SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – Muriel Brown was curious about her family roots and decided to dig up the dirt with a ‘just for fun DNA test,’ a decision that would alter her future and unlock her past.
She spit into a DNA test tube until it reached the line, and then mailed it off to Ancestry.ca with anticipation and excitement. After a few weeks her saliva was analyzed, and the results of her genetic makeup were in.
“Growing up, my parents were always very private. Everyone hid everything and that drove me crazy, so I was on a quest to unravel our past,” shared Brown.
“I always had an interest in my ancestry because as a child I found out that my father had another family, so I am connected with his oldest daughter now. She contacted me back and forth looking into our ancestry, and it ended up that my family is linked to Wexford, in Ireland.
“I intend to meet up with my dad’s first daughter, which is really nice. We are acquainted, but only online at the moment.”
There were more surprises in store for Brown as she watched her family story emerge while exploring her ancestry DNA.
“I’m actually 42 percent Irish, Scottish and Welsh, and only 20 percent French. All my life I believed I was mostly French, so this was a surprise,” she said.
Brown plans to meet up with her newly found relatives as she continues to fill in the leaves of her family tree.
“I think it’s fascinating to do all the studies and find out that my ancestors came over during the Irish potato famine and how they linked up with the French and the Irish in Gaspé (Quebec). I have family still in Gaspe, so I plan to visit them too.
“I’m hoping to go in the fall to Ireland and I have already researched places to stay in Wexford, and then I will just go from there. Of course, my youngest daughter is an anthropologist, so she is also into all this stuff.”
Brown attended the first Genealogy Club meeting held at the Summerside Rotary Library on Sunday afternoon that’s aims introduce participants to the popular website Ancestry.ca.
“Interest is surging in family history,” said Caitlin Plomp, the organizer of the meeting.
“I found not too many surprises when looking up my own heritage, it was just fascinating. I am mostly Dutch on both sides, but there’s some French, British and even a Romanian gypsy in there. Apparently, there’s a lot of traits past down over the years too,” shared Plomp.
Plomp’s ancestors originated from the Netherlands and moved to Halifax shortly after the war in the 1950s.
“Both sides of the family just wanted a new adventure and start in life. We did carry over a few Dutch traditions such as in my mom’s family we sing Happy Birthday in both English and Dutch, but we always had a very close-knit family and that means a lot to us.”
Ancestry.ca has a wide selection of search options that allow both local and international genealogy information. It’s available free to use at the Summerside Rotary Library, with a library card.
People can find everything on the database from newspaper articles, records and photographs, while all uncovering their ethnic mix, distant relatives and even new ancestors.