The picture above shows the last home of my maternal grandparents, Jane Gartshore Smith (the Scottish line) and Richard Walker Phillips ( the Irish line). It is located in a little town called Ochre River in Manitoba (so-called after the tiny little river that flows just across the lane from the house and which is given to fits of temper in the spring when it can spill its bank and flood the surrounding area). My mother Sheila Joy Richard Phillips was the youngest of their 7 children and being so, had a different relationship with them which in turn was passed on to me. The age difference between her and her sisters created a 10 year gap between my cousins and I , ie. some of them had more time with the grandparents than I did. Of course, this was offset by my own mother’s memories of the times.
Like every family, there were the good and bad kids, the experience of the oldest children being dramatically different from that of the youngest just as today. So, you had the cousins that grew up near the grandparents and the cousins that grew up far away. It is hard to keep relations cordial when you happen to have come upon some fact that just throws the story out the window. It rather shatters the myth so to speak. If you are lucky, you will be on the same page with your relatives. But if not you have to go it alone, in pursuit of truth. And therein lies the rub because my truth is “if you weren’t there, you cannot know EVERYTHING!” And so we reconcile ourselves to trying to solve the mysteries surrounding our families and hope they look down on us with favour. Below, photos of my grandparents at their home in Ochre River, my grandmother c. 1940 (she still hadn’t cut her waist length hair) and my grandfather c. 1960.