Category Archives: Canada

Taj Mahal

12th Month – June video Blogs

Below is my video blog on our travels round the world on you tube from June – there are two this month.

This first centres around Cambodia and Thailand:

The second is our first two weeks in India:

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Groote Beer ship

Groote Beer – Ocean Crossing – Ingeborg Bridge

“As featured in the ‘Okanagan on Sunday’ newspaper- July 26th, 2015”

(This is a short rendition of my Mother’s travels from Austria to Canada as a young girl.  It was written in collaboration with my Mother for the Halifax museum for immigrants who arrived there on the Groote Beer Ship.)

The OCEAN CROSSING on the GROOTE BEERIngeborg Bridge

September 22, 1952

9 years old, that’s how old I was, when my life changed forever and I started my journey from Vienna, Austria to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It was 1952, when I first learned that my parents had decided to move closer to my Mom’s twin sister in Canada, she had moved there a year earlier saying that ‘the streets were paved with gold.’ It took some convincing, as our lives in Austria were going ok, despite all the difficulties after the war, but my Mom really wanted to go and she, eventually, convinced my Dad that it would be a good move for us.

So, we started our journey with trains through Europe towards Rotterdam, Holland. We didn’t have a ticket for the ship, but we had heard that people cancel and that you can get on a ship last-minute – kinda like stand by on planes now-a-days. We were fortunate to have some family just outside of Rotterdam, where we were able to stay, so when we arrived, we went straight there and waited for a few weeks before a slot came free on the Groote Beer ship. My time in Holland was not wasted, I really liked it there, as the language was easy for me to understand, it was quite similar to the German I spoke and I went to school and the family I stayed with had a girl about my age who I could play with.

When the time came on September 22, 1952 it was a dreary, dull, chilly day and my Aunt was the only one from the family we stayed with, who saw us off. The day I left, the one memory, which really sticks out for me, is when my Aunt, I stayed with, had bought me a walking doll, I’d never had such a beautiful porcelain doll, she had real red hair and a blue dress. So, we boarded the ship in Rotterdam and started our big journey to this place called, Canada. I had only heard about it through my parents and had very little idea of what it was like or where we were going to or, even, how long it would take to get there. Still, so far, the adventure had been great and it didn’t stop there. My time on the Groote Beer was full of fond memories of playing with the crew and, the few, other kids that weren’t sea sick, as it was a very turbulent crossing.

When we boarded, my Dad was separated from us and had to sleep with men only, so he had his own bunk in a room with several other men. We would meet at meal times or on deck. My Mom and I shared a bunk with several other women in the same room. I didn’t mind, as it was something I had never experienced before, so it was all so new and exciting. The beds were 3 tier and they were like in war pictures – white beds and metal; like hospital beds.

Our crossing was very rough, but I was lucky, I don’t get seasick. When the ship was in rough seas, the kids and I were in the dining room, rocking back and forth across the room with the movement of the ship. There were no adults there, just us kids having a fun time in this great big room where we were able to play.

We had only one good day and that was the only day my parents came up on deck because the sun came out and it was so calm. Photos were taken by a professional photographer that day, which are at the bottom of this post. Otherwise, my parents were both seasick, basically hanging over the edge of their bunks – green.

The crossing took a week direct from Rotterdam to Halifax arriving there September 30, 1952.

Upon arrival in Canada, things turned for the worse. We arrived in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but we didn’t even touch Canadian soil, we were shuffled straight over a railway bridge to the trains and there boarded the slowest and oldest trains compared to faster trains in Europe at that time. We didn’t have sleeping compartments, we slept in the chairs, which didn’t recline; it was more like wooden benches. We were used to Europe second class trains with upholstered seats. By the time we had reached Windsor, we were exhausted and didn’t have such a great impression of my new home country. They all spoke a language I couldn’t understand and Windsor was nothing like Vienna. I think my parents were very disappointed as well, but they had plans to go out West, when they managed to get enough money together. It cost us everything we had to get to Windsor, so our trip to move to the West of Canada was put on hold.

My Mother was the only one who could speak any English, as she had worked as a chambermaid in a Villa on the island of Guernsey, UK, before the war broke out, so times were tough for us when we arrived. We moved in with my Mother’s twins’ sister where we lived upstairs and shared the kitchen, bathroom and living room, with them, downstairs. It was a full house, but I did have some cousins to play with, but my parents fought a lot. Unlike what had been written to us by my Mom’s twin, there were no jobs and my parents struggled to find work and it took us a few years before we could get a home of our own and, then, we bought a land and my Father built our first house.

School in Canada was hard for me because I did not speak any English. They didn’t have programs like today, where they help kids with English as a second language. I was 9 and they put me into Grade one – I should have been in Grade four, this had long-lasting impact on my self-esteem and hindered my education. The kids were mean and ridiculed me and on my first day of school I curtsied to my teacher and she laughed and so, I made a strong effort to learn English and make sure I lost my accent. The only kids, who were my friends, were outsiders like me – a midget, a little black girl, etc. I did catch up 2 years of my schooling over the years, but I never managed to catch up the third one. I was 18 in Grade 12, rather than the usual 17-year-old.

So my first impressions of Canada were not great, but they changed. While I lived with my parents, we never managed to make enough money to move to the Western part of Canada, which was more like our homeland. I grew up and we moved to London, Ontario, where I went to high school and met my high school sweet heart and married him. His idea of impressing me, when we first met, was to do a cannon ball into 3 feet of water! He has always been one to make me laugh to this day, as we are now married 53 years. We had our first child in London, Ontario, my husband worked in Detroit, so we moved back to Windsor for a short spell.

Never giving up on the hope of moving West, we went on a trip there and fell in love with this beautiful place called Vancouver and all of BC and decided this was for us. At the time we said we would be back within 5 years, we were back within a year, as my husband’s company closed in Detroit. We headed west with a U-Haul trailer with a few of our belongings and $500.00 in search for a job and new home. We left our son with our parents for a short time until we were settled. Moving to this province was a choice we have never regretted.

Soon my next child, a girl was born and our little family was complete. My parents, finally, realized their dream to move west and moved out soon after the birth of our daughter. My husband went on to be a very successful business/salesman in the peat/fertilizer business and I went on to finish my high school degree, get my travel agents license (travel has always been a passion of mine) and started my own travel agency in the Okanagan, which was, also, very successful.

My son now lives close to us in the Okanagan working in a marina and as a Ferrier – has given us our 2 lovely grandchildren. My daughter went off to follow a career as an entertainer in England, UK. We are now retired and still traveling, which has been a large part of our lives and so continues. My start in Canada was not the easiest, but I now see this country as my home and have been very lucky to have made that great crossing so many years ago.

Photos from the trip:

4th Month – October Videoblog on You Tube

Below is the link to my video blog on you-tube from October:

Sunrises Little Rock, Arkansas

3rd Month – September Videoblog on Youtube

Below is the link to my video blog on youtube from September:

John and I

Week 19 – Halifax and the Eastern States

Halifax

Halifax, Nova Scotia

‘Failure is impossible.’ – Susan B. Anthony

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach its destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page.)]

Well, this week started with our last day in the Maritime Provinces of Canada – Halifax. I waved to all my UK friends from the harbour. (Forgot to mention in my original letter about going to Peggy’s Cove, so photos are added at the end of this letter.)

Halifax

Me waving at my UK friends!

The harbour in Halifax is significant for my Mom, as this was where she first landed in Canada, when she was 9 years old. We went to a place where they keep records for the immigrants who arrived, so, now, Mom and I are going to write about her experiences, as they don’t have many stories from the children who crossed.  You can read it here!

The next day, we made it across, back into the US and stayed the night in a quiet border town – Calais – nothing like it’s French counterpart.

Calais, Maine

Calais, Maine

The next day we headed to Boston area

Boston

Boston, Massachusetts

and this is where John and I headed off on a few days of adventure on our own, while Mom and Dad headed to Chesapeake to settle for a week. While they settled, we went to Salem, Massachusetts, where ‘the Crucible’ is based and I got to find out a bit more about the character I played – Hathorne. Seems his family did quite well out of his actions done at those trials!

Salem, MA

Me outside one of the jails where some of the victims of the Salem trials were held.

We over-nighted in a gorgeous little New England town called Mystic – where Julia Roberts came to fame through a film which was set here – Mystic Pizza.

Mystic, Connecticut

Mystic, gorgeous New England down

Peekskill, New York

This is the original ‘yellow brick road’ from ‘the Wizard of Oz’, in Peekskill, New York.

Then, it was off to Peekskill, New York – a burb of New York City and where my character – Anita Boult hails from in my one woman show, ‘Miss Givings.’

We managed to drive to Delaware State – the first state of the U.S.A. and from there headed to just outside Washington, D.C.  There we met with a friend and had a lovely meal and catch up – we hope to meet again in India or Thailand.

Another great week with so much more to see, but back with Mom and Dad and looking forward to our next findings!

Do you have any great stories of meeting friends on trips – either planned or unplanned?  I’d love to hear them!

Love
Debx

Peggy’s Cove:

Birthplace of ice hockey

Week 18 – The Maritime Provinces of Canada!

‘A ship in port is safe, but that’s not what ships are built for.’

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach its destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page.)]

Acadian Monument

Acadian Monument

Hello from the Maritimes! This last week has seen a dream come true! I’ve, finally, made it to New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia.

Happy ‘belated’ Halloween! I even made my own miniature pumpkin!

Pumpkin

This is the miniature pumpkin I made!

The week started with us leaving Quebec and the Gaspesie Peninsula,

Gaspesie Peninsula

Town along Gaspesie Peninsula

but not before seeing a very picturesque village – Perce.

Perce, Quebec

Perce, Quebec

Our first maritime province was New Brunswick.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick

I would say it’s the largest of these eastern provinces. Our main stop here was in Moncton,

Moncton Art

Moncton Art with a very Maritime feel

where we learned a lot about the Acadians.

They had settled in the Maritimes in the 1600’s, but then were removed in the 1700’s by the British, only to return again in the

1700 – 1800’s. They are a huge part of the culture of this region, along with the British. It was good to get a better understanding of this big part of Canadian history.

Acadian Settlement

Grand Pre Acadian Settlement

I, also, have now seen my first bore – like a baby tidal wave that happens with the tide – there are places in the UK you can see this phenomenon.

Tidal Bore

Tidal Bore, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada

Then, it was a day in Charlottetown, PEI.

Confederation Bridge

My Dad in front of confederation bridge – bridge across from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.

This was the birthplace of Canada, where a bunch of politicians got together at a big party and decided to create a confederation.

Conferderation Museum

Confederation Museum in Charlottetown, we there on the last day before it closed!

It’s, also, the home of ‘Anne of Green Gables’, but she was all closed up for the year. Still, I’m glad I made it to confederation house, as its closing for the next five years for repairs.

Conferderation House

Confederation House, Charlottetown, PEI

Next day, we were on the move to Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia Lighthouse

Nova Scotia Lighthouse

and John and I ran off for a few days to drive around it on our own. We saw light houses, historic forts, more Acadian history and some excellent food.

Poutine

My first ever Poutine, this is Italian style. A new Canadian favourite food.

John as a happy man!

John as a very happy man, having some lobster in PEI.

I love the people here; they are so open and friendly – even more than us westerners!

Hope you are well!  Who are the friendliest nation you have met with?  Think there is a top 10 list in the making here….hmm?  Will Canada make it?

Love
Debx

Fortification Quebec

Week 17 – En Francais and one last rellie! – Ontatrio and Quebec

‘Only as high as I reach can I grow. Only as far as I seek can I go. Only as deep as I look can I see. Only as much as I dream can I be.’

[How this works is, each week, I will write to someone on my list, picked randomly and I will post it online on this blog – just in case the letter doesn’t reach its destination.  The letter includes a card with a random quote, which I hope you will enjoy (at the top of this blog page.)]

Art on the peninsula

Art on the peninsula

Just cruising down the Gaspesie peninsula – beautiful area, but we have hit rain and wind. This week started with John returning from a weekend visit with a friend in Niagara Falls and me coming back from a short stint in Arkansas – you can read more about this in last week’s letter.

Rellies Halloween Photo

Rellies Halloween Photo

We had one more ‘rellie’ meal with my Uncle Jim and his family – excellent as usual and lots of good laughs and catch up.

Uncle Jim and Dad

Uncle Jim and Dad

So, the next day, we headed off to ‘la belle Provence’ – Quebec (by the way, Quebec City is actually said like this: Quebec, Quebec en Francais!). This took 2 days, our first night was at a lovely campsite on Lake Ontario, but with a very grumpy Dutchman – quite amusing.

Sunrise at Campsite

Sunrise at grumpy Dutchman’s campsite

Our second day, found me dusting off my cobwebs of my pigeon French to start the great hunt of finding campsites open at this time of year – we are past the shoulder season. There’s one thing I’ve learned that, both in France and Quebec; a little French goes a long way to getting help. They really appreciate the effort. One even said, I had very good French!

We had a few nights outside Quebec City, one of my favourite cities for its beauty and historical significance.

Chateau Frontinac

Chateau Frontinac

A lot of Canada’s beginnings started here. Even our written history started with a French historian. This was where the English beat the French which is why we are a dominantly an English-speaking country and we beat the Americans – a little known fact that the Canadians have been, one, if not the first nation, to beat them in a battle/war, but they tend to forget that part of their history.

City Hall, Quebec

City Hall, Quebec

From Quebec City, we decided to go around the Gaspesie Peninsula onto our main destination – the Maritimes. This area is rich in culture, food and fun. I can highly recommend it, if you have the time to drive it. They even make the ancient alcohol – mead – which I sampled! One thing I’m sad I missed is a sugar cabin, best to plan ahead for going to one of these, but worth the effort.

What are your experiences of trying to speaking in another language?  Has it helped or just wasn’t worth the effort?

Love
Debx