Canada’s History – June-July 2023
English | 78 pages | pdf | 27.96 MB
My grandparents’ farmhouse was a local landmark on the Gulf Shore outside Pugwash, Nova Scotia. Built in the early 1900s by my greatgrandparents and later expanded by my Grandpa Peter and Granny Dorothy, the “big white house on the hill” overlooking the Northumberland Strait still looms large in my memories.
I spent my youth exploring that farm and its outbuildings, from the barn, to the garage, to the blacksmith shop where my Great-Grandpa William used to shoe his neighbours’ horses.
My grandparents came from a generation that didn’t throw things away. If something broke, they fixed it. If something outlived its usefulness, they kept it, just in case.
Over the years, their collection of antique items grew and grew. To visitors, the farm must have seemed almost like a museum filled with artifacts from bygone days.
It’s been nearly thirty years since I left home, but I can still see those objects in my mind’s eye, and they all evoke fond memories and strong emotions.
A set of sleigh bells reminds me of Christmas Eve, when “Santa’s helper” jingled the bells outside my bedroom window in a futile effort to get me to sleep. An old oil lamp rekindles memories of playing cards by lamplight as we waited for power to be restored after a gale. I picture Grandpa’s fiddle resting above Granny’s piano, and suddenly I’m transported back beside her as she teaches me to plink out “Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue” and “Let Me Call You Sweetheart.” Looking back, it’s where my lifelong love of music was born. Family heirlooms have an incredible power to connect us with our ancestors.
In this issue, artist JJ Lee shares how she was inspired by her own family’s mementos to create compelling and poignant works of art. “In My Yesterday” tells the story of how Lee’s family emigrated from China to Canada and highlights her ancestors’ courage and resilience as they made new lives here.
Elsewhere in this issue, we explore whether Prince Edward Island was railroaded into joining Confederation one hundred and fifty years ago; we investigate a mysterious illness that plagued a seventeenth-century expedition to find the Northwest Passage; and we mark one hundred years of professional chuckwagon racing.
If you have artifacts or heirlooms hidden away in your attics or basements, I urge you to share them — and the stories behind them — with your own family. Doing so will give your children and grandchildren something precious and priceless — the gift of memories.