The high­light of our va­ca­tion

The Glengarry News - - The Opinion Page -

The Ed­i­tor, Paul and I wanted you to know what a de­light­ful time we spent in Alexan­dria on our re­cent day-trip from Mon­treal. We were va­ca­tion­ing in Mon­treal and Que­bec City for 12 days, Oc­to­ber 1 to 12, and thought it would be an ad­ven­ture to see my mother’s home­town in On­tario.

At 7:30 a.m. Oct. 4, we stepped off the train in Alexan­dria with some trep­i­da­tion; not know­ing how we would get around with­out a car. Since the Thanks­giv­ing hol­i­day was so close at hand, not one car was avail­able to rent in Mon­treal. It was a clear, crisp morn­ing and walk­ing was re­fresh­ing. We knew the town was not large so had high hopes we would be suc­cess­ful in our ex­plo­rations.

We started mak­ing our way to­wards the steeple of a church, hop­ing it was St. Fin­nan’s Catholic Church, and ad­mir­ing the fall colours and sun­shine. My mother was born in Alexan­dria in 1923 to John Joseph and Agnes “Sandy” Mac­Don­ald. Many of my Scots an­ces­tors are buried in the area and my grand­fa­ther, whom I had never met, had once owned a movie the­ater and res­tau­rant there. We were look­ing for in­for­ma­tion on her Mac­Don­ald’s and my great-great-grand­par­ents, William Tim­mings and Mary MacPhee. We had al­ready vis­ited the ar­chives in Mon­treal look­ing for his burial in­for­ma­tion with no suc­cess.

Upon ar­riv­ing, the doors were closed and we couldn’t get a re­sponse at the door of the priest. We were tak­ing pic­tures of the grounds and the build­ing when sud­denly the chapel doors opened and peo­ple started stream­ing out. Two lovely ladies, Gerry Tib­bles and San­dra Law­son, asked if they could help. Af­ter hear­ing that we were from Utah and in­ter­ested in the place where my mother was bap­tized, they gave us a tour of the in­side of the Cathe­dral. Af­ter­wards, they took us to break­fast at the “Pizze­ria” and called in an ap­point­ment with Al­lan Mac­Don­ald, the lo­cal ar­chiv­ist.

Af­ter break­fast, San­dra dropped us back at the church for our ap­point­ment with the priest at St. Fin­nan’s. I’m afraid we were so ea­ger to see his reg­is­ters that we for­got to write down his name. He was fairly new to his parish and was very help­ful and kind with his time and re­sources. He al­lowed us to take pic­tures and notes of the ceme­tery head­stones, the burial reg­is­ters, and a map of the grave­yard.

We then started ex­plor­ing the town and dropped into the city in­for­ma­tion build­ing where they gave us a map of the area and di­rec­tions to the lo­cal li­brary and ar­chive. Just down the street was the lot on which “Shirley’s Res­tau­rant” used to stand, owned by my grand­par­ents. We loved the small lake be­hind the lot and the wall art on the lo­cal build­ing.

It was still a bit nippy, so we walked to the li­brary, an­tic­i­pat­ing warm soft chairs to bide the time be­fore our ap­point­ment. Be­ing a fam­ily his­tory con­sul­tant, I knew there would be a re­li­able source in the lo­cal li­brar­ian, Iris Clark. She was more than help­ful. She showed me sev­eral books that ul­ti­mately helped me lo­cate the ceme­tery where William Tim­mings and Mary MacPhee were buried. Hooray! We had achieved our goal. He was buried in St. Alexan­der’s Ceme­tery in Lochiel, right next to his wife, just ten min­utes away.

Ten min­utes may seem very close, but walk­ing that dis­tance in the cold was not ap­peal­ing to us. When Iris heard this news, she gra­ciously

of­fered the use of her car for the next sev­eral hours un­til she was off work. She had only met us 30 min­utes be­fore! We took her up on the of­fer and drove out to the ceme­tery. We found the plot right where it was listed in the reg­is­ter, but no head­stone; just a small square of gran­ite with the let­ter “T” en­graved on it. We learned the church was no longer ac­tive and was be­ing re­mod­eled into a com­mu­nity cen­ter. There were bro­ken grave­stones strewn along the perime­ter of the lot. We took many pic­tures of the MacPhees and the MacDon­alds’ grave­stones and the church, know­ing they might be help­ful in fu­ture re­search.

We still had a few hours be­fore our ap­point­ment with Al­lan, so we trav­elled back to town for a late lunch at the North Glen­garry Res­tau­rant. The food was de­li­cious and the at­mos­phere was great.

Our time with Al­lan was well spent. We dis­cussed the work of

the ar­chive and its re­sources and re­ceived copies of the bi­ogra­phies of my grand­fa­ther, J.J. Mac­Don­ald and my aunt’s hus­band, An­gus Hoye McDonell. We also have pe­rused the pho­tos and The

Glen­garry News ar­ti­cles he has or­ga­nized and posted on-line. That takes a lot of time and ef­fort! He is do­ing a great work for the com­mu­nity.

Af­ter re­turn­ing the car to Iris, she was kind enough to drop us at the train sta­tion. We walked across the street and had some hot bev­er­ages at the lo­cal “At­lantic Pub and Eatery.” The place was fill­ing up fast so we re­treated to the train sta­tion to rest and wait for the train to ar­rive a lit­tle af­ter 7 p.m. We have to say the visit to Alexan­dria was the high­light of our va­ca­tion. The peo­ple of Alexan­dria are warm and friendly and very gen­er­ous. The fall colours were spec­tac­u­lar on the train trips we took while trav­el­ing. Get­ting a feel for the area my mother grew up in was spe­cial. Some­day, we hope to at­tend the High­land Games there in Maxville. Un­til then, keep up with the good work you are do­ing! Lau­rie and Paul Hill,

West Jor­dan, Utah

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.