"Where I am From"

The Sceli Family


My family immigrated to Canada in 1834. Joseph Sceli (1794-1875) and Isabella (Hodgins) Sceli (1803-1891)

What Country

My Mom’s side of my family arrived in Biddulph, Ontario from Ireland

Why they left

I am not sure why they left Ireland but I think it was probably for a better life. Around the middle of the 1800s a lot of people left Ireland because of the Great Potato famine. The potato plants had a disease and many people were starving. About 3 million people died in 5 years.


My family spoke the English language. “Scel” is an ancient Irish word meaning “story tale or history” . The Sceli family has over 1000 years of family history.

how they travelled and the hardships

Joseph and Isabella travelled to Canada on a timbership from Ballymackey. They left Ireland for Canada in April 1834. They either spent a long period at the city of Cork waiting for the emigrant ship or the trip was unusually long, they arrived in Quebec City on Aug 19,1834.

This date was remembered very well because their 7th child was born on their first day in Canada. They were left behind by the other immigrants bound for settlement in Canada because they had to wait for their new baby to be strong enough continue the journey. They did suffer hardship along the way to Canada on the ship as their son Joseph Jr died at age 6 enroute and was buried at sea. The notes did not say the reason for his death but there was a lot of sickness and disease on the ships.

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Why They left and historic events

They wanted a better life for their family and the Great Potato Famine started just a few years after the left for Canada.

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Lifestyle in canada

Once they arrived in Biddulph late in the month of September Joseph acquired lot 13 concession 4. This land was next to his brother Robert who had arrived a little earlier. Joseph built a log cabin and established a farm which was to remain his home for the rest of his life. Joseph and Isabella had twelve children. 7 of them were born in Ireland before they immigrated. There was much sadness in their lives as their first born son died 3 years after their arrival to Canada . He was only 14 years old. Another son had died on the ship over to Canada and their last son died as an infant. Joseph and Isabella’s 6th child William was the last of the children to be born in Ireland. William would have been my Great Great Great Grandfather. My Papa actually grew up on his property and my Great Uncle lives their now.

Present day immigrants vs ancestors immigration

My ancestors would have travelled on wooden ships that took many months to travel from Ireland to Canada. When they arrived they would have built their homes and cleared the land all by hand so they would be prepared for winter. They would not have had stores to buy supplies or hospitals if they were sick. Present- day immigrants would travel on airplanes .They would have a lot of support from the government to find a home and employment. They would have to have a lot of special paperwork and medical care so they do not bring diseases.