The writer tells of tracing her father’s connection with a fellow Welshman who emigrated almost a century ago – and put down roots in Ontario
A decade ago, my father, Terry Lee, found a wooden sign behind our cottage’s boathouse. He guessed it had once hung above the door, naming this Ontario lakeside property: Brynmorwydd. Dad, who grew up in Cardiff and emigrated to Canada in the 1970s, knew right away it was Welsh. But the cottage, which originally belonged to my stepmother’s family, was actually an exercise in Canadianness for my dad, who isn’t exactly handy with canoes or campfires. I don’t suppose he ever anticipated that it would draw him back to Wales, but some weeks later he spotted the name of the cottage’s first owner stamped on one of its beams: John G Bolt.
He searched deeds, records, maps and censuses with the help of my uncle, and the story emerged of John Bolt, born in 1886 near Llanrhaeadr, north Wales. The son of a gamekeeper, he moved away to Cheshire at the age of eight, after his parents died. In 1927, Bolt sailed to Canada and worked on the Canadian Pacific Railway: he claimed a plot of land, built a cottage, and named it after the estate where he’d been born: Brynmorwydd.