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Outside it is snowing...again. Here in this pine valley nestled among what the locals call 'the Rolling Hills'. They tell me that we get more snow here than anywhere else in southern Ontario. The wind picks up moisture off the great lake as it blows northeast and dumps it up here for me to shovel. In the spring there will be a great run off and the cycle will start again.
The geography here is strangely familiar. The sandy hills that surround my house. The pine stand across the road from me. The loamy soil of the fields of crops and orchards that line the highway on my way south to work at the GM plant. The architecture too, wooden houses that are about 150 years old. A United church at one end of town and the post office at the other. And not much else in between. Still it does not feel like home. I wonder at times if it ever will. Deep inside I know the answer. No. For in my soul I am a son of the Maritimes and they call to me like a siren's song. It is the great contradiction in my life. I will never be 'home' and yet I can never go home again.
I have spent most of my life here in Ontario, but have always called Nova Scotia, "down home". I was part of the greatest migration of people in Canada's history. Between 1945 and 1975 over a million people left the Maritimes to settle in Ontario and Alberta. Expatriates, like me, who are happy with their lives yet can never get over the longing to return home. I know them as strange soulmates. I see it in their eyes. When you talk to one about Nova Scotia, their eyes light up like the reflections of the sun in the snow outside. Then, as the memories overtake them, without knowing, the gleam in their eyes falls as still as a dreamless night. Many, like me, still make the yearly pilgrimage to see the loved ones we have left behind. Or just to smell the air that is like none other on this earth. Many that I talk to plan to retire to the old family homestead or to a cottage on the shore. I have no such plans.
My wife and children were born here in Ontario. Here they are rooted, so here we will stay. Every time I return now I spend more time visiting the graveyards. I take my children to see the grave of my mother and we leave flowers for the angels to bring to her. I visit the graves of my grandmothers, and think of fresh baked bread and crabapple jelly. The musty smell of their closets and the warmth of the woodstove in the kitchen. These women have passed on but, they have left me in the care of a new generation, my wife and daughters. They make me dream of better times to come rather than dwell on 'the good ol'days'.
The search for the past is what this family history is about though. Before me came thousands of my ancestors with lives as real as mine. They passed to me not just their genes but, their ideas and ideals. Everyone who has gone before me has contributed to who I am today. I know that I have some of the same habits as my great grandfather, yet he died when I was just a small child. My sister is the splitting image of some of our ancestors who lived over 100 years ago. Each of us are the collective soul of our ancestors. Over the last 400 years my ancestors have been pioneers and wanders, never quite settled for more than a few generations. Searching out their stories or even just learning their names gives me a sense of belonging.
In this family history I will try to relate stories about the people contained in it. Some have volumes of information written about them. Many don't even have complete dates of birth, marriage or death. So here it is, a story of farmers and fishermen, countesses and kings. Of ocean voyages and Indian massacres, religious persecution and survival in the new world. All of this went into making a young man from Nova Scotia who works in a car factory far from his boyhood home.

Lightizer Family Tree...Planters & Foreign Protestants
Updated January 11, 2001

Keith Lightizer
PO Box 31
Pontypool, Ontario L0A 1K0

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