Family History

I just got off the phone with my Aunt Barb in MN. She gave me a story that I need to get down before I forget it all.

Barb was born in northern MN. I always wondered why and how this came about, since her parents (my paternal Gram & Grandad, who raised me, but that is a whole different story!) lived in Ottawa Canada.

It was because in 1932, the Great Depression was in its heyday. My Gram was pregnant with twins and she was not well at all. Her doctor in Ottawa told her to go to the US where she could get better health care than she could get here in Canada. Gram was born in MN, had all kinds of family there and (supposition here…) was able to go & get help stateside.

Thus, Gram ended up with her mum & dad, Gram & Grampa Woods, in (I believe) Eveleth, MN. The twins were born, altho’ Barb’s sister, Wilma was still born. After a while, it was time to go home, but the Depression had a strong grip on Canada, a bit deeper than the US was facing at the time. It was decided that it would be better for Barb to stay in MN, rather than go back to Ottawa and face the hardships there. Besides, Gram Simpson was still not very healthy and all things considered, this would be best all round.

[ By the time my Grandad & Gram Simpson were settled in, with 2 more children, I imagine that they decided that Barb was also nicely settled with her grandparents. They didn’t want to take here out of that environment. ] ← supposition, again

Barb told me that when she was around 4 years old, the folks in MN thought that maybe she would be OK to move to Ottawa. Her Uncle Norman & dad Thomas brought her to Ottawa and then left a couple of days later, in the middle of the night, no less!

Well, Barb was at a loss as to what was going on. She said that she cried for two weeks straight. It got to the point where my Grandad Bill was at wits end, so Grampa Woods (Thomas) came back to Ottawa, collected up this lost little girl, and brought her back to the home she knew and loved.

-- Now, this explained a “wonder why?” I’ve had for years and never had the courage to just simply ask about it. --

Barb said that she came to Ottawa almost every year for a two week visit, always with her Gram Woods and occasionally with Grampa Woods & Uncle Norman. She and her siblings (my Aunt Judy and Dad) would almost live at the Hog’s Back Beach, now Mooney’s Bay.

Aunt Barb told me stories of her and my Aunt Judy swimming the pool just below the Hogs Back Falls on the Rideau River. She described moving along the rocks with her hands because there was no bottom and most of the rocks she clung to were over-hangs. Barb said that now she realizes that if she had lost her grip, she could very well have been pulled under one of those over-hangs and never be found.

I was told about my Great-Grandad Thomas helping to install the posts to bring electricity to the cottages / homes that were along the Rideau River, between the river and the Rideau Canal, just south of what is now the Heron Road Bridge.

Barb talked about never really wondering, or not much, about her living with her grandparents when her actual parents were so far away and in a different country. “Dad Bill” and “Mum Merle” were her parents. They just weren’t there. She told me that it really didn’t matter since all the families, both in MN and Ottawa, were quite close, always got along and always kept in touch.


I realize now, with time slipping on by and family knowledge going the same way, just how important it is to gather up all those tidbits of history & lore and get it saved for future generations. My ancestry searches have brought up more questions than answers, but those who may have the answers are gone from me now.

If you’re curious, ASK. If you know, write it down. We all can gain from our past, and carry it into the future so that all may know and learn.

Keep The Faith*

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