Iâ€™m a proud citizen of the MÃ©tis Nation of Ontario with roots in the Georgian Bay MÃ©tis Community from the Verified MÃ©tis family lines of Solomon and Berger/Beaudoin. Itâ€™s an honour to have the position in my family as the story keeper. Georgian Bay and my family are a main source of inspiration. I love to write about life by the water, the history that was hidden for so many years, and the ways of our grandparents. Iâ€™ve been blessed to meet so many cousins through this blog.
Some people might call it the woods, but our family has always called it the bush. Â Rolling granite, moss, and long grasses topped with juniper bushes, birches, maples, and pines extend for many kilometres from my parents’ place across Crown land.
I remember going blueberry picking in the bush near the cottage in Britt when I was eight or nine. Mom carries baskets. Dad carries peanuts in shells. We always bring Princess with us, my great-Aunt Ireneâ€™s German Shepherd. Princess leads the way over the granite and moss, into the desolate, dense back bushes on the coast of Georgian Bay, guarding us from the possibility of walking into sleeping black bears or sunning massasauga rattlers.
The history of bingo in my family is important to me. Bingo was a place where women had independence: socially and financially. They could have a drink, connect with other women, and take a break from their responsibilities.
My play “Once Upon a Rocking Chair” is 90% fiction. The 10% of truth is inspired by my mom, aunts, and cousins. For years we had the annual tradition of going to the cottage together for a week: Girls’ Week. It started when my cousins and I were kids as a getaway for the moms (my mom and her two sisters). When my cousins and I were in our 20s we slowly infiltrated the tradition, starting by coming at the end for the weekend. Then our stay got longer and longer until we were all there. It continued for years. I think our last official Girls’ Week at the cottage was in 2008 or 2009, with three generations of Lamondins.
We always played bingo.
My citizenship card arrived at the end August 2016. I was surprised how much peace it brought me.Â It was almost as though my ancestors breathed out a collective sigh of relief. I am proud to be MÃ©tis.
These are some of the stories I’ve collected of my grandfather, William Lamondin, growing up in a lighthouse.
The LamondinÂ family has lived in Britt, Ontario since before the town had this name. I’ve heard stories about when Britt was a logging town, when the coal docks were the centre of activity, when the railway was installed, when electricity arrived, and when the lighthouse became automated and no longer required a keeper. AsÂ my parents drive up and down the Britt road, they recite histories of the buildings and the families, sometimes going back a hundred years.
There is nothing like a Georgian Bay sunset. Dad took us out on a beautiful August evening for a cruise around Gereaux Island Lighthouse.Â What makes the water look like a mirror? Why do sunsets feel so much like coming home?
The Sunset is a Teacher
watch the sunset
in a boat if possible
swaying in the shining water
listen closely, our ancestors join us
notice the pulse of Mother Earthâ€™s
lullaby of colour marked across the sky
pause to feel the call of the loon
soften in a moment of stillness
as the sun exhales a good day
in a ballet of light
By Jessica Outram
Learning Big Lessons from a Family Recipe
A family recipe can be a legacy. We all learn from our parents. For many of us, parents are our first teachers and our most influential teachers. I’ve worked with so many families over the years and whatever the family story, whether the parents are very present or very absent, children learn big lessons. And we learn from every experience and encounter with our parents, things that can hurt us and things that can heal us, things that take us backward and things that move us forward.