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

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.


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