Did my early Ontario ancestors live in a rustic cabin like this?
My ancestors lived in many and diverse places, more than I imagined when I started my journey into family history. But even when I began, I realized that my parents came from very different backgrounds. So different that I knew that if I pushed the button available on some DNA sites to find out "are your parents related" it would always come out negative. Their backgrounds were different enough that it was easy to identify my maternal and paternal sides on Ancestry's DNA circles.
Not that there was huge diversity in those backgrounds. Both ancestral pasts were tied to the British Isles and, in fact, my parents were married there. A few years after their marriage they immigrated to Canada. But they weren't the first in the family to immigrate to that country. My mother's father had immigrated there in 1911. My mother had been born in Canada, daughter to her recent immigrant father and his wife, my grandmother, a product of two Scottish lines that had first set foot in Canada in 1843 and 1853. In the early years of my ancestral search, I confined my research in Canada and the province that was to become Ontario to records after those dates.
While those were early years in the history of what was to become Ontario, I felt I could safely ignore any history that came prior to those years in the mid 1800s as it wouldn't be relevant to my ancestors. In fact, the subtitle of a book in my personal library insists that where they settled had already been set up before they got there. That book was Upper Canada: The Formative Years, 1784-1841.
But I didn't pick up that book until later. When I first began my genealogical journey, the histories I read about Canada West were mostly confined to the years after my Scottish ancestors settled there. Even in the later years when they arrived, most of the towns and farms where still in the eastern portion of what eventually became Ontario. It wasn't until later in the century that settlers began to explore further west. My families followed that trail so far in that direction that they ended up on the Prairies.
That seemed like a formidable start to those families experiences in North America and to my genealogical research but subsequent breakthroughs would show that some of my ancestors were in Canada West decades before the mid 1800s. In fact, they had been in North America for generations before then showing that my American roots were far deeper than I thought. Family history research can bring some surprising things to light!