Donning my orange shirt, I got Max out for a quick walk on city sidewalks, dropped him home to a delicious breakfast (yeah, right?) and hopped in the car for a road trip to Claresholm, Alberta. My friend-descendants of British Home Children were gathering for a display opportunity in the Claresholm Exhibition Hall and I really wanted to join them. Yesterday was the first National British Home Child Day and I felt very pleased for the recognition and the remembrances that were shared yesterday by descendants who had grown up with mystery, secrets and shame around their ancestry. I think that the disconnect from any roots at all is likely the most upsetting aspect of growing up in home child culture…very few children ever found solace in a relationship with siblings or Mom or Dad. There was a helplessness there, a disconnect and a sense of true abandonment, often in powerlessness against abuse of all sorts.
In Canada, so many years later, families are hard at work, trying to unearth unspoken histories and share narratives that have been revealed via contact with the people who continue to house the files and reports on our ancestral family. At a price and with great patience, piece by piece, we are all discovering who our people were, though most will discover that, at a point, the information will drop off. Never did our ancestors show up on a Canadian census unless they were working as domestics in very wealthy homes. I know that I have not found my great grandfather on any binding document between ages 13 and 21. Those eight years are gone, although the families under which he was employed are well-documented in the foot prints of time.
On a lighter note, I was so pleased to find Bruce and Connie, Hazel and John gathered before a beautiful display. Hazel worked very hard to establish our representation at the open house and I have much gratitude for her efforts and her lovely display. I appreciate that Bruce collected both Connie and John for the afternoon drive on such a cold and blustery day. And I thank Bruce for the lovely addition to our Western Canadian collection, the poster featuring our new logo. Excellent.
Although I have other photographs of my four friends, I enjoy the fact that John Vallance’s true personality is showing through here and that Connie is taking it all in. If any of you would like a more formal photograph for your files, just contact me.
The program that the Claresholm museum hosted was fabulous! I want to thank the town and its people who extended their hospitality. I know that it was a cold and grey day, but the events and the people created a warm and happy experience for all in attendance. I really enjoyed the sincere presentation/words and hoop dance performed by Sandra Lamouche. Due to lighting, very few of my photographs give justice to her performance and I hope that my readers will take a look at her website.
At a point, Bruce, Connie and I went for a cup of tea in a neighbouring restaurant and we enjoyed a very yummy lunch. It was nice to catch up with Bruce and Connie. They are great people and I am so happy that they are in my life, with a common interest of family research and history. I also had the opportunity to wander both the exhibition hall and the museum. There is nothing like a focused wander through a museum, especially one with an RCAF display! I enjoyed conversations with two ‘hookers’ who produce amazing works in the tradition of East Coast hooking and a lady who descends from family in Norway. Very interesting stories and generous contributions!
When I pulled out of my parking spot to head home at 4:30, I could still hear the ringing of beautiful music coming out of the concert tent. Today was a perfect day and I’m grateful for the opportunity to enjoy another Alberta Culture Day.
Remember…please…Leave NO CHILD BEHIND!
Off the top…a great book recommendation made by Bill MacDonnell, Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama.
From the section of Streams of Consciousness Chapter 5…this preface by Gaston Bachelard.
“I was born in a country of brooks and rivers, in a corner of Champagne, called Le Vallage for the great number of its valleys. The most beautiful of its places for me was the hollow of a valley by the side of fresh water, in the shade of willows…My pleasure still is to follow the stream, to walk along its banks in the right direction, in the direction of the flowing water, the water that leads life towards the next village…Dreaming beside the river, I gave my imagination to the water, the green, clear water, the water that makes the meadows green. …The stream doesn’t have to be ours; the water doesn’t have to be ours. The anonymous water knows all my secrets. And the same memory issues from every spring.”
― Gaston Bachelard, Water and Dreams: An Essay on the Imagination of Matter
These summarize my general sense of landscape and more specifically, place.
Just as I think that our narratives inhabit objects, and without materialism, contain our affections and memory, I believe that particular places do the same.
On Labour Day, my son and I headed to Magrath, Alberta to say good-bye to a house…my Auntie Ruth’s home…because on September 15, it will be possessed by a new family after all of these years. James and I listened to CBC radio programming all the way south to Lethbridge. It seems to me that a story on whistle blowers in places of employment kept us engaged for most of the journey. The miles, as is usual, went by quickly. Once traveling the 23 across from Claresholm, Barons was just around the corner and then, with coulees in sight, I felt as though I was home.
Rolling into Magrath, the first stop was the old house. My cousins have been sorting and downsizing and cleaning…a very difficult experience, as I recall from the days when my parents went through the same process. As I stepped into the house, all of the memories of childhood and adulthood rushed back to the surface. There’s just no stopping that particular experience. I snapped a few photographs…while Auntie Ruth had already moved…she was still absolutely present to my experience of memory and love.
Last week, my cousin wrote that he had found a package of negatives in among Ruth’s things…and much like I do at such discoveries, he set out and had them developed. Here, is a scan of one of those photographs. My parents, in 1954, brother John, a year old and one, a photograph of my Grandfather, John Moors, with his dog at Greg Lake.
“His use of architectural phenomenology lets the mind loose to make its way, always ready for what might emerge in the process. The house is ‘the topography of our intimate being’, both the repository of memory and the lodging of the soul – in many ways simply the space in our own heads. He offered no shortcuts or routes of avoidance, since ‘the phenomenologist has to pursue every image to the very end’.”
If one does not move carefully through a house/home, one might not capture these bits of magic or ephemera that remain silenced by time and circumstance. I’m grateful to my cousin who discovered those negatives, flattened amid the bric-a-brac.
Our footsteps echoed in the house, as James and I traveled room to room. And while memories flooded my walk, my son James had a completely different experience of place and quietly uttered the words, “This is so sad.”
I remember the front door always being open or unlocked. Family came and went.
My father asked me to take a photograph of the front door. Several times repaired or renovated, my father had recollection of an incident from his childhood in this part of the house. I’m publishing that recollection, here, as it was written.
“Well the problem is Kath this new door had the hole above it fixed. Anyway my dad and his buddies came home from hunting birds one day in Magrath Alberta . Of course they were half cut (as dad told me years later”if you are going to drink just drink good scotch and you will never have a hang over”. Well that day Dad left a shell in his single barrel 12 gauge shot gun. I being an inquisitive young lad wanted them all to know ( Mom and the whole family was in that little living room); anyway I lined up the duck flying above the door cocked the gun and pulled the trigger.. BAM you should have heard the screems and the shot about knocked me on my butt but there was a neat round hole firght through trim at the top of the door which appeared just seconds after a big guy way over 6 feet had walked in. Dad was the only one who got supreme heck for having a loaded gun in the house. Now I have bared my soul to all those interested.PS I was about 7 or so when this happened..”
I remember fried eggs and bacon cooking….the smell of toast freshly-popped. I remember my mother’s laughter in this kitchen. I will always remember where my Auntie sat.
The back room…I remember the ceiling being lined with cardboard egg cartons. I remember my cousins and drumming and laughter. I remember the door from this room out to the back, always open. I remember summer.
I remember Linda. I remember sleepovers. I remember lots of quilts and pillows.
I remember food supply.
Objects of the every day.
I remember the gardens…the lilies…the geraniums…the hanging baskets.
More than anything, I remember my Auntie sitting on the front porch.
From the house, James and I went for visits with both his Great Aunties…Ruth and then Eleanor. We are so blessed to have these women in our lives, as well as my Auntie Jackie and Auntie Mary. I lift up prayers for all…for their health and their safety and that we keep memories such as I enjoyed with my son, close to our hearts.
Just this morning, and the reason for this post, I interviewed Auntie Ruth over the telephone, about her home.
Back in early 1940s, my Gramma and Grampa moved to Magrath, mostly in an effort to help their young daughter, Ruth, fight the symptoms of asthma. The humid air in Ontario seemed to really irritate her breathing and my grandparents were willing to try anything.
The first home they lived in was rented from a Ukrainian family. I am in the process of researching their name. Water was manually pumped from a well on the property. There was an outhouse and bathing happened in the middle of the kitchen floor in a round tub. Auntie Ruth remembers the water being heated in a kettle on a wood/coal stove.
Magrath had two stores at the time, the Trading Company and Louis Stevenson’s store. There was a black smith shop on main street, as well as a show house. There were no sidewalks in the town.
When Ruth turned 16, she remembers that the family moved into a white stucco house, the very house that James and I visited on September 1 of this year. She remembers that Eleanor, Margaret and Johnny went off to school in the town, located where today’s school stands but, of course, a much smaller building. During the war, Ruth worked at one of the blanket-making machines in the Golden Fleece Woolen Mill. I’m posting a photograph of that particular mill here…it is not to be confused with the Woolen Mill that my grandfather opened up some years later.
Many contracts came in to the Magrath Golden Fleece Woolen Mill during World War II 1939-1945. My Auntie remembers working there.
A booklet published by the Magrath History and Museum Association and written by John Balderson, explains…
“When in full operation, the Golden Fleece Woolen Mill ran three 8 hour shifts, 24 hours a day. Twenty-five men and women were on each shift making seventy-five individuals in total. Two hundred and twenty five army blankets were made each day using 1,000,000 lbs of wool each year.”
Whenever my Auntie speaks about that time, she mentions the Canadians of Japanese descent who shared her machines with her. She also talks about the shame she feels at how they were treated. She explained to me this morning that eight Japanese-Canadian women were pulled off the Sugar Beet fields, to work in the mill. They were all University educated and lovely, however, shy women. Auntie Ruth said that their housing was comprised of sheds lined up on the far edge of town, rows and rows of sheds where these beautiful and hard-working people were treated as prisoners-of-war. My Auntie will never forget the women she worked with on her shifts.
In terms of the house, my Auntie remembers very good and also, difficult times. She dated my Uncle Roy for four months when they got married and moved to Lethbridge, Uncle Roy worked for Western Drilling. Ruth was 20 at the time. Auntie Ruth will always tell you that the Korean War finished off her husband. And all these years later, having read about the war and discovered the exposure these soldiers had to Mustard Agent and Lewisite as well as the bizarre view of PTSD at the time and the irresponsible treatment of these veterans, it is absolutely no wonder that he and his family, struggled upon his return.
I remember vacation days in both Magrath (at my Auntie Ruth’s and at my Grandparent’s place in front of the mill) and Raymond (at my Auntie Eleanor and Uncle Ted’s place). In fact, I regret that I didn’t have the chance to grieve the farmhouse in Raymond like I did this house. I remember much family laughter. I remember the smell of a slow-cooked blade roast in the oven. I remember my Grandmother’s laughter. I remember the smell of wool.
This past weekend, I said good-bye to a place. That does not mean that it does not remain with me…always.
I have lived the past five years without my mother in the physical-her-voice-over-the-phone-physical way. The night I received the phone call that my mother passed away, I crumbled to my knees. Mom was my closest friend. There was NO WAY this could be! Today, the reality of it is still absurd.
Every event in my life, whether small OR significant…every milestone is a reminder. Grief never leaves, but ‘softens on the edges’. For those of my readers who have not yet suffered loss, we ‘don’t get over it’ ever! In timely fashion, CBC radio produced an amazing program on the subject early this week? end of last week. Just a sec. I’ll go find the link.
When my grandson was born, I got a bit of a sucker punch in the gut, some time after the elation and after I drove home from hospital for some much-needed sleep. Hot tears hit my pillow because in my mind the most heaven-filled experience of my lifetime has been the birth of Steven, so what might that have meant to my mother? I hurt a lot with the inability to share this precious boy with my mother.
So, there are always going to be those moments.
What can I do, moving forward? Well, one of the gifts that my mother gave me in moving into the everlasting is that she gave me the relationship I now have with my Dad. Let’s face it, Moms and daughters can talk A LOT. As women they become well-bonded through their experiences and their enjoyment in conversation. Since Mom gave me my friendship with my father, I am so grateful. I love that man so much! We have persisted with our 5:00 pm Skype conversations that began to happen daily when Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, although clearly, our timing is a bit more flexible. My Dad and I talk about absolutely EVERYTHING and this wasn’t always the case. I thank Mom for this. I’m very grateful. Moving forward, I can continue to honour my experiences with my Dad.
What else? Honestly, I am very concerned with the growing incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. It is a hideous disease and it is also very cruel to families and caregivers. While not the only debilitating disease that is slamming the world population, it deliberately robs individuals of talents, abilities and knowing.
As various forms of dementia wreak havoc on aging populations (and this is a bit of a stereotype), we need to explore a number of aspects…health care, supports for caregivers, a more generous perception of personal support workers (paid BETTER and valued for their important work), and financial support for the sake of clinical research.
Finally, I am interested in spiritual connection. My mother really valued her relationship with her Saviour. During my nature walk this morning I was thinking about how human beings are plugged into their devices, around the clock. My Mom would want people to unplug from those and to plug in to real-time conversations instead. She would want us to plug in to experiences and to explore the inner workings of our hearts and minds, no matter our leaning or our ceremony or our practice. As I contemplate this, I will take time today to consider my spirit and tend to it.
Let us be gentle with ourselves on our personal journeys of grief. Time moves on, even though we fight against it. Today, on the anniversary of my mother’s birthday, I am going to spend time in the garden. I’m taking my dog walking into beautiful landscapes. I’m going to try to live an honourable life. I am going to remember the times of laughter shared with a beautiful woman, my Mom.
I sit here eating a hot bowl of hamburger soup for breakfast, nursing a cold that after days, seems to hang in. The soup is comforting and healing.
There are no photographs on this particular post, but a link, here, for everything you might want to find out. Calgary’s Walk With Our Sisters memorial installation has been two years in the works (maybe more) and has traveled Canada. It has just a few more visits and will be retired to Batoche. This stop in Calgary is an amazing opportunity for us to connect with the journey…to think about our sisters who are missing and murdered and to think of their families and friends. It is important for us to honour their lives and their life force because these sisters remain with us, as long as we remember.
As you will see, there are opportunities for volunteers throughout the coming weeks. All are welcome. Orientations are offered, but it was made clear yesterday, at my own orientation, no volunteer will be turned away.
As most of you know, at the onset of Canada’s 150, I decided that I wanted to embark on a journey of gathering knowledge and understanding about Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. I didn’t know how to begin. Sable Sweetgrass hosted an online book club and this peeked my interest, so I began to read along and reflect on the authors and books that we were reading. It was Sable who told me about the book club at Forest Lawn Public Library, hosted by Indigenous Pride with 12CSI and 12CSI Community Safety Initiative.
I attended my first monthly gathering at the library some time after that, intending to read a book a month, for a year, with a focus on Indigenous authors. After bonding with this group and having my mind and awareness open up, I decided that I wanted to continue with the group and to enter into my own personal journey with Truth and Reconciliation and the 94 calls to action. Michelle Robinson has been key in my life as an agent of change and her embrace is assisting me in becoming fearless in this journey. I can not judge what other Canadians do with the knowledge of Residential Schools or with the initial shock of colonial movement across our nation. I am responsible, first, to grow in knowledge and then to go forward to be a strong advocate on behalf of our brothers and sisters.
I was invited to volunteer with Walk With Our Sisters and this has also expanded my knowledge. As a result, I am inviting all of my readers to participate at some level during the weeks ahead.
Last week, a lovely group of women gathered to tie tobacco and I grew new friendships and new knowledge. I really love the fact that working with our hands created such a warm community feeling. My mother would have loved it.
Yesterday, I attended an orientation and was blessed by Autumn EagleSpeaker’s clear and welcoming approach. Autumn is a strong woman who is a source of inspiration for these coming days. It was evident how she has inspired so many others on this journey. I am grateful for our meeting. I was further blessed to meet Christi Belcourt, artist and visionary where this memorial is concerned. We were given an extended opportunity to preview the work that has been done to this point and to be given more information about the ceremony and protocol involved.
I loved being given the story of the shape of the Calgary installation, with consideration for the two rivers, the elbow, the native plants and medicines and the dress. The configuration of the vamps has been very specific to each city’s Indigenous peoples along the way, while the vamps themselves represent and include a wide variety of peoples, even expanding beyond international borders.
I am really looking forward to my shift later on today, the final installation shift prior to the Opening Ceremonies tomorrow afternoon, at 2. I hope my readers will attend. I hope that you will even extend this to volunteering a few hours, if it is possible.
Just ending this post with a lovely video of Christi describing the world of plants represented in a large painting in acrylic. Amazing stuff!
When my London-born son-in-law hears or reads something really impressive or heart breaking or touching, he voices or writes the word, “Respect”. I think it’s a nice response. If he says it to me, simply, and without explanation or embellishment, I feel that…respect.
I’ve noticed in my world, the world of ‘EDUCATION’ that there is a loss of respect these days. Readers, don’t jump on my perceptions…it’s just what it is…my perceptions. I find students are often lacking respect for teachers. I find that professionals are losing respect, in their words and actions, for their peers. I find that people in positions of authority are disrespectful to people ‘beneath’ them. I’m wondering what is going on?
Social media offers us a plethora of disrespectful ‘threads’ day in and day out. We have, as a people, stopped listening to one another. Brief blasts of tweets or posts or images, leave conversations dangling, sometimes making us shiver with their hatred, negativity and stone-walling sensibility.
Recently, I had the opportunity to engage conversation with and learn about one soldier. I had intended to add his photograph to the bottom of a post about my great-grandfather John Moors. Master Corporal Joe Green was the person who took on the task of cleaning my great grandfather’s Memorial Cross, a sterling silver cross that would have been presented to my great grandmother Mary Eleanor Haddow 100 years ago and another to his mother, Grace Rebecca Porter, as a result of John’s death during a German bombing raid in Etaples, France. He had been lying in a hospital tent in Canadian General Hospital #51…a hospital situated with some proximity to a railway line.
Often times a person still hears negative comments about the military. There are wide-sweeping generalities made about peace and war and defense and aggression. “They shouldn’t have been over there in the first place!” Oh…to be ye, who judge. Oh, to be ye, who remain safe in your comfortable beds, with your comfortable thoughts, with your perfect opinions of other people, other countries, other politics because having been given the power, you would done everything differently!
I’ve been faulted for ‘living in the past’. But I don’t. See! I live here. I live now. But, I am absolutely NOT going to lose ties with our common past. I am always going to engage the touch stones of history, in order to do better. I am always going to remember.
Maybe it was the fact that I grew up in a military family during the Cold War years…during peace time…that I grew up with respect.
I remember attending high school in Montana. The MIA were still returning home, some of them, after the war in Vietnam. In 1969, the students were participating in fundraisers and wearing bracelets to bring their men home. Many, as my readers know, were never to return.
I picked up the Memorial Cross for John Moors and drove home. The roads were thick with deep snow, but I felt like I was floating. I was so elated to be driving home in 2018 with a 1918 Memorial Cross as my cargo.
I wrote the name Joe Green into my google search. This is what I found…article written by Cassie Riabko titled After the tour: Canadian soldiers reintegrating into society. Among the profiles, I learned about Joe. He made the correction with me, over electronic mail, that he had done two tours, not three, as noted in the article. He had not read the profile until I pointed it out to him through mail.
Master Corporal Joe Green first joined the Canadian Military in 2002, serving two tours in 2006 and one in 2008. His primary role was defensive operations, working in dangerous environments with firefights and ambushes occurring frequently. Most of his negative experiences came from his tours in 2006. They have been connected to his difficulties with integrating back into the civilian way of life.
The main memory that sticks out to Green was back in 2006 when his platoon was called out for a mission to help the American Special Forces Forward Operating Base. He had to stay back while his platoon went to aid as support. That night, none of the soldiers from his platoon came back to base, they were all in the hospital and one, Private Rob Costall, was killed in action. From then on the tour accelerated for him.
In 2008, Green began his integration process, starting a job in the civilian work force. “From going from carrying a weapon 24 hours a day to sitting at a computer, it takes some adjusting,” says Green.
It wasn’t until roughly 2010 where the thoughts and experiences from overseas started to have a major impact on his everyday life. “I started being less involved in the military, I started drinking heavily — not on a daily level — but when I would I would get extremely upset,” says Green.
With his job, he would have to drive in the city often. “There would be a chain reaction of thoughts that would lead back to something that happened on tour. I would dwell on it and I would be driving and I would come back to reality hours later in some random location in the city,” says Green.
He remembers the woman on the phone telling him to leave it to the professionals to diagnose his symptoms as he was comparing his situation to others he felt had worse experiences. Shortly after, his file was processed with Veteran Affairs and he had appointments booked at an operational stress injury clinic.
Green was diagnosed with PTSD and an anxiety disorder all related to his experiences overseas in Afghanistan. He was prescribed medication to aid in sleep and also for depression. He soon began to see results.
“I went through treatment in 2012, and I just ended last year. I went through the whole process of weekly sessions for about two years — from going weekly, I was going every second week to once a month to every three months,” says Green.
His process spanned from 2012-2016. In October 2016 he was officially discharged in at the operational stress injury clinic in Calgary. He weaned himself off the medication with approval from his doctor.
“The OSI clinic took really good care of me. I always recommend it to other members who are going through similar situations. However, if they are not ready to help themselves — they have to want to be better,” says Green.
He describes his experience as positive and very supportive from the organizations that helped him. “I don’t have anything negative to say about Veterans Affairs,” says Green. Currently he is serving as a Reservist with the Calgary Highlanders and he has taken courses to earn promotions within the Canadian Military.
Upon reading this profile, I made the decision to write a post that dealt with this issue of respect. While reading Joe’s profile, I found myself with tears. I took pause and remembered, in prayer, Joe’s peer, Private Rob Costall. Joe’s journey has inspired, in me, a new level or respect. This is the man who all of these decades later, held our family’s Memorial Cross in his hands and with precision and care, brought it to a beautiful sheen. I received his name through the centrally located Royal Canadian Legion Branch 275 in Forest Lawn. I had met a most amazing historian, there.
I received this Memorial Cross (there were two that were sent out, one to John’s wife Mary Eleanor Haddow Moors and the other to his mother, Grace Porter Moors…this is likely the one that I am now holding), kindly, from my father’s cousin JR Moors of Roseville, California. My Dad’s Uncle Bob had kept it safe and in his care and then left it to his son for safe keeping. The day it arrived by mail, I was overcome with emotion.
And finally, with Joe’s work…the refurbished Sterling silver cross.
As a part of our experience of respect, I think it is essential that we promise care of the objects that represent our soldiers and their service. I highly recommend that you solicit the help of Joe Green, locally, in order to tend to these treasures. Please contact me if you want his information and I will have him respond to your request.
I am blessed. I am grateful. I am filled with respect.
My cousin, James Perry, on my maternal side said it perfectly…
“A good polishing would bring back the shine of that silver too, IMHO tarnished medals are brought back to life with polishing, and are part of “Always remember, never Forget” and the sacrifice our families made to keep our world free from tyranny.”
I continue to be blessed by individuals who somehow land upon a post of mine now-and- again, (quite often, recently), as it relates to family. I have often come across old photographs, military medals and treasures in second-hand shops and thought to myself, “I hope that our family treasures are always cherished and remain with our families, somehow.” Well, in this world of digital imaging, more and more, photographs of our loved ones surface and just as I have shared with others…others share with me.
I am hoping that in the morning, my family members are surprised by these recent gifts from a man who I will simply refer to as Phil.
Yesterday’s e mail, in my inbox, began like this…
I know Mom & Dad (can’t recall if ‘Granny’ was with them) stopped in Magrath years ago on a trip. I can’t recall if they connected with anyone though. I seem to recall Dad saying there weren’t any/many Moors left there…”
Phil began by sharing two photographs, along with their annotations. I immediately forwarded the e mail to my father and he very shortly responded via Skype, sharing stories about his three oldest sisters and the three gents that they dated…all horse-riding cowboys. Off they would go for their rides together, evenings, in the herd pastures of McIntyre Ranch. *OOPS! A mistake…Dad has sent me corrections, here.
“It was not Mcintyre ranch herd pasture. It
was the Magrath herd pasture where all our cows were pastured every day
!!! Rob worked at the ranch as I recall ‘but even that may be wrong
cause we all owned horses in Magrath and Raymond in those days even me .
Love you big good work.”
It is an amazing thing, this lovely collection featuring my aunties. Beautiful Margaret is now passed on, but Auntie Eleanor just enjoyed her 90th birthday…as did Auntie Ruth, a couple of years ago. Auntie Mary, the youngest, was not to be excluded from this set. Also featured, my Gramma Florence Moors, my Great Auntie Caroline; her son, Orval who flew with the Canadian Navy and would not have lived much beyond these two photographs, having served on the battleship, HMCS Magnificent, (was a Majestic-class light aircraft carrier that served the Royal Canadian Navy from 1948–1957.) meeting an early demise when the plane he was flying, crashed. His little sister, Joan, is also present in one of the photographs.
Based on the annotations, it seems likely that Auntie Ruth sent some of these archives…some might have been mailed, along with letters, by my Gramma Moors to these friends in the east.
I am amazed by the generous hearts of people who take the time to scan and forward such treasures on to me. I do not take any of this for granted.
Family, do enjoy and copy and save these to your own archives. I love you all. Thank you, Phil, for taking this time.
And, here’s dear little Mary Jane.
Today, I enjoyed a yummy lunch at the Blackfoot Diner with Phil and his wife, Cindy, and they generously gave me the original photographs that you see above. I am blessed.
This is a very brief post that serves only to express gratitude for the recent and generous connections I have made related to my Great Grandfather John Moors (1876 – 1918). What a wonderful thing it is to have cousins discover my writings and research and to respond! These Paternal relations include Charlene, Jacqueline and now, James. Thank you, for your connection. For about 15 years, I’ve been fanatically engaged in research on both my mother and father’s sides of the family.
Some would ask, “Why does it matter?…or… “What does it all mean, anyway?”…but, there is something innate within me that wants to know who my people are. It is a weakness.
Long-story-short, I have always looked for a photograph of my Dad’s Grandfather, in uniform. Every Remembrance Day, I was disappointed that I had only the image of his wedding day. He died and is buried in Etaples, France. He was lying in General Canada Hospital #51, when during the night, a bombing raid orchestrated by the Germans, decimated most of the location and killed John Moors. I’ve thought that he should be remembered. Don’t get me wrong. I was happy about having the wedding photograph…but, imagine my excitement when, randomly, Charlene sent a photograph over the internet from her home to mine…and to, in a flash, have my Great Grandfather’s visage appear face-to-face with me on a screen in 2018. GAHHHHH!
Enough said…first, our family’s single archive up until now…my Great Grandmother Mary Eleanor Haddow Moors in the center front and my Great Grandfather John Moors back right.
I took this photograph of a photograph that my Auntie Eleanor had hanging in her home. When it comes to gathering family history, I’m not super fussy about archival quality of images. It’s a simple blessing to have moments of history sustained and easily available to as many family members as is possible and as quickly as possible. I think I’ve written about this before…that ‘in the day’ how would family members even include one another in these histories? We are sooo blessed!
Here he is! My Great Grandfather! What a handsome man! My father said he had striking red hair, much like my own Grandfather Moors did and now, my own beautiful daughter.
I’m hoping that Betty Silver’s daughter has an opportunity to see this as I know that she was on the look out for the very same image, saying (as other relations remembered) that a large framed photograph of John in uniform hung in the family dining room.
Second to this, Charlene shared what looks like a younger image of this John.
He looked dapper. I try to imagine as I look at this image, that here is captured the 13 year old who came by ship, on his own…a British Home Child who worked very hard on at least three farm placements including Elora and two outside of Guelph. This was likely taken during his Hamilton days.
And finally, a family photograph including my own Grandfather John Moors, his young brother Robert (Bob), his sister, Grace and his mother, Mary Eleanor Haddow Moors. Mary Eleanor had striking dark eyes and hair…I see a lot of my father in her. This would have been taken some time after the passing of their father and husband John Moors.
And finally, something that I just received tonight…icing on the cake! My first cousin once-removed, James, has provided photographs of front and back of John’s military medal. I’m so grateful that unlike so many families, this object has been cared for and cherished so that now, so many years later, all can enjoy. Blessings on my family for their generous work. My cousin, Teddy Witbeck, has been doing a remarkable job working on our family tree on Family Search. As we continue to piece together our history, his work can be accessed. Trust me, you will have a great head start that way!
Love you all.
I’ve written away and had much support attaining John’s military record…this medal assignment was included there.
There are no photographs that I can find (we probably didn’t own a camera), of the days when Dad, my brother John and I used to play the ukulele. There are just so many tunes to play around the campfire on a ‘Uke’ but I remember them including Yellow Bird, Michael Row The Boat Ashore…Down In the Valley and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
Dad got us interested in stringed instruments very early in our lives.
Whenever we gathered with friends or went camping, we had sing-songs. In fact, we grew up surrounded by music. Our military life took us on many family road trips and Sunday drives and all of it involved singing a repertoire of folk songs, big band era music like Abba Dabba Honeymoon, Moon River and Mack the Knife and funny songs like “One Man Went to Mow“, There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea...well, you get the idea.
Dad also owned a beautiful Gibson guitar. Nothing made me happier than listening to him sing songs, while playing that guitar. There are no photographs of the Gibson, but I’m certain that my father and siblings remember it as though it was yesterday. It was a family treasure. Dad shared…
“I was given that beautiful Gibson from our neighbour across the street from us on Briar Hill Drive in Battle Creek, Michigan. I am sorry I cannot remember their names, but they were certainly good friends of ours throughout my tour there. He was a Lt.Col in the USAF Reserve and taught high school. One of the humorous things I remember was Mom giving him a 1 quart and a 1 pint milk bottle that somehow came with us on the move. He was so excited since he would use them during his 2 hour course on Canada. That was the total length of time for their history of Canada. Anyway he came over one day and had the Gibson with him. He told me that it had been owned by quite a famous country singer and was given to him. It honestly looked like it had just come from the factory it was such a beautiful instrument. I simply adored it and learned to play somewhat from a book.(just our usual camping songs.).”
Because of this inspiration around stringed instruments, when I got a regular summer job at The Deluxe restaurant in North Bay, Ontario, I decided to buy my very own guitar. I spotted the one I wanted in a music shop window on Main Street and began saving up my tips. By end of summer, I made the purchase of my Yamaha Classical guitar…something I decided on so that I could play with ease because of the give of the classical strings instead of the resistance of steal strings. I’ve treasured that guitar for ever since. Yes…it’s gone out with my own kids to campfires and parties…but, it hung in and makes a beautiful sound to this day.
At the day of my purchase, I also bought a song book of Gordon Lightfoot songs. The thing about this particular book, the chord illustrations appeared above the appropriate words, so I figured, like my Dad before me, I could teach myself to play guitar.
From 1960 until 1963, Gordon Lightfoot became a household name in Canadian homes. He was and still is a wonderful song writer…optimistic writing, surfacing during what came to be known as the Folk Revival (just before the huge movement of Beatles music across North America and the world.) I wasn’t like my brother, John, who next door to me in Great Falls, Montana, in a neighbouring bedroom, played the Grateful Dead and Gregg Allman. I was playing Dylan; Buffy Ste. Marie; Peter, Paul & Mary; The Mamas and the Papas, Pete Seeger and Gordon Lightfoot.
In the end, it turns out that my older brother, John, became a person I would always admire for his ability on guitar. He had the ear for music and was a natural. He felt the guitar and released its spirit, where I would be measured and predictable. I think he spent some years playing at gigs as well, and given his home in Sault Ste. Marie, he moved towards a Bluegrass style.
Once I moved to Lethbridge and attended University, I continued to appreciate more mellow voices and music, enjoying Valdy, Bruce Cockburn, Bette Midler, Cat Stevens and Paul Williams. Somewhere along the line, I bought myself a Three Dog Night album. It seemed that I never really had a lot of money…still don’t…so accessing concerts and getting out for musical events didn’t really happen until I ‘grew up’. I did, however, listen to other people’s music and so became exposed to a lot of Cabaret music in the day, Beatles, Rolling Stones, Peter Frampton and Grace Jones…on and on it went from there.
Summers and Christmases, traveling back home to share times with Mom and Dad, the guitars came out…and always there were sing-songs. Mom always asked me to play and I did.
Family reunions brought together a large group of very talented people, many of them sharing guitar during the programs. Cecil, Jo-Anne, my brother, John…Dad…
There have been a lot of back yard, under-the-tree sorts of moments…sitting in the stair well at the U of L, singing my heart out. Living in residence was isolating at times. The guitar filled lonely moments.
There was never the chance or the opportunity to pick up a Gordon Lightfoot ticket before this recent purchase. But, long-story-short (fail)…last evening I had the chance to attend a concert where 78 year old Gordon Lightfoot came to Calgary, I felt, to sing just to me. I purchased the ticket some time ago. Without a partner, I’ve had years to practice not being shy about attending events on my own. Strategically, when something comes up on my radar, I pour over the seating maps for the venues and select the best single seat that I can find for that event. Last night, I ended up in the second row of the Grey Eagle Casino Theater, with an unobstructed view of Lightfoot. A father and teenaged daughter duo were sitting to my right. I felt a bit sorry for the daughter because after every tune, the Dad would turn to her and say, “Did you like that one?”
To my left, two Ya Yas sat down just as the show began, a little envious of the cold gin and tonic that I was sipping, having arrived in time to access the bar line before the performance.
I felt that the performance last night was all about good song writing. The lyrics, beautiful narratives, for the most part, were exquisite. I was filled with admiration for this person…for a career of dedication, struggle, and sideways living-gone right. I really listened to these lyrics for the first time and saw them as very positive.
I got teary at the point where Gordon Lightfoot began singing The Minstrel of the Dawn…and that continued until the end of the song. Many of his songs moved me, but this one, the most.
Lightfoot is good humoured about his abilities. He has a great lead guitar that provides the thread of his former performances. His voice is weaker than in the past, but has all of that quality that is endearing. Some songs were performed as shorter versions of themselves, out of need to entertain the crowd with the ‘old familiars’, but Lightfoot performed his most recent writing in its entirety and with enthusiasm. I was really impressed.
I can’t tell a lie. As I listened, I thought about my Dad. I thought about what a gift it must be (and I have some experience of this already) to be able to continue to delight in your talents after so many years. Dad, at 86, is in a choir and continues to carry the magic of his Irish tenor voice whenever he interprets music. I was impressed by Gordon Lightfoot last night and was moved in a remarkable way. As we move into our later years, we need to do what we can to continue nurturing our gifts. I’m posting a video here. I hope you will take the time to listen to the interview and then, listen to the song.
Music is something we hold inside of us…like DNA. The stories that we carry in us are, for the most part, bits and pieces of the music we have cherished in our lives. Live music can never be underestimated for its impact on us.
Post Script: The Next Generation
As a part of researching my family, there are just a few archival items that have been passed along in our family and some of those are a little worse for wear. There are two postcards, written by my Great Grandfather John Moors addressed to his son, my Grandfather John Moors. One is in my auntie’s possession and the other is in my father’s possession. The first one is known as a silk, easily identifiable because of the stitched front side.
Embroidered silk postcards do not all date from the First World War – they were used for sentimental greetings in France before 1914. First exhibited in 1900, they continued to be manufactured until the 1950s. Production peaked during the 1914-18 war, as the format proved especially popular with British soldiers. The hand-embroidery is thought to have been carried out in domestic houses as ‘out-work’ by civilians in France and Belgium, and in the UK by Belgian refugees. The designs were repeatedly embroidered on rolls of silk. These were then sent to cities (mainly Paris) for cutting up, final assembly and distribution, in what was probably at that stage a factory operation.
The silk that we have in our family is now behind glass. I apologize for the glare as it did impact the photograph, but it is great to have a digital image and to be able to share its contents with my family.
On the backside…lovely words…a father to his son. John asks for mailing information for Walter and George. I’m pleased that I have placed both of them in this photograph prior to heading overseas. He writes very much as my grandfather spoke, with a bit of formality. I reach across time and space to give him my love. This is August 2016, mid ocean. My Great Grandfather died, while a patient, during the bombing of Etaples Canada Hospital on May 19, 1918.
Walter and George both appear in the 40th Field Battery photo taken at Camp Borden. I don’t know if my Great Grandfather had any opportunity to reconnect with them. They both survived the war, though there are several references that put their military units at such locations as Vimy and Passchendaele.
My Great Uncle Walter…
My Great Uncle George…
The second postcard was more simple issue, sent as my Great Grandfather was returning to the war, after a leave in Paris. It’s strange, but this object is a real treasure, in my mind. When one thinks about letters or postcards, there is an intimate relationship between the hand, the eye, and the heart…these two items were held in the hands of my relation. Quite amazing that they have managed to move through the passage of time!
A couple of things I wonder…
…if my Grandfather sent his father letters.
…if anyone has a photograph of my Great Grandfather in uniform. As far as I know, the photograph that appears at the bottom of this post is the only one in existence. This is also a digital image.
I am forever-grateful for these two postcards, the last one post marked March of 1918, two months prior to John’s death.