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.

My Photo
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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

100 Most-Visited Genealogy Websites

Recently the GenealogyInTime Magazine Newsletter released their list of the 100 top genealogy Websites of 2014. There may be other similar lists from other sources, but this one is based on Alexa results, so I believe this is the most accurate.

I like the fact that they provide a useful analysis of the types of sites and changes in ranking since the previous year. This is a free newsletter. I encourage you to subscribe. If you find you don't like it, you can easily unsubscribe. Besides good articles, they also have a genealogy search engine similar to Mocavo, except theirs is free. The magazine's home page is

The Top 100 listing is at:

Somewhere in that list may be exactly what you have been looking for. and continue to be the most popular free sites, but there are others waiting to be checked out.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Old Newspaper Clippings and Memories

For the last two Thursday evenings I have been able to spend a few minutes of my shift at the Riverbend Family History Centre searching  the newspaper archives at

My experience with digitized newspapers has usually been negative. The OCR (optical character recognition) has been so poor that searching them has usually been more frustration than it is worth. I was happy to discover that the OCR quality at was generally excellent. My search criteria were: Buchanan Neepawa

It is sure handy to have a unique place name like Neepawa to search!

I found many obituaries and announcements, which I shared with others who are actively researching the Neepawa Buchanans. This one I found last night brought back a flood of fond memories.

Sunday, 23 Jun 2013 Red Deer Advocate Red Deer
Mervyn Ross (Merv) Buchanan of Red Deer, Alta. passed away peacefully on June 23, 2013 at the age of 83 years. Merv is survived by his wife of 60 years, Mary May, his daughter Joanne (Randy) Kuharski of Red Deer, his son Buck (Jan) of Red Deer, his son-in-law Al Frankowski of Rossland, B.C., eight grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. He is also survived by his brothers Gerald of Neepawa, Man. and Ron of Winnipeg. He was predeceased by his daughter Judy. A celebration of Merv's life will be held at 11 a.m. on August 23, 2013 at White's Funeral Home in Neepawa, Man.

When I hitch hiked to Neepawa from Calgary in September of 1962, I was looking for family history information. Someone at the Neepawa newspaper told me "You should talk to Merv Buchanan, who manages the salt plant." So I looked for Merv. He was enthusiastic about my project to gather Buchanan genealogy, and invited me to stay with him for a few days. Besides feeding me and giving me a place to sleep for free, he spent as much free time as possible taking me to visit Buchanan relatives in the general area. That is how I came to meet Mabel Henry, who also became an inspiration. I filled out a notepad and pedigree charts and family group sheets as we went from family to family. I left for home with more information than I could have ever hoped for. I will always be grateful to Merv and Mary May for their kindness.

During my visit to Neepawa in 1997 Merv gave me scanned copies of portraits of his ancestors Samuel Buchanan and Mary Watson. About 2008, he phoned me and asked if I could send him copies of the portraits, which had been lost during the move to Red Deer. I was surprised that he was living in Red Deer, but glad that his health had improved since I had last seen him in 2002. He explained "My wife and I always said that we would never follow our children back and forth across the country. Then our daughter Judy died, and that changed."

A search in the newspaper archives at for "Buchanan" living in "Neepawa", turns up lots of results. Most of them are for Merv Buchanan or Mac Buchanan. Why? Because they coached sports in the community for many years and were active in local service clubs.

Merv, thank you for your example of kindness and your acts of service to those around you!