I am Canadian – 6th generation. My ancestors were among the first United Empire Loyalists to land in Nova Scotia from Britain in the late 1700s. Among my ancestors is also a First Nation’s woman of the Mi’kmaq tribes of eastern Canada. My family history does not record her name.
In 1925 my grandmother wished to divorce my grandfather for “physical cruelty” but women were not allowed to divorce men for any reason, although a man could divorce a woman for adultery. So grandma packed up a horse and cart with five children and rode all the way to Boston, Massachusetts where she settled for several years until she became a citizen and divorce her husband, as this was allowed in America. After the divorce she returned to Nova Scotia with her two youngest children: one was my mother, age 9.
So I have two aunts and an uncle in Boston, who were much beloved of mine in my childhood. We went to see them every year, often taking my Aunt Sadie with us to Nova Scotia to visit my grandparents. I also have several cousins in Indiana to whom I’m very close. Most of my clients are from the United States.
Needless to say, yesterday was a particularly painful day for all of us who love America – those living there and those who have relatives, friends and much-loved aquaintances – on “both sides of the aisle” as American politicians say. I thought for my blog this week I would just share with you the second verse of a very familiar song. Comments have been turned off.
O beautiful for pilgrim feet,
Whose stern, impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat
Across the wilderness!
God mend thine every flaw,
Confirm thy soul in self-control,
Thy liberty in law!1
- Katherine Lee Bates, 1893.