tracking down dead people is not an easy task. long hours of research, cross-country drives over empty, winding roads and silent cemeteries caked in mud and lichen. there are forests to navigate, derelict churches to study and often a spirit or two on your heels.
the m.u. and I tracked dead people last week. we drove up to Orillia where my great-grandparents lived, down to Kingston to bum beds off my aunt and uncle, then on to Pointe-Fortune, Quebec.
we had family in Pointe-Fortune back in the 1800s, when it was called Point Fortune and flooded with Scottish immigrants.
flooded being a relative term.
we found who we were looking for just across the Ottawa river in Saint-André-Est, formerly St. Andrew's. here lies Hugh McLachlan, my great-great-great-great-great grandfather. he came to Quebec from the Scottish Highlands in 1802 and raised fourteen kids and a farm. the table-like gravestone is his. the white one in front of it is my great-great-great-great grandmother's. the cemetery is entirely Scottish and meticulously cared for by residents of the tiny Québécois community who don't speak a word of English.
we didn't end up firing a single round of rock salt and, despite wandering into a forest at dusk in search of the source of eerie, piercing whistles and stumbling upon a pond that may or may not have been phosphorescent with shadows of faces beneath the surface, we emerged from our trip with souls intact and all bodily organs functioning normally.
however, we did locate the graves of five generations of ancestors, so I guess the trip wasn't a complete bust.