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May I Introduce to You . . . Ruth Blair

Come meet genealogy blogger Ruth Blair, author of The Passionate Genealogist blog in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.

Come meet genealogy blogger Ruth Blair, author of The Passionate Genealogist blog in this interview by Gini Webb at GeneaBloggers.


I have the pleasure of introducing you to Ruth Blair and her blog, The Passionate Genealogist, described as, “. . . The Passionate Genealogist blog covers stories from Canada, Ireland, England and Scotland. It includes family stories as well as personal opinion and industry related posts.”

A Little About Ruth

“I was born in Northern Ontario. It was my parents first home together after they married and emigrated from Ireland. I currently live in Oakville Ontario and have been here for nearly 50 years. I am a first generation Canadian.”

How did you get started in Genealogy?

“My interest in genealogy began with a school project in 1970 which had me researching my family tree. My parents couldn’t tell me very much. I had to ask my Dad’s parents, who lived near us, and then write letters to my Mum’s Aunts to get information on her side. It was before email so it took a couple of weeks to get the information. This sparked an interest that has never waned. Every time I visited family in Ireland I would collect information and stories from my Grand Aunts. Now when I visit family in Ireland research is done in the local repositories.”

When and why did you start your genealogy blog?

“The Passionate Genealogist blog started in January of 2010. I had been following Geneabloggers and thought it sounded like a fun way to share my passion for family history. I was a little leery about starting but just jumped in one day. I enjoy writing about my own family history as well as local history. If I find an interesting person in my local history I research them and write their story. I have had several people contact me through my blog who have found my local history stories on their ancestors.”

How did you choose the name for your blog?

“Since family history/genealogy is my life’s passion it just seemed to fit.”

Besides major websites like Ancestry and FamilySearch, what research tool or source has been helpful in researching your family history?

“Being a first generation Canadian most of my research has to be done in Ireland, Scotland and England. I have found the website Scotlandspeople very useful and have been using it since 2003. I was ecstatic when Irish records started to come online and that the Irish government was providing them for free.”

What tips can you share with someone just starting a family history blog?

“Read other blogs and learn from the ones you find interesting. Find your own special niche, jump in and start blogging. Don’t let the fear of writing a blog stop you. The community is supportive and you will meet many interesting people. Whenever you think of a topic that might be good for a blog post write it down. Keep a list going so that when you are ready to start writing you have some topics available.”

What other genealogy blogs inspire you?

“Some of the blogs I enjoy reading are Claire Santry’s Irish Genealogy News blog. She keeps me up to date on everything going on in Irish genealogy. Chris Paton of the GENE’s blog is another. Archive and library blogs can be very useful and I follow some in Ireland, Scotland, England and Canada. I follow over 250 different blogs. Some aren’t related to genealogy specifically but are related to local history or another topic that can help with the research.”

Ruth, what has been your most exciting genealogy discovery in your research?

“That is a hard one but I would think finding the divorce of my 2x Great Grandfather in Scotland. John Sheddens Campbell divorced his first wife in 1876. Divorce was extremely rare at that time in Scotland. Finding the record was a challenge but the results were worth it.”

Ruth’s favorite blog posts

“Since my most exciting discovery was the divorce of John Sheddens Campbell my favourite post relates to this story.

Part 1 – The Campbell McDonald Feud – The Story of a Scottish Divorce

Part 2 – The Campbell McDonald Feud – The Story of a Scottish Divorce – Part 2

Another favourite was my research into the life of Lady Diana Taylour. She lived in Oakville and died in 1957. I was asked to find out what she did during the First World War so she could get a flag on her grave for Remembrance Day. Since most of the records that needed to be researched were from the 20th century it was a challenge due to Canadian privacy laws. The only death certificate I could get was a short form which only provides very basic information such as name, date and place of death, age at death, marital status and gender. The Lady Diana Taylour research led me on a journey of discovery that was very exciting.

Part 1 – Solving the Mystery of Lady Diana Taylour – In the beginning

Part 2 – Solving the Mystery of Lady Diana Taylour – What came next?

Part 3 – Solving the Mystery of Lady Diana Taylour – The mystery is solved.”

Ruth, how much time do you get to spend on research?

“Since I am a professional genealogist I do research every day. My own research takes a bit of a back seat so it is a fun day off when I can focus on my own family history.”

Who are your favorite ancestors and why?

“My favourite Ancestor is whomever I am researching at the time. I get very involved in the research and that Ancestor is my main focus. Right now it is the Bourne family. I am trying to make a connection between my 4x Great Grandfather Walter Bourne and a Daniel Bourne. The time period for this research is the mid-1700s in Dublin Ireland. Spelling variations for the Bourne surname during this time period include Byrne and Burn which adds to the challenge as does the fact that this research primarily needs to be done in Irish repositories.”

Ruth, what family story or heirlooms do you cherish?

“This is a tough question as there are a few. I would say the family heirloom I cherish the most is a portrait of my 4x Great Grandmother Francis Catherine Minchin. The portrait was bought by a friend of my Grandmother’s and she gave it to her when she learned about the family connection.”

In what ways has genealogy improved your life?

“By understanding my Ancestors I have learned to understand myself. There are events, characteristics and other things that are found in my life and theirs. I can see how their decisions have led me to where I am today.”

What do you love most about doing your genealogy/family history?

“I love research. I can do it for hours and it doesn’t feel like it. I enjoy getting into the libraries and archives looking at the old documents. I was in Belfast last fall researching at PRONI and was looking at very old documents. My hands were black with the dirt of the ages, they didn’t require gloves. The dirtier I am the more fun I am having.”

Ruth, what is on your genealogy bucket list?

“I would love to go back to Ireland, Scotland and England on a regular basis to do research. Most of my research needs to be done in repositories in those countries. Unfortunately not much of my family history can be found online.”

If you wanted to leave a message for future generations, what would you tell them?

“To the future generations of genealogists/family historians, enjoy the process. Share the stories. Writing a blog post about each discovery can lead to your written family history.  It is hard to inspire the next generation but those who are the keepers of their family history can share the family stories with the next generation. Send them a link to your blog post through social media. To those who have yet to start researching their family history, remember that researching your family history begins with you. Talk to your family members and share stories. You won’t find it all on the internet.


Please take a moment to visit Ruth’s blog. Leave her a comment letting her know you stopped by. Welcome Ruth, it’s great to have you here!

© 2017, copyright Gini Webb. All rights reserved.

Gini Webb lives in San Diego, California and manages her own blog, Ginisology, while also researching her own German heritage, retired, enjoying life with wonderful husband Steve and visiting with her grandchildren! Are you a genealogy blogger who would like to be interviewed for the “May I Introduce To You . . .” series? If so, contact Gini Webb via e-mail.

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