Presented by: Kae Elgie
Learning about the people who lived on the land before your ancestors arrived will change your perspective on your family’s history. Learn why and how.
Learning about the people who lived on the land before your ancestors arrived there will change your perspective on your family’s history. It surely did for me. With growing awareness and increasing sensitivity to other people’s narratives, it’s vital that all genealogical and family history research takes a holistic and inclusive approach. It’s time to forget the myth of European pioneers coming to empty lands and singlehandedly, as isolated trailblazers, turning wilderness into farmland.
The discovery of “prehistoric” artefacts on the 200-acre farm where I grew up prompted me to research the archaeological history of southwestern Ontario, and through consultation with archaeologists, use that research to imagine the many generations of post Ice Age people who, like my family, had relied on that land for our livelihood. Extensive self-study and learning about Indigenous worldviews, law, social organization helped me see pioneer history in another light. Especially, it caused me to re-evaluate certain land transactions made by my great-great-grandfather.
By drawing on the 12,000 year story outlined in This Land: the story of two hundred acres in Kent County, Ontario (Fountain Street Press, 2019, ISBN 978-0-9812776-3-9), I will show conference attendees how they can begin to understand the longer, truer story of the land where their ancestors settled. Attendees will leave with suggestions of research techniques, sources and strategies they can apply to their own genealogical work.