Saturday 31 October 2015

A Look Back at Family History Month

For most of us in the world of genealogy, every month is family history month! However, October is specially designated in certain parts of the globe and there are special incentives and encouragements to get researching, or to start documenting the stories. 

I have had an incredibly busy, but also very productive, month. Let's have a look back:

Oct 2/15: While not specifically family history related, I attended the OOR CLUB luncheon meeting at the Duke of York Pub in Toronto. This is the monthly meeting of a group from the Scottish Studies Foundation. In addition to meeting and eating, there is a speaker. The October speaker was none other than Rory Sinclair, piper for Clan Sinclair, and president of the St Andrew's Society of Toronto. Rory gave a fascinating two part talk. The first was on the history of tartan. The second was on the history of bagpipes. I thoroughly enjoyed both parts of the talk and look forward to attending the Club again next month, when I am the speaker. My talk is entitled "Within These Walls" and is a virtual walk around the walled city of Old Town Edinburgh. 

October 3/15: As chair of the Scottish SIG, I hosted a webinar on the SIG's behalf. This was the first in a series of webinars that will take place on the first Saturday of each month all through the school year. Our speaker was Shirley Sturdevant who gave an incredibly informative and motivational talk on Gathering Oral and Family Histories. 

Oct 7/15: I presented a webinar on Navigating the ScotlandsPeople Website. It was very well attended and I received some fantastic reviews afterwards. 

Oct 13/15: I met with a family to gather information to create a family history book from the research that their wife and mother had spent a lifetime doing. 

Oct 14/15: I headed to Montreal where I gave a talk to a group at the Dorval Library on Scotland. This was a virtual tour of the country and was very well attended. 

Oct 15/15: After returning from Montreal, I gave a webinar on some of the Lesser Known Databases for Scottish Genealogy Research

Oct 18/15: What a day this turned out to be! I had lunch with Kathryn Lake Hogan ( and Mike Quackenbush ( We were sharing our frustration with the lack of opportunities for Canadian genealogists to share their skills and expertise. Out of that, the Great Canadian Genealogy Summit was born. We, in the following 5 days, pulled an entire conference together. Complete with 7 speakers, vendors, a venue, a pre-conference event at the Ontario archives AND sponsors! This Summit is designed to showcase Canadian genealogists and their expertise in various parts of research that involves our ancestors, Irish research, French-Canadian research, English research, Canadian research, Loyalist research, Scottish research. All of the areas where our stories as descendants began. 

Oct 20/15: I took part in an online presentation to look at different design concepts for the new ScotlandsPeople website now that the contract for same has been awarded to CACI. Some fantastic things coming!

Oct 23/15: The announcement about the Great Canadian Genealogy Summit was made!! Then I headed into Toronto to meet Kathryn Lake Hogan and Jennifer Alford ( a late breakfast. After breakfast, Kathryn headed to meetings and Jennifer and I toured the amazingly beautiful and historic Casa Loma. 

Oct 26/15: Scottish Genealogy Research 101 ( launched by Family Tree University. This is a 4 week, intensive course on Scottish genealogy research. I wrote the program and now get the honour of instructing. 

Oct 27/15: I presented a brief webinar on Researching Scottish Death, Burial and Lair Records. 

Oct 29/15: I headed to Detroit to attend the Scottish American Leadership Conference where I will be a panelist and get to network and collaborate with other partners in this dynamic community. 

Behind the scenes of all of this, I blogged, completed and submitted an article for In Depth Genealogist, proofed and ordered the second edition of my book, "In Search of Your Scottish Ancestors", and pulled together a one day Symposium on Scottish Genealogy to take place in Winnipeg in April.

A busy but fulfilling month. Onward November. 

Friday 30 October 2015

RootsTech Announces Keynote Speakers!

SALT LAKE CITY, October 27, 2015—RootsTech, the largest family history conference in the world, announced today the first three keynote speakers in its all-star lineup for RootsTech 2016. The first general session (Thursday, February 4, 2016) will feature three inspiring speakers, which include New York Times bestselling author Bruce Feiler, award-winning journalist Paula Williams Madison, and the president and CEO of FamilySearch International, Stephen Rockwood.

Bruce Feiler is a bestselling author and columnist for The New York Times, where he writes the “This Life” column about today’s families. He is also the writer and presenter of the PBS Series Walking the Bible and Sacred Journeys with Bruce Feiler.

His latest book, The Secrets of Happy Families, reviews best practices for modern-day parents from some of the country’s most creative minds, including top designers in Silicon Valley, elite peace negotiators, and the Green Berets.

 “RootsTech is the premier event for people who care about family history,” Feiler said. “I've become a passionate believer in the importance of telling your family history as a foundational tool for having a happy family. I can't think of a better audience to share my own story with.”

Paula Williams Madison is an award-winning journalist who is a former NBC executive. Currently, Madison serves as chairman and CEO of Madison Media Management LLC, a media consultancy company based in Los Angeles with global reach. She’s been named one of the “75 Most Powerful African Americans in Corporate America” by Black Enterprise Magazine and was recently honored by the East West Players and AARP with their Visionary Award.
After a successful career in news journalism, Madison retired in 2011 and embarked on a search for her grandfather Samuel Lowe, who returned to his native China after living in Jamaica. Madison produced a documentary film on the topic, Finding Samuel Lowe: From Harlem to China. In April of this year, HarperCollins published a memoir of the journey Finding Samuel Lowe: China, Jamaica, Harlem.
Attendees can expect to hear about Madison’s compelling journey, including the resources that helped her. “I used to research and try to locate my family in China. This system will help people like me find their families,” said Madison. “Family to me means bloodline—past, present, and future. You have to honor the past as you live in the present so that you can guarantee a future for your family.”

Stephen Rockwood is the new president and CEO of FamilySearch International and managing director for the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Prior to joining FamilySearch, Rockwood was a successful entrepreneur, creating unique service offerings for worldwide customers and building several businesses from the ground up.

with thanks to FamilySearch for sharing their press release with their RootsTech Ambassadors

Monday 26 October 2015

I'm Taking This Show On The Road - Join Me In Winnipeg

If you have Scottish ancestry and are interested in learning more about researching in the Scottish records, join me in Winnipeg on Saturday April 9, 2016 for a full day of learning.
The time: 10:00 - 4:30

  • In Search of Your Scottish Ancestors - an in-depth look at getting started with your Scottish research. In addition to using the ScotlandsPeople website and will give you insight into other record sets available at archives and libraries across the country.
  • Navigating the ScotlandsPeople Website - a walk-through of using this vitally important site for Scottish 
  • Lesser Known Databases for Scottish Genealogy Research - where to look beyond the  OPRs and Statutory records
  • Preparing for a Genealogy Research Trip to Scotland - if visiting the home of your  ancestors is on your bucket list, this talk will help you get prepared to make the most of  your time in Scotland.

Sunday 25 October 2015


Family Tree University's online course on Scottish Genealogy starts TOMORROW!

Join me in this 4 week comprehensive course to learn more about researching in the Scottish records. 

Enjoy 30 FREE CREDITS for the ScotlandsPeople website to practice what you learn!

Interact with other students in the course. Enjoy peer assistance and take advantage of message boards to connect directly with the instructor. 

Can't wait to share this learning experience with YOU! 

Meet me online:

Saturday 24 October 2015

Researching Scottish Death, Burial and Lair Records Webinar

Researching Scottish Death, Burial and Lair Records Webinar
Tuesday, Oct 27, 7pm

Very few Scots could afford headstones. This makes searching for monumental inscriptions very frustrating. You won't find an inscription because there isn't one. It now becomes necessary to research burial and lair records. This webinar will give you some ideas of where to look and who to contact to access the information for your ancestor.

To register:

Friday 23 October 2015


A small group of Canadian genealogists have been busy behind the scenes. We gathered for a casual lunch and before we left, The Great Canadian Genealogy Summit had been born!

Our creative minds came together to provide a way for Canadian grown genealogists to be able to showcase their dedication and expertise. I have, for the past two years, put together the Scotttish SIG Symposium. All of the speakers have been Canadian. We have been incredibly successful and have had amazing reviews about our Canadian speakers. 

Kathryn Lake Hogan, Mike Quackenbush and I recognize the talents of our colleagues and wanted to give them a way to show their stuff. To allow this to happen, we are providing them the platform: The Great Canadian Genealogy Summit. 

The Summit will be held at the Courtyard Marriott, Brampton from Oct 21-23 2016. MARK YOUR CALENDARS!!

On October 21, we have arranged a day at the Ontario Archives. And better still, for those with UEL ancestors who are mind boggled with the documentation required for your UEL application, Kathryn will be offering a workshop with the Dominion Genealogist at the Archives. She will share her expertise on what documentation is required and how to access the documents at the Archives. 

From the Archives, it is a short bus ride back to the hotel for our Opening Plenary with author Jennifer Debruin who will share with us some of the struggles of our Canadian ancestors. This energetic talk will be followed by a social time. A time to get to know fellow Canadian genealogists, to get to know the speakers better, or to browse in the marketplace. 

We have a full day of programming on Saturday, but we get you off to a good start with a complimentary continental breakfast. 

We have five streams for you to choose from (yes! You can mix and match). On offer:

Ruth Blair - who will talk on researching Irish ancestors
Mike Quackenbush - who will talk on researching English ancestors
Louise St Denis - who will talk on researching French Canadian ancestors
Kathryn Lake Hogan - who will talk on researching Canadian ancestors
Christine Woodcock who will talk on researching Scottish ancestors

Lunch is provided to keep you sustained. Coffee will be replenished throughout the day. And the marketplace will be alive and well.

The evening is free for you to relax, network or put your new learning to practice. The hotel has free WiFi and Find My Past is providing FREE access for all registrants for the entire weekend!!

Sunday starts with Louise St Denis sharing her extensive knowledge on Methodology. THEN she is providing each registrant with a certificate for a FREE course at the NIGS. 

And we wrap up an intense weekend with Lynn Palermo who will help us to get a better handle on writing our family stories so that our work can be preserved for future generations.

We have  dynamite program. We want YOU to be a part of it. Spaces are limited. Registration opens on November 23. The hotel will be providing a discounted rate from Thursday to Sunday for anyone attending the Summit. 

Stay tuned to our blogs to win a FREE registration

Mike Quackenbush:

And of course, this blog!

Join us to help promote #canadiangenealogy at the #cangensummit


Time is running out to register for Family Tree University's 4 week, online course on Scottish Genealogy Research. 

This in-depth course will provide you with everything you need to get started or move forward in your Scottish research. 

Learn about:

Getting Started
ScotlandsPeople - get 30 FREE CREDITS to practice using the website
Scottish Archives
Scottish Libraries
Scottish Emigration
Online Resources
Offline Resources

Register NOW:

Thursday 22 October 2015


Family Tree University will be offering a four week online course on Scottish Genealogy Research. 
This comprehensive course will look at:

  • getting started
  • using the ScotlandsPeople website
  • navigating the ScotlandsPeople website 
  • using Scottish library resources for genealogy research
  • using Scottish archives for genealogy research
  • newspapers
  • using museums to understand the social history of your ancestors
  • emigration from Scotland
ScotlandsPeople are providing each student with 30 free credits to familiarize themselves with the website. 

This course offers interactive study between the students and the instructor (ME!)

There will be homework challenges, a weekly quiz and a certificate at the close of the course. 

Move forward in your Scottish genealogy research by taking this course:

Tuesday 20 October 2015


Beginning Monday October 26, I will be the instructor for Family Tree University's course on Scottish Genealogy Research. 

Here are 8 great reasons to take this course:

1. Easy-to-follow lessons show you how to find and use genealogy resources. Too often, how-to seminars and articles tell you that resources are available to you, but don't explain how to actually use them or where to get them.

2. You can learn from my experiences. As a genealogy professional, I have a lot of experience using and teaching about the subject of this class. By taking my class, you'll benefit from the knowledge of someone who's been there.

3. Impress your friends with a cool diploma. You'll get a certificate when you complete the course so you can show off what you learned. Don't worry, this isn't a professional certification—Family Tree University courses are for hobbyists just like you.

4. You can go to class in your jammies. There's no set time you have to show up for class—you can log in at 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning, whatever's convenient to you. And there's no one else in the room to see your bed head or bunny slippers.

5. Connect with other genealogists. Each course has a private message board just for the students and instructor, where you can bounce around ideas and share your challenges with other researchers just like you.

6. You'll become a better researcher. The time, effort and money you invest in taking a Family Tree University course will pay dividends by teaching you how to trace your ancestors more efficiently, confidently and cost-effectively.

7. You can save class materials for future reference. Each lesson and reading assignment is available as a PDF download, so that even after your course session concludes, you can keep all the materials to refer to later.

8. You'll make research progress. Our classes incorporate exercises that allow you to practice techniques and apply what you've learned to your own family history work.

And if that's not enough, I have arranged for ScotlandsPeople to provide each student with 30 FREE CREDITS to use on the website!

To register for the course: 

I look forward to seeing you online!

Monday 19 October 2015

Happy Birthday Papa Dod!

Today is my uncle Dod's birthday. I have loved my uncle Dod for as far back as my memory stretches. Really loved him. I think those we feel the deepest affection for are those we share the best memories with. 

My memories with Dod span both sides of the Atlantic. Many visits with him when he came to Canada 

and many more when I visited him in Scotland. 

Dod is my mum's "next" brother. In a sibling group of 21, monikers like this make sorting the birth order out. Dod and mum were two years apart, mum being the older sister and Dod acting as the older, more protective brother. They shared an amazing bond. 

During my visits with Dod in Scotland, he regularly took me for a "toot roon the Borders" But perhaps my fondest memories of these trips were the time we took Granny to see all the old homesteads. She was thrilled, stating she thought she would never have a chance to see them again. 

The other was the trip when he took Doug & I to St Mary's Loch and a pint at Tibbie Shiels. 

And my very favourite parts of my annual trips to Scotland are my visits to Papa Dod's. Lots of laughs, memories revisited, old photos poured over. 

Happy birthday, Dod. I love you to the moon and back. 

Sunday 18 October 2015



Beginning Monday, October 26th, I will be the instructor for Family Tree University's Scottish Genealogy Research course.

The course covers:
  • ·         Getting Started
  • ·         Navigating the ScotlandsPeople Website
  • ·         Digging Deeper with Scottish Libraries and Archives
  • ·         Emigration

The course allows interaction between students and with the instructor. 

To register:

Tuesday 6 October 2015



The website that provides you with actual images of the Statutory records for Scottish research is ScotlandsPeople. This is a pay-per-view site using credits. If you don't know how to use the website effectively, you can waste a lot of credits, spend a lot of money and endure a lot of frustration.  In this lecture, you will learn:

·         How to get the most success out of your ScotlandsPeople searches
·         How the credit system works
·         How to narrow down your search
·         Using the information on the documents
·         Which records are most likely to be your ancestors
·         Where to find past search results
·         Where to get help
·         What to do when you can't read the documents

All those who attend the webinar will receive 20 free credits to use on the site (a $10 value). If you can't make the webinar's live event, you can register and pay and then will be given 30 days to view the recording. This will also give you the 20 free credits. This in-depth webinar is just $14.95

To register: 

Friday 2 October 2015

Navigating the ScotlandsPeople Website Webinar

Don't Miss the October 7th Webinar

The website that provides you with actual images of the Statutory records for Scottish research is ScotlandsPeople. This is a pay-per-view site using credits. If you don't know how to use the website effectively, you can waste a lot of credits, spend a lot of money and endure a lot of frustration.  In this lecture, you will learn how to get the most success out of your ScotlandsPeople searches. 
  •  How the credit system works
  • How to narrow down your search
  • Using the information on the documents
  • Which records are most likely to be your ancestors
  • Where to find past search results
  • Where to get help
  • What to do when you can't read the documents
All those who attend the webinar will receive 20 free credits to use on the site. If you can't make the webinar's live event, you can register and pay and then will be given 30 days to view the recording. This will also give you the 20 free credits. This in-depth webinar is just $14.95

To register:  

Thursday 1 October 2015

ScotlandsPeople Adds 1855 Valuation Rolls

We are starting to see more and more records coming online on the ScotlandsPeople website.

Today's release is the 1855 Valuation Rolls. This reflects the first year that valuation rolls were created, the same year that statutory registration began in Scotland. The website has valuation rolls in 10 year increments from 1855-1925. These provide a nice snapshot of where you ancestors were in between census years. They clarify whether the person listed was owner, occupier or tenant. It lists the proprietor of the property and then gives the yearly rent paid. 

To read more about the newest release:

The 1855 valuation rolls are free to search. The images are 2 credits to view.