I find great comfort in looking backwards at times like this when everything seems so scary. History is already written, so it is a safe place to spend some time; there could be surprises or new discoveries, but they have already happened and are, therefore, sterile, clean, orderly.
As a diversion from the overwhelming pandemic news, I spent time this morning nosing around for family news on UPEI’s digital newspaper archive, which has expanded in recent months. My ancestors were pretty humble people, mostly fishers and farmers, not the type of people who usually ended up in newspapers except maybe when they died. A couple of distant relatives were politicians – a great-great uncle was an MLA and my father’s first cousin was a Member of Parliament and later a Senator – but most appear only as entries in census records.
It was lovely, then, to find new items about long gone great-greats in the Examiner archives. I do not have any family stories about these people, so until today they have existed only as names and dates in a database. This evening I feel as though I have pulled them in a bit closer to me, that they are with me somehow, and that is soothing.
Since I sometimes digitally clip bits and pieces from old newspapers and then file them without good descriptions, I shouldn’t be surprised when I ask myself questions I could already answer.
Earlier this month I mused about my great-grandmother’s prize-winning entry to a contest in a fishing magazine. I wondered how she remembered the exact details of a fish caught by her sons long after the event and where she got the photo that accompanied the story.
Seems she had already alerted the media to this story in 1936, and I had already read it and filed it away with the very descriptive file name “Guardian_Aug24_1936_fish”. Thankfully I stumbled upon it this morning.
We get both of PEI’s daily papers, The Guardian and the Journal Pioneer, both now owned by the Saltwire Network. Yesterday I read the Journal first and a headline on the second page, “Province overtaxed by tens of millions in 2018-19”, made me pause for a minute. Did the Province pay too much tax to the Federal government? Was there a miscalculation of rates that meant tax payers overpaid?
The same story was on the front page of The Guardian, but with a different headline: “P.E.I. is awash in cash.”
I am not great with numbers, to put it mildly (I’m terrible with numbers, to put it strongly!), but words I get. This is not the same message.
Perhaps Saltwire knows that since we Western folks gave up salt cod and salt pork and all the other salty things that kept our blood pressures high, they need to rile us up right good with tales of government stealing our cash. Maybe I should get back on the salt cod and give up the Saltwire.