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Mary Holmes on her ancestor Catherine Timlin.

Interior shot. Woman with short brown hair, wearing a patterned dark brown top, glasses on her forehead, sitting on orange chair, viewed from shoulders up, facing camera. Brown shade with leaf pattern in background.

My name is Mary Holmes. I live in Cantley, Quebec. It is also the same place that my great grandparents came to from Ireland.

During the Irish Famine our great grandmother came on her own with her family. They all died on the way here, except her. So she was the only one left when they arrived here.

The great grandfather who became her husband – he came, but we think he came in a family group with his first cousins and so on. They all arrived in Cantley. Catherine [Catherine Timlin, Mary Holmes’s great grandmother] came to visit Cantly – she knew friends in Cantley at the time – and she came to visit and met William, her husband to be.

And the rest is history. Our history.

Camera fade out. New image on screen of black and white sepia toned photograph in glitter silver frame of seated woman in dark dress wearing white shawl staring into camera, held in hand. A square table with a large folder and table cloth is visible behind her. Photograph is put down and camera pans back to reveal Mary Holmes speaking to it.

So Catherine – her maiden name was Timlin.

As far as we know, she married Francis O’Boyle in Ireland. They had children. As far as we know, Francis and the children died. She left Ireland with her own sister and her husband and their children.

And so they came across the Atlantic. By the time they got to Grosse Isle in Quebec, near Quebec City, they were all dead, but Catherine.

She did tell one story about [coming] on the way over, when a family member would die, they would bribe the sailors with biscuits so that they could have a little bit of a wake before the body was disposed of into the sea.

So she came to Quebec City. There are various versions [of the story]. But she went to the nearest Catholic Church to get help. She either worked for them, or they helped her. But they helped her get to Kingston, Ontario. We are assuming by steamship.

She was there for a while. She met a group of people who were walking to Ottawa, and she joined that group. And then she walked back to Ottawa.

She eventually got a job as a maid for Nicholas Sparks, who was an Irishman here in Canada. He had done very well for himself.

In the midst of all that, as far as we know, she had friends who were living in Cantley. She visited them, we think, and that is how she met her future husband, William Holmes.

So William and Catherine got married in 1848, in September in the Catholic Church in Chelsea, Quebec. We didn’t have one in Cantley at that time. And then they settled on the family farm in Wilson’s Corners, which is now part of Cantley.

They raised their family. One of their sons stayed on the farm. He raised his family, which included my father. My father married and stayed on that farm too. He raised his family, and now one of my brothers is there with his own children.

So the farm even has its own genealogy. It is really interesting that it is the same family that has stayed there. It is interesting too that our neighbours, up to a certain point, were all part of the original families [that] were there: their descendants had stayed on and on. So they were neighbours for generations. It made doing the family tree a little easier, having it all there together.

Shot dissolves. New image of Mary Holmes speaking to camera.

I have always been inspired by Catherine and her story. You know, she came here on her own. By the time she got here, she had to go ahead. As one of my aunts says, she had to go ahead because she couldn’t go back. There was no way of going back to Ireland, and there was nothing to go back to.

But nevertheless, she did persevere. She had hardship early in her life. As well as surviving the Famine, she had survived her husband dying, her children dying, because of it.

She married here, and two of her children died as young people. So her suffering didn’t stop.

But nevertheless, she persevered. She really wanted her descendants to know her story. Because she talked about it, and she left evidence, written evidence. She wrote a list of the grandmothers and the great grandmothers back about five or six generations from her. She didn’t do the same thing for the men, but she did it for the women.

It was just her strength of character, and she was very dedicated to her church and her religion too. I am sure that gave her great strength to carry on through everything that she had to carry on through.

So she has always been a really fine example for myself and for all of the other young women in the family of just doing what you have to do and getting on with life.

Final image of water with onscreen Ireland Park Foundation logo. Celtic style music playing.