Monthly Archives: September 2013

How Do You Say “Search” in Gaelic?

In an effort to encourage the use of its traditional language, the National Library of Scotland has added a Gaelic search page to its website. Gaelic is on my list of languages I’d like to learn, although I can already sing a few Gaelic songs (thanks to The Rankin Family). I have yet to find any records that indicate that my own Scottish lineage included Gaelic speakers, but I’m always on the lookout.

Vintage Toronto Facebook Page

I like the idea of having regular structured posts, mainly because it gives me a guaranteed theme for at least one post each week! So I am introducing Vintage Fridays, where each Friday I post about something cool and vintage.

This week’s post is about the Vintage Toronto Facebook Page. This page showcases beautiful photos of Toronto gone by. The photographs are very diverse, including buildings and street views, as well as historical moments. They have recently started a Flikr group, as well, to make the photographs searchable. Try not to get lost scrolling through all the historic photos!

Scotland in Stitches


Textiles and history are intricately connected in our consciousness. When we talk about history, references to textiles abound: we weave a story, tell a yarn, and spin a tale. And why not? Textiles have long been a common medium for recording history, with the tapestry coming first and foremost to mind.

This may be why internationally known story-teller Alexander McCall Smith got the idea to propose a tapestry that stitches together (pun intended) the history of Scotland – or at least as much of it as they could fit into 143 m of Scottish linen. The Great Tapestry of Scotland now holds the record as the longest tapestry ever made. The 160 panels were drawn by artist Andrew Crummy and embroidered by 1,000 volunteers over 50,000 hours. The tapestry beats the famous Bayeaux Tapestry in length by 70m, and the organizers claim that they intend to continue to add to it as Scottish history rolls on.

Many of the stitchers have a personal connection to the work they did on the tapestry. Some modeled figures in the tapestry after their own family members, or included references to their personal history in the design. One woman, while researching for her panel, discovered that her ancestors were actually a part of the whaling industry that she was depicting.

As an avid amateur textile historian, I’m enthralled with this piece. It gets my imagination going and makes me wonder what a Canadian history tapestry would look like. Although it certainly wouldn’t be as long as Scotland’s, which includes more than 12,000 years of history, it would definitely be diverse, including events, people, and culture from our vast land.

After touring Scotland, the tapestry will be brought to the UK, America, and Canada. I’ll definitely update when I find out the specific tour details; hopefully it will make a stop here in Toronto.

Read the BBC article, which includes a 2 minute BBC News video, here.

“Genealogy Roadshow” – Nashville

First, a correction: I had read on a genealogy blog that last night’s episode would be set in San Francisco. It was actually set in Nashville (which I should have figured out by the trailer I linked to *facepalm*).

The show is formatted very much like antiques roadshow, the difference being that instead of just showing up with an antique teapot and standing in the line for the expert on antique teapots, participants had to submit their genealogy questions ahead of time, which makes sense considering the amount of research that would be required to answer anyone’s question. They showed a wide variety of cases, my favourite being a woman whom they were able to prove was related to the outlaw Jesse James. They also included short histories of some of the famous people who were researched, and the historical building in which the taping took place.

In all, I enjoyed the show, although I missed the last 15 minutes because one of my babies started crying and I needed to go deal with him. I look forward to next week’s episode, which will be set in Detroit.

“Genealogy Roadshow” Premieres Tonight


There has been a proliferation of genealogy television shows lately. From Ancestors in the Attack to Who Do You Think You Are (produced separately in America, Canada, and England), there are lots of options for armchair genealogists. Tonight a new title is being added to the selection. The producers of the very popular Antiques Roadshow have created Genealogy Roadshow. Just as you’d expect, they travel around the country to provide access to history experts, only instead of appraising antique tea cups, they’re uncovering the truth behind people’s family history. Tonight’s episode comes from San Francisco, a city with a fascinating history including bootlegging, gangster, and the Gold Rush.

For those of us in Toronto, tune in at 9:00 on PBS Buffalo (WNED). You can see trailers for the show here. I’ll post my thought’s on tonight’s episode tomorrow.

Toronto Time Warp

I love living in Toronto: I love the history that’s all around us; I love the juxtaposition of century old buildings next to new condos. And it seems local photographer Harry Enchin shares this appreciation. In his series, “Toronto Transformed“, he seamlessly melds vintage photographs of Victorian Toronto from the City of Toronto archives with photographs he has taken on the same spot and with the same angle. The results are beautiful, creating a striking connection between our past and our present. My favourites are the ones that show the direct relationship between the two eras, like “Dundas & Ossington 1923/2011” which depicts a modern TTC streetcar approaching the 1920s workers building the streetcar line.

The exhibit is on display at Akasha Art Projects until October 26. I, for one, am going to try to make it out to see it.