Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

News stories from the Renfrew-Collingwood community in East Vancouver


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Family tree tips for creating a memory box

Loretta Houben created this memory box as a tribute to her grandma Helen.

Loretta Houben created this memory box as a tribute to her grandma Helen.

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

A fun way to keep your family history alive is to create a memory box. Many sizes of boxes are available and can be purchased from Michael’s craft stores, Dollarama or Winner’s Homesense. They range in price from $3 to $25.

The focal point of the box could be a favourite photo or a personal keepsake. In my case I chose the earliest photo available of my maternal grandma, Helen Brutke. She was a talented seamstress so I lined the back of the box with fabric similar to the era in which she did most of her sewing.

I glued the fabric to the back of the box and added lace, which I had purchased years ago at my grandma’s favourite fabric store in Salem, Oregon. I included vintage buttons and a scrap of antique lace from her button box.

I played around with where to place the framed photo and the other items, and had fun while doing so! Whenever I look at this special memory box, I wish I had been able to know Grandma Helen, but she died when I was 10 days old. In this way I can’t forget her, thankful that I inherited her love of sewing.

A memory box also makes a wonderful gift for a loved one. (Remember Mother’s Day is on May 11th!) For my dad’s 80th birthday I bought a large box and included photos from all decades of his life, embellished the photos with scrap book images from the dollar store, and used coloured lettering from Michael’s craft store. It was fun to choose the pictures that represented his long life.

This year I’m working on a very special project to celebrate the upcoming First World War centenary. My great uncle, William Williams, who I wrote about in the April 2014 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News Family Tree Tips article, died after being wounded in battle in Salonika, Greece in 1917.

I plan to use a larger memory box and include a photo, a copy of his war medal card, photo copies of Salonika, a photocopy of the newspaper clipping describing his bravery in battle, and possibly his original war medal which was sent to his family after his death. (If I can coerce it from my dad’s possession.)

Visual mementos are a lovely way to keep the memory of our relatives alive, especially if they lived long ago or are ones you never met. Younger generations will appreciate the care and thought which went into making them, and one day they will be precious family heirlooms.

Next month’s installment will focus on searching old journals or diaries, notebooks and even receipts for family clues.

Loretta Houben is a member of the British Columbia Genealogy Society and enjoys finding ways to keep her family history alive and well. Please check the society’s website at www.bcgs.ca for free meet-ups once a month. First published in the May 2014 issue of the Renfrew-Collingwood Community News.

Copyright (c) 2018 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News

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Family tree tips for visiting your ancestor’s homeland

BY LORETTA HOUBEN

Loretta Houben beside her great- grandmother’s grave in Saskatchewan.

Loretta Houben beside her great- grandmother’s grave in Saskatchewan.

I have a curious mind and an adventurous spirit, so this summer when I knew I’d be attending a genealogy conference in Calgary, Alberta, I begged my husband to drive me to three places fairly close by where I knew my ancestors had once lived and worked. He kindly obliged and is now my hero! We travelled over 4,000 km by car to Three Hills, Alberta, and to Saskatchewan.

I’ve never experienced the vast prairie landscape before and it was spectacular. I had done my research ahead of time, but wasn’t exactly sure where my paternal grandpa had actually worked in Three Hills.

Our first stop was to consult the local museum in the town. Staff were very helpful and supplied us with a map to find the ranch. They also gave me a phone number for the owner, who was the great grandson of the man my grandpa worked for 100 years ago in 1916!

Loretta Houben at the Alberta ranch.

Loretta Houben at the Alberta ranch.

The original barn was still standing, and the house. It was fascinating to see the place and get a feel for the area in which he lived until he moved to Spalding, Saskatchewan.

We had booked all our hotels ahead of time. We used our GPS often so we never got lost. After the conference we headed to Humboldt in Saskatchewan. That’s a very long drive, but it was the highlight of my whole trip.

Earlier in 2016 I had joined a Facebook group for Saskatchewan and the members gave very helpful advice. One of them provided me with contact information for a local memorial business, and to make a long story short, the owner made a wonderful marker for my great-grandmother’s grave which had been unmarked for 85 years. Kind family members contributed money to help pay for the cost.

It was quite an experience to see my great-grandmother’s grave no longer lost but with a beautiful marker that included her name, full date of birth and death, and an epitaph which reads “Forever in our hearts.” The process of finding the grave and having the marker made and installed was all managed by email! I was quite impressed.

The next day we headed to Spalding, where my father was born. I had no idea where the farm was located, but thanks once again to Facebook groups, Garth Ulrich, who lived some distance away, said he would take us to all the places we wished to see.

It was a gorgeous day and we followed at 110 km per hour down dusty country roads as he showed us the various farms where my dad had grown up and also the school ground now overgrown with bush but which had a nice plaque to mark the spot where my dad had gone to school.

Another highlight was seeing the cemetery in the middle of wheat fields where my grandpa’s first wife is buried. Garth even provided a map of the cemetery so I could locate where her grave is, as there is one monument for everyone and no individual markers.

I’ll never forget my amazing genealogy adventure!

Loretta Houben is a long-time resident in the Collingwood area and enjoys making her family past come alive.

Copyright (c) 2016 Renfrew-Collingwood Community News


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August 2014 issue of the RCC News is here

The new issue is full of the many wonderful people, events and programs happening in our neighbourhood!

August 2014 RCCNewsGet your August 2014 issue of the RCC News at your local coffee shop, grocery store, library and community centre.

Or click on the cover image to view the new issue.

In this issue:

  • Expert canning tips for summer fruit
  • Squished skunk? Call 3-1-1
  • Tips to find work from the Vancouver Northeast WorkBC Centre
  • Italian Cultural Centre hosts Il Mercato, Vancouver’s first Farmer and Italian Night Market
  • Curbside Fresh Market comes to Collingwood
  • Summer movie nights in the park
  • Get ready for the annual Renfrew Ravine Harvest Moon Festival – lantern workshops
  • New on the CNH Rooftop Garden: Family drop-in gardening program

Do you have a local story to tell or an event to share? We’d love to hear about it! Email rccnews-editorial@cnh.bc.ca.

The deadline for the September 2014 issue is August 10. From 300 to 400 words, with high resolution photos in a jpg at least 1 MB file size.