DNA tests show sailor to nearby family he never knew he had

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They lived less than an hour apart for decades, never knowing the other existed. A recent DNA test revealed they were half brothers.

Now Brian Wolstenholme is making up for nearly 70 years of family history, memories and laughter through virtual tours and in person with his brother, Roy Ellis, 92.

“The most important thing is getting to know everyone, knowing that I have a family,” said Wolstenholme, captain of Canada Steamship Lines (CSL) on the Great Lakes. “Even though I was adopted… I still wandered everywhere from New Brunswick to Ontario without any roots.

“Now I have a place where I know I fit in.”

Adopted as a baby, Wolstenholme never knew his parents or had siblings. After battling heart disease, the 70-year-old underwent a DNA test his wife bought him two years ago, via 23andMe. He had hoped to find answers to a long list of unanswered questions, especially about his health.

“I did the test, then I sent it in and we sat down and waited,” he said. “The tests are coming back (in February) and the first person to contact me was a lady from Kingston who said she was my cousin.”

What started as a first online conversation between the two led to more contacts, including Ellis’ daughter, who lived within 40 minutes. Joined by one of Ellis’ other children, Linda Miller, the three met at a local cafe in Thamesford.

“As soon as we saw him, we said, ‘We don’t know how he’s related, but he’s the image of the Ellis family,” ”Miller said. “I don’t know where he belonged, but we knew he belonged somewhere.”

Soon after, Ellis also underwent a DNA test. The results would confirm that the men were half-brothers, sharing the same father. In the summer of 2020, the siblings finally met.

“The first time I saw him there were little things that indicated he was an Ellis,” Ellis said. “There are certain marks that have just indicated to me that there is no doubt about this guy, he is my brother.”

The couple have met a few times since then, including last August for the 38th Annual Ronald McDonald Houses of Southwestern Ontario Golf Tournament, an event Ellis holds dear, having attended every year. since its inception, he said.

“I never missed a year… This year one of our attendees couldn’t come, so right away I grabbed Brian and said, ‘You come with us’.

Meeting up again for another reunion, albeit virtually – as Ellis couldn’t attend in person – the couple exchanged laughs as they reflected on the day. When asked who a better golfer is, the two paused and smiled.

“You’re a much better putter than I am, for sure,” Wolstenholme said, looking at Ellis.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Ellis replied.

The most shocking part of getting to know each other, the two brothers agree, is how well they have lived almost a quarter of their lives.

“What’s worrying about all of this is that I’ve lived in Kitchener, Waterloo, Tavistock and Putnam for 23 years now,” Wolstenholme said. “Here are family members who lived 20 minutes away that I didn’t know I had.

“Once I started meeting everyone, I (knew) that I had been accepted with open arms. Everyone has been just fantastic.

For most of his life, Wolstenholme said he believed he was of French descent – having been adopted into a French family when he was a baby – and that he was born in Bathurst, New Brunswick. When he was three, he was put up for adoption and taken into care. by a family in Moncton, NB He served in the Navy for 18-20 years before moving to Ontario.

On his father’s side, he now knows that he and Ellis share Welsh roots.

“There are questions I may never get answers to. But damn it, a lot of questions I’ve had my whole life, I’ve gotten answers for now. In the future, Wolstenholme hopes to learn more about the mothering side of his family.

“This is the next stop on this journey, discovering my mother’s side,” he said. “But like Roy says… when you do these kinds of things, you have to be a little concerned with bringing things out in the open that some people might not want to see or hear.

“And that’s what’s amazing about this story, is that this family accepted me with open arms,” ​​he added.

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