Monday, April 18, 2011

When 'Distant' Cousins Connect

I suspect that there are as many reasons for beginning to research your family history as there are family historians. For some it will be a curiosity, for others it might be completing a family tree that someone else in the family started, and for others it is a love of historical connections. I have written often that for me it was a desire to know more about the ancestors, not too distant, that I didn't get to know like great grandparents and wanting to discover their reasons for making in many cases life altering changes in where and how they and their families would live.

My ancestors came to Canada from Scotland (paternal side) and Ireland (maternal side). A strong motivation then was to determine what drove their decision making to leave their native countries for a land half a world away. In addition, I wanted to know about the family they left behind when they set out to establish their new homes. Just a desire to know more about my family. There were no illusions of a new career in genealogy (more about this is a subsequent post).

This blog started as a means by which I could share the knowledge I have acquired about the family history with family members who now live great distances from each other. I had no idea that it would also serve as a means of connecting with some of those family members 'left behind.' I have been amazed at those "cousin connections" that have emerged because a blog post caught someone's attention in other parts of Canada, in the United States, in Finland, Australia, Scotland, or Luxembourg, and, has led to connecting through email and social media like Facebook. This, in the past year, has led to face to face meetings.

This past week another 'face to face' connection has occurred as my second cousin Pamela Gaull has journeyed from her current home in England to visit Toronto, Ontario to have a chance to meet with me and other cousins. I have shared some of the story previously in the blog about how Pamela and I initially connected and that she is the author of the novel The Darkness of Dreams.

Aside from getting together during her visit here to chat and drink voluminous amounts of coffee (me!), I had the pleasure of touring Pamela around to show her the homes that our common ancestors lived in up to 100 years ago when members of the Gaull family first immigrated to Canada.

Below are two photos from our travels today. In the first, Pamela is with my father, Lewis Hadden. Pamela's grandfather, John Stalker Gaull, and my father's grandmother, Jessie McKenzie Gaull, were brother and sister. Pamela and Lewis then share a great grandfather in John Gaull. In the second photo, I am seated with Pamela at a restaurant where we stopped for lunch. Connecting with the family 'left behind' makes the hours of research work all the more worthwhile - they were already enjoyable!


  1. I have found the same thing - what started as a curiosity about my ancestors has blossomed into embracing a huge family of distant cousins. Not all of them are into the researching aspect, but so many are grateful for the glimpse of our ancestors lives, and we have become friends, however distant. I have enjoyed several face to face meetings and also reunited previously separated branches of the family. What started as an interest in family history over 20 years ago continues to evolve... the amazing journey continues!

  2. It's always fun to meet face-to-face. Thanks for sharing your family photos. Your experience illustrates one of the best reasons to have a genealogy blog.