Early Sunday morning, dressed in our special t-shirts, we left in plenty of time for the morning church service at St Martin’s-in-the-Woods. The greeter welcomed us warmly, and we asked if there might be any Haningtons at church that day. She beckoned down the aisle to her husband who then introduced himself as Allen Hanington. Overjoyed, we threw our arms around our surprised distant cousin and snapped a commemorative photo. And so our journey began.
My 3x great grandfather, William Hanington, was the first English settler in Shediac, New Brunswick, in 1785. He was an amazing fellow who emigrated from England at the age of twenty-six, built a whole community, set up lumber exports, built ships, married a PEI girl and had a family of thirteen. Later in life, in 1823, he donated a piece of land and built St Martin’s-in-the-Woods Anglican Church, where he was buried in 1838.
This past July, my sister and I decided to go on a one week “sister pilgrimage” to explore our family history in Shediac from 230 years ago. We ordered our specialized t-shirts and planned our family-and-friends-fun-filled trip to the Maritimes. A very special trip for us both. We hadn’t travelled together before and my sister, recently widowed, was embracing a “carpe diem” attitude.
Peggy’s Cove was our first tourist attraction and we enjoyed a stroll around the lighthouse and its spectacular rocks overlooking the ocean. The quaint little shops were charming and the local afternoon tea was delicious.
On our way to Shediac, NB, we visited my sister’s friend Helen who was new to the area and provided us with a hearty lunch. We checked into our B&B in Shediac, and set off to explore the delightful little town. On the waterfront, we climbed onto the famous giant lobster to pose for the ultimate tourist photo. Afterwards, while strolling along the boardwalk, we came upon a historical monument dedicated to our 2x great grandfather Daniel Hanington, a famous politician in his time. What a terrific surprise!
Hopewell Rocks was our second tourist attraction with its incredible change in tides. That morning, we walked along the “beach”. Then we lunched nearby at the Apple Blossom Café, run by three retired schoolteacher spinster sisters. What a hoot they were! After lunch, we returned to find high tide had completely transformed the whole bay. Amazing!
The next morning, our GPS helped us find our way to tiny Clairville, NB, to visit my friends Carol and Bruce. Their cozy place was beautifully perched up on a hill overlooking a vast field. After a tour of their house and garden, we had a delicious lunch and then set out for Charlottetown, PEI.
While driving across the spectacular Confederation Bridge, it was difficult to imagine how William and his Indian guides paddled across the Northumberland Strait in 1792 to claim his bride in Summerside, PEI (then known as Ile-St.Jean).
We checked into our B&B in Charlottetown and headed off to meet Anne of Green Gables, our third tourist attraction. Luckily for us, there weren’t many visitors that day and she was able to personally fill us in on all the latest town gossip.
On our last day, we visited our mother’s best childhood friend. who is living with her son and family just outside Charlottetown. Our mother passed away when we were very young, and “Auntie Jean” has been a precious source of their childhood tales. It was such a thrill to see her again.
Later on that Sunday after the morning service at St Martin’s-in-the-Woods, we visited with Allen’s charming sister Lillian, the family historian who knew our exact location in the Hanington family tree!
And just down the lane from the church, off Hanington Street, was our grandmother’s summer cottage. Our grandfather, Canon Lindsay, would fill in as their pastor from time to time over the summers and several people at church that morning remembered him fondly.
Finally, as we drove down the driveway to visit with Allen and his wife Willa, there they were sitting on the porch swing waiting to welcome us into their home. The afternoon flew by with lemonade and homemade treats and eventually we bid farewell to our cousins with heartfelt promises to keep in touch.
PS The August 2015 family newsletter, the Hanington Herald, just arrived by mail! Included in the comments from the President’s Desk (that would be our cousin Allen!), it says: “We just experienced a lovely visit from the Anglin sisters; Lucy (Montreal) and Margaret (Ottawa) who were visiting in the area and attended morning service at St Martin’s-in-the-Woods Anglican Church on Sunday, July 5th 2015. We had a very nice visit on Sunday afternoon. They are descendents of Daniel Hanington.”