I’m reading my grandfather’s record of our 1985 trip to England/Scotland. 1985 was the year that I graduated from high school, and my grandparents and I, along with my grandfather’s brother, Jerry, and cousin Errol plus Errol’s wife Dorothy, took a trip together.
I had been eagerly anticipating this trip, it being my first international trip (excluding the States). I was also a total anglophile before this trip, but not afterward.
Here’s an entry from day 12, which appears to have started in Liverpool and ended in Bristol:
That night, [BC], Margaret and Don walked 3 blocks to a famous jazz bar, Dukes, for a drink, a look-see and listen to the jazz band there. It was great. (Jerry/Errol/Dorothy didn’t want to go — they missed out on a treat). Walking back 3 young girls are getting out of a black taxi cab, dress [sic] to kill and all with purple hair. [BC] likes them. Must be the hair.
So, j00j suggested that I write something about comics. That’s a big topic for me, and has several dimensions. I mean there’s the whole “my history reading comics” angle, and the “comics I like” angle, and the “what tools am I using to make comics?” angle and even the “what comics am I working on?” angle.
So I’m gonna try all of that. But probably not all in one post. First, history.
I’ve said before that the house I grew up in didn’t really have many books. My parents weren’t readers, and I didn’t start reading until they taught it in school. I attended Rosedale Public School for nine years (kindergarten to grade 8 school). There wasn’t much distinctive about Rosedale. It was built in the mid-fifties, and had two classes of each grade. The classes for grades two and three laid out in an open concept in an area that surrounded the school’s library (although we never called it a library; it was apparently a “resource centre”).
Anyway, in grade three (1974/1975), the teachers introduced a reading period, and encouraged kids to bring books to read, and to show them off to other students. And that was how I was first introduced to comics. Several other kids had comic books. Popular books at the time included Richie Rich and Baby Huey and Hot Stuff, the Little Devil, but I was most fascinated by one comic in particular: Justice League of America #100.
Dear friends who have children, or spend a lot of time in their presence (without cowering in fear, like I do): I’m looking for some help identifying the age of these kids. How old do you think the kids are in this picture?
I know who the three older kids are, but I’m trying to identify the baby. It’s either my father, or my father’s older sister, Elizabeth, who died as an infant. If it’s the latter, then this might be the only picture of her that I know of.
I’m tackling more of the Holmes family. I left civilization, today, to visit my aunt in Mississauga (I kid! I kid! Mississauga’s not that bad, especially for someone who grew up in Sarnia). My aunt loaned me a metric buttload of old photos that I’m busily scanning, and we talked about family history.
I delivered the major deliverable of my big project on Thursday. Like many deliveries, the last few days were busybusybusy, and I’m happy to be taking this long weekend to decompress from that. I turned my attention to some of the genealogy stuff that I’ve neglected for a few months. I took a stab at writing up a blurb about my line of Houles for that Houle/Houde family association that I found out about several months ago. They have a quarterly newsletter, and they were interested in the Houles of south-western Ontario. Anyway, that got me looking at the migration of family members, and the towns and villages around Sarnia
My biological grandfather was Walter Dynes. He died a dozen years before I was born, and he was from Dresden, Ontario. He was one of two children of Russell Dynes, both of whom died young. The Dynes family were grocers, operating the Dynes and Dynes Grocery in Dresden. When Walter Dynes married my grandmother (who was from Wallaceburg), they moved to Petrolia. Walter Dynes died not long after that move, and a few years later my grandmother married Don, who was a Petrolia local.
It’s like a blast from the past, man. I have a copy in my hot little… Documents folder.
I’m not exactly sure, but I think I was in high school when I was given a copy of a family-tree-filled booklet called Those Irish Holmes. I’ve only found a few references to it online, and those references suggest that it was published in 1987 (but with a question mark after the date) — I would have been in university in ’87, and I’m sure I had my copy before that. My parents moved during my first year of university, and I never saw the book after that move.
I’ve never really known how the Holmeses arrived in Ireland, but I’ve always known that my Holmes ancestors were Irish. My father strongly identified as Irish; my mother didn’t express any particular affinity with any national origin, although she has a lot of Irish in her with a French streak as well, based on the family tree.
I’ve found enough information from that original book, online, that I can reassemble the fragments I recall about how the Holmeses came to Canada. It starts with the family of Andrew Holmes and his wife Susan/Susannah. In 1845-49, the Great Irish Famine was in full swing. Compounding the problems of the famine was Irish fever — a typhus epidemic that took hold in Ireland, and moved to England.
It appears that Andrew and Susan packed up with 6 of their 7 children (the eldest, Mary Ann, stayed in Ireland with her husband) and sailed off to Canada. I have conflicting information about whether this took place in 1845 or 1847. New York had enacted some legislation with the goal of keeping Irish immigrants out in an attempt to prevent the epidemic from arriving and Canada knew full well that it was going to see a dramatic rise in possibly sick Irish arrivals. The arrival station at Grosse Île, Quebec, ramped up its quarantine procedures and prepared for the influx. Today, there’s a monument on Grosse Île which reads, “In this secluded spot lie the mortal remains of 5,294 persons, who, flying from pestilence and famine in Ireland in the year 1847, found in America but a grave.” One of the names recorded on the memorial is Andrew Holmes, who died in 1845.
I’ve found the section of Don’s material that has all the old photos of me throughout the years. Eeep. It was a whole other gender ago!
Also some news clippings from when I was in school. There are two newspaper articles from my high school days. It’s funny; I remember the days when the photos were taken, but I couldn’t quite remember the events that precipitated them. They’re both from 1983.
In the first case, there’s a photo of 17 students from grades 9, 10, and 11. I’m one of the grade 11 students. This article related to the University of Waterloo-sponsored math contests: these, I think, would be the Pascal, Cayley, and Fermat math contests (our high school did a lot of math contests). Apparently our scores placed our high school first in south-western Ontario. I, of course, recognized a number of the faces from that photo, including my high school friend and Canadian math prodigy Eric Veach (who’s been at Google for a good while now).
The second photo had to do with a set of computer contests run by the American Computer Science League. If they’re the ones I’m thinking about, they involved a number of exercises (something like six to ten), each done on a different day, where you’d code a program to a spec and the instructor would test your program against some pre-defined test data to see if you got the right output. According to the article, Northern came in 33rd against 346 schools, and 1st in Canada. Interestingly, I remember almost everyone in this photo — even the ones I had little interaction with. Eric’s there, again, and my other close high school friend, Chris Irie, is hanging out in the back row. I think Eric and I are the only grade 11 students — all the others were a year ahead of us.
All this to say, hey, I was there! I kicked ass! I took names! And then I promptly forgot most of those names over the years. Humf.
I’ve encountered my first big mystery in the genealogy research. I do a few things as I digitize the research. I scan the pages — mostly, these pages are divided up into main family lines. Then I try to transcribe the large number of charts into a software product called MacFamilyTree, and that tool has some synchronization capabilities with a website called FamilySearch.org (run, as most of these sites are, by the LDS).
Genealogy websites are, basically, databases. And I understand databases. But I also understand that trying to decide that two records really are the “same” person requires a certain amount of human interpretation.