About thirty years ago when my daughter was four she asked me this question on a crowded city bus. There was a hush as all conversation around us stopped; everyone waited expectantly for the answer. Uncharacteristically taking an interest in a fellow passenger. So heartwarming. Not. Their curiosity was unrewarded however; before I could recover and organize my thoughts into an age and context appropriate response, my precious little sweetie answered her own question. No doubt proud of having figured this out on her own, she sagely announced she knew (to my amused relief): babies came from the Baby House.
The Baby House. The daycare centre she went to was owned by a woman, an angel of a human being, Cora Van Vugt. When she first started caring for children, it was to be for infants. My daughter was one of her lucky little charges in the beginning, and as the babies grew into toddlers, her home soon transformed into a dedicated daycare for infants and toddlers. These two age groups however, have different needs. Within a few years Mr. & Mrs. Van Vugt had purchased a bungalow down the street and renovated it to be an infant nursery. The babies moved in there, and the original location remained the toddler centre. It was from this Baby House my little darling believed babies came, I learned, because that’s where one of her little friends went to pick up his new baby sister. An innocent and logical conclusion.
From the time we’re very young, we wonder where we came from, how we came to be. As I grew up, that inquiry led to wondering about family roots, not just biological beginnings. When did our family come to Canada, where did we come from, why did they leave the old country, and who were those people? I was lucky this interest was shared by my late Grandmother who, along with a cousin, had been actively compiling a family tree and gathering stories and photos This was before computers and software that now, with websites like Ancestry and Rootsweb, make it so easy to share and source genealogical data.
It was 30 years ago (yikes!) that I picked up where she left off, organizing ancestral charts, pedigree forms, and the like from her documents. I’m grateful for all the work she and her cousin did because it not only provided the valuable groundwork for continued family history search, but reading about who my ancestors were and the lives they led, has helped me understand who I am and how I got here.
Genealogy is an interest that combines learning about one’s family with discovering the historical and cultural context of what drove them to immigrate; as well as how they lived and died. A couple of the tools I use are Ancestry.ca and Family Tree Maker. In the genealogical forums there’s a great source of help for one’s search—one thing that becomes apparent is we are all in some way connected. We’re all family.
Oh, and I did get around to correcting my sweetie pie’s belief in the origins of babies!