New Years – Thinking of the past + upcoming year

David & Tom Bastedo

The Pandemic has caused many off us to re-evaluate our priorities. Being kept apart from our families this past year or locked in together whichever your case may be, has been extremely difficult, emotional and hard on both families and relationships, which are tough enough at the best of times as Gord Downie alluded to in this lyric from the song Family Band.

We’ll be a shade shy of true wickedness
We’ll be a shade shy of truly loving this, yeah
There are other things we’d rather be doing, sure
Even nothing, even nothing, even nothing…

When I was 18 years old, my father wrote me a letter with five pieces of advice for my life.

  1. Do not do anything of which you are, or will be, ashamed.
  2. Do the best that you can at what you are doing.
  3. Be considerate of others, especially those weaker or less gifted than you.
  4. Remember your family, for you have greatly contributed to it, and have much to gain from it.
  5. Enjoy your life as it is, and do not yearn for more than you have or can obtain.

    Love, + good luck Dad.

Family has been difficult for me over my lifetime. My family is passionate, opinionated and fiercely independent. In the past we haven’t always said nice things to one another or played well together. We have trust issues. We are quick to blame and slow to admit fault…. still and despite this friction and underlying tension, family is extremely important to each one of us – each in their own way.

In these last few years of my life, I have been exploring my family history and ancestry as a way to understand better, who I am and the privileges that have come with my heritage. I have the advantage of health – both mental and physical; of my socio-economic background; the colour of my skin, my gender; as well as the country and family I was born into… and I try to actively acknowledge these privileges, which in my case, have been passed onto me through a deeply rooted and rich history in Ontario and Canada.

My namesake – David Tice Bastedo – was born in 1769 in what is now Schenectady, NY. When he arrived in Canada with his family in 1784, he was a Loyalist escaping prosecution. At the age of 14, he was a war veteran having served as a Scout in the last year of the American Revolution, alongside his uncle in one of the most fearsome and famed militia units of that period – the Butler’s Rangers.

My Grandfather passed a respect and admiration for our family heritage onto his children and I have come to understand that this is part of what makes them and my father in particular, who they are. He passed this down to his children.

My Grandfather Dr. George Bastedo, wrote what he had learned of our family’s history in a well-researched and detailed paper that he titled, “My North American Heritage.”

Aside from our name “Bastedo,” which eventually stabilized in its pronunciation through its transformation between Spanish, Dutch & Scottish ancestry, the only tangible inheritance he wrote, “which has been handed down through these generations of pioneers, pioneers from Europe to America, from the United States to Canada, from Eastern Canada to the West, is a compelling desire for independence. This one characteristic seems to be a common factor in the lives of these people, and they set about to achieve it in their various ways, each according to their own character.

Some wanted peace and freedom from conflict, some fought for independence; some fought for freedom of religion, or from oppression, but all wanted independence, all took their own steps to achieve it.

I share this family heritage of mine because it is part of my journey – part of a personal reconciliation and an acknowledgement of my privilege –bestowed upon me and passed down through generations of Canadians. Farmers, Merchants, Storekeepers and Entrepreneurs. Tailers, Ministers, Politicians, Doctors, Lawyers and Stockbrokers – both Saints and Sinners, Heroes and Villains; successes and failures. It is an interesting and rich history; part of who I am, and part of the lens through which I see the world. Part of a deep, ingrained love for my family, this Province, and our Country. Part of my personal Love story and of my understanding of who I am and want to become.

I wish you all the best for the New Year.