Greetings from Nova Scotia

While doing some research on my father, Bill O’Shea, I came acrioss this nice little story in the Edmonton Journal from 2007. My father always loved helping his community and those he met.

Edmonton Journal


14 February 2007

Greetings from Nova Scotia

Let’s call this a tale of the Internet. And a fascinating one, at that. 

Last June, reader Cindy Bout told us about a baptismal certificate she found tucked away in a zippered pocket of a purse she’d purchased at a thrift store. 

Thinking it had been placed there for safekeeping, she was anxious to return it to it’s owner, and asked for our help. 

The name on the certificate was Mabel Gwendolyn MacMullin, who was born July 5, 1956, in Louisbourg, Nova Scotia, to parents Daniel MacMullin and Margaret Holland. 

We didn’t hear from Gwendolyn, or anyone else, for that matter, so we thought the story had ended there. 

Imagine our surprise, then, when nearly seven months later, we received a voice message from Nova Scotia, no less.

Were we still interested in finding Gwendolyn ? She wondered. 

Carol (Carol Corbin) left her phone number, along with that of a friend of her’s, Allistar MacDonald. 

Getting no answer at Carol’s home, we called All-star, who, we found out, is a bartender at Jake’s Lounge in Louisbourg.

More than just information about Gwendolyn, we were curious to know how he and Carol came to find out we were looking for her in the first place. 

“Bill O’Shea told us, “ he replied. “Bill O’Shea?” “Yeah, “ replied Allister. “He’s a mutual friend of ours from Cornwall.” “Cornwall, Ontario?” “Well, he lives there now,” All-star explained. “He moved there when he retired. But he used to live here (Louisbourg). He was the head historian at Fortress Louisbourg.”

“And how did Bill know we were looking for Gwendolyn?”

“I’m not sure,” said All-star. “You’d have to ask him about that.”

We did, right after Carol gave us his email address.

“Finding your story (in The Journal) was actually fairly straightforward, given the technology,” Bill replies. “My wife and I have recently moved to Cornwall, Ontario from Louisbourg, Cape Breton where we lived since 1974.

“We know the community and many of the fine people who live there, having been actively involved in volunteer activities there for many years. So naturally, I am interested in all things having to do with Louisbourg.

“One evening I was looking at the Ottawa Citizen online and just out of curiosity typed “Louisbourg” in the search window.

“It flipped me over to and a bunch of references to Louisbourg. I was familiar with many headings but went through several pages just to discover if there was anything I hadn’t seen before – and there was your interesting column in the Edmonton Journal.

“ I kno=ew Dan and Margaret MacMullin but didn’t remember their daughter, so I sent a note to Carol Corbin figuring she would get it to Juanita Fudge, the lady who published the monthly community newsletter called The Seagull.”

Carol didn’t show Juanita; she didn’t have to.

Once she showed All-star, he contacted his cousin Joan who contacted Gwendolyn’s mother Margaret, who also lived in Nova Scotia – in Sydney.

The subject of this far-reaching search, Gwendolyn, no longer lives in Nova Scotia and hasn’t for a long time since she was 21.

If you guessed she lives in Alberta, you’d be right.

Gwendolyn was surprised to hear from us, but not as surprised as Cindy Bout.

“You’re kidding!” Cindy exclaimed when we called her. “I’d totally given up on hearing anything. I still have the certificate though!”

When we called Gwen, she could only laugh at the scope of our investigation, and the reason for it. 

“I wondered what happened to it,” she said. “I haven’t seen it in years. I must have put it in the purse I gave to Goodwill.”

She long ago ordered a copy of it, which she has safely in her possession. 

Now thanks to Cindy – and Allister, and Carol, and Bill, and Joan, and Margaret – she has to original too.

This site is dedicated to the memory of William A. O’Shea:

William A. O’Shea was a researcher, historian, and manager for Parks Canada / Heritage Canada. His professional life was dedicated to learning more about and teaching Canada about the history of our country. One of his personal passions has always been to learn more about local histories and share them with the broader community. He was a founding member of the Louisbourg Heritage Society, Deputy Mayor of the Town of Louisbourg (Nova Scotia) and wrote many books and articles about the town of Louisbourg and the surrounding area. He called Louisbourg home for more than 30 years. Until his passing on October 14th, 2019, he resided in Cornwall, Ontario near his home town of Long Sault, Ontario. 

Bill O’Shea at the Lost Villages Museum in Long Sault, Ontario with his daughter-in-law, Mai O’Shea and grandchildren, Rina and Kai O’Shea in 2018.

This site is maintained and updated by Kevin O’Shea (O’Shea Archives founder).

Contact Kevin (email):

Twitter: @madformaple


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