When I first started to look for my grandfather's family, I really did not know much about Nova Scotia. To be honest -- I knew it was *north* of the state of Maine, but that was about it. If a map of Canada had been put in front of me I would NOT have been able to pick it out. I could *cop out* and blame it on the American school system, but I won't. The subject of Canada was avoided at all costs in my family.
My first thought was to visit my local automobile club to get a map of Nova Scotia. When I asked for a detailed road map and accommodations list of Nova Scotia the young girl behind the desk stared at me with a blank look. She didn't make any attempt to go find a map; I finally asked her a second time. She looked at me, a total deadpan look on her face and asked me --
Well --- maybe I CAN blame the education system......
After Pop passed on, my grandmother and I sat down to go over the pictures. She had a wonderful memory for facts and figures, even at her advanced age. She knew *some* of the story, but not all of it, because the family tragedy that had happened had been before she met my grandfather.
What was the cause of all my grandfather's fears? The fact that both his brother and his mother had been hospitalized for severe mental illness. Both were diagnosed as schitzophrenic; Pop's younger brother was diagnosed as paranoid schitzophrenic. Pop himself had had a nervous breakdown during WWII, but recovered completely from it.
Ideals change as the generations pass, and I found myself wanting to know more about this family, despite the *family skeletons.* I knew that I would find far more positive things about his family than the negative things he was so afraid of. Half of my family was gone when he passed on, and I needed to find a way to connect with the heritage he had passed on to me. He was the good person he was because someone in his past had taught him to be. I wanted to re-connect with those people, even if it was only on paper.
*Normal* genealogy, the usual sifting through soundex files and records of all sorts, can take years, when you factor in the other important things in life -- like jobs, kids, etc. And, when you are just starting out, it can be a frustrating process. Not really knowing where to go and what questions to ask, I found very little information about the area of Nova Scotia my grandfather's people had come from. I found little more than vague references to Pictou County in general, and nothing on Barney's River at all. After a frustrating year of trying to really find something on this specific area I tucked things away, and only occasionally took the papers out to try to see if I had missed anything.