Sunday, 19 June 2011

Toronto - days two and three

It's been a busy couple of days here in Toronto. On Thursday evening I started with the two Irish Resources Online sessions, and it ended up as something of a Carrickfergus reunion! A lady called Elayne Lockhart approached me to ask if I knew of a property called Scout Bush in Carrick, and I had to admit that at first I did not, but when she showed me a book about the place, I realised I had actually walked past it for about eight years every day whilst doing a newspaper delivery round as a kid! We were then approached by another lady who said "Scout Bush? You have a connection to Scout Bush?". She too had a link to this part of the town, and as they got talking it transpired that one of them had an ancestor who had bought the property from the other's! The book, incidentally, is called "Scout Bush - the people, the place, their lives", by Ian Alexander.

It reminded me of when I lived in Bristol - as a student I worked in an ASDA store, and whilst serving on a deli counter one day a gent approached to buy some cheese. Noting he had an Ulster accent, I asked where he was from, and it was Belfast. I mentioned being from nearby, and he mentioned he had often gone to Carrick in years past on Sundays and had occasionally had lunch with a lady at a place called Robinson's Row. Yup, my gran! There's a saying about Ulster - everyone knows everyone through everyone else - and that clearly extends to Ulster folk in Toronto also!

The talks went well, and I was delighted with a comment yesterday from someone who also attended the Scots sessions, when she said she'd learned more on doing Irish genealogy in 2 hours than she had in the last 20 years. Och, one tries to help...! :)

Friday provided an opportunity to go up the CN Tower, seriously high, and now offering an option to go for walks outside at the very top with only a safety harness and a clip. Interesting option, but myself and Linda Reid opted instead for a lunch in the restaurant. I managed to see St Andrew's Presbyterian Church from on high, and learned about 'air rights' - buildings selling air space above them as a preservation technique. Skyscrapers everywhere, but a building with the air space above it sold off cannot be knocked down for a higher building to take its place, as the air rights have been sold to the skyscraper building next door. So they may as well keep the church! Brilliantly bonkers, and it works! :)

Yesterday then was the main event, with myself and the wonderful Marian Press and James Thomson talking about all things Caledonian throughout the day to an appreciative audience. I did a Taggart voice when I announced that "There's Been a Murrderrr..." - I think I got away with it! The society had ordered copies of my first two books, but they ended up stuck in customs - but no probs, if you couldn't get one, the society is taking orders, and apparently did well on the pre-sales front, so thanks to anyone who has already picked up copies - I hope they help! I unfortunately did not get to hear Marian's talks as they ran in parallel to mine, but I did catch James' second talk on 'Doing Scottish Genealogy from the GTA'. Some great resources here in Toronto. At one point James mentioned the General View of the Agriculture of... books from the 19th century, each on a different county. Many are on Google Books, and a must have read alongside the Statistical Accounts, but James mentioned there is also a complete run in Toronto - I believe at the University of Toronto Library, but best to check with the Toronto Branch of the OGS, just in case I'm telling porkies and it is somewhere else!

I also managed to catch up with an archivist (and reader of this blog!), who had asked me to go through a will with her mentioning a land arrangement concerning a feu and a trust being set up in Glasgow's Blythswood area, and working through it together we think we've established a possible date of death for one of her ancestors, so nice to get a bit of actual research in also!

After the event, some members of the Toronto Branch of the OGS met for a drink in the hotel I was staying at, including Marian and James, and Linda and Pierce Reid, and we had a good old chinwag on all things Scottish, from restoring castles, the use of tee names and issues surrounding adoption and identity. And some nice wine! I ended the evening with a great meal with Linda and Pierce, where I got a real insight into life in Canada, the various provinces and more.

A brilliant couple of days, but more to come - I'm heading out in a few hours to meet the Scottish Interest Group of the Toronto Branch of the OGS for a brunch, looking forward to it!!

(With thanks to Linda for the pics!)


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