Growing up, I wanted to be an architect or interior designer. I signed up for architectural drafting classes in high school, and while I enjoyed the detailed layouts, I didn't love the precision required. But I was fascinated with all types of houses, especially older ones, the floorplans and the architectural ornamentation.

Trips to Europe and Asia introduced me to even more styles of buildings, from the narrow homes on Amsterdam's canals, to the temples of India and Thailand, to the renaissance elements of buildings in Belgrade, Serbia. My hundreds of photos have given me lots of references for future art pieces. 

And while I didn't end up in a career related to architecture, I did land in one requiring very detailed work. My interest in buildings has continued, however, through my art, first painting, then in coloured pencil, then in 2016 designing a three dimensional village from repurposed items: cardboard, fabrics, used teabags, ceiling tile, an old table cloth, bobby pins and more. This village, titled Urban Refurbishment was part of the Colour Unboxed show of the Out of the Box Fibre Artists that same year at the Mississippi Valley Textile Museum.

While taking a psychodrama class in an expressive arts facilitation program, our prof suggested I further explore my fascination with houses. My thought at the time was that she was suggesting I explore the idea of "home", not "house", but I knew that was not the issue. 

I was curious, however, about where this interest came from. Both my parents were creative, as are many of my relatives: we have several writers in the family - journalists, an author, even a poet - all on my father's side. And knitters, sewers, tatters, painters and other creative talents on my mother's side. All this leads me to believe our interests can be genetic (we do have a geneticist in the family although I have not reached out to him with this question). Certainly my creative side comes naturally to me. But I was unaware of anyone else with the same enthusiasm for architecture or old buildings. Until now. 

Fast forward to the present, and I may have the answer. My sister sent a link to an obituary about our great-great-grandmother. Said article also included information on her many brothers and sisters: it seems my great-great-great uncle on my father's side was an architect, and my great-great grandfather, also on my father's side, was both an architect and builder. From there we learned about a few of the buildings each had worked on, and just a two-hour drive away from where I live today.

Frontenac County Court House National Historic Site of Canada - My Great-Great-Grandfather is listed as one of the builders

Are our interests genetic? We know certain traits or health issues can be inherited. But interests? There are those who feel we carry the stories of our ancestors, that their experiences are woven into the fabric of our lives. Perhaps I am feeling some of their stories, and now I will also be able to visit the buildings they worked on.

Whatever the answer, what matters is this has given me a connection to my ancestral past, and I plan to continue pursuing this interest and see where it leads. Do you or someone else in your family have an interest that may have been passed down? Perhaps one that no one else seems to share? Ancestral memory may just be at play... 


Linking to our Past - through Photos


"Music is full of longing and movement.  Painting should be the same." I read this quote in Hundred and Thousands: The Journals of...