I began life being born in Markdale, Grey County, Ontario as Kenneth Bryan Agnew to the Agnew’s of Dundalk, Ontario. When I was an infant, my mother placed me, into a guardianship with the Bice family of Mimico (south west Toronto) who eventually adopted me a few years after my mother’s passing.
In 2015 I started researching my family background. I began with my mother Doreen Lola Agnew’s family. The research led me to County Antrim, Northern Ireland where my great great grandfather James Agnew had immigrated from in 1830 when he was about 6 years old. He settled eventually in the Indian Territories of Derby Township, Grey County, Ontario. He married my great great grandmother Jessie Fleming the daughter of Alexander Fleming and Jean Stewart of Perthshire, Scotland, who immigrated to Canada in the 1843 and also settled in the Indian Territories of Derby Township, Grey County, Ontario. Alexander Fleming was instrumental in settling the town of Kilsyth, Grey County, Ontario and built both the first church as school house where his daughter Jessie was the first teacher. My grandfather Herb Agnew met his wife Ruby in the Kilsyth area and after they married they purchased land and started a farm in Dundalk, Grey County, Ontario where my mother Doreen was born, along with 12 other children. I was told who my mother was by my adopted mother after I found out I was adopted, so this research was relatively easy. However, not so for my biological father.
In order to research my biological father, I took several DNA tests. In July 2017, I finally had a significant match with a 1st Cousin. Based on techniques you can determine based on confirmed maternal matches of which I had a 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousin match, who are your paternal matches by shared match elimination. In this case my 1st cousin match was a paternal match since they did not match my confirmed cousins on my maternal side of the family. This lead to finding several paternal cousins, a 2nd, some 3rd and 4th cousin.
Some mysteries still presented a problem. But since I had a 1st cousin match and since I already knew my maternal mother, it meant that one of my 1st cousin’s father’s brothers, rather than sisters would be my biological father. My first cousin’s father was a man named Victor Alexander Morrison.
Researching the Morrison family, they originally came to Canada when Neil Morrison and his wife Sarah Minnie McPhee immigrated in the late 1840’s to early 1850’s for Islay, Scotland (Bowesmore). They settled in Sydenham, Grey County, Ontario and had a number of sons and daughters. They then resettled in Strathclair, Manitoba with all of their sons and daughters between 1880 and 1882. One of their sons Malcolm Morrison was married twice. After his first wife died, he married Lillian Crawford of Belfast, Northern Ireland. They had four sons and two daughters. They were all born in Strathclair, Manitoba. That was a bit of a problem, since my maternal mother never lived in Manitoba. So, I now had to determine which of the sons may have lived in the Ontario, in the Toronto or Grey County area.
Since Malcolm Morrison and Lillian Crawford’s oldest son Malcolm Morrison did not marry, have children or leave Manitoba during his life, I could rule him out based on age and location. Their next son William Angus Morrison did eventually move and live in the Toronto area for the remained of his life where he died in 1996 and is buried in York Cemetery, Toronto. Based on his age, it was unlikely he would have met my 17 year old mother when he was about 35 years old. The two sisters Lillian Pearl Morrison who married Joseph Chegwyn, lived in Toronto and eventually in Oakville, Ontario where Lillian died in 1987 and was buried in Glen Oaks Memorial Gardens. The other sister Sarah Jeannette Morrison, married Charles A. Bruce and they lived in Oakville, Ontario. Sgt. Charles A. Bruce died in 1977 and his wife Sarah died in 2001 and are both buried in York Cemetery, Toronto.
So, the last son and child born to Malcolm Morrison and Lillian Crawford was Archibald (Archie) Donald Morrison. He lived in Toronto after joining the Lord Strathcona Horse regiment and serving overseas with them. He may have chosen to join up for WWII after his mother Lillian Crawford remarried Alexander Ness of Winnipeg in 1939. Lillian Crawford died in 1943.
Archibald Donald Morrison was living in Toronto and was about the right age to have met my mother who was 17 when he was about 24 or 25 years old. I know that my mother never told anyone who my biological father was, but after taking the various DNA tests and matching with a 1st cousin, based on location of where he lived (Toronto) and age of Archie Morrison, it appears that Archibald Donald Morrison would be my biological father. He passed away March 15, 1975 in Toronto and is also buried in York Cemetery near his brother William Angus Morrison and sister Sarah Jeannette Morrison and her husband Sgt. Charles A. Bruce are buried.
So from my research into my family heritage and various DNA tests, it appears that my heritage is from County Antrim, Northern Ireland (Agnew’s) and Perthshire Scotland (Fleming’s and Stewart’s) on my maternal side and from Islay, Scotland (Morrison’s) and Belfast, County Antrim, Northern Ireland (Crawford’s) on my paternal side. Based on the family research and my DNA heritage ethnicity showing primarily Northern Ireland and Scotland in the areas of Perthshire and the Hebrides (Isle of Islay and some of the Isles of Harris and Lewis) through both DNA test results and paper trails leading to those areas.
So I can still tell people when they ask me when they see me piping: Are you Scottish? I can still them – “Well I’m 25% Irish, 25% Scottish and 50% Canadian and I don’t mean Molson’s. I usually get some looks, especially when I say Molson’s. Well that references one of Canada’s great beverages and after all, I was born in Canada.
I started my working career as both a Computer Professional in the areas of Programming, Systems Analysis, Design and Development, Supervision and Management and as an Accountant in the position of Controller for a number of manufacturing companies prior to my current Profession, an ordained and registered member of the Clergy here in Ontario.
I have also been a musician, soldier and Pipe Major of two of the Toronto Area Canadian Forces Army Pipe Bands as well as several civilian pipe bands.
How did my nickname “The Piping Padre” come about? Well, when I was both officiating and piping for a wedding a number of years ago, a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for a while showed up for the wedding. We grew up together and he knew I played the bagpipes but didn’t realize until he saw me put down my bagpipes and start to officiate that wedding that I was also a Clergyman.
After the ceremony he said hello and introduced me to others at the wedding as a friend from his younger days, by saying “I would like to introduce you to an old friend of mine who I grew up with, Ken Bice, “The Piping Padre”, well it stuck, as another friend who I knew was also attending the wedding, over heard his remarks and started calling me “The Piping Padre” whenever we met up and he introduced me to some of his friends and so on. So, “The Piping Padre” it was, it seemed to stick and it does have a bit a nice ring to it.
Today, I live with my wife Margaret in Uxbridge, Ontario Canada. We met while in public school and dated while in High School, getting married a few years after graduating from college and we’re are still together after all these years. That’s amazing as I often drive her crazy when I play my pipes in the basement of our home and more so when I am composing, adapting and arranging tunes in my office/den. She doesn’t mind the bagpipes, but prefers them outdoors rather than in the house. So I limit my playing in the house when she is home, mostly just tuning them a bit before heading out to play for a function. But when Maggie’s out and about and I am at home alone, well I guess I must drive the neighbours crazy when I get the pipes out and start playing while Maggie’s not home.
Today, I am semi-retired, but still continue with my Clergy duties, Pipe for various events, as well as own and operate a small bookkeeping firm to keep myself busy. I still continue to compose, adapt and arrange music for the great highland bagpipes.