MONCTON – Hundreds of years before the internet, texting and email, it was a special breed of bird that carried messages between people all over the world.
In the past, homing or ‘carrier’ pigeons have been used during war time to connect soldiers on the battlefields. But in Moncton, the messengers are helping a grandfather and his granddaughter connect across generations.
Ron MacKinnon and his granddaughter Kamecha share a passion for pigeons. The two have been raising rock doves, a breed of homing pigeon, for the past two years.
“There’s always a generation gap and I thought maybe we’ll be able to close it a bit,” said MacKinnon.
It’s a way for MacKinnon to teach his granddaughter some of the life lessons he learned from his own dad, who was a World War II vet and also raised carrier pigeons.
“They used pigeons during the World Wars so he was the one who gave me the heads up about pigeons and how smart they are. He got medals equivalent to the Victoria Cross and I thought, that was kind of cool, so I got a few,” he said.
Over the years, their flock has grown, just like their own family, both with a strong sense of home.
This past winter the two suffered a devastating loss. Several raccoons broke into the pigeon loft and killed almost their entire flock.
“We went from 40 birds down to four,” said MacKinnon.
“I don’t know it’s just weird to see my grandfather upset because I always see him as being tough and I’ve never seen him upset before,” said Kamecha.
“I told her we’ll rebuild, it’s part of life,” said MacKinnon.
They’re now back up to 13. Which just so happens to be Kamesha’s age. MacKinnon knows that one day he’ll have to let his granddaughter go too.
“You know you are going to lose them eventually to something like old age and you want to hold on to them as long as you can,” he said.