Find­ing con­nec­tions on Ly­dia Camp­bell’s fam­ily tree

Patty Way’s years of re­search fill­ing in the gaps

The Labradorian - - Front Page - BY EVAN CA­REEN Evan.ca­reen@the­labrado­rian.ca

Patty Way has spent a good chunk of her life re­search­ing Ly­dia Camp­bell and her fam­ily tree. So when the 200th an­niver­sary of Camp­bell’s birth came up on Sept. 19 she was the per­fect per­son to speak about her at the Labrador In­ter­pre­ta­tion Cen­tre in North West River.

“I was in­ter­ested in her as a Labrado­rian,” Way said. “When I was a lit­tle kid I wanted to write a book and I thought I can’t write a book about me and my life when the old peo­ple had way more in­ter­est­ing lives. They had no doc­tors, no den­tists, no any­thing, they were strong peo­ple.”

So she started re­search­ing Ly­dia Camp­bell and her fam­ily tree. She dis­cov­ered it in­cludes a lot of peo­ple in Lake Melville.

Way said there are only a few ma­jor fam­i­lies in Labrador and most peo­ple are de­scended from them, which be­came and clearer and clearer to her the more re­search she did.

Camp­bell was the au­thor of Sketches of Labrador Life, an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy that was the first pub­lished writ­ing by a per­son born and raised in Labrador.

Camp­bell has been the sub­ject of much re­search over time, a fair bit of which was done by Way.

Way said the in­ter­est in ge­neal­ogy started in child­hood. Grow­ing up in Goose Bay in the 1950’s she said her grand­mother would al­ways ask who she played with and would some­times say “you’re re­lated to them some­how” and Way would al­ways won­der how.

“I just got more and more cu­ri­ous and one day I thought, ‘I’m go­ing to know,’ there are too many ques­tions and not enough an­swers. So I went look­ing for the an­swers.”

She said com­pil­ing the fam­ily tree for Ly­dia Camp­bell has taken her decades and has re­quired nu­mer­ous re­vi­sions.

“I keep go­ing back and ad­just­ing it,” she said. “I used church records, grave­stones, any­thing I could find. Labrador is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent in that other peo­ple wrote about it. It was al­ways an ad­ven­ture, a cu­rios­ity.”

She said here and there, from writ­ings of peo­ple from out­side the area, she would find stuff about her peo­ple.

“It’s slowly be­ing pieced to­gether,” she said. “It’ll never end. It can’t be com­plete. I used to try to do the whole tree, now I don’t even bother, it’ll never be fin­ished.”

Her work will be part of the ex­hibit at the Labrador In­ter­pre­ta­tion Cen­tre, which Way said makes her work feel ap­pre­ci­ated.

Al­though it’s not the thought of ap­pre­ci­a­tion that keeps her go­ing on this re­search.

“I’d still be do­ing it just to find out, I’d be do­ing it ei­ther way, whether peo­ple ap­pre­ci­ated it or not.”

EVAN CA­REEN/THE LABRADO­RIAN

Way spoke to as­sem­bled mem­bers of the pub­lic about Camp­bell at the Labrador In­ter­pre­ta­tion Cen­tre in North West River.

EVAN CA­REEN/THE LABRADO­RIAN

Patty Way has spent decades com­pil­ing this fam­ily tree of Ly­dia Camp­bell.

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