The Importance of Ancestors Day

A perspective from two American ancestors.
By Bill Standish & Bevalie (Standish) MacFarland

As we reflect on “Ancestors Day III,” held in Rougemont on September 22, 2018, we visualize our very first emigrants from Ireland journeying to their new homeland with vision, wonder, and determination to develop new homesteads for their families — families who would strengthen into a close-knit community.

As all of us look back to those  first days, we sense what difficulties they must have endured, whether milling woodlands to build warm, safe homes or tilling vast acres of land to propogate food for their families. We imagine their days ended with family gatherings over communal dinners, faith services in different homes and praise songs filling the air.

Today, we seem to wait for specific holidays to celebrate family unity; however, our ancestors likely set family unity on a daily routine. Now, with technological innovations, we walk further from the circle of family unity, it seems. My sister Bevalie and I traveled to Rougemont last year to join other family members, none of whom we had ever met, to pay homage to our ancestors long gone, and to walk the grounds of the peaceful, beautifully maintained ancestral cemetery…lined with fresh-cut flowers displayed in beautiful floral urns.

We also looked forward to visiting with our relatives, walking the floors of St. Thomas Anglican church (built and walked on by our ancestors) and enjoying a beautiful service in the warm, little Anglican church. Fulfilling our hopes and expectations, we found ourselves connecting through conversations with different lines of heritage of our first four settlers. That took us to the heart of why we put our busy lives on hold and traveled to beautiful Canada and lovely, peaceful Rougemont.

Do realize that we have wonderfully dedicated families today who are willing to continue the vision our ancestors had through the diligent work of putting together each Ancestors Day. Planning the meals, the floral tributes in the cemetery, the church service and the games…and more details not even apparent to us. But Ancestors Day also involves ongoing work with the website, including listing all the families interred in the cemetery and providing links to other sources of information about the history of this great, strong community. It further includes constant maintenance of our beautiful church and its grounds, and soliciting financial support to maintain the church, cemetery and landscape.

Neither the lovely, original church organ nor the beautiful stained glass windows would be so well preserved without the attention current families give to their condition.

All of these things represent the “gifts of families,” from our early ancestors to current families, establishing and keeping our history alive and available to us when we choose to pause our daily lives to once again give thanks to all ancestors for their “patch” in the family heritage quilt. Why would we not continue the tradition of Ancestors Day to remind us how blessed we are to be part of this family lineage, instead of continually looking forward without pause to where we might be going? If not for these first settlers, we would not have anything to look forward to.

Who would we otherwise be, where would we be, and what would we be? Ancestors Day continues to give us reason to pause and re-connect.

Bill Standish and Bevalie(Standish) MacFarland are descendants of Robert Standish (1777 - 1843)

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