From Vancouver And The Chilcotin Country Of British Columbia To The Riverina Of New South Wales - A Family History
The Road To Wagga Wagga
This is the prologue to a story rich not only in family history but to the history of England, Scotland, Canada and Australia. It takes the reader on a journey back in time through the Qu'Appelle Valley of Saskatchewan, the Chilcotin Ranching Country of early British Columbia through to Wagga Wagga in the Riverina of New South Wales in Australia is, in part, an autobiographical history. Entitled 'The Road To Wagga Wagga' authored by my Auntie Jean and shared with you here with her consent is, as she has put it, a tale of loss and re-discovery.
This particular hub is my aunt's prologue to "The Road To Wagga Wagga" which she has dedicated to the memory of "my paternal grandparents Harold Platt Christie and Emily William Robinson". These then are my great-grandparents and the story begins with my great grandfather, Harold Platt Christie who was born in Elgin, Scotland, February 28, 1865.
From this point on, and through subsequent hubs, I give you the story, the history, in the words of my beloved aunt.
Why have I written this story? There are two reasons - because I think this part of our family history is a rather interesting and dramatic one, and, also, for the benefit or our younger members, particularly those who enjoy history.
My two brothers, Reg and Don Christie, and I, come from a very large family. Our maternal great-grandfathers, the Reverend Henry Stobart and Sir James Laing raised large Victorian families and, indeed my mother had fifty-five first cousins, most of whom married and had children. My father's family - the Christies and the Robinsons - also had several branches - notibaly the Whitelaws and the McLorgs.
However, this narrative is essentially about the family of Lionel Stobart, Henry Stobart's grandson, and its relationship to the Christie family, and so other branches of the family are mentioned only briefly or in passing.
It is a story about the land and people living on it and struggling with it. As it is not a novel (although it has the elements of one), I cannot speak to the emotions which must have accompanied the events. So the reader is asked to fill these in for him or herself. It is partly autobiographical in that it is an account of events as I have experienced them.
Our grandmother, Emily Robinson Christie was one of our favourite people. She was a very energetic person who kept a wonderful kitchen garden full of mounds of rhubarb, peas on runners and flowers, such as marigolds and Sweet William. My brother, Don, recalls an occasion when he was five or six, when he discovered her digging a deep hole in the garden and indeed, she was down to her waist. He asked her if she was digging a grave, but no - the hole was for her asparagus. I also recall being fascinated when my grandmother churned butter and made it into butter pats which sat in a crystal bowl. My grandfather I associate with buckets of sulphur spray for the apple and cherry trees and the clean smell of creosote he used for the chicken barn. There was a big old black and white barn cat called Jemima. All this took place on a farm, on land that is now a suburb of grown-up Vancouver at 49th and Granville - who would believe me!
Then there was the fascination of my grandparent's house - situated a few yards from our own, up a garden path. The house had a slightly Regency air, both in construction and colour scheme. There was a little turret-like window in the kitchen which was to me, right out of a fairy tale. the most important room was the "sitting room" with its flowered sofa and chairs and patterned rug, and heavy blue wool curtains which in the summer were replaced by white linen ones. Most important in this most important room, however, was the black mahogany table on which stood a number of photographs. It was a sort of a shrine. There was a formal photograph of their elder son, our Uncle Reggie, handsome in his Cameronian trews, who was killed in France in 1916. In a glass case beside his photograph were his medals. The other pictures were probably of their daughter, Aunt Phyllis and her husband Uncle Lionel, who both died in the world-wide flu epidemic of 1918-1919. With these momentos there were to little blue vases and two silver ones which were usually full of sweet peas or other flowers and which are now here with me in Langley.
In 1966, my younger brother, Donald Laing Christie, through lucky co-incidence, became in correspondence with Dr. John Christie of Buenos Aires. (see footnote) This exciting event, was the occasion for my father in 1966 to set down in writing some notes about his family's history. He also elicited some information from Mr. Ted McLorg, his first cousin on his father's side. I find these accounts, particularly my father's very touching to read, especially as my father was not one to speak easily of family matters.
What Was Lost Is Found - Down Under
To a large extent, the accounts of my father and his cousin Ted have inspired me to enlarge on their efforts. I have been aided by a wonderful folder of notes left by my grandmother's younger sister, Aunt Ethel Robinson Whitelaw, and details passed on my mouth or reflected in old photographs.
My life today, in the late twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century is lived in a triangle between Canada, England, and Australia and New Zealand. When I sit under a eucalypts* in my Cousin Robin's garden at Rocky Falls near Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, I marvel at how far in time and space our family history has taken us all.
*I am using the Australian spelling. Other terms would be 'eucalyptus' or 'gum tree'.
While my Aunt's journey in 'following' her father's family took her to Wagga Wagga her youngest brother's, my father, same journey took him to Buenos Aries.
The Flight To Buenos Aries
Donald Christie is my father and after his retirement he and my mother decided to take a trip to Buenos Aries in order, in part, to see if they could determine what happened to the Christie cousins who were descendants of my father's uncle. While seated on an airplane departing to Buenos Aries from San Diego they were approached by a younger man who explained to them that when he boarded the plane the flight attendant, upon looking at his ticket, told him that she had just seated a couple with the surname Christie and asked him if he had relatives on board. He indicated to her that he did not but thankfully his curiosity led him to seek them out once the plane was in the air as the flight attendant had indicated to him where my parents were seated. It did not take them long to ascertain that the man, who is in close proximity to my oldest brothers age, was indeed the son of Dr. John Christie, my father's cousin. And, as it turned out, my father's cousin, now in his eighties was still very much alive.
They have stayed and visited and remained in contact since. In addition, my brother and his family have been to visit our Argentinian 'branch' several times over the years since that serendipitous meeting aboard the plane.
The story continues with my great grandfather's immigration to the Qu'Appelle Valley in Saskatchewan, Canada in 1882 at the age of seventeen
- From British Columbia to New South Wales - A Family History - Gentleman Immigrant
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