Over My Shoulder

You might or might not like to think or talk about what your family’s personal traits were as you uncover your family history, but  there is no doubt that they affect you . My parents, Sheila Joy Richard Phillips  and Edmond Guillaume Daniel Beauchamp, were very lively characters, you can almost tell by their names. Both ran fairly close to the stereotype of their ancestors, Scots-Irish and  Canadien-Metis. Indeed, the way they grew up in very enclosed communities, propagated it.  There were few occurrences my mother did not have a saying for. Her favorite one was “you’ll meet yourself coming back”, her admonition about parenting.

It is strange, how one recalls things in spite of trying so desperately to be our own person. There is a corner in our town which has a beautiful grove of ancient poplar trees. When the wind blows the leaves turn to their underside and create a stunningly beautiful silver patch.  When this happens I hear my mother’s voice saying “Lan, it’s gonna rain”.  It inevitably does.

My father, raised by a strict Catholic mother,  was very intent on having me raised that way, absorbing all the rites and rituals of the church.  He had a huge picture of the Sacred Heart placed on a wall in our home and told me that ” a family who prayed together stayed together”. At night, he did not so much as tuck me in as terrify me of the evil that could befall when I was sleeping, to wit, he crossed my hands over my chest for protection. It puts me in mind of Don William’s song “Good Ole Boys Like Me“. Somehow, I grew into a very practical person but little things still happen that my daughters and I love to talk about, some might call it “feminine wisdom”.

Yesterday, I was in pursuit of  my voyageur ancestors and was trying to nail down the two brothers, Jacques and Pierre Beauchamp who were in Detroit in 1705, having gone on one of  Cadillac’s convoys.  (pg. 363   Le Detroit du Lac Erie 1701-1710 Vol. 1, Les Harnais and Sheppard 2016). In the Voyageurs Contracts Database of the St. Boniface Historical Society,  I came across a contract for  Francois Beauchamp which stated that he was the son of the deceased Jacques Beauchamp so I went off the see which Jacques it was. As it happens I scrolled down and saw the name Beauchamp highlighted again and beside it the name Edmond.  I thought “there was another Edmond back then? Then I noticed that it was not a voyageur record but a school record (keep in mind that my French is only intermediate). I made out 6e annee  and found that it was a school record for my father! I had only typed in the name Beauchamp in the search box to broaden my search and there he was, “mon pere” in his Grades 4,5 and 6 school photos! What are the odds? I do believe he is looking over my shoulder as I write this!

Happy Birthday to Me!

On this day, awhile ago shall we say, I was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba to my beautiful mother, Sheila Joy Richard Phillips and my father Edmond Guillaume Daniel Beauchamp. I was a bonny wee lass, here in the arms of my maternal grandmother, Jane Smith Phillips.

Babe in Arms

I was a bit fussed over, being the first child of a couple who were head over heels. Both had a rough childhood, my father being the victim of polio when he was young and losing the use of his right forearm. My mother was shipped off when she was 16 from the farm to the city.

Not many years ago, I came into some photos of my childhood through an aunt. The first I had seen. On the back of each was the scratchy handwriting of my father, who died at 45 from a heart attack. On this one, he had written “Yolande says ” Hey Dad! Look at me, I’m dancing.”

On the back of another photo, he had written, “This was a proud day for Mom too in her bright red taffeta dress”. It inspired me to create this picture of Mom and I. She just looks radiant. What they were celebrating I don’t know.

There were many hard times ahead of them but on this day I want to say thanks to Mom and Dad for making me the person I am today. You taught me hope and determination and love of family. Thank you.