Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Familiy Left Behind



For many of us, Canada is "our home and native land." But our ancestors, whether it be two, three, or more generations ago, were immigrants to this land. When they left their country of birth, Scotland or Ireland in the case of my ancestry, they also left their families. This often meant little or no future contact with the loved ones who remained. Without the modern opportunity for instant messaging, emailing photos, or free Skype calls, months or years could pass between letters and news from 'back home.'

Technology and electronic media have made this an exciting time to research family history. Not only has the digital age made records available through the Internet but it has provided new opportunities for collaboration and reconnection with long lost family members. I have been amazed with the number of cousins with whom I have been able to give and receive family updates. In some cases, these 'found' cousins have explained that they had heard of the family members that left for Canada many years ago but assumed that family branch had 'died out.'

For example, I have 'met' Margaret Shand, my third cousin twice removed. I was able to 'connect' with Margaret when I saw, as typically occurs, that the family members she was researching, I was also researching. As we discovered, her father Alexander Shand was the second cousin of my grandfather, John Gauld Hadden. Due to a number of factors, I don't believe that Alexander and John ever met and perhaps likely never knew of each other and their relationship. When Margaret and I shared family photos, we were struck by the family resemblance between Alexander and John. Both are pictured above and perhaps might be taken more as brothers than cousins who didn't know one another.

The lesson for genealogists, both novice and experienced, is to reach out to other genealogists as I have found they are always willing to share and, often you will find your family circle getting just a little bit larger.

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