Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds: June

12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds

I’m very intrigued and excited about Crestleaf.com’s 12 Months of Fascinating Family Finds Challenge.  During my family research journey, I’ve discovered lots of great stories and uncovered interesting personas that I want to share with other genealogy enthusiasts.  The problem is that I don’t always get my stories together in a timely fashion due to a full-time workload, mommy to 2 busy boys and being an active community member.  This just might be the right challenge to motivate me to get these tales posted.

Norfolk County “Cowan’s”

For my first month challenge, I dug into my paternal grandmother’s lineage to discover The Cowans were amongst the first settlers to Norfolk County in Ontario.  I hadn’t spent much time on my father’s side of the genealogy tree because he had cousins who had done quite a bit of research.  Why reinvent the wheel and redo something that had already been done?  When I finally joined Ancestry.ca and had my eyes opened to the wealth of information available, I soon realized that my dad’s cousins had only revealed the tip of the ancestral ice berg.  In fact, I only had detailed information about my dad’s father’s line and nothing about my dad’s mother.  She was Marjory Cowan.  I grew up with several Cowan’s around where I am from.  Some of them related, some of them not, but not really knowing the Cowan connection.

Cowan Ancestry
Marjory (Cowan) Noels

Through my membership, I was able to go back through my father’s mother, Marjory (Cowan) Noels (1926 – 1993) her father, William Burton Cowan (1900 – 1962), to his father, William Henry Cowan (1873 – 1948) to his father, David Cowan (1843 – 1923) to his father John Cowan (1813 – 1894) and it ended there.  I was content with that for a time and jumped over to other branches for a while.  I came back to John Cowan and explored deeper.  Where was he from besides Norfolk County, Ontario?  The census records indicated he was “born in Scotland”.  I wanted to know where in Scotland.  I spent months searching Cowan records trying to find the right connection but nothing added up.  I was able to find a cemetery through the Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid that had a David Cowan buried in it.  There were John Cowan’s listed also, but they didn’t meet the criteria I needed for “my John”.  So, I loaded the van up one Sunday afternoon with my parents and my sons (who were 5 and 9 – not too enthused to be “cemetery-hopping” – ice cream helped) and sought to find the cemetery of this “David Cowan” that was buried there.  I was  hopeful of finding clues to other Cowan’s that might make the connection over the sea.  I did, in fact, find David’s grave and it was indeed my 3X great-grandfather.  Buried beside him was his wife Anna Eliza Garnet.  The stone was barely legible but he was buried in the North Middleton Baptist / Acacia Cemetery.  Their daughter, Mary Catherine Cowan, was buried with them also.  She died at 42 years of age of Typhoid fever according to her death certificate (Ancestry.ca).  Although the trip made for an adventurous afternoon, I did not learn anything new about David Cowan or his lineage.

Colquhoun, Cowan
Colquhoun Tartan – Cowan is a sept of

Back to the research I went.  I searched the internet again and again.  I found reference to a John C. Cowan on “The Long Point Settlers” site.  His life dates, however, 1747 – 1826, didn’t match the dates of my John Cowan.  The short description, however, on this site did indicate that he had 4 sons, James, John,William and Alexander.  This could possibly mean that the John listed here was who I was searching to connect but I couldn’t prove it without further cross referencing.  I did finally find a missing piece to this whole puzzle.  John, the son of John was not the John I was looking for.  There was a piece in between.  A 1841 document found on Ancestry.ca indicated a James Cowan from Scotland (John C. Cowan’s son) settled in Charlotteville Township in Norfolk County.   This James came from Scotland with a family.  His wife, Elizabeth and 3 children, Elizabeth, James and John.  Other children followed upon arrival to Canada, but this information was enough for me to see my John’s place in this family line.  James Cowan came to Canada in 1817 with his father, John C. Cowan (of the “The Long Point Settlers“),and family from Scotland, England.  His son, John, my John, was 4 years old, born in 1813.  This was the piece I needed.  Further exploration allowed me to cross-reference this information with that of John’s wives, Catherine Pettit and Charlotte Gibbons.  My mystery was solved.  My John Cowan, according to research, came from Glasgow, Scotland.

Another Scottish branch on my family tree.  Cowan’s belonged to the Colquhoun clan.  And a new search begins…

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There is More to Port Dover than Great Fish

Port Dover, hot dog, Norfolk County


Whether you live in Southwestern Ontario or are just visiting, a great place to hang out is Port Dover. Many come for fish at the popular Erie Beach Hotel or for a swim at the beach but I like to go for a footlong hot dog at The Arbor. It’s been close to 100 years (since 1919) serving its famous Schneiders footlongs. They are able to serve many people quickly because of their unique serving set-up. Hotdogs and burgers are ordered at one station, fresh-cut fries at another and ice cream cones at yet another. I usually go with my family and parents and we split up so that one group gets the hot dogs and the other, the fries. We get our food fast and we are eating before you know it even though the serving booths are packed with people. It’s great.  And of course, we don’t leave until we’ve had our amazing soft serve or hard ice cream cone to round out the meal.

They are also unique in the toppings available for hotdogs (or hamburgers if you’re not a “dog” person). There are hot peppers, cole slaw, pickles, radishes and I think, even pickled beets. I always joke with my mom: “Did you get a hot dog to go with your salad?” I’m a bit boring, only “ketchup” for me.

Footlong, The Arbor, Port Dover ON

I almost forgot to mention their Golden Glo. These are special fruit beverages that are only available at The Arbor. Even if you are just in the mood for something to quench your thirst, The Arbor is a place to be sought.

Playoff Time for the Norwich Merchants – A Special Team


The Norwich Merchants


It’s hockey play-off time in Canada and it’s Friday night.  You know what that means … (or maybe you don’t if you’re not from around these parts) there will be a hockey game somewhere to watch either live or on television.  My family can be a stereotypical Southwestern Ontario family in that we love our hockey.  And in our Oxford County community, our Merchants are in a “do-or-die” playoff situation tonight against New Hamburg.

The Merchants and I have a special relationship.  At several points in my life’s journey, I have been connected to this Junior “C” hockey team.  Here’s how:

1.  As one of  the few female ice resurfacing machine operators (The Olympia) in the Township of Norwich, I used to clean the ice for the Merchant games.  This was one of my favourite jobs of all time.  I loved waving at the kids in the crowd, being a part of the hockey experience and having the community all together in one place showing their community spirit.  And just driving the machine itself felt very empowering.  That’s a lot of machinery to be trusted to one small person.  It was fantastic.  Not-to-mention, it makes for some great interview ice breakers since this fact is on my resume.

2.  I met the man I married working for the Township of Norwich at the Community Centre/Arena.  In fact, he trained me to operate The Olympia for the prestigious Merchant games.  I regret that I never got a picture of myself driving it.  I do, however, have this picture with my husband and I on it.  We were only dating at the time. #SickeningSweet

Myself and The Boyfriend (currently husband)
Myself and The Boyfriend (currently husband)

3.  The Merchants trainer, Mark, was my boss while I worked at the Community Centre/Arena.  He could tell you some scary stories about some of the mistakes I made learning to drive the Olympia.  He’s part of the reason I’ve been able to move forward in my career.  He must have told a few good lies as a reference, to a few of my employers along the way; to which I am very grateful. (front row, second from left)

2013-2014 Norwich Merchants
2013-2014 Norwich Merchants

4.  My brother-in-law, Jason, was a former Assistant Coach for the Merchants. (in above: front row 3rd from right) Those were some exciting times to be cheering on the team with a relative on the bench.  It became a regular night out for the family since my parents, my sister’s family and me and my family, would have a reason to go out together.

5.  My nephew, Sawyer, was selected to be a “Mini-Merchant” for a game.  This meant he got to put on the jersey, skate to the centre of the ice and hold the flag for the National Anthem.  Another reason for the families to come together.

Sawyer as the Mini-Merchant
Sawyer as the Mini-Merchant

6.  My son’s, Noah, and Sawyer’s rookie minor hockey team, got to play an exhibition game during an intermission for a Merchant game.  This meant that they not only played, but, got to hang out with the “Big Boys” in their dressing room before they went out.  They each felt very special to be buddied up with a Merchant of their own.  My son even made sure he got a hat signed by all the players afterwards.  He just took the hat for show-and-tell this week.  He is still feeling very proud of those moments.  Those guys made some significant impressions that night.  I hope they know the magnitude of their influence.  #SmallTownHeroes

The Big Bro's and Lil Bro's
The Big Bro’s and Lil Bro’s

 

As you can see, the Merchants show up in a few key spots of my life’s journey.  So here’s a little shout out to this special team!   #GoMerchantsGo!!

 

 

Valentine’s at The Barrel

The Barrel
The Barrel

Hands-down, my favourite restaurant is “The Barrel” in Simcoe, Ontario. First and foremost because since I can remember, my favourite food has been spaghetti and it is an Italian restaurant. Secondly, I have been going there since I was a teenager and the service has always been great.

For Valentine’s Day, my husband made reservations for there and it was the best choice he could have made. They had a special Valentine’s menu but I never like to stray from my spaghetti. And so, I ordered my 1/2 order of Spaghetti Bolognese. That’s right, a 1/2 order. I don’t know of too many places that offer that option. I’m not a big eater and I find that I eat more than I’m comfortable at most restaurants.  The added bonus with The Barrel, is that even though it’s a “half” order, you still get the soup or salad course. I always opt for the salad because the house “Balsamic” dressing is fantastic.

And I have to say that I have always had amazing service at The Barrel. Whether it is their hiring of great people or incredible training, or both, I have never been disappointed with the impeccable service. They were running a little behind on Valentine’s Day as they had a full complement of patrons. I had no complaints, however, the staff was so courteous and pleasant that I couldn’t possibly be upset. Besides, we’re only human and sometimes you just have to accept that good things come to those who wait.

By the way, they don’t just have spaghetti, they do a mean pizza and many other excellent Italian dishes.  I’m often stealing bites off my husband’s or kids’ plates.

These Little Piggies …

These little piggies stayed home…

 

Do these little guys not make your face squish up with delight?

Piggy Brothers
Piggy Brothers

Meet Levi and Olaf, the newest members of Frog Hollow Animal Sanctuary.

How Cute Am I?
How Cute Am I?

 

They were just born a few weeks ago to Mya, the Pot-bellied pig. There were 3 to begin but sadly, the first female of the litter, was not able to grasp life.

Cute Piggy Bums
Cute Piggy Bums

Her two brothers, however, took hold and have been having amazing adventures as they explore what this world has to offer.

I am Loved
I am Loved

After plenty of suggestions and lots of thoughts, Frog Hollow has settled on the names Olaf and Levi for the newest little piggies.

How can you stay mad at that face?

Please visit the Frog Hollow Sanctuary Facebook page. I can’t speak for everyone but I know my days certainly get an injection of sunshine when I see these cuties come across my screen.

Little Piggy
Little Piggy

WARNING: May be too cute for some who can only handle cuteness in small doses. Viewer discretion is advised. 🙂

Petrolia, Ontario: A Beautiful Town.

 

With my day job, I travel a lot around Southwestern Ontario.  The past few days, I have been around Lambton-Kent County which has included Chatham, Blenheim, Ridgetown, Forest and Petrolia.  I look forward to venturing into these oases every year because they are places I don’t get to very often in my everyday life.  They are truly treasures to visit especially in the fall with the background of the vibrant fall leaves.

Bridgeview Conservation Area, Petrolia, ON
Bridgeview Conservation Area, Petrolia, ON

 

These are also places that are rich with rural culture.  Farms, history, welcoming villagers and quaint  little shops or attractions await guests, each with their own energy and allure.  In Petrolia, I love the conservation area.  There is a lot of space and trees. During the week, when school is back in, it is serene.  I have down time in between appointments when I am travelling and I love to sit at the conservation area with my laptop and hear the peacefulness of the fall leaves sauntering to the ground.  This is just one of 12 parks situated throughout the town.

Victoria Hall, Petrolia, ON
Victoria Hall, Petrolia, ON

Petrolia is also full of beautiful architecture.  I took this picture of the Victoria Hall.  It is one of my favourite buildings.  I followed up with some research and learned that the building’s architect was George Durand of London.  His name is attached to many buildings in Southwestern, Ontario including churches, schools and residences.    Victoria Hall was built in 1889 during an oil boom.  Petrolia was one of the first oil “boom towns” in North America.  With the oil came money and with the money, came fantastic buildings like this one and many others that are still in existence today.

Although oil here is no longer considered “booming”, there are still active oil pumps .  I grabbed a shot of that too.  I’ve read about the “Petrolia Discovery” which is a historical site that takes visitors back to a 19th century oil experience. Having learned that, I think I just found an activity to take my family to next summer since it is a seasonal experience.  Can’t wait.  You might want to check it out too.

Oil Drill, Petrolia, ON 2014
Oil Drill, Petrolia, ON 2014

If you have ideas about other places to visit in Southwestern Ontario, please let me know.  I’m always up for a local adventure!

 

 

 

Bibliography:

 

“Biographical Dictionary of  Architects in Canada 1800- 1950.”  Verity Griscti & Joshua Hull.  Accessed October 4, 2014.  http://www.dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/architects/view/1653 .

Eberspaecher,  Alex.  “Petrolia:  Ontario’s Black Gold Country.”  Good Life: Mississauga’s Fine Living Magazine.  Accessed October 4, 2014.   http://goodlifemississauga.com/archive_gl/2007gl/petrolia.html .

“Petrolia Discovery.”  Ontario Museum Association.  Accessed October 4, 2014.  http://www.museumsontario.com/en/58//88?searchFor=1696 .

“Petrolia, Ontario.”  Southern Ontario Tourism.  Accessed October 4, 2014.  http://www.soto.on.ca/canadas_most_southern_point/petrolia.html .

“Petrolia, Ontario.”  Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia.  Last modified October 1, 2014.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petrolia,_Ontario .

Tausky, Nancy Z.  “George F. Durand.”  London Culture.  Accessed October 4, 2014.  http://www.londonculture.ca/things-we-do/culture-directory/historic-favourites/george-f-durand .

The Corporation of the Town of Petrolia.  “Victoria Hall.”  This is Petrolia.  2013. http://town.petrolia.on.ca/victoria-hall.html .

 

FrogHollow – A Rescue/Retirement Farm in Southwestern Ontario

A Quiet Hobby Farm outside of Woodstock, ON, Canada
A Quiet Hobby Farm outside of Woodstock, ON, Canada

I live right in the centre of Southwestern Ontario (or close to it). It is the most heavily populated area of Canada and contains the 401 which is one of the busiest highways in the world. What I love about living in this part of Canada (or Ontario) is that within 2 hours, I can reach many of Ontario’s big cities including Toronto. I can also find myself plenty of road trip destinations because this area is littered with dozens of quaint little towns and villages rich with culture, history and attractions. Or I can find tranquil quiet spots amongst the forests, pastures or rural settings throughout. It is wildly diverse.
One of these tranquil spots by most people’s definition would (what started out to) be a small hobby-farm outside of Woodstock. I know the owners quite well and have visited the farm a couple of times in the past but recently it has taken on a more pronounced identity that I have come to follow on Facebook. I find I look forward to the daily posts about the life of the animals on the farm. They each have a distinct name and personality that I love to see evolve through the post series. I am going to use the words right from its the Facebook page because those words, I think, capture the essence of this enchanting premise best.

FrogHollow – Rescue/Retirement Farm: We are a small family-run hobby farm in Southwestern Ontario, giving our many animals a safe place to live and love. They are all family, not food.

 

Green Pastures of Frog Hollow
Green Pastures of Frog Hollow

County Living – May 5, 2003: When we moved to the country we didn’t really come with a plan. We just decided we wanted to move our then, small family to greener pastures. We weren’t here very long before the barn looked mighty empty and we added some goats and a few chickens. Since then we’ve added a few more critters in need of a good safe place to call home…including a few more human residents too.

Heidi
Heidi

Heidi – 2003: Heidi is a sweet girl born to a feral Mother outside of our local corner store. We were asked to take her home to keep her out of harms way…who could say no to that cute face?

Bushy (aka Butch)
Bushy (aka Butch)

Bushy (aka Butch) – 2003: Butch, or as we would come to call him, Bushy (there was really nothing rough about this boy) was the cat with the big price tag as we liked to say. He was the ‘barn’ cat that we were asked to keep when we bought the farm. He didn’t stay a barn cat very long and soon traded his horseback naps to the comforts of the indoors and sleeping on beds. This is a boy who would be seen wandering far and wide (until he was promptly neutered), showed up home with a dislocated hip once, and then just disappeared one a rainy night. We called and searched for him but were just left missing him. ♥

Goats
Goats

Goats – 2004: Having no experience beyond dogs and cats we decided first to venture into goats. We started with three females and had one male on loan to us. As we would later come to realize, almost any animals that come here, stay here. Well Billy came and when we found out his fate upon return was not good he was here to stay too. The next spring we were blessed with the adventure of four beautiful baby goats. All of which enjoy the comfort of Mom and Dad by their side for life.

Cornelius
Cornelius

Cornelius Moves to the Country – June 2014: When I saw that poor Cornelius was living in a shelter surrounded by dogs I knew I needed to do something. When I called I found out he had actually been there for several months and many phone calls had still led to no takers. With his neuter scheduled, we made a plan to take the two hour drive to go pick him up the next week. My little one and I set out on our adventure to spring that pig from his jail and set him free in the green pastures at FrogHollow.  We were sent off with a giant bag of produce, and his bag of pig pellets so off we went for the trip home to freedom. It didn’t take him long to start meeting the furry neighbours in the pasture over the fence or the ducks roaming free. Corny is the most talkative pig I’ve ever met and is more than willing to express how he feels daily (translation is still in progress!). He has made friends with long time resident and lone pig, Daisy and has even accepted his new Tamworth siblings, as long as he can be the boss. Not sure how that will go over as they begin to tower over him but we will love him all the same!!! Welcome home Cornelius! ♥

Charlotte and Wilbur
Charlotte and Wilbur

Charlotte and Wilbur – August 3, 2014:  two new wonderful Tamworth pigs for us to become the proud new family of! Wilbur is a calm, cuddly boy who loves tummy rubs and stays close to his sister. Charlotte (aka Charlie) is a little more brave, adventurous, and ever so slightly more independent. Together they are the best of friends. We have all loved watching them meet new friends, play, fight, squeal, run, root, eat, and grow and grow and grow! They are a wonderfully fun addition to our barnyard and who have quickly gotten us wrapped around their trotters!! We owe their being here to the great family and volunteers at Cedar Row whom without we wouldn’t have our special red-haired beauties to love and spoil!!

This gives you a glimpse into life at FrogHollow.  I encourage you to visit and “Like” the page on Facebook. There are more animals and stories for you to see.  Awwww… life in Southwestern Ontario.