Tag Archives: Galt

I am Canadian

No really. I am Canadian.

My entire life I have been incredibly proud to call myself a Canadian but it wasn’t until I really started to research my family tree that I started to see why.


My great-grandfather was born in England but chose to move to Canada in 1908. He could’ve stayed where he was living in Moon’s Cottage in Long Ditton, Surrey to raise his children. Instead he packed it all in and chose to come to Canada. He decided to change his stars. My grandfather Albert came with him and their pride in being Canadian was passed down to my father, one of the first born members of his line to be born in this country. An incredibly proud accomplishment. No one is happier to wave the red and white flag or to explore this country as my father. He’s been to at least 6 provinces and has seen or touched nearly all of the great lakes.


I’ve already talked about how my great-grandfather fought in World War 1 and I may have mentioned that my uncle fought in World War 2. But what I may have neglected to mention was that the other side of my family fought in the War of 1812. Over 200 years ago my ancestors stood together against an American invasion and fought to keep the true north strong and free. At that time, we were part of the dominion and were not our own little country, but that war, and many wars after that, helped shape our country into what it is today.


With a history in this country spanning more than 200 years, we had a chance to really make our mark. Some of my Scottish ancestors came to take over land in that had never been worked and they helped clear the land to make way for farms and villages. Many of my ancestors were farmers who tilled the land and helped grow what we could.

We also had a big part in making some beautiful things as well. One of my Dryden ancestors was the carpenter that did the wood work in Knox Presbyterian Church in downtown Galt (now Cambridge.)

Some other of my ancestors made their way cross country and helped develop the railway and some cities in the west. Other ancestors stayed closer to Waterloo Region. My grandpa Hyde and a few of my great-uncles on the Lovejoy side helped build several of the war-time houses in Galt.


I can’t read their minds, but I can tell by the way I was raised and the people around me, that we really like to be in Canada. We are safe here. We have opportunity here. We can help build community and we can belong. Sure life isn’t always easy for all of us, but it wouldn’t be easy no matter where we lived.

I am proud to be Canadian. I am proud to be from a long and short line of people who are proud to be in Canada. I am Canadian.

Canada Relief Map
My father, Howard Hill, checks out this relief map of Canada in Brandon, Manitoba


12 Months, 12 Ancestors – Margaret and William Porter

Note: this is the second installment in my own version of #52ancestors where geneabloggers have been asked to write about a different ancestor every week for a year. To understand the concept, read my blog entry from January 19, 2014. To read my January entry on my mother, follow this link.  

They’ve written books about my paternal great-grandmother’s Dryden family and have traced the tree down to famous hockey players and even Commander Hadfield who recently completed a stint at the space station. However not much is really known about my paternal grandfather and his family. Where did they come from? Did any of them do anything as outstanding as play in the NHL or go to space? How long have they been in Canada and where did they come from before they got here? So many questions and I needed to go back to Genealogy 101 – Start with what you know.  Porter Family Crest

My paternal grandmother’s birth name was Margaret Dryden Porter. She was born in 1916 and had a twin brother. She passed away in 1996, when I was in my first year of college. When she was with us, she always had bad eye sight and a really hilarious outlook on life. My grandmother was always saying things like “Whoopee, whoopie!” and calling an overweight woman “healthy.” She was short (4’6″ at her tallest) and fun to tease. My siblings and I loved our “little grandma” to pieces, even if she did always ask, “Is that you Debbie?”

When she was with us, I never really had a chance to ask her anything about what life was like when she was a little girl or even what my grandfather was like (he died well before I was born in 1960.) It has left me with many questions about her family and where she came from.

William Porter, Attestation Papers, Description, Military
This description was on the back of William Porter’s military attestation paperwork from September 1915 and include mention of black hair turning grey, a fresh complexion and a scar on the left side of his neck.

I knew that my grandmother grew up around Galt and Hespeler (now Cambridge, Ontario) and through some of my research, I discovered that my grandmother’s father was William Porter and subsequently that he signed up to fight in The Great War (World War One) shortly before my grandmother and her twin brother Walter were born. The papers described what he looked like and where he lived in Galt, Ontario. I was happy to find the information but I was intrigued for another reason. He signed up in September 1915 and my grandmother was born in July 1916. Something is fishy about the math, especially when you think that twins are rarely carried to full term and September to July is 10 months.

The whole concept of a birth after he was in the military made me put this on the back burner. I really haven’t wanted to stir up any scandal or to offend anyone in the family if I can help it. Did I really want to open a can of worms questioning paternity?

Enter twitter and the lovely Jenn Annis who has been a huge help to me with regards to military history and records. When I started following Jenn on twitter I was just happy to find someone else local to talk about local stuff. I never expected her to have some possible answers to my family tree questions and to help push me to go further than just the Ancestry website as let’s face it, one website isn’t going to have everything.

One of the first questions Jenn asked me was if I had ordered and received the military records for my great grandfather William Porter.

My response, “I can do that?!?”

I had no idea. I really honestly didn’t think I’d be able to access anyone’s records unless I could prove that I was related. In reality, I knew this was the right person, but I wasn’t 100% sure I had all the documents to prove it. However when I started to look into it, I realized all I needed was his military number from his attestation papers, his name and birth date and I was good to go.

Even knowing this and having Jenn’s advice in the back of my mind, it took me a few months to finally bite the bullet and do it. What if I find out something bad? What if he wasn’t the war hero that I so desperately wish that he was? What if he got injured? What if there really wasn’t a possiblity that he is my grandmother’s father? So many what ifs and so many questions.

When I asked Jenn about the timeline, she advised me that it is entirely possible he wouldn’t have been deployed right away. Most likely he would have had training at a nearby base and he may even have had some leaves away from training until he got deployed overseas.  That was a relief and made sense.

So I went to Library and Archives Canada and I sent in the request. I had no idea how long the document was going to be or how much it was going to cost but I was going to find out. A month later and I finally received the email – it’s time for payment. 69 pages of content was created. I can pay for a CD of it or they will email me the link to the information within 2 business days.

Here we are. I’ve paid and now it’s only a short period of time until I will have the answers I’ve been looking for. I really wouldn’t have done this without Jenn. I hope she knows how much I’ve appreciated her help and I look forward to bothering her with many more questions in the weeks to come as I pour over the documents. So Jenn, consider this your fair warning!