Sunday, December 04, 2005


Writing about my mother's father yesterday made me think about my father's mother, who I never knew, as she died when I was a toddler. I've been told many times that I resemble her more than anyone else in the family, though I have my grandfather George's height and colouring. I am definitely a product of this genetic line.

Sylvia was even more nomadic than my maternal grandfather, and I understand both their desires to "move on" in an effort to outrun their demons. She was also born in London, and emigrated to Canada (Winnipeg) with her family when she was in her teens. It was there she met George, a first-generation Canadian and by all accounts a cad and a narcissist (I only ever met him twice). They married and had three children, and when my father was a baby George abandoned the family. Thus began the nomadic life of the restless spirit, except she managed to do it with three children in tow. My father spent his childhood in Winnipeg, London, Montreal, Vancouver and Victoria. And more than once in a couple of those cities. During the early part of WWII, when they were in England, Sylvia met and married a Royal Navy officer. I don't know if they ever actuallly lived together as before long, a pregnant Sylvia and her three teenage children were on a ship and heading back to Canada, in a fleet that was torpedoed.

My uncle was born back in Canada. Later that year his older sister, my aunt, gave birth to her first child. Sylvia eventually settled in Victoria, and died before her time. I've always considered Sylvia's daughter, my only aunt of whom I'm inordinately fond, my connection to her.


Blogger Caroline said...

I love hearing about your family. And the photos bring them alive.

You've definitely got wanderers genes in you!

4/12/05 12:50 p.m.  
Blogger Anonymous said...

Sylvia does not look too happy beside the Cad. Again I loved reading this post :)

4/12/05 3:52 p.m.  
Blogger Nan said...

It's wonderful to read these posts about your family. It's also uncanny, because I have been absolutely carried away lately with some family genealogy research. It's made me ultra-aware of my grandparents and all of my childhood family memories. I did post a little bit about my maternal grandmother on my 100 Things About Me blog a week or so ago. Now I want to do more. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

4/12/05 10:02 p.m.  
Blogger kyknoord said...

I have to agree with Caroline - those amazing photos really bring the story to life.

5/12/05 2:23 a.m.  
Blogger andrea said...

From a very early age I realised that I was the only person in my immediatel family who had any interest in family history and old photos (not to mention documenting the present) so got hold of as many of these photos as I could when I could. There weren't many, so I'm glad I did!

5/12/05 10:02 a.m.  
Blogger ValGalArt said...

Beautiful photos and lovely sentiments.

5/12/05 10:47 a.m.  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I love the pics and stories! I wish that I had more old family pics and, for those I have, knew the stories behind them.

Do you ever come across old pics in junk stores and flea markets? I always wonder about the lives behind them and am saddened that they've been abandoned like that.

If you don't know this website, you may be interested to visit it:

LOOK AT ME is a collection of found photos.

These photos were either lost, forgotten, or thrown away. The images now are nameless, without connection to the people they show, or the photographer who took them. Maybe someone died and a relative threw away their photographs; maybe someone thought they were trash.

Some of the photos were found on the street. Some were stacked in a box, bought cheap at a flea market. Showing off or embarrassed, smug, sometimes happy, the people in these photos are strangers to us. They can't help but be interesting, as stories with only an introduction.

The LOOK AT ME project started with a few photos found by Frederic Bonn and Zoe Deleu in a Paris street in 1998

The collection now contains 513 photos.

If you'd like to contribute a found photo, click here.

7/12/05 3:34 a.m.  

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