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Editor’s Message: Understanding our history

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About two years ago, I found out an ancestor of mine, George Rent, served as an alderman on Halifax Council in the mid-1880s. I had been researching a story on the Nova Scotia Archives when senior reference archivist Gary Shutlak asked if he was a relation.

I wasn’t sure, so with the generous and expert help of genealogist Douglas Cochrane, I found not only my connection to George Rent (he’s my first cousin, four times removed), but also the first Rent to arrive in Nova Scotia.

His name was Adam Rund (the spelling and pronunciation evolved over time), and he was either Swiss or German. He arrived in Halifax, likely on the Alderney in 1750. That’s one of the ships brought to the city by founder Edward Cornwallis.

Rund served as a member of the city’s militia and got married. He and his wife had six children. According to my records, Rund was at least 16 years old when he arrived in Halifax.

In his 25-page report, Cochrane shares plenty of details of Rund’s family, George Rent, and my ancestors. Like most readers, my ancestors were immigrants. All of our stories here started with the decision of one person or one family to move to a new place and start a new life.

I’ll probably never know much more about Adam Rund and what brought him to Nova Scotia. But he almost certainly arrived in a place unknown to him. No doubt there were challenges and hardships. What I do know is I am here now because of a decision he made 265 years ago.

In this issue on page 10, you will hear the story of Muntadhr Naji, a young immigrant who moved to Bedford after first fleeing Iraq and then Syria. At 24, he’s already started two businesses, is married with a young child. He’s not much older than my ancestor, Adam Rund, when he arrived here in 1750. Both of them will leave legacies in our communities, for the better.

My story on George Rent and the work he accomplished while serving on Council will be in our sister publication Halifax Magazine in March. Meanwhile, try researching your own family histories. Certainly, Douglas Cochrane can help with the research. It might help you understand where you come from, too. Also in this issue, Dorothy Grant unearths a story about Mary Brockwell, a resident of Bedford who has a remarkable life, taking young orphans under her wing and trying to build a school for girls. See that on page 12.

Also, look for an article from the Bedford branch of the Halifax Public Libraries on page 7 about its Conversation Group for newcomers.

And the Bedford-Sackville Community Health Team will start sharing with us details on its work in the community, too.

As always, if you have comments or story ideas, email me at


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