My PEI Genealogy Adventure
(Guest submission from James Ward) When my wife Carol and I began the search for my ancestors, we put visiting Prince Edward Island on our bucket list. We had three goals; find my grandfather’s farm, find some more pictures, and discover any living Ward relatives. In early 2002, I sent an email to the Public Archives in PEI and received a reply from the project archivist confirming my grandfather was from PEI. That ignited interest in researching my family tree and my wish to someday travel to PEI to research my family.
This April was our chance to visit both Nova Scotia and PEI. Carol and I spent the week at the White Point Resort and visited the Lunenburg area researching my Grandmother Effie Feener (Ward) and were able to find information at the South Shore Genealogical Society.
We then journeyed to PEI for the last four days of our Canada trip and stayed at a wonderful Shipwright Inn in Charlottetown. The best part of this trip was my contact with Vivian Beer, a distant cousin by marriage. Hattie Beer married my Great Uncle Benjamin Ward. With that connection, my cousin invited us to meet her in Clyde River the next day to see what we could find. We met Vivian at the Clyde River Community Center, originally the old school where she had attended.
The Clyde River History Committee was meeting in the basement of this Community Center and she introduced us to the ladies in the group and gave us a tour of their museum collection. They are in the process of researching artifacts from the Clyde River area. One of the ladies, Hilda Colodey, recalled the Ward’s farms and location. They had old maps of Lot 31, and John Ward was listed with 50 acres on Bannockburn Road. A later plot had Benjamin Ward on John Ward’s original 50 acres and, across the road, was Benjamin’s brother, Daniel Neil Ward, with 40 acres. Vivian said she knew exactly where the property was and drove us to the location.
We found a farm house on that spot with a car in the driveway. Vivian was bolder than I and went up to the back door. I was told in PEI, if you are a preacher or police, you go to the front door. The lady, Jane Naylor, came to the door with her dog, Honey. Vivian told her that my Grandfather grew up in this house. Jane was very gracious about inviting us in to see the home. She and her husband had purchased the house and just over one acre of land in October 1978. I am still trying to trace ownership to Benjamin and his family.
While we were talking to Jane, she pointed out the house across Bannockburn Road. Peter Cairns owns it now. The house was originally built by Daniel Ward and named Montrose Farms. Coincidently, Peter was coming out of his driveway. We all flagged him down, and he was nice enough to stop and find out what we wanted. He was very friendly and told us he had purchased the farm from Milton Ward. We checked the family tree and discovered Milton was the son of Earle Ward who was the son of Daniel Neil Ward (Brother of my Grandfather, Alexander Spurgeon Ward). Jane told Peter that I was a Ward, and Peter invited us to head up to the house and he would be back in five minutes. We had a chance to tour the home and also view some old photos of the Wards.
Peter mentioned that Milton lived nearby and gave us his phone number. Vivian called and Milton invited us to come over. We spent several hours at his home in North River and learned he had two sisters that were both deceased. Milton recounted stories of the farm and his days of driving the school bus. Peter was one of the students who rode Milton’s bus and told him that when he was ready to sell the farm to give him the first chance at buying it. Milton remembered that promise and sold the farm to Peter when he retired.
My PEI Genealogy Adventure has given me a cousin by marriage and a fourth cousin. I have learned so much more about my family. It has been truly an exciting time and a dream come true. I have confirmed several parts of my family tree and have a video of my new-found cousin I can enjoy.
All my hopes of finding my Grandfather’s farm, other pictures of the Wards, and a living Ward cousin have come true. Everyone we met in PEI was friendly and loved sharing their stories with us. My thanks to Vivian for being a fantastic tour guide and genealogist. Carol and I couldn’t have done it without her. I have made a promise to return to PEI someday to continue our Genealogy Adventure.
- James, it was so much fun to share your genealogical adventure. I look forward to you and Carol visiting PEI again sometime.
- Refer to an earlier story about when the cow fell down the well at Montrose Farm here.