My parents were immigrants to Canada. My dad was Irish, my mum English. At the time they came here they were living in London, a city still bearing the marks of the blitz, still under rationing from the war. Dad was looking for someplace to go and at the time it was a toss up between Rhodesia, Australia and here. I often wonder about what my life would have been like under either of those other scenarios.
They came over a year apart on the same ship, the HMS Georgic.
They raised us as Canadians. They had no sentimentality for the Old World and felt we had to know our own country. We discovered the country together. Every summer the station wagon would be packed to the roof and we would set off to see some corner of this country, staying in campgrounds along the way. Nanaimo, Winnipeg, Tofino, Vancouver, Regina, Winnipeg, Thunder Bay, Sudbury, Toronto, Montreal…yes, we drove in a Custom suburban station wagon with 8 people from Calgary to Montreal. When my turns came to sit in the coveted position between mum and dad in the middle of the bench seat up front, I would scroll through the radio stations. Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, the Stampeders. No tape deck, just the lottery of AM radio.
I love that they came here to start a new life. I love that they let us know our country in such an intimate way.
To all immigrants, new or old, and especially to my dear partner Miche, who took the plunge and traded the warmth of Australia for the frost heaves… Happy Canada Day!