IMG_2692At the 79th Kell family reunion in Churchill, Ontario I was one of eight cousins who posed in a picture of those who attended the reunion the year it began, 1936. (That’s me just off center). This wasn’t quite truthful; I’d been taken to England that summer, but women heirs have always been scarce in the Kell clan and, besides, I like cameras. I looked for someone else of my sex to join us and spotted Helen Coutts (far right). She said, yes, she had been at the reunion that year but it was a secret. Her mother was pregnant and still hasn’t told anyone. Helen is well known now as the former Reeve of the township of Springwater. Meanwhile, Sylvia Goodfellow (standing) snuck into the picture but, shame to say, In 79 years I haven’t yet found out her story. Next year for sure. It’s a big family! Ross Kell (far left) introduced himself to me for the first time this year. He said he had been my father’s neighbor in Owen Sound for years but they never visited because of an overhanging cliff.  Beside Sylvia is William M. Kell, my favorite cousin who loves to introduce me by saying, “We were born in the same bed.” Quite true! My mother had no sooner given birth to me and rested for a few days before the staff at Mrs. Marling’s Nursing Hospital in Cookstown told her she had to move out because Ruby Kell had just checked in and it was her baby’s turn. William M. could wait no longer. His t-shirt says, “I’m 29 … but this is an old shirt.” Sitting on my left is Gordon MacKenzie who remembered how we used to play croquet together in their backyard in New Toronto many years ago. Keith Kell on my right likes to brag that he has traveled around in his life. He was born in the dining room of the family homestead and now his wife has installed him in the kitchen. William J. with the cane is the 91-year-old multi-millionaire patriarch of the family. He has written a book about his startling success as a farmer and startling shortcomings as a husband and father. It is called A Farming Life and can be purchased via monika.harmathy@sympatico.ca. Like a needle in a haystack, it’s an unexpected, unforgettable find. Full of trivia, fun, nostalgia and great potluck, the family reunion is irreplaceable. Many of them, however, are badly in need of new blood to keep the annual event happening. Dr. John Kell from Toronto (he’s on Facebook) has been organizing ours for many years but no hands went up when he asked for volunteers to take on the role of president. We eight oldies, now feeling powerless, were saddened by that. If  you don’t have reunions, how will you ever be able to keep on relishing the unforgettable characters and priceless humor your shared genes have produced?

In World War I Kathleen Ward of the city of Portsmouth, England meets Jack Kell of a farm in Cookstown, Canada. From love letters, journals and photos left to her, the author unfolds their romantic, daring story in A Book of Kells. It starts with William and Mary Kell who immigrated to rural Ontario in 1850 and follows the lives of their most adventurous descendants. The subtitle Growing Up in an Ego Void reveals the other-worldly expectations put on a minister’s daughter in her growing-up years. This book of love is wrapped in a reference to the ninth-century monks who copied and illuminated the famous holy manuscript, The Book of Kells. Generations of the author’s devout family of the same name strove to illustrate the gospels by the way they lived their daily lives. 

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics!

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