In a small town it is often said that everyone is related to everyone else.
That is certainly almost true of Princeton, as was explained recently during Cultural and Heritage Week at the Princeton Museum.
A presentation by Tip Anderson on the First Nations side of the founding Allison clan commanded a full house, and the family jokes and anecdotal stories had the audience enthralled.
With pictures Anderson introduced the crowd to Lily, who was the eldest daughter of John Fall Allison and his aboriginal wife Nora Yakumtikum.
John Fall and Nora had three children, Lily, Albert (Bertie), and Charles (Enoch). She later bore another son, “Wichie”.
Anderson spoke warmly as well of Susan Allison, a woman of European descent who also married John, in 1868. That family had 14 children. “This is where my story takes off,” he said. “All the white kids knew that Lily was a half-sister and they were all great friends…There was no animosity.”
Susan and John Allison “sent Lily to Hope to go to school and Lily managed the Allison store,” he said.
While Nora eventually left the area, Lily remained in Princeton to have her own family.
“We’ve been a very multicultural community for a long time,” said Spencer Coyne, who is Nora and John’s great-great-great grandson.
The family is large and diverse, he added.
“Literally, there are thousands of us. If you go up and down the valley it’s hard not to run into somebody who’s related to you.”
Coyne said he appreciated the interest at the Cultural and Heritage Week event as it explored the First Nations branches of the Allisons.
“And a few years ago when they rededicated the museum they included all of us and that was amazing. So much family came from all over the place for that day,” he said.
“The Allisons are one family and we are a big family. Just on Lily’s side alone the list of family names…there’s Coynes and Andersons, Reicherts and McLarens. There’s tonnes of us.”