© GUARDIAN PHOTO BY MARY MACKAY
P.E.I. Genealogical Society member Richard Savidant, left, and president Fred Horne are in the early stages of a project that will document the descendants of six P.E.I. Fathers of Confederation and invite those still living to a special reunion in September 2014, which is the 150th anniversary of the 1864 Charlottetown Conference.
Some special 150th anniversary activities are being planned for the descendants of the Prince Edward Island Fathers of Confederation who met for the Charlottetown Conference in 1864.
The P.E.I. Genealogical Society (PEIGS) is hoping to host a variety of custom-made activities over a three-day period in September 2014 that would include celebrations and tours of the places where the fathers would have lived, their burial spaces and more.
“We have no idea (of the numbers); it could be 30, it could be 300 that would actually attend,” says PEIGS member Richard Savidant of Summerside.
“As for the number of actual living descendants, there could be thousands,” adds Fred Horne, who is president of the PEIGS and archivist at MacNaught History Centre and Archives in Summerside, which is in support of this reunion project, as is the P.E.I. Museum and Heritage Foundation.
The PEIGS will be applying for a grant to fund research into the genealogy of six P.E.I. fathers: George Coles; John Hamilton Gray; Andrew Archibald MacDonald; Thomas Heath Havilland; Edward Palmer and William Henry Pope.
A seventh P.E.I. father, Edward Whalen, had no known surviving offspring.
The society has already done some basic work in tracing the descendants of one Father of Confederation to the present day.
Some of them are located as far away as Greece and Australia.
“There are at least two (descendants) that I know of that are still on the Island,” Savidant says.
“(Most) moved on; even some of the fathers moved to other areas but were buried back on P.E.I.”
The PEIGS is putting out the word to people who may have already done a lot of legwork in tracing their family trees and already know that they are descendants of a particular father.
“The Coles are in good shape. They’ve done a lot of research and documentation,” Horne says.
“But (for the other ones) we don’t know how much research has been done on those. But it’s an ambitious project in a way that if you’re delving into a family that nobody knows a whole lot about or hasn’t been documented that well it could be a lot of work. So we will take each of the lines as far as we can.”
Once the direct descendants who are still living have been identified, they will be invited to P.E.I. for the 2014 event, which is slated for some time in September.
Another big anniversary on the horizon is the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in 1867.
“So there is another more ambitious project beyond what we’re proposing here for 2014. We’re proposing to get the genealogies together and to get the descendants together and then perhaps by 2017 we would have some sort of publication based on the family trees of the Island Fathers (of Confederation),” Horne says.
“And we’re going to promote the idea with other genealogical societies across the country to look at all their fathers (from across the country who attended Confederation meetings) . . . .”
This project will document the lineage of the P.E.I. Fathers of Confederation for the future.
“We want to be able to document it and make sure that it’s properly done. And so when the 200th or 250th anniversary rolls around they will only have four or five generations to fill in,” Horne says. “And so for the past 150 years we’re filling in about seven generations (of information on their family trees). It’s really ambitious. In some ways it’s almost like organizing six family reunions.”
AT A GLANCE
What: Special activities for the descendants of the P.E.I. Fathers of Confederation.
Where: Various places on P.E.I.
When: September 2014 in honour of the 150th anniversary of the Charlottetown Conference of 1864.
Who: People who have done genealogical work on George Coles, John Hamilton Gray, Andrew Archibald MacDonald, Thomas Heath Havilland, Edward Palmer and William Henry Pope are encouraged to contact email@example.com.