Ontario 6: Cottam, Essex, and Windsor
My connection to the area reaches back to the war of 1812 when John Clark, my ancestor fought the Americans. I have a little story about that to add. For his service there and again on the western front near Windsor he was granted land. He may have fought with Tecumseh and been present that sad day.
Cottam: Fast forward to 1957, my younger sister Pearl registered at the Metropolitan Hospital in Windsor to train as a nurse and looked up her Clark ancestors. Lo and behold she located Nip Clark and his young nephew who very quickly won her heart. She and Ken built their dream home on the Queen family’s traditional land in Cottam. Pearl provided children’s story time at the Cottam library for many years. Pearl now lives in Winnipeg and took a picture to bring back. It was good to stand firmly on ancestral land.
In Essex we met a small but amazing group. An Essex historian, the boy my sister had taken camping with his mother, a vibrant reader and library enthusiast, and . . . “I’m your cousin, and you wrote about my family in your book.” Taken by surprise he explained that he came from the ‘Blain’ line, the family in Chapter 2 who stopped by on their way to their homestead. It took a moment for the cobwebs to clear and then I managed to fit him into my fame as later one of the children in the family married a Clark.
“Have you read the book? I wanted to know.
“No, I haven’t. I bought it when it first came out, but it was so beautiful I couldn’t bring myself to break the cellophane cover. I’ll read my sister’s copy next summer.”
Windsor: I hoped to meet some members of the historical or genealogical society because my Clark ancestors were from the area. The picture of the wagon truck on the last page of my book was taken at the Canadian Transportation Museum and Heritage Village near Kingsville. There you will find preserved the Clark cottage, home of Alexander and Sarah Jane when they left for the west in 1879.
Windsor: The main library was bustling with patrons coming and going, but my reading had been overlooked. They remembered only in time to put up a poster at the front desk as I arrived. They gave me space and a mike. There can always be a first for such a thing to happen—what to do? Three people arrived, a woman interested in history, and our friend Sybrun, who brought a friend with an ancient Veldhuis family connection. Art played and I carried on. We had a good discussion. The library added my book to their collection, but know about it and take it out? As I left, I felt as if I was abandoning Elise.
And so my Ontario adventures ended with a return to our friends in Lucan. Could there ever be more gracious hosts in our time of need? London airport and home. Art soon had another Vertigo attack, but this time we knew not to panic. We found a physio solution to his condition and he now has the freedom to continue helping our son with his bees.
I very soon received amazing news: For Elise was nominated to the long list. Two weeks later the book was short listed with two other titles, for the Whistler Independent Book Award. Another trip to plan, life is full.