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Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Robb Wells, better known to Canadians as Ricky on Trailer Park Boys, are cousins.

We are not making this up.

These two men are descendents of the same great-great-great-great-great grandfather, George Dobson. All of this is according to part-time genealogist Carol Dobson, a Halifax communications consultant, who discovered, with the help of another relative, that Mr. Harper and Mr. Wells are cousins -- about four or five generations removed.

For those Canadians who may not know, Mr. Robb is the potato chip and pepperoni-stick-consuming character living in his car in Nova Scotia's fictional Sunnyvale trailer park. Profane and overweight, he steals the pepperoni sticks from his father. He is also the dumb one. His friends, Julian and Bubbles, help him out of scrapes, of which there are many.

Mr. Harper is the serious-minded, policy-wonkish politician who lives at Stornoway, the official mansion of the opposition leader, but would like to be living soon at 24 Sussex Dr., the Prime Minister's official residence.

He is not profane, nor is he dumb, but like his cousin, Mr. Wells, he is slightly overweight, and he has just recently, according to reports, begun to listen to his handlers and let them help him. So far he has had no scrapes in this election.

Ms. Dobson, who says she is also a cousin -- but distantly removed -- became interested in all this when she volunteered at Yorkshire 2000, a major event in Nova Scotia that celebrated the 225th anniversary of the arrival of 2,000 people from Yorkshire, England, between 1772 and 1775.

"I had to learn pocket histories of 180 family names," Ms. Dobson said. Ms. Dobson said she just kept poking around at other genealogies and discovered that George Dobson and his wife, Mary Barker, immigrated to Nova Scotia from Yorkshire in 1773.

She said that Mr. Harper is a descendent of Mary Dobson, who married William Jones. Mr. Jones was a rebel in the Eddy Rebellion of 1776, in which Acadians joined forces with Jonathan Eddy, a farmer who was originally from Massachusetts, to try to retake Fort Cumberland (now Fort Beausejour) from the British.

It's interesting to note, too, that George Dobson is buried in the graveyard at Fort Beausejour, which is just outside of Sackville, N.B.

Ms. Dobson says that Robb Wells, like herself, is a descendent of Mary's oldest sister, Margaret, who married William Wells.

"Harper may also be a Wells descendent as he has Chappell blood," she said. "The Wellses and the Chappells did a lot of intermarrying."

Yesterday, Ms. Dobson had a chance to meet Mr. Harper when he was campaigning in Halifax. She said that she helped a friend organize a "rope line" for him as he walked into his news conference.

"So when he got to me, I said, 'Good luck, cousin Stephen,' " she said.

He went on, but suddenly turned and said: "Did you say cousin?"

She said, "Yeah." And he said, "Well how?"

"So I said, Dobson, Goodwin, Chapman, Jones."

It's a small world.

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