Sunday, August 8, 2010

Blake family

A hiatus of three weeks and now back to looking at the Blake family and the charts which I purchased from the Wiltshire and Swindon Record Office. We have been on a three week trip to the Maritimes and in particular Newfoundland and Labrador. The trip was a success as I saw everything that I had hoped to see (except for icebergs but that was our warm winter as we would normally have seen icebergs in the places that we went). L'Anse aux Meadows was particularly poignant. Walking on the same ground as the Vikings walked on over 1000 years ago is quite exciting. The recreation there is very much worth a visit. Since they constructed homes in much the same way as they were constructed by my ancestors in England I found the experience to be very learned.

Seeing whales in their home environment was a thrill. We just couldn't get enough of that. At each sound of "Whales" we would hurry to see the evidence of their existence. We only saw one whale jump up out of the water exposing his large body. For the most part you see the blowhole spray and then the back breaches the water and then the tailfin comes up high. It is a glorious sight and we spent nearly an hour sitting in the middle of a pod as they swam around the boat. a truly breath taking experience and I would do it again and again I suspect just to be close to these marvelous mammals. I keep thinking that whales that I see in the ocean could have been there when my grandparents and father came from England to Canada. They live to be several hundred years old and they came to Canada in 1913. It has this linking to my family's past as part of the component of my liking to see them in the wild.

There were many other highlights but for me those two stand at the forefront along with visiting Labrador which I had never done before. Labrador was a surprise. I expected wilderness and found a modern community - not a large city but towns such as we would find anywhere else in Canada. The views there are incredible and so green - I expected to see the land more like Scotland with its high craggy mountains. The mountains are high there but lush with their green trees and high bush blueberries, labrador tea and others. We hope to explore Labrador further at another time.

All told we had four ferry rides and one boat trip and the all boat rides were very comfortable. We had dolphins and porpoises on our ferry rides from Port aux Basques to North Sydney and whales on our trip from St Barbe Newfoundland and landed at Blanc Sablon Québec but stayed at L'Anse aux Claire in Labrador. Strait of Belle Island is quite wide and you can just see the other side on a clear day.

I had not been to Halifax before and really enjoyed our time in the City. We walked the waterfront from our hotel (Delta Halifax) almost to Pier 21 and back on our first evening. The harbour is a very busy one and there were a number of navy vessels in - frigates and one destroyer plus other smaller boats. There was so much to see and we had a three hour tour which introduced us to a lot of Halifax. We visited Pier 21 and the Citadel in depth plus walked from Pier 21 along Hollis Ave to the Citadel. Pier 21 was very interesting although none of us have ancestors who arrived in Halifax at the time Pier 21 was in use for immigration. My latest arrival was 1913 with my father and his parents and Ed's latest was his 2x great grandmother's family (including parents) when they arrived in Canada in the early 1830s. His German born great grandparents appeared to have come through New York (in the 1860s) as did my Pincombe family (my great grandfather, his siblings and parents arrived at New York harbor 7 Jan 1851). My grandmother (maternal) landed at Halifax in 1908 which preceded the opening of Pier 21 by twenty years so also missed being in that collection. However, it was most interesting to see the collection that has been established and it is an excellent accumulation of material.

The Citadel was the best part by far. A great deal of the structure is original to the mid 1800s when it was built. There are renovations to take it back to this time period as it was in use up until the end of the Second World War. An excellent movie to be watched on the history of the Citadel and I purchased my first fleece coat there with the Halifax Citadel embroidered on it. I never bought myself one before as I usually wear my daughter's hand me downs :) I really enjoyed Halifax but after seeing that I was most anxious to be on my way home. I am always like that on a trip. Once we have accomplished everything I just want to be back home.

I made elderberry jelly when we arrived back and am just about to freeze 12 cups of Elderberries for pie later in the year. Our elderberries are heavy this year and we have only picked and cleaned half of them. Our garden had grown about double while we were away and we missed our beans once again - the rabbits had a good feed.

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