September 14, 2017

















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.

Our 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 Gomez street.

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 the world.

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 an outsider,