1816 is a year of special significance to me, as the year my 4x great grandfather immigrated to Canada from Scotland. Like many of his fellow countrymen, he came across the ocean with little more than an axe with which he was expected to hew a farm out of a wilderness.
As I write Legacy of Faith about his story, I wonder what it must have been like to take such a desperate risk, knowing that life hangs on the fragile thread of nature.
That would be hard enough, but it turns out that just before he arrived in Canada was the “Year without a Summer“. He must have been greeted with stories of snow, frost, and lake ice in June, July, and August, along with woeful tales of starvation, disease, and death. It sounds like an extreme exaggeration, but it was true.
It all began on April 10, 1815, when Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia. It is called the most powerful eruption in recorded history, and no wonder, since its plume of volcanic dust had dramatic effects on the climate a year later, half a world away.
While my ancestor was fortunate enough to miss this, he still would have encountered the aftermath everywhere he went.
Personally when I read about things like this, even though it’s -26 degrees celsius as I write this, I think about central forced-air heat, cars and supermarkets, and hot summers, I’m thankful for all that we have and for the sacrifices our ancestors made.