Four Sisters and a Passel of Other People

The first page…

I have seen lots of my sisters, Anne, Barb, Cathy since arriving in Kamloops last June. We have cooked, shopped, wine tasted, gone for drives along back roads and dog walked. Not earth-shattering entertainment – but just the sorts of things that sisters enjoy together.

We have all recently moved into new digs. I am in Canada just part time, but still, I’ve had an apartment to fix up. My sisters have all downsized. Not having so much house to care for is great, but the inconvenience of a smaller place is less storage. My sisters wonder what to do with the memorabilia they have collected over the years – their children don’t want it – and they have nowhere to keep it. The photographs are fading and the letters are dog-eared – but they can’t bear to throw the stuff out. And really, it would be a shame to lose all that history. So, we came up with the idea of a “posterity project”.

It did not take long to collect four big plastic storage bins of “treasure”. The apartment where I live in Kamloops seemed like the logical place to keep it all  – I don’t have much space either but I am the one with the most time to separate, cull and organize.

We call our project: “The vdG Repository”.  My dictionary defines repository as : a central location in which data is stored and managed. Perfect, eh?

And we are off to a great start. In the living room, next to the window, we’ve placed an old photograph of our granddad’s family in Amsterdam, and below it, a photograph of the family taken at my grandmother’s 65th birthday party. Above the couch, we have three of Granddad’s paintings –  and the family memoir I wrote about Aunt Gisele’s life is on the book shelf – as are other books written by family members.

We’ve sorted the letters, photos and keepsakes into piles and have started to make scrap books. We don’t have much of cataloguing system. The four are called: “Granddad and Further Back”, “Dad, his Siblings and Cousins”, “Us Kids and Our Cousins”, and “Our Kids and Their Kids”

We have a copy of the family tree that Aunt Gisele put together, and the chart that accompanies it. Her birth, 105 years ago is the last recorded entry, so obviously we have a lot of catching up to do.

The van der Gracht family is an interesting mix of characters. Artists, explorers, pirates, n’er-do-wells, humanitarians, businessmen, real estate developers, teachers, farmers, nurses – and even a saint! We hope that future generations will want to know more about us than just our birth and death dates, so we are adding stories to the scrap books, and postcards, kid’s drawings, first communion photos, and wedding invitations.

It goes without saying that this project is also a tribute to our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles. They instilled in us a love of family, and we want to carry that on.

We hope that other family members will send us the missing links and data, but if not, we’ll do the best we can.

Do you or anyone you know have a project like ours?  Any suggestions?

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6 thoughts on “Four Sisters and a Passel of Other People

  1. Mark will send you the link to the Powell Family Tree, if you ask him. Then you can download as much as you want and either print out or save. It now goes back centuries.
    Craig sent on a message today from Kim, cousin Sidney’s granddaughter asking for information about him. She’ll be a cousin of sorts to you. So you are not the only one interested in family history.
    Ted has Dad’s photo albums, maybe you can pry some more photos out of him. Dot and I have tried. I do have a copy of one taken at Royston with Bill, John, Margie, and Nigel White with Dad and my mother, so Winnie must have taken the photo.
    On the Cowichan Valley Museum site there is a photo of Bill setting off to the 8th World Jamboree with a group of his scouts. CVM1989.10.5.9 is the Accession Number
    Go onto http://www.ancestry.com and you’ll find lots of info. The Dutch site is very good for those records not destroyed in the bombing in WWII.

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    1. Thanks Alic,e I will write to Mark about the site. Family history is quite intereting, isn’t it? But we are going a step further, creating a physical spce where people can see and touch things we have collected… it is fun doing albums and figuring out the best spot for the paintings, cabinet etc…

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  2. It sounds like an awesome and very necessary project. Even if children do not see the value in it now, I bet someday they will. I’ve done it on a smaller scale with family photos going back to the turn of the last century. I archived photos in a fat album and wrote what I knew of the people in the photo and the circumstances. Preserving the past is a worthwhile endeavor. I know you, as a writer, will do a great job with it and it will be a lot of fun to work on. Good luck with it!

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    1. It really is such a FUN project. When my sisters and I look at photos of past genrations (we are working with 5 generations) we marvel at the similrity of their appearance to living relatives. The photos from our own childhood, bring forth both laughter and tears. We have begun receiving information from other branches of the family and we find it amazing the stories they know that we don’t, and vse versa.

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  3. Joanna, having just moved after 10 years in one house , you know I am stumped about where to put all the “treasures” and even arrange the kitchen Ha ha . Anyway your project sounds fascinating and I know it will fill many hours. Buena suerte amiga.

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    1. We are having a lot of fun – as you say, it is amazing how much “stuff” piles up. We have hard decisions to make! Not that we will throw anything away, but we’ll need to find “Repository II” See you soon! Good luck with your “nesting”…

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