Tag Archive for dresden

Bio-Granddad

One day in the late 80s, I was back at my parents’ house, between semesters at University. “I think you look like my father,” my mother said, rather matter-of-factly, and somewhat out of the blue. She went off to another room of the house and came back with a cardboard stationery box that I had never seen before. Inside the box, she produced a large head shot photo of her father, Walter Dynes, for comparison purposes.

I’m pretty sure that I was in my early twenties. Until that moment, I had never her say a word about her father. I don’t think that she ever mentioned him again.

At some point in my life, I’d come to understand that her father had died quite a long time ago, and that the person I considered to be my grandfather was, in fact, her step-father. Certainly, by the time of the great grade 7 family tree homework assignment, the details provided by my grandfather clearly spelled out the three maternal grandparents. But my bio-grandad’s figure seemed to cast no shadow over my family: he wasn’t talked about, no photos were out, and no stories about him were ever told. When I refer to him, I often call him my “biological grandfather” — a term that feels distant and removed. But it also feels apt because he seems distant and removed.

My father’s father, Vidal Holmes, was also dead. He died shortly before I turned two. But I was aware of his absence in a way that I was never aware of Walter’s absence.

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Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Ontario_401_map smallI 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.

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