Bernice and George Hawker, Kim Ruttig English's grandparents. Bernice is believed to be a relative of John A MacDonald.

Hedley woman turns up famous family connections

Kim English is kin to Lawrence Welk and may be related to Canada’s first prime minister

A Hedley woman looking into her family’s past recently confirmed she may be related to Canada’s first prime minister and certainly has a connection with Lawrence Welk.

“I had a few weeks vacation and I needed something to delve into that wasn’t work related, or another hobby. I wanted to do something different,” said Kim Ruttig English, who recently turned 50.

English took advantage of a free two-week offer from Ancestory.com, a website that allows users to trace their roots.

English grew up listening to family stories, but didn’t know how to weigh them.

“Both of my parents are deceased and I have one aunt who is living and she doesn’t have a great memory,” she said.

“Whether (the stories) are real or part of family folklore was unclear.

“On my father’s side there was a supposed link – that Lawrence Welk is a cousin of ours.

“I wasn’t sure if he was a cousin or if my parents just really liked Lawrence Welk and it was the only way for them to get us kids to watch his corny variety show on television.”

So far as Ancestory.com can show, English is indeed a cousin of Welk, a popular accordionist, bandleader and television star who hosted The Lawrence Welk Show from 1951 to 1982.

The connection to John A. MacDonald, on her mother’s side, is more tenuous, but is a tale she heard often as a child.

“I’ve just started to explore that rabbit hole. The challenge is there are a number of MacDonalds out there, a number of Alexanders and a number of Johns in both Canada and Scotland.”

The website, which is populated with billions of pieces of data from censuses in numerous countries, does suggest a link.

While she will continue with that line of research, English said it’s not a priority. “It would be notable, that’s all,” said English, adding MacDonald’s policies against Indigenous people is a shameful part of Canadian history.

The most satisfying part of exploring Ancestory.com, for English, has been learning about where her ancestors are from, and where they landed in Canada.

She had always believed her father’s family was from Germany, but now knows they mostly lived in Poland.

And she’s found cousins in Canada, of whom she was unaware, and seen family pictures that are new to her.

She has a DNA testing kit on order, in hopes of learning more.

As her family picture takes shape, English feels a kinship with those who came before her.

The Ruttig ancestors settled in small towns in the western provinces.

“When I look at their stories I’m reflective on just the resiliency of my ancestors,” she said.

“They decided they would have a better opportunity in Canada, at the time. Their descendants across Canada are thriving and I’ve kept true to my roots by getting to enjoy the small quiet there is, a quality of life, where I live in this valley.”

Related: Daughter of a war bride: Penticton woman recalls how her parents found love during Second World War

Related: Most British Columbians are unaware of WWII battles fought on our own shores

Do you have something to add to this story, or something else we should report on? Email:mailto:andrea.demeer@similkameenspotlight.com


 
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

An Abbotsford man was killed in a motor vehicle accident on Highway 3 on Monday, Jan. 18. (Black Press file photo)
Abbotsford man killed in Highway 3 single vehicle crash near Hedley

Fatality was discovered by passing tow truck driver

(Black Press file photo)
Highway 3 cleared, open after vehicle incident

The road was closed for about three hours earlier on Jan. 18

Syringe is prepared with one of B.C.’s first vials of Pfizer vaccine to prevent COVID-19, Victoria, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 caseload stays steady with 465 more Tuesday

No new outbreaks in health care facilities, 12 more deaths

A couple living at the Summerland Waterfront Resort is trying to sell their unit because of strata changes which will require them to pay significantly higher strata fees or have their unit included in the resort’s rental pool (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Couple living at Summerland resort facing increases

Permanent residents of Summerland Waterfront Resort told fees will more than double

(Big White Ski Resort)
28 more cases of COVID-19 linked to Big White cluster

More than 200 cases have been identified since the cluster was announced

Police are seeking further witnesses after an elderly woman who was struck by a vehicle in Salmon Arm succumbed to her injuries. (File Photo)
Salmon Arm pedestrian dies after being hit by truck along Highway 1

Collision took place on Jan. 15 in downtown Salmon Arm, police looking for witnesses

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Moose chases two people near North Okanagan school

Conservation and dog control attending to the situation

The sale of the Kirschner Mountain Development for $22M marks the largest in Realtor history, in the Okanagan. (Contributed)
Kelowna mountain development sold for $22M

The sale of the 640-acre Kirschner Mountain development has made the history books

New Westminster TV production designer, Rick Whitfield, has designed an office in a box for British Columbians in need of a private workspace. (BC Box Office photo)
PHOTOS: B.C. man designs ‘box office’ solution for those working from home

‘A professionally designed workspace on your property, away from the distractions of home’

Chilliwack ER doctor Marc Greidanus is featured in a video, published Jan. 18, 2021, where he demonstrates and describes effectiveness of various styles of masks. (Youtube)
VIDEO: Emergency room doctor runs through pros and cons of various masks

‘We’ve been asked to wear a mask and it’s not that hard,’ Greidanus says.

(Pixabay photo)
VIDEO: Tip to Metro Vancouver transit police helps woman 4,000 km away in Ohio

Sgt. Clint Hampton says transit police were alerted to a YouTube video of the woman in mental distress

Most Read