Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Making Connections

My father passed away in 2011 and my my mother last year so when I heard there was to be an Arsenault family reunion (in conjunction with the Acadian World Congress) on Prince Edward Island, I knew I had to go. One of my sisters had written me a letter after our mother died and it said "You have come to fill the role of family patriarch".  I don't have any descendants and I think I just needed to make those connections with my roots, to belong, to be part of a bigger family.

So as my sister lives in Prince Edward Island (PEI), the two of us went to the family reunion.  We made a poster of our family as was suggested by the organizers. My maternal grandmother is an Arsenault, with Arsenault ancestors on both sides of her family but it turned out that my maternal grandfather's mother is also descended from PEI (Ile Saint Jean) Arsenaults.

We attended a number of presentations about the Arsenault family at the reunion. I went to one before the reunion where I learned that my maternal grandather's family, the Pineau's are not Acadians even though the family name does show in the Acadian Museum in Miscouche. The Pineau family was not in Acadia at the time of the deportations by the English. 

The Arsenaults however were there almost from the time that Acadie was founded. My seven times great grandfather Pierre Arsenault was a coastal pilot in what is now Nova Scotia and he founded Beaubassin (now called Amherst) with Jacques Bourgeois.  It is from him nearly all the Arsenaults in Canada are descended.  There was another Arsenault who settled in Quebec around the same time as Pierre Arsenault but he (Francois Arsenault) only had two sons whereas Pierre had seven sons so he has many more descendants.

Having the last name Stewart and having been raised in Central and Western Canada, my brother, sisters and I didn't embrace our Acadian ancestry and I suppose it didn't help that we didn't speak French either.  I now understand that that our Acadian heritage is a rich history of struggle and triumph; we haven't just survived but have succeeded in carrying on the legacy of our ancestors, continuing to move forward, while not dwelling on the past.  I guess that is the same for my Scottish heritage as well.

The reunion was fun. I was astounded to think that everyone in the arena (with the exception of spouses) was related some how to one man.  They said afterwards that over 1000 people had attended the reunion. The first night there we met one of  my mother's first cousins. She and her daughters had been sitting at the same table, unbeknownst to us, as my sister and me. She came up to my sister and asked if she wouldn't rather sit so she could see the stage. She then asked me who I was, which was a common question at the reunion. I told her I was a granddaughter of Edmund Pineau and Louise Arsenault. She came around the table saying "Ma Cousine" and gave me a big hug; her mother was my grandmother's sister.  Over the weekend, we met other cousins of my mother as well as some second and third cousins.  

My sister and I also explored the area near Mont Carmel where our grandmother Louise was from. We found at the Notre Dame de Mont Carmel cemetery, the grave sites of our great grandparents (Phillipe and Ursule Arsenault) and our great great grandfather Victor Arsenault.

Great great grandfather Victor Arseanault

Great Grandmother Ursule Arsenault

Great Grandfather Philip Victor Arsenault.
Also interred there are my mother's uncle Reverend Adrien Arsenault and her aunt Beatrice Arsenault.

Adrien Arsenault

Beatrice and Albin Arsenault

The link above gives a little of the Acadian Arsenault history in Canada.

This link gives the Arsenault geneology from Paul H. Arsenault and his two wives. This Paul was a great grand son of Pierre Arsenault. 

So for my Arsenault ancestry, I am:







Phillippe Victor






Paul H.







I'm doing more research on my family history now and with the internet it has been made much easier than it was in the past but my advice to anyone who wants to know their family history is speak to your parents and grandparents, then write down those stories and the details that they tell you about the family history.   The family stories get lost so quickly.

Ursule Arsenault  and Phillippe Victor Arsenault
Now I have made connections to the past, they are a part of me now but I suppose they always were.

Saturday, August 31, 2019

RPod Adventures - The Long Haul

As you might remember I bought a travel trailer late last summer so I never got the chance to use it. This year, I did two short camping trips with my sisters and brother-in-law and also took it by myself to our agility regional championships which was some three hours away. Well, this month I traveled down to eastern Canada by myself but with the dogs too, of course. I left Ottawa on 3 Aug and returned on 28 Aug, some 25 nights away.

My first stop was in Levis, Quebec at a commercial campground called Camping Transit. I had booked a pull thru site but because there was a large Class A RV parked in behind, I would have had to back in, the owner who leads you down to your site offered to back me in.  I only stayed here two nights so that I could go to either Old Quebec (Vieux Quebec) or the Chaudiere Falls.  Once I found out that dogs could go on the ferry from Levis to Old Quebec, that's what I decided to do.

Campsite 234 Camping Transit

Chateau Frontenac Vieux Quebec

Streets of Old Quebec

Lovely stone building

Church in Old Quebec

My next stop was a provincial park in New Brunswick, the Republique Provinical Park.  I thought I had booked a pull thru site here but it was back in, I did try but after only two attempts another camper came to my rescue and backed it in for me. Right next door to this provincial park are the New Brunswick Botanical Gardens, also known as Les Jardins de la Republique since the area is known as the Republique de Madawaska.

Beckett and Keltic arriving in New Brunswick

Campsite in Republique Provincial Park

Beckett checks out a painted rock.
The botanical gardens were spectacular, the dogs were not allowed in so I waited until my second day there so I could see how warm the trailer would get.  Campers get 25% off their admission to the botanical gardens and your admission is good for the day. I went over in the morning, went back to the trailer for lunch and then back to the gardens again in the afternoon.

Boys at the entrance to the gardens

One of the Mosaic floral sculptures outside the entrance to the gardens.

Canada Goose Sculpture

Babbling brook and bridge

The Chicken Coop


Horse sculpture


Rocket with stained glass birds

Rocket points the way.
My next stop was Mactaquac (pronounced Mack-ta-quack, my GPS said Mack-tack-quack) Provincial Park near Fredericton, New Brunswick.  I stayed here three nights so had two days to visit both the sites and friends that I had in the area. Here I did have a pull through site and so was able to get myself set up without any assistance. I took the dogs to Odell Park where I used to walk with my first two Shelties, also to the river front and to Officer's Square for the Changing of the Guard.  They fired muskets at the Changing of the Guard, once that happened Keltic wanted to get away from the square as fast as he could.

Mactaquac, Site 383

Odell Park

Rocket at Officer's Square

Changing of the Guard

After New Brunswick, it was time to head to Prince Edward Island. I did stop in Moncton on the way and took my brother out to lunch. I reached my sister's place outside Charlottetown in the early evening.  They have a long straight driveway so my brother-in-law backed my trailer in.  On the drive down I had noticed weather cracking on one of the tires and when I hitched up to leave for PEI saw that the tire tread was splitting.  Since I had a week in PEI, I arranged to get new tires and had the trailer serviced on site to put on the new tires.
Awaiting the new tires
My main reason for going to PEI was to attend the Arsenault family reunion, my maternal grandmother was an Arsenault and with the passing of my mother last year I felt the need to connect with our ancestry; but more on that in another post. I had a week until the reunion weekend so I did get a chance to do some tourist things in PEI.

On the harbourfront

Charlottetown Harbour

St Dunstan's Cathedral

Rocket and friend

Celebrating the Acadian World Congress

Cape Islander

Point Prim Lighthouse

Beckett and Keltic at Point Prim

Red sand beaches

Cap Egmont looking toward Mont Carmel

Rock formation
I really enjoyed my time in PEI. I had a chance to spend time with my sister and her family; meeting my newest great-niece who was only born on 4 Aug.  We went out to dinner a couple times and enjoyed relaxing evenings with bonfires in the back yard.

After PEI, I went onto Halifax, mainly to see relatives but of course to see the sites as well.  I booked four nights at the KOA in Upper Sackville.  When they asked me at registration if I needed anything I said help backing in so they sent a young fellow down to the site who backed the trailer in for me.  There was another woman at the site next to me who was also travelling with her dog. I knew from her plates she was ex-military; well, it is a small world, it turned out she knew my youngest sister.

KOA Halifax West (Upper Sackville) Site D10

Pond at the KOA
The next day I went to the Halifax Waterfront and met up with a friend. I had a chance to walk around before she arrived.  The next day I visited with my uncle (my mother's older brother) and aunt and were able to go see one of my first cousins and her two children.

Georges Island

Tall ship and Cruise ship

The following day I drove to Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. Lunenburg is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I drove back along the coastal highway stopping in Mahone Bay, at a beach, and ending up at Peggy's Cove.

Street signs in Lunenburg

Lunenburg harbour

Dorys in Lunenburg

Mahone Bay churches

Cleveland beach

The boys at Peggy's Cove

Me at Peggy's Cove

Peggy's Cove harbour

The next day I met with my mother's youngest sister and we went to Point Pleasant Park to walk the dogs.

Prince of Wales Tower Point Pleasant Park

One of two Martello towers in Halifax.
The next day I left for my return journey home. I had planned to stay overnight at either the Salisbury or Rusgonis Irving Big Stops so I wasn't at all in a hurry. I stopped at the Nova Scotia tourism centre and stopped at the cemetery where my parents are buried.

When I got the Rusgonis Big Stop it was only 5 pm and I knew I could get to the Mactaquac provincial park in another hour so I got online (free Wifi at the Big Stops) and booked a site. There was a fire ban so no campfire this night.

Mactaquac, Campground 3 site 368
I had already booked a site at the Republique Provinical Park so I only had a short drive the next day. This time I really made sure I had a pull through site as you can't always count on helpful campers.
Republique Site 44
Again I got online and booked at Camping Transit for the following night, I needn't have worried as they were not full. I also forgot about the time change so for my last night out I arrived at the campground at only 2 pm; once I was set up I took advantage of having air conditioning, left the dogs in the trailer with the AC on and went to the pool.

Camping transit, Site 170

Pool time
The next day, was the drive home. It started out well and it ended well but near Montreal there was heavy rain. It seemed like I always hit rain when towing (three times on this trip) but I guess that's better than having your vacation washed out.  I don't like towing in the heavy rain.

It was great vacation. At first I wondered if I would like it but at the end I was kind of sad it was over. Podrick is all emptied out and I washed him off today, I still have to clean a bit inside and check all the caulk before taking him back to storage. Looking forward to another long haul next year!