TITLE: Home Sweet Home
By Jim Oates
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That huge Cunard liner gingerly sidled her way and snuggled up to the dock in Montreal. The gang plank was lowered allowing the passengers from Europe, mostly from Britain, to disembark. They were greeted by a blustery cold wind laced with ice pellets as John and Margaret made their way with two very small children, from the ship to the customs office.
“Is this what we left our home in Scotland for?” Said Margaret, “Is this, what Canada is like?”
It was 1923, just five years after the Great War. Not knowing just what lie ahead of them, John and Margaret made their way to Windsor Ontario with their two-year old daughter and infant son. Windsor, situated in Essex County also known as the sun-parlour of Canada, greeted them more kindly. They were also greeted by Margaret’s sister and her husband, and her brother and family who had emigrated a couple years earlier.
John worked as a grocer back home in Whithorn and was able to find similar work in a Dominion store in their new community. After a short adjustment period, things in Canada seemed to be much to their liking and they soon fit right into this new way of life. They soon mixed in with other Scots and Brits from earlier migrations.
By scrimping and saving they were able to put a down payment on a small house and lot. They proudly owned a small piece of Canadian soil. This was where their next two sons were born.
It seemed only a matter of a few months, and then the Great Depression came down heavy on the country. It seemed the whole world was out of work. It was tough going but by the grace of God, neighbours became friends bonding together; neighbour helping neighbour, sharing what little they had; out-grown children’s clothes and excess from gardens was also shared. It was hard but they made through.
On coming out of the depression, John was able to find work in the auto industry. Fear of another depression caused them to think of how they might avoid further hardship. They were able to put a small amount down towards the purchase a small acreage outside of the city. The plan was to be able grow their own food; plant a large garden, raise a few chickens and a pig or two, and maybe buy a cow for their own milk and butter. All of this was an insurance against the possibility of hard times returning.
Their new community was a hodgepodge of emigrants who left the old world for a better way of life in Canada. This became the melting pot of humanity that made up Canada. There were Hungarians, Poles, Germans, Italians, Scots and of course French Canadians who were numerous. They were all fitting together – they were Canadians.
Over the years whenever John used the word, home, we all knew he was refering to Scotland. As retirement years were approaching he often said, “When I retire, Margaret and I are going home.”
Retirement came, they boarded a liner and they were off. They were going home after all these years. They visited a couple siblings and close relatives; there weren’t many left, most had migrated or had died. A disappointed John was able to find an old army buddy in a retirement home; He just couldn’t seem to remember who John was.
They did all the tourist things, even visited Robby Burn’s cottage. All the familiar things weren’t familiar any longer. John looked at Margaret and said, “What do you think Meg? Do you think we should go home?”
Canada! -- Home is where the heart is.
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