Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Genealogy fun on Vancouver Island

I'm currently on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, which is one of the most stunning places I have ever visited - it's a bit like Scotland, but with added steroids - the mountains are bigger, the weather is better, and the hospitality is stratospheric! I left the mainland on Monday, departing from Horseshoe Bay on a 90 minute ferry trip which was visually stunning.

On Monday night I was then the guest at Nanaimo Family History Society (, where I gave a talk on the use of British and Irish newspapers, and on how to find them, both online and offline. There was a great crowd and a warm reception, so a huge thanks to all who came along! Tonight I am visiting the Qualicum Beach Family History Society (, where I will be contributing my experiences on researching a Scottish murder case. On Friday and Saturday we then have the main events here on Vancouver Island at Parksville, a two day packed agenda of talks, first with a series of four talks on Friday through two Scottish and Irish workshops that I am leading, and then on Friday at the International Genealogy Conference: Unlocking the Past 2016 (, along with Colleen Fitzpatrick, which I'm looking forward to immensely!

After running an online Pharos course chat session yesterday morning, I spent the rest of the day having a wee dander around the place, with my host Donna Fraser, and visited several local attractions of interest. We stopped off at Cathedral Grove, where there is a stunning forest of Douglas firs, named after the Scottish botanist David Douglas (1799-1834). The trees can live for over 800 years, but a storm just a few years ago saw several of the giants blown down, through a strong wind known in the local native language as a 'qualicum', hence the name of the area (not averse to seeing such winds from time to time!).

From a genealogical point of view we also visited the LDS family history centre at Qualicum Beach (, where I met and spoke to Joe Forsyth, a volunteer from the north of England who is one of their most experienced researchers. The centre is located at 591 Arbutus Street in Qualicum Beach (tel: 250-752-2233), and has a host of predominantly British based resources for ancestral research, with access also to several worldwide based websites such as the main records vendors (Ancestry, FMP, My Heritage, TheGenealogist etc), as well as sources I have not used so much, such as, which has several US, British, and Irish titles amongst its holdings. You can book the computers for two hour periods, there are also microfilm readers available, and the Qualicum Beach FHS library resources are also held there. Well worth a visit if you live on Vancouver Island and fancy a delve into your British and Irish ancestry!

Onwards and upwards today - typing up a client report shortly, and meeting someone I have done some research for recently to see if we can come up with some other options for future research, before my session tonight on the Mount Stewart Murder. A bit like my routine back home - but perhaps with a tad more added sunshine...! :)


For details on my genealogy guide books, including A Decade of Irish Centenaries: Researching Ireland 1912-1923Discover Scottish Church Records (2nd edition), Discover Irish Land Records and Down and Out in Scotland: Researching Ancestral Crisis, please visit My Pinterest account is at


  1. Welcome to Paradise Chris. Enjoyed your Qualicum Beach presentation of "There's Been a Murder." Amazed at the 1866 CSI manpower and forensic knowledge at the time. I wonder what the murder solve rate is in 2016? Your dedication to case details and investigative archival skills are very impressive. Move over John Grisham! Thanks for a truly enjoyable talk. campbell davis

  2. Thanks Campbell, glad you enjoyed it!