Recently I attended a Carton family reunion at Robert Moses State Park along the St Lawrence River, near Massena in northern New York. The reunion was a get together for the Carton clan whose descendants settled in that area two hundred years ago in 1816.
I am not a Carton, but since my father’s sister married a Carton, their three sons are my first cousins. Unfortunately, one of these brothers JERROLD CARTON, a very talented artist, passed away much too young in 2009. These Carton cousins grew up in Massena New York, while I and my siblings grew up just across the St Lawrence River (and border) in Cornwall Ontario.
Add in these three cousins’ children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, aunts, and uncles as well as their other cousins (and there are lots of them), and you have a large clan of Carton relatives. This extended family organizes a reunion every four years in honor of their Carton descendants.
Carton clan members and their extended families come from all over the USA and Canada. Each reunion seems to get more adventurous and detailed than the previous one. This year’s event boasted an “amazing race” through the town of Massena, excursions into nearby cities including Montreal, tours of historic sites, fishing and boating expeditions, lots of campfires and great food including my Canadian contribution of fixings to make poutine, and even a pig exchange.
The pig exchange was established in memory of a clan member’s (my father’s sister’s husband’s mother) beloved collection of porcelain pigs, the highlight of her living room. Her children, grandchildren, and friends added to her collection on special occasions over many years. The pig exchange at the reunion was conducted much like a “secret Santa” operation at Christmas where every participant (everyone was instructed to bring a pig) is assigned a number. The person with number one got to choose one of the pigs on display that participants donated to the cause. The person with number two then could “steal” the first participant’s pig or choose another one from the donations. The pig I had my eye on was a pink metal watering can, perfect for me considering I own a gardening business. It changed hands several times, but (thanks to tricky strategizing by my brother and a few cousins) this little piggy came back with me to Canada and looks great on my front step at home…
I only partook in the reunion for one day, the day they had designated as a picnic day for those of us that could only manage a short visit. The rest of the gang, including one of my brothers, camped out in cabins for a week. Although Facebook does help keep us in touch with each other, it was awesome to visit and reconnect with my cousins and their extended families in person, some I haven’t seen for years and some I had never met before.
What a lot of fun those Cartons are and what a great tradition!