The History Keepers

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The Hudson Bay Fort in Nanaimo known as the Bastion in the late 1800’s

There are two ladies that regularly visit me in the little vintage shop where I work that I would like to tell you about. There is great wisdom in these women. Firstly, because they are in their upper years and have acquired this wisdom through life experiences, and secondly, because they have taught me a great lesson.

Their names are Jill and Daphne and they volunteer once a week at our local community archives.

Jill is a 90 year old ball of energy who still drives and live on her own. She will waltz into the store, stylish in dress, with some playful anecdote or witty comment. Her animation and joie de vivre is palpable. A life long Nanaimoite born and raised, who is well versed in our cities history. Her and I have had many a conversation about old time Nanaimo.

Daphne is more sedate. Her grace and composure hints at a more formal upbringing. While less gregarious, she seems to play the foil to Jill’s antics. But make no mistake, there is humour lurking inside this English rose but there is also a fierce protectiveness she can not hide for her friend and her family for anyone who cares to look.

So what is this great lesson I speak of that these two have taught me?

Well let me start by talking about the word Crone. I call this blog Crone Confidence for a reason. A Crone is a female elder. Traditionally, she was the wise woman of the village, the healer, sometimes the midwife and on occasion the venerable Crone would act as a mediator for the village should a dispute arise. She was respected for her age, longevity and her acquired knowledge.

Today, as older woman are embracing their own power once again, the title of Crone is being whispered in some circles once again with deference. But because we no longer live in the small villages of old, the traditional aspects of a Crone no longer apply. So new honours are being bestowed that reflect our modern society. Titles like wise woman remain but others like, storyteller, warrior, peacemaker, counsellor, even Goddess are being resurrected with a new slant for current times. But in the case of these two grand dames, the bestowment of History Keeper is an honour I would offer for them.

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Jill and Daphne do my city a service that many who live here don’t even know exists. They sift through the information, photos and records of our city’s past and organise and preserve it for easy access for the public to view. The hours they volunteer today, ensures that we are (hopefully) able to learn from our past so we can move forward, with open eyes in the future.

A community needs to understand its beginning and why it came into being. My city’s humble roots are in coal mining and logging. Now, with over 90 thousands souls living in its boundaries, a more diversified economy has emerged. But one can not deny ones past because it helps to understand why we have grown as we have.

The Hudson Bay fort pictured above was built to guard the fledgling coal port from possible hostiles. It was, at the time, a “bastion” of defense. While that kind of security is no longer needed, perhaps Nanaimo would not exist if it had not been built. That is the kind if history that molds a community and that’s the kind of information that can be found in its archives.

Bastian Today
How would we know how life has changed and learn from the past unless someone saves and preserves the history?


Jill and Daphne’s work at the Nanaimo Community Archives is a worthy contribution to the city and it garners my admiration and respect, but that is still not the great lesson that I’ve learned from these two ladies.

That lesson is one of purpose. Here are woman who give of their time to this community with little to no thanks for their service. But in that commitment, they have created for themselves a purpose that goes much farther than their own personal circle of influence.

It is when you give of yourself, with no material reward expected, when you contribute to the greater whole, that you give your life purpose. Here are woman who could just as easily spend their days, quietly in a comfortable chair, watching some useless fluff on the television for hours on end and no one would think less of them. It is in fact, what a lot of folks in their late decades do.

I have known folks who are old senior citizens and ones who are young senior citizens and the take away I get from my observation of the two types, is purpose makes you young.

When you loose your “why” you can say goodbye.

Jill and Daphne are young senior citizens because they have purpose in their lives. They have reasons to get up and get going. They have friendships and family and support, and they contribute to the greater whole of society. These ladies have a why.

And so, I will bestow on these two amazing ladies the title of History Keeper and I will honour their contributions and I delight in their wisdom, energy and friendship. But most of all, I thank Jill and Daphne for the lesson of purpose, taught to me by the example they have set.

Because with purpose in our life, with a “why” to fuel our days, we are all able to live a full, vibrant life. And maybe, just maybe, go on to create our own piece of history for a future History Keeper to keep.

Published by Diana Frajman

Wisdom blogger who believes that the wise older woman is the most powerful brand females come in.

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