We are so pleased to present Meg McInnis, friend and mother of two, as our guest poster this week for At Issue. Here she shares her ongoing journey of discovering her family’s historical pathways. Enjoy!
Perhaps it was growing up fatherless. Perhaps it was looking at my somewhat eccentric family and wondering, how did we get like this? Whatever the reason, my interest in family history began early on. I was lucky enough in Grade 8 to have an elective course in genealogy offered at my school. I wrote letters to my grandmother and my great aunt in Germany and I received a wealth of information in return. I was excited to be able to fill in my family tree for a few generations.
I found out that the family had lived as farmers in Westphalia since sometime in the seventeenth century. There are holes in the narrative due to records being lost over time. These people were tied to the land and even now the original farm is owned by descendants of the same family.
Imagine my delight when I discovered family tree searches online! One day, I entered my elusive father’s name into ancestry.ca and got a hit. I felt the excitement physically rising within me until I realized I was holding my breath. The link took me to the family tree of his cousin and I began a correspondence with this wonderful man in England. We traded information and I have a whole new set of interesting people to get to know, some rural, some in service like a groom who moved with his family from Lincolnshire to London. I even have a publican in my tree.
The imagination is a wonderful thing. From a few facts we can get a glimmering of the person’s life, like the sailor who is last mentioned at age 38, or the railroad worker who was beheaded by an engine, or the widows who somehow raised their children in a time when there were no pension plans.
I can happily spend hours looking up records to look for clues as to what might have happened to them. It is a never-ending puzzle. And when I find an answer, I can happily share it with my family.