Choosing a Grandparent Name

Our grandmothers were called Nanny, of Scottish descent and PEI-born, and Grammie who migrated from Northern Ireland in 1928.   My own mother preferred to be called Grandie, a cute way of saying she was “grand”.  When it came time to choose my grandmother name, I leaned to the name Nanny, after my own who was a fiesty flapper girl with great stories and great taste.

My Grammie was soft, quiet and, except for her amazing shortbread, was rather nondescript.   A devout Methodist, she never smoked or drank and was always wearing a demure dress and an apron.  I’d thought I had a clear idea about who she was, then after my mother died I came across a large stash of old photographs.

Third from the Right, Lilian Pentland takes some air in the Canadian Rockies 1928.

Third from the Right, with some new friends, Lilian Pentland takes some air in the Canadian Rockies. Circa 1928.

From a Passenger List found through ancestry.com and our old sepia toned photographs, I got to know a very different person from the one I thought I knew.  For many Albertans in the 1900’s, exploring the great outdoors was the primary focus of leisure time with many a day spent on horseback or in canoes, swimming, fishing and, above all,  picnicking.  In all the pictures of my Lilian in Canada, before my dad and his brother were born, she wore pants like the jodhpurs seen above.  Since I’d only ever seen her in a dress, the pants shocked me and drove my an interest to learn about her life in Portadown and in Calgary.

At 24 years of age, Lilian Uprichard was still very much a girl when she landed in Canada to marry my Grampa, who’d come a year earlier to secure a job.  Not yet married and traveling alone, in the S.S. Montclare she crossed the Atlantic over seven days from Northern Ireland to Canada, then a train from Quebec to Alberta.  She married, set up house and birthed two children without family or girlfriends to support and advise her.

It warms the cockles of my heart to see my granddaughter running to me, little legs pumping, calling out, “Gwammie”.   I’m so grateful to have found that old photograph and know I’ve made the right choice of names.

Do you have a grandparent name story you would like to share?

6 thoughts on “Choosing a Grandparent Name

  1. I am so happy to have someone to go to for all of our family stories. I would know almost none of our Valentine & MacLeod history if it weren’t for you. I love all the pictures too, from both sides of your family!

  2. When or first Grandchild was near delivery, my husband Jim and I were pondering what our Grandparent names might be. My daughter in law Melissa’s parents were Lola and Lolo as her mother is Phillipino, so we wanted to have snazzy names also. My husband Jim Shannon is of Irish decent so our research showed that Granmother in Gaelic was Seanmháthair which I read as sounding like Sumatra and Grandfather was Seanathair, which I read as sounding like Sinatra…so I thought it would be fun to be Bean, as the Sumatra coffee bean and Jim would be Frank as in Sinatra…then we would be Frank and Beans…Jim wasn’t keen on Sinatra so he wanted Papa, but I still liked Bean…so, for 6 years, I have happily answered to Bean and love when I hear both granddaughters Patricia and Sammy calling out Bean Bean, and now our grandson Henry continuing with the tradition. I love Being Bean.

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