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  • The Low Down

Pioneer families come together for reunion

On Aug. 26-27, members of two of Gatineau Valley’s pioneer families — the Maxwells and Browns — gathered to celebrate their shared history. The weekend celebration was organized by Jeffrey Brown, whose paternal grandparents, George Brown and Emma Maxwell were raised in Wakefield. Since 2019, Jeff has connected the diaspora of these families through a genealogy-focused Facebook group that now numbers 172. A particularly special attendee was Eva Schmidt (nee Verweij), who travelled from the Netherlands to visit the grave of her newly found birth father, Leslie Young, at Rupert Union Cemetery. Young served in the Cape Breton Highlanders during the Second World War, and Eva was born from a brief romance during the Liberation of Holland. Young returned to Canada not knowing he would be a father, and died of tuberculosis at the military hospital in Kingston in 1948.

Eva learned of her Canadian father at age 11, but it was only recently that, with the help of researchers and DNA evidence, she identified him. As his father died when he was two, Young was raised by his stepfather Roger Brown, who lived near Brown Lake.

The weekend festivities began with a Friday “pub night” at the Wakefield community centre on Aug. 26. Located on land that was once part of pioneer Thomas Brown’s farm, the centre’s lobby hosted an evening of drinks, snacks and musical entertainment from the Fiddlaires. The next day began with a virtual hike of trails west of Wakefield. Led by Ken Bouchard of Wakefield Trails, attendees returned