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Home Children

“Home Children” was the name of a child migration scheme under which more than 100,000 poor or orphaned girls and boys were sent from the United Kingdom to British settler colonies in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. My recent research profiles three child migrants sent out of the London-area of England. See the post below for a description of how one Home Girl was sent through the Liverpool Sheltering Homes to the Marchmont Home in Belleville, Ontario. Other posts describe the migration of two Home Children who were sent from an orphanage or a work house through Dr. Barnardo’s organization to Hazelbrae in Peterborough, Ontario and to the Jarvis Street Home in Toronto, Ontario. All of these children found employment with the Mellow family in Uxbridge, Ontario. See my article on Dr. Frank Mellow in this blog. By all accounts, the Mellows were excellent employers who provided each of the girls with a very good living and working situation. This information is based on reports filed by the Home Children organizations who made check-up visits to the Mellow house every 6-8 months to assess the character of the home, the child’s health, the level of satisfaction, and the child’s character. The sites I have used to document this research include heritage.canadiana.ca, familysearch.org, ancestry.ca, findmypast.com and findagrave.com.

From the Orphanage to Dr. Barnardo’s Home

This is a profile of British Home Child Lilian Grace Frankies (born about 1906). She came to Canada as a “Barnardo Girl” and found employment with Dr. Mellow’s family in Uxbridge, Ontario. The following post outlines the early part of Lilian’s life using facts and details from the English and Canadian census, a marriage certificate and her ship/passenger manifests. These documents were researched on the ancestry.ca and familysearch.org sites.

Lilian Grace Frankies, whose last name is spelled Frankus and Franklin, was born about 1906 in London, England. Her father Arthur Franklen, born 1872 in Norwich, Norfolk and her mother Beatrice Jones, born about 1870 in Norfolk, married around 1901.

Census of England (1911)

On the 1911 Census, Mrs. Franklin appears to be boarding with two other women in a house in Blackpool. Meanwhile, her husband Arthur is a labourer/naavy lodging elsewhere with many other workers. He appears to have died later that year (1911) in Poole, Dorset.

Lilian had been given up to The Orphanage, Old Road, Great Clacton, Essex sometime before 2 April 1911. As you can read below, she appears on the registers as an inmate, her name is spelled Lilian Franklin, her age is given as 8, and she is listed along with her sister Ivy Franklin, also an inmate, age 6. Altogether there are 30 girls living in this Orphanage.

Emigration to Canada (1920)

At age 14, Lilian departed from Southampton, England on the Scandinavian. She travelled with many other girls, all of whom were heading to the Barnado Homes in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The photo below shows the Barnardo Homes Receiving and Distribution Centre on Peter Street, Toronto, Ontario. This Home operated from 1909 to 1922. Click on this link to read more about Dr. Barnardo’s Toronto Ontario Homes and Offices.

The ship’s manifest of October 1920 lists her as Lilian Grace Frankie. Lilian’s intended occupation in Canada is “domestic.”

Barnardo Girl

On the passenger declaration, Lilian Grace Frankies indicates that her passage has been paid for by Dr. Barnardo’s Homes, but her next of kin is listed as her mother Mrs. Frankies who lives at 44 St. Anne Road, Notting Hill, England.

This is Lilian Grace Frankie’s name on the Hazelbrae Memorial. The Memorial is located in front of the old Queen Alexander School, which is now called Activity Haven, on Barnardo Avenue in Peterborough.

Dr. Mellow’s House in Uxbridge

Within one year of her arrival in Canada, Lilian is living in Uxbridge, Ontario. On the 1921 Census of Canada, she is a servant in the Mellow house. The other people in residence there include Dr. Frank Mellow, his wife Daisy Mellow and their seven-year old son Ross Mellow. The transcriber of this census document wrote the Mellow’s last name as Miller, thought Daisy’s first name was Darsy, and interpreted Lilian Frankies’ name as Lyian Frankus. (All the variations in spelling make researching into a wild-goose-chase!)

Lilian worked for the Mellows for almost 2 1/2 years (from May 23, 1921-Oct 5, 1923). After Uxbridge, she moved to Toronto, then to Grimsby, and then she got engaged. After she was married (and after she turned 18), she was no longer a ward of the Homes.

from Department of Immigration: Juvenile Inspection Report Cards

On her marriage certificate of 6 October 1924, she writes 538 Jarvis Street, Toronto as her home address. This was the old Cawthra Mulock Residence that served as the Barnardo Headquarters for both boys and girls from 1922-1945. The managers during that time were J.W. Hobday and Rose Hobday. Once the Barnardo Homes shut down, the building was owned by the Salvation Army from 1948-1956. In 1957, it was demolished.

The Barnardo Home at 538 Jarvis Street, Toronto

Marriage

As you can see on the license below, Lilian Grace Frankies is a spinster (ie not previously married) and still a ward of the Dr. Barnardo Homes (see the entry in the lower left hand corner of the certificate below).

According to some historians, children were often wards of Dr. Barnardo’s Homes until around age 18. Click on this link for more information and other case histories about about Home Children from Britain to Canada.

A Barnardo Home Child

This is a profile of British Home Child Dorothy Hizzey (1902-1970). She came to Canada as a “Barnardo Girl” and found acceptance and love with her employers, the Mellow family in Uxbridge, Ontario. The following post outlines her life using facts and details from the census, baptism/death registrations, and ship manifests that were researched on the following genealogical websites: Ancestry, Find My Past and Family Search. Special thanks to Elizabeth M. for sharing her family’s memories and photograph album.

Dorothy Hizzey, who was born May 22nd 1902, was baptised July 13th 1902 in Church Alley, Chertsey, Surrey. (See the Baptisms Registry below — the information about Dorothy Hizzey can be found in the first entry on the second page). The town of Chertsey, located on the right bank of the River Thames, is now considered part of the Greater London area.

Her parents had two other children. Her father Matthew was a gardener. Her mother Lucy Eliza Hizzey died about one month after Dorothy was born. (See the announcement of Lucy’s death in the 3rd entry below.)

Dorothy’s brother Percy died in 1905 (age five). Around this time, Dorothy’s father Matthew Hizzey remarried. In the 1911 Census of England, he has started a new family. The 1911 Census also indicates that Dorothy’s sister Lucy Hizzey (born 1898) is living elsewhere (in an institution) and is described as being deaf.

Dorothy herself is eight years old in 1911 and living with a farming family called the Priors. Her status in the family is “boarder” — more than likely, Dorothy and the other six-year old girl living with the Priors are being sponsored by an organization like the Barnardo Homes.

The following year, the nine-year old Dorothy Hizzey is listed as a Barnardo child and is on a ship departing from London, England to Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.

She travelled on the Allan Line with many other British Home Children. Dorothy Hizzey arrived at Hazelbrae, Dr. Barnardo’s Distribution Home for Girls, in 1912.

Hazelbrae operated from 1883 until it closed in the early 1920s. By 1930 it had been torn down.

The first image depicting the Hazelbrae home for girls in Peterborough. Until 1924 immigrant children lived at the home until they were adopted out.

Click here for a link to a recent newspaper article about Hazelbrae published in myKawartha.com. Barnardo’s still exists today as a UK-based children’s charity and adoption service.

The memorial for the Barnardo Home Children outside Activity Haven on Barnardo Ave., and the grave marker for children who died in the home at Little Lake Cemetery in Peterborough.

Dorothy’s last name is misspelled on the Hazelbrae memorial as Huzzey.

Another possible misspelling of her last name may be found in the 1921 Census of Canada. The 5th name on the list below is Dorothy Hazes, a “domestic” who is residing with a lot of other people in Ancaster, Wentworth, Ontario. On this Census form, her father’s race is described as Scottish, her mother’s Irish, and Dorothy herself is English, and Anglican.

Dorothy Hizzey arrived at the Mellow home in Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada sometime in the late 1920s or early 1930s.

She was employed as the “domestic” — housemaid– but she also doubled as Dr. Mellow’s assistant. Click here for my blog post on Dr. Frank Mellow.

Dr. Frank Mellow

In her over-sized white lab coat, Dorothy would help Dr. Mellow operate his legendary medical device—a one-tonne solid oak electrostatic generating machine, about the size of an upright piano. The Waite & Bartlett medical generator had arrived in Uxbridge via train and wagon from Long Island, New York about a decade before Dorothy. Her job was to crank that wheel at the end of the machine (see the photo below). Once the wheel was cranked, two glass disks inside the case rotated, moving some copper brushes, creating pale blue sparks, and an ozone reek. The generated electricity was either applied directly to a patient or the charge could be stored up in condenser jars, and then used to power several medical therapies and procedures, including early x-rays.

Image from Museum of Health Care, Kingston, Ontario.

The electrostatic machine in the picture (left) is from Dr. Mellow’s Uxbridge home. In about 2010, it was boomed over the 2nd floor balcony by a crane, swung into the back of a moving truck, and gently taken to the Museum of Health Care in Kingston, Ontario.


Pictured above are Dr. Mellow’s wife Daisy and Dorothy Hizzey by the fountain in the back garden of the house in Uxbridge, Ontario.

Dorothy did not marry or have children. She did talk about a cousin who lived in the Maritimes. There are two other Huzzeys on the 1911 Census of Canada: Amelia Huzzey (age 15) and Mary Huzzey (age 12). They both emigrated to Canada in 1910 and may have been Home Children too.

Dorothy Hizzey lived in Uxbridge until her death in 1970. She is buried in the Mellow family plot in Port Perry, Ontario.

If you have any questions or comments, please email me at linda.revie@gmail.com

From the Limestone Union to the Marchmont Home

Amelia Lilian Sharp (1907-1928) was part of a group of children brought out of a British workhouse and sent to Canada through the Liverpool Sheltering Homes. After she arrived at the Marchmont Home in Belleville, Ontario, she was placed with at least one family before she found employment in the Mellow household in Uxbridge, Ontario. This profile of one of Canada’s Home Children builds on the memorial posted on Find a Grave. Click here for that memorial. My information is based on documents researched on the following sites: Ancestry, Find My Past and Family Search. Thanks also to Elizabeth M. who allowed me to scan the Mellow family photo album and to Brian G. who sent me an inquiry, along with the death certificate, for Amelia Sharp.

Amelia Lilian Sharp was born May 25th, 1907 and baptised on the 10th of September 1907 at St Michael and All Angels, Walthamstow, Essex, England. Her parents were Charles Sharp and Amelia (Scally) Sharp.

Amelia Sharp’s Family

Charles Sharp, born abt. 1882 in Walthamstow, Essex, was a bricklayer. He married Amelia Scally in 1906. Charles likely died July 17th 1915.

Amelia Scally, born 1887 in Walthamstow, Essex, England, was christened on the 9th of May 1888 at St. Michaels and All Angels, Walthamstow, Essex. By the time Amelia (Scally) Sharp reached her mid-20s, she had given birth to six children. She seems to have died in 1926 in West Ham, England.

Amelia (Scally) Sharp, born 1887, died 1926.
Amelia (Scally) Sharp, 1887-1926
photo from Amelia Sharp’s memorial page on Find a Grave.

On the 1911 Census of England, the Sharp family lived at 15 Hervey Park Road, Walthamstow, West Ham. The total children born to Charles and Amelia Sharp: 5. The total children who had died: 2. The 3 living children listed on the Census are the four-year old Amelia (born 1907), the three-year old Elsie (born 1908) and the one-year old Doris (born 1910). While there was also a son, George Sharp — born December 28th, 1910 — he is not included on this 1911 Census.

The Limehouse Union

Amelia Lilian Sharp became an inmate of Limehouse Union, London sometime before 1923.

Limehouse was a workhouse that included a Childrens Establishment. The Stepney Union was in charge of this London-based workhouse. The children placed in the Union houses were wards of the state. The boys were taught and expected to do shoemaking, tailoring, carpentering and farming and the girls laundry, housework, cooking, sewing and knitting. When Limehouse was closed temporarily in 1923, the Liverpool Sheltering Homes took the children under their care.

The Liverpool Sheltering Home

Amelia Sharp departed from Liverpool on 23rd February 1923 and arrived in St. John, New Brunswick, Canada on March 5th 1923. She travelled 3rd class with 29 other children aboard the SS Montcalm. The 29 children all emigrated under the authority of the Sheltering Home for Orphan and Destitute Children, Myrtle Street, Liverpool. Notice on the document above how the ship’s manifest includes Amelia’s brother George Sharp, also from Limehouse Union, London who was supposed to depart at the same time, but for some reason had been crossed off the register.

The Marchmont Home

The Canadian destination of the 29 children was the Marchmont Distribution Home at 193 Moira Street, Belleville, Ontario.

Click here for information about this British Home Children institution.

On her declaration form, Amelia Sharp indicates she is 15 ½ years old, her present and intended occupation is “Domestic,” and she has come to Canada for “Self-improvement.”

Picture taken about 1923. Amelia Sharp is assumed to be the second from the left. Photo found in George Sharp’s trunk and loaded onto his memorial page on Find a Grave.

On the list of children arriving at the Marchmont Home, Amelia Sharp’s first placement is with a Mrs. E. L. Newton.

After eight months in Hastings, Amelia returned to the Marchmont Home then she was sent out to a placement in Belleville. After another eight months in this house, she was sent to Uxbridge.

from Department of Immigration: Juvenile Inspection Report Cards

As you can see in the report card above, Amelia was checked on every 6-8 months by someone from the Home Child organization. The boxes checked off indicate the following categories of assessment: character of the home, child’s health, satisfaction and child’s character. As indicated, each placement scored a “g” for good on all accounts. Mrs. Dr. Mellow is the final employer on the report card and the inspector has summed up the situation in Uxbridge by writing: “Amelia is in a very good home where she is likely to get every attention.” The report card also mentions that here term of indenture has been “completed” in February 1926. This happened after Amelia turned 18 and was no longer a ward of the Homes. Yet even after her binding contract with the Marchmont Home discharged her from service, she chose to remain in the employ of the Mellows. Click here for information about the terms of indenture for British Home Children.

Dr. Mellow’s House

Amelia Sharp arrived at Dr. Frank Mellow’s house in Uxbridge, Ontario December 1925.

Photo of Dr. Frank Mellow’s house in Uxbridge, Ontario. Album donated by the Mellow family to the Museum of Health Care at Kingston, ON.

She worked in the Mellow home as a domestic until her sudden death June 15th 1928. Notice on the death certificate below that Amelia is described as a “Barnardo Home girl.” Perhaps Dr. Mellow identifies her as such because the Marchmont Homes had been taken over by Dr. Barnardo in 1926.

The Mellow family called her Millie. Millie was much loved by Dr. Frank Mellow, his wife Daisy and their son Ross who were all devasted by her untimely death. For my research about the Mellows from Uxbridge, see the blog post here.

Picture of Millie from the Mellow family’s photo album.

Amelia’s brother George Sharp

George Sharp (1910-1978) was supposed to travel to Canada on an earlier ship with his sister, but for some reason had been crossed off that list.

Instead, George Sharp emigrated to Canada a few months after his sister. His ship was the SS Regina, and it left Liverpool on May 25th, 1923 and arrived in Quebec City in June 1923. George Sharp was also sent as a child labourer through the Liverpool Sheltering Home. His declaration indicates he is destined for the Marchmont House, Belleville, Ontario. He is 12 years old, his intended occupation is farming and his object for coming to Canada is “Self-improvement.”

George Sharp worked on a farm near Enterprise, Ontario for many years.

from Department of Immigration: Juvenile Inspection Report Cards
Picture of Amelia’s brother George Sharp taken from his memorial site on Find a Grave.

After the farm was sold, he moved to Kingston and then to Napanee. George Sharp did not marry. He died late April 1978.

After his death, George Sharp’s Home Boy trunk and Bible were donated to the Lennox & Addington County Archives. Click here to see the memorial to George Sharp on the Find a Grave website.

If you have comments about this research, please email me at linda.revie@gmail.com

My recent peer-reviewed publication

I have written a scholarly article called “A Quest for her own folk: Joan Clark’s An Audience of Chairs.” This article was recently published in The British Journal of Canadian Studies 31.1 (Winter 2018): 23-42. https://doi.org/10.3828/bjcs.2018.2

Here is the Abstract for the article:

In An Audience of Chairs (2005), novelist Joan Clark traces the trajectory of madness of Moranna MacKenzie, an intense, complex character who resists the pharmaceuticals associated with the mentally ill. Instead she retreats to the family farmhouse in Baddeck, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, where she carves ancestral faces that surface, ghostlike, in the trees on her property. The labour soothes ‘Mad Mory’ and she sells her folkart to summer tourists. According to Ian McKay’s The Quest of the Folk (1994), this type of craftwork is a form of therapy to shore up a disturbed psyche within the ‘sick’ modern liberal order. Relying on discussions of postcolonial ‘hauntology’, this article examines how ancestral figurations, cosmological paradigms, forced migration to the New World during Scotland’s diaspora, and Indigenous displacement/settler expansion in Cape Breton combine to produce the cultural illness and the personal strife that possess — and dispossess — Moranna from without, and from within.

Self-Translation as Translating the Self!

Theories of Translation

Translation theory is my new obsession, in particular, the practice of self-translation. This is part of a long scholarly project I’ve been poking at for a couple of decades. I intended to do this for my Ph.D. dissertation, but that line of thinking was thwarted. Instead, I ended up working on something entirely different for my terminal degree.

Self-Translation

Self-translation theorizing applies to an article I am writing on the Irish Gaelic poet Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. She always composes poetry in Irish and asks mostly famous male writers to translate her rough-draft “cribs” into English. Then, she publishes the original Irish poem alongside the polished English translation. This practice allows her to expand her audience. It also gives her the means to resist the oppressive silencing of her mother tongue and her “feminine” voice.

Irish Gaelic

A long time ago, I learned Irish Gaelic in order to be able to read her poetry in the original. Because she claims Irish as a “maternal” language that carries the “emotions and feelings,” it seemed especially relevant to immerse myself in that discourse, along with a lot of French Feminist Theorizing. Ní Dhomhnaill also talks about poetry as coming from a deep level of the psyche. As well, she links the writing process to a kind of metamorphosis “from that otherworld into this world.”

Interestingly, even though Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill claims she does not write poetry in “this world,” or in the colonizer’s tongue, there are published Irish-to-English self-translations floating around out there. Over the years, I filed these self-translated poems in a special place because they fascinate me.

Throughout, I’ve kept my eye on the scholarship about translation, hoping against hope an angle might materialize. Thankfully, recent concepts in self-translation theory provide fresh insights on the nature of creativity, voice and literature. For example, I discovered that Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill forms a particular subset of writers known as “ambilingual.” This term accounts for the fact that she writes essays in English and occasionally self-translates some poetry, choosing where and when to publish in both languages.

Edward Soja’s “Thirdspace”

I am very excited to have on my list of books, too, the intriguing Thirdspace by Edward Soja. Based on ideas about spatial theorizing, Thirdspace is a place from which cultural hybridity emerges. It is also described as an epistemological “trialectic” that goes beyond binary thinking, allowing one to speak about poems or texts as woven between cultures, bodies, histories, languages, selves. As applied to theories of self-translation, the trialectic of Thirdspace opens up texts to the tensions, overlaps and overflows of meanings coming and going from one version to the other. I think it will work very well with Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, especially those poems that take place in a parallel “time warp” world which I believe can translate into the “unimaginable universe” of Soja’s Thirdspace.

Time will tell. In the interim, I will sit in a sunbeam, and ponder.

The Great Blue Heron and The Editor

heron

If tent caterpillars were something of a leitmotif for the earliest blogs, this entry’s icon is the heron. This poetic bird is both above and below, both transcendent and inside the natural world. Obviously, there is everything to say about the wonder felt for the great blue heron.

History of the Heron

The word heron is old and of uncertain origin. It appeared in the English language around 1300 A.D. Some say it may have originated from the Latin aerius, meaning aerial, or from Old French’s hairon.  The species called the great blue heron — Ardea herodias — was originally described by Carl Linnaeus in his 18th century Systema Naturae.

This highly mobile bird is cosmopolitan (almost). Additionally, the heron exists on all continents except Antarctica, and it is present in most habitats except the coldest extreme of the Arctic, the high mountains, and the dry deserts.

heron
No one eats the heron.

Associated with water, but essentially a non-swimmer, the heron feeds on the margins of lakes, rivers, swamps, ponds and the sea. Earth-bound, the neck and beak kink into an S-shape, but upon lift off, with wings outspread, its legs and feet held backward, its long neck retracts.

Literary Affects

In Surfacing, Margaret Atwood calls a heron in flight a “bluegrey cross” http://margaretatwood.ca/books/surfacing/. Similarly, when the central character Yasmine in Dionne Brand’s “Ossuaries” crosses the Niagara River into Canada, her arrival is heralded by this quintessential image:

“Call it heron, great blue, long-legged migrating alone

North, it broke off, it took air,

Flew into an apostrophe,

Heading to the wet marsh of another lake.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hVsNnrEJxB0

I love how she makes the bird into a punctuation mark.

The Symbolic Heron

The image I chose for this page is not the heron in flight but the motionless bird mirrored in shallow water.  Calculating, probing, peering beyond the surface, this bird is a cryptic symbol of editors. We also take a wide field of view , do a lot of foot stirring, and move our heads from side to side to read the depths.

Therefore, the surface is my computer screen, a portal through which I communicate with you. The text is our mirror, both of us working on it from our two sides.

heron
The heron’s other doubled self–a shadowy mirror.

 

 

 

Punctuate (like) this!

punctuate

There is only one way to punctuate this!

Punctuate (like) this!

Neither commas! nor em dashes! can rein in my enthusiasm! The caterpillar has become a moth!

The psychic journey undertaken saw it completely pupated. In this torpid, passive state, the muscles went to jelly: they shimmered, they glowed. Searching within itself for a more authentic identity, the seamed body split at the core. It folded once, twice, then flapped about, rehearsing a new role. At long last, shedding the final traces of its old larval self, the flesh went iconic. More symbolic changes returned it back to muscle, flesh and core. Finally, the moth emerged from the magic closet, a flying cliché.

The Reupholstered Product

Editorial metamorphosis performs a similar kind of magic. Just as the wormy caterpillar symbolically ceases to exist even as it seems to give birth to its own wingéd self, so too a first draft can morph into descent copy. The cosmic oneness that occurs between writer and editor in the swaddled depths of cyberspace bring good writing into being. In the World Wide Web, the dualities of first draft/final copy, larvae/imago, writer/editor simply disappear. Then, as the perfectly formed adult insect bursts from its fibres, in a similar way, new concepts about copyediting and proofreading punctuate the online world.

Like a Moth to A Flame

punctuate
Fly, fly, towards love’s truest light!

Avoiding false porch lights, delusional street lamps, acting as both body and soul together, the moth soars through the stratosphere, seeking out a mate.

Surely we all know that insects have no need of speech; however, I wish I could lay their pheromone pillow talk on this page in little punctuated snippets.

 

(Would they whisper sweet everythings, grant certain permissions, make enquiries regarding certain acts or most favoured positions?)

 

punctuate
One tetchy moth.

The Last Chapter

Of course, the adult imago (plural: imagines) live life large, having a total lifespan of one human day and one human night. There are many comparisons to draw here, but quickly, quickly, I will make two links. Firstly, there is James Joyce’s Ulyssess. Secondly, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Both modernist novels imagine what their caterpillars characters get up to over a 24-hour timeframe. For added enjoyment, Joyce even describes two moths flies mating.

punctuate
Oh la la!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mating over, the female — laden with eggs — will oviposit her frothy load in a preferential tree. After that, she’ll fly away, and die.

The End.

 

Editing, Pupating, Migrating

editing

Our little caterpillar will eventually become a moth and the outline or first draft will find its own ideal shape through editing. A good proofreader or copyeditor can be crucial at this stage, helping the emerging text find its wings, fly, fly…toward the light.

Editing

Last week, the tent caterpillars left the natal tree, crawled hither and thither, and now are trying to hang themselves  pupating in a protected area.  [P.S.: the strike through is intentional–obviously, this was the wrong choice of words! To find the right word “pupating” I needed to do some research. It’s also a technical term, so I’ve italicized it. This example of self-editing is similar to the way I use TRACK CHANGES to edit a document. The MARK UP is always done with red ink.]

In this cocoony other world, things take a supernatural turn.

editing
The cocoon’s total atomic weight must be somewhat less than a seedless grape.

Much of the strange awesomeness of this turns on the fact that I find metamorphosis fascinating. For haven’t we all had to tunnel down into our own dark parts? Don’t we all emerge slightly changed? I know I have. Ripped and torn, heart still beating, still trying desperately to fly, fly…up and away.

 

Fact Checking

Tent Caterpillars have been in Canada since the early 1600s. According to http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/timelines/100-great-events-in-canadian-history/  as Champlain was establishing a fortified trading post at Quebec in 1608, and Maisonneauve founding Ville-Marie, the future city of Montreal, in 1642, and the Huron Nation was being weakened by disease and cultural interference by the French, caterpillars were thriving.

Map of Canada

During part of my wild youth spent in Ontario’s Haliburtons, it was more common to see Eastern Tent Caterpillars worming their way across the dirt (and through my waking nightmares). They are the ones that build nests in forks, close to the main stem of the tree. I recall the candy cotton webs. I also recall the throbbing hairy larvae inside those webs. Something from the Alien movie all wrapped up in a gossamer package.

editing
Sigourney, I can relate.

Of course we all know by now the tree in my backyard has been invaded by Western Tent Caterpillars. They build smaller nests at the ends of twigs and leaves. But I ask you, why the Western in this slightly Eastern part of the world? Is this a new immigration? How odd. These caterpillars are not “foreign” exactly, but they’re also not indigenous to here. Maritimers would call them CMAs (“Come From Aways”). Such are the unsolvable mysteries of Canadian nationhood. We might think regionally in terms of culture, climate, history — but bugs? They hold no such “Mind-Forg’d Manacles” (to quote William Blake).

Patterns of Migration

On top of that, in Canada, we usually see influences (or in some cases, infestations) moving from East to West (then North). Not vice versa.

Whatever the case, outbreaks of Tent Caterpillars — whether from the forest, the west, or the east — are yucky. Apparently they happen every 10 years, and sometimes last up to 2 years. They stress out the trees, and gross out the neighbourhood.

Without getting too bogged down in specifics, they must make a good protein supply (if you can stomach them). I’ve heard some birds find them toxic, but if you are human editing editing editing

you might be happy to learn they do not transmit diseases to us, they do not bite us, and they are not poisonous to us. [P.P.S.: more intentional strike throughs because I’m self-editing again. Isn’t the reference to “us” somewhat redundant?]