My focus this year as a student is on connecting 3 related studies for my 3-article dissertation (see related post here).

This year is also about making other connections – with family and friends. Just like electrical connections can safely send messages if grounded properly –we are connecting and re-connecting with family – and beginning to see how our family is grounded.

While on a recent road trip across Canada – with our major destination being Ontario – we travelled through parts of the US and drove through Yellowstone Park for the first time. I was mesmerised by the natural beauty (and now I know why it was my grandfather’s brother’s favourite place):

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…just a few of the many (many!) photos we took of Yellowstone Park…

But the biggest highlight of our road tripping adventures: all the opportunities to visit with family and friends.

Now, when it comes to Canadian road trips, I think that Tim Hortons coffee is a necessity – and so what a treat it was to actually enjoy Timmies coffee  in the home of one of the sweetest, kindest couples we know…who happen to be owners of multiple Tim Hortons in Ontario!

Conversation + Coffee = great road trip memory 🙂

Have you tried Tim Hortons new Partnership Blend?

Click here if you are interested in reading about how they are helping build sustainable coffee communities by supporting coffee farmers and improving economicsocial and environmental factors.

– and consider buying an “Alberta Rose” donut next time you get a cup of coffee – as just one way to help recent flood victims in Alberta

We had such great conversations with everyone – whether it was coupled with coffee or not. What a privilege it was to just spend some time and hear past and present family stories. For example, we learned a lot about the Durksen’s Russian Mennonite history.


June 2013 in St. Jacobs

Uncle Erv is a wealth of information – and inspiration 🙂

For more on other inspirational Mennonite connections, click here to read my ‘Charity Spotlight’ page where I highlight Uncle Martin’s work with the Mennonite Disaster Service. 

Other historical Durksen family connections – that also align with my interests in both education and psychology – include:

Dr. Frank C. Peters (a great-uncle): Dr. Peters was a professor with a doctorate of Theology and a PhD in Psychology who served as President and Vice-Chancellor of Wilfred Laurier University (Ontario, Canada) from 1967 to 1978. The Frank C. Peters Building at Laurier was named in his honour in 1980. [1]


Dr. Cornelius C. Peters (a great-great-uncle): Dr. Frank C. Peters’ father – Dr. C. C. Peters (1889-1973) – began his teaching career at 19: The classroom was a natural environment for Peters, where he was inspired by the interaction with students…Peters was blessed with a booming voice and a lively humor that never left him…His efficiency and zest in the classroom were an inspiration to hundreds of students both in Canada and throughout South America.” [2]

Needless to say, I really enjoyed visiting with fellow Durksens
and am proud to be a part of their family tree.


Durksen gathering (June 2010)

(and I also love how many are current/former educators or school administrators!)
It seemed easy to pick up where we left off 3 years ago.

I have previously posted about connections on my side of the family (see related post here). My aunt has been instrumental in recording and passing on family histories – and even created a scrapbook for me while my grandfather dictated family stories and shared old photos!


My great-grandfather (pictured in the middle) was in the Scottish Regiment 
(The 88th Infantry Battalion) during WWI and served in England, France and Belgium

More recently, she has been helping me with details about my family heritage from the UK. For example, Cumbria was home for one set of great-great grandparents while Scotland was home for another set.

As mentioned (here), Frank and I are taking advantage of travelling opportunities this year. So although we just returned from a road trip, we are now packing our bags – for the UK! The first part of this trip will be spent at the University of York (see related post here). I am super excited about meeting with international researchers at MERIT.

MERIT Poster

Then Frank and I will continue our ‘historical pilgrimage’ by travelling to Cumbria to meet some of my extended family! We will also travel to Scotland 🙂

Stay tuned while I reflect on/discover/share other connections (and go through all of my road trip photos…) – but for now, I have to start packing!

Wishing you all a memorable summer with your family and friends!

And since I saw fireflies for the first time (twice!) on our recent road trip – once after a backyard BBQ in St. Catharines and then again at a rest stop in Illinois during a severe thunderstorm – I thought I’d end with one of my favourite songs about reminiscence: “Fireflies” by Owl City 🙂

[1] Laurier Alumni. (n.d.) Frank Peters Profile. Laurier Development & Alumni Relations, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario. Retrieved July 2, 2013 from

[2] Giesbrecht, D. (September 2005). Peters, Cornelius C.. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 02 July 2013, from

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