Shania Twain - a Waterstraat cousin
Shania Twain (Eileen Edwards), related to the Waterstraat family by the marraige of Velma (Edwards) Waterstraat
Shania Twain - Eilleen Regina Edwards
Eilleen Regina Edwards/Clarence Edwards/Shania Twain Date Posted: Jul 15, 2000
Eilleen Edwards - and her relationships with the rest of the Edwards/Waterstraat family.
I lived 11 miles from where Eilleen Edwards was born in Windsor,Ontario. Thru Victor Montney, I was aware of the Edwards family in Windsor, but i never did go to see her when she was little. I do go by her old homesite in Windsor, every month or so.Clarence, Sharon, Eilleen, Carrie-Ann, and Jill shared a very
small home in the "bad" part of Windsor, with another family, very close to where we go 5-pin Canadian bowling. I also used to work in the same place that her father Clarence Edwards worked at, when he lived in Windsor for 3 years. The reason
Shania Twain was born in Windsor,instead of in Timmins, or Sudbury, was because they were temporarily living by their other Edwards family in Windsor in the late 1960's.
The relationship of Eilleen Edwards and the rest of the Edwards family, is an interesting and sad one, and I don't know who, if anyone is at fault. Some say it is Shania's fault because of the way she treats her father, some say it is her mother's fault for being insane and unfaithful to Clarence, and some say it it is the fault of Clarence for deserting his daughter when she needed him.
I talked to many people over the years about the Clarence Edwards family, especially neighbors and friends when they lived in Windsor and Timmins. Again, those stories are varied, so I still don't know who to believe.
I remain a Shania Twain fan, and after hearing both sides of this family controversy, I no longer look down on Clarence for deserting his family, as most people do.
I decided to post below only what I found in news stories and available to all, and not what others have told me in confidence-Although, what I was personally told, is just as mixed up as what is in print. Be sure to read the very last item, of what Clarence has to say about his famous Edwards daughter. Full credit is given to each source wherever possible.
I hope you find these sampling of stories interesting, and they show all sides of the story.. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Timmins Press April 5, 1996
Shania Twain's 'other' family criticizes red-hot singer
TIMMINS, Ont. (CP) -- Country sensation Shania Twain is dodging barbs from embittered family members who accuse her of ignoring her biological father and exaggerating her roots to help her career. But the singer -- who has rocketed to the top of the country charts with her album The Woman in Me -- says she's had no contact with her blood father since her mother separated from when she was two years old.
In a series of stories, the Timmins Press reports that Twain's biological grandmother and other
unnamed relatives are upset that Nashville's hottest act is no longer in touch with them. The stories also suggest she may have oversold her native heritage -- her mother is of Irish descent and her blood father is French-Irish. However, her adoptive father, Jerry Twain, is Ojibwa. Twain, in a statement sent to the newspaper, takes issue with the accusations in the story. "I don't know how much Indian blood I actually have in me, but as the adopted daughter of my father Jerry, I became legally registered as 50 per cent North American Indian. "Being raised by a full-blooded Indian and being part of his family and their culture from a young age is all I've ever known. That heritage is my heart and my soul, and I'm very proud of it."
Twain was born Eilleen Regina Edwards to Sharon and Clarence Edwards. When the future singer was two, her mother left Edwards and took up with Jerry Twain. Sharon legally married Twain when Shania was six years old. Jerry and Sharon were killed in a car accident in 1987.
Twain has told interviewers how she trapped rabbits as a child and spent time on the Mattagami Reserve. She performed recently at the National Aboriginal Achievement in Vancouver.
But Twain's biological grandmother (Edwards's mother) says the red-hot singer isn't native and laments that she doesn't talk with her blood father's side of the family. "All she talks about is this Indian man, but what about her real father? What about us?"Regina Nutbrown, 85, said in an interview in nearby Chapleau, 200 kilomtres west of Timmins. "I wrote a year ago but once she started going good she never wrote. I wish she would. I don't know what's happened to her." Edwards declined an interview with the Timmins Press. Relatives and friends in Chapleau, a small lumber community, describe him as a quiet, unassuming man who speaks little of his famous offspring. In her statement to the Timmins Press, Twain said she "never deliberately avoided contact with the Edwards family, but my father Jerry's parents loved us as though we were their grandchildren and we were equally accepted by his other relatives.... "I never felt the need to seek the love or support of another family, because I had it from the Twains." --------------------------------------------------------------
Born August 28, 1965, a fact unbelievable to many, Shania Twain has led the charge of country singers who've been able to cross over into the pop charts as well. Shania's birth name was Eilleen Regina Edwards but she later changed it largely in part because of her stepfather, who was a Ojibway Indian, and the name "Shania" meant "on my way". Unfortunately, Shania's real father, Clarence Edwards, was on his way out when Shania was just a few years old, having left his wife and Shania's mother, Sharon. Shania has never forgiven her real father even after her mother and stepfather were tragically killed in an auto accident in 1987. When Shania became famous she made it a point to tell her fathe 'Don't call me, don't contact me. I want nothing to do with you ever again'. While her father was devastated by the letter, he further was grieved when Shania appeared on Oprah and told Oprah in fact her dad was a Ojibway Indian. Her father was watching the program in a bar with friends and began crying after being slighted by his daughter. Her spokeman has said of the bitter situation: "Her father walked out on her. As far as she's concerned her real father was an Ojibway Indian."
Shania Twain's statement to Timmins press:
I've never had a relationship with my biological father, Clarence Edwards. From about the age of two years old, my mother and Clarence were separated. Soon after, Jerry assumed the role of being our father from that day forward, even though it wasn't until a few years later that my mother and Clarence actually divorced and she and Jerry married.My
father Jerry then legally adopted us and to this day remains the only father I have ever known; emotionally or in any other way. He was the only one who was there for me on a daily basis, through thick and through thin, until he died in 1987 in the car accident that also killed my mother. Although I was briefly introduced to Clarence a couple of times in my teen years, I never knew him growing up.My
mother did not deprive us of the knowledge of his existence. She let us know where he lived, what he did for a living, a little about his family
background, and that there was some Indian heritage in his family. That's what I was raised to believe and know from her to be true. I never deliberately avoided contact with the Edwards family, but my father Jerry's parents loved us as though we were their very own grandchildren and we were equally accepted by his other relatives. That's the family we belonged to. It was my Gramma Selina who made my stage clothes when I was a kid. It was my Grandpa Jerry who spent hours with me in the woods teaching me to track rabbits and telling me all his bush stories. It was on the Matagami Reserve that I spent many summer weekends playing with my cousins.
Therefore, I never felt the need to seek the love or support of another family, because I had it from the Twains. I don't know how much Indian blood I actually have in me, but as the adopted daughter of my father Jerry, I became legally registered as 50 per cent North American Indian. Being raised by a full-blooded Indian and being part of his family and their culture from a young age is all I've ever known. That heritage is my heart and my soul, and I'm very proud of it.
National Enquirer/June 1999
by John Blosser, Sherry Cremona, and Bennet Bolton
Shania was born to Sharon and Clarence Edwards in 1965 -- and their family life was an endless nightmare. "Sharon was completely crazy, and she made Clarence's life a living hell," a source in Clarence's family told The ENQUIRER. "She was totally possessive of him. One night, Clarence, a railroad engineer, wanted to go have a drink with his brother. Sharon told him he could not go but he went anyway. As he was walking down the street, she tore off all her clothing and started chasing him and screaming at him -- stark naked!" Another close relative told The ENQUIRER, "Shania's mother was a nut case, period! "She was insanely jealous. One time Clarence went to the bank to cash a check and she told him she wanted him back in 10 minutes. He came back 20 minutes later and she started screaming at him, accusing him of having an affair with a bank teller. "Finally Clarence cracked up from dealing with Sharon and she signed to have him put in a mental institution. He was only in there for a few weeks, but when he got out, he just couldn't face going back to her and he moved away." Clarence and Sharon divorced when Shania -- who has two sisters and two brothers --was still a toddler. Her mom had little good to say about Clarence and father and daughter continued to grow distant until Shania wanted nothing to do with him. "Clarence was crushed when she turned her back on him," Shirley Caby, Clarence's common-law wife of 27 years, told The ENQUIRER. When Shania was 6 years old, Sharon married JerryTwain, a tree planter. Although Jerry became her adoptive father, Shania's life continued to be hard. To mentally escape the family's grinding poverty, Shania turned to music. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Twain's childhood reminiscences often have an apocryphal ring, but perhaps they have just become buffed by constant repetition. This much is known. She was born in Windsor, Ont., on Aug. 28, 1965, the second of three daughters of an Irish-Canadian mother, Sharon, and her husband, Clarence Edwards, who is of Irish and French descent. By the time Twain was 2,her parents' marriage collapsed, and Sharon moved with the children to Timmins, where
four years later -- she married Jerry Twain, an Ojibwa forester and prospector. He adopted the
children, who automatically gained First Nations status.
Throughout her childhood, Twain was aware of her biological father, and he occasionally visited her family. But she kept his existence a secret until 1996, when The Daily Press in Timmins broke the story about the facts of her birth. There was a storm of controversy as Twain was accused of lying, and of enhancing her native heritage for the sake of her career. "It was very hard on my native family," she says. "I'm a registered band member. I've been part of their community since I was a little child. It's very hurtful to know there are people who want to unravel all that."
When asked why she didn't tell the truth from the beginning, Twain's consistently perky composure gives way to a burst of anger. "Half the people in my life didn't know I was adopted," she says. "Why should I have told the press? It frustrates me no end, I can't tell you. I have never referred to Jerry as my stepfather. I never even referred to Clarence as my father, and I didn't care if I was ever in contact with that family again." Then, she adds: "It's never been an issue for me, but it's an issue for everyone else all of a sudden. It's like a big black hole."
by John Aizlewood, Q Magazine, November, 1999 cover Why lie? You were immersed in Indian culture.
"I can see that. The honest truth is that I never introduced Jerry Twain as my adoptive father.He always said there were no favourites in this family. He never reminded us we were adopted daughters: we were all one family. We took it quite seriously and felt really good about it. Now, if somebody had said that I was adopted I wouldn't have been offended,
surprised or defensive. I wasn't hiding it, I just couldn't imagine making a statement like that for no reason at all. It's bizarre."
But why claim Indian blood?
"I actually resent that. Why should it matter? Is it because Jerry Twain was of another culture that made me claim that I'm something I'm not? No, that's not true. I am status Indian. I have been adopted into the tribe. I'm legally his daughter! Yes! I never thought there would have to be an explanation. I didn't think it was such a big deal, but obviously I'm wrong."
Ever meet your father?
"We were, I guess, introduced a couple of times. My sister's met him once. My mother would tell us about his family, where they lived, what they did for a living and little bits and pieces. She said they were part Indian, so I always believed we had Indian blood in us. And so now I'm baffled."
Was you mother telling the truth?
"I believe she was (she lowers her tone to garden fence conspirator and elbows firmly in the stomach). She told me they were ashamed of it and would never admit it. I've spoken to my uncle about it since and he said they have Indian in their family and they're denying it. Apparently, my great grandmother was Indian and married a white man. In those times it was not unusual for such women to have to denounce their Indian status and leave the reservation, so it's very, very believable that she had to leave her family and never associate again. There are a lot of predjudiced people. That is my truth, but whether it is true I don't know. I can understand how people are seeing it that I'm lying, but I'm not. What can I do? I'm sorry. Actually I'm not sorry at all."
And her paternal grandmother is called Regina Nutbrown.
"My dad's side of the family was the side we grew up with," says Twain. "So it was the Indians that were really our family." That made Twain's biological father the odd man out. "We maybe saw him three times," says Carrie-Ann. "We don't even know him."
And in 1996, The Daily Press in Timmins ran a story accusing her of overstating her Ojibwa heritage by not disclosing that Jerry was her adoptive father. A controversy ensued spawned national headlines and temporarily tarnished her image. "I don't know why they have to challenge me," says Twain. "Maybe there were people who knew us during a time when my dad was getting a regular paycheck or both of my parents were working. We went in and out of difficult times; we weren't always starving." As for the alleged North American Indian deception, notes Twain's former lawyer Richard Frank: "It was very upsetting to her when it came out. She looked upon [Jerry] as her father, and she was very proud of her Ojibwa
heritage. Her biological father had [left] her mother very early. Eilleen has just drawn a curtain over that part of her life. I think it was terribly painful to have that curtain ripped open. I think she felt that it dishonored her father who raised her and sought to diminish his role as a father."
Shania's biological father, Clarence Edwards, hasn't spoken to her in years. Clarence has a bone to pick with his daughter. The ever reliable NEWs-Ticker - 08/99-2
National Enquirer has chronicled dad's complaints. You can check them out at the paper's website.
July 15, 2000
SHANIA TWAIN'S SHOCKING FAMILY SECRETS
She shut her dad out of her life She left her family at 17 She refused to visit dying grandma Behind the glittering success story of Shania Twain lies a tragic secret -- the heartbroken father she left behind in her meteoric rise to the top.
"If she would just call me and say, 'I love you, Dad,' that would be priceless to me," her shattered father Clarence Edwards told The ENQUIRER.
Clarence has never before talked to the media about the famous daughter who has refused to see or speak to him since she was a teen. >
But in a world exclusive interview, he and his wife sat down with an ENQUIRER reporter at his summer cabin in the Canadian wilderness. He poured out his heart --and made these shocking charges: Shania's mom Sharon had an affair behind his back before they divorced.
At the age of 17, Shania cut off not just him, but dozens of other Edwards relatives, including cousins, aunts,nieces and nephews. The sexy songbird refused to write or visit her paternal grandmother as she lay on her deathbed, ignoring the old woman's final request to see her beloved granddaughter one last time.
Clarence, burly and bearded, was at his cabin in the mosquito-infested woods near Chapleau, Ont.,when
The ENQUIRER arrived. His wife of 27 years was wearing a Shania Twain T-shirt.
"Shania's my daughter, and I'm very proud of her. But it breaks my heart that she's cut me off," said Clarence.
Shania was born in 1965 to Clarence and Sharon
Edwards -- who were locked in a nightmare marriage.
They divorced when Shania was 2 and in 1971 Sharon married Jerry Twain, a full- blooded Ojibwa Indian, who adopted Shania.
"I was married to Shania's mother for seven years, and I was there with Eilleen -- Shania's real name -- and her sister Carrie-Ann until they were 5 or 6." declared Clarence.
"I had a very stressful job, being a railroad engineer. On top of that, Shania's mom was a very jealous, possessive person. She didn't like me to do normal things like go out for a beer with my friends. I had to be home all the time. There was a lot of stress.
"I had a nervous breakdown and wound up in the
hospital for a time. Shortly after I got out, I just decided enough was enough. One day, I just left. My wife Sharon was already with her boyfriend, Jerry Twain."
Clarence eventually found a new wife, Shirley Caby. Despite Shania's claim that she had little to do with her father after he left home, Clarence and Shirley say they both saw Shania and her sister Carrie-Ann a lot, taking them out for dinner and buying them gifts.
Shania visited him for the last time when she was 15,said Clarence.
But he kept in touch with her afterward, calling his daughter from time to time as she moved around
Ontario starting her singing career, he claims.
Then suddenly their relationship came to an abrupt halt. "I called her when she was 17, and she wouldn't even come to the phone. I just called to say, 'How are you doing?'
"Her then-boyfriend answered the phone, and through him she told me, 'I don't want to talk to you anymore. Stop bugging me.'
"That rejection was completely out of the blue. I guess that as she got older she really started resenting the fact that her mom and I had split."
Shirley confided to The ENQUIRER, "Shania's father was crushed when she turned her back on him and the rest of his family. He loves her dearly."
A relative of Clarence angrily declared, Shania's
mother Sharon poisoned her daughter's mind against Clarence. It is an awful tragedy."
Sharon, a woman who ultimately would have five
children with three different men, had serious mental problems, sources told The ENQUIRER. She and Jerry Twain were killed in a 1987 automobile accident.
In a stinging slap in the face, Clarence wanted to console his daughters -- but a family member informed him he was not welcome at the funeral.
Adding to his heartbreak, says Clarence, is Shania's decision to shun dozens of relatives on his side. "That's the part I don't like," he confided. "O.K., cut me off. Fine. But what about all her cousins and aunts and uncles? I don't understand it."
The singer -- known for her hits "Any Man of Mine" and "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" -- has nothing good to say about her biological father, revealed Clarence's relative.
"She calls Clarence a drunk and says he never helped
the kids, but that's not true. She claims that Clarence deserted his family and never supported her, but that's a lie.
"The Twains never had any money, and Clarence
always helped out. When Shania was 15, he used to
give her his credit card and say, 'Go get what you need.'
"For her first television appearance, on the 'Tommy
Hunter Show,' Clarence bought her the gown that she
FAST FACTS: Shania is a vegetarian.
"It's time for the truth to come out -- the family's glad Clarence finally has decided to break his silence."
Clarence wants it known that he was not compensated
for his interview with The ENQUIRER and that he has no desire at all to get his hands on his famous daughter's money. He insists he just wants to reopen lines of communication with Shania and her sister.
"Clarence has never even seen his grandchild -- a
3-year-old boy born to Shania's sister Carrie-Ann --
because Carrie-Ann won't let him," divulged the relative.
"When Shania's grandmother, Regina, was dying, she
asked to see Shania. We let Shania know but she didn't show up. She never even sent a card or flowers."
Shirley Caby added: "Regina stayed very much in touch with Shania and her sister, writing letters and sending birthday gifts for years. But once Shania started to get famous, she cut her grandmother off, too. She died a couple of years ago brokenhearted."
Ironically, the singer still supports another grandmother, Jerry Twain's mom Selina, who lives in a nursing home. "Shania pays for this. It doesn't cost me a cent to live here," Selina revealed to The ENQUIRER.
Despite being repeatedly rebuffed by his daughter,
Clarence owns her CDs and listens to them all the time as poignant reminders of what might have been.
"I have also seen him cry as he leafs through an album of pictures and clippings on Shania," disclosed Shirley.
Once Clarence was watching TV at a bar when he was
shocked to see his daughter on the "Oprah" show
talking about her "Indian heritage." He suddenly rose from his seat and left, disclosed a family friend.
"When he returned a few minutes later, Clarence was
carrying a half-dozen snapshots of himself with Shania.
'Let her try to deny this,' he said, and threw them down on the counter."
In defense of her claims of "Indian heritage," Shania has said that her mother told her that Clarence's family was part Indian. She has also said, "I don't know how much Indian blood I actually have in me, but as the adopted daughter of my father, Jerry, I became legally registered as 50 percent North American Indian."
Despite Clarence's never-dying affection for Shania, the gulf between father and daughter runs deep.
David Hartt, keyboard player with a band Shania fronted when she was just 15, told The ENQUIRER, "She had alot of hard feelings toward Clarence Edwards even then.
She told me, 'He never helped us out when we needed
him and I don't need him now.' "
A crushed Clarence concluded:
"I don't think Shania will ever call.
"The hope is there, but I don't think she will."
-- JIM NELSON, JOHN BLOSSER and SHERRY CREMONA
----------------------------------------------------------- : Regina NUTBROWN
Shania/Eileen in her car on the way to Geneva
Shania with Mutt behind the wheel
Shania, with Mutt behind the wheel
Man! I feel like a woman!
Shania's current house and barn
"Whose bed have your boots been under?"
Shania, or Lisa?
Shania Twains home in Windsor, Ontario. This is a photo of the garage as it looks today, about 11 miles from Madison Heights.
Shania Twain's childhood home in Windsor, Ontario
Shania's house in Timmins, Ontario