|Margaret, John and Marion with brother|
Bobby who died as a child.
My great-grandparents Charles and Eliza McNaught travelled by ox cart from Edmonton along the Edson Trail to Grande Prairie along with their daughters Betty and Marion, my grandmother. Daughters Isabel and Margaret stayed behind to finish their schooling, but joined the family the next year along with Charles's sister Janet, called "Aunt Nin" by my mother and aunt. Their son John, a graduate of the University of Toronto, was teaching in Manitoba at the time.
When they arrived at their plot of land, a stake in the ground told them they were home. They were treated to a salad by the farm wife next door, Mrs. Mortwedt. My grandmother told me it was made with red leaf lettuce and a dressing of brown sugar and vinegar and it was delicious.
into nursing before they left. They were in search of adventure and opportunity and a drier climate for my great grandmother, or so I have been told. And they found it all in the Peace Country. They soon became pillars of their community, building a home, planting an impressive garden (including aspargus beds!), setting up their own tennis court, starting a ladies basketball league and bringing in other aspects of civilization to their new home. Every fall they hosted a "ghost walk" on McNaught Lake. It is said that their home was the centre of community gatherings and I know their daughters broke many hearts!
Soon war was declared, and my grandfather and Uncle John were off to the front, soon followed by my grandmother who worked in a munitions factory in England during the war.
Uncle John wrote many letters to my grandmother and to his relatives back home during the war. His letters home from the front were chilling-both for what he included and what he left out. He was gassed at Ypres. Upon return to Canada, he was unable to work indoors due to the injury to his lungs and he joined his parents in running the family farm. An academic and a gifted writer, who might have become if he had not been injured?
|John on the Nose Moutain|
During the Depression, John and some other Beaverlodge residents formed a riding club that went on many excursions into the mountains. I have a 12 page diary of one of those expeditions, to Nose Mountain, along with accompanying photos I plan to turn into a book some day. Humour and adventure and love of the wilderness feature prominently.
Betty's artistic talents were encouraged by her family, who sent her off to study at the Ontario College of Art under Arthur Lismer and A.Y. Jackson of the Group of Seven. She later taught art in Calgary and then returned to the family homestead where she continued to paint and sculpt and teach art to others for the rest of her life. Her work has been displayed in art galleries across Canada and she inspired generations of people to pursue artistic endeavors.
|John and Noel's wedding|
My grandfather returned to banking after the war. He and my grandmother and their little family of two girls lived in many small southern towns, eventually landing in Edmonton. Upon retirement, they bought the property across the road from the McNaught homestead and lived there until they died. My cousin Peter lives in the old house and my cousin Erin lives next door. They are active in preserving the old homestead, along with several of my relatives who live in the area.
Who are we?
We are our genetics and our environment and all the factors around us. We are the result of opportunities gained and opportunities lost. We are the result of relationships foreordained and unexpected. We are the result of enduring love and broken hearts.
We are where we live, with all its quirks and challenges.
We are not just who were taught to be but also who we learned to be through example and experience and the lack thereof.
Knowing who we are comes in part from knowing where we came from.
|My daughter Jordan, her great great aunt|
Isabel, Betty McNaught and Jordan's second cousin