We have been helping my brother renovate a house he purchased several years ago in Markham and the cleanup around the place has revealed dustings of the past. It would seem that this old bungalow styled home was once owned by an Italian couple. Now according to Ontario Locator, a website that will give you all the geographic information about a place in Ontario a place is situated, including Township and County or District, the city of Markham can be found in Markham Township in York South County, Ontario. This is good to know if you are trying to narrow down a record search. For instance now that the Canadian Government and the Library and Archives of Canada have released the images for the 1921 Canadian census, one can search for ancestors that lived in Canada in 1921, as long as you know the area in which they lived. There is no individual search feature for this census at the moment, like you would find at Ancestry.ca, Family History Library or Automated Genealogy, so you must scroll through the entire census for an area in hopes that your ancestor was recorded at that time. Now this gives a fresh perspective on how we genealogists use to search for people in census records before the Internet and transcriptions. I quickly found my two grandmother's in North Bay in 1921 and I am still in search of my grandfathers.
Remnants of an Italian neighbourhood can be found in and around this house in Markham. While hanging the clothes on the line I met a nice elderly Italian woman who lived next door who has an unhealthy smoking habit and is slightly hard to understand through her thick Italian accent. The yard was overgrown from years of neglect as the gardener of the house had passed away. Her husband lost interest even in the grapevines strewn along the wire fence, which over took the clothesline that needed rescuing from my Italian husband who cut them back, but out of respect left as much vine as possible for later resuscitation; I was thrilled to find an abundance of grapes hanging from these vines, with anticipation of being turned into wine. Not this year though as the following week the birds and squirrels seemed to have feasted on them leaving only the sad pathetic looking ones not even fit to become a raisin. Cement structures such as the patio and walkways were found through the backyard and slightly hidden near a tree, in the shade a female statue was found forgotten with her black flaking paint showing her age. I could almost picture the past in its hey day, with big family gatherings, spaghetti dinners a twice weekly ritual and the Italian females hanging their laundry and talking over the fence to one another. Oh, yes and of course company visiting on a warm summer night, plied with Italian bake goods and homemade wine from the grapes vines hanging nearby.
As summer closes its doors to make way for the crisp Autumn air and Fall cleanup, so too am I closing up the screen windows, turning off the air-conditioning and ceiling fans to make way for the newest change in the seasons. I have been cleaning my office and rearranging books and files to make my office more efficient. Funny the crazy things we find in the back of our closest collecting dust, where once we thought we better keep this or that just in case and now after years of being shelved we see that there really is no more use for certain items in our evolving lives. Old books out of print but not heirloom quality like torn manuals for old computers, prints, and programs that have been extinct perhaps only a few years ago. I found the box to my first genealogy computer program "Personal Roots". I remember being thrilled to find such a thing as the existence of such a program was such a high tech thing at the time. Do I throw out all the old telephone books I have been keeping over the years, not too sure, so I have tucked away a few just in case the Internet completely crashes and we have to rely on the old ways of doing genealogy again; how funny that seems to me, but I just can't completely rid myself of my pack-rat tendencies. Cleaning up the past to make way for future genealogical adventures has been interesting as I get to go down memory lane one more time and I also feel good about the clutter gone from my life. Such a nice balance for sure.
"MAY ALL YOUR GENEALOGICAL DREAMS COME TRUE!!"
Tammy Tipler-Priolo BASc, PLCGS
The Ancestor Investigator is also the Ancestor Whisperer!