Interview with Lucille Campey

Interview with Lucille Campey

Posted on September 14 by admin
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This week we’re talking about where we come from. The great thing about Canada is that at some point in time everyone came from some where else. Lucille Campey is a professional researcher and historian in genealogy and emigration. Her newest book is called Seeking a Better Future and it is what we were able to talk to her about today.

Caitlyn: Tell us about your book.

Lucille: Seeking a Better Future: the English Pioneers of Ontario and Quebec tells the story of the English people who decided to leave their native land and find a new life for themselves in Ontario and Quebec. They were the major part of the great exodus that took place from Britain to Canada in the 19th/20th centuries but little has been written about them. Copious studies have been undertaken on Scottish and Irish immigrants but English immigrants have been virtually ignored. Who were they? Why did they come to live in Ontario and Quebec? Did they find a better future?

My book reveals how well the English coped as pioneers and reveals their lasting impact on both provinces. Anyone interested in researching their family history will find helpful passenger lists together with details of over 2,000 ship crossing from England to Quebec.

Caitlyn: How did you come up with the idea for this work?

Lucille: This book is the second of a three-book series on the history of the English in Canada. The first book dealt with Atlantic Canada, this, the second book, focuses on Ontario and Quebec while the third book, out in 2014, will cover the prairies and British Columbia.

I decided to write about the English because they have been ignored and I wanted to be the one to put things right. Before studying the English I had written eight books on Scottish emigration to Canada. In doing this I noticed how little attention had been given by historians to English emigration. Living as I do in England I have access to the rich documentary sources in English County Record Offices. So it was case of doing the research and getting started. My first book on the English was Planters, Paupers and Pioneers: English settlers in Atlantic Canada , competed in 2010. Dealing with Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland it was described as “A Landmark Volume on the English in Atlantic Canada” by Genealogy

Caitlyn: Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote your book?

Lucille: My book will interest anyone wishing to understand the long-standing links between Canada and England. I write principally for family historians who want to go a little further into their family history by considering the factors that influenced their ancestors to emigrate and choose their ultimate destinations in Canada. Why did their ancestors emigrate at that particular time? Why and how did they choose a place in Canada to settle? Were they successful? I also have a second audience in mind -  academics and people with a general interest in history. I take great pride in ensuring that my research is rigorous and well-documented while trying to write a clear and easily understood story which carries the reader along.

Caitlyn: What was your first publication?

Lucille: My first book was “A Very Fine Class of Immigrants”: Prince Edward Island’s Scottish Pioneer, 1770-1850 published by Natural Heritage in 2001. In a way, the subject chose me. I had embarked on a Ph D at Aberdeen University in the mid 1990s without any clear idea as to where it would lead me. As I describe below, a very moving experience in a Prince Edward Island cemetery launched me on my writing career. You never know about life!

Caitlyn: What inspired you to write your first book?

Lucille: In doing research for my Ph D, which I completed at Aberdeen university, I had visited the Prince Edward Island Provincial Archives in Charlottetown. Having a little spare time to fill before taking our flight back to Scotland, Geoff (my husband ) and I drove the short distance to Belfast to see the site where a large group of Scottish Highlanders had come to settle in 1803. When I walked through the cemetery of the Belfast Presbyterian Church and read the tombstone inscriptions that were dedicated to the first arrivals I was close to tears. The inscriptions revealed that most of the original settlers had originated from near treeless places – parts of the Isle of Skye and west Inverness-shire – places that I knew well. Imagine how they must felt when they saw the huge forests that had still to be cleared! I felt the human side of the emigration saga for the very first time. The experience taught me to respect the courage and inner strength of Canada’s early British immigrants. They had to cope with unimaginable hardships and adversity and hopefully my books reflect this aspect of their story.

Lucille H. Campey was born in Ottawa. A professional researcher and historian, she has a master’s degree in medieval history from Leeds University and a Ph.D. from Aberdeen University in emigration history. She is the author of 8 books on early Scottish emigration to Canada and one on English emigration to Canada. She lives near Salisbury in Wiltshire, England.