Bill's Genealogy Blog

Bill Buchanan is a long-time genealogy enthusiast, living in Spruce Grove, 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. I love family history. Since 2007, I have spent much of my time providing part-time support for the world's largest free family history site 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

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Blackfoot Indian Geneqalogy

During the past two weeks I have been doing some research for a friend of mine.

His ancestors lived on the Blood Indian Reserve between Cardston and Fort Macleod, Alberta.
I was delighted to find photographs of his great grandfather Big Sorrel Horse and his great grandmother, and his great-great grandfather Left Hand. This is amazing, as I do not have a single photo of any of my great-great grandparents!

I even found written descriptions of family members, and in one case I found a family story told by Big Sorrel Horse himself. He tells how some of the people were totally devastated when the buffalo disappeared and they had to rely on government handouts to avoid starvation. He said that Chief Red Crow decided if white men could survive by agriculture so could the Blood people. Left Hand believed this too, and Big Sorrel Horse tells how his father threshed the grain by putting it on blankets and walking the horses around and around to tread out the grain. Then he winnowed it in the wind, and loaded 7 bags of oats on a travois and spent 3 days taking it to Fort Macleod to sell it.

Other stories tell how the governments on both sides of the border imposed peace between nations that had been enemies for generations, and the trouble caused by men who wanted to keep up the old traditions of raiding the camps of others. For young men in particular, battle honors might be needed in order to claim a wife.

In the 1901 Canada census, the earliest Canada census where I found him, Big Sorrel Horse was aged 18 and already married. The story I heard was that he earned the name by defeating a Cree warrior who was riding a big white horse, but when he rode the horse out of the water, its coat was stained red by the blood in the water. So he had won a "big sorrel horse" in battle and this became his name, which has been passed down to some of his descendants.

Black and white photo of Mr. and Mrs. Big Sorrel Horse


Friday, July 20, 2018

Happy Citizenship Day Rachel

Yesterday, Rachel told us they she would receive her Canadian citizenship in a ceremony the next day, and she invited us to come.

At noon, Judy and I drove to Canada Place in Edmonton for the ceremony. She was among 84 people from 30 different countries, who received their Canada citizenship. She was really happy. This fulfills a long-time dream of hers.

Besides us, her mother, Rob, and Lillyanna were present.

Congratulations Rachel! You will be a good Canadian! 

FamilySearch Team Trip to Cardston

For the past few months my team have been planning to meet in Cardston. It is sort of a midpoint between Alberta and Montana. This an account of my trip.

Friday 13 July 2018

We left home about 9 am to attend my FamilySearch team activity in Cardston.
We passed field after field of bright yellow canola blossoms. They were beautiful.
I appreciated our car, and especially enjoyed the air conditioning. 
Among the thousands of on-coming vehicles I noticed a white Tesla model S electric car, an interest of mine.
About 10:30 we stopped at the iconic Donut Mill in Red Deer, and although the apple fritters looked especially good, the lineup was so long that we just left. Getting back on the highway now was really dangerous. They really need to add a traffic light.
We stopped for a Big Mac meal at McDonalds in Airdrie, then took Deerfoot Trail through Calgary, which went really well. We were able to travel at 100 km/h with no stops.
We refueled at Ft MacLeod, which took only 30 litres of gas @5.1 litres/100 km.
Resurfacing of the highway between Ft MacLeod and Cardston cost us perhaps half hour of travel time. It was one-way traffic for kilometres at a time. So you had to wait for a line of vehicles that might be kilometres long before the traffic going your way got a turn. 
I realized that I had not packed a white shirt and tie for tomorrow.
Incredibly. in Cardston I got lost trying to find our motel, so I phoned them to say I was coming in the next hour, and we drove to the distribution center. There we made some necessary purchases, including a white shirt for me. They did not sell dress ties, but suggested a book store on Main Street that also sells ties. When I parked on main street near the book store, I noticed that the store directly in front of us was a dollar store. I went in and asked if they sold cheap ties. They only had Canada Day ties for $2 – perfect for my needs!
We checked into the motel. It may be the oldest motel in Cardston, It seemed clean but the air freshener smell was very thick in the air and the air conditioner was noisy. Our original accommodation plans had fallen through, and this was what was still available. 
We had not planned on attending an evening temple session but decided to do so. We had time to enjoy supper at the temple, before getting ready for the 8 pm session. We were delighted to meet our friend Courtney McD there, and she ate supper with us and we caught up on the news of the past 5 years, since our families had moved from the Onoway area.
We enjoyed the temple session. It has been probably 4 years since the last time we attended the Cardston temple, which is the first temple either of us attended and where we were married.
By the time we got back to our motel it was about 10:30, so we turned off the noisy air conditioner and went to sleep.

Saturday 14 July 2018

We had decided to have breakfast at the A&W restaurant on Main Street. There we happened to meet a member of my team, who I had never met before.
We arrived at the temple,about 8:30 am and visited with team members as they arrived until 10 am, when it was time to change into our white clothing and sit in the chapel. The lady I sat beside identified herself as a member of my team from Montana. I was pleased to meet her in person. Our friends Hal and Karyle from Stony Plain were also there.
I noticed that the brother offering the prayer included a blessing of safety as we traveled home. I faced a 6 hour drive home later in the day, so I was appreciative of his thoughtfulness.
After the session we met again in the waiting room and then 12 of us had our pictures taken on the grass in front of the temple.

By the time we left for the historic Cobblestone Manor it was 1:45. They had expected us an hour earlier. An additional team member was waiting for us there. We had a beautiful meal. I was among those who chose the French Purse meal, which is sort of like a pot pie but in a globular pastry shell. It was excellent. Our hostess had made a carrot cake in the shape of a temple. Elder Redd paid for the cake, treating us all to dessert. Sister Shideler paid $20 for my meal, over my protests; and I bought a copy of a book written by Sister Thompson.
After the meal, some of us went to Sister Thompson’s house for a video chat. And we chatted at length with Sister Jack, a member of our team in Winnipeg.
I had a wonderful time, and I think everyone else did too. Judy and I stopped at A&W for our free July 14th root beer, then drove home.
The resurfacing of the highway again involved 1-way traffic but the lines were much shorter.
We ran into construction twice more.
We reached home about 9:30 pm.

It was really special to meet so many of my team in person.

About Cobblestone Manor
In 1893 LDS pioneer Joseph Young built a log house on the site. In 1913, Belgian immigrant Henry Hoet purchased the property for $200 and began to cover the 22x44 foot log house with stone walls, and built additional stone walls to extend the house. He made ceilings out of intricate panels of oak, thousands of precisely-cut and fitted pieces. Henry was a master cabinetmaker, and his skill is very evident a century later. He said he was building a palace for his sweetheart back in Belgium, but the years passed and she married someone else. Henry’s mental health failed and in 1929 he was relocated to Ponoka, and later to Edmonton, where he died. But in Cardston, his master work remains as a monument to his skill and hard work.

Monday, June 25, 2018

A Pelican at Our House

Well, it was never actually in our house, but then it was a wild pelican, just stopping for rest on its way north. 😊

On Friday shortly before lunch, Judy called my attention to a big white bird on our pond. I expected it to be a snow goose or maybe a swan. Either one would be a beautiful sight. 

But as it swam closer to us, I could see it was a pelican! I had not seen one in ages. It swam back and forth on the pond and I took several photos. I had to zoom in to see it well, but I still got some good photos. It was a real treat. Even when we lived in the country we never had a visit from a pelican, and now we live on the edge of a small city, with a pond in front of our windows.  

Old Friends

Among the people attending my mother's funeral were some of my oldest friends.

I spent some time visiting with my childhood friend Andy Maine. He reminded me about an incident where he and I were cornered by Kubejko’s bull in their barn. I did not really remember it.

So when Rose Kubejko came over, I asked her about it. She remembered it vividly. She said that the ground was muddy and Andy and I walked along the top rail of the fence, which was wet and slippery. That bull was huge, and so strong they had to build a special watering trough for him because he kept tipping over the regular watering trough.

When I mentioned this to Andy, he said that the reason we were walking along the top of the fence had nothing to do with whether the ground was muddy. The fence provided an escape route from the barn since the bull could not reach the top of the fence!

We also remembered the time we built a raft out of discarded railway ties where the old Antross town site used to be and floated it down the creek. One night we were sleeping out under the stars when a storm hit in the middle of the night. We grabbed our clothes and bedding and ran up the hill to shelter in an old barn. The only light was the blinding flashes of lightning, as we ran up the hill barefoot through the thistles. I think the thistles helped us to remember!

As we reminisced about playing together as young children he mentioned the incident where I jumped into a manger without looking first, and speared myself through the cheek on an antler. I still bear the scar today. What are the chances of anyone remembering these things? Only an old friend may remember.

I also visited with Wally and Ida Zwiers, who had ridden from Calgary with their son Michael to honor my mother. We had a chance to reminisce about times we shared 60 years ago.

As an old saying says it so well:
"Make new friends, but keep the old,
These are silver, those are gold!" 

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Eulogy for Our Mother, A Life Well Lived

We were blessed with wonderful parents who taught us principles that have guided and helped us throughout our lives. I love, honor and respect my parents. The things I will be mentioning are things that I personally remember or that I remember Mom telling me.

Our mother was born as Dorothy May Ing on 5 May 1920, shortly after World War I. It was a very different world than we live in today. Her parents were pioneer settlers in the dry belt where the communities of Kirriemuir and Altario were soon established. It was a frontier existence. Later, she survived the great depression and WWII, and other major challenges in life.

Her ability to make lasting friendships, and her memory for names and dates was so amazing that we used to joke that if she was dropped off on a deserted island, and you returned a few hours later, you would find her surrounded by new friends and she would know their birth dates and anniversaries, and probably those of all their children!

Her parents moved to the Breton area in 1934. Dorothy and her siblings had to walk 6 kilometres to school at the sawmill town of Antross. Fortunately, in the coldest weather they could stop at the home of a kindly neighbor lady, who usually had cookies for the Ing children. This gave them a chance to warm up somewhat before continuing their journey. Dorothy finished grade 8 in Antross school, the highest grade offered there.  At school they were taught rapid calculation. So Mom was a whiz at doing mental arithmetic. I wish I had that skill!

At age 15 it was time to find employment. She went to work on the Andrew Olson dairy farm at Lone Ridge, near Pigeon Lake for three years. She often had to lift cream cans that were half her own weight. This injured her back, and she sometimes had back pains because of it many years later. The Olsons enjoyed making "long milk", a form of yogurt popular in their native Norway. So Mom was making yogurt 20 years before we could buy it in the grocery stores here. (I found this interesting, as I learned to enjoy yogurt while living in Switzerland in the 1960s, and it was years before you could buy yogurt in grocery stores in Canada. These days some stores have a whole yogurt department.) So she was a pioneer yogurt maker, maybe one of the first in Canada.

Dorothy and her sister Violet and their friend Mrs. Floyd Maine worked as cooks in lumber camps. Some photos still survive of the cooks standing on a pile of logs holding tools used by the lumberjacks.

She married George Buchanan on 22 Feb 1941 and I was born in 1942, followed by four more children over the next 10 years. The earliest home I remember was a log house on our farm 7 miles west of Breton. During the winter Dad would work in the lumber camps for wages and Mom would stay home and run the farm. She could fix almost everything.

Among my earliest memories was seeing her mark the date on the calendar that Uncle Walter would return home from the war. Another early memory was the excitement when Sexton’s store brought in some bananas. Because of the war, no one had seen tropical fruit for several years. Now things were starting to return to normal.

As a young child, I remember her and Dad discussing some of their favorite poems from the school readers, including the Inchcape Rock, where a pirate meets his deserved doom, and Abu Ben Adam where a good man is loved by God because of his love for his fellow man. Their love of reading passed along to me and other family members. My son Rob wrote and published a lengthy novel. And most of my family love reading.

My parents enjoyed visiting their friends and neighbors, and would often play board games or card games. Cribbage, hearts, and canasta were among their favorites. And they loved community dances. The young children would play in a corner of the hall while the adults danced to the intense beat of a polka or the slow rhythms of a waltz, or to a schottische or a Virginia reel, or whatever came next.

Life on the farm was not all fun and games. In fact, it was very hard work. Dad had no tractor or car at this time, so all of the work was done by hand, with the help of their trusty team of horses, Pet and Dobbin. 

When I was in Grade 2, Reg and I walked 2 miles each way to catch the school van. On one occasion Reg and I decided that we would play hookey. Instead of walking all the way to Kubejko's corner, we played until we thought it was lunch time and ate our lunch and then played some more. We were surprised that our mother figured out that we had not spent the day at school, when we arrived back home about noon. It was hard to put one over on Mom!

Mom enjoyed berry picking and on our farm there a large patch of saskatoon bushes along the creek. She made them into delicious pies and jam.

When Dad’s brother Jack and his wife Tina moved to Edmonton in 1951, we moved onto their farm, which had a new house that was built by Dad and Jack and their late father. There was no electrical service on the farms west of Breton at that time. But the new house was in the school division so the school bus came to our house. Life could not get much better!

She had a .22 rifle but I only remember her using it once. An owl was threatening her chickens, and she killed it with a single shot. I remember that this owl had a huge wingspan. By the way, this was at night, and she could see the silhouette of the owl against the sky. We were impressed by the accuracy of her shooting.

In 1951 Pearson’s sawmill in Breton closed down so Mom and Dad took a motor trip to BC with their friends the Zwiers family looking for work. The wind was so strong in the foothills that they parked the two cars to form a wind break to keep the tent from blowing over. And in the mountains, the engine of Dad’s Model A Ford would overheat, and they would need to pull over and stop to give the engine a chance to cool down. To the children it was an adventure. One of the Zwiers girls recalled, “We all begged to be allowed to ride in Buchanan's car mainly because it was older and broke down a lot. We could do a lot of things during a break down. When I was finally allowed to ride with them Dad's carload [went ahead and] stopped to wait for us, they had an ice cream cone while waiting. Needless to say we did not have time to stop for one. Boy was I ever mad!”

Then in 1952, Dad got a job as a pipe fitter’s helper in the “oil patch” in Camrose and he came home on weekends.

In 1953, we followed Dad to Camrose. We lived in a mobile home park in a skid shack. It was about the size of tiny holiday trailer and laid out in a similar fashion. It must have been extremely awkward for Mom, but she took it in good humor. There was barely enough room on the floor for the seven of us to sleep. During the summer, we older kids slept in a tent which gave more room for Mom and Dad and the two smallest children. School started late that year because of the polio epidemic. Dad was able to buy a 1938 Ford V8, a much more practical car than the slow old Model A.

Camrose was tough for us children, so after several months Mom and Dad gave up a steady income to return to the farm. Then Dad received a job offer at Edgewater Sawmills in BC through Chris Zwiers. Before school started, we had moved to a mountain paradise. Mom and Dad formed lasting friendships there too.

We had a square dancing club with the Zwiers, Shelstom, and Pattison families, who all had children of about the same age. We did a variety of different kinds of dances and it must have looked funny to see adults dancing sometimes with young children, but it was a lot of fun.

In the summer, we sometimes had multi-family picnics, and Dorothy’s potato salad was a perennial favorite. Dad liked her chocolate cake, whereas I was more partial to her pies and cookies. If our route home took us through Radium, we would sometimes stop at the CreeMee for soft serve ice cream, which was a new thing at the time. I also remember us attending movies as a family, sitting in our car together at the Radium Drive In Theatre.

Mom was an avid gardener, berry picker, and canner of fruits and vegetables. Edgewater had an excellent climate for gardening, and she loved it.

Edgewater was a sawmill town and there were very few jobs for women. Mom managed to earn a little money each November by bundling Christmas trees for shipment, and some summers she worked cleaning cabins in Radium. When tying Christmas trees, we wore a finger ring that included tiny knife blade for cutting the twine. One year she earned enough to buy a new kitchen table and chairs that she needed.

Mom decided to wall-paper the house we were renting, and I remember us kids helping her to remove the 7 previous layers of wallpaper. What a job!  But the results were very nice.

After renting for three years, they decided to build a house, so they bought a double lot, and they bought the old Edgewater medical clinic and moved it onto the lot. Mom helped Dad build three bedrooms onto it. This home is still in use more than 60 years later.

So Mom was not only a home maker, she was also a home builder! She had previously helped Dad to build a house in Breton, and now she helped him to build a house in Edgewater.

In 1969 Mom and Dad were asked to come back to Breton to take care of Dad’s brother Jack, who had serious health problems. Jack passed away in 1974 and Dad followed in 1975.

Mom was an athlete too, and not just in horseshoe pitching, at our Ing family reunions! She was a competitive bowler, bocce ball player, and floor curler. In fact one of the difficulties with moving to Leduc was the need to get rid of her large collection of sports trophies. She bowled in Drayton Valley for 30 years. Twice her bocce ball team competed in the Alberta Seniors Games. They won a bronze medal one year in Airdrie and gold the next in Lethbridge. In Breton the Seniors had a 14-passenger van that they used for trips. Mom lived an active life during her retirement years.

She learned to drive after Dad’s death. Imagine learning to drive at age 55! It gave her the mobility to look after her own needs and to travel to see friends and family members. She even made some trips to Edgewater to visit friends there.

She recalled an incident when the grandchildren were small. Richard, Evelyn and Jason were quarreling over a riding toy. Jason jumped on it and rode away. She found this very amusing.

In 1990 Mom sold the house and moved into the Breton seniors apartments on Willow Drive. Her sister Violet Matthews joined her in an apartment across the hall, which made it very convenient for us to visit them both. They were lovely visits. She and Vi were especially close, best friends as well as sisters. Vi was her companion when she came to our family events, such as holidays, baptisms, and later missionary farewells and home-comings, and weddings.

She was a great quilter and made quilts for all the babies in the family.

In 2009, as their health was declining, Mom and Vi moved into Planeview Manor in Leduc. Later Mom moved into Extendicare, where she has lived for the past few years.

I attended church with her in Edgewater. I think she has always believed in God, and had faith in Jesus Christ as her Savior. During her trip to England with her mother in 1970, they stayed with her aunt’s family. The five of them must have filled the tiny Austin Mini to capacity, as they passed the hours on the road singing traditional English hymns.

She has always been a very loving person, deeply interested in her family and friends and her community. She belonged to the Edgewater Senior Citizens Club, Edgewater Radium Hospital Auxiliary, and the Breton Golden Age Club.

Mom has always had the courage and confidence to move forward. In recent years she has told us that she was ready to move on to a better place. This past three years have been a difficult trial for her, with a serious decline in her abilities, and with Vi’s death.

I love and honor my mother. Thank you Mom! Shortly, we will lay your body in the grave but your spirit is now enjoying the company of Dad and other loved ones who have gone before. You are now free from the infirmities of old age. We will miss you, but we know you will never be far away!

Other family members recalled:

In her 98 years of life my Mom saw the whole world change both socially and technologically.
She grew up in a generation and an era when struggle and doing without was not unusual but normal. Mom learned early that you had to be strong and when hard times came you had to push through them with the belief that things would get better.
Mom went from the age of horse and buggy to the modern age. She lived in an era where friends were counted on for help and in turn they could count on her. Mom was a strong person but never confused kindness and compassion with weakness. Mom made friends easily and most of them lasted a lifetime. She was community minded and took part in any activities she could where ever she lived.
Mom always knew when it was time to move on to the next chapter in her life as her health and age dictated.
Mom was always there for us, always loving and caring.

One of my favorite memories was when grandma came to stay with Rob, Andrew, James and me during the summer of 1986.  You and Mom took Blaine and Evelyn to BC for Expo 86 and to visit Ryan Hillaby. 
Grandma taught Rob and I to play Crazy Rummy.  Every night we would put the little boys to bed and then Rob and I stayed up late playing cards with Grandma.  Rob just wasn't having any luck and hadn't won a game all week.  On the last night of Grandma's visit we stayed up extra late to give Rob one last chance.  It was after 1 am when Rob finally won and we headed off to bed.  We laughed about that visit and our card games for years after!
Grandma always had a wonderful outlook on life.  She told me many times that she had no regrets in life.  She had people she loved who loved her back.  She said the only thing she would have changed is she wished she could have had more years with her husband.

My favorite memories of Grandma are not any specific event, but I always loved Grandma and Aunt Vi coming to visit us, bringing carmel popcorn, and playing cards with us. Some of our favorite family games like Canasta, were from Grandma getting the family together and teaching them how to play cards and just socializing and spending time together.
I also thought it was really neat that Grandma liked to bowl and had earned many trophies.
She was the only grandparent that I really got to know and I will miss her but I am grateful for the wonderful life she was able to live and the example she was to our family.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Mom's Obituary

Dorothy May Buchanan
May 5, 1920 – May 20, 2018

It is with sadness that we announce the passing of our beautiful mother and friend on the evening of Sunday, May 20, 2018 at the remarkable age of 98 years. For the past few years, Leduc had become her home, but the majority of her years were spent in the Breton area. Together, Dorothy and her husband George worked extremely hard and were blessed to have raised five children. 1975 was a difficult year for Dorothy and her family, as they grieved the loss of her husband George. In time, the family grew to include 14 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild. Dorothy will be greatly missed and lovingly remembered by her children, Bill (Judy), Reg (Carol), Lloyd, Ed (Michelle) and Judy (Bernie) Tetreau along with their families; sister, Myrtle (Evans) Carson, numerous nieces, nephews, extended family and many life-long friends. She was predeceased by her loving husband, George; sisters, Marion and Violet and brothers, Walter and Charlie.  Funeral Services will be held at Breton Community Hall on Monday, May 28, 2018 at 1:00 p.m. with interment to follow at Breton Cemetery.  For those who so desire, memorial contributions in Dorothy’s honour may be made directly to the Breton Community Hall Building Fund or to the Breton Golden Age Club  Condolences may be sent to  Arrangements in care of Joelle Valliere, Funeral Director at:

There will be a viewing at 12:00 noon.
The casket will be closed during the funeral service.