Keep­ing prom­ises

Par­adise au­thor’s new book help keeps an­ces­tors alive

Annapolis Valley Register - - ARTS - By Laura Churchill Duke An­napolis­coun­tyspec­ta­tor.ca par­adise

“When we were grow­ing up, we al­ways knew we were to take care of Jonathan and Sarah’s grave­stones,” says Par­adise au­thor Barbara Bishop. “I made that prom­ise to my mother, too, be­fore she died.”

Bishop is re­fer­ring to the grave­stone of her an­ces­tors, Jonathan and Sarah Leonard, that are in the front yard of her home.

Bishop grew up in Par­adise on the land her an­ces­tors set­tled in the 1700s, and where her great­great-great-grand­par­ents are buried. As a child, as her grand­fa­ther would tell sto­ries of them when­ever he came for din­ner, en­sur­ing her an­ces­tors were al­ways with her.

Bishop re­al­ized there would soon be no one else who would re­mem­ber these an­ces­tors and retell their sto­ries.

“They worked too hard to set­tle the land here, and they are too im­por­tant to for­get,” says Bishop, who of­ten wan­ders her prop­erty, as­sur­ing her an­ces­tors she will re­mem­ber them.

These fam­ily sto­ries cul­mi­nated in­side Bishop un­til she set about to put them to pa­per. Bishop spent 10 years re­search­ing her fam­ily his­tory, us­ing any doc­u­ments she could find, in­clud­ing old fam­ily let­ters and min­utes of coun­cil meet­ings from when the Aca­di­ans first ar­rived. The re­sult is a beau­ti­ful, heart-warm­ing story that cov­ers sev­eral gen­er­a­tions of fam­i­lies who even­tu­ally moved to Par­adise to set­tle the land in the 18th cen­tury.

Through her self-pub­lished book, Prom­ises to Keep, read­ers are trans­ported to the time of the French Aca­dian set­tlers to the bat­tle of Louis­bourg in the 1750s, and over to Eng­land where a mother’s chil­dren are taken from her and sent on the Mayflower to the new world. The next few gen­er­a­tions es­tab­lish farms, saw mills, and run a tav­ern, all in Par­adise, mak­ing a last­ing im­pres­sion on the area.

Prom­ises to Keep is a story that shows how quickly a gen­er­a­tion goes by, how quickly we for­get, and yet, how much im­pact our an­ces­tors have on our lives to­day, says Lana Churchill, who toured Bishop’s land with her to dis­cover the land­marks men­tioned in the book.

“Bishop’s novel is a won­der­ful read that will in­spire you to look more into your own fam­ily his­tory,” says Churchill, who par­tic­i­pated in a book club meet­ing with Bishop in her home. “The book is full of vivid lan­guage, and the char­ac­ters come to life.”

Prom­ises to Keep is avail­able at Coles in New Mi­nas, In­side Story in Green­wood, End­less Shores in Bridgetown, Bain­tan’s in An­napo­lis, James House (Bridgetown), Macdon­ald Mu­seum (Mid­dle­ton), and from Bishop her­self.

Laura Churchill Duke photo

Par­adise au­thor, Barbara Bishop, stands with the grave­stone of her great­great-great grand­par­ents, Jonathan and Sarah Leonard, who she has writ­ten about in her new book, Prom­ises to Keep, avail­able lo­cally.

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