Going back in time.. to the 1500’s …

Reviews of ancestry and DNA websites.

My initial curiosity in ancestry was tweaked by a search for a great grandparent who was a notable person in New Brunswick, according to stories from my family. I then discovered a family tree in Geneanet that detailed some of my ancestor’s life. From there, I become curious about ancestors from France and from there I started to investigate DNA testing.   I discovered there are some differences in the DNA and ancestry sites and thought I would share the lessons learned. The first lesson is to do your research before you hit the send button!!!

I reviewed 5 different sites that offer either DNA testing and/or ancestry databases. The five sites I reviewed were 23andme, Ancestry.ca, Family Search, My Heritage and Geneanet. I have created a table to compare the different features. My conclusion is at the end of the blog. Ok maybe you don’t want to read the whole thing. I found the Ancentry.ca to be the best. Ancentry.ca offers DNA testing and an ancestry data base so you can find both living relatives who have done DNA testing and a family tree of ancestors. You can expect to spend about $ 100 for DNA testing and then further costs for a subscription or a pay per record viewed. Ancestry.ca offers a free 2 week trial which is long enough to discover ancestors going back to the 1500’s.

A more detailed review of DNA testing sites has been published elsewhere and they recommend CRIgenetics for DNA testing. The review site discusses the scientific pros and cons of each site as well as examples of the reports they produce. Most sites operate better in Google Chrome. I found 23andme to be my preferred DNA testing site because I found more relatives on this site than other sites.

Comparison of sites

  Ancestry.ca 23andme My Heritage CRIgenetics Family Search Geneanet.
DNA testing $129 yes DNA and Health $249 DNA $ 57 $200 DNA and health $ 100 DNA only no
Export DNA test yes  yes  ? ?  na  na
Import DNA from another site  no  no  yes no  na  na
Link DNA and ancestry yes no no no no no
Ancestry database Yes $ 25 mo no Yes limited free access. $ 10 mo no yes Yes $ 17 per quarter Linked with Family Search
Export family tree to another site  yes na  yes na  no  yes
Import family tree from another site  yes  na yes na  no  yes
Comments found 15 relatives and 1292 DNA matches Found 2 relatives and 10,331 DNA matches Takes too long to load Found family tree of great grand parents.


The need to import or export DNA data should be minimal if you use Ancestry.ca or Ancestry.com.

Once you have created your family tree you can export it to a free software program, so you don’t have to keep up a subscription.

Reviews of family tree sites.

DNA testing

The test involves spitting into a plastic tube provided by the vendor and returning it by mail.


I got DNA tested by 23andme before I understood the differences among the sites.

I discovered 2 new cousins who are children of second cousins that I had met as a child and I made some virtual connections to them. About 15 people were related to me with at last .8 % of their DNA , with most related via great great grandparents, but I shared DNA with over 1292 people. Not sure if that is meaningful.

I confirmed my ancestry as British/Scottish/Irish which was no surprise to anyone. Family stories have mentioned this, my family names were typically Scottish and people know it by looking at me. Apparently there is some Nordic ancestry but I have not verified this. Two years later the DNA testing site has done fine tuning on location of ancestors and apparently at least one ancestor tracks back to Cyprus.  It was of course a British colony at some time.  I think 23andme is limited by who has registered in the website so it does not have an international database so it’s conclustions are limited to Europe and North America.

The program can generate an excel spreadsheet with DNA matches clustered by similar DNA which was pretty interesting.

This site also screens for genetic diseases and some health conditions. I found I carry one of two genes for macular degeneration which my father had, but I am not likely to get it, since you need 2 genes for the condition to occur. That was good to know. I did not find a lot of correlations for things like coffee drinking, although hair and eye colour were bang on.  Correlations for body weight were not accurate.

You can’t tell how you are related to people on the 23andme site. So in order to do that I exported the DNA results and uploaded to another site with ancestry database (Myheritage) but I was not able upload the DNA data to Ancestry.ca. In retrospect it would have been better to do DNA testing with Ancestry.ca. 


This was the next site I tried and I quickly became addicted to exploring my ancestry.   It was so easy to use and I was intrigued as each generation of my family history appeared as I clicked on “potential mother/father”.   It was easy to verify family members as the site brings up a record of birth/death/census/marriage etc. You can save records, photos and documents to your family tree or your computer. I was able to export the Ancestry.ca file to My Heritage and found a lot of different relatives from other parts of the world in My Heritage. Most of the people in the database that I reviewed are deceased. If you load your DNA you would find more living family members.


I found 2 distant relatives. I did not go much further on this site. This site has some cool features that create automatic family trees from people who share DNA. About 30 people matched into a family trees based on the family trees submitted by users.

Family Tree

I did some further research on this site but did not find anything new. It is useful for finding relatives as it has a good search engine.


I found a detailed family tree for one arm of my family.  There was a lot of history in French.

What I found interesting

I was able to track my family tree on Ancestry.ca back to the 1500’s. I discovered that New Brunswick was populated by immigrants from Scotland in the early 1800s who settled around Stanley, where my father grew up. Some of my ancestors were early settlers of New France (Quebec). There were many families of 10+ children. Some of my ancestors lived into their 80s. Many parents named their children after the male parent, making it a bit confusing to track ancestors unless you have birth data.  I also connnected online with several living relatives that I had never met through 23andMe.  One has a large repository of family pictures which she has shared with me, from a family homestead in Rexton, NB.

Here is an example of what I have been able to find on Ancestry.ca so far.

  Year born Place born Side of family Ancestor
12th GGF 1451 Forfor, Angus, Scotland mother Andrew Patterson
11th GGM 1550 Ploermel, Morginhan, Bretagne, France mother Marguerite Hignon dame de la Mare Farault
10th GGF 1590 Montmain. Seine-Maritime. Haute Normandie France mother Michel Arbour
10th GGF 1620 Berwickshire, Scotland father William Hogart
7th GGF 1658 Loughborough, Leicestershire. England father Ambrose Wolfe
6th GGF 1700 Appin, Argyllshire, Scotland father John Buchanan
4th GGF 1748 Kelso, Roxburghshire. Scotland father Lord David Douglass

All the sites cost to subscribe to view census etc. There are a few free documents in Ancestry.ca. Find this Grave has online obituaries that are pretty interesting. The 1921 Canadian census and the 1950 US census is free. One could spend $ 100 to subscribe to everything for a year. DNA testing is about $100.

Exporting files
A free software app called My Family Tree can be downloaded from Microsoft Store. You can export of file from the family tree apps like 23andme in a Gedcom format and import it into the My Family Tree app. There are lots of ways customize the app. You can export DNA from 23andme and import it into MyHeritage for free.

Pictures of some ancestors.

Mother’s side

Charles Henri Labillois

Charle Marie Labillois

Father’s side

Duncan Buchanan

Hugh Catherine Buchanan

James and Isabella Dorcas

James Jarvis

9 thoughts on “Going back in time.. to the 1500’s …

  1. Hi, Ann – Thank you for sharing this information, and for being so thorough. I have traced my basic family tree on Ancestry.ca but didn’t find anything too interesting there. I mostly just found the names and dates of ancestors and not information about who they were or what they did. An exception to this was that I discovered that my paternal grandmother had been married and divorced before she married my grandfather. Who knew? Not me, and not my mother!
    I haven’t done my DNA testing but have considered doing this. Your post has given me motivation to pursue this further.


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