My Week Off – Deuxième Partie

One thing about riding the train in Canada is whenever anything is spoken it is done twice, in English and French. I know very little French and sometimes wonder if they are adding things to the second part because the French translation goes on for way longer than the English. Maybe they are talking about me?

Anyway. (As my mom used to say.)

After we got off the train we has to make the decision to head to our hotel in Regina or stay in Saskatoon. Because our train was 6 hours late coming in it was going to be a bit of a rush. We decided to go for it and just take our time. We had dinner at a place called, “Five Guys” and I think I put on at least 5 pounds. But oh, it was good! I just had a burger and fries but the burger was exactly how I like it, lots of mustard and pickles with a squirt of hot sauce. It would have been death for anyone with peanut allergies because the fries are cooked in peanut oil. So good!

The next morning we decided to go for a walk after sitting on the train for 2 days. There was this.

2015-05-17 21.28.49

And this.

2015-05-17 22.09.18

And this.

2015-05-17 22.10.25

Cue the, “Awww!”

Then we made our way to Humboldt, Saskatchewan. Remember I had told you that I had sent an email trying to find the grave of my great grandmother and ended up getting an e mail from long lost relatives not only offering to show us around but to let us stay with them? They turned out to be lovely and amazing and so gracious and kind. They took us to Pilger (population 85) to see this.

2015-05-18 02.59.10

The first site of the church my great grandparents would have gone to. It was torn down in 1917 and a new church was built. My great grandfather would have helped in the building of it. The new site is also no longer being used and it is crumbling and about to fall down. (See the cracks above all the windows?) One of my hosts grabbed a brick that was part of the original foundation and it is now sitting on my fireplace mantle.

2015-05-18 03.27.53

On the other side of the church is where many of my family members are buried. I am eternally grateful to my new-found cousins who put into place all the missing parts of my family tree.

2015-05-18 03.04.14

  My grandmother’s sister. (The one that ran away in the night.**)

2015-05-18 03.04.28

Another sister.

Eleanora's husband.

Eleanora’s husband.

2015-05-18 04.27.21

A great uncle and his wife.

Sadly, it was insinuated by my grandmother that they all had died years ago when in fact most of them lived into their late 90’s and early 100’s. She died well before any of them. My mom had always wanted to meet her aunts and uncles but secrets are hard things to hold and everything I believed about my grandmother was true. She was a mistress and ran away with my grandfather while he was still married to his first wife. Her family “did not approve” of the relationship. As far as I know my grandmother’s family broke off their relationship with her. Or maybe she broke off contact with them. My grandmother did keep in contact with at least one sister. She too had “run off in the night to get married.**”  That relationship did not last and nobody knows his name. The saddest part of this is my suspicions about my grandmother. Years ago my mom pressed a cousin of hers about what my great grandfather was like. All she said was, “he was not a nice man”. When my mom pressed further she would not say anything more than he was not a nice man. My mom gathered that he (and perhaps her oldest brother) had sexually abused her. This would have been about 1920. I wonder if her other sister had received the same despicable treatment. My cousins said that both men were heavy drinkers. As sad as this information is I am glad (is that the right word?) to know it now for a fact. Old ghosts can be laid to rest.  It makes it easy to forgive my grandmother for all the lies and unkindness she bestowed upon others.

2015-05-18 03.05.59And the one that I had been searching for, my great grandmother. Her husband is buried in the province I currently live in. The “he was not a nice man” will not lead me to seek out his grave. Even if he was a nice man I have always felt a very strong pull to research the women in my family. We have heard about HIStory but rarely hear about HERstory. I love knowing how hard the women in my family worked, the things they did to make my life better. I was shown a picture of her and she was a little bit of a woman. I wonder what it was like for her to be married to a man that was not nice? I also wonder what her life was like living out in the middle of nowhere on the prairie where temperatures reach 40 below.

I did get a glimpse into her life and that of her family. Our hosts took us to the old family farm. It was owned by them up until a few years ago so it stayed in the family for over 100 years.

The water pump that would have been used by my grandma and great grandma. It is so cool to think they would have used this pump!

2015-05-18 04.01.39

This is one of the original outbuildings. The siding has been redone but this building was built by my great grandfather. Did my grandma play in here? Did she run through the snow to announce dinner to her father and brothers? Or did bad thing happen in this building?

2015-05-18 04.00.15

About 5 km away was the school my grandmother attended. It is incredible to think she would have walked that distance in a cold Saskatchewan winter.

2015-05-18 04.10.57  2015-05-18 04.12.00  2015-05-18 04.12.46

There was a bit more to our trip but the highlight was seeing where my mom’s mom grew up. As a genelogist I had oodles of information on my dad’s side and have tracked back to the 1500’s. Before this trip I knew almost nothing about my grandma’s side.

And now I am tired because this was a very long post!

5 thoughts on “My Week Off – Deuxième Partie

  1. What an interesting trip for you. I am sorry about the behavior and secrets you discovered but at least they gave you some greater understanding. Thanks for sharing your photos.

  2. This is SO fascinating, Birdie! How wonderful that you have filled in the stories of your female ancestors on that side, even if some of the stories were difficult and hard to learn. Alcoholism is always bad news and frequently goes hand in hand with all kinds of abuse. Sad but true. It’s a real risk factor.

    And you’ve got a brick from the church! What a treasure!

  3. What an AMAZING trip. I am so glad that you were able to fill in some of those gaps. And yay for Her-story, rather than His-story. There are far too many secrets in my background, and I am so glad that some of yours are secret no longer.
    What are you going to do with the brick? Any plans? Or is it enough just to have it?

  4. Thank you for sharing the photos. That looks an eerie place and I get a sense of how hard life must have been for the women, I think it was the photo of the water pump that gave me a sense of that hardship. Maybe though it was the story you tell of their lives living with the “not a nice man”, and the long walk to school and the snow. It’s sad to think that these family secrets and the truth of what happened to those girls/women will never truly be known. So many women lived and still live lives like these, sometimes we get a sense of this from individual stories. It is so important as you say Birdie, that we look for the Herstory.

Comments are closed.