Canadian Genealogy · Photo History · Stories of WWII · Womens History

A summer flood of connection

Genealogy has opened the taps of connection and story in so many unexpected places. I’m sitting here trying to process it all, while marvelling how fortunate I am to be here right here, right now.


This past month, I’ve crisscrossed the country to visit both sides of the family, and because they all know of my passion for genealogy, they know if they bring out the family photo albums, or tell family stories, they will have my complete and undivided attention. I’m so struck by time passing and the urgency to talk to my older relations NOW NOW NOW.


My husband and I visited Ancaster, Ontario, where his family’s Canadian roots are at least 250 years old. With the help of his parents, we visited three cemeteries and found dozens of his relations.

I met Arlene Chan and her sister Janet Lumb for tea and desserts in Toronto, and while we thought it was our first meeting, it seems we knew each other decades ago when my grandfather Harold Chu had his warehouse at 509 Main Street, Vancouver.

My husband’s family came from all over Ontario to enjoy a sun-dappled al fresco lunch in our SIL/BIL’s beautiful garden.

I travelled to West Vancouver to attend the celebration of life for my great aunt Lily. We who loved her gathered to tell stories of her life, to pore over her photo albums, and to meet each other. We also welcomed a new cousin to the family.

I spent some time with my still gorgeous, vivid and sharp aunt Y., who invited me to do her family tree. She comes from the south of France, and I’m already looking forward to learning French history through the eyes of her family.

My friend E. and I visited the new Chinese market gardens exhibit at the Burnaby Museum, where we talked to students Jenny and Gillian who are studying with Dr. Henry Yu in his Asian Canadian & Asian Migration Studies Program and learned there may be a trip coming up in 2019 to visit south China for the Chinese Canadians.


I have returned home with hundreds of photos, dozens of notes, and about a million new genealogical inquiries I’m dying to research. If only I could give up sleep.

However, all that’s going to have to wait. I am a week away from choosing the winner of my first ever genealogy contest. I’ve been immersed in preliminary research for my finalists Rhonda Cooper, Lynn Heartwell Galbraith, and Kelly Bode. This is going to be such a hard decision!

See you next week!
Wedding photo of Lily and Arthur Pearson, 1952. © Past Presence. All rights reserved.

Postscript – Mystery photo

This is a new photo for my collection. The family story is that Lily worked for a manufacturing plant in BC during WWII.

The photo is undated. In it, my aunt Lily appears to be walking to work with her coworker, who is carrying a paper bag, presumably with her lunch in it. It’s during the day, and is likely either spring or fall, when it’s warm enough to carry a coat over your arm during the day but cools off at night. The two are wearing similar but not identical uniforms, white socks, and flat shoes with laces. The collar of the woman on the left seems military to me.

If you can help me with any detail, however small, I’d so appreciate it. For example, what is the logo on the uniform?
Lily and a coworker, WWII era Vancouver BC © Past Presence. All rights reserved.


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