that time when I had short hair

Life

It’s weird the way the mind works.

Grandpa EdI was walking to work this morning and I thought about the last time I saw my Grandpa Ed. I remembered our conversation, how he told me he loved my short hair. He was laying in his bed, frail and wasting away, and I burst into tears. I realized at that moment that this would be the last time I saw him and I couldn’t hold them back. My heart just completely broke apart in that moment. I thought about the look of resignation and sadness on his face when he saw me cry. It was an awkward moment that was also filled with understanding and love. He said a few words, something like, “It’s okay, don’t cry Moni.” And I realized I needed to pull myself together because a person on their death bed should not be consoling a person who is visiting them, saying goodbye. But that is exactly what happened.

As I was walking along, thinking these thoughts this morning, I wondered why this moment popped into my head today. And then I realized it was because of the photo above, shared on Facebook by my mom yesterday in honor of National Sibling Day. The portrait of me and my siblings was taken the week I came home to say goodbye to my grandfather.

I loved seeing it yesterday, it was made for her as a gift for Mothers Day in 1995. But it’s weird how your brain unconsciously plays connect the dots and that somehow it reminded me of this moment with my grandfather.

Sees Bush Move, Shoots Friend

Life

I have this deep need to figure out, and tell, my Great-Grandfather’s story. I would like to be more organized about this and, currently, I am not at all. I only have little bits and pieces that have been collected here and there.

Here is a newspaper clipping my sister found a few months ago, in a Vancouver B.C. paper from when he died.

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“VANCOUVER B.C. SEPT 8th – C. G. Shawcross arrived here last night with the body of his friend, Wilfrid Butcher (Wilfred Boucher), aged 30, who he killed last Monday on Nelson Island, 100 miles up the coast from Vancouver.

The man went looking for deer. Shawcross saw the bushes move and pumped three shots so rapidly in one spot that all three passed through Butcher’s hear.

Shawcross was held to await the coroner’s inquest.”

I have always had an uneasy feeling about his death, even before anyone started doing research on him. I knew that he was killed by his friend in a hunting accident, and somewhere along the line I found out that his death was due to a gunshot to the heart (I think that info was on his death certificate).

It has always made me wonder. Was it really an accident? This is what I want to find out. This is the mystery.

Family Ghosts Found, part 3 (Throwback Thursday)

Life

20130907-085730.jpgFor today’s Throwback Thursday I wanted to revisit my Great Grandfather, Wilfred Boucher. This has become such an incredible story, with a happy ending.

To recap from an earlier post:

He died in 1915 in a “hunting accident” when he was in his early thirties. According to his death certificate he was shot in the heart.

The family story goes that he moved to Hardy Island, British Columbia from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I believe he moved because of a business opportunity. He moved there first to scope out the area and then his wife and children made their way there. At the time of his death he and my great-grandmother were far away from extended family. Shortly after his death my great-grandmother moved back home to Coeur d’Alene. She never remarried and she lived well into her nineties. She died when I was a teenager and I have very fond memories of her.

I visited Vancouver, B.C. a couple of years ago. My sister, being interested in genealogy, asked me to visit Will Boucher’s grave and take a picture. I was more than happy to oblige. I learned that every single person that ever died in Vancouver B.C. is buried in the same cemetery, the Mountain View Cemetery. When asked at the office they were able to print me a map to his burial site, which was very helpful because the place is huge. However, when I found the site there was no grave marker. I was shocked! And then I felt this deep sadness. My great grandfather, whom I spent my entire life imagining in my mind (I mean, I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for him),  has had nobody come to pay their respects in the 100 years since his death. It brought tears to my eyes as I stood in that empty spot.

I told my mom the story and she quickly went to work getting him a marker for his grave. She convinced all of her cousins to chip in. Last summer it was made and placed in his spot. Someday soon I will go back to Vancouver and put flowers on his grave.

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Family ghosts found. part 2.

Life

Mountain View Cemetery

It seems I am attracted to uncovering the stories of the deceased in my family. The mystery of the Cherryville Cemetery was solved a couple of years ago. This time around it is the story of my Great-Grandfather, Wilfred Boucher.

20130907-085730.jpg He died in 1915 in a “hunting accident” when he was in his early thirties. According to his death certificate he was shot in the heart.

The family story goes that he moved to Hardy Island, British Columbia from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. I believe he moved because of a business opportunity. He moved there first to scope out the area and then his wife and children made their way there (as is the case in modern times). At the time of his death he and my great-grandmother were far away from extended family. Shortly after his death my great-grandmother moved back home to Coeur d’Alene. She never remarried and she lived well into her nineties. She died when I was a teenager and I have very fond memories of her. She had a beautiful spirit.

I have always had a weird feeling about the death of my great-grandfather. Whenever the story was told to me I always wondered if his death was really a murder. Just a gut feeling I have always had that I’ve never really talked about (honestly, how accidental is a shot through the heart?). Sure enough, I had a conversation with my cousin a few months ago about this and he said that my great-grandmother told him that Will Boucher was murdered but at the time there was nothing she could do about it so she left town and moved back home to Idaho.

My sister has been researching our family history and she discovered that he was buried in Vancouver BC in the Mountain View Cemetery. This was a surprise because we always thought he was buried somewhere on Nelson Island, B.C. (Or maybe even Hardy Island). Another interesting tidbit is that, according to some family lore, he was “involved in something political in Vancouver” and that is, perhaps, why he was killed. I am not sure what any of this means. I would like to research the history of Vancouver and find out what might have happened politically around 1915.

I happened to be visiting Vancouver BC this past week so I thought I’d check out my great-grandfather’s grave and shoot a pinhole photo for Pinhole Obscura. I learned that every single resident of Vancouver who has died is (supposedly) buried in this cemetery. It is completely huge and utterly overwhelming. We wandered around a bit before deciding to go to the cemetery office. Thanks to the impeccable records of the City of Vancouver, I was able to go exactly to the spot where he was buried. The office dude gave me a map and told me exactly where to go. He did mention that his grave might be unmarked though (He was looking at a satellite view of it). I’d come all that way to find his grave. I was willing to take the chance!

I wandered to the spot and, indeed, there was absolutely nothing there at all. No gravestone. No marker. Nothing.

Mountain View Cemetery

He is buried somewhere under this beautiful tree. I have to admit that I got a little bit choked up. It made me so sad that this person that we have absolutely revered in my family, the patriarch, has been buried for 100 years in a cemetery so far away from home in an unmarked grave. Damn. It makes me sad just thinking about it even now.

I wondered if I am the first family member to even visit it in 100 years?!?

Needless to say, we are already thinking about getting a headstone placed.

I am also really curious about his story. I want to fill in the missing pieces.

THE bottle

Photography

Before I go into the story behind this post, I want to mention I am going to Paris tomorrow. Yes! That’s right. Paris. I am SUPER excited. This is my first real trip outside of the United States (aside from British Columbia) so I am also a little nervous. I am going to try to blog about my trip daily. So stay tuned for fun Paris dispatches from yours truly!

OK. THE bottle. During my little brother’s reception speeches my oldest brother walked up to the front with a champagne bottle and a story. The bottle, the story goes, was saved from my Grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. My uncle, who is living in the old Schneberger homestead, found it a few years ago and decided to bring it to Patrick’s wedding. He couldn’t stick around for the Grand Bottle Opening but I was able to get some classy black and white photos of the event.

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Ben and Pet open the bottle!

Lacie, Pat, and Ben after opening THE bottle

Lacie, Pat, and Ben stand still long enough for me to take a photo with my antique camera (it took lots of patience on their part).

THE bottle

THE bottle, all empty.