Chapter One Introduction

As the youngest daughter of John and Agnes Skilling's nine[1] children and now, along with my brother Vernon, the only surviving members, I find myself looking backwards to the life and times of the members of our family. Being number eight in the series of what was known as “The Skilling family” around Teeswater, Ontario was not any guarantee of fame. My elder siblings regarded my younger brother Vernon and me as decided nuisances. We bore them no grudge or resentment, as we quite considered ourselves wonderful, clever, successful and talented people. My life was fraught with successes and failures as, I think, could be considered average, but I always did have a great admiration for my older brothers and sisters. Eventually, when over a period of years, they passed on from this life, I experienced great grief but also acceptance. Suddenly we realized that we three youngest members of our family were the only survivors of our generation. We drew closer to each other and tried to see each other oftener. But as age was shortening our capacity for getting around, it became increasingly difficult.

We had arranged for my elder brother Harold  (3 years my senior and aged 84) to spend the month of March 1978 with us in Florida but were shocked and stricken by the news in January, that Harold had been struck down with a massive coronary and, in three days, had died. I felt this bereavement very keenly and spent many sleepless nights grieving this loss. During one of these midnight vigils, I started to recall the lives of my 8 siblings, all of whom had gone to the great beyond, but who,I felt, had made considerable impact on the world – each in their own way. Many people are now becoming interested and curious regarding their roots, and I regret that I did not find out more and ask my parents questions that now arise in my mind when there is no one left to ask. I have so many nieces and nephews who often ask me questions about our kith and kin. I realized that many knew nothing about their great uncles and aunts, so I have decided to bring them to life on these pages to the best of my ability. This will be a labour of love.

The seventh child,[1] John Alexander Skilling, died three days after birth in 1891.

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