...and slowly I am gaining acceptance of the fact of a life in my extended kin group being cut short by a drunk driver. My husband in his lawyering days was wont to tell his clients when charged with alcohol-related offenses that they had to make a choice between alcohol and - everything else. He had seen so many people lose their job, family, home through this dire addiction. The woman in the SUV who brought about the death of my kinsman was alcohol-impaired, at two in the afternoon on a Sunday. I shall stop there. Ranting doesn't help.
Meantime I have worked at the computer transcribing more material from the Ward Archive. I have almost finished the transcriptions from packages 3 and 4, and shortly will return them to their owner. The insights and the previously-unknown FACTS about my kin continue to astound me, and continue to generate reflection on how utterly oblivious young people are to the lives of the adults around them. Children can see and sense interpersonal difficulties among their elders, but they cannot understand what these sensed tensions mean. My childhood was sunny in all the respects I remember it, but it was lived in a community with a variety of tensions, probably not significantly different from any other community in that time and place. The Ward Archive reveals the roots of some of these tensions. It also reveals straightforward FACTS about the community. Who did what when. The psychosocial and the factual are both pieces of the puzzle of my childhood environment.
In revealing the roots of tensions in that community, the Ward Archive has saved me the effort of putting together a book (or books) of the material. The material is TOO revealing, and with several of the dramatis personae in the archive still living, to say nothing of their descendants, I will print copies only for my siblings, whilst exhorting them not to share their copy outside the immediate family group.
There is nothing dire in the archive. The most serious skeleton - already out of the closet in any case - was fully revealed in the book, The Quakers at Borden, for which the Ward Archive was the research. Rather than skeletons, they are sensitivities. Many years ago when my father was writing his memoirs, and my mother was reviewing them as he wrote, she was wont to say, "But Bob, you can't say that! The grandchildren are still alive!" So Dad would edit out whatever passage she deemed to sensitive to put into his memoirs. At the time we, his children, deplored the resulting loss of "the good stuff," the material the most entertaining to those of us well-removed from the events and people. Four decades on, I begin to understand my mother's caution.
In consequence of the decision to strictly limit the distribution of my transcription off the Ward Archive papers, my approach to footnoting changes. For earlier efforts, my grandchildren and their understanding were in my mind when footnoting, which led to extensive footnotes for things like farming terms, which my urban grandchildren would not otherwise grasp. Now I need only footnote for my siblings' understanding. My sister is helping me with this process, much of which involves cross-referencing to other material, or reference to information found on the Internet. For the latter, the Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan online has been a great help.
And as always, delving into the byways of the Internet has enhanced my knowledge of Saskatchewan history, and indeed wider history. Yesterday while footnoting I had cause to study the roster of Canadian Prime Ministers, the life of Rufus Jones, Quaker evangelist, Barclay's Apology (Quaker doctrine) and the village of Hansack, Saskatchewan.
The village of Hansack, Saskatchewan, like many villages on the Canadian prairies, no longer exists, yet the Internet was helpful even so. To my surprise and delight, one of the references to it was in an essay written by Betty Ward (she of the Ward Archive!) for Saskatchewan History magazine. The subject was the immigration of large numbers of Doukhobors from Russia to Saskatchewan in 1899. Betty had arranged to have many National Archives documents and letters about this immigration copied because of the involvement the Quakers had had in bringing the Doukhobor immigrants to Saskatchewan. She used very little of the material in her book, The Quakers at Borden, but there it was on the Internet, a substantial essay with pictures, what might be regarded as a spin-off from her main thrust. Evidence of the process in the writer's mind while moving from the raw data in the letters and documents to the finished article is fascinating.
A week has passed since the above paragraphs were written. All the remaining Ward Archive material has been transcribed and footnoted, and is now in my sister's hands for proofreading and more footnotes. It is time to move on to another project, and I think it will be Great-Aunt Mary. I found another scrap of information about Great-Aunt Mary in the translated letters of Maria Friesen, assembled by Phyllis Siemens and mentioned recently in "News" on this site. The reference indicated that Great-Aunt Mary had said at her father's coffin that she had been the cause of his death. This would have been in 1912 in Russia; GAM would have been 22. To that I can only say, "Thereby hangs a tale" and express regret that the tale can probably never be known. I have no doubt that what she said - if she indeed said it! - was not literally the case.
And that will lead to my next blog, which will be about legends, stories and truths in family history.