As I look at my family’s history I realize that it seems fairly standard. My family comes from England Ireland and Scotland, my paternal ancestry is more in England and Ireland, while my mother’s family is more Scottish and Irish. As I looked at my family’s tree it appeared as though if my family hadn’t immigrated to Canada, I would living in Ireland. After learning this from my grandmother, I decided to focus on my paternal roots that come from Ireland.
Republic of Ireland
James Hillis my great-great-great-great-great grandfather (that’s 5 greats attached) was born in Antrim Northern Ireland on December 27th, 1804. He left Ireland in the mid 1820’s likely because of the potato famine. There is no exact date because I was unable to find an immigration record. I was told by my family that he first went to the Eastern United States and got married before coming to Canada. At this time the U.S.A was full of opportunity for immigrants coming from Europe who wanted better lives. Many people from western Europe were heading to the area James went to Indiana. His first wife, Sarah McClure had a son, James Hillis Junior. Sarah died in 1825 and my grandfather moved with his son to Toronto.
A few years after arriving in Toronto James met his second wife, my great- great- great- great- great mother, Mary Smeltzer (also 5 greats). She was also an immigrant from Ireland, who likely moved for similar reasons. Mary was born in 1814 and emigrated in the early 1830’s. I was also unable to find her immigration record. They moved out of Toronto, to Erindale Ontario, and started a bigger family. Mary and James Sr. had 13 children together, including my great, great, great, great grandfather, John Hillis.
Many of the census records from before 1901 were destroyed during Ireland's fight for independence. The first attempt to take an official census was made in 1813 (About Pre-1901 Census Fragments) this made finding some reasons as to why my relatives would have left Ireland difficult. At this time however it was also common for many to leave because of the potato famines that were striking the country. My family doesn’t know much else about James Hillis because of the lack of records, he was buried in Peel County.
As for my life in Ireland compared to my life in Canada, the first thing that came into my mind was that I would have an Irish accent. Personally, I think that would be great.Ireland’s population is 4.64 million. Canada’s population is 36.28 million. Given that Ireland is a geographically smaller country this makes a lot of sense. According to the CIA World factbook Ireland’s unemployment rate is higher than Canada, 9.4% compared to 6.9%, however when looking at population in addition to the unemployment rate, this means nearly 3,384,000 Canadians are without jobs while around 320,160 people in Ireland are unemployed. The World Factbook also shows that youth unemployment rate is also lower than Canada, 13.5% in Canada and 26.8% in Ireland.
As likely as it is that I wouldn’t have a job, most young people in Ireland spent 18 or 19 years in school including any post secondary studies. Canadian youth usually only spend around 16 or 17, also including any post secondary studies. Ireland and Canada’s languages are also mostly English so I would not be speaking a different language. Both countries have very high literacy rates and high sanitation rates (“Canada””Ireland”). Both countries have legalized gay marriage, however Ireland’s law on abortion states that it may only be performed if it is an emergency that will save the mother’s life. Even though both countries are very similar in regards to politics they have some slight differences.
Canada is a more diverse country than Ireland when you look at ethnicities, according to the CIA World Factbook more than half of Canadians identified as other than European, Canadian, or Asian, less than 4% of Irish would identify as non-white.
As a whole I feel as though my life in Ireland would be very comparable and rather similar to my life in Canada. Even though I was unable to find much proof as to when my ancestors immigrated, I am glad they were able to leave the famine struck land they lived in, even though it means that I didn’t get an Irish accent.Here are my works cited