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.
In 2010-2018 Iserved 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

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It has been a busy week. Among other things we have been shopping for a new car. We have narrowed the choices down to Honda Civic, Toyota Corolla, Hyundai Elantra, and Madza 3. All four have a "much better than average" rating by Consumer Reports so it is hard to go wrong with any of them, I suppose. We had our semi-annual stake conference where all of the Latter-day Saint congregations in the Edmonton Riverbend area met for a two-hour meeting Saturday night and another on Sunday morning. They were wonderful Christian meetings and left me all charged-up to be a better person. After the Sunday meeting, Judy and I drove to Leduc to visit my mother and her sister Vi. They are nicely settled in their new place and loving it! Mom looked better than she had for about 2 years. To our surpise and joy, my brother Lloyd dropped in for a visit too. So we had a nice 5-way visit. Lloyd mentioned that he had recently bought a slide scanner, and it sounded like a perfect solution to an on-going problem I have been having. From about 1964 to about 1976 all of my photos were slides. These include the years I served as a missionary in France and Switzerland, our marriage, and the exciting earliest years of our children. In today's world of digital photography, slides are almost useless. In fact, in the world of print photography that is true too! I asked Lloyd if I could borrow his slide scanner sometime, and he brought it over yesterday morning. You really have to appreciate a brother like that! So I am busy scanning in my spare time. This new slide scanner certainly does a beautiful job! You can find it at and other locations closer at hand.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

It occurs to me that in another few weeks, my support mission will be finished. Soon things that are now part of my daily life will start fading from memory, so I would like to make note of some of them. I am putting the finishing touches on the agenda for my weekly Sunday night meeting with my group of FamilySearch support missionaries. Some of the items on the agenda are carried forward from previous weeks, some come from my Thursday meeting with my Team Lead (Luisa Welsch), and others are pressing items that have come to my attention during the week. Of the 12 people in my group, I can usually count on the majority attending. My meeting is scheduled to last one hour. On Tuesdays we all have a 90 minute training meeting put on by Mindy Flores and Mary Ritchie. On Mondays, Wednesday mornings, and Thursdays my main job is to monitor the requests for help in our Skype chats. As requests come in, I offer suggestions to support missionaries and offer to join their telephone calls. During the first 6 months or so, I spent my time answering phone calls from patrons, then when I was asked to be an ML, my responsibilities changed. Sometimes I long for those "good old days". I have loved helping patrons on the phone. Answering email requests for help is OK, but I loved the telephone calls. By the end of the phone call I would know whether or not I had solved the problem, with email I can never be sure. Judy is playing the piano quietly as I sit here. She makes my life better in every way.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

On Monday we had a nice family Thanksgiving dinner and get together. Rob was unable to come because he was working, and Evelyn called to say that her family were turning back because of the roads being slippery with snow. But everyone else was here. Judy got up during the night and put the turkey in the oven all by herself without me even waking up. That has to be a first! We visited, ate, played board games, computer games, watched TV, etc. but mostly visited. Blaine's family recently got back from Disneyland so they had a guidebook and lots of pamplets to share with Laurel's family who will be going there in the spring. James and Karen had a new agriculture game that they played after playing the railway game Ticket to Ride. Because of the cold weather and snow, we were unable to have outdoor activities. Two years ago the weather was beautiful on Thanksgiving day and we all had fun raking leaves and playing in the leaves. Some of the grandchildren still remember the fun time thay had then. This year the leaves were frozen to the trees. Our new family room downstairs with its table for four got a lot of use, which was nice to see. (The TV saw very little use, which is also nice to see!) We have so much to be thankful for. We live in a choice land at a special time. We have freedoms and opportunities that our ancestors could only dream of! We enjoy peace and safety and the love of a wonderful family. We are richly blessed, and we took a moment to acknowledge God as the source of our blessings and to give Him thanks. I hope that you all have had a wonderful week. Yesterday I finished putting my blog into an MS Word document and printing it. That way if the blog disappears at some point in the future, I will still have a printed copy.
Right now I am sitting at the computer monitoring requests for help from FamilySearch patrons and service missionaries. ... two cases later. The first case was someone who had forgotten her user name and password for the website The other case was someone who had lost a temple card and couldn't find how to reprint it.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

I have updated the copy of my database so it incorporates some recent corrections. I subscribe to Dick Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, which has some interesting results from a large survey of family history researchers. Here is a shorter link to the survey results:

(Until January I will be doing support on and PAF, both of which are mentioned in the survey. Then I will take a break for a few months, and possibly return.)

I also provide support on this online forum.

Friday, October 09, 2009

I was asked whether Personal Ancestral File would run on Windows 7, so tonight I tried it at my son's house on his computer running Windows 7 Ultimate 32-bit.

We downloaded and installed PAF, restored a backup, added data, exported a gedcom, created a new file, imported a gedcom, and printed a chart. Everything we tried worked perfectly.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

We are babysitting at Blaine's house today। I am writing this entry using Safari on Blaine's iMac. When we get home I will try to add a photo of me using Personal Ancestry Writer II, which is a free genealogy program for the Mac from It seems like a very good program. I wish it used more of the computer screen instead of just 25% of it. You can bring up secondary windows, so there is plenty of screen to view the main window as well as a secondary window at the same time. Later today I plan to try running the free Personal Ancestral File 5।2 on Windows 7 at Andrew's house. I have heard that it won't run on Windows 7 but I don't believe it. PAF makes very few demands on Windows. I will let you know what I find out.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Judy and I have spent the last week house-sitting for our son Blaine and his family, while they are in Disneyland for a family vacation. Actually, we are pet-sitting and the house comes with the job. I expected problems connecting my computer to their home network. Fortunately I had decided to bring Judy's computer that has a wireless adapter rather than mine, which would need to use the 3G internet stick. I set up her computer on the dining room table and turned it on. I turned it on, needed to reboot, but immedately found their wireless network and I was able to access high-speed cable internet. Yahoo! I brought along the files I need to serve my support mission, and things have gone very well. I wanted to try the free Personal Ancestry Writer software on their iMac and it was a simple process: download the software from, copy it to a new folder, and double click the icon to run the software. I needed to create a new file and import a gedcom file, and my genealogy was there!!! I intended to upload the current version of my database while I am here, where it is quick and easy. But when I went to upload it I discovered that I had not brought the account into I needed. So I will upload it from home. I received another correction this morning, which I will want to include.