A Canadian gal living in Britain with 3 men and a dog. Wine helps.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Number 12: Where Your Family is From

Like my sister, I know little about the place where my dad and his family hail from. I know it was a working farm somewhere in the wilds of Alberta. When my dad was a youth of 17 he joined the navy and sailed away and never moved back. I have no memories of my father’s hometown as I’ve never been there.

I was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland into a family of strong women. My mother is one of eight, six girls and two boys. Funnily enough the boys were situated on either side of the six girls. They attended a two room school not far from where they lived, in the fishing village of Fox Cove.

As my mother was single when I was born, she moved back to live with my Nan in Fox Cove around the time I was approximately three months old; she went back to work in the hospital, and I stayed with my Nanny.

Nanny and I forged such a close bond that when my mother decided to move to Halifax, Nova Scotia, my Nan couldn’t bear the thought of losing me and made the decision to re-locate herself. (I love it when my Aunt tells me this story). It was a move that couldn’t have been easy for her since Halifax was such a ‘big’ city and she was from such a small village.
(This is a picture of Fox Cove as you would have approached Nan's house, the beach is just down the hill and to the right.  We use to go to the church when visiting Nan)

So... we made the move to Nova Scotia and initially lived with one of my other aunt’s.

Nanny went back to stay in her house in Fox Cove during the summer months and sometimes we were lucky enough to take family vacations and spend a few weeks there with her. My sisters and I loved the big old house where my mom grew up; it had four bedrooms upstairs that had the most amazing cast-iron beds and old fashioned chamber pots. Nan’s kitchen was huge; my favourite features were the old wood stove and the ‘day’ bed over near the window. I loved laying on that bed while Nan pottered about the kitchen and I think the reason why I love the song Sonny’s Dream so much is because it used to play on the radio in Nanny’s kitchen which was on a shelf above that bed.

(This is a very old picture of my Nan's house... I'm told that the people on the road are likely my Nanny and Poppy.  This brought tears to my eyes, naturally)

It was only in later years that Nanny had a toilet installed under the stairway, however there was never a bathtub/shower in that house. Hard enough, I’m sure, on my Nan when she was raising her kids, yet that was the way things were back then. As my sister mentioned in her blog challenge, mom used to have to take me and my two sisters up the hill to a family friend to give us a bath; she never once complained about the inconvenience. I myself never go back to my mom’s home and complain about how she only has the one bathroom (we have three) and there are four of us, plus Mom, Dad, my siblings and whomever else happens to be there to stay, because compared to what my mom had to put up with, it’s small potatoes.

As I said earlier, I come from a long line of strong women that dates back to my great-grandmother. If you want to read about her story, you can read Tawny’s post here.

Sadly, the last time we visited Nanny’s home in Fox Cove was when I was 18. It was a good trip and I managed to spend time with friends and family that I used to play with on those long ago visits when we were much younger; the children of my mother’s friends. (I reckon my brother and littlest sister would barely remember this trip. It’s strange to think they have such different memories than me, Tawny and probably Sandra). The house has now been torn down (how saddening) and I haven’t been back to Fox Cove since. I plan to rectify this in future years; I want to revisit the beach we used to play on, and climb the hill to the cemetery where my grandparents and great Aunt Minnie and Uncle Stan are buried. I want Andy to see the wild beauty of the area where my ancestors lived and worked, where we still have family.

The beach across from Nanny's where we used to watch the the fishermen in the morning.

I’m proud of my Newfoundland roots and always smile when I’m told that I’m just like the Antles.

(I have a lot of pictures from when we were little, a few from Fox Cove maybe, but none here in the UK.  It is thanks to my friend Jason, who grew up in Fox Cove, that I was able to publish these photos.  I can't thank him enough (and his relative who had some of these photos.)
I had to publish this photo too, because it's absolutely stunning and I was never lucky enough to see Fox Cove in the winter:

1 comment:

JBrown31 said...

This is one of my favorite posts that I've read of yours.