I am the child of immigrants. My parents are children of immigrants, driven across the Atlantic by the hope, the dream of something better for themselves, their families.
My grandfather was a quarrier, holding the spike in one hand and driving the sixteen pound sledge with the other. Grandma was a weaver, weaving plaids at the woolen mill. They packed up four children and moved west from Scotland to Burnaby. The oldest child was left behind, the grandparents being unwilling to part from the whole family. The second oldest was left behind, too, resting quiet in a cemetery, lost to influenza at the age of two.
Paternal great-grandfather was an adventurer, born in Poland and always looking for the next thing. He took his three children to the US, immigrating to Canada through Chicago, leaving one daughter in New Jersey, enlisting his son in the Navy to keep him from being a “trouble maker”. He had a diamond mine in S. Africa, and I still have the piece of property he won in a poker game.
My paternal grandfather, from Galicia/Ukraine, changed his name to his new boss’ and went to Anyox, BC, where my father was born. It’s a ghost town now, the mine and buildings lost to rust and memories.
We are all from somewhere, and it saddens me that I often think of going back to Canada these days. Hard times, indeed.