Today marks 1 week since I made the move to Port Hope, a tranquil town on the north shore of Lake Ontario. Port Hope has the distinction of having the largest quantity of 19th century buildings in Ontario, and it is only a short drive from my roots in Colborne and Brighton.
As a family historian, it is only natural that I am attracted to a town that honours it's past and that has so many historic buildings, not only in the downtown core, but throughout the area. Being able to walk along the Ganaraska River and view the large number of historic homes and commercial buildings is calming, and it gets my natural curiosity going as I start to wonder about how many stories each of these magnificent buildings could tell.
My own paternal family has deep roots in the area, with my family arriving just east of here back in the late 1700's/early 1800's. My 3rd Great-Grandfather, John Taylor, was born in Brighton in 1817, although his family was from Connecticut. His father, Stephen Taylor, was a ship's captain on the Great Lakes and maintained residences in the US as well as in Brighton in what is now Presqu'ille Provincial Park. John was his only child (that I have been able to find) that was born in Canada, and John stayed in Canada.
The other branch of my paternal family came to Colborne, Ontario (just west of Brighton and east of Port Hope) sometime in the 18th or early 19th century. My 3rd Great-Grandfather, John C. Smith, was born here in 1822 as was my 2nd Great-Grandmother, Amelia Louisa, who married John Manly Taylor, son of John Taylor. Amelia was born in Colborne Village and ultimately moved to Brighton where my family remained until sometime in the late 1930's or early 1940's when they moved to Toronto. Many of my relatives stayed in Northumberland County, where I now live, until at least the late 1970's. I may still have some Taylor or Smith relatives in the area, but if I do, I have yet to meet them.
So it's fitting that I am returning to the area of my ancestors to start a new chapter in my life. While I am not living in Brighton or Colborne as they did, I am still in the same county and close to the shores of the lake that my 4th Great-Grandfather used to sail. Maybe all of my family history in the area is the reason that I find Port Hope to be so calming and relaxing, or maybe it's just the slower pace, prettier views and friendly people. Whatever the reason, the decision to leave the busy suburbs of the Greater Toronto Area was a good one, and I can already feel the creative energy returning. Perhaps my new surroundings will trigger some new stories, or visits to local historical societies, archives and cemeteries will yield some long-lost information about my ancestors.
Only time will tell, but for now I can honestly say that I am glad to be here, steps from Lake Ontario and beside the babbling waters of the Ganaraska River.