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

Sunday, January 15, 2017

A Special Gift

Every Christmas, James and Karin try to give us a gift that will not fit under the tree. Sometimes it has been a musical or theatrical performance. This time it was two nights in Banff with their family, including Karin's mother and grandmother, who are good friends of ours.

Thursday 5 January 2017
James’ family planned to meet us at the Cave and Basin in Banff about 2 PM.
The temperature was a constant 6C but with salt on the highway, there was a fairly constant spray on the windshield. I did not dare use cruise control, and that was a good thing. I was travelling in the right hand lane and had to slow down for a slow vehicle. Then I looked in my rear view mirror and saw a yellow Dodge RAM 1500 skidding frantically, trying not to hit us. Apparently, the driver was unaware that the traffic had slowed down. We were all blessed that he managed to regain control of his truck and slow down.

Because it is Canada’s 150th anniversary, access to the park was free. We got to the Cave and Basin a little early and spent some time there. Karin phoned that they were running late and would be there about 3 PM, so we watched the big (4 large screen) slideshow a few more times.
When they arrived, they invited us to visit parts of the building we were not aware of, which was fun.

We followed them to Gateway Lodge, just outside the park gates, where we met Teresa and Cathie, Karin’s mother and grandmother. We shared unit 102, with Teresa and Cathie. It was a nice two-story unit with living room (and gas fireplace), kitchen, dining area, and bathroom downstairs and two bedrooms and a full bedroom upstairs.
This is where the 8 of us had our meals and social time together.
Supper was spaghetti prepared by Karin.

We went back to Banff we all went swimming (soaking) in the upper hot spring at 39C for about an hour. Above us we could see the snow and ice of winter, and except for our hair freezing, we were warm and comfortable. Afterwards we stopped at the IGA supermarket to buy groceries.
Back at the motel, Cathie taught the children how to play Yahtzee.

Friday 6 January 2017
For breakfast we had waffles and sausages, prepared by Judy.
This was the big day. We all decided to go to Lake Louise. Judy and I rode with Teresa and Cathie.
The mountains were absolutely stunning in the bright sunshine and fresh white snow. At Lake Louise we enjoyed the ice sculptures, and James’ family did a little skating on a rink that was cleared on the lake. We caught a glimpse of some sled dogs getting ready for some event. Karin lost her mobile phone, but we were able to connect with the person who found it. While the younger people went skiing, the older generation could watch the ski slopes, chair lift and gondolas. But the place was crowded and noisy and expensive, so we went to a restaurant and ordered potato and bacon soup, which we all enjoyed.
Later we returned home to the motel, and watched a movie borrowed from the motel office, Home Alone 3 (chosen by the children).
We enjoyed the lovely time with family.

Saturday 7 January 2017
By the time Judy and I got up, Teresa and Cathie were already gone. Theresa needed to be back to Edmonton by 11 to manage a bottle drive she had organized in support of the Baghdad Christian refugees in Lebanon group, for her friend the Anglican Church vicar of Baghdad. It is amazing the connections she has through her several trips to Israel. This Anglican bishop told her that in their time of darkest need, only the Mormons reached out to help his people. (Of course, we try to be there to help Muslims and other groups when they need humanitarian assistance too.)

Our return trip became very exciting ... we counted 17 vehicles in the ditch along the Calgary bypass and the route to the next town north. (Remember that these are people accustomed to driving in snow.) That part wasn't fun, but we managed to avoid adding to the count. Although it was a near thing once, when a light touch on the brakes sent us into a skid. This new car handles well.
After travelling at 60-70 km/h from Calgary we stopped at Airdrie for food and fuel.
The cars were now traveling about 90 km/h. The highway became progressively better on our way back north, until it could be classed as "good winter driving condition".

We stopped in Leduc to visit my mother for about 30 minutes. She is not doing well. She said that she cannot even travel to the dining room in her wheelchair without becoming lost. She recognized us with no difficulty but she described a visit from a Tetreau family that almost had to be Brandon, Tiffany and William, but she had no idea who they were. She even said that she would like to be moved to the other  (psychiatric) wing so that she would be able to visit with her sister Vi. On earlier visits she would have opposed such a move. Now she seems to be lonely and confused. This is sad to see in someone you love who has always been very intelligent and very involved with other people. She needs our love and prayers at this difficult time.

We enjoyed this special Christmas gift, but it is nice to be home again.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Merry Christmas everyone. 2016 was a wonderful year for us!

Judy is an avid gardener, and this year her efforts were especially rewarded. We had the best garden in the past 20 years or more!  Some of potatoes were nearly the size of a dinner plate. And we had a variety of wonderful fresh vegetables. A surprise was Judy’s other garden, at Evelyn’s house, where we had carrots that were a foot (30 cm) long and very sweet and tender.

Bill has served in FamilySearch Support for several years, but had never attended the annual picnic in Centerville Utah. This time we decided to go. His new supervisor was Andy Bavelas, the person who hosts the annual picnic. Andy invited us to stay with him and his wife Joanne!

It is a long drive from Edmonton and we had been talking about replacing our old car for some time, but this seemed like the perfect time. We bought a 2017 Elantra with most of the creature comforts and some new safety features, and set off for Centerville.

We visited Bill’s mother in Leduc, then spent Wednesday night with Judy's brother Bob and his wife Anna in Monarch, Alberta. We traveled to Idaho Falls the next day, then on to Utah the next morning. In Salt Lake City we visited the Family History Library (obviously!), the Church History Museum, and the nearby Family Discovery Center.

Andy and Joanne were instant friends! They are warm, friendly people. The house was built of adobe in 1888 for William Jennings, an early Utah entrepreneur. Much of the furniture was also historical. Around the yard there was a collection of old horse-drawn farm equipment and tools, such as Bill’s dad was still using into the 1950s. It was like being transported back in time 60 or 70 years. It was wonderful!

Judy helped Joanne make her special salsa. Andy and Bill helped set up the church for the dinner that would take place the following afternoon. We slept in a historical bed under the protection of a muzzle-loading rifle on the wall.

In the morning we helped our hosts with preparations for the picnic. By 2 PM support missionaries began to arrive. Some names were familiar from Family Tree support, and it was fun to finally meet them. Elder Lynn serves in Bill’s group, and gave us a jar of honey from his bee hives and a jar of his special BBQ seasoning. We even got to meet some of the managers in FamilySearch and their families. Bill also had a chance to ride in the Herrman's 1920 Ford Model T touring. Soon it was time to go to the church for the dinner. It was a special occasion, and we were glad we came. Would we come another year? Probably not. It was a lot of fun, but a very long drive.

We were able to make some progress on our ancestral research, most recently on one of Bill's Hunter lines (the Trane line) in Scotland and one o Judy's Kinney lines (the Kelly line) in the Isle of Man.

But the really big news this year is two new grandchildren. We love them already and we welcome them to our family! James and Karin will be wonderful parents!

In this season, we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, who spent his life teaching people to live in peace and love. In this season we all feel a little kinder towards the people around us. May you and your loved ones feel joy at Christmas and throughout the coming year!

Monday, December 05, 2016

Using Dropbox and GoogleDrive Cloud Storage

My Dell Vostro died 2 weeks ago, after over 8 years of dependable service.. Fortunately, I keep my genealogy databases and the associated photos in Dropbox. I simply needed to install AQ14 on my new computer and install the SAME Dropbox account on the new computer. I opened my main database, and the photos appeared. And I was ready to roll.

In contrast I spent 2 hours one night helping a friend who had DIFFERENT Dropbox accounts installed on two computers. When she left, she said "I will be back next week and maybe we can got it sorted out then."

The conclusion I draw from this experience is that a SINGLE Dropbox account brings peace, harmony and simplicity. Two different Dropbox accounts bring endless frustration.

I use Dropbox for some files that need to be accessible from my various machines. But I depend on it most for my genealogy database and linked photos/scrapbook.

That way, I can look up information, do updates, reports, etc. from any of our three computers. I just need to remember to not have the same database open on two computers at once, or I risk to create a "conflicted copy" of my database. (This means that the two copies are out of sync.)

Since the working copy is kept in Dropbox, I backup locally to whatever computer is being used. For safety of my data, I try to follow the 3-2-1 principle. Have at least 3 recent copies of your data, on at least 2 different media, with one copy stored off-site. (My working copy in Dropbox is obviously stored off-site.) 

GoogleDrive and some other cloud drives are similar to Dropbox and more generous in the space allowed, but I know Dropbox well enough that I find it easy to use. (Dropbox allows 2 GB of free storage, GoogleDrive is 15 GB.)

Sunday, December 04, 2016

We have some tech-savy grandchildren!

Elijah just started a youtube channel that he's excited about.  He probably won't do much with it but there's a couple things on it.

And Davram has one that you've probably seen already,

They made this at school, it's pretty cute.
This segment starts with Elijah. It is interesting the things these young children are thankful for.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Book Review

On Thursday evenings, Judy and I serve in the Riverbend Family History Centre.
We have become good friends with a lady who comes in to do research while her three kids have their weekly church activities in the same building.

She loaned us a copy of "The Traveler", the first of three books she has written in the series "Legends of Thamaturga", Judy and I both enjoyed it. It is an "epic fantasy" story of an 18 year old girl with a mysterious past, whose mother may have magical powers, and of three younger children she has rescued, and a generous stranger who is more than he seems. It is fast paced, has enjoyable characters, and was fun to read! At about 200 pages, I finished it in one day. This is only the first part of a longer story, and ends on somewhat of a cliff-hanger. Fortunately, the books are not expensive so reading the next part of the story is affordable.

At, or for less shipping cost. Or much less for the e-book version.

Friday, November 25, 2016

New Computer

Lloyd loaned me his VanTec NexStar hard drive dock. It is a very nice and simple piece of hardware. You plug in the sata drive from the other computer into the base, connect the power and the USB cable to the computer and press the power switch. The plugged-in drive comes up as an additional drive on the computer and it is as simple as that. I would probably go out and buy one myself if I did not have a kind-hearted brother I can borrow one from.

I copied drive D (mostly photos) to my laptop, thereby filling the hard drive on my laptop to capacity. Hmmm… my idea of using the laptop as a replacement seems less viable than I had thought. And the laptop screen is really small in comparison.

Judy urged me to buy a new computer, but I would like one with a 1 terabyte hard drive and 8 GB of RAM, so probably a $600 purchase. “We can afford it”, she urged. I looked online and found that the Spruce Grove Staples had a new Lenovo H50 on sale for $429. I checked for online reviews and they seemed positive. So, after family home evening, we went to Staples, and bought the last one in the store. It set-up much quicker and easier than I expected. Before bedtime, I even had Microsoft Office365 installed and running. I was very favorably impressed.

Tuesday 22 November 2016 The new computer is serving beautifully. The files have been copied to it from my old computer, using Lloyd’s docking station. somehow, I am missing 2 files that I use. If I need to rebuild them, I can. I have also been unable to get into one email account, but I sometimes have had difficulty accessing that account previously. (by Thursday this email account was functional.)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Dead Computer

As of this morning, my trusty Dell desktop appears to be dead. There had been a few symptoms. Occasionally it failed to boot into Windows Vista without going through a Windows repair cycle. But this time it is a hardware failure. It does not bring up the BIOS. The beep from the Power On Self Test is absent. The green power light at the rear of the computer and the orange light on the motherboard both indicate that the power supply is working. But turning on the power causes the power switch to turn orange, rather than its usual green, and nothing else happens. There is a deathly silence, as not even the cooling fans spring into action. Following some YouTube videos, I have tried cleaning the interior, checking the cables, removed and replaced the RAM. I tried to reset the CMOS, but there is no jumper or any apparent means to remove the battery. I refuse to pay for expensive repairs to a 7-year old computer, so I think it is time to replace it.

My plan is to get my files copied from the hard disks to an external drive and then buy a new computer, and copy my files to the new machine.

In a way, the timing is good. Google no longer supports updates to Chrome on Windows Vista, And two weeks ago Cisco made an upgrade to the online meeting software I need to use (WebEx),so that it no longer works on Windows Vista. I guess it was time for me to get a new computer. But I hate to throw away an otherwise good machine. Now I only need to discard a non-functional piece of junk. It makes the decision  much easier.