Cana­dian vis­i­tors in search of their roots

The Arran Banner - - News -

A few months ago a group from New Brunswick and the USA vis­ited the San­nox Chris­tian Cen­tre which has built links with the de­scen­dants of the peo­ple who built and at­tended San­nox Church be­fore they left for Canada. Fiona and Ge­orge Hazel have been to visit them twice. A few years ago Ian and Mary Hamil­ton came to Ar­ran as they wanted to re-ded­i­cate their mar­riage in San­nox Church. This time it was a much big­ger group which vis­ited and had an amaz­ing time. One of the group, Joan Savoie, who has done a lot of re­search into her fam­ily’s links with Ar­ran, tells of the visit.

The trip to the Isle of Ar­ran for 17 de­scen­dants of John Hamil­ton and Mar­garet Cum­ming took place in Au­gust 2018. Ac­cord­ing to the Res­tigouche County, New Brunswick Cen­sus of 1851, John and Mar­garet ar­rived from the Isle of Ar­ran in 1828. Passed down through fam­ily his­tory sto­ries, it was of­ten said that the fam­ily of five, John, Mar­garet and their three chil­dren James, Cather­ine and Ann, ar­rived on the brig Cale­do­nia.

The trip to Ar­ran was two years in the plan­ning and on Au­gust 9, 2018, the de­scen­dants from across Canada and the United States, waited as a ferry sailed into the har­bour at Ar­drossan. Look­ing to­wards the ferry, it soon be­came clear that the group would be board­ing the Cale­do­nian Isles which seemed fit­ting since their an­ces­tors sailed from Ar­ran on a brig of nearly the same name.

With most of the group stay­ing at The Cor­rie Ho­tel in Cor­rie, it soon be­came ap­par­ent that Ar­ran was very much like the north­ern shores of New Brunswick. The beach with its rocky shore, look­ing across the blue wa­ter to the moun­tains, gave an image of New Brunswick look­ing over the Bay of Chaleur to­wards the moun­tains of the Gaspe Coast of Que­bec.

There was a feel­ing of peace know­ing that we were stand­ing on the same soil as rel­a­tives three gen­er­a­tions be­fore.

Once we ar­rived on the is­land we were given first class treat­ment. Our tour guides Ge­orge and Fiona Hazel, from San­nox Chris­tian Cen­tre, started our tour with a visit to the Ar­ran Her­itage Mu­seum where we were in­tro­duced to Mar­garet Wright.

Mar­garet had done her re­search on the line of John Hamil­ton and Mar­garet Cum­ming and helped fill in some gaps in the fam­ily’s story. The mu­seum gave our group a glimpse into life as it was on Ar­ran dur­ing the time of our an­ces­tors and how they lived and worked. Names we all recog­nised were writ­ten all around us as we read the sto­ries of the clear­ances and viewed the maps of our home in Canada.

Next stop was Lam­lash, the place where our an­ces­tors sailed away to a new land and a new life. Stand­ing on the same ground gave us all a sense of be­long­ing. We felt we had been there – there was some­thing fa­mil­iar to us all as we stood by the Clear­ance Me­mo­rial that was un­veiled in 1977 by a lady many of us knew grow­ing up in Black­lands, New Brunswick – Mrs Myr­tle (Cook) Maxwell. We knew her story of that trip and the un­veil­ing. Stand­ing on the mound that was still vis­i­ble where Rev A MacKay preached as fam­i­lies boarded the Cale­do­nia seemed sur­real. We felt the pres­ence of our an­ces­tors as we walked the grounds sur­round­ing the me­mo­rial and won­dered what they said to each other as they sailed away and looked back to­wards Ar­ran know­ing they would never see this land again.

From the me­mo­rial at Lam­lash, Ge­orge and Fiona took our group to the Lam­lash ceme­tery where row upon row of Hamil­tons could be seen. The fi­nal rest­ing place for Hamil­ton fam­i­lies go­ing back into the early 1700s. Names fa­mil­iar to us all, John, Cather­ine, Mar­garet, James – names passed down through the gen­er­a­tions from Ar­ran to their new home in New Brunswick.

John Hamil­ton and his fam­ily may have sailed from Lam­lash but they came from Kingscross, just a few miles away. Vis­it­ing Kingscross was next for the group. Walk­ing down to the beach and dip­ping our hands in the wa­ter made us all feel close to the peo­ple who came be­fore us. The beach held a like­ness to the beach in Black­lands and many of us com­mented on how our an­ces­tors must have felt as they walked the beach in Black­lands and felt a fa­mil­iar­ity with the land they had left be­hind. The scenery at Kingscross had so much in com­mon with that of the north shore of New Brunswick, that for a mo­ment if one closed ones eyes, it was easy to imag­ine we were still in New Brunswick and not miles across the At­lantic.

Our fi­nal des­ti­na­tion of the day was the San­nox Chris­tian Cen­tre, with a church that was built on land gifted by the Duke of Hamil­ton. It was in this church that our an­ces­tors would have wor­shipped and prayed and pos­si­bly gath­ered in ser­vice just be­fore leav­ing their beloved Ar­ran for a new life in a new land across the At­lantic. Within the San­nox Church, many of us felt a spir­i­tual pres­ence, a place where we could slow down and lis­ten and re­view the events of our day.

Some of the vis­i­tors at Kingscross where their an­ces­tors lived. The group learn about The Clear­ances from Mar­garet Wright at the her­itage mu­seum. Two of the group be­side the Hamil­ton Coat of Arms on a gate at Brod­ick Cas­tle. The group learn of their an­ces­tors from Mar­garet Wright. The group sets out on a tour of Ar­ran.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.