Wednesday, October 24, 2007

We're all looking for something . . .

This whole Internet thing, with the blogging and all the websites and the social networking portals like Facebook, still fascinates me. In the past couple of weeks, a web search brought a seeker to the family tree on my website at and helped him connect to a long-lost love. A woman discovered my mother's connection to Kempa Kikolska in Poland, and speculates that a relative of hers might have known my mother eighty or so years ago. We're checking that out.

Googlers from Italy seek information on the surname Pedde and end up on this Atavist blog of mine and/or on my Pedde website. There are numerous Peddes in Italy, and one of them contacted me years ago to see if there is a connection between his family and mine. His research leads him to believe that all Peddes originated in German areas of territories that are now in Poland, and then branched out from there after the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). The few records that we have been able to find don't go back far enough to help us understand what really happened, and when. Still, it is an interesting quest to find our roots.

My son asked me yesterday about why my mother's maiden name (Schmigelski) sounded Polish. I explained that my mother grew up in a German community in Poland and that many Germans added the suffix 'ski' to their names in an attempt to blend in with the Polish population. I believe that the family name on her father's side must have been Schmigel originally, a fairly common German name. There were times, folks, when people made an attempt at assimilation in their adopted countries, rather than today's more common approach of trying to remake your adopted country into the hell-hole you just ran away from. My mother's mother's maiden name was Schulz. No attempt appears to have been made to change it to Schulzski, thank goodness.

I am proud of my German heritage. But, I consider myself a Canadian, now. Canada is where I live, and even with all its faults is my home. There isn't a place on earth without some faults and Canada has fewer of those than most other countries. We are a diverse nation. I have a partner in a commercial property we own jointly who is from Lebanon and who is Muslim. He's a great guy and I'm not afraid that he is going to murder me in my sleep one night. Where I live, our neighbours on one side are a young man from the Czech Republic, and his wife whose parents are Italian immigrants. On the other side is a very nice family of South Koreans. The parents speak almost no English and we have very interesting and humorous 'conversations,' mostly mimed, and we laugh at each others gesticulations. Behind us is a Greek immigrant and his wife, and next to them lives a couple who both speak perfect accent-free English and who are likely the only 'real' Canadians in this group. We get along with everyone. I'm not likely to be invading my one neighbour's territory because I want his Mercedes, or another's because I want to increase the size of my yard. Individually, people everywhere tend to get along. It's the morons who 'lead' us who are likely to get us into trouble with our neighbours, not each of us individually.

The world is a complex place. We all need to appreciate our differences from each other, but we also need to try not to remake each other into our own image, and not to kill or maim those who resist our efforts to convert or 'improve' them. We're all human. We all deserve to live. We all deserve to be free. We all deserve to live the lives we choose for ourselves.

Above all, we need to recognize that if we don't all learn to get along and respect each other, we're doomed.


  1. Man, I love this post. Sooooooo much good stuff to comment on, I don't know where to start! That bit about immigrants as opposed to migrants is a great point. The more I hear about Canada, the more I think it scores over America in one important respect: You never hear about Canada going off to stick its nose in the rest of the world's business...Unlike here in the USA, where we've rediscovered the German tradition of trying to give the world a hot-foot every quarter century or so!

  2. Excellent post!
    Recognizing and appreciating each other's uniqueness would go a long way toward accepting people from everywhere. Each one of us has value, not as part of a labeled group, but each INDIVIDUAL.

  3. Thanks, Galt and Jean. I'm always quick to point out what could be improved in Canada and elsewhere, but I guess it pisses me off that individuals who should be grateful for a new life in a relatively safe and prosperous environment, instead try to get a free ride and/or to wind back the clock to the middle ages.