21 February 2015

Immigrants, Indians, A Voyageur Canoe Man and Al Capone

As travellers today, we are all so very fortunate! 
There was a time ... not too recently ... when people did not have the opportunity to travel as we can today.

My maternal grandfather lived to be 92 and my maternal grandmother 87. 

Neither, was ever a licensed driver, owned a vehicle or even, drove a vehicle that I know of. 


Both were born to immigrant families that came to Canada in the 1800's. Each received very little formal education, lived through WW1 and WW2, the Great Depression and the Korean and Vietnam wars. Grandpa introduced me to trout fishing on Gun's Road north of Pembroke and Granny could bake an intoxicating plum pudding. They were 'raised up' in subsistence, farming families and they were both poor ... my grandfather worked as a labourer his whole life and my grandmother 'kept house' ... I remember them as kind, resourceful, self-sufficient people and I miss both dearly. I was in my early twenties when they passed and looking back I never really had the opportunity to appreciate them as much as I could, or should have. 

My ancestory includes, primarily Irish, German and French immigrants that came to Canada in the early to late 1800's. There is some inter-racial mixing with the Mi'kmaq Indian Nation on my mothers' side and I have traced my genealogy to a great-great grandfather, Francois Soulier who was a voyageur canoe-man with the HBC company. I also, (family gossip relates), had a Great Uncle that was a 'pal' of Al Capones' ... apparently, he was a 'Canadian connection' for Al's Ontario hideouts ... but that's another blog post!


All that background, is my way of putting into perspective, the fact that in those earlier days, only 50 or so years ago, people did not have the opportunity to travel the world the way we do today. I remember my grandfather ... he was a curious man and I know that given the opportunity to expand his knowledge or to learn more of  the world in general ... he would have welcomed the opportunity. But, a lack of finances, a job that tied grandpa down with minimum vacation time, raising a family on a single salary and a host of other obstacles kept both my grandparents from travelling any more than a couple of 100 kilometres from where they lived their whole lives ... imagine that!


Today, international travel is easily available to most of the world, it's simple to arrange for and really not that costly, in relative terms. Today, the motorized world travels by scooter, motorcycle, car & truck, train, boat and private & commercial airplane. And, if you are truly energetic and into non-motorized, self-propulsion, it's not unusual to find people traversing the globe by foot with backpacks, on a bicycle with paniers, in a wheelchair towing a trailer, in canoes, kayaks or rafts loaded with a backcountry outfit, in oared dingys or in sailboats.


Appreciate ... and take advantage of the fact that, todays' travellers, unlike our grandparents, have the finances and the time and opportunity to travel almost anywhere we desire ... GET OUT THERE!

Crusty ... EXPLORE! 

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TEAM: LOAF, Crummy, Wry & Crusty