Brighton's Own Vic Schukov writes a column in the Brighton Independent and NorthumberlandNews.com which highlights individuals around Brighton, Ontario who make a difference in their community. The articles are less about the actual work done and more about the person, their life's path and attitudes that inform their decisions and their work. I feel honoured to be included in the long list of interesting folks Vic has featured in Brighton's Own. Thanks Vic!
Dan Buchanan shown here in Brighton. - Vic Schukov/Metroland
Or read it here...…. Brighton’s Own: Some history on the History Guy Dan Buchanan comes by his well-earned nickname honestly, columnist writes Community 03:44 PM by Vic Schukov Brighton Independent
You know you are embedded in the town’s cultural fabric when you own your nickname. One only has to mention The History Guy and everyone knows you speak of Dan Buchanan: “In 2011, while doing some history pieces for Hilton Hall, I was walking down Main Street when a woman stopped and pointed at me. I thought I was in trouble for something, and she said, “You’re the History Guy!” Buchanan was born and raised on the family farm in Codrington. Upon finishing high school, he hitchhiked for a few months through Europe: “My main shtick was I took Latin all through high school. In Rome, I spent two weeks reading inscriptions on the stones. (Laughing.)” Buchanan attended journalism at the University of Western Ontario: “National Geographic was my favourite read. For years, I believed that was journalism, but all they wanted to teach me was to make three paragraphs into one. I dropped out after a year. (History was his favourite class and he was honours at the time.)" Buchanan went to work for the next 25 years in a mix of technical support and IT jobs from London to Calgary to Toronto: “I needed to work, to be physically productive. In 2000, while living in Toronto, I started to do serious genealogy. I spent every night in archives, developing a database I call community genealogy, a web of interconnected family trees of our history. I wanted to do something tangible and it took on a life of its own.” His site, Trees By Dan, cross-connects close to 100,000 people. In 2010, he returned to Brighton to immerse himself in his “history work.” In 2015, he published Murder in the Family; The Dr. King Story, about the infamous Brighton doctor who poisoned his wife. He was the only person ever hanged in Northumberland (1859). “The murderer, my third grand-uncle, lived on the same farm where I grew up. It was family lore. Growing up, we were never supposed to talk about it. I developed a file over many years.” Buchanan literally collects history, like putting together pieces of an endless puzzle. “I persistently study all history because it’s real, the study of human nature. There is nothing more interesting than what people have done, determining why they did it, and how their actions played out over time. I need historical context, body and details. People don’t do something without a reason. There is always potential of building upon our own historical mosaic. The richness is there; it’s a question of bringing it out in a way that is consumable by the public. People like stories with personalities and conflict. I try to present history in an entertaining way.” On June 30, Buchanan launched his second book 38 Hours to Montreal, the story of governor- general Charles Thomson’s 1840 stagecoach trip from Toronto to Montreal in winter. It was a time of reform including the union of Upper and Lower Canada. There were lots of changes on many political and judicial levels, long before the railroad came through.” The book describes each town along the way including Brighton, a fascinating travelogue of old. “The road is a character,” said Buchanan. “Now I get to talk about the book. I love public speaking. This is my second career.” The History Guy’s work ethic transcends his passion: “Coming from fundamental Scottish Presbyterianism, I believe if you are able-bodied and able-minded, you owe it to society to make the best of your resources to build upon the society that made you. Persistently positive, I believe in the goodness of the human spirit. 38 Hours to Montreal demonstrates the positive nature of the people of the times, and their importance in the development of our country. From 1830 to 1840, Upper Canada’s population doubled. The old ways had to be left behind. What we learn from those people is they were just like us, felt the same way and acted on the same forces. They were good people.” Visit: www.danbuchananhistoryguy.com and www.treesbydan.com. Brighton resident Vic Schukov is a longtime journalist and writer of biography books for everyday people; firstname.lastname@example.org.