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

Top Jimmy’s Canoe Beach Café Water Sports is applying for what’s called a ‘food primary’ liquor licence for the fenced area in front of the lakeside Shuswap café. (File photo)
Owners of café at Shuswap’s Canoe Beach apply for liquor licence

Application is for a food-only licence which would allow drinks only inside fenced area by concession

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Sicamous man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Interior Health reports 2 more deaths, 83 new COVID-19 cases

Health authority also identifies new virus cluster in Fernie

A mobile home west of Chase was levelled by fire on Jan. 27. (Pixabay Image)
Mobile home west of Chase burns to the ground

The house was fully engulfed when firefighters arrived but no one was injured.

The first plan for the city from the new Visitor Services Strategy for Salmon Arm will be to move visitor services to city hall. (File photo)
Salmon Arm to move visitor services to city hall, considers tourism revamp

Consultant’s visitor services strategy points to need for recognition of tourism’s importance

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Vernon’s Noric House long-term care facility is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
COVID-19: Two more deaths at Vernon’s Noric House

Total deaths climb to 17 at local long-term care outbreaks

A change to the drive thru sign at the Tim Hortons in Summerland came before Summerland council on Jan. 25. (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Summerland council approves variance for drive-thru sign

Questions raised about why issue was brought to council table

Most Read