When we were cleaning out my father’s house after he died we found a garbage bag at the bottom of a hall closet. On top of this bag were at least two sets of golf clubs (I think we found five or six total in the house and garage), a broken vacuum cleaner, some other stuff that had certainly been sitting there for a while.
In the garbage bag we found pictures, documents and records that must have been sitting there since my father cleaned out my Granny’s house after she died in 1992.
I assume he just didn’t want to deal with it all, so there it sat for us to find. And what we found was a treasure trove. Not only was there a scrapbook put together by my Granny when she went to Almonte High School, there were my Grandpa Scanlon’s records of most of his life. My grandfather fought in both World Wars and I am now in possession of his official war diary, several proofed versions of an itinerary he put together for the 1939 royal tour stop in Ottawa.
I’ve also found, among Dad’s papers, a plethora of genealogical records and I have used them to kickstart my family tree on ancestry.ca. In fact I spent most of today entering information and following clues from both sides of my family and I think I’ve tracked all sides back to the part of the UK they came from. (Yes, very Anglo-Saxon family. VERY. One of my ancestors ever enlisted to fight against the Fenians).
I have learned over the course of the past year that my Grandpa Scanlon – though he might have preferred Grandpa Jack, he didn’t live long enough to meet any of his grandchildren – was one of only three Canadians to fight at Passchendaele at survive the rest of the war, that in April 1915 he was in Ypres and noted in his diary that the city was “on fire.”
I have learned that in my father’s family most every man is named after a grandparent or an uncle. (My father was named after his grandfather and an uncle, an uncle who also had a son that he named after himself. Ask my how many Johns, Jameses and Josephs there are, go ahead).
Dad’s sister was named Kathleen after her Aunt Kathleen, and Grandpa had a sister named Margaret who could have been named after her Aunt Margaret Scanlon or maybe after her Aunt Margaret Kelly.
I remembered that one thing Dad asked me to try and find when I told him I was playing around on ancestry.ca a couple of years ago was the record of his father immigrating to Canada. He wasn’t sure of the year and he didn’t know the name of the ship. Imagine my surprise when, among the records from the bottom of that closet, I found a note that told me exactly what Dad wanted to know.
Grandpa Jack was born in 1885 in Middlesex, England. He sailed to Canada aboard the Megantic and landed in Halifax in April of 1911. And now I have the record of it.