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“If poetry is emotion recalled in tranquility, then history is the imagination disciplined with facts.” Bede
In the photo, front row, right side, Irene Miller and Ernest Miller, my father (back to camera); Second Row, right side, Great Grandmother Eliza Dodds, Irma Miller, Alice Whyte Ferrier Miller, my Grandmother (holding Irma). I wonder who the others are???
I participated in my first Miller family picnic about 1948 when descendants of William Miller and Margaret Burns decided to gather at Silver Lake near Perth. I understand that the occasion was prompted by a relative visiting from afar. It was decided to make this gathering an annual event. Although the waters of the lake, the sand beach and the doting aunts were of more interest at that time, it wasn’t too many years until I would eavesdrop on the stories told by elders as they sat around the picnic area.
It was only in the 1970’s, when Algonquin College offered extension courses throughout the counties surrounding Ottawa, that my interest turned to more formal research of my heritage. While taking courses in genealogy studies led by Viola Reid, many hours were spent in front of microfiche readers and combing family papers. Archives and museums became familiar haunts. Bits of family lore were documented.
In the beginning the story I sought was about William Miller and Margaret Burns who emigrated to Dalhousie township, Lanark County, Ontario in 1820. It later extended back a generation to William’s parents, William Miller senior and his wife Elizabeth Gilmour. Their stories began in Scotland and, over a period of 200 years or more, evolved into a saga of North American and Australian settlement as family members scatter around the world.
During the 1980’s I returned to formal learning and graduated with a degree in Canadian Studies from Carleton University in 1985. Formal studies in history, sociology, politics were immediately used when I assumed a position with the Mississippi Valley textile museum project in Almonte. During this period, I became immersed in the history of the Mississippi river valley, and especially in the history of the town of Almonte, now found in Mississippi Mills, Ontario.
I found myself busy during these years. Life with a young family and as partner on a multi-facetted farm, I had little time for family research. I gave my early research to my father, Ernest Miller, who was newly retired and looking for activities. Dad took my early efforts and, in addition to co-publishing many indices for microfilms used by other researchers, he published a Miller family genealogy for a few of the branches of the Miller family in 1993. In 1997, when he passed away, my research and Dad’s research came to me. I am still sorting through it! Today, my research has expanded and now encompasses many paternal and maternal family lines, all with roots in Lanark County. My focus is on recording, not only their statistics, but also stories and pictures for everyone.
In 2014 I ‘split’ my database and my husband Don joined me in the pursuit of family history. Don has assumed responsibility for his family story, and I for mine. Between us, our research encompasses many of the families of Lanark County and often extends beyond its borders. Our research tracks the movement of each family across Canada and the United States, and occasionally as far afield as Australia. More recently, I expanded my research from ‘family’ to ‘community’ research as I explore the intertwining of many families who settled in the Bathurst District beginning in 1816.
I have recently published two books, Tayside Memories: The Story of a Lanark County Lad, the memoires of her father J.R. Ernest Miller and Janet’s Legacy: Janet Millar Callander 1812-1895. I publish under the name Diane Miller Duncan. More details on these publications can be found in the blog postings. Two additional manuscripts are in the works.
It is hoped that many relatives and friends will find their way to this blog – a place to share pictures and stories, to encourage others to fill in those ‘blanks’ on the family tree, and to break down those ‘brick walls’ that we all have in our research. Those who do not share kinship, may find some clues among the neighbours and friends of people in our family lines. If we can help, we would love to do so.
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Recent Blog Posts
February 1, 2023 |
A Trip in the Far North
William Murray Gibson, my first cousin twice removed, was a lad of 18 when he travelled on a freighter from...
December 12, 2022 |
My Rowat Family Connection
I’m in the process of reviewing, updating, and ‘closing’ research on various branches of my...
January 11, 2022 |
Lanark Rural Routes
Lanark Rural Routes, Volumes 1 and 2 Lanark County Routes, Lanark County Genealogical Society, 2021 In addition...
January 8, 2022 |
Tying the Knot
Marriage Practices in the New Community Seeking a marriage license The settlers in the early settlement of Perth,...
January 4, 2022 |
Death and Illness in the New Community
We often wonder what illnesses affected our ancestors and caused their death. Although Rev. Bell was careful to...
December 26, 2021 |
Travel Challenges in the New Settlement
The Final Letter to a Scottish Newspaper (XXIV) Before leaving Scotland Rev. William Bell agreed to provide...
December 24, 2021 |
Early Days in Perth and on the Scotch Line
William Bell’s Comments in his Diary “The County of Carleton, in which the military settlements are...
December 23, 2021 |
The New Settlement and Its Troubles
Rev. Bell provides this history of settlement in Perth, a military settlement in Upper Canada and hints on where...
December 22, 2021 |
John Holliday-Rev. Bell’s Nemesis
The Reputation of John Holliday The following insights were gleaned from Rev. William Bell’s Journals and...
December 22, 2021 |
Life in a New World
In this article, designed to provide information to the prospective immigrant, Dr. Bell addresses the physical...
December 21, 2021 |
First Impressions of Perth 1817
Perth on the River Tay in 1828, Archives of Ontario Rev. Bell’s First Impressions Rev. William Bell’s...
December 20, 2021 |
More on the Edinburgh Settlers
In his letters to Scotland Rev. William Bell provides additional details about the 1815 settlers who arrived in...
December 19, 2021 |
Edinburgh Settlers to Perth 1816
From Scotland to Upper Canada The following commentary was collected from 1815 settlers by the Rev. William Bell...
December 18, 2021 |
Weather Report in 1825
from Rev. William Bell Diary Rev. William Bell, First Presbyterian Minister in Perth Ontario The diary of Rev....
October 29, 2020 |
Mason Family Saga – Part 3a
The Family of Robert Mason and Helen Gourlie Robert Mason (1781-1862), Helen Gourlie (1785-1844) , sons John and...
October 25, 2020 |
Mason Family Saga – Part 2
Before proceeding with more detailed information about family members it is important to pause and note...
October 19, 2020 |
Mason Family Saga – part 1
Find this story and more in “Lanark County Legends”, edited by Lanark County Genealogical Society,...
May 4, 2020 |
Genealogy, Disease, Epidemics and Pandemics
The following commentary recently came to my attention and got me thinking about the social context we need to...
March 7, 2020 |
The Gilmour Story
For decades we have wondered who ‘Elizabeth Gilmour’s family might be (my 4th great grandmother). We thought that...
January 17, 2020 |
Janet Miller & Robert Boyle
In addition to my personal research I need to send out a big thank you to Queensland cousins who shared info and...
November 29, 2019 |
Jean Millar & James Burns
When people joined the emigration societies of 1820-21 and traveled to Canada, they often left family members...
October 25, 2019 |
James Miller, Lanark Society Settler
I am hoping for feedback from readers in regards to this and other posts regarding family history. In 1821, James...
October 18, 2019 |
Andrew Miller, Lanark Society Settler
Andrew Miller, member of the Glasgow Canadian Emigration Society, 1821 Andrew Miller, who was baptized 15 Sep...
July 19, 2019 |
Early Presbyterian People of Perth
The following post and others to follow are excerpts captured from ‘wordstar’ and...
July 18, 2019 |
Presbyterian Families of Perth & Area
During the summer of 1818, Rev. Bell travelled to Brockville, Prescott, Lachine and Montreal in his efforts to...
July 17, 2019 |
Granny Miller – My Inspiration
Alice Whyte Ferrier (1888-1974) Alice Whyte Ferrier Miller 1968 on her 80th birthday I have just polished a...
February 9, 2019 |
The Family of the Chaplin-Webber House
John Chaplin and Sarah Jones Meredith, born in England circa 1804, emigrated to Bathurst Township circa 1832...
January 29, 2019 |
The McLaren-Poole Family Bible
The McLaren Poole Bible While having my first cup of coffee Sunday morning I discovered a Lanark County...