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, April 07, 2019

Murray's Gajdzica and Wojnar Families

The Wojnar Family

My friend Murray asked for help with one of his ancestral lines last Sunday. I found the christening record for Anna Gajdzica who I knew to be one of the children of Jan Gajdzica and Eva Mojnar. The godparents were Adam Wojnar and Anna Stachura. This seemed like a very promising lead since godparents are typically close family members or lifetime friends. 

I found the marriage record of Adam and Anna, which gave the names of their parents. Other records showed that Adam would be an older brother of Eva. So I now had the names of the parents of Eva Mojnar 
They are Jan Wojnar  born about 1850 G9NY-T4K  and  Maryja Kapustka born about 1850 LBFB-VPW These families were from Poland and settled at Yorkton, Saskatchewan about 1900.

This confirms that the Mary Wojnar living with the  Gajdzica family in the census is Eva and Adam's mother. (Maryja=Mary)

The 1921 Canada census lists Adam Wojnar's children as. 
Agnez Theresa Wojnar 1907–Deceased  •  G9JS-HTJ
Adolf Wojnar 1908–Deceased  •  G9JS-G91
Joanna Wojnar  1909–Deceased  •  G9VJ-2CD
Helen Wojnar 1911–Deceased  •  G9VJ-YXC
Angeline Wojnar 1912–Deceased  •  G9VJ-TY2
Sophia Wojnar 1920–Deceased  •  G9VV-M26

So this adds 10 people to Murray's family tree.

(The ID numbers are from , where I did the research and recorded the records. These numbers will be handy for anyone wanting to find these records in the FamilySearch Family Tree.) 

Mervyn and Mary Buchanan of Neepawa and Red Deer

My cousin Darlene sent me a recent obituary for Mary May McCracken Buchanan, the wife of my 3rd cousin Mervyn Buchanan.  It brought back fond memories.

I remember when I first met Merv and Mary. I was 20 years old. It was in September 1962, that I hitch-hiked from Calgary to Neepawa, Manitoba, looking for information on Dad's ancestors. I was in the Neepawa Banner office looking for family obituaries. A staff member told me that I should talk to Mervyn Buchanan, who was the manager of the salt plant, and who was very interested in Buchanan genealogy. So I walked to Merv's house and introduced myself. I was invited by Merv and Mary to stay with them and accept their help in my quest. For the next few days I would interview elderly relatives in town during the daytime, and after supper Merv would drive me to visit out-of-town relatives. My notepad and my package of Family Group Records became full of family information, and I hitch-hiked back to Calgary with more genealogy information than I had dreamed of.

In 1997 was the next time I was in Neepawa. I visited Mervyn and received a photocopy of the Watson material that had been sent to him by Marguerite MacDonald of Sarnia, Ontario. I was also able to copy his large pictures of his great grandparents Samuel Buchanan and Mary Watson. (These were also the brother of my great grandfather John Buchanan and the sister of my great grandmother Isabella Watson, as Merv and I were double cousins. My father was William George Buchanan, who was the son of William Andrew, who was the son of John and Isabella.).

In 2003 we visited Merv in Neepawa and shared some  family history information, but he was experiencing some health issues at that time.

Merv phoned me after they had moved to Red Deer, Alberta and asked if I could send him copies of the photos of his great grandparents, which had been lost in the move. I was glad to return the favor. I asked him how they came to move to Red Deer. He told me “We were comfortable in Neepawa,and had decided that the last thing we wanted to do was to follow our children across the country. But after Judy's death we decided we needed to spend our remaining years with our family. So we moved to Red Deer.”

Merv passed away there in 2013, and Mary in 2019.

They were kind and generous people who had a positive impact on my life.


After I graduated from U of C with my education degree, my work took me to Brooks, then Grande Cache, then Edmonton, and then Barrhead.
In 1977 something interesting happened. A work assignment led me to visit families in the High Prairie area, and one of them asked me if I was related to the Buchanan family that owned the Buchanan Lumber sawmill I admitted it was possible, but probably not. Then I was told that they were from Manitoba. I responded, "My dad was born in Manitoba, so maybe we are related!" Out of curiosity, I visited Gordon Buchanan's home. I was greeted at the door by a nice lady and I explained that I was interested in finding out if we were related. She turned around and said "Gordon, get your Buchanan Family Tree book."  That certainly got my attention. I had not heard that there was a "Buchanan Family Tree book"! Gordon was able to show me his information in the yellow 8.5' x 14" book, and I was able to show him my information. We were officially related. Gordon is now dead but for years he was involved in the Edmonton Oilers Owners Group and other community projects.
I noted that the book was compiled by Lorne and Doris Buchanan of Neepawa. When I got home I tried to buy a copy of the book. But I discovered that Lorne had retired from the office and moved away. No one seemed to know how to get in touch with him.

Then one day a package arrived in the mail. It was from Annie Brae Buchanan McMane. She explained that she heard that I was looking for a copy of the book, and she didn't need hers as she now lived with her daughter, who had a copy. I added some missing information and made 10 photocopies, sending one of them to dear old Annie Brae.

In the 1990s I was assistant director of an LDS Family History Center and I decided to put the contents of the Buchanan Family Tree book into a computer database. Then I sent an electronic copy to the LDS website. I used my Personal Ancestral File generate an electronic copy of the book, which I updated a few times. You can download a copy of the book from my website, if you like. There is a variety of family stories there as well. More recently I have uploaded family photos and stories to, but you will need a free account to view them or download them.

The earliest historical documents we have found for our Buchanan family were the christenings of some of the children in the 1810's when they were living in Learmore townland near the town of Castlederg. At the time of their emigration in 1847 they were living in Binnawooda townland closer to Drumquin. I love the words and music of the song "The Hills Above Drumquin". It refers to Cooel, Kirlish, and Langfield, places occupied by Buchanan families that have close YDNA matches to our family. Actually our William Buchanan and Anne Thompson were married in Langfield/Longfield in 1846. These are two of my favorite versions of the song  and

I enjoy bagpipe music. I don't have a kilt, but I have a "Buchanan ancient tartan" necktie that I have worn with pride.

Monday, April 01, 2019

A Tribute to Kay Lee Crabtree 1930-2019

I first met Marge and Kay in 1967 when I was dating Marge's sister Judy, and I got to know them well over the next few years. Kay had a strong interest in intellectual things, Marge was warm and gracious, a “lady” in all the best senses of the word. They were very attractive people. Sometimes we babysat for them. They had a nice new house on the north edge of Calgary. The house had a large family room in the basement with many souvenirs from Kay's mission in South Africa.

The story of their engagement ring is a classic. While serving in South Africa, where diamonds were relatively inexpensive, he bought a diamond engagement ring for his girlfriend back home. After returning home, he proposed to her and offered her the diamond ring. To his dismay she turned him down. A very disappointed Kay gave the ring to his mother saying “You may as well keep it. I am not going to be needing it.” This was very concerning for his mother, since Kay was an only child and his mother hoped to be a grandmother some day. Then Kay met Marge, who had recently come to Calgary to take a business course and was staying in the same building as Kay. Somehow, they seemed to keep seeing each other more and more frequently, and any time Marge was planning on going home to Raymond for the weekend, Kay “just happened” to be planning to go home to Cardston and offered her a ride. After dating for a while, Kay asked his mother “You wouldn't happen to still have that old diamond ring I gave you, would you?” Joyfully, she gave him the ring, and soon Marge was wearing it.

Kay was a mentor to me in some ways. I followed his example in becoming a school teacher. And I remember consciously following his advice in buying life insurance, and there were undoubtedly other things I did unconsciously. After his retirement he wrote a history of the community of Woolford, and after my retirement I wrote some short histories but nothing on that scale.

I remember us watching the Apollo 11 moon landing with them on the TV in their living room.

We saw them frequently until I graduated from University of Calgary in 1970 and we moved away.

They enjoyed boating and they had a cabin on Shuswap Lake that was absolutely loved by their children. This cabin was bigger than their house in Calgary and was only accessible by boat. Kay had an interest in mechanical things, and I remember him showing us their little electrical power plant powered by a pelton wheel connected to a mountain stream. Very ingenuous!

When Kay's parents retired, he was given the opportunity to take over the family farm. He was not sure that the income from the farm would be sufficient, so he asked his friend Grant Matkin for a job teaching school. Grant's answer was basically. “Kay I would love to hire you, but as Superintendent of Schools, I can't do it. You are a school administrator with a Master's degree, and at the very top of the salary grid. I could hire two newly-graduated teachers for the salary I would have to pay you. I am sorry, but I can't do that.” So Kay stayed in Calgary until his retirement.

After retiring, Kay and Marge moved to Cardston, where they had many friends. They had a motorcycle club called the Myth Boys, and they took long road trips together, Kay had a shiny Harley Davidson with all of the bells and whistles.

Later they moved to southern Utah, where Marge died of cancer.

After some time, Kay married Kathy Bills, and they have been spending their summers in Cardston and their winters in southern Utah.

God be with you 'til we meet again my friend.