On Irish Origins, Yarmouth Blue, and the Price of Beer

Two weeks ago, we were in New Brunswick to visit friends and family. As I often do, I went through old photographs of my family in generations past to see if I could find anything new. This time, I found my aunt’s birth certificate from the 1930s. She died in the 1950s, years before I was born.

On the certificate, it listed the “racial origin” of her father as “Scotch,” and “Irish,” for her mother, aka my grandparents. My grandmother had complicated and difficult childhood, due to her own mother burying three husbands and before dying relatively young herself. At one point she was placed in a Catholic orphanage when she could find nobody in her extended family to take her.

All of this was relatively new to me as the only thing I really knew about my grandparents is that their families rejected them when they were married due to the religious differences: She was Catholic, he was Anglican (for my own part, my parents were married Anglican and baptised us Anglican but raised us in the United Church). There was more to the story: their eldest child was born out of wedlock and that, I think, was a bigger scandal than the religious one in 1920-whatever.

This is all to say that I’m discovering stuff about my family’s past as I get older that I had no idea about. Not because it’s all coming to light or something, but because I just never asked,

Elsewhere on the trip, I managed to see some friends I hadn’t seen in a while which was nice because in my day to day life these days, I don’t have a friend locally who I can just call up and go do something with. Many of my high school friends ended up in Toronto but I do have a few in town I should make an effort to see more of.

Now that we’ve bought a house, the plan to move back to NB is on hold. But in eight years, I will have been at my job 25 years. Retiring in my fifties and moving to a cheap part of the country might be nice way to spend a retirement. Not sure my Montreal-born son would ever forgive us for moving him back to the boonies, though.

Speaking of housing, I’ve had a few friends and co-workers tell me the only paint to buy is Benjamin Moore or Behr. I’m keen to do the majority of the house in Yarmouth Blue, which I saw in a Martha Stewart magazine and felt it really spoke to my WASP sense of taste. But I’m pretty sure we can find a close approximation somewhere else. But would we just be painting the dark red and brown (I know!) walls six times over because we bought cheaper paint? I dunno. If money were no object, I’d just hand the L.L. Bean home catalogue to an interior designer and say, “Make it look like that!” But then, if money were no object, we wouldn’t be buying a 44 year old condo townhouse.

It’s weird that the minute I signed to buy a house, that whole section of the magazine stand opened itself up to me where it was a blind spot in my field of vision for years.

Suddenly I am at once interested at intimidated by the concept of home renos. But I imagine I can tackle anything on a weekend with enough beer, a how to guide on YouTube, and decent tunes on the iPod.

Which brings me to one of the biggest impediments to moving back to NB: The price of beer is easily twice what you’d pay in Quebec. This is a shame because NB has some great brewers like Picaroons, Pumphouse, and the new Hammond River Brewing. Now, to be honest, I don’t drink beer like I once did. I like a pint now and again but I rarely keep it in the fridge (but I do love me some scotch). I just think a truly visionary government would make this their top priority instead of, you know, jobs and shit.

3 thoughts on “On Irish Origins, Yarmouth Blue, and the Price of Beer”

  1. Oh the discoveries one finds looking a the census. Like finding out that being of Dutch heritage was one big fat lie and that you’re family is actually geeeeeerman. Try ancestry.com for more fun!

    1. I keep meaning to do the ancestry thing but always stumble when I get to the great-grandparents because the names start escaping me. I did see a 1903 (?) Canadian census that showed my great-grandfather’s family (on my dad’s side) in their farmhouse including his first wife, my grandfather, great-great aunt, great-great semi-aunt who was raised as my grandfather’s sister when her mother died in childbirth, and a hired hand who boarded with them.

      According to the census, they could all read and write and were proper Scots Presbyterians and would be until the United Church of Canada formed in the twenties.

      I wish I had more information on these people as they make great stories.

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