Archives for category: Heritage
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“Loucks’ heart was amongst the trees.” Photo and cutline courtesy of Minden (ON) Times.

With scientific precision, superb literacy, brilliant intellect, fatherly tact and noble modesty, Dr. Orie Loucks http://www.mindentimes.ca/remembering-orie-loucks begins his family’s story by advising us how to approach the awesome task.

1.Family history must be more than births, marriages and deaths. It needs to tell who the people are and why they came to the places where we find them.
2. We should learn what concerns drove them from one home place to another, in poverty or wealth.
3. We should also try to learn what are the values and interests of the family line that continue from one generation to the next. We may find family values that are evident over four or five hundred years.
4. One must wonder whether character traits, and not just physical resemblance, may have been carried along. Did the qualities that led to stubborn persistence on early Huguenot faith traditions continue until certain family leaders supported the British in the American Revolutionary war, and does it still continue today?
5. Great changes in circumstances faced by nearly every generation should be seen as a critical influence on each family’s life. Through all the change, we can expect to see continuity of family character.

6. This report tries to highlight both the ups and downs of each generation’s prospects. The record suggests the family aspired to be fair and just and try to make the world a better place in the future. Each one adapted and then practiced what they learned or believed in from the former generations.
7. Relevant history was passed down in 2010 at the 300th reunion of Laux/Loucks family members of the 1710 Palatine refugee migration. It not only added depth to the historical record, but also family relationships across generations were sustained, along with evidence of the continuity of physical appearance. Many participants at the reunion were struck by the resemblance that continues in males of the family, the square face, the strong though not prominent nose, and the firm but often dimpled chin.

8. Looking for the source of the surname revealed it spanned languages such as Spanish, French, Latin and Occitan, according to David Loux, author of part I, chapter 2 of the book. Different spellings in English are all pronounced the same way.
9. Other sources he consulted were the French armorial coat-of arms; dictionaries to give meanings of the name, maps to show localities, mountain ranges and lakes named du Laux, du Loux, Lau or Loucks. Pronunciation research was done into Occitan (they spoke this patois every day but used Latin for business and diplomacy.)
10. Finding out the influence of historical context on this family’s fortunes was crucial. The major social upheavals that impacted them, for better or worse, were the Crusades starting in 1096,  the Albigensian ‘Crusade’ (persecution) two centuries later, and the religious wars that mobilized French society from the 10th to 17th centuries. France had no separation of church and state and Roman Catholicism was the state-sponsored religion. French reformers
(Huguenots) were driven into a major exodus.

“As minor nobility, some du Laux families would have held Huguenot church services in their homes. They would have fought alongside other families in defense of their religious cause and, as identifiable nobility, their homes would have been at risk for being ravaged and burned. The du Laux name turned up in Wiesbaden, Germany and from there they migrated to the United States.”

To find out more about Surviving 4 Migrations: The Loucks of Haliburton or to purchase a copy, please click on http://www.lulu.com/ca/en/shop/orie-loucks/surviving-four-migrations-the-loucks-of-haliburton/paperback/product-20163703.html

It is described as “A history of the Loucks family: France to Germany, to New York State, and Ontario from the 1620’s to the present.” pp. 280

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Canada's First Nations third edition cover

Storyteller of the Ages painted by Ojibway shaman Norval Morrisseau depicts the eloquent, sinewy tongue that bound the people together.

Homo sapiens sapiens (doubly wise man) began to arrive in North and South America some time after his origin 50,000 years ago. When the first contacts arrived from the Old World to the New they found people living patterns of life that had evolved over tens of thousands of years. In her book, Canada’s First Nations: A History of Founding People from Earliest Times, Olive Dickason detects values that popped up among them in spite of hundreds of thousands of different locations, family groups, languages, climates and settings. Major assumptions gave them a framework to live in that met social and individual needs; we can speak of an American civilization in the same sense as of a European civilization.

1. Sharing

  • The people, whether mobile or sedentary, emphasized the group as well as the self. Land, like air and water, was for the benefit of everyone and so was communally owned.

2. Culture & Storytelling

  • Cultural knowledge  was the property of those ‘in the know‘, a jealously guarded privilege selectively passed on through the generations. Their history was passed on orally by storytellers.

3. Egalitarianism

  • They were egalitarian to the extent allowed by their sexual division of labor and responsibility. (An offshoot, in French Canada, was that this prevented celibacy. A consequence of clearly defined roles was a major factor in the harmony inside certain encampments.)

4. Consensus

  • The leaders’ role was to represent the common will; not only were they not equipped to use force; they would have quickly lost their positions if they had tried. This lent extreme importance to eloquence, the power to persuade; a chief’s authority was in his tongue’s end. The centrality of ‘the word’ was signaled by the importance of keeping it, once given.

5. Giving

  • Goods were accumulated to be given away on ceremonial occasions. The value of goods was appreciated but prestige was more important than the accumulation of wealth as such. Acquiring goods required generosity, among other virtues. Gifts were a social and diplomatic obligation. They were essential for sealing agreements and alliances with other people. Without gifts, negotiations were not even possible. Treaties, once agreed on, were not regarded as self-sustaining. To be kept alive, they needed to be fed every once in a while by ceremonial exchanges.

6. Humor

  • Humor was one of the first characteristics to be reported of New World peoples. It was highly valued; they highly approved of anything that provoked laughter. They rejoiced when they had an abundance, even of articles of little value. They had to know how to keep their spirits up in the face of starvation.

7. Hospitality

  • They all observed the law of hospitality, the violation of which was considered a crime. It could be carried to the point of self-impoverishment.

8. Unity

  • Belief in the unity of all living things was central to Amerindian and Inuit myths. The unity of the universe (although filled with powers of various types and importance) meant that all living beings were related — indeed were ‘people,’ some of whom were human — and had minds.

9. Harmony

  • Of utmost importance was harmony, the maintenance of which was by no means automatic. Peaceful co-operation could be shattered by violent confrontations with malevolent, destructive powers.

10. Trickiness

  • The demands of life could make it necessary to break the rules; hence the importance in Native legend and myth of the trickster, who could be an individual but could also be an aspect of the Creator or world force.

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Public domain image of a page from The Book of Kells, courtesy of Wikipedia.

1. My father John Ambrose Campbell Kell once introduced himself to a stranger who asked if he was an aborted Irishman. The aborted (cut off) part is true. The name is more often a prefix than a surname.

2. Sixty-eight variations of the name are recorded in Cowlitz County, WA, US and the province of Ontario, Canada alone:
Kellaby, Kellachan, Kellackey, Kellahan, Kellam, Kellamaki, Kelland, Kellar, Kellard, Kellas, Kellatt, Kellawag, Kellawan, Kellaway, Kellebrew, Kelleby, Kelledjian, Kellers, Kellen, Kellenburg, Kellendonk, Kellep, Keller, Kellerher, Kellerhouse, Kellerman, Kellers, Kellery, Kelles, Kellesis, Kellessis, Kellestiine, Kellet, Kelleway, Kellewill, Kelley, Kellefeltz, Kellia, Kellie, Kellegan, Kellicutt, Kelliher, Kelling, Kellingbek, Kellinger, Kellington, Kellins, Kellio, Kellip, Kellison, Kellman, Kellner, Kello, Kellock, Kellogg, Kellond, Kellop, Kellough, Kellow, Kelloway, Kellows, Kellroy, Kells, Kellsey, Kellum, Kellway, Kelly, Kellys

3. It is not true every Kell is an Irishman, in spite of the famous relic at the University of Dublin, The Book of Kells. It is not the name of an Irish clan or tribe.

4. The Kell prefix comes from the Greek word, keltoi, which means Kelt or Celt. They were the “barbarians” (according to the Greeks) populating the land north of the Mediterranean Sea in ancient times.

5. Here are dictionary and encyclopedia meanings and etymology for “kell”:
English: The caul. That which covers or envelopes, like a caul; a net; a fold; a film. The cocoon or chrysalis of an insect. A kiln, kale, spring or river, trowel
Norse: a cauldron or kettle
Breton and Cornish (from Latin): testicle, cell of a prisoner or monk
Estonian (from Swedish): clock, bell
Hungarian: to be necessary, need to, must, be obligatory

6. Kells is a place name in the Rhineland of Germany and Ireland. As an Anglo Saxon surname it was first found in the county of Hampshire and then a hamlet in north Yorkshire, England. My father’s great grandfather came from there.

7. Second cousins of mine have done a great job on the family genealogy and farms. More research is on the way. A Farming Life (Life Stories — Memoir Writing) by William J. Kell and Farms of Innisfil (Innisfil Heritage Society) edited by William M. Kell are excellent resources. They recount the lives of the descendants of William and Mary Kell from Yorkshire who emigrated to Yonge Street, Ontario, north of Toronto, in 1850.

8. At our annual family reunion, co-president Dr. John Kell wore a “Book of Kells” T shirt. It is our rallying cry. It is the 9th century manuscript which preserves the elements of Western culture from architecture to zoology and has been the pride of Ireland since it was found buried in the mud there without its gold cover in 1868.

To sort out my identity and write about my parents I grabbed the whole bag of clues and ran with it. My family is a people whose achievements were illuminated and buried by a community of monks and who miraculously sprang up and became famous centuries later.

A trowel symbolizes the digging up of our book. Our strong Protestant faith protected us, like a caul or cocoon. The cell and testicle imagery represent the fertility of great uncle William who produced seven sons to continue the name. We work hard, aware that the clock is clicking and the bells will toll. My Hungarian husband was attracted to me because, in one of his native tongues, my name meant “I have to have Margaret”.

An upcoming event is the 23rd Annual BIFHSGO Family History Conference, September 29 – October 1 at Ben Franklin Place, 101 Centrepointe Drive, Ottawa, featuring England & Wales & Research Methodology. A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and I will be at the book table. We’re eager to share our communal story and interested in learning how other family scribes record their past.

Happy Reading, Writing & Family Story Telling from Cozybookbasics!

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Prospects for selling my book at the Byward Market in Ottawa when I arrived at 10 a.m. Wednesday looked as dim as the thunderstorm forecast. Still, I bet myself I could sell enough copies (five) in the next six hours to buy tickets for a big treat. I defied the skies to clear in time for a picnic with our granddaughters and their parents before watching the preview performance of theater under the stars on the banks of the Rideau River that night. mmarket.jpgWork crews carrying partitions, shopkeepers rushing with arms full to set up for the day, twosomes and threesomes speaking languages other than English brushed past. Where were my buyers?

  • The atmosphere enlivened at lunch time, with music and dancing in the adjacent square attracting a noisy, lively crowd. A quarrel between someone not quite in his right senses and a big truck disrupted the self improvement, creative atmosphere I was trying to inject.
  • A dreary-eyed, homeless man with his bundles and bags slouched up against the bricks, heritage plaque and sesquicentennial posters on the market building facing me. Where were my readers?

It was discouraging and my devoted hubby of 61 years decided I was crazy and he might as well abandon ship and go home.  While he hesitated, I was ready with my elevator pitch to summarize my book in two sentences.

  • Anyone drawn to the table for a closer look at my framed newspaper article headlined “Call of Love in the Wilderness” got it. An old toothless man mesmerized by a 1904 picture of my mother as a child in a sailor outfit stayed because he wanted to hear her full story.
  • With a cheery “Hi Margaret!” up strode author Stevie Szabad, eager to buy two of my books and pick up advice from someone she perceived as having accomplished things she wanted to do. We plotted to sell together at the Galeries Aylmer Christmas market. 

Hubby stayed when I reminded him I was there to get my parents’ exemplary story out, not just sell the product. A take-out lunch of chicken sandwiches and smoothies fortified us both. 

  • Then a ray of sunshine, a tourist from Vancouver, suddenly appeared. He wanted to know more about why I called my book “A Book of Kells” and gave me advice on genealogy. He bought a signed copy as a gift and souvenir of Canada’s 150th.
  • A particularly friendly face came to the table confidently and I was able to engage her in conversation. For the next twenty minutes Tom and I found we had much to share with her and vice versa. Gale O’Brien is a lovely, avid reader who lives in Britannia by the Ottawa river. She now owns one copy of A Book of Kells and one of  Kathleen’s Cariole Ride which I hope she will enjoy reading.
  • When Kelly Buell turned up because she had been following me online, Tom was getting the car because it was 4 p.m., time for us to pack up. Kelly and I chatted and hope to help each other in future as writers so often do.

When I first met the organizer of the Byward marketing team and showed her my book, she told me she is a ‘Kell’ on her mother’s side. I was able to inform lovely, competent Megan Sartori that we are second cousins twice removed. 

By the way, the outdoor performance in Strathcona Park was superb. My granddaughters, aged 10 to 16 were absolutely thrilled with The Amorous Servant by Carl Goldoni staged by Odyssey theater. Grandpa and Grandma enjoyed its humor and sensible advice for all ages, too.

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Happy Reading & Writing from Cozy Book Basics until We Meet Again!


 

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A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void goes to the Byward Market July 19th to sell itself alongside other tempting produce rooted in Ontario farmland.

An Unlikely Pair

  • JACK Kell, an acronym, left the family soil in Cookstown, ON and sailed to the barracks of Portsmouth, England in crucial WWI year 1917. He was invited for tea at the home of genteel school girl Kathleen Ward who, 10 years later, left all she knew to marry him. They had kindled romantic love via handwritten transatlantic letters sent by surface mail and riddled with suspense.
  • She began being Canadian on a train from Montreal via Toronto and Cookstown to Winnipeg, then a steamship to Norway House, and  a canoe up to Oxford House where JACK evangelized the Swampy Cree as a United Church missionary.
  • They had faith and book knowledge in common, and dedication to building a better world in this beautiful peaceful country of optimism and opportunity. Both met challenges and experienced transportation and climate adventures no other person, white or native, ever dreamed up.

 

A Real Life Detective Story

  • In genre, A Book of Kells is a family history written as a novel and detective story. It sets out to solve the mysteries of the hero and heroine’s lost egos and why Kathleen wouldn’t give JACK one of her chocolates the week before he died even though he pleaded for it.

Please Come If You Can to the Authors’ Tent July 19th

  • I appreciate the Market’s help in my ongoing efforts to talk to people and find moments of connection and assimilation amid our individuality and multiculturalism. I’ll be in the pink at the author’s tent from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 19 and hope you will drop by and chat if by chance you can be out relaxing or shopping for healthy sustenance for body and soul.
  • The companion book Kathleen’s Cariole Ride differs from A Book of Kells in being written as a love story and tribute to a war bride’s bravery. It consists of  their early story plus 12 authentic pictures. I’ll also sell copies of my heritage cookbook Eating at Church.

Tip: A recent buyer was a man looking for a wedding present for an octogenarian couple. JACK and Kathleen’s combined life ends with him dying in her arms after they had spent almost 61 years together.

Happy Reading from CozyBookBasics!

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IMG_0765To the tune of oxymoronic incongruous\appropriate music, 300 fresh-faced, happy teen-agers in red and white caps and gowns commenced real life Saturday in Pennsyvlania’s Peters Township. The high school band did not give up on churning out Land of Hope & Glory until it lauded every last grad into a seat on the football turf prior to being called to cross the stage to get a handshake and diploma.

Few realized the mind-blowing march music also has words. The setting of majestic trees, and sunshine that emerged late in a thunderous day thrilled us grandparents. We were among thousands of proud family members invited to honor the young ones’ achievements. People on the public bleachers looked on from the other side of the stage.

“Why does Britain Use Our Graduation Song As a National Anthem?” http://www.anglotopia.net/anglophilia/lost-in-the-pond-how-americas-graduation-march-was-actually-a-product-of-england/

1. Land of Hope & Glory was composed by Englishman Sir Edward Elgar in 1901 as part of a series of marches called Pomp & Circumstance. When Queen Victoria died and her son, King Edward VII, acceded to the throne, Elgar was asked to compose appropriate music. The new king liked the section of Pomp & Circumstance we now know as Land of Hope & Glory so A.C. Benson composed words to it.

2. Benson’s words to the favorite stanza which is replayed incessantly are:

Land of hope and glory, mother of the free

How shall we extol thee, who art born of thee?

Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set

God who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

God who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

3. It became a very popular patriotic song which Elgar called the “music of a lifetime.” It bragged about England’s three centuries of worldwide imperial conquests. While he was still alive, the lyrics helped Britain win world war one.

4. In the 1920’s Elgar was awarded an honorary degree by Harvard University. At the end of the ceremony, Land of Hope & Glory was played as a recessional. The crowd liked it so much they have played it every year since. Other universities all across the United States followed suit. More and more are playing it until this day. Now it has reached down even to elementary school and kindergarten levels.

5.Vera Lynn’s recording of it stirred British courage as they went on to win world war two. Meanwhile, it was picked up to be played when British athletes won medals at the Olympics. Several football teams in the UK rewrote the words to make it ‘their’ song. It was almost chosen as the British national anthem instead of God Save the King.

6. The BBC philharmonic orchestra in London plays Land of Hope & Glory on its ‘Last Night at the Proms’ every summer. The audience rises to sing the words, waving their union jack flags in an electrifying display of patriotism.

Wild Roots Worth Honoring in America’s Future

Reference: https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-06-17/wild-english-roots-song-youll-hear-every-graduation-summer

1. Nothing is more powerful than being imbued with patriotic emotions in one’s childhood. My mother took me to England when I was four and when I reheard Land of Hope & Glory now, at age 84, I imagined I saw the Buckingham Palace guards marching as the words went round and round in my head. I did not feel vicious, just thrilled, strong and ready to face the music of life, so to speak.

2. Other writers on this subject point out the empowering, stirring music (see links above) casts off and loses its outdated messages of racism and expansionism “in the pond” on the way to America.

3. We forgive our parents’ mistakes and are one big happy family, appreciating our inherited influences and parents’ love and guidance as we set out in our own direction.

4. This was a good message for the grads to absorb on their hopeful, glorious night. Now they commence living in a world made more secure by their maturing emotions and thoughts.

May they be blessed and find wide and mighty opportunities for fulfillment, success and happiness!

A couple whose lasting love started because of an infernal war.

Here’s what I did in this bold enterprise of writing about my family. I  hope my experience may be helpful to you too.

To present my parents’ life story and my growing-up story I hit upon two ways. First, I could combine the stories of two generations — but only if I could find a beginning, middle and end for a structure around a unifying theme.

  • It couldn’t just be that they were born and died and did something fantastic as a climax near the end. I had important things to say about their effect on me as I grew up. I saw flaws in their relationship.
  • The central theme I wanted get at was one of ego. Altruism is without a doubt the greatest virtue. But babies need to suck in, see and exercise a healthy dose of ego joy in order to become competent, confident, caring adults.
  • My solution was to frame the book as a psychological detective story/family biography. I began by saying I was on a search for my parents’ lost egos. One question I wanted to figure out was why my mother denied my father one of her chocolates the week before he died, even though he begged for it.
  • That way I could keep the reader in suspense and also make the book an honest critique. That’s my way as a nonfiction writer.
  • The title was easy because our family name was KellThe Book of Kells is the famous ninth century manuscript that illuminates the gospels. I point out my parents and ancestors aimed to do that too, by the way they lived.41khlscocglSecond, I could write the book just as an inspiring love story — the quintessential Canadian romance. This approach might appeal more to a different group of readers. 
  • Like the first book, it contains excerpts from my parents’ love letters but the theme is a tribute to my mother’s courage and my parents’ idealism.
  • I tossed out the subtitle and included a dozen authentic pictures of my mother’s adventures instead.
  • The title comes from a hazardous five-day trek on a cariole toboggan made by my mother, my father and an aboriginal guide. The temperature dipped to 30-below-zero. If there was no one to take them in, they slept outside. She had to get to the hospital for her baby to be born.
  • Digital technology made it easy for me to do this. Both books are published under our V&V logo but printed on demand and distributed by CreateSpace (originally called BookSurge.)
  • Revisions are quick and simple to make. Then I order just the number of  books I think I can sell at bookstores, fairs, shopping malls, reunions, book clubs, seniors’ residences, libraries, book clubs, etc.
  • Most customers have a definite preference for which printed edition they want for themselves or as a gift.
  • I take my i-pad with me and can download an e-version of either book if that is what a customer prefers.

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Credit: Library & Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1982-124

Lucky me. I’ll be selling my books and displaying aboriginal artifacts this Sunday afternoon at a site once inhabited by the tribe who greeted the pilgrims on the Atlantic shore. No. The above picture is not a Currier & Ives Christmas card. It is a steel engraving by William H. Barlett famously published in Canadian Scenery Illustrated in 1842. As in the picture,  people will be gathering at the Lake Deschenes bend in the Ottawa River to be warmed and refreshed amid the nostalgic aura of dormer windows, conjoint staircases and veranda vistas.

  • The event this time (Dec. 4) is a light show and artisans’ sale after the Santa Claus parade down Main Street and the Christmas Bazaar at the British Hotel.
  • The Kitchi Sibi Anishinabeg first inhabited this site thousands of years ago. Chief Tessouat was a busy commercial middleman in the years of the fur trade. Champlain and his voyageur explorers rested at this pleasant spot in 1613. They thought they had found a route to China but at least were the first to get as far as Lake Huron. Charles Symmes from Woburn, MA built the Inn in 1831 and helped his uncle Philemon Wright found the townsite. Pioneer settlers made their way to Aylmer from Montreal by stage  coach and stayed overnight before continuing their journey. This was the landing place for busy steamboat traffic.
  • When we moved to Aylmer in 1976 we built a sailboat (from a kit) and berthed it at the Marina (above). One day after sailing I saw one of our municipal councilors, Denise Friend, charge across the parking lot to accost some gentlemen stepping out of a black limousine. They were officials of the Quebec government and had a purse to spend on heritage projects. Soon news came that the historic Inn reduced to rubble after being used as a flea market and consumed by a fire was to be restored. It re-opened in a good imitation of its former glory in 1978.
  • Today it is a Museum with fine exhibits as well as being a heritage gem of the Outaouais region. It will always be at the heart of the townsfolk of the Aylmer sector of the city of Gatineau. That’s why my books, indigenous artifacts and I will be smiling so happily from the inn-side this Sunday. The artifacts I have include a birch-bark basket, two birch-bark trivets, an ermine hat and scarf set and a pair of embroidered moccasin slippers. They’re from my parents’ days as missionaries on the Cree reservation at Oxford House, MN in the roaring twenties. Their story is told in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void and Kathleen’s Cariole Ride.
  • Merry pre-Christmas season to you too!

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photo 2My parents lived the quintessential Canadian dream with their focus on immortality. They took snapshots at significant moments and left them behind with names, dates and locations on the back. They kept diaries, and wrote journals on special trips. My mother locked their love letters and birth certificates up in a metal keepsake box. They were both well educated; my father got an MA in history with Lester Pearson as a tutor. Because I had a BA in English Language & Literature, after our parents died my sisters delegated me to make a book out of our family.

  • The bare facts of their story are that Kay and Jack were an English girl and a Canadian boy; he joined the Navy in world war one in 1916 and was sent overseas to the Portsmouth barracks. Her high school sweetheart had got cholera while fighting in France and died at age 19. She enrolled in the London School of Medicine for Women to become a doctor but dropped out because of a nervous breakdown. Kay and Jack met when her father, a municipal councilor commended by the Prince of Wales for helping veterans, invited colonial servicemen home for tea.
    Her sister wrote to Jack for nine years on behalf of the family but then married and moved to Australia, so Kay took over the correspondence. She was 25 and thought she was going to be an old maid but her letter was perfectly timed.
  • Jack had finished studying theology at the University of Toronto and was going up to Oxford House, MN as a United Church of Canada minister to the Swampy Cree. The job came with a house and he yearned for a wife to keep him company but so far it was a hard sell. No Toronto co-ed seemed interested. He proposed to Kay and she asked him to come over so she could have another look at him. They just had six days and she said it would be too risky. He got her to agree not to make her answer final for a year during which they would write to each other.
  • Jack pulled out all the stops; he really wanted Kay; she was such an exceptional, smart person with a warm heart and an adventurous streak. Canada and the United Church, not himself, were his best selling points. This beautiful, exotic semi-nomadic settlement beckoned with brisk air, splashing waves, colourful leaves, good-looking childlike faces, gold-panning, delicious moose nose and a cosy wood-burning hearth. Enormous potential for her to do good lay among these folk desperately in need of an intelligent, well intentioned person’s interest in them. The merger behind the United Church was attracting worldwide attention as an example of tolerance. The future was full of promise; she was well equipped for whatever lay ahead so need not fear a thing. If only he had her he would be in seventh heaven.
  • She asked him to come over again and this time they got married almost the minute after she made up her mind; they flew over the English Channel to Paris for a 24-hour honeymoon before he had to hustle back 5,000 miles to work. She packed up, said goodbye to everything and everyone she had ever known and joined him in the spring. She met his family on their farm in Cookstown, Ontario and was welcomed by his friends at a reception in Toronto before they went up to the reserve 600 miles northeast of Winnipeg by train, steamboat and canoe. They lived with the Indians, as they were then called by government, helping, teaching, laughing, sharing and exchanging cultural habits, forming attachments and etching indelible experiences both sad and happy upon their hearts. Their first child was born after a five-day, 120-mile trek to hospital at 30 degrees below zero on a cariole (big toboggan for special occasions and people) in January, 1929.
  • They left the reserve in June, 1931 and became an ordinary Ontario United Church minister’s family in Nakina, where a second daughter was born, Lemonville, where a third daughter was born, Fairbank (Toronto), Cochrane, Thistletown (Toronto), Durham and Flesherton. They retired in Owen Sound in 1966 and lived there until Jack died in Kay’s arms in 1988 and she passed away in 1990. They had been married for more than 60 years and left nine grandchildren.
    Kay and Jack had little in common to start a lifelong marriage except that both were avid readers. They were familiar with biblical texts they applied to daily life. They identified with the heroines and heroes of the same classical books and had faith they would succeed if they lived accordingly, doing the right thing towards each other and everyone else in the world.
  • What Inspired Me to Do This Creative Work
    As retired editor and co-owner of my community newspaper in Aylmer, Quebec, in 1996 I took my mother’s keepsake box to a grade four classr on Heritage Day. We sat cross-legged in a circle on the floor and I began reading to them from a journal my mother wrote seventy years before as she was riding up the fur trade route to Oxford House, MN in a canoe. I told the children if they wrote something in a journal today, it would become heritage for children of the future.
  • Then I passed a page of the handwriting around the circle and pointed out that my mother had made a note in the margin saying the splotches were made by drips from the paddle. Involuntarily, I choked up and almost added a tear of my own to the page. The children were all staring at me with their eyes wide open and the teacher, a friend who wrote a column in my newspaper, put her hand on my shoulder and said, “Margaret, you have to write a book.” That was the magic moment I decided to jump in and do it. For the kids. For these kids and all kids everywhere so they will know their heritage.
  • Actually I had been more or less assigned by my older sisters to write a family history but now I went about it with passion. I would do my best to make my parents immortal and please my favorite professor, Northrop Frye. Most of the content was on hand but I had to research an amazing number of facts, maps etc. to make the story absolutely reliable. It was a labor of love, an exercise of my abilities and skills, a challenge I couldn’t resist, an important project for my retirement years.

(I submitted the above as a brief to the Canadian Heritage consultation on Canadian culture and creativity on Nov. 24, 2016)

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Cookstownchurch

Watercolor by Cookstown artist Jay Kirk-Young

On May Day I fled my computer to go sit in the pew where my grandfather sat when he was raising a family in the early 1900’s in Cookstown, ON, north of Toronto. I was not alone. We were a flock of 200, the size of church needed in 1825 by a tiny rural village of 500 (not counting the animals) which had only three churches.

  • We sang the old hymns. We listened to memories. We seized this last inspiring moment. We and the old building with its organ pipes and choir loft harmonized and rode into the sunset with the Churchill Boys country music group. We squirmed during a too-long yet relevant sermon. We knew after two hours it was time to say the closing prayer’s “Amen”. We lingered over the last potluck in the basement. We hugged our relatives and new friend, the funeral director, whom we will meet again.
  • My grandpa (a speaker had reminded us by citing ‘A Tribute to Our Parents‘ written by my father) read the Bible every morning at the breakfast table.When hushed, everybody in the family, even the two hired men, got off their chairs and knelt to pray.
  • I wonder if I was sitting in the pew where grandpa sat before he died when he fell from an apple tree, where father sat the day he was sponsored as a candidate for the ministry, where mother sat on her first Sunday in a strange country as part of a family she didn’t know, or where I was held the day I was baptized.
  • We say thanks by celebrating occasions like the decommissioning of an old church, or by writing books about our families. The Cookstown United Church people, now comprising only 25 families, will continue to worship with the Countryside United Church people in the town of Thornton just up the highway. The building will not be destroyed because the core of the village, still of 500 but just about to be developed, has been declared a protected zone.
  • This is the heritage I celebrate in A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void. Then I wrote a second book, Kathleen’s Cariole Ride, singling out my mother’s winter bush adventures in northern Manitoba and including pictures.
  • Like the Lady of Shalott in my avatar, my creative efforts died while I fled from my writing web but now they are alive again.

On June 4 I will join other authors selling their wares at Prose in the Park, a wonderful, free outdoor family literary event in the market on Parkdale Avenue in Ottawa. I will be with friends from the Media Club of Ottawa and Ottawa Independent Writers.
What will really make it special is if you can be there too (in spirit, if not body).

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