I don’t profess to know much about history. I spent more time trying to avert my eyes from my high school History teacher’s unpleasant gestures and I unfortunately did not absorb any of the assumed knowledge he had bestowed upon us. Instead, I doodled, wrote poems and passed notes to my friends. I narrowly escaped with a passing percentage from my tenth grade scholastic year because of the embarrassing grade I received from that History class but my outlook on the past has recently changed.
I have been asked to help with a project for our local library. They would like to create a book that details the photos and the memories of our senior residents, learn what brought them to Muskoka and what the area was like when they first arrived. I knew I would enjoy the journey but I didn’t know how much I would love it until I did my first interview on Wednesday.
This area has been home to my family for many generations. I have been fortunate to live here for most of my life and have many photos and stories of family members who walked these paths long before my grandparents were born. It has been a part of my soul for longer than I have been on this Earth and I now get to hear stories of how Muskoka has been the love of many other people’s lives.
My first interview was with a delightful 82-year-old woman who was born in Cork, Ireland. She moved to England with her family after the war and bravely left the safety of her home to move to Canada with a friend when she was 23 years old. As I listened to her detail the moments of her life, I became absorbed in her words as she described her passion for her early days as a cottager and subsequently as a summer resident. Her words moved me. I felt the same strong emotion she did as she described how she felt more than fifty years ago when she first came to the area.
Perhaps history is subjective. The stories of our past may be told in different ways but they will always hold a special place in our heart. I am looking forward to joining a few more of our long-time residents on their journey down memory lane.