Local History

As a child I was fascinated by stories of family history, and began to collect them and to construct family trees. This interest in local and particular human history manifested itself in a different context later, when I wrote a history of the secondary school at which I taught in Ghana. Much later still, while living on the Saanich Peninsula, I began to hear stories of the black pioneers who settled around Victoria after 1858. This led me to research the life of Fielding Spotts, one of these pioneers and the first man to clear and cultivate the area which would eventually be my own farm. The result was a short biography and a newspaper article. The latter inspired a local philanthropist to commission a headstone for the Spotts grave, previously unmarked, at Shady Creek Church.

ColchesterAfter retirement one of my goals was to further the research into family history that I had begun as a child. To that end, Linda and I moved for two years to Colchester, England, where several generations of the family had lived. It proved impossible to trace my own family further back than c. 1750, but I was able to build a picture of the lives of the generations since then, and of other Fitch families in Colchester, one in particular going back to Flemish immigrants who arrived in the late C16. The results were published in 2006 in Some Fitch Families of Colchester. Since then, DNA evidence has yielded one conclusive negative result, that my own family line is not related to the Flemish line. My interest in the Fitches has now expanded into compiling a database of all bearers of the Fitch surname in the UK up to 1850: see Fitch UK Genealogy.