From Ganges to the Ganges

2007–2008

On Sunday, February 4th, 1894, my great-great Grandfather, the Rev. E. F. Wilson, first set foot on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia.

He settled there soon after with his wife and 8 of his 11 children, bought land, farmed, and took care of his new parish of St Mark’s. His own grandfather was Bishop of Kolkata (then Calcutta) in India. E.F. was a prolific writer and painter and made a journal of his travels, illustrated with photos and his own drawings and paintings between 1868 and 1908.

One of his daughters, Winnie, married a young Naval Captain who was stationed in Victoria, and together they travelled the world with the Navy and their two daughters, the younger of whom, Ruth, was my grandmother.

Ruth, in her turn, married a ship’s captain from the merchant navy in what had been her Grandfather’s church, and had her reception in the local village, which by then was called Ganges, after the flagship of the British Navy, the HMS Ganges, which patrolled there between 1857 and 1861.

Her first child, Faith, my mother, was christened there and lived in Ganges for the first few years of her life.

In 2003, when I was thinking of moving to France, I was surprised to find a small town called Ganges near Montpellier in the south of France.

I moved to the area, and in 2007 visited Bangladesh and India to travel up the river Ganges. In 2008 I visited Ganges, British Columbia.

I took sketchbooks with me to record the journey.