Saturday, May 17, 2014

Odds and Ends

I just wanted to share some pictures that don't really fit in with any of the topics about which I have blogged. None of these have enough information to merit a blog of their own.

Halifax wharf:

I have mentioned before that cruise ships play a significant role in the economy. There are even markets at the wharf that are only open when a cruise ship docks.

There are a number of commemorative plaques along the wharf. This one is the most decorated. It remembers the men who lost their lives protecting our country and freedom and the 91 ships on which they served.

The Children's Playground on the wharf. The floor of this is quite interesting. I am not sure of what it is made but it is quite soft and somewhat spongey.

I know that pigeons are not unusual. In fact, most people consider them a nuisance. I know I certainly did when I was growing up and they made such a mess of the corner of our lawn in Saskatoon. But I could get so close to these ones on the wharf.

Point Pleasant Park:

This is about the third time I have seen city police mounted on horses.

We didn't spend much time here as we spent more time at the wharf than we had planned. We came across this tower accidentally as we explored one of the two paths we took.

This is one of nearly 200 British batteries worldwide and one of five here in Halifax. It was a part of the harbour defense system.

Point Pleasant park has been affected by two hurricanes. The damage was started by hurricane Juan and finished by hurricane Ivan.

I just had to add this one of Owen and his sister, Tammy, our wonderful hostess with the mostest.

The famous three churches of Mahone Bay. The one on the left is St. James Anglican. The middle one is a Lutheran church and the one on the left is now a United church but started out as a Methodist church.

Cemetery in Lunenburg

There are so many cemeteries that are in the centre of communities. This was an Acadian one in Lunenberg. The stones are so old. One stone even had a tree break it.

We head home tomorrow. There is still a lot I would love to see and do. I never did phone my mom's relatives. And I didn't make it to Amherst or Tatamagouche. I guess that means I will have to make a trip back.

Love and Prayers,


Our last full day here in the Maritimes. There is a sense of sadness as we prepare to say good bye. Tam, Bill, and Rebecca have been awesome hosts. We don't get to see them that often. But they will be out in July. Besides life at home beckons us. We had a relatively relaxing day planned. That all changed this morning at breakfast. It was decided that we should go to Lunenburg. I was quite excited about this for a number of reasons.

I had been researching a bit about my Huguenot history. I had relearned (because my sister has probably told me a number of times) that my Montbeliard ancestors had lived in Lunenburg. This made it (like Sydney) one of my ancestral homes. Lunenburg is also the home of the Bluenose. I had seen it back in 1972 and thought it would be quite cool to see it again.

Once we arrived in Lunenburg two other reasons became quite apparent. On our way there Bill had told us that Lunenburg had been designated a world heritage site. Once we arrived we discovered the bonus of this. The town is bright and clean. The buildings down by the water are old and colourful. I loved it!!! And yes, as you can see in the first picture, I discovered another purple house.

The highlight of the trip, both today and maybe of the entire two weeks, was St. John's Anglican Church. I knew about this church from when it hit the news in 2001 because of a fire. I knew it was a historical building. I was not prepared for the experience of seeing it. Absolutely amazing. St. John's is the second oldest Protestant church in Canada. It is about 260 years old. On Hallowe'en night 2001 it was basically destroyed by fire. The roof was totally gone. The fire, smoke and water damage to the rest of the building was extensive. The congregation made the decision to restore the building. It was painstaking work that took 4 years.

There was a young person at the open door to greet us as we entered. This young person provided me with a number of stories about the restoration. Original materials were used as much as possible. I watched some of the work that was done on a video on the internet after I got home. They would use the re-usable wood from something and blend/strengthen it with new wood. It was actually a fascinating process. The workers were mainly local crafts people. Even the pillars are wood painted to look like marble. The floors and pews are the original ones although portions of the floor had to be replaced.

I looked around at the beautiful stain glass windows. Being the child of another church devastated by fire - not once but twice in the mid-seventies and early eighties - I knew what fire could do to these windows. I asked about their restoration. I was told that each window had as much of the original glass of the window as possible. The stain glass window on the right (the sunshine does not allow for a great picture) is a little more yellowish than the others. This is because they were able to use seventy per cent of the original glass.

Char marks on the altar and the tabernacle were pointed out. It took six firemen to rescue the altar from the fire. When the church was restored and they held the first service, those same six firemen were asked to be present and (I think) carry it inside.

The most interesting story was about the stars on the chancel ceiling. They hired an artist to repaint the ceiling as it had been originally. As she started the project working from pictures she noticed that these stars were not placed as randomly as people thought. She approached an astronomer from St. Mary's University in Halifax. With a bit of intuition and digging he discovered what the star pattern was. The pattern was that of the sky over Lunenburg on December 24 of year 1. In other words, had people been in Lunenburg looking through uncovered rafters of St. John's on the night we celebrate as the birth date of Christ, the star pattern that is in the chancel now is what they would have seen. Today that pattern is easy to discover because we can use computer programs. Heaven only knows how the original artist discovered it. Some believe the artist was guided by God's hand.

One other thing - of interest to me if no one else - my ancestors were most likely Lutheran. In the beginning, when St. John's was established, they would have worshiped here. There was no other church. That is a neat feeling - to be standing in a building knowing that one's ancestors had also stood there, maybe even walking on the same spots. The church was designed to make it more welcoming to the Lutheran members. However, they decided to build their own building and left St. John's.

Love and Prayers,


When we visited Nova Scotia in 1972 I was aware that I had a connection here. My grandfather was with us. My brothers and I spent a fair amount of time sitting in the car while Mom, Dad, and Grandpa went into houses to visit Grandpa's sisters, brothers, nieces and nephews.

My sister, Katherine, has spent hours working on our family tree. She has traced us back to the second century and has checked and double checked thousands of names to authenticate them as our ancestors. She loves to talk about her finds so I have been aware of ties with Nova Scotia. This trip has helped me with visuals as we see places that would have meaning for those who lived before me.

As a child I couldn't understand my Grandpa's dislike of anything French. As I grew older and spent a bit of time with history books and the beginnings of family tree research. I began to understand that Grandpa's issue with the French came form his Huguenot roots. Clan or family memories are very long. What follows is an account from an article I found on the internet. I think the Jean Jacques mentioned is one of my ancestors. It will take a little more work to trace the lines but what I did find fits what I remember from our family tree.

While it is impossible to verify the details of this account, which was the version remembered by Jean-Jacques Teterey's children, there was certainly very similar things happening in the seigneuries in 1740, when Jean-Jacques was about eighteen (18) years old. A modern historian of the area describes the arbituary replacement of a deceased Lutheran pastor by a Roman Catholic priest at the Village of Chagey, already noted as the probably home of the Teterey (Tattrie) family. "(Renard, Nouvelle Historie, P.P. 94-149, as well as Historie Illustree du Pays de Montbeliard (1941)". On August 27, 1740, the priest came, accompanied by soldiers from the fortress town of Belfort, 21 of the villagers who assembled to resist were shot in front of their church. The "ancient culte" was re-established by force at Chagey, and in the same way at the villages of Selemcourt, Bondeval, Lougres, Blamont and Villars-Les-Blamont.

I think for Grandpa's family this was also heightened by the cultural tensions of the time here in Nova Scotia. While at the wharf in Halifax I became reacquainted with George's Island.

The French presence in Canada was established in 1604 with Samuel de Champlain at Port Royale. Ownership of this area bounced back and forth between England and France. In 1713, with the Treaty of Utrecht mentioned previously, Acadians became British subjects. In 1730 a majority of them swore an oath to the British Crown. But this oath exempted them from fighting the French or the Indians. By 1750 the Acadians reached ten thousand in numbers. In 1754 war broke out between France and England again. The English insisted the Acadians renew their oaths. This time it would not exempt them from fighting against the French or the Indians. Many Acadians refused. In 1755 the British expelled the Acadians. Six thousand were forcibly removed. In 1758 three thousand more from Ile Royale (Cape Breton) were added to this number. Over all about ten to eighteen thousand Acadians were displaced and thousands more killed. In 1764 some were allowed to return in small groups.

Starting on July 28, 1755, the Acadians were rounded up and placed on George's Island. It was a prison with inadequate facilities and terrible living conditions. It is a blot on our Canadian history.

The link between the Acadians and the Huguenots comes with what happened to the land. The English decided to repopulate the land with Protestant settlers. During this time my ancestors, who were living in Lunenburg at the time, moved to Tatamagouche (One of the places I was unable to visit this trip. There is a museum at Amherst that received a number of items from my relatives.)

The picture of George's Island was taken from Pier 21. Pier 21 holds a significant place in Canadian history.

If you are descended from immigrants who came to Canada from 1928-1971 chances are very high that they came through Pier 21 (As a side note: This is not my first visit to Pier 21. The banquet for the 2010 General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada was held here. I was a member of that synod and enjoyed a delicious meal and fantastic local musicians that evening.) The following is from a plaque at Pier 21.

Through these doors have come immigrants and refugees from every part of the world, often bringing with them little more than hope and dreams of a better life for themselves and their children. History records that many of these citizens overcame hardships, and often outright discrimination and hostility. Yet they endured, settling the landk building communities and forging links across this vast land. We, today's Canadians, owe much to their commitment, hard work and loyalty. The heritage they bequeathed to us is a unique multicultural nation committed to the full and equitable participation of individuals of all origins, bound together by citizenship and the common values of peace, respect for diversity and adherence to the rule of law.

It was from here that 494,000 troops departed for Europe during World War 2. Around forty eight thousand war brides came through here with about twenty two thousand chlidren.

While here I decided to trace my Grandpa Ash's history. I wasn't sure when he would have come to Canada. I stopped off at a little office where they will trace one's family through As the helpful young man asked me questions my mind went completely blank. I could remember my grandpa's name and that was about it. We managed to figure out approximate dates based on some pretty sketchy memories and finally found a Sidney Robert Ash who came to St. Mary's, Ontario with his parents when he was two. Most of it fit what little I could remember. What really cinched it for me was that his mother's name was Grace Andrews. That was one fact that I was sure I remembered correctly. The name of his second wife threw me off though. My grandma's name was Neina. The records had her as Diana. But a later census also listed a child, Edith Louise. I knew this was my dad's oldest sister. So I now have printed pages from that show my grandfather was in an English census in Staffordshire and that he came to Canada with his parents when he was two on the Nova Scotian.

I could have phoned my sister on this information but it was interesting going through it with the young man and remembering bits and pieces on my own. I came home that night and checked out my Huguenot relatives. That is when I found they moved from Lunenberg to Tatamagouche.

Love and Prayers,

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cabot Trail

Owen had not taken the Cabot Trail in 1993. He wanted to make sure he was able to see it this time. That was part of the reason for this short trip out and back. We got up prepared to drive the whole trail. By the time we left Baddeck it was eleven am. Looking at the map of the Cape Breton Highlands I realized that it would take some time to drive the whole trail and then another 3-4 hours to get back to Halifax. We decided head around the trail to Igonish for lunch and then make a decision as to whether or not to continue around or head back for Halifax.

On Monday morning I had read in the local Halifax paper about the revival of Gaelic culture on Cape Breton Island. The number of Gaelic speakers has grown over the last number of years. Part of the reason for this is the Colaisde na Gaidhlig (the Gaelic College). This college was our first stop. Here there was a store, which sold the various Gaelic crafts created by the students at the college. There were other souvenirs as well.

The views from the road were definitely worth the 1200 km trip out and back.

The road at times was very steep and windy.

But as I stated the views were definitely worth it.

And we think winter has lasted long at home ...

We ate lunch at a restaurant recommended by Connie and Gary. It was great food and our server was very friendly and full of information on what it was like to life in such a beautiful but very isolated place. He told us about the snow storm of May 5, which is why there is so much snow still lying around. He also told us that taking the very at St. Ann's would cut 20-25 minutes off our return trip.

We drove a little further but decided to turn around and head back to Halifax. As we drove back we went past the marina at Ingonish and actually noticed it this time.

One last picture. There were little cemeteries dotting the hillsides all through our trip.

Love and Prayers,

Baddeck and Alexander Graham Bell

Back in 1972 Mom and Dad took us around the Cabot Trail. I have three memories of that time. The first is the beautiful views of the ocean from the road (not to mention being a bit nervous about being so close to the edge of the cliffs at times), the Alexander Graham Bell Museum, and my youngest brother and the Chinese food breakfast.

When we traveled out east that year we did so in an old '68 Custom 500 and a soft top tent trailer. Dad, being the creative and organized person he is, had developed ways with custom made wooden boxes to have a place for everything and everything in its place. I am amazed to think that I packed all I would need for five weeks into one wooden box. Anyone seeing what all I take with me on trips now would never believe that. We got up early that particular morning and headed to Baddeck. I am not sure why we didn't eat breakfast before we headed out. We stopped in Baddeck at a Chinese food place. My youngest brother absolutely refused to go inside. Mom and Dad left him in the car. They were quite worried that they were raising a racist son. Anyone who knows my parents would know how much that would bother them. Finally Dad went out and talked to him. The reason he wouldn't come in was that he didn't want to eat Chinese food for breakfast. Once Dad convinced him he could eat "normal" food all was well and he came inside to eat.

The thing I remember about the museum was the models of flight things hanging from the ceiling. That was basically it for memories. I knew that Bell was credited with inventing the telephone and I had a vague memory of him having worked with the deaf. Those things were about all I knew before this trip. I quite enjoyed building on the knowledge during our visit to the museum.

I am finding in the Maritimes that cruise ships play a big role in things being open. About eighty cruise ships dock during a season. This affects Charlottetown, Sydney and the Cabot Trail, and Halifax. We lucked out with a cruise ship docking in Sydney and bussing people to Baddeck. This meant the Alexander Graham Bell Museum was opened for the day.

I was particularly interested in Bell's work with the deaf. As a teen-ager I hung around with a group of other teen-agers who were deaf. I knew the alphabet and some of the sign language. I had also read about Helen Keller who was deaf and blind. In the museum I read with interest that Bell's father, Melville Bell, had developed a phonetic alphabet. It was based on this that Bell tried to teach the deaf to speak.

As children, Bell and his brothers (who died early from TB) tried to teach their dog to speak based on the their father's studies on phonetics. Bell senior had developed something called "visible speech." It looked a little complicated to me. It has something to do with what part of the vocal organs are used to produce various sounds. A single sound will often use more than one portion of the vocal organs. Using this Bell and his brother manipulated their dog's mouth to produce almost human sounds. People would come to hear this dog say "ow-ah-oo-gamma." Taken with a bit of imagination this could be taken to mean "How are you, Grandmama?"

Bell developed a talking glove. He inked letters at certain positions on the glove to help one of his students learn to "speak."

This also worked well on the hand.

This fascinated me because I remembered that this was the way Helen Keller learned to communicate. Helen and her teacher, Ann Sullivan, did meet with Bell in his home just outside of Baddeck. Helen attributes much of her ability to communicate to that meeting with Bell.

Of course the thing we remember Bell for the most is the telephone. This grew out of his work with the deaf. Could there be such a thing as a "talking wire," a device that worked like the human ear? Bell set out to answer this question. He worked with a very capable assistant, Thomas Watson. One day Watson accidently (I love how so many important things in history happened by chance), jiggled a transmitter wire on the device. Bell, in an other room, heard the vibration on the device and wondered if the vibrations in speech could trigger the same result. He spoke and there was some muffled sound transmitted.

There appeared to be some issues as to a patent. It was during this period that Bell learned to keep meticulous notes on everything he did. He finally received the patent in February 1876. Then on March 10 he uttered the famous words, "Mr. Watson, come here, I want you."

Bell had married one of his students, Mabel Hubbard. One day Mabel, before they were married, told Bell she was painting a picture of him. Finally the painting was done. It arrived at Bell's place and was unwrapped.

She had painted a white owl. This is because Bell had the habit of working late into the night, often into the early morning hours.

Bell experimented with a number of modes of transportation. One of the big ones was a Hydrofoil. This interested me because I had just seen a model of a Hydrofoil at the Maritime Museum. The Military had developed one in the sixties and worked on the idea for a few years. This grew out of Bell's work.

And last, but not least, is the plane I remember from 1972 (or something very similar to it). The Silver Dart.

The first successful powered flight in Canada took place on February 3, 1909. The pilot was J.A.D. McCurdy who flew 800 metres at a top speed of 65 km/hr and brought the Silver Dart to a smooth landing.

Love and Prayers,

Fortress of Louisbourg

There is one advantage to visiting places in the off season. They are often free. The man at the park gate was very helpful in directing where to go. He was right too. When the park is not in operation it really only takes about an hour to walk through it.

A bit of the history around Louisbourg. In 1713, with the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, Great Britain was given Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. About 150 French people from Newfoundland came to Cape Breton (or Isle Royale) and founded the village of Louisbourg. After visiting this location I really questioned why anyone would want to settle and, especially, build a fort here. It is beautiful but it didn't seem to warrant a fort in my mind. Gary, at the Ponderosa, explained that it was because of the fish. The cod stocks were plenteous then (The stocks are now depleted. The Europeans - mainly the Portuguese and Spanish - fish for cod just outside the 200 mile limit but there is no commercial fishing within the Canadian boundaries.) The French, being Roman Catholic, ate fish five days a week. This made anything to do with fish very important. So the remote tip where Louisbourg was established warranted a fortress to protect it.

In 1717 Louisbourg was made the seat of government for Isle Royale. Construction on the fortress started in 1719. In 1722 the troops arrived. These included Swiss and German mercenaries whose primary responsibility was to work on the fortifications.

In 1744 France and Britain were at war again. In 1745 Britain besieged and gained the fortress, In 1748 with the Treaty of Aix-La-Chapelle, Cape Breton was given back to the French in exchange for some other territories. (In 1749 Halifax was founded to counter the Fortress of Louisbourg - interesting how various places tie together.)

In 1754 France and Britain were back at it again. These two just could not get along. In 1758 the British, with 13,000 men, defeated the French with 4,000 and the fortress was once again in British hands. The British destroyed the fortress in 1760. Two hundred years later Parks Canada decided to restore it.

I took many, many pictures but I could only find descriptions for a few when I got back to my computer.

There were three land gates into Louisbourg. The Dauphin Gate is the principal one. It was very carefully designed. The wooden walkway you see is actually a bridge over a moat type structure. There was a sluice gate for controlling water levels. Along the walls of the fortress were musket loopholes. There was also guerite, which I think is a little tower with slits for observation and muskets. The sentry box you see had a soldier in it when Owen visited in 1993. He questioned Owen and his family and seemed quite perturbed that they were English. He wasn't going to let them in. Owen had me practicing my high school French all the way so we could get in. Not much I know beyond Bonjour. Comment ca va? Back in 1987 I had visited Montreal and tried a bit of my university French. I got asked if I was Italian. I thought I might be able to tell the sentry I was Italian. Maybe I could get away with my horrendous accent and pronunciation. Of course we didn't have to worry as there are no guards in the off season.

Louisbourg does get used as a location for movies. In 1993 Disney was filming there - perhaps the Three Muskateers. Gary was telling us that a week before we got there it had been used for a film with Cuba Gooding Jr. Darn, we miss all the fun.

As we walked back to the Fortress and village Owen noticed the canons. Walking up to one we noticed it was pointed at another gate. This one would have been at the end of a wharf. I assume the canon was so pointed to protect it although Owen thought that wasn't a very bright idea.

This is the Frederic Gate. It is through here most of the people, news, and merchandise came. The ships would anchor offshore and boats full of cargo would be lunched from them. It is also through this gate that orders from the king arrived. There is a bit of a square behind it where the people could gather in front of the shops to see and hear what was happening. It is named after the royal minister who looked after France's colonies.

The Kings Bastion Barracks dominates the profile of the fortress.

This was locked. We were able to look through some windows. Most of them had curtains on them or were just empty. The one room we were able to see into was the chaple.

There was no parish church and little money for a religious community. The community worshiped in the military chapel.

As we walked further down behind the building we saw a building at right angles to it. The door was ajar. Owen went to peak in though the doorway. He quickly jumped back with a bit of a gasp. Staring at him was a racoon. I thought it rather appropriate as the building appeared to be some sort of jail and racoons do look like bandits. I very cautiously approached the doorway. A little head glimpsed up at me and then tried to hide itself on the steps.

We did manage to get pictures of the inside of one more building. One of the pieces of literature described it as the military chaplain's house. Looking inside I am not so sure.

Out behind the barracks was a line of cannons looking over the land. Owen and I wondered looking at the surrounding terrain just why anyone would want this place. Gary informed us that originally there were no cannons along this line of defense. The French just never thought there would be any danger from the land and focused on the sea approaches. This is how the British were able to take the fortress the first time. They then placed cannons along this back line.

Without any proper maps or guide books explaining the buildings to us there was really no point in lingering long. So we decided to head into Syndney and our Bed and Breakfast. We got the name of a place to eat that would cater to my diet. We spent a quiet evening with Owen dozing in his chair and me catching up on my computer games. We got to bed early so we could face the long day ahead. When we got home on Wednesday night we added up our mileage for the two days - 12 kilometres plus walking and touring times.

Love and Prayers,