Monday, October 14, 2013

A Storytelling Tour in Yukon

My wife Joanne and I have just completed a wonderful storytelling trip to Canada’s Yukon. The trip was not only a storytelling adventure, but a book tour, but I did not read anything. It was all done with pictures and stories about those pictures. As folks who have heard me storytelling will know I  often use the most modern form of Cantastoria, the ancient art of telling with images. You can see more about this and other telling techniques here

A short walk to the springs. There they are, a swim if you wish
We covered 7700 km, saw some beautiful scenery and visited six libraries in far-flung communities. On the way north we stopped in British Columbia’s Dawson Creek and I told stories there as well. A stop at Liard Springs gave us a welcome break on the long drive.

A bend in the river and a welcome stop for a picnic lunch not far from Faro in Yukon
A tiny gap in the clouds as we drove back from Burwash Landing, where we told to 45 folks of a total  popualiton of 95!
At each venue I gave the audience a choice of some stories about our time in Africa or ones about moose. Everyone chose A Wildlife Vet in Africa. I guess there are lots of moose in Yukon. At two venues I was asked to tell one brief moose story at the end of the set. Why not?

Mairi Macrae of the Yukon Library system who organized the tour with meticulous attention to detail wrote this in an email at the end of the adventure.
Out of this world! We had a great audience of 48 at Jerry Haigh’s African presentation. It was incredible to see in photos and film the work that he was doing in the 60’s on up until the present with all kinds of large mammals. The audience was enthralled and I don’t think anyone had seen or heard stories like that. Jerry (and his doctor wife Jo) have had the privilege of living a very interesting and exotic life. On top of that, he is a great storyteller and a passionate speaker. Very interesting Q & A as you can imagine. Definitely of all the programs we have during my time here, this was one of the best.

During my tellings I did do something I have not previously tried. To introduce myself I told the folks a bit about our (Jo’s and my) family history and how we have fallen pretty close to the apple tree in terms of our adventures. Here is that introductory piece.

Something I have never related before struck a chord with me and so I began to investigate it further. As you have seen Jo’s parents were married in a so-called Glove Wedding. Abraham, her electrical engineer dad, was in India building that country’s first radio factories, starting in Calcutta. He had been sent out by his employers, the Philips Company of Eindhoven in 1932, and had left his fiancé, Tine, behind in Amsterdam. 

The official ceremony took place in Holland. Abraham’s brother Jaap stood in for him and Tine was duly and officially married. She soon shipped out for India

Naturally I knew that this glove wedding had taken place, but I wanted to find out more about the process.

Of course I tried Google. All I got was an endless stream of advertising sites for the sale of wedding gloves. I guess they are a really big deal in several senses of the term. I tried various combinations of search word, but it was not until I typed Dutch Glove Wedding that I made some progress
There was just one hit, from an Australian newspaper article published on the 31st of May 1919.  It came from page 7 of the Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 – 1954) and was barely intelligible as it had been electronically translated. Many words were garbled, but with patience I was able to decipher it. Here is that version.

Not long ago a Boer in Pretoria was married to a girl in Amsterdam, the ceremony constituting what the Dutch call ''handschoen" or glove marriage.
In spite of the fact that a distance of 6000 miles separated the bride in the Netherlands and the bridegroom the Transvaal they were, just as effectually married under the Dutch law, as if both had been present in the same church

The bridegroom sent to his friend or best man in Amsterdam a power of attorney to represent him as his proxy at the ceremony, and at the same time forwarded his glove, which, at the proper moment when the two were made one, was held by both the bride and the proxy. The wedding was duly registered at Amsterdam and at Pretoria, where the bridegroom filed an affidavit with the proper magistrate.

This curious form of marriage is a purely Dutch institution, the custom having originated, it is said, in the old times o£ Dutch-Batavian rule.

Now my interest was even more peaked. I knew, or thought I knew that Batavia was the name used for Jakarta of the Dutch East Indies in Holland’s colonial days when they tried to run the valuable spice trade. I decided to check and so, back to Google. 

I was in for a surprise. There are, according to Wikipedia, nine communities in the USA called by the name. However, the name goes back at least 2000 years. It was “a land inhabited by the Batavian people during the Roman Empire, today part of the Netherlands” I wonder if those US towns were founded by Dutchmen. 

The Barrier Miner reporter had underestimated his distances slightly. Amsterdam to the Transvaal is about 13,000 km by road (if you even get there these days, which I doubt). The bride would have no doubt gone to Cape Town by ship, and then overland, which would have involved a couple of thousand more. That would have been some 9000 miles

Tine only had to go about 9000 km, or 5,600 miles. I’m going to do some more digging as I do wonder if any other Glove Weddings to India (Brits Indie as it was known in those days to distinguish it from Indonesia) ever took place

Anyway, we can be certain that Jo’s apple has indeed fallen right at the foot of her parents’ tree.


Elliott said...

Looks and sounds like a beautiful trip!

Jerry Haigh said...


Jerry Haigh said...

Stephen Badman, one of my contacts on Linkedin, is an Artistic Diector, Storyteller and Transalor of Tall Tales from Newport in the UK. He wrote in reply as follows:
Hi Jerry - it's still possible to have a Proxy Wedding (Glove Wedding) over here - it's still available to the military amongst others.
I have asked him where he means by "over here" as I wonder if that includes UK, or is just a Dutch thing.

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