17 Best Free Online Scottish Resources

In the latest issue of the Who Do You Think You Are newsletter, Ayrshire-based genealogist Chris Paton takes a look at seventeen free resources to help you unlock your Caledonian family connections.

For more information and to view the list of these free resources, please click here.

Canadian RCMP Obituary Index

When researching your ancestors, you may find ancestors who were part of the Northwest Mounted Police, some of the provincial police forces or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.  Familysearch.org has a collection of Royal Canadian Mounted Police obituary card index and Notices you may want to search for clues to your ancestor’s working history with the RCMP.  It is an invaluable resource, providing invaluable information.

These records include Royal Canadian Mounted Police death records found in Royal Canadian Mounted Police publications, including an index to some of the obituaries from 1867 to 2007.

This collection is a memorial to those Royal Canadian Mounted Police who died while in service. Secondly, it is a collection of publications sent to living officers to inform them of the deaths of fellow officers. The index was created by a retired officer, Norman G. Wilson, who wished to make the obituaries more accessible to family members and researchers.

Please note that these publications and the accompanying index only include the records of those officers whose deaths were reported to the publications.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police force we know today was born out of a need for a national police force to implement the law in Canada’s newly acquired western territories.  In May 1873, the Parliament of Canada established a central police force, and sent 150 recruits west to Manitoba. The new police force gradually acquired the name “North-West Mounted Police” (NWMP).

In July 1874, the Mounted Police, now numbering 275 members, marched west, headed for southern Alberta, where American whisky traders were operating among the Aboriginal people.

The officers established a permanent post at Fort Macleod, Alberta, where approximately half of the Force was posted. The remaining members were either sent to Fort Edmonton or to Fort Pelly, Saskatchewan, which had been designated as headquarters.

The following summer, the Mounted Police established Fort Calgary, on the Bow River in Alberta, and Fort Walsh, in Saskatchewan’s Cypress Hills.

By 1885, the Force had grown to 1,000 men, but in 1896 its future was threatened by the newly elected Prime Minister, Sir Wilfrid Laurier, who wanted to reduce and eventually disband the NWMP. However, support for the Force in the West prevailed, and it gained new prominence policing the Klondike Gold Rush.

In 1904, King Edward VII conferred the title of “Royal” upon the North-West Mounted Police.

From 1905 to 1916, the Force entered into contracts to police the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. These contracts ended due to the provinces’ desire to create their own police forces.

In 1919, Parliament voted to merge the Force with the Dominion Police, a federal police force with jurisdiction in eastern Canada. When the legislation took effect on February 1, 1920, the Force’s name became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and headquarters was moved to Ottawa from Regina.

The RCMP returned to provincial policing with a new contract with Saskatchewan in 1928.

From 1932 to 1938, the RCMP took over provincial policing in Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, nearly doubling in size to 2,350 members.

The years following World War II saw a continued expansion of the RCMP’s role as a provincial force. In 1950, it assumed responsibility for provincial policing in Newfoundland and absorbed the British Columbia provincial police.  Today the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has evolved into a world-renowned organization of more than 28,000 people.

Photo courtesy of Library & Archives Canada

Read All About It – Early British Columbia Newspapers

Local newspapers reflect the social and cultural life of their communities and thus remain a vital source of information for community members and scholars alike. Enhancing access to this valuable information encourages the study of British Columbia history and brings research material to both historians and genealogists across the province and beyond.

On December 11th, 1858, in the midst of a gold rush, a man with the improbable name Amor de Cosmos inked up an old hand press and launched a newspaper — the British Colonist — into the world.    Published in Victoria, it became the leading paper in the colonies of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and was the paper for the province of British Columbia until the emergence of Vancouver and competitors in the 1890’s.  The “Online Edition 1858 – 1951” is a treasure trove of information about early British Columbia.

The University of British Columbia archive, “The BC Historical Newspapers Project” features digitized versions of historical papers from around the province. The titles, which range from the Abbotsford Post to the Ymir Miner, date from 1865 to 1994.

Victoria Newspapers 1858 – 1936 – The University of Victoria has an ongoing project to provide access to four indices of approximately forty-five thousand summarized transcripts of articles first appearing in newspapers published on Vancouver Island between 1858 and 1936.

Sit down with a cup of tea and enjoy reading yesterday’s news – you never know what you just may find!

Does Your Family Tree Have Root Rot?

The following tongue-in-cheek article was written by local humour columnist Ray Smit and previously published in the Parksville Qualicum Beach News.

My maternal uncle was an unpretentious kind of guy despite his prestigious upper-management job. His wife was also very nice but nowhere near as down to earth. The source of her pretense was an odd fixation with genealogy  – especially her own. She was convinced that her side of the family tree was majestic and proud whereas his was full of squirrels and nuts.  Her sometimes lofty manner exasperated everyone except my uncle, who found her affectations amusing.  She often commiserated with my mother, expressing her regret that mom’s children had inferior roots.

“Ray, you poor boy, you don’t even have a family crest, do you?”

“No, but we do have a family Colgate and sometimes Pepsodent, if it‘s on sale.”

“You misunderstand. I mean that, unlike you, I know all about my forefathers.”

“You had four fathers? Wow, how come I only got one?”

“No, silly, I’m suggesting that you learn about your ancestors and their peccadilloes.”

“I don’t think Mom would let us have a peccadillo, but she might let us get a gerbil.”

My aunt’s condescension continued unchecked for years. But given the fact that my uncle and his ten siblings had been orphaned, she hypothesized that our family tree must be filled with stable hands and dustmen. After many years, my uncle hired a firm to examine our roots.

We assumed that the report would at the very least show us to be 100 per cent Dutch. After all, there are certain key physical characteristics that Netherland natives share and we have them in spades.  We are tall and blonde and have rather prominent noses.

Anyway, a few months later my uncle presented us with a summary of our genealogical history. Much to everyone’s surprise it turned out we were both Dutch and French. Moreover, our side of the family was related to the French aristocracy right back to Henry the IV, the Bourbon King of France. My aunt was stunned into complete silence.  After the initial shock passed, my aunt began telling anyone who’d listen that her children were ‘aristocrats’ and proud descendants of the House of Bourbon.  As time passed I began to wonder about the genealogical investigation my uncle had commissioned. Surprisingly, no one in our family could ever find an actual copy of the report. Moreover, whenever any of us would ask about our royal lineage, he’d just give a noncommittal smile.

My uncle and aunt have both passed on now. So I guess I’ll never be sure whether my ancestors were barons or bathroom attendants. I might well be the rightful heir to the French throne. Or I might be more suited to cleaning it. Either way, I am the proud owner of my own toilet brush and, whether it be scrubber or scepter, I’m not afraid to use it. So what’s the moral of the story?  If you delve deeply enough, every family tree has its fair share of root rot.

Source:  Parksville Qualicum Beach News,
Thursday, March 30, 2017

Organize Your Digital Files: Tips From Genealogy Guy Drew Smith

Quick — where is the image that you downloaded of your great-grandfather’s will? How about the photo of your grandmother that you scanned or the GEDCOM that your cousin sent to you? Organizing digital files is a necessary task, but it can also be frustrating.

Amy Johnson Crow recently had the opportunity to interview Drew Smith, co-host of the Genealogy Guys podcast (along with George Morgan). Drew literally wrote the book on organizing genealogy, especially those digital files.

Key takeaways:

  • ​Having a structure is key.
  • Structure depends up what you need (the project, theme, etc.)
  • A good structure will be both searchable and browsable.
  • Organization is personal; it needs to work for you.
  • Think about how you name your files.

To view the complete video of the interview, please click here.

Source:  Amy Johnson Crow

Ten Tips for Making the Most of GEDmatch.com

Have you taken a DNA test and are wondering what else you can do to help you find more matches.

Learning to use segment data can seem like a daunting task. It requires an investment of time that some of us may question. Is the value of what you will get back in the end worth the time taken away from traditional research? That is a question that many people ask themselves before and after taking a DNA test. Is it worth the time and money you’re about to spend on it?

Even as many are asking themselves those questions, they still underestimate the investment that goes into doing genetic genealogy well. There truly is no royal road to understanding DNA results, no easy way to learn to use DNA, and no credible way to make it easier.

There is one tool you may want to have in your arsenal and that is GedMatch.com, the open source tool for anyone who has taken a DNA test for genetic genealogy.    You get matched up with relatives from all of the major testing companies, for free, without having to take or pay for multiple tests.  It presents you with all of the segment information for your matches, and gives you the tools to analyze and work with your own results. You even have the choice of what matching criteria you want to use. Without GEDmatch, your experience as a genetic genealogist would be controlled and limited by corporate interests and objectives.

The one downside to GEDmatch is that it has a steep learning curve.  Heather Collins on the Young  and Savvy Genealogists blog states:  “I’ve been using the website for several years now, and I’m still discovering new ways to use it all the time. To say nothing of all the ways I could be using it better.”   She has posted ten tips to help you make the most of GedMatch.com.

You may just find more DNA matches by using GedMatch – good luck!

Archives.org – A Genealogy Research Site

A recent Genijourney blog post states, “One of the best resources I’ve found has been Archive.org.   This site describes itself as a non-profit library of millions of free books, movies, software, music, websites, and more. From a genealogy perspective, it pulls from a plethora of available historical online resources that have been digitized, indexed and are searchable.”

When you go to archive.org, you can search for items such as Vital Records, family history books, town yearbooks and much more.

The complete article explains how to effectively use archive.org, including several tips to make your search faster and more efficient.  Please click here to read the entire article.

Good luck with your research!

How to Manage your Family’s Digital Assets

Dick Eastman has written a thought provoking article that we should all be aware of as we can lose part or all of our digital media in the blink of an eye at some point if we do not take the time to preserve it.

“In our digitally integrated lives, we create and share most of our pictures and home videos with snazzy digital cameras, incredible smart phones, or other easily portable devices. We download music purchases and perhaps even keep only digital receipts of our purchases through photos or emails. Someone said, ‘That [choose your device of choice] is so versatile that it can take pictures, chop celery, and keep us in touch with relatives as far away as Samoa.’

Now that we have all these digital devices, have we figured out what to do with the fruits of those devices—the mounds of digital files and sources we amass daily, weekly, monthly, yearly? What do we do with all our personal digital content that makes up our digital lives?”


One very interesting and surprising fact is how long the life expectancy is of each individual type of digital media.





“Most of us have not mastered how to effectively preserve our physical family artifacts. Even more of us are probably at a loss about how to effectively ensure our growing digital treasures are safe in the long term. In this article, we will focus mainly on digital assets.

So the questions remain—what do we back up or preserve and how do we do it? The short answer is that you need a personal digital asset plan. ”

The full article has been placed on the familysearch.org website with the permission of Dick Eastman. Please click here to read the entire article.

Date Guide to English Genealogy

Success in finding ancestors often comes from two things: knowing when certain types of records exist and knowing where to find these records.

Genealogy In Time Magazine has prepared a date guide to English genealogy to help you trace your ancestors from England and Wales. Instead of following the traditional method of looking at types of genealogy records, the guide takes a different approach and looks at genealogy research from a chronological perspective. This more innovative approach has several advantages. In particular, a chronological perspective will help you:

  • Identify when certain record sets first became available.
  • Help clarify key turning points in your genealogical research.
  • Gain a better understanding of the historical context of your ancestors.
  • Provide a perspective on how certain events may have influenced the availability of ancestral records.

You can read this genealogy date guide from end-to-end to gain a better understanding of how to trace your English ancestors. You can also use this guide as a handy reference source when you hit a brick wall in your genealogy research. Either way, this guide is organized around a need to solve the problem of how to find your English ancestor.

Source:  Genealogy in Time Magazine

Are You Sure They Really Are Your Ancestors?

Family History Daily has a very interesting article on common mistakes we all seem to make.  As you know, family history research is a fascinating and rewarding hobby, and it’s getting more exciting all of the time. With new records and tools and research methods appearing every day, there are seemingly endless opportunities to explore and collaborate.

But, as most of us already recognize, there are also endless opportunities to make mistakes. And, in the connected world of online research, those mistakes can spread like wildfire.

One very important part of our family history research that can easily go awry is the connection between generations. More than any other area, this one is the most vulnerable to the kind of mistakes that can completely crush the accuracy of an entire branch of our tree.

To read the entire article and perhaps gain some insight into not making the all-to-common mistakes in connecting generations, please click here.

Good luck with your ancestor hunt!