More on Mary Beaton Mi’Kmaq (micmac) Nfld

In my wondrous “exploits” in my mother’s “native” home, Botwood, Newfoundland, I discovered something I never thought or even imagined in my family line. Aboriginal blood. But not just that – a tie to history so strong, so foreign to my North American, 5th generation sensibilities, that it broke through the barrier of my very idea of myself.

IMG_3456

Krista Moore & mother Mary Moore (Hart) along Exploits, Nfld

Gerald "Bud" Beaton & my mother Mary Moore (Hart)

Gerald “Bud” Beaton & my mother Mary Moore (Hart)

Mixed Feelings on Learning the Truth

What does it mean to be part Mi’Kmaq or native?  Apparently, many previous generation Newfoundlanders were ashamed of finding any native connection, and strove to hide it from their progeny, even going so far as to destroy family history documents (my mother not included in that mixture).

Now, perhaps due to more enlightened and inclusive times, or the Canadian government’s offering the with native heritage status and benefits, the next generation cousins have come forward to label themselves most proudly with this new reality of being “part native”.  It seems we have not only come to terms with, but embrace the idea of our Mi’Kmaq heritage. And perhaps, ironically, are a little ashamed of our British ancestors for so brutally placing themselves in the midst of a great people, and obliterating most if not all of the Beothuks in the process.

Who are the Mi’Kmaq?

micmac

The Mi’Kmaq are a First Nations indigenous people from the Canadian Maritime provinces and Gaspé peninsula of Quebec, distantly related to the Algonquin.  The Beothuk were have related DNA to the Mi’Kmaq, though they treated each other as separate, and were sometimes antagonistic to each other.

In the times when Mary Beaton lived, the early 1800s, both tribes were either in conflict with the British invaders, sometimes stealing their goods, or learned to become allies and helpers of the British in order to trade for weapons and other instruments, while teaching the British how to trap, survey, survive and master their new environment.

I am not an expert on Newfondland history, and so I write this from a purely ignorant but interested third-party “mainland” perspective, one who is tied by genetics, and is somewhat dependent on local hearsay or legend.

The Legend of Mary Beaton & The Last Beothuk

Mary Beaton, as far as we know, was a young Mi’Kmaq girl “who belonged to no one” and became a servant (willing or unwillingly?) in Captain John Peyton Jr.’s house during the 1820s, when the British were having troubled relations with the Beothuks, along the Exploits River in Newfoundland.  Captain Peyton Jr., a magistrate, was trying to “make good” on some of the injustices and poor publicity caused by his father John Peyton Sr.  Many intermarried as they were taken in by the European settlers, including our Mary Beaton to my great great great grandfather, James Gill of Dorset, England.

Shawnadithit Nancy - The Last Beothuk

Shawnadithit Nancy – The Last Beothuk

 

One thing we do know, according to Mary Beaton Gill’s own son, John Henry Gill, who was interviewed in a book entitled:  “River Lords, Father and Son: The Story of the Peytons and the River Exploits, 2nd ed.” by Amy Louise Peyton, his mother Mary would read to her children on cold nights about the time she spent in Mr. Peyton’s house as a servant with one of the last Beothuks, “Shawnadithit Nancy”, another aboriginal young woman, who was captured and saved during an altercation with her tribe in which one man was shot and another, her aunt, Demasduwit “Mary March” died shortly after capture.

Mary then married James Gill in the early 1830s, and they had their first child, Charles Beaton Gill, my great great grandfather around 1830 in Kite Cove, Newfoundland. Seven more Gill children followed.

Charles Beaton Gill, b. 1830, Newfoundland

Charles Beaton Gill, b. 1830, Newfoundland

Legend & Proof

Recently, two pictures surfaced on the internet which have not been confirmed to be Mary and James Gill. However, I include them here to stimulate the imagination, and provoke further study and correction or confirmation. If you have any information on the origin of these pictures, or any other relevant documents, please forward to me using the Contact tab above.

James Gill apparently 1799 to 1869 Nfld source %22Susan Gill Family Tree%22 Ancestry

 

Attributed to James Gill of Newfoundland, b. 1799 in Wimborne, Dorset, England, d. Newfoundland. m. Mary Beaton. Unconfirmed origin and likeness.

 

 

Possibly Mary Arder Gill aka Mary Beaton from %22Susan Gill Family Tree%22 Ancestry

 

Attributed to “Mary Arder Gill”, an incorrect name and possibly mistaken for a woman in Virginia. However, I provide it here for those who know and those who don’t know to decide if this is Mary Beaton who married James Gill above.

 

 

That’s all for now, folks!

 

Enjoy your speculations and discoveries, as we continue our journey into unknown territory, the blending of cultures and the reconciliation of our identities and origins.

 

Amen!

 

Krista Moore

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Published in: on December 14, 2015 at 12:26 am  Comments (1)  

How the Past Can Heal Us

Krista in front of oldest tree in Maberly, where Morrow Hotel once stood.

Krista in front of oldest tree in Maberly, Ontario

It occurs to me that in family tree hunting we sometimes forget the most important things: story.  After all these years I have to ask myself, someone trained to live in the present, why going back so far to people who lived before me, who perhaps share some remote traces of my DNA, matters.  What is it that draws me to them, and arguably them to me?  What makes them eternal in my mind, and connects me to their story?  And why does the mystery of what we do not know tantalize us so, so that we never give up wanting to know more?

Funny enough, I am also trained through my hypnosis practice to study and explore past lives – I mean mine, not someone else’s – what some would call reincarnation.  You may not believe in such a thing, and it may go against your spiritual or religious beliefs – or perhaps you believe we are here for a good time, not a long time, and that’s it – dust to dust.  End of story.

Then why the insatiable curiosity?  Whether it be past lives through our ancestors or past lives through our own subconscious or “superconscious” (higher) mind or cellular DNA memory, what links us all together and makes the past come alive – makes US come alive with questions, with desires, with feelings?  Why do we cry when we hear about a hardship our ancestors suffered, or a good story ending in triumph or reconciliation?  It seems I am asking more questions than offering suggestions, but give me a moment.

These questions answer themselves.  The fact is, we do want to know.  Not everyone, to be sure.  Some people may rightly feel that to look back is to get lost in the past. And some may simply not want to hear what might trouble them in the present.  But those who do ask, have a burning desire to know not just for the sake of a good story, but because it tells them something about themselves.  It answers the question: Who Am I? and Why am I here?

If we can look at our lives or the lives of others in retrospect, we see patterns, shapes, stories.  We see parallels.  We see PURPOSE.  And we see PROMISE.  We understand that hardship and suffering can be followed by breakthroughs, and that even death does not stop life from continuing on – we are evidence of that.

Our past stories are collective. What a prominent psychologist, Carl Jung called “the collective unconscious”.  Everything that has ever happened to anyone, and all its apparent meanings, is held there – along with all the wisdom and “knowings” that sometimes  cannot be explained by our current, more limited thinking.  These pieces, these stories have a common source, a common thread through human history, through human consciousness.  It doesn’t matter the time or the place – we find ourselves in its reflection.

Once a year I follow the popular American TV show (now on TLC) “Who Do You Think You Are?” – featuring prominent Americans (mostly celebs) who want to discover something about their ancestry, and the origins of their family.  Notice, the show title is not, “Who Do You Think They Are?”  but rather “Who Do You Think YOU Are.”  Because their tears, their AHAs, their curiosity, and their sense of compassion and forgiveness is not only about their ancestors – it reaches across time and teaches them something about themselves – and even goes so far as to heal their own sense of self, history, story.

We all have a personal destiny, and we want to know that not only will we survive, but that our story will teach those who follow us – it will outlive us – extend us – “eternalize” us.

The truth is, we are already eternal.  But while we are sloshing around here on earth trying to make a living, learning lessons and putting up with the hardships and trials, heartbreaks and breakthroughs – it helps to know that someone will be staring back at us through time and saying, “Wow! I’m really glad so and so lived…  How brave he/she was, how honest, how strong, how compassionate… I want to be more like that.”

When we look back, we want to emulate the best we see, and forgive the worst.  Because when we can do that, we become the greater part of history, we become an extension of it, fulfilling its ultimate purpose – not only to tell a good story, but to teach how to live a good life.   And so we become the living proof of what it means to us, what it offers us, and to our kids and grandchildren.  We are its living, breathing, connections that link past present and future in one eternal loop.

And even as audience, witnessing someone else’s history, we see ourselves – beyond family blood barriers, beyond time itself.  We can identify meaning and purpose without any regard to dates and names.  Those provide the colour and fabric, the identity so to speak.  But the picture is worth more than its parts. One human family struggling to live – and learning to really LIVE – one lesson, one story, one life at a time.

Happy journeying.

 

Krista

 

 

On the Hunt for Mary Beaton Indian Connection

Hello all!

It has been quite some time since my last communication.  I have opened up my mother’s side of the family now, moving from Moores in Ireland, to the Gills and Beatons in Dominion Point, Exploits, Newfoundland.

There may be an Indian (Micmac?) connection to one of my ancestors, Mary Beaton b. between 1795-1815 in Exploits Burnt Island Nfld (possible Mi’Kmaq), mother of Charles Beaton Gill, wife of James Gill, and a servant in Mr. PEYTON’s house with the last Beothuk SHAWNADITHIT (Nancy, Nance April), and her grandaughter, Sophia Ellen Gill (b. July 8, 1859, Peter’s Arm, Newfoundland), who had a son, Nathaniel Gill (later Hart) out of wedlock, who was then adopted by Charles and Mary Ann Hart of Botwood, Newfoundland.

3rd Gr-Grandfather: CHARlES BEATON GILL b. 1832 Kite Cove/Exploits, Nfld d. 1887 Botwood Nfld

Looking forward to a chat with my mother and Aunt Daphne “Down Home” for some good old legend mixed with fact.

More soon….

P.S. Contact me if you have any information.  My VCard can be found under “About/Contact” or go to http://www.kristamoore.com for my other site.

Thanks,
Krista Moore

ie., “That’s Relative!”

The Women Who Made Me

This is an homage to the “Women who Made Me”, a series of portraits I plan to develop in more depth later. For now, their names, and pictures where possible.  The last 200 years or so of Krista Moore‘s grandmothers… both paternal and maternal, in no particular order, other than time. More pictures and stories to come…

Me

Krista Moore

Born in Kingston, Ontario, same hospital as Bryan Adams (and my father, Jack Moore!). Grew up in Elmira (Birdland) with maple syrup and mennonites, & then Kitchener, Ontario, where I graduated and moved to Toronto in 1999. Mother, actress, writer, and family historian.

Mother – Mary

Mother Mary

My Mother Mary (living). Born in Botwood, Newfoundland. Can play the spoons and guitar at a kitchen parties (good ole down home jig), jives wickedly, loves retro diners of the 50s, Dire Straits “Walk of Life”, and is a recently re-discovered Artist (painter). Also, most perfect mother ever.

Grandmothers

Helen B. Moore (Keech)

 Helen B. Moore (nee Keech) on my father’s side. Born 1918 in Edmonton, Alberta. Married to Earl Lawrence Moore of Kingston, Ont. They celebrated their Golden Anniversary. Died Jan 3, 2012 just shy of 94, Kingston. The one who got me hooked on the family tree. She says, “I’m so glad you caught the bug!”

Matilda Kemp Hart (Anderson)

Matilda Kemp Hart (nee Anderson) (nickname “Bunty”) on my mother’s side, born 1920 in Aviemore, Scotland. Married James Everett Hart of Newfoundland. They celebrated their 50th Anniversary. Died in 2005. “Bunty” was a great baker, I still can smell her “lassie buns”.  A very stern, jolly, strong woman who could drink my father under the table. I wrote a family history for her of Scotland, filled with her stories, and her sister’s stories called “Journey to the Homeland”, 1999.

Great-Grandmothers

Emma Bell Deacon born on the Deacon farm (still there today) in Bolingbroke, Ontario 1876. Married Lawrence E. Moore of Maberly, Ontario.  Lived to 1968 and died in Kingston. My father still remembers her singing those devilish Irish victory songs. Oh boy!  She could play the piano beautifully by ear and the mouth organ.  How I would love to be a fly on the wall of her dining room when they had their rousing jigs!

Isla Isobel Keech (Bagnall) with Helen & Harold

Isla Isobel Keech (my Nanna Keech)born 1897 in Hazel Grove, Prince Edward Island. Married Harold Leroy Keech of Tamworth, Ontario.  Ate her apples right down to the core. Died in Huntsville, Ontario, 1988?  English.

Emily Jewer (Grandma Hart) in Newfoundland

Emily Jewer (my mother’s grandmother), Newfoundland. Never met her, though my mom remembers her Grandma Hart. My Uncle Cyril of Newfoundland just sent me a picture of her, with my “Poppy” Hart, and I believe, my mother Mary.

James Anderson & Mary Dickie Davidson, Scotland

Mary Dickie Davidson (mother of Matilda Kemp Anderson), Scotland. Married to Grandpa James Anderson of Scotland, who lived to 99, and died in Aviemore,  in the Highlands (up the A9). Beautiful church overlooking Loch Alvie. Visiting in 1999. Never met either unfortunately but had a great time with their offspring!

2d Great-Grandmothers

[Picture of Margaret Chambers]

Margaret Chambers born 1833 in Ballydugan, Warringstown, Tullyish Parish, Down, Ireland (one of my many planned visits!). Mother of my great grandfather, Lawrence E. Moore (roadmaster and cheesemaker of Haileybury), wife of my great-great grandfather, Reeve Thomas Moore, Esq of Maberly who lived nearby as she was growing up in Maberly). They had many children. After the sudden death of her husband Thomas and her older son William E. Moore (local merchant), she remarried the local Miller/Hotelkeeper, John Morrow of Maberly, where she died in 1897.  Pictures to come.

Ellen Ann Palmer

Ellen Ann Palmer (mother of Emma Bell Deacon). Married Ephriam Deacon, of Bolingbroke/Maberly. This is a  tintype found in a wooden frame, salvaged from her daughter Emma Bell Deacon (Moore)’s house in Kingston, Ontario.  Likely 1860s, at the age of 15 or so.  May have been a present to Ellen & Ephriam on their wedding day. The Palmers were English, though they married Northern Irish (British).  I have older pictures of her as well, with her family.

Emma Keech (Vannest)

Emma Vannest (mother of Harold Leroy Keech, wife of Hiram Keech of Tamworth.)  My grandmother Helen still calls her “Grandma Keech”, and my father remembers her at the end of her life.  She made the  most delicious pies that my Nanna Moore can still taste. Oh! She would exclaim. She describes her as fairly prim and proper, some called her “Lady Keech”. A true Victorian lady.  Her parents are James Vannest & Elizabeth Shannon – American/Dutch & Irish.

Margaret Jane Bagnall (MacMillan)

Margaret Jane Bagnall (MacMillan)

Margaret Jane MacMillan (mother of Isla Isobel Bagnall). Edmonton, Alberta. My grandmother Helen Moore loved her Grandma Bagnall when she was growing up. I have a feeling she spoiled her!

Sophia Ellen Gill (birth mother of Nathaniel Hart), Newfoundland (English). There’s a story there!

Charles Hart & Mary Ann Waterman, Botwood Nfld

Charles Hart and Mary Ann Waterman (adoptive parents of Nathaniel Bruce Gill/Hart),  Botwood.

Ann Phelan/WHELAN &
James “Jimmie” JEWER Jr.,
Botwood Nfld (1880s)

Anne Phelan/WHELAN (wife of James “Jimmie” JEWER, mother of Emily Jewer/Hart). Possible micmac roots? Investigation in progress.

Jane Angus (mother of Mary Dickie Davidson), Scotland.

3rd Great-Grandmothers

[Picture of Winnifred Stephens]

Winnifred Stephenswas born in Ireland (unknown), and married William Moore (also of Ireland). She had her first son Thomas Moore back home, and then travelled by ship to North America around 1829, landing eventually in Ontario. She and her husband settled a farm in Maberly, South Sherbrooke, Lanark County South, Ontario, on Conc. 10 Lot 14E, and after 1842 her husband died suddenly leaving her with an abundance of children and responsibility. She continued to farm as the “Widow Moore”, until she remarried in the 1860s and moved to Lampton with Thomas Garrett.  She returned by 1870s to Maberly, without him, where she died at the home of her son John Moore in 1874.  A hard life to begin, and to end, I am indebited to her for her bravery and resilience in raising all those children and bearing so much of the weight alone.  God knows what her life was before, but her story continues, as we prepare for the 200th anniversary of South Sherbrooke in 2016, honouring the pioneers who settled it, like my oldest known Irish matriarch, Winnifred Stephens (Moore).

Sarah Ann Harrison (mother of Margaret Chambers), Maberly, Ontario and Ireland.

Mary Harper  (mother of Ephraim Deacon)

Mary Ann Castle (mother of Ellen Ann Palmer)

Caroline Ann Thurston (mother of Hiram Keech)

Elizabeth Ann Shannon

Elizabeth Ann Shannon (mother of Emma Vannest), American/Irish. From Camden, Ontario. Elizabeth died young, cared for by her only daughter, Emma Vannest.  She lost two babies, who are buried in Tamworth with her.

Christiana Anderson (mother of George W. Bagnall)

Isabella McLeod (mother of Margaret Jane MacMillan)

Rebecca Warrick (mother of Charles Hart, believed to be natural father of Nathaniel Hart), Newfoundland.

Mary Dickie (mother of Jane Angus), Newfoundland.

Ellen Unknown Gill (mother of Sophia Ellen Gill), Newfoundland.

Ann Garland (mother of James Jewer), Newfoundland.

4th Great-Grandmothers

Elizabeth “Betsy” Card

Elizabeth (“Betsy”) Card (mother of Elisha Vannest), Likely Quaker.

Mary Margaret McGregor

Mary Margaret McGregor (mother of Elizabeth Ann Shannon)

(Possibly) Mary Jane (Robinson/Henderson). Mother of William Moore. Irish.

Unknown mother of Winnifred Stephens.

Susannah Chambers (mother of Moses Chambers). Ireland.

Unknown mother of Sarah Ann Harrison. Ireland.

Unknown mother of John Deacon, Ireland.

Mary Beaton (mother of Charles Beaton Gill), Newfoundland. b. abt. 1800 Exploits Burnt Island, Newfoundland, possible Mi’Kmaq, servant in Mr. PEYTON’s house along with the last BEOTHUK Indian of Newfoundland, Shanawdhidit (Nancy April) as per the book “RIVER LORDS” by Amy Louise Peyton. More to come!

Isobell Davidson (mother of Robert Davidson), Scotland.

Agnes Muccersie (mother of James Angus), Scotland.

5th Great-Grandmothers

Mary Ellen Boyle (mother of Mary Harper)

Unknown mother of James Palmer (father of Ellen Ann Palmer), Ireland.

Unknown mother of Mary Castle (mother of Ellen Ann Palmer), Ireland.

Eunice Gillett (mother of Barton R. Keech)

more….

6th Great-Grandmothers

Esther Hunter (mother of Eunice Gillett)

Matilda Unknown Thurston (mother of Caroline Ann Thurston)

Janet Sim (mother of William Davidson), Scotland.

more…

7th Great-Grandmothers

Elizabeth Ann Cantelo (mother of Edwin Cantelo Bagnall), England.

Margaret Mutch (mother of Robert MacMillan)

Elizabeth  Whitehouse (mother of John Richard Bagnall), England.

Mary Dix Salmon (mother of Elizabeth Ann Cantelo), England.

Sarah Unknown Bagnall (mother of Samuel E. Bagnall)

Elizabeth Taylor (yes!) (mother of James Cantelo), Isle of Wight, England

Mary Byerly (mother of John Cantelo),

Betty Bartlett (mother of Elizabeth Taylor), England.

Janet Hood (mother of Robert Davidson), Scotland.

8th Great-Grandmothers

Amy Hills (mother of James Cantelo sr.), England.

To be UPDATED continually. Not to be relied upon for accuracy. This is a family history document meant to honour those listed, not to provide accurate details for genealogical purposes.

Keeper of the Flame

I am cross-pollinating today… this is my blog re-posted from “Little Book of Miracles” which continues the story…

I am back from Kingston, home of my birth, and feeling quite reflective on what I found there…  Not only did I find my grandmother in a new hospital by the lake, doing relatively well (see Let Sleeping Lions Lie);  I found myself with my mother, and countless photos and letters dug up among boxes and boxes of stuff in my grandmother’s sun-porch…

In these boxes, we found my great-great grandparents Lawrence E. Moore and Emma Belle Deacon staring out from their front porch rockers in Haileybury…

…and their seven daughters (my great aunts), girls and women in tranquil Georgian-style dresses lounging on the front swing with flowers in their hair, or leaning with snowshoes and warm-mittened hands against the family’s seemingly chicken-wired fence;  my gr-great grandmother Emma standing solidly with her youngest one wrapped around her skirt, she looking quite tired but still strong in the heat of days… and another where she smiles brightly to camera, which delighted me beyond measure.

Moore women in Cobalt

These are The Moores I had always wanted to know: to play cards with at the dining room table (which is now in my mother’s dining room); to tell stories with, to laugh with…  I see Emma playing the  mouth organ (which is now in my grandmother’s hall closet); I hear their old Irish twang and crazy war-time songs (I shall never repeat them here – we were Protestant Northern Irish, if that says enough).

I feel I know them. I am bonded to them. I am proud to be one of them. I see myself in their tall languid frames, the way they hold their hands, tilt their heads, play to camera. The Moore Women.

I am a part of a long, and timeless heritage of self-assured women. Of strength. Of beauty. And of rebuilding. Death after death has taken them. But their faces tell me another story; they are still here, in my blood and in those whom I love now.

My grandmother had protected and shielded these treasures for years and years. She didn’t have the heart to go through them, or dispose of anything. I’m glad she didn’t. I’m glad I had the opportunity with my mother to get on my hands and knees and know this family I inherited.

The details won’t matter so much. The garbage bins will go out; the trinkets will disappear. But their eyes, their hands, their laughter and their tears will never go out in me.

Me in my red boots in Nanna’s backyard

 I am blessed to be here, the Keeper of the Flame.

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm  Comments (1)  
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Moore & MacDonald Reunite

Recent Update to last week’s post Let Sleeping Lions Lie:  My grandmother Moore, who started this whole family history fascination with me was in the hospital in Kingston last week. At the age of 93 I thought that was it. But no, she has chosen to rehabilitate, and has just been moved to a beautiful facility on Lake Ontario, where she is enjoying her new view – overlooking…. the house of….  Sir John A MacDonald!

Sir John A

Moore & MacDonald come to blows!

        For those who missed the first post on how the Moores are connected with Sir John A, read this.

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Let Sleeping Lions Lie

Lion

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie? Dogs are one thing; Lions another.  Here is my grandmother on top of the Lion mounted at Sir John A. MacDonald park at the waterfront of Kingston Ontario, where I visited this past week.  I happened to be over there, across the street from Kingston General Hospital where I was born (along with my father and Bryan Adams), and where she is now resting and recovering from a long week. At the age of 93, she decided she wants to be rehabilitated.  This, apparently, is unusual. Not in my family.

My mom and I had come in for a few days to help out, after a scare the Monday before.  But “Nanna” was sitting up in her chair as if nothing had happened, charming the nurses and rehabilitation staff with her spry smile and intelligent wit. One time she was getting a manicure on the one hand by my cousin, while the other hand waved in the air.  After her daily physio exercises, she would declare, “I just want to do my best.”

What is so amazing about being 93? Nothing, really. To be old is no special feat, as she will tell you quite pointedly. But to be  alive, resilient,  with cheerful attitude is a force quite unseen. I suppose it still startles some who are used to seeing people lose their will and functioning.  One nurse leaned in to my grandmother and talked loudly in her ear. My mother and I had to laugh as we whispered gently to her, “She’s not deaf.”  She hears everything, she remembers everything.  She is as sharp as a tack.

Back at her house my mom and I sorted old boxes from the basement after a flood had taken most everything.  What might have been a tedious task turned fun when we found delightful old costumes, vintage gloves, a baton-berg lace tablecloth, and some carefully wrapped photos. One was a clear picture of my great grandmother whom I had never met, Emma Bell Deacon (wife of Lawrence E. Moore – the family I have been researching all these years), and another was of a woman staring out from the 1860s in her original frame, her eyes seemed hauntingly familiar and alive…

I took the precious finds into the hospital on the last day to show Nanna. As I pulled  each one out for her to see, my mother said later that I was so captivated looking at the photos with her that I failed to notice how much she was affected: she glowed.  Nothing delighted her more than a shared obsession!  Everyone else in the room was quiet. As we talked and identified the ancestors, my younger cousin whispered to my mother in wonder, “Krista sounds like she knows all these people!”  My mom smiled and replied, “She does.”

More on that later!

Here I am with my daughter and grandmother at the Great Lion again. The faces and backdrop may have changed, but the Lion still stands, just as fierce and sturdy as ever, guarding the fortress of our native town.  I am upheld, along with my family and ancestors, by its ferocity, persistence, and Will to carry on.

It’s not so important whether someone lives; but whether they are alive while they are here. My grandmother is a testament to that.

The Lioness in us will never lay down.

Published in: on May 14, 2011 at 11:38 pm  Comments (10)  
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A Mirror Up to Nature

There is so much to contemplate lately, I hardly know where to begin!  It started, let’s say, with a visit to Picton last week. Harmless enough. I was going to a talk given by a professor, Dr. David Warrick, on one of my ancestors, Dr. Thomas Moore, who lived in Picton over 150 years ago – along with a young wannabe lawyer of 19, John A. MacDonald (before the “Sir”).

Dr. Warrick would be uncovering the history-making first trial of Sir John A. MacDonald in Picton in 1834, in this public lecture on April 20, 2011, followed by a paper he intends to publish by the University of Toronto press in 2012. The MacDonald project, of which he is the chair, intends to erect a bronze sculpture (created by the noted sculptress Ruth Abernethy) of Sir John A. MacDonald at the age of 19, in front of the very courthouse this historic event took place.

In a previous post I told you that my great grand-uncle, Dr. Thomas Moore of Picton, was accused of punching Sir John A. in the nose.  Well, the two men went to trial, and Dr. Moore, my noble ancestor, lost, at a cost of six shillings.  I thought it a charming story. No shame to me, certainly.  No shame to him, either. He continued to be a great doctor in town for 44 years, and, well, Sir John A. went on to be the first Prime Minister of Canada. No harm done.

So what does it all mean? I ask. Why do we eat it up like candy, the stories of our past? Why do we delve into history books (at least the people reading this blog who have an interest in such things, a passion, even)?  I am not a scholar of history. I studied literature.  But whether the particulars are true or untrue, isn’t there some form of resonance that catches us and stirs us to know more?  When we look beyond the facts, the fiction, do we not see ourselves?  As Shakespeare reminds in Hamlet, the job of a good story, or player is to “hold a mirror up to nature”.  And our job then, as audience or reader is to ask, who are we in this?

Why do I look at my ancestor’s past? Why do I reflect on my own past? Am I stuck? Can I not inhabit the present or future? Am I afraid?  No. I’m not afraid. Not anymore. I see more of myself in all of these things than I ever did. I see the hero and heroine, I see the scoundrel and the dummy, I see the nobleman, and the peasant trying to make a living. I see all of it in my own flesh, in my history. And yet, here I am now, breathing and living it all, remembering and dreaming of more.  Beginnings and endings, never-ending.

So, what did I learn from this? Well, I’m tantalized as always by a good story that I can relate to, personalize, live. And, I create the story by my living:  I can invent. I can forgive. I can change things around. I can create something new. I can go back and reconsider. I can ask new questions. I can pull things once lost together. I can do anything I want to!

“You can’t go back”, they say. Oh yes you can! Because time does not exist. And if you want to get your “puzzler” going, just think of Einstein. Or fractal geometry. The self-same patterns just keep going and going. Beautiful infinite and timeless, turning in on themselves and ever-expanding. Self-reflecting. Oh yes, how far can you go?!

I could go on forever considering these things. As I look backward and forward and at the very beginning of everything. I could go in leaps and bounds and never stop questioning. Never stop dreaming. Never stop launching into and including, sweeping up all the forgotten pieces into one great whole.

Oh yes, I could get quite philosophical on you. But I don’t want to scare you off.  So I’ll just say, there’s more to the story than what you see. So ask!  What does this have to do with me? How can I live more of this now? How can I make this even better than before? How can I look back as if into a mirror, and then create a great prism where everything is reflected more and more? You want to live forever? Just think about that.

It’s beautiful, isn’t it?  Life. Never-ending. Charming. Intelligent. Infinite. Life.


We thoroughly enjoyed the evening at Dr. Warrick’s lecture, and how generously Dr. Warrick portrayed my ancestor and Sir John A. as two very prominent and upstanding (though temperamental) citizens in the community of Picton.  I also enjoyed playing the “naughty Moore” for the evening, allowing myself to encompass a little piece of history in my genes and in my demeanor.  After being invited back to Dr. Warrick’s lovely home and having a toast to the ancestors and to those present, Dr. Warrick pointed out a special keepsake in the corner of the living room that they intended to auction off for the cause:  a simple wooden chair apparently owned and used by  Sir John A. MacDonald. Before I left, I couldn’t resist playing my part to the fullest, having the honour (and gumption) to place my saucy behind on Sir John A.’s chair.  Finally, a Moore and a MacDonald meet again! And that, as they say, is history!

Published in: on April 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm  Comments (3)  
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SOUL LIVES: A Date with Destiny?

I admit, I never thought I would be broaching this subject on a blog about family history. But since I started with the premise that all of the lives on a family tree are “relative” and that our relativity to each other passes the veils of time and circumstance – meaning, we are all interconnected – I got to thinking…. if this is true, does it matter if this perspective is coming from my current life or a past life?

Let’s assume for a moment, that there is such a thing as a past life. If I existed prior to my birth, and existed in time and history before this time, is that not relevant to who I am today? And am I  not still connected to this memory, this moment in history? My purpose in bringing this up here is to include it in my vast quest to understand where I come from, and where I’m going – and to appreciate my relation to all others who share the path.

So I went to do a past life regression

She was a professionally trained hypnotist/past life regression therapist, so not a tarot card reader or party game host.  It was the real deal. I lay on a couch with a blindfold over my eyes. We did all the prep work: My current family history, relationships, needs and desires. Certainly nothing prior to my birth.  Then she put me under. I won’t go into how she did it, you can look that up elsewhere.

Here’s what I remember:  I was standing in the most beautiful countryside of a nearby village.  I approached a stone house that I decided was mine and went in.  She asked me to look at my hands. I told her, or asked her, “Am I old?” And then I laughed, “I’m old!”  I saw an old man sitting at a kind of bench-like table by the window, and a boy to my left sitting at a different table. Neither was speaking or moving, kind of like a picture in time. I got a sense that the man was my husband, and the boy was my grandchild.

Later she asked me to explore what was happening and I got the impression there was a war going on.  I saw or felt a large rush of men riding by the house on horseback or in carriages. She asked me why and asked me to go the village and find out.  I saw men yelling and slamming down their cups, and got the impression they wanted to fight, go to war, up North somewhere. I didn’t know the details of why or what. All I could come up with was: Austria 1836. Village name? Something that sounds like, “Silvenvost”.  I could not verify the spelling.

Then she asked me about my family. And as I answered questions more specifically, I began to cry. I was afraid I wouldn’t see my son again; and I was left to raise my grandson without any help.  His mother had been burned in a fire.  I was 80 and my husband was useless since he lost all  his animals and ability to work the land.  I died reasonably peacefully at the age of 82-3. I was cold and my hands buzzed numbly. Then she brought me back  “home”.

Well, I can’t tell you if all of that is true. I can’t prove that I existed at that time, or that the events I refer to really  happened. All I can tell you is that emotionally, there was resonance. In those moments I was “Barbara”, my secret identity that came to me through this deliberate but elusive process. And the tears were real.  So was the voice, which sounded a bit Scottish, but I could not decipher my accent.  I did not speak a foreign language. Does it matter?

Sometimes reaching through the veils of the past is the only way to heal it.

I felt the boy in the picture I was receiving was like my son now. And whether he existed prior to this life as well, and whether we have met before or not, I knew that the message of trusting and letting him grow was enough.  I had something to learn.

Whether the war and the village and the little stone house were real to me then, I don’t know.  Between the annals of history and subconscious make belief, there is a very thin line.  What matters is how does it affect me now?  Can I learn from this? Can I grow?

I’m happy I did it. And of course I’m curious to know more. I googled like a mad woman when I got home and couldn’t confirm a thing.  Other than Austria exists and there were many a war going on at the time.  But what I do know is, I feel richer for having the experience, and the story that it brings to my life now. It  makes me hungry for more:  more knowledge, more understanding, more experience. And whether it’s mine, yours, or someone else’s, I guess I have to conclude…  That’s Relative!

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 9:21 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Historical Matters: Famous Moore Clash with Sir John A MacDonald

Sir John A MacDonald – 1st Prime Minister of Canada


What is the term for the expression, “famous by association”? Well, that is what has happened to me in my pursuit of my family history.  Little did I know that a prominent scholar would contact me about a relative of mine and his association with a famous Canadian, Sir John A MacDonald.  Well, I can’t tell you the details – yet – I posted some earlier, as I promised the fellow that I would keep  my trap shut.

But what I wanted to say was sometimes history does matter. And sometimes shedding light on it in the present can turn the facts into fiction, or fiction into facts.   These links to the past, sometimes glorious, sometimes downright embarrassing, can illuminate our origins and why we think, feel (or vote) the way we do. The hand-me-downs of the past include beliefs engrained in our ancestor’s lives, often political, religious; even prejudices.

The said historian was surprised that another source of his on the case was angered by his questioning of her family’s illustrious past.  She was frightened, likely, that he might shed some light on it, and shake the firmament of family legend and her own belief systems thereby.  But why not?

Often those who have not done for themselves rely on legend to tell their own stories. And I am guilty of that. Again, why not?  Are we really the sum of our family/nation/creed’s stories? Or are we searching for meaning within ourselves through connection to our rich past?

These are a lot of questions without answers, I’m afraid. But I admit to the crime of loving to hear about it. Tell me all about what so-and-so did in 1834, the court case fight, the tavern brawl, as well as the mighty things they did to build this country and put bread on the table. I love it all. I am guilty as charged for loving my family history and riding on its coat-tails all the way.  Why not tell the world how you (your family) had a hand in building one of the greatest nations in the world (Yes, I speak of Canada)? And yes, they were human too, with mistakes (and scars) to boot.  Even these are fascinating fodder for our lives.

I’m just like them. Infamous – or famous – by association. Sometimes visibly, and sometimes quietly living a life of extraordinary measure.  I have my own stories too. Undocumented at times. And Unapologetic. And I can’t wait to write my way to the finish line. Or by-line.

“Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.”

– Helen Keller

Living history – or making it – is far more satisfying, but resurrecting one can be just as much fun.

Published in: on December 13, 2010 at 8:00 pm  Comments (1)  
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