Sunday, 29 May 2016

My Ancestry: Learning About My Past

                                                               My Ancestry:

                                                    Learning About My Past

When asked about my ancestry, I would usually say that my maternal roots are British and my paternal roots are German. Which, is true, but not a very specific answer. I am going to be focusing on my maternal roots, which are actually from Guernsey, a small island in the English Channel. The farthest I could trace back with great detail was my great grandparents, who owned a hotel in Guernsey. Their child, Elizabeth Anne Taylor, was my grandmother. During the occupation of Guernsey by the Germans in WWII, my grandmother was sent away as a young girl, along with 4000 other school children. The occupation (1940-1945) shaped the island-and its residents-into what they are today. Elizabeth married Roy Kelling (my grandfather) in 1955.
My Grandmothers Passport
My grandparents moved to Canada in 1965. They thought of Canada as a place with more opportunities, both for them and for their children, my mother and uncle. Another reason they moved to Canada is because my Great Uncle John (Grandmothers brother) had moved to Canada with his wife Anne a few years previous and told them great stories about Canada. 
A newspaper article written about my Great Aunt and Uncle just before they moved to Canada

Guernsey is approx. 78 sq km, meaning that it is 128,009 times smaller than Canada. The size of Barrie, Ontario is 76.99 sq km, which means that Guernsey is only about 1 sq km bigger. The population of Guernsey is 65,849(2014), versus Canada’s population of about 36,048,521 million(Jan,2016). That means that there is about 359 82 672 more people in Canada. Now, looking at these numbers, you could see why there would be a lot more opportunity in Canada, given the space and number of people in Canada. Even in 1965, when comparing Guernsey and Canada you could notice that there was a large difference.

Guernsey is divided into ten parishes, which are Castel, Forest, St Andrew, St Martin, St Peter Port, St Pierre Du Bois, St Sampson, St Saviour, Torteval, and Vale.

Guernsey road Map
Map of Guernsey. Vale is where my family is from.
If I was a teenager in Guernsey , I believe that my life would be different in some ways and similar in other ways. My family is from Vale, which is about half the size of Orangeville. For teenagers, I don’t believe there are many opportunities. There are no universities in Guernsey, meaning any high school student that wishes to go to university must leave the island and go to a university elsewhere. I hope to go to university, but if I lived in Guernsey then my wishes may have been different. Though, there are a lot of sport opportunities in Guernsey, seeing as almost every sport is catered for on a regular basis with domestic leagues and competitions. I have always loved sports and have played them for most of my life, so this would have been a similarity to my life in Orangeville. 

Because there is a limited amount of jobs in Guernsey, there is a right to work in place in Guernsey which basically means that if a person wants to take up employment or self-employment in Guernsey or wishes to change jobs, he/she must have a valid right to work document issued by the housing authority confirming that he/she is lawfully housed. Compulsory school age is 5-15 years, meaning that a student could drop out of school when they turn 16. There is a secondary selection test at age 11 which determines whether a child is placed at one of the three secondary schools or given a special place at the grammar school or one of the independent colleges. I could imagine that any student that is given a special place at the grammar school or one of the independent colleges would possibly have more opportunities then a student that goes to one of the secondary schools, because this would probably mean that they have a unique talent and/or skill that would open new doors for them. I believe I would probably just be at one of the three secondary schools.

The health care system in Guernsey is different to that of the National Health Service in the UK. There are no junior doctors employed in the system, so patients must pay for visits to primary care doctors as they are in private practice. Visits to the doctor, dentist, A&E department, as well as other services including chiropody and physiotherapy, are not free of charge. But, the life expectancy was 80.4 years in 2004, which was amongst the top ten countries in the world.

Overall, I believe that if I was living in Guernsey that my life would have been well-off and comfortable, comparable to my life in Canada. Though, I am thankful that my family moved to Canada for more opportunities because I would not have had as many experiences as I have. 


  1. I didn't know that there are different schools people get sent to after a test. I would like to have read more about what other resources the island has

  2. Wow, that is fascinating Melanie! Your ancestors must be very lucky to have had someone already in Canada before their emigration. My grandparents fled Hungary after WWII when the Germans took over and wanted to capture all of the opposing soldiers and throw them in their concentration camps. My grandparents didn't know anyone when they moved to Canada and it was so hard for them to cope with the change. Do you think your ancestors had an easier time coping since they had family in Canada already?