Vitruvian Man logo

A Compendium of Diverse Interests

Who am I?   What is this site all about?

Welcome to John Brebner's Grab-Bag Site of genealogies, images, videos, historical research and a smattering of a wide variety of topics that have interested me for the past fifty years.

I'm still populating this new site with images and articles... bookmark this page, and drop-by again soon!

If you'd like to be kept informed on a semi-monthly/irregular basis in an informal newsletter of what's new on this site, please drop me an email at:

About the Author

Born in Scotland in 1949, I emigrated from Scotland in 1957 with my parents to Kingston, Ontario.

My initial career was as an electrical engineering student at Queen's University, but my real interests have always been in photography. In 1971 I joined with five partners to open a small studio on the Kingston Market, which, after six years, I was the remaining owner. But by 1979, the joy of photography was fading: too many weddings, babies, the pressures of running a business, doing mounds of business paperwork every month. It became really difficult to be a simple photographer! And I was not cut-out to be a small-businessman!
John Brebner 2020

I lived in Kingston until 1981, when I moved to Ottawa to work as a photographer in the Communications Research Centre, now a branch of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. That work was both challenging and enjoyable, I particularly appreciated the chance to contribute images for the Canadian Space Agency's satellite program from the 1980s during the testing and qualification phases at their David Florida Laboratory just west of Ottawa.

After a 32 year career, I retired in 2012, and immediately wondered where I could best spend my new spare time.

Of course I maintained my interest in the Communications Research Centre. Since 1993, a volunteer group called the Friends of CRC had been sponsoring onsite lectures, helping uncover radio and space communications history, as well as meeting socially twice a year for seasonal lunches. I have been Chairman of that organization since 2015, but with this enforced shutdown due to Covid, our events have been temporarily suspended. We expect to resume our activities in the fall of 2022.

Since 1988, I had been researching the Scottish genealogy of my ancestral families, but in 2015, I expanded my interests to early Loyalist and Quaker settlers, particularly in Prince Edward County. I have been compiling a series of ongoing genealogies of those early Upper Canada and Prince Edward County families.

That's my favourite go-to spot, and I have spent hundreds of hours exploring the beaches and dunes of the Sandbanks. In 2012 I joined the Friends of Sandbanks, a volunteer group dedicated to enhancing the Park and making it a better place to visit. Since then I have taken thousands of images, and hundreds of hours of video, as well as maintaining their website. In 2022, I became Chairman of their Board. On a sunny day during the summer, I can often be found on the dunes, with a camera and an inquisitive eye! Be sure to say "Hello" if you find me in my wanderings about the sands!

Many of my photographs can be seen on the Friends of Sandbanks site.

But by 2019, I realized that my interests had expanded, and decided to add this site, to include all the miscellaneous items that did not have a home on my other sites.

A polymath is a person of wide ranging knowledge, and this site reflects the diversity of my interests.

( was already taken!)

One of my recent volunteer interests is working with a group of historians, architects, and dedicated local residents on the preservation and restoration of an old log house in South Marysburgh, in Prince Edward County.

The Moses Hudgin Log House was built about 1860, and will be restored as a cultural and learning centre that explores the lives of the early pioneers when they first came to Prince Edward County.

Since 2018 I have been researching the early Danforth Road, from Trenton, through Prince Edward County and to Bath. I have filmed the entire route.
I expect to have my research completed, and a short film in assembly-cut by late fall 2022... here's some more information on that project...

Please enjoy these varied and disparate collections! And feel free to contact me at:

John A. Brebner

Related Information