I was two years old when we reached Canada.
We arrived in Halifax on July 1, in 1952. Mother remembers how eager we were
to get off the boat. The Atlantic Ocean had been stormy and many passengers
suffered sea sickness for much of the journey. The thought of standing on
solid ground was front and centre for us all. Sad to say, we could not get
off the boat that day. It was a national holiday and all immigration
services were closed.
Shortly after getting off the boat we got on a
train. This part of the journey was hot and dusty. It was also exciting.
Outside the windows we could see the landscape rolling by. Through the
Maritimes, Quebec, Ontario and into Manitoba. With each passing day we grew more
eager to arrive. How exciting to finally reach Winnipeg. We were met by
family friends who took us by car to the farm where we would live.
first home was in Stonewall. Father had been contracted to work as a milking
hand for a Dutch dairy farmer. We lived in a one room cottage on the farm.
This lasted only until September. That is when the farmer told father his
help was no longer required. At the end of October we moved into a small
house in Winnipeg. The area was called Point Douglas and our house was on
Though not yet three years old, I was eager to
explore our new world. A quality deeply rooted in my earliest years. Mother
was a person who delighted in conversing with persons met as she walked. I
was always with her. First in a carriage. Then walking with her along the
streets of our Friesian village. These were the formative days of my life.
Looking back I recognize the lasting impression formed during those walks
and talks. Something that still stands close to the centre of my being in
It will take a fair amount of time to tell the
whole story of my immigrant experience. There was much that caused me to
wonder about the way of the world. We were considered to be displaced
persons by many whom we met in the neighbourhood and beyond. I can recall
being shamed by other children. This because of our different language and
our obvious poverty. It seems clear that this early life experience shaped
my imagination to view life from the margin. To see myself as a stranger and