By Sue Tiffin
It is such an honour to speak with people and hear their stories.
This is true every day for people who work in journalism, but all the more so around this time of year, when the stories we hear are from those sharing about a tragic time most of us have never had to experience.
When most of us stand at the county cairn on Remembrance Day, hearing the names of people loved and lost, no matter the weather that day or what stresses we’re facing in life, our minds can imagine what the lives of those people we didn’t know might have been like. We can picture what life was like in Haliburton County before the war, and what it must have been like to be called to war overseas, so far from home away from everything that was known at such a young age. One by one the names are called and the to-do list we have in our mind for the day dissipates, as we think about how frivolous so many of our concerns are compared to young men – boys, really – suffering atrocities they wouldn’t be able to speak of if they survived.
One of the young men who served, Lieutenant Alexander McKay Scott had a story that hadn’t been shared. A plaque on the wall of St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Invergordon Avenue captured the attention of historian Gareth Kellett and Gareth took the time to listen, doing the research necessary to find out more about Scott. Now Scott’s name has been added to the cairn, and is one you’ll hear during ceremonies in the future.
Historian Adele Espina, who writes the History in the Highlands column in the Times, also listened – taking note of stories that she refers to as “an almost forgotten story of immigration.” Because of her work, as well as that of Peggie Neville-Bailey, in this paper you can read about the lives of our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers, adventurous young souls who travelled solo but together across the sea to start life in a new place in post-war times as Haliburton County’s war brides.
One of those war brides, a witty and positive spark of a person who has lived in Haliburton County for 75 of her 99 years, so gracefully shared her own story with the Times. Betty Inglis speaks of the hardship of living through wartime but also of the hope that we’re all in this together and there is something better on the other side. It’s a message that is as true today as it was then.
If you have people in your lives whose story needs to be heard, make sure you take the time to listen while you can or do the work to find out more after they’re gone. These shared stories are the ones we will remember.