trip! Judy tends to suffer anxiety in many types of transportation. I was really impressed by how she handled this trip! She was really part of the “crew”. We were bused from the Kootenay River Runners office in Radium, through Kootenay National Park to a site on the Kootenay River but south of the park boundary off Settlers Road. The road was just a wide path through the bush and the old school buses rattled and banged, but got us there. The guides set-up lunch as we waited for the rafts to come down from upstream. The rafts arrived. We had lunch together and the occupants of the rafts returned to Radium on the buses, while we suited-up for our turn on the rafts. The 15 members of our family were in raft #10 with Ian, our guide. The scenery was magnificent, and there was enough white water to make things exciting. Front and centre was our 6-year old captain E. The guide gave an interesting commentary. I have always been interested in geology, and he immediately caught my attention by pointing out that the cliffs were the remains of a glacial moraine, that at one time a vast glacier had descended this valley.
Ian made a game of learning all of our names. Some were a challenge, but he learned us all, even J. and D. In his 600 trips down this river in 12 years, he must have learned a lot of names. Originally from Prince Albert, he now makes his home in Saskatoon, when he is not working as a guide.
We came to a magnificent waterfall where Pedley Creek cascades into the river about 3:15, and Ian took photos of us.
Towards the end of the trip, there was a stretch where he said we could get out and swim. Karin seized the opportunity, as did many of the grandchildren. A. panicked and started screaming. The icy temperature and the difficulty of getting back into the raft upset her. The people in the raft behind us heard her screams and decided not to try swimming. She calmed down before we reached the take-out point about 4:30 PM.  The bus ride back was even longer. We got back to home base about 7 PM.

Thursday 30 July 2015
We packed up to return home. The house we rented was almost perfect for our needs. It could have used a third bathroom, but otherwise was excellent. I liked seeing the deer and wind turkeys that came close to the house and showed no fear. There were houses east of us that were empty shells that were never completed. Apparently during the recession of 2008 the developer went bankrupt and the workers abruptly stopped working. I hope someone can finish the houses, it seems like a shame to see them in this state.
Andrew left first, headed for Calgary to pick up Nicole and the youngest children. The rest of us left about 10 AM. Again Evelyn followed us. I had planned to take the David Thompson highway home, but decided that the Calgary route was guaranteed to provide opportunities to buy food and gasoline. We stopped in Canmore, where there was a McDonald's restaurant and paid $1.17/litre for gas that was $0.99/litre at home. But we got what we needed without any detours. At Airdrie we stopped again for a refreshment and bathroom break. From there on, we traveled straight home, arriving about 5 PM. It was a good trip.
Lloyd and Reg came for a visit about an hour after we got home and we had a good visit.

Friday 31 July 2015
The topsoil/final grade on James' house was completed today. It is ready for sod. Yea!
I mostly relaxed and read two novels

Saturday 1 August 2015
Evelyn called about 7:30 AM saying that my friend Henry had called trying to reach me. He would be unable to serve his shift with me because his house was flooded. I assumed it was caused by the rainstorm we had during the night, but later found out that the water line to the refrigerator had broken during the night, spraying water into the house. Besides the damage to the kitchen and living room it ran into the basement where it destroyed the drywall ceiling and flooded the carpets and soaked anything on the floor. Ouch!!!
We left for the Ing Reunion. This may be the last reunion. It was well attended. Even Ted Chapin was there with his son Dwayne and grandsons. I find it hard to attend the reunions because Judy and I have other responsibilities on Saturdays, and I need to arrange for other people to cover for us. But I enjoy visiting with the extended family and catching up on the latest changes.
My great niece T. drew me as a partner for the horseshoe competition. That was unfortunate for her. She was pretty good, but we were up against Al Sargent and Diane Matthews, and we lost in the first round. The shoes I tossed never went where I wanted them to go! Any gophers in the vicinity were in mortal danger!
I taped a genealogy chart to the wall and received some updates.
About 3:30 people started leaving, and we left then for home.
At home I updated my genealogy database with information from the reunion, and relaxed before going to bed.

So we had a memorable family vacation and it was affordable. We found Radium to be a great place for a family vacation. It also helped that Laurel and Karin did most of the pre-planning and organization!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day, Grandpa Ing!

Recently my brother Lloyd brought me a special gift. It was an old mantle clock that was purchased new by my grandfather, Richard Samuel Ing. I asked my mother, now aged 95, how old the clock was. She said "I don't know for sure, but they had it before I was born." "I remember that I would have been about 5 years old when the original glass got broken."  Lloyd told how Grandpa Ing would remove the clockwork mechanism and soak it in coal oil to clean it and lubricate it. I don't think I would risk it.

My mother's parents were both born in London, England. When they retired they sold their farm and moved into Breton, where we got to see them every Saturday. We would meet our relatives there, and it was always fun. They had a big tin box of buttons that the younger children could string together, or make buildings out of dominoes. We could also play checkers or board games. Grandma and Grandpa always had time for us. Both had a good sense of humor, and I remember lots of smiles and laughs at their house. Grandpa liked to play harmless practical jokes. He would say "Oh, look at that pretty bird sitting on the tree outside the window". When you turned to look, he would say "Oh, it just flew away!" When you turned back, your dessert had disappeared. He would always return it with a big smile. On one occasion, I remember him passing food to me and saying, "Would you like some peas?" "Yes, Grandpa." He put three peas on my plate and then pretended he was going to pass the bowl to someone else. But he would pause, with a grin and a twinkle in his eye, to ask me if I wanted some more.

They loved each other deeply and enjoyed life very much. The ticking of this clock counted the seconds, hours and years of their lives. I can hear it ticking now behind me as I write these words. Thank you, Grandpa Ing. Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Genealogy is not all about ancestors!

It is also about descendants. Judy and I are very proud of our children and our grandchildren. My oldest grand daughter married a wonderful young man on Saturday.

Tananda and Nathan looked wonderful! They are good people and should be happy together forever.

The sun started to shine and it warmed up a bit for photos. Later, we rode to the North Stake Center for the family dinner. This was a beautiful roast beef dinner, complete with horse radish, which I really enjoy! We sat with Andrew's family, then with Blaine's family. 

Rachel sat at Blaine and Nina's table too, doing an incredibly good job of blowing bubbles using the party favors. I did my best blowing bubbles too, but she was in a much higher league.

Even the teens and pre-teens had fun chumming with their cousins. My mother aged 95 was there, and saw her new great granddaughter Felicity for the first time. They were the oldest and youngest of my immediate family. 

At the reception, Judy and I were among the people asked to come up to the microphone, and Judy told the story of Charlotte Eley's brooch. Since my ancestor Samuel Wright gave it to his bride Charlette Eley in 1880, Tananda is the 6th generation of brides in our family to wear the brooch. I couldn't top that story, so I said nothing ... not typical of me at all. I especially loved the family history connection that the brooch makes.

In every way it was a beautiful wedding! Best wishes kids!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Maps and the Seven Mile Rule

I find maps really useful for solving genealogy mysteries. For example, "Which is most likely to be the marriage or christening of my ancestor?"

A few years ago I read a Dear Myrtle's Blog posting that explained 'the 7 mile rule'. In rural areas in the 1800s, a young man had farm chores to do. He might get a few hours off to go courting, but he needed to be home in time for the evening chores. His usual mode of travel would be on foot, where his speed would be about 2.5 miles (4 km) per hour. This means that he usually had to find a bride within a distance of roughly 7 miles. So if the young man lived in a known location, his sweetheart probably lived within a 7 mile radius, and probably close to one of the few roads connecting the two points.

In reality, we know that love is not completely confined to elementary cartography. In some places there were other modes of transportation that would expand the range. In fact my grandmother lived in London, England, when she accepted a marriage proposal (by letter) from my grandfather who lived in western Canada, nearly half a world away! But generally the 7 mile rule is a useful guideline.

I often use Google maps ( or to determine the distance between two points. The fact that the birth takes place in one county and the marriage of someone by that name occurs in the same county does not tell me how close the two places are. I need a map. I frequently use Google maps for that purpose. It is instantly accessible, and clicking Directions allows me to put in the names of the two places, to automatically calculate the distance and route between them.

But Google maps show an area as it is today, not as it was in 1863 or some other time in the past. This is where old maps really shine. On a recent podcast, Lisa Louise Cooke spoke about old maps and recommended a site  I like checking out old maps. Most of them seem to be in areas I am not researching, but sometimes I get lucky. The first thing I noticed was a 1948 map of Alberta, including many places that no longer exist, and are probably omitted from online maps! You may find the old maps useful too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Free Family Tree Templates

Today I have a guest blogger!

Creating a Special Gift with a Family Tree
Researching your family history can teach you a lot about your ancestry. It also makes a wonderful gift once you have completed your research. Give it as an anniversary present, birthday gift or for other special occasions. If this is your plan, you need to begin early, especially if you plan to go in-depth with your research.
Set a Goal
You have numerous options for how you want to create your family tree. You may want to select a template that covers three or four generations related to the recipient of the gift. This option will have special meaning since the person already knows the people listed. 

You may prefer to be more historic in your approach and select a ten- or eleven-generation family tree template. This option makes for a wonderful gift that will appeal to many people. Just be prepared that the research could take you several months so play far ahead if this is the approach you choose. 

Another option is to take smaller templates and create multiple family trees. For instance, you may decide to cover the ancestry of all of the person’s grandparents. You would create four separate templates that could be placed together in a large frame. You would probably select three- or four-generation templates to ensure that everything fits in the space and isn’t too overwhelming. 

Choose a Template

Once you know what kind of research you will need to do and how much information you want to present, you need to decide on the format. Numerous options are available to suit many tastes. A landscape family tree template is a classic choice with ovals where you can put either information or photos. 
Bowties and wide or tall trees are other options that are ideal for three- or four-generations. They often allow you to include photos or more information other than just the names to personalize your design. 

For more in-depth research, you can also use the bowtie design. You may also want to try a circular pattern to fit more names into the space. A chart format is another option when you have a lot of names to include. It is easy to read and keeps everything organized. To be more decorative, choose a template that includes a border. You can even find ones that allow you to input the family crest. 

Give the family tree as a wedding or anniversary present and include both families of the couple on your template. A bowtie design is the ideal choice for this gift and is easy to read.

When giving a gift of a family tree to someone, you want it to be visually pleasant to look at and easy to follow. You may want to include photos or more data to create a gift that is interesting and will have meaning to the recipient. This is both a unique and heartfelt gift that you put a lot of time and effort into. Choose the right design for your gift that fits the information you collected and puts it into a lovely display. 

Suzie Kolber created to be the complete online resource for “do it yourself” genealogy projects.  The site offers the largest offering of
family tree charts online. The site is a not for profit website dedicated to offering free resources for those that are trying to trace their family history. 


My Observations: The site has a huge array of different templates (patterns) for displaying family trees. For example, one of them is for adoptees to include both their adoptive family's pedigree and their birth family's pedigree. I am not sure I have seen that before! These charts can be an attractive way to display your genealogy. My genealogy software has a few basic charts, but nothing like this!

To use one, download it, open it in Adobe Reader, click Sign, change the type size to something larger (maybe 14 or 18), click the space where you want to add text, and add the information. Then print it out on your printer. Copies of the filled-in chart can be saved for sending by email, or for printing later.

Disclaimer: I have no connection to and do not specifically endorse the companies advertising on their website. But I find the templates interesting.

Suzie, thank you for your posting.