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

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Slave Lake Residents Return
This week, electricity, water, sewer, and natural gas were restored to Slave Lake. Then, staffs of surviving businesses and services were encouraged to return and make things operational. Friday, residents whose homes are still standing were asked to return. There was a check-in system to guarantee an orderly return. Residents whose homes were lost in the fire were asked to not return, but to contact authorities and make them aware of their needs.

There is an article at about them disposing of refrigerators and freezers filled with decayed food:

Ed and Evelyn sent us an email. They have been in touch with President Anderson. His home survived and he plans to hold a brief church service today for the church members who have returned.

Our thoughts and prayers are for them all.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Slave Lake Fire Update
Some of the evacuated LDS families from Slave Lake are being billeted near our home. George Gwilliam is one of the most generous people I know. He has cabins and a lodge that he rents out for income. As soon as he heard about the plight of the evacuees, he offered to accommodate as many people as possible. I remember several years ago that he gave an automobile (that he could have sold for a few thousand dollars) to a needy family.

The evacuees attended church with us yesterday. President Gordon Oliver from Edmonton Riverbend presided at our sacrament service and invited President Anderson of the Slave Lake Branch to speak to us. To me, President Anderson's words painted a vivid picture of devastation, but gratitude that no one perished and of abiding faith. Some of the homes and the chapel may now be reduced to "piles of bricks and ashes", but the people of the church remain strong in the faith. After the meeting I introduced myself to him as Evelyn's father.

Evelyn's family arrived for a visit on Friday and will be leaving again today (Monday). They chose to attend their old ward in Edmonton, but after hearing about the Slave Lake people attending our ward, I think they wished they had attended our ward. Oh well. It is wonderful to see them. They stayed with us, and also visited Laurel's family and Andrew's family. In fact last evening Andrew's family and Evelyn's family were all here. It was beautiful! Andrew and I walked around our acreage reminiscing. The grandchildren played well together. Alannah wanted to play with our white Lego horse. Who knew that we even had a white Lego horse??? We found it, and she played with it. It made me wonder what things our grandchildren (and our children, for that matter) will remember of us. And how surprising it must be for our parents to see what things that we remember, and how we remember them.

Early Memories and Poetry
One of my early memories is a discussion of poetry by my parents. As I remember it, the discussion took place in about 1950. We were living in the old log house on our farm about 6 miles west of Breton, Alberta. The discussion may have been sparked by something I was studying. Mom and Dad grew up in a different time period. It was a time of little 1-room schools scattered among the farms, and children usually walked to school. Dad had only 6 years of schooling and Mom had 9. Even in my generation that would be considered inadequate. But it was quite normal for their generation, where the local school only offered grades 1-6 or maybe 1-9. But these schools emphasized the importance of life-long learning. My parents were both highly-intelligent and were voracious readers, so that in many areas they were better educated than I was, despite my university degree.

What poem were they discussing? I remember two actually ... "The Inchcape Rock" and "Abou Ben Adhem". It is the latter that holds my attention right now, by the English poet, Leigh Hunt. (The actual spelling of the central character's name has two different forms. I will use the simpler form.)

Abu Ben Adam,may his tribe increase
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace
And saw, within the moonlight of his room
Making it rich, like a lily in bloom
An angel writing in a book of gold.

Exceeding peace had made Abu Ben Adam bold
And to the presence in his room he said
'What writest thou?'
The vision raised its head
And with a look of all sweet accord Answered:
'The names of those who love the Lord.

'And is mine one?' said Abu.
'Nay not so' Replied the Angel
Abu spoke more low
But cheerily still and said
'I pray thee then Write me as one that loves his fellow-men'

The angel wrote and vanished.
The next night it came again with awaking light
And showed the names of whom love of God had blessed.
And lo! Ben Adam's name led all the rest.

I think this poem carries a beautiful message. Dad in particular had a high regard for "the common man", his peer. Alexander Pope, in An Essay on Man wrote "An honest man is the noblest work of God." By this measure, all of us are of noble parentage, for we all have such people in our family tree!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Fire Notes
There was a slight misunderstanding, Evelyn's family were not evacuated from Wabasca. Part of the Bigstone Cree Nation was evacuated, but not their part. Weather conditions have improved (and with the additional fire fighters and equipment) it looks like they are in no danger!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Slave Lake Fire
There is nothing that restores one's sense of perspective more sharply than a disaster.

A town of about 8000 people has been nearly burned off the map by wild fires! By most published estimates 30%-40% of the town has been reduced to ashes. Fortunately, there have been no deaths or injuries reported.

My daughter's family live at Wabasca, north east of Slave Lake, where she teaches kindergarten for the Big Stone Cree nation. Part of the Big Stone Cree have already been evacuated, and I pray that Evelyn's family will be evacuated before they are in imminent danger. This is a heavily forested area with only two roads into it. I am very concerned for their safety.

At this point nothing else is as important.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Last week was Mom's 91st birthday followed by Mothers Day. I talked to her and arranged that we would visit on the Monday following Mothers Day. I created a collage of photographs for Judy and another for Mom. On Sunday night we went to James and Karin's home for dessert. Karin's parents and grandmother were there too and we had a very nice evening. James printed out the collages in color, as I only have black laser printers. I gave Judy her collage, and we took Mom's to her the next day.

We gave Mom a copy of the family DVD movie I had made as well as a copy of the DVD move version of James as the star of his Grade 8 play. I took Mom to her hearing aid appointment, and we visited with her and Aunt Vi. Later we went with them for snack time, visited some more, and went home. On the way home I stopped at the Stony Plain Coop, to buy a 6 foot step ladder that I needed to replace a defective smoke alarm. (It fit inside the car, with the driver's seat moved as far ahead as possible ... a trifle uncomfortable, but still very workable.)