Monday 28 February 2022

Scotland is Home. Canada is Where we Live


This month in Kilted Ancestors, we have been sharing stories of our ancestors or family members who left Scotland only to return. 

My mum was from a very large sibling group. My grandpa and his first wife had 6 children. Sadly, Sarah died in childbirth with baby number 6 and the wee lad succumbed just three months later. None of the five remaining children ever left Scotland. 

My grandpa and my granny had another 16 children. One was born asleep. The rest all made it to adulthood. The eldest daughter from this couple was the first to come to Canada. And she paved the way for others to follow, including my mum, my dad and me. Two uncles came over, a further three sisters, and a niece. This was over the span of several years, of course. 

One of the aunts stayed about 18 months and decided her home and her life were back in Scotland and so she returned to her beloved Scotland, to her mum and dad and her many siblings. A second aunt stayed for a couple of years and then decided she wanted to see more of Canada before she returned to Scotland. So she bought a train ticket and headed out west. She arrived in Vancouver and knew she was where she was meant to be. She stayed for well over 40 years, only returning to live in Scotland when her mum took ill. The third aunt remained in Canada. Like the first one that came, she said that as soon as she hit Canadian soil, she knew this was where she wanted to live. 

Of the two uncles, one headed to Saskatchewan and remained there. The other stayed for a handful of years, and then returned, not to Scotland, but to England. 

My granny loved Canada. She traveled over several times. She came for three weeks. She then started coming for 6 weeks. Then three months at a time and then the last couple of visits, she was here for 6 months each time. She never wanted to be here permanently because most of her children were still in Scotland. But she loved visiting her children here as well. 

My two aunts that stayed, my mum, my cousin and myself have all returned to Scotland several times. It is our home, but Canada is where we live.

Thursday 24 February 2022

Recovering Memories

 My cousin recently shared a box of photos and slides that had belonged to her mom. Her mom, my aunt was the first in the family to leave Scotland and come to Canada so I knew the treasures that would be in that box. 

I was mulling over how to digitize the slides. I have a scanner that can do that, but it is big. Really big. And it is bulky. It will only take the standard 35mm size slide and some of the slides in the box were sized bigger than that. 

Since technology has advanced considerably since I purchased this scanner, I decided to see if I could use my phone. Off to the App store. 

I discovered an app called SlideScan

This is by Photomyne, which I have used. The app works with the Photomyne backlight on a desktop or laptop. 

From there, it was incredibly seamless. Simply hold the slide up to the backlight, hold the button on the SlideScan app and that's it. The app auto adjusts for glare. 

Some of these slides are 60 years old and not stored in light blocking boxes. I was thrilled with the end product. Truly this has helped us to recover so many wonderful memories. 

Sunday 13 February 2022

Creating Family Stories Workshop - #KILTEDKULTURE for #YS2022



SATURDAY, OCTOBER 15th from 9 am eastern


Showcasing Your Family Photos in the Best Light 

 During her Presentation Angela will provide photography tips, a guide to scanning & making minor repairs to images as well as providing options on ways you might wish to display your images


Angela Daye is a Brand and headshot photographer based in South Lanarkshire, Scotland.  She is also a holistic therapist and coach where she loves helping people work through their stories to help them understand themselves better. 

This curiosity of ‘the story’ has developed into a keen interest in her own family tree and over the past decade she has been on the hunt for family photos and new ways to showcase the many photos she has uncovered. 


Engaging Children and Older Relatives 

Engaging with children and older relatives is fun and can also be challenging, but how do we engage with them, and how do we keep their attention and enhance their learning and memories?  We will reveal how we have created an active, fun filled learning experience for both children and older relatives across the country.


Sean Szmalc’s fascination with history began, when as a small boy, he saw ‘A Night to Remember’, the classic British film about the Titanic. His interest is also in war history in particular the two World War Wars and the story of JFK. 

Since then he has actively researched the stories in detail for over thirty years. Over the decades he has become personally acquainted with Titanic survivors, war veterans and their families, people who knew JFK including members of his secret service detail, learning more incredible and fascinating stories and facts first hand. 

Sean approaches his work not only as a profession, but as his passion. He enjoys all aspects of his work and strives to preserve history and educate with both his exhibitions and outreach programmes.  He works frequently with schools, care homes, museums and galleries across the world, acting as a historical advisor to both the media and television.   Outside of his work, he enjoys time with family and friends, and strives to help others who are less fortunate in life.


 Story Creating Workshop 

You've researched your family history and now want to write a story but don't     know where to start.

 Let me guide you through the story creating process: how to get to know your characters, the questions to ask yourself when you are writing a story and the process to get your ideas on paper or computer. 

 I will also explain the next steps, from editing your manuscript to publishing a  book. 

 Come with me on a journey of discovery and learn how to hold a dream in your hand.


Claire Miller, Author, has been writing seriously since 2001. She is a published author of four children’s books and The Story Creator. Her books are Pure Human City, a teenage book, I Can Create Stories, an A4 interactive story creating book and I Can Create Stories (Story Edition), an A5 interactive story creating book. The Choice, a teenage novel, is her fourth book which was meant to be a 1000 word story and grew a bit! 

She is passionate about helping children and adults gain confidence in themselves and their abilities through story creating workshops. Please get in touch with her if you’d like to know more about her workshops. 

She loves diving into her imagination and creating stories and now considers herself a fulltime, accomplished, professional writer. When she’s not writing she loves to play the piano and take photographs.


 Genealogy Journaling 

Researching your Family Tree is a journey of self-discovery, therefore it is important to not only record what you discover in relation to your family history but to record the journey in doing so & how it made you feel.  Another important thing to document are the family stories that have been passed down through the generations, it is so important that these are not lost & can be passed on further.

Clare Wilson is a Professional Genealogist based in Central Scotland. Passionate about Scotland, she loves that she can assist clients worldwide to discover more about their own Scottish Ancestors. She runs various projects & groups including Kilted Ancestors, New Monkland Back in Time, the Scottish Tourism Collective & the Allied Air Force Research Group. Her other passion is Allied Air Force Research & she has recently set up a new website dedicated to this subject.


 Pulling It All Together 

We are the Chosen. We are the ones our ancestors call up to preserve their stories and to make them live again in the memories of our children, our grandchildren and the generations yet to come. As family historians, we have an obligation to honour our ancestors and to share their stories with others. In this presentation we will look at various ways to do just that. We will learn how to honour the lives of our ancestors by pulling together the stories of their lives.


Christine Woodcock began her descent into family history by creating a family history book to record the descendants of her maternal grandfather. Since then she has created numerous family history books for her family and has assisted others in doing the same. Whether honouring the life of one individual or telling the story of one line through the generations, Christine recognizes that it is only through our stories that we live on for future generations.

 Access to the recordings remains open for 30 days following the live event

Click here to register



Wednesday 9 February 2022

Open for Settlement: Scottish Settlers in Canada - 3 Part Series

Please join me for a three part series on Scottish Settlers in Canada, offered by the Toronto Branch of the OGS, March 9, 16 & 23 at 7:30 pm eastern. 

OPEN FOR SETTLEMENT: Scottish Settlers in Canada

Following the Revolutionary War and the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the British Crown opened its new colony to settlement. This led to hundreds of thousands of Scots emigrating to Canada, beginning with settlement in PEI in 1792 and moving west, following the land that was being offered for settlement. In this series of talks, we will look at those who came to Canada, the colonizers who settled them, as well as the power and politics which orchestrated the settlement of the colony.

March 9:
Scottish Settlements in Atlantic Canada

Scots began leaving their homeland in droves following the move to farm improvements in the Highlands. This mass exodus coincided with the opening of land for settlement in Atlantic Canada, resulting in thousands of Scots emigrating to Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. In this session we will look at life before emigration, the colonizers that assisted with emigration and the records that will help you to know more about your Scottish ancestor in Atlantic Canada. The years we cover will be pre 1811.

March 16: Scottish Settlements in Ontario

Following the Revolutionary War, many British subjects were eager to get onto British soil and Canada was the nearest colony. Land was granted to soldiers who had remained loyal and with the success of settlements such as Glengarry, colonizers soon realized that there was success to be had in getting Brits to settle in the huge swath of untapped land in Upper Canada. In this session, we will take an in-depth look at the colonizers who created the settlements in Ontario. These include Lord Selkirk, Lord Talbot and John Galt.

March 23: Scottish Settlers in the West

Prior to Confederation, John A MacDonald sought to recover some of the massive area in the west known then as Rupert’s Land. There also came a need to open the country from east to west and to also hold on to British Columbia who were on the verge of annexing with America. The Dominion Lands Act opened land in the west for settlement. In this session we will look at the Red River Settlement, the CPR settlements and the Canada Northwest Land Company.


Christine Woodcock is a genealogy educator who enjoys sharing knowledge and opportunities with others to assist them in their quest to find their Scottish ancestors and to preserve their family legacy. Being a Scottish emigrant herself, she is fascinated by the stories of others who left their Scottish homeland for opportunities in other lands. Her interest is in helping their descendants understand more about their Scottish ancestors and the lives they lived on both sides of the Atlantic.

To register:



Monday 7 February 2022

What a Wonderful Weekend

 What a wonderful weekend!

On Friday I had dinner with two of my cousins. None of us are siblings. All cousins. After a wonderful dinner, one cousin stated that she had a box of photos to share. They had belonged to her mom, who sadly passed away 18 months ago. 

This aunt was the first to come to Canada. She was also the eldest child of my grandmother. She had 5 older siblings from my grandfather (her father) who spoiled her senseless as a young child. 

That informed her generosity to others. It was to her home that everyone immigrating from Scotland flocked. She housed them, fed them and helped them until they were able to find a job and accommodation of their own. Because she had maintained such strong relationships with the older siblings she left behind, and of course with her mother, she received countless photographs of her younger siblings, nieces and nephews as they were growing up. And those incredible treasures were what were in the box of photos. 

This isn't the first box of photos my cousin has so willingly shared. She was incredibly generous just after her mom passed away and those memories have been shared and treasured by all of us. These wonderful, warm emotions that the photos evoke have helped once again to deepen the connection between the generations. 

I had the honour of bringing the photos home to scan and to share. What a wonderful weekend. So many emotions. So many debts of gratitude expressed. 

So many of my cousins were seeing photos of themselves as children for the very first time. Back 50+ years ago, no one had extra copies of photos made and so the only copy in existence was in that box of treasures. 

Again, thanks to the generosity of my cousin, these photos will be returned to those who are in them. These wonderful treasures have once again helped us realize just how blessed we are to belong to this big open family. We are connected and that grounds us, comforts us and gives us strength. 

How was your weekend? 

Wednesday 2 February 2022

Emigration Conference for #YearofStories #YS2022

Join us on March 19th for our first of five events in support of Scotland's Year of Stories #YS2022. 

The conference runs from 9 am eastern until 1 pm eastern. 

We will be sharing emigration stories and have 4 fantastic speakers on offer: 


Dr Marjory Harper is a Professor of History at the University of Aberdeen and a senior researcher at the Centre for History, University of the Highlands and Islands. Her main research interests are in Scottish emigration. She has published 12 monographs and edited collections, and over 100 articles. Two of her books have won international prizes, including the University of Guelph’s Frank Watson Prize. Her most recent book, based on oral testimony from around 100 interviewees, is about to be published as an audio book.


Dr Keir Strickland will share his experience of EXCAVATING THE CLEARANCES

Dr Keir Strickland is currently a Senior Lecturer in Archaeology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, having previously worked at the University of the Highlands and Islands in northern Scotland. His research interests include the archaeologies of the Highland Clearances.


Jessica Evershed will share the genealogical gems that can be found in THE HIGHLAND AND ISLANDS EMIGRATION SCHEME DATABASE - NATIONAL RECORDS OF SCOTLAND

Jessica Evershed is an archivist within the Outreach and Learning Department at the National Records of Scotland (NRS). This role involves the promotion of NRS archives and the creation of online resources and articles. Jessica is also co-tutor of University of Edinburgh’s College of Open Learning short course Scottish Handwriting 1500-1700.


Christine Woodcock will tell us about the HIGHLAND SCOTS IN ATLANTIC CANADA

Christine Woodcock is a genealogy educator who enjoys sharing knowledge and opportunities with others to assist them in their quest to find their Scottish ancestors and to preserve their family legacy. Being a Scottish Emigrant, she is fascinated by the stories of others who left their Scottish homeland for opportunities in other lands. Her interest is in helping their descendants understand more about their Scottish ancestors and the lives they lived.


The conference is just $17cad (£10). All presentations will be recorded and made available for 30 days to allow for time zone challenges.

To register:

Note: if you register for all four quarterly events, you will be given a free registration to the October 15 event on Creating Your Family Story.