Archive for January 25th, 2009

Especially if they are from outside western Canada, people often ask why I specify at the end of my biography that I am unrelated to β€œthe conservative journalist, publisher and editor Ted Byfield of Alberta.” The other week, one contact went so far to joke that I should add that I was unrelated to the football player Darren Byfield, and any other Byfield with a slight claim to fame. But the truth is, I added the reference to my various online biographies because I was tired of fielding questions on the subject.

You see, for better or worse, Ted Byfield is one of the better known people with whom I share my last name. Add the fact that we are both journalists and inhabitants of western Canada (the difference between British Columbia and Alberta being missed by many people), and people naturally assume some relationship. Since I don’t enjoy answering the same question over and over again, I add the line in the hopes of limiting the times it is asked. For the most part, it seems to have worked.

However, to be honest, I also have another motive. As he proved time and time again with publications like The Alberta Report, Ted Byfield is almost everything I am not. He is a political conservative, while I am a left-winger with shades of green. He is religious, while I am an agnostic. Pro-American (politically-speaking) while I have reservations. Anti-gay, anti-union, pro-capital punishment, pro-life, redneck – you name one of his positions, and you probably know mine by naming its opposite.

You might say that we have little in common except the name.

That being so, I feel a touch of mortification when anyone entertains the idea that we might be related. No doubt he would feel the same about me, were he ever to learn of my existence, but, since I doubt he reads free software journalism, which is what I write, I would be surprised to learn that he had. But, at any rate, to spare us both embarrassment, I want to make very clear that there is no connection.

However, I confess that my embarrassment is compounded by the secret suspicion that, a few generations back, we probably are related somehow. Our surname is not a common one, and, whenever I encounter it, I assume that some distant connection exists. Richard Byfield, who was vicar at Stratford-on-Avon in Shakespeare’s day, Nathaniel Byfield, who was a clerk at the Assembly of Westminster, the African-descended Byfields in Jamaica, the Australian cricketer Arnold Byfield – I like to think I could be related to all of these in some tenuous way. But not Ted Byfield, even though he’s just as likely a candidate for a relative. But I can say for sure that any connection isn’t in the last few generations.

That’s enough for me. So, unless someone thrusts proof upon me that we are relatives, I will continue to say (no doubt to our mutual relief), that I am unrelated to Ted Byfield.

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