Thursday, June 02, 2011

the end of history: George Edward John Kibble Page (1886-1960)

A photograph of my mother’s paternal grandfather, George Edward John Kibble Page in his uniform, who sang in the choir and played tuba in Cobourg’s Kilty Band. In April, 2011, I had an opportunity to drive into Cobourg, Ontario for the first time, and visit his gravesite, just beside the white chapel on the hill, exactly as Aunt Pam described. George with his wife, Annie Fairman Friend. Their son Donald listed underneath them in stone, who died during World War Two flight training, just off the coast of Wales, by Angles. Great Uncle Donald, a gunner and radio operator, flying low across the water, my mother once told, a cliff that came too quickly to avoid. Who never actually saw battle, perhaps. Of the four children they had, another, baby Frederick, died of rheubella, not even out of diapers. We couldn’t find his stone, somewhere else in the field, unknown. Behind the Page stone, one for their daughter, Olive May, my grandfather’s remaining sibling, citing name and open date, and her husband, who died in 1997. In the shadow of the chapel, in the shadow of his in-laws, looking down. Protecting. Much of the rest of the line buried in Ottawa, Pinecrest, far away from these 1812 fields.

Searching through information online, Christine discovers a genealogy by Olive’s granddaughter, Amanda, eight years my junior. Amanda, mother of three, and a registered nurses in the Toronto area. Page upon page of Page family, with details I had not previously known, details I couldn’t imagine. Three further generations, for example, an unbelievable wealth. I knew of the parents of my great-grandfather, George Edward John Kibble Page, but here a list for grandparents as well, the “sailor/mariner” Edward George Page (c. March-April, 1835 – c. Dec 1890-March 1891) and Rachel Hughes (c. 1838-1839 – c. December 1909-March 1910), who stayed behind in England, with a list of not one child but eight: George, Sarah Ann, Stephen R., John William, James E., Albert A., Charles L. and William A.

How to comprehend this gift of new family? This wealth, wondering now if there other branches, further, still active. Are there still traces back home in Ramsgate? Is there anything left? And what was it they were leaving behind? By 1907, Cobourg, Ontario was already a shade of a shadow, its peak nearly a half-century gone. By that point, Ramsgate the same, what Wikipedia calls “one of the great English seaside towns of the 19th century,” and where St. Augustine had visited some fifteen centuries before. Ancient Hraefn's gate or Raven's cliff gap, eventually becoming Ramisgate or Remmesgate by 1225, and Ramesgate by 1357. Old seaside town. Where the boats and the ships and the port, leaving. The only Royal Harbour in the United Kingdom, linked by rail in 1901 to Margate and Broadstairs. That this rail might have killed it. This port.

Behind Edward George, third of five children born to Stephen Page (December 30, 1803 – c. June-September 1873) and Anne Fowler (c. April 1800-March 1801 – after 1881). Ending my line of Georges, a line now at both ends, broken. Stephen, fourth of six children born to Edward Page (c. 1775 – after 1811) and Hannah Gibbons (c. 1775 – after 1811). All of Ramsgate, all of Kent, all of England, born and raised and bred and buried. Resting comfortable, generations, possibly still.

Susan Howe in That This (2011), writing:
That this book is a history of
a shadow that is a shadow of

Me mystically one in another
another another to subserve. 
In searching, finding sometimes the limitations of ourselves. Where we stretch out and begin, where we also end. Seeking out our own shadows, perhaps. Unafraid.

Edward Page of St. Lawrence, Ramsgate, Kent, England. My great-great-great-great-great grandfather. Blowing my mind. It is so good to meet you.

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Hi Rob, that was fantastic! I'm definately forwarding this to my aunt Nancy, who also has done a lot of research.
One note - I'm only a mother of two! (That's enough for now!)
So glad to find someone who appreciates all the work I did! I have copies of certificates too. I'll have to dig them up and send them.