These 5 Canadians Are About to Find Out Their AncestryDNA Results

AncestryDNA gave these five Canadians the chance to uncover their family origins. Here’s what happened when they got the results of their DNA analysis!

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AncestryDNA testing: Zachary Schraeder
Photo: Zachary Schraeder

Name: Zachary Schraeder

Age: 33
Profession: Student services advisor

What do you know about your ancestry, Zachary?

“Most of what I know about my ancestry comes from discussions with my grandparents and other relatives. On my mother’s side I can only go back to my great-grandparents. On my father’s side we have a pretty extensive family tree going back many generations. Except for a couple of distant great-grandparents, I can confidently say I’m a fourth- or fifth-generation Canadian.”

What role does your ancestry play in your life?

“To be honest, it doesn’t really play a huge role in my life. Whenever someone asks me what my background is, I proudly say “Canadian,” which I like. It can mean anything since Canadians are so diverse. Except for the religion I grew up with (Roman Catholic), I can’t pinpoint any unique traditions or customs that have persisted since my ancestors immigrated.”

Why do you want to take the AncestryDNA test?

“When I was in grade 7 I had to do a “homeland study” on a country my family descended from. I called my paternal grandmother to get a sense of what I should be researching. I was so surprised when I found out that in addition to the expected German heritage I had (“Schraeder” is unabashedly German), a few of my relatives originated in Slavic regions like Russia and Ukraine. I thought it was so cool! I’m hoping for a similar surprise with this. Even though my genetic heritage doesn’t really inform much of what I do (as far as I know), uncovering my “bricks and mortar,” so to speak, is fulfilling in and of itself.”

What do you expect the results will be?

“I know that a couple of my maternal great-grandparents were from England and Scotland, and I know that my paternal relatives are primarily of German descent, mixed with a little Slavic as noted previously. I’m still holding out for a wild card, though! Rumours have been swirling in my family that there might be a little Roma or Spanish way back in my family tree. Let’s see what happens!”

Using the kit provided by AncestryDNA, Zachary provided a saliva sample, which was shipped off for analysis. A few weeks later, he got the results…

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AncestryDNA results for Zachary
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Zachary’s AncestryDNA results

Zachary’s Ethnicity Estimate:
71% Great Britain
11% Europe Central
6% Europe South
6% Europe East
2% Ireland/Scotland/Wales
1% European Jewish
<1% Middle East
<1% Finland/Northwest Russia
<1% Asia South

What was your reaction to these findings, Zachary?

“The British and Central European parts of my ancestry were no surprise. Of all things, I sort of wish I was a more diverse mix! I do enjoy all the smaller components like Southern European and Jewish that I didn’t know at all. It makes me want to find out where those trace elements come from.”

Who did you share your findings with?

“I shared it with a few friends and family. I think a lot of people expected more central Western Europe (German) to come out in the findings because of my last name. When I told my mom, she said, “I could have told you that!” Moms know everything, don’t they?”

Will these findings have any impact on your life?

“Before I took the test, I identified as Canadian, and that hasn’t changed. (I don’t hyphenate as Irish-Canadian or Brazilian-Canadian.) The results don’t affect my life or my travel plans, either—I still want to see every corner of the globe! The really interesting outcome from this, though, was learning about migration paths of people from Europe over time (I discovered my British ancestors likely migrated to the American mid-West in the 1800s). What’s also interesting is checking out the bank of people who have also done an AncestryDNA test who might be related to you. It’s pretty cool to see history spelled out right in front of you, based on people with similar DNA—who you can contact if you wish!”

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AncestryDNA: Waheeda Harris
Photo: Waheeda Harris

Name: Waheeda Harris

Age: “Old”
Profession: Freelance journalist

What do you know about your ancestry, Waheeda?

“I know some of my ancestry thanks to my Dad, who has researched his family tree and discovered information going back three generations. But my Mum knows very little about her side of the family and we’d all love to learn more.”

Why do you want to take the AncestryDNA test?

“Ancestry is very important to me—it’s been something that has been a part of my life every day. Growing up in small-town British Columbia in an immigrant family, everyone had many questions about me and where my family was from. My family is from South Africa, but looking at me, I didn’t fit the stereotype most people had of people from that country. I am just as proud of being South African as being Canadian—they both make me who I am. And with my name meaning “one and only,” I’m unique! I’ve been lucky to explore both South Africa and a lot of Canada (nine provinces, but no territories yet!) but want to continue to do both—and to explore places that are connected to me through my ancestry.”

What do you expect the results will be?

“I know there will be part of me that is from India (thanks to my paternal grandmother) but I’m curious to see what else comes up – especially because of my Mother’s side. I’m curious and excited to see what is revealed.” (Check out these helpful hints for Canadians travelling to India for the first time!)

Next: We reveal Waheeda’s AncestryDNA results!

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Waheeda's AncestryDNA results
Photo: Shutterstock

Waheeda’s AncestryDNA results

Waheeda’s Ethnicity Estimate:
50% Asia South
19% Asia East
7% Polynesia
4% Melanesia
Low confidence regions:
6% Scandinavia
5% Great Britain
4% Nigeria
1% Senegal
<1% Africa South Central Hunter Gatherers / Mali / Ivory Coast/Ghana / Iberian Peninsula

What was your reaction to these findings, Waheeda?

“I was excited by the findings, and shared them with my parents, who were just as intrigued. They confirmed what we knew as a family, but we were also surprised by the Melanesia and Scandinavia results! We had assumed more from Great Britain.”

Will these findings have any impact on your life?

“They will definitely have an impact on my travel plans as I really want to explore more of Polynesia and Melanesia now. I’ve been lucky to explore Asia—but will want to go back now! It’s fascinating to see what has happened in the past that led to you. In my case, that was history, migration and colonization. Without it, I wouldn’t be me!”

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AncestryDNA: Deepak Kashyap
Photo: Deepak Kashyap

Name: Deepak Kashyap

Age: 32
Profession: Wellness Counsellor

What do you know about your ancestry, Deepak?

“Both of my parents were born in India. I also know that my paternal grandparents moved from Pakistan to present day Punjab, India, and one half of my mother’s side of the family migrated from Pakistan to India as well. Apart from that, I know very little about my ancestry.”

What role does your ancestry play in your life?

“Having been born in India and only recently coming to Canada as an immigrant, it’s been a bit of a struggle to know where I feel I belong more. We all tell ourselves stories and derive some sense of self based on our (real or perceived!) ethnic origins. I’m deeply curious to know what I’m made of and to add another chapter to the story of myself.”

What do you expect the results will be?

“I think most of my ancestry would be spread along the Middle Eastern and North Indian belt. I’m 80% certain, but also ready to be surprised!”

Next: Check out Deepak’s AncestryDNA results!

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AncestryDNA results: Asia South
Photo: Shutterstock

Deepak’s AncestryDNA results

Deepak’s Ethnicity Estimate:
91% Asia South
5% Asia East
2% Melanesia
<1% Polynesia

What was your reaction to these findings, Deepak?

“My genetic make-up was much as I expected. What was really interesting, though, was looking up other AncestryDNA participants who shared my DNA. It turns out I have some 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th cousins who come from all sorts of ethnic groups and religious backgrounds, including Punjabis and Muslims. I even reached out to one of those cousins through AncestryDNA to discuss our shared family tree. We became Facebook friends and discussed how fascinating it was to know that we were related (however distantly!), and that AncestryDNA helped us discover those links.”

Will these findings have any impact on your life?

“Although my ancestry doesn’t have much impact on my personal identity, it’s nice to have a more expanded sense of my own background.”

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AncestryDNA: Elizabeth Quan
Photo: Elizabeth Quan

Name: Elizabeth Quan

Age: 26
Profession: Bar manager

What do you know about your ancestry, Elizabeth?

“As far as I know, no one has researched our family tree, but we have some sense as to where we’re from. I know that my dad’s side of the family came from mainland China before they moved to Trinidad, which is where my dad and all of my aunts and uncles were born. My mother’s side is mostly British, with ancestors coming from various parts of the United Kingdom.”

What role does your ancestry play in your life?

“Ancestry is really important to my family. Even though I was born and raised Canadian, I think it’s vital to know where you came from and to take pride in who you are—and to appreciate what you have now. It also influences my travel plans so I can travel to parts of the world and discover more of the culture and history from my family’s past.”

Why do you want to take the AncestryDNA test?

“I’ve seen commercials for it and realize the difference getting those DNA results could make in a person’s life. We often have a general idea of our ancestry, but don’t know the full story—and these DNA results can provide those missing pieces of the puzzle. I would love to be able to fit those piece together to learn more—and appreciate more—of what my family has done.”

What do you expect the results will be?

“I expect my results to confirm what I already know from each side of my family, with a few additional surprises that I can’t wait to discover. It’s always good to expect the unexpected! I had a friend who thought he was fully Scottish, but found out through AncestryDNA testing that his ancestry came from five more regions.”

Next: Check out Elizabeth’s AncestryDNA results!

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AncestryDNA results: Asia East
Photo: ShutterStock

Elizabeth’s AncestryDNA results

Elizabeth’s Ethnicity Estimate:
43% Asia East
25% Ireland/Scotland/Wales
11% Scandinavia
7% Europe West
5% Polynesia
4% Asia Central
2% Great Britain
2% Iberian Peninsula
<1% European Jewish

What was your reaction to these findings, Elizabeth?

“It was very different to what I was expecting! It was interesting to see the other ancestral backgrounds that I had no idea were in my lineage. I remember my mother and grandmother saying we had a bit of Irish and Scottish descent, but that it was primarily British—and that turned out the other way around. On my father’s side, I expected it to be more heavily Chinese with a Caribbean twist. Apparently I was wrong!”

Will these findings have any impact on your life?

“It’s broadened my perspective and has sparked my interest in finding out how my family came to be. (I’ll definitely be asking more questions during family gatherings!) The results also showed me the profiles of 70 potential 4th cousins, which is incredible. Family is a large part of my life and seeing these profiles of people who I never knew were part of my family is out of this world! I can’t wait to connect with them, build relationships and further explore that family tree. I also want to travel the world, so this will help me determine where I would like to travel next.”

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AncestryDNA: Brett Walther
Photo: Brett Walther

Name: Brett Walther

Age: 39
Profession: Editor

What do you know about your ancestry, Brett?

“My mother is an avid recreational genealogist, and has managed to trace both sides of my family back to their arrivals on Canadian shores. Her father’s side (Bradley) is Irish through and through, but her mother’s side (Templer) were United Empire Loyalists who counted among their number the legendary Laura Secord of War of 1812 fame. (Her branch of the family, whose original surname was “Sicard” were Huguenots who fled persecution in France.)

My father’s side (the Walthers) are German. It’s a surname we share with two fairly well-known German brands: an art glass manufacturer (Walther Glas) and a gunmaker (007 aficionados will recognize the Walther PPK as James Bond’s sidearm of choice).”

What role does your ancestry play in your life?

“Like so many sixth-, seventh- and eighth-generation Canadians whose families have been here forever, I grew up wishing ancestry played a bigger part in my life. I was never pushed to take German lessons, or force-fed cabbage rolls (although I do love them). We didn’t even hang pickle ornaments on our Christmas tree (a curious German tradition that I’ve always found incredibly charming). Nevertheless, Germany’s always been very high on my bucket list, and I’ve always harboured a dream that I was in line to inherit a glass- or gun-making empire…”

Why do you want to take the AncestryDNA test?

“I’m hoping it will help my mom broaden her research, and perhaps even extend the family tree into Europe itself. (Thus bringing me closer to my dreams of a fabulous inheritance.)”

What do you expect the results will be?

“Knowing the Secords were French, the Bradleys are Irish, and Walther is as German as it gets, I’m expecting a high concentration of Western Europe ancestry. Anything outside that region would come as a genuine surprise.”

Next: Check out Brett’s AncestryDNA results!

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AncestryDNA: Scandinavian origins
Photo: ShutterStock

Brett’s AncestryDNA results

Brett’s Ethnicity Estimate:
29% Scandinavia
26% Ireland/Scotland/Wales
20% Europe West
8% Europe East
7% Great Britain
Low Confidence Regions
5% Iberian Peninsula
4% Europe South
<1% Melanesia

What was your reaction to these findings? 

“Scandinavia?!? Well, that threw me for a massive loop. As soon as I got the results, I started wracking my brain for any clues or indicators that I’d been missing that might have pointed to my secret Scandinavian ancestry. Realizing I’d been sniffing up the wrong family tree for that elusive inheritance, I also instantly regretted a major missed opportunity: As a journalist, I’ve travelled a fair bit in Sweden and Denmark, and while I was there, I could’ve been exploring those long-lost family connections. When I shared the news with my mom, she was equally floored. Her theory—which is a good one—is that the Scandinavian blood might have come from Vikings who settled in Ireland and the UK. This is definitely something she’ll be following up on in her researches.”

Will these findings have any impact on your life?

“It’s funny, the importance we attach to our names. As a “Walther,” I’ve always identified as having German ancestry, when it turns out that accounts for a mere fifth of my genetic heritage. I kind of like the fact that I’m no more “German” than I am Danish, Swedish, Norwegian or Irish. It just further affirms something I’ve learned from travel: People from all around the world are more similar than they are different. I still *really* want to go to Germany, though!”

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