Family Ties

Slider / October 2, 2019

Discovering links through art between Nova Scotia and Trinidad

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My family left Trinidad for good in 1970.

My family left Trinidad for good in 1970. We went from the forwardlooking, vibrant and colourful place Port-of-Spain was, to the still, dull, grey small Town of Shelburne on the South shore of Nova Scotia. Perched at the spot where the Roseway River meets the great Atlantic, this place was once rich in  history, leaving just a few tired, faded remnants of a glorious past by the time we came to know it. It is here we settled, renting a 100 year old house that was built by a seafaring man, one Captain McCarthy. Our landlady was the elderly daughter of said Captain. She lived in Montreal, making yearly trips back to her childhood home to avail herself of my parents warm Trinidadian hospitality. A fast friendship followed. She explained that the McCarthys were a mixedrace Negro loyalist family who had intermarried with the white population. Somewhat marginalised in the larger society, although they sported blue eyes and a light complexion, they had turned to the sea for their livelihood with the result that they had made a name for themselves as ship builders and sea captains.

The house we came to occupy was thus filled with the remnants of other people’s lives. Antique furniture included a high bed my parents called the ‘Golan Heights’ in that Trini tongue-in-cheek humorous way. Chinese artifacts acquired from their sea travels, old china, crystal vases, brass vessels, handmade quilts and amateur original art from artist relatives all came together to create a home of sorts for us. This was to be our haven for eleven years. My parents eventually moved to Moncton, New Brunswick, in the mid-eighties to be nearer to  two of their children who had settled there. Their former landlady generously offered them the contents of the house at Shelburne as she was putting it on the market. They brought everything to their new home at Briarwood Crescent, including an odd original painting they hung in their garage.

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