Discover your Heritage
As a photographer, one of your foremost goals is to capture a scene, a moment in its entirety in your photos as best you can. As time passes, you gain an added perspective to such and that is how such photos taken become a curated means preserving whatever event or place you shot in whatever given moment of time it was. When I look back on all the client based bookings I have done and in all the great places in all the seasons that were, this is something that is just as heavily apparent and on my mind as any of the other factors or thoughts that frequently come to my mind.
It was this same perspective of thought that motivated me to begin researching my family tree’s lineage. Over time, I had managed to curate a timeline of the Dewart family that dates all the way back to several thousand years with the Maclean Clan and the Dewart Castle on the Isles of Mull in Scotland. However, there was still a blank spot in that lineage in the 1800’s and one of my relatives had mentioned one of my ancestors from not too long ago had been a preacher at some church in Boston and another had been a citizen of Canada. That was why on my most recent trip up the east coast to Canada, when I could find the time, I resumed my research. This led me to discovering three ancestors in particular that I couldn’t help but be impressed and left in awe of. These individuals were Edward Hartley Dewart (1828-1903), Herbert Hartely Dewart (1861-1924) and William Herbert Dewart (1862-1942).
Irish born, Edward Hartley Dewart went on as a Canadian methodist clergyman to become a leading figure in the Methodist Church and the Temperance Movement. He was also an author and editor. His poetry anthology Selections from Canadian Poets (1864) was the first anthology of Canadian poetry to be published.
Born in St. Johns, Canada, Herbert Hartely Dewart was one of two sons of Edward Hartley Dewart and was a lawyer as well as a politician. After passing the bar and opening his own practice in 1887, he was elected to the provincial legislature in 1916 and became the first liberal to win a Toronto Seat in a quarter of a century. In 1919, he then became the leader of the Ontario Liberal Party. At his funeral procession in 1924, one of his honorary pallbearers was then Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Lastly and not least, born in Norwood, Ontario, William Herbert Dewart, a close relation to the other two, attained several degrees with the highest of them being dis doctorate’s in divinity. He then began a career in ministry and in
1914 became the Rector (Priest) of the historic Christ Episcopal Church, better known as 'The Old North Church,' in Boston.
On my way up north, stopping at the Old North Church in Boston and continuing onward through Saint Johns and beyond, taking photos all along the way, I couldn’t help but think of these men and their accomplishments and how in a full circle sort of irony, I how I was curating and piecing together my family’s lineage and ancestry in such an up close and personal shape and form. The whole perspective to curate anything had come from my photography. That perspective had led me to then want to curate the lineage of my family ancestry into a succinct timeline. That whole trip northeast I took was due solely to my photography and so was the opportunity to research these men, visit where they had been in person, and take as many photos as I could along the way. It all was just spectacular and made me so much more appreciative for photography itself as much as what it has led me onto in one way or another.
I still think of these men to this day and who they were. Perhaps most surprising and humbling to me was to know that Edward Hartely Dewart was an author and was the first to have a Canadian anthology of poems published. All this time with my wiring, my own books going into print, I was unknowingly following in his footsteps, as if to write and have a love for prose was in my very DNA.
Ask just about any historian and in one shape or form, they will likely tell you that one of the most significant points of history is its ability to tell us who we are and where we are from. In many ways, and not with just these three men, I’ve discovered this to be true in in unearthing and curating the history of my own family in our lineage and ancestry. I also believe that no matter who you are or where you’re from, the same can be said if you decide to discover your own heritage.