About 300 Attend Balcom Reunion

August 5-6-7, 1994

Port Dufferin, Nova Scotia

Article appeared in The Mail Star / The Chronicle Herald August 9, 1994

By Andrea Nemetz

The dates on the gravestones in the little Port Dufferin cemetery with the panoramic ocean view take visitors back to the days when Queen Victoria was young and majestic schooners plied the seas.

Amidst the many markers bearing the name of Balcom (or Balcam) and perhaps a friendly ghost or two, a couple hundred family members gathered Sunday for prayer and reflection.

The graveside walk and service in Saint James Anglican Church were an important part of the three-day family reunion that drew about 300 people from as far away British Columbia and California.

Family roots in the Sheet Harbour area date back close to 200 years. Balcoms emigrated from England in the 1660's, settling first in Massachusetts.

Two Balcom brothers then moved to Nova Scotia in the early 1760's, settling in the Annapolis Valley, according to Peter Balcom of Dartmouth, who has prepared a short history on his ancestors.

From there, some family members journeyed to the Eastern Shore.

Halifax County Councilor Judy Smiley and Eastern Shore MLA Keith Colwell have Balcom ancestors, as do long-time provincial cabinet minister Richard Donahoe, and his sons, Terry, Leader of the Opposition, and Art, former Speaker of the House of Assembly.

"My family left Port Dufferin 130 years ago -- my great-grandfather moved away… but it's just like I never left … Never have people been so open as soon as they see the name," Peter Balcom commented.

"It's the closeness of the family that brings them here, not the weather," said Charles Reardon.

The 73-year-old Halifax resident, whose mother was a Balcom, helped organize the first family reunion in Port Dufferin in 1972.

Forty-one-year-old David Smiley wasn't part of the first crowd, but journeyed from Ottawa with his wife and son for this reunion. Born in Port Dufferin , he left when he was 16, and like many Maritimers, says he has missed home.

"I met a lot of relatives I never met before and got a real sense of heritage," he said Sunday, while strolling through the burying ground.

One person he met for the first time was Leslie Balcom Haliburton of Avonport with whom he joked with the ease of people who have known each other for a lifetime.

"There's a real fellowship," observed Mrs. Haliburton, 62. "The family is very close."