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

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Local History Books

One of the very best sources of family history is found in local history books.

Living near Edmonton, Alberta, I have good access to the Provincial Archives of Alberta. They have a huge number of local history books for Alberta. I have been thrilled to find the stories of many of my relatives there. I have purchased a few local history books myself, I and recently donated my copies of the Breton and Carnwood area history books to the PAA.

Online, the free Canadian OurRoots/NosRacines project has many local history books digitized for all of Canada. These can be found at You can print or download and save copies of the most interesting pages.
My most recent "discovery" is which seems to have most of the local history books for Manitoba. Since my father's family were pioneer settlers in the areas of Neepawa and Riding Mountain, there are wonderful stories about them and their kin. I have spent the last 3 days enjoying their stories.
This free site is fabulous, although I found that downloading the local histories there was different than I expected. Unlike Our Roots, you download the entire book as one PDF file, which is better but did not always work. (On a different computer, the books opened in a viewer instead of downloading, and the viewer would not let me copy the text properly.) As usual, if one browser doesn't give the results you want, try another browser.

I found myself constantly looking up births, marriages and deaths on the free Manitoba Vital Statistics database The two sites work beautifully together.

And I would sometimes look the families up in the census records to verify what I was finding.

Did I have fun? Certainly. A few weeks ago I listened to a talk called "It's All About the Dash" i.e. What happened between the individual's birth and death dates? Local histories can often answer that question. 

In one of the Manitoba books, I found that a relative of mine was not only one of the two founders of the town of Neepawa, but had previously been a member of the North West Mounted Police, and had helped build Fort McLeod and Fort Calgary, the two earliest NWMP forts in Alberta. What full and exciting life he lived! It deserves to be remembered.


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