When I described how my family immigrated to Canada in 1953, I received an amazing comment from my cousin, Edony. Edony came to Canada in 1957, and what she doesn’t mention is that she was only sixteen years old. I was eight or nine then, and I remember going to meet Edony at the Thessalon railway station, which seemed little more than a platform surrounded by fields. She must have thought that she had arrived at the end of the world! With Edony’s permission, I am letting her tell her story in her own words:
I remember arriving in Canada on March 7th, 1957, and getting off the train in Thessalon, Ontario. It was a very long journey for me. I left London, England on the 5th of March, flying on a Pan American Airlines Super Constellation aeroplane. I left London and arrived in Shannon, Ireland, where there were many Hungarian refugees waiting to go to countries that would accept them. None got on my flight, I remember. We got back onto the plane and flew to Gander, Newfoundland. It was in the middle of the night and swirling snow as we walked towards a low building. I didn’t get off with all the other passengers as I hadn’t had some sort of vaccination. A nurse came on the plane and inoculated me, and then I got off the plane. I remember the building, a long low one with lights in every window. It seemed very isolated in the huge expanse of the airport as much as I wanted to see. There were clocks around the room with the time of every city around the world that was pertinent to the airport. I found out later that this was the RCAF (Royal Canadian Airforce) airport.
From Gander we flew to New York. I landed there in the morning at some time and had to take my stuff out of my suitcases as there was something that was causing a Geiger counter to click. It was a compass I had found on the beach in England that had come off a ship or submarine that had sunk during the war. It was a beautiful compass with a brass cover. They let me keep it. I had a five hour wait for the plane to Montreal, Quebec, so I went out and got into a taxi. I asked the taxi driver to just drive around and show me the most exciting parts of New York City, since I would probably never have another chance. He drove around and showed me the Statue of Liberty, the United Nations Building, the Empire State Building, which was so very impressive. I didn’t get out of the taxi at all and he drove back to the airport through the traffic and the time spent, I missed the flight to Montreal. I was taken into a secure area and “grilled” by airport security as to where I had gone, what I had seen, whom I had spoken to. I told them I had only been in a taxi, looking at the sights of New York, and I had pictures in my camera to prove it. I was in tears and very upset as I was told that since I had no visa or pass I had no right to leave the airport for any reason. They wanted the name of the taxi driver but I couldn’t give them that as I didn’t know it.
I got on the plane to Montreal which was an Air Canada DC9 and arrived there in the evening. I then had to get on a train to Sudbury, Ontario and wasn’t sure where to go. I got to the station, and having not had much to eat for two days I was very hungry, so went into a restaurant in the train station and had something to eat. I gave the cashier all the money I had changed and she took what I owed and put all the rest in a purse and said I shouldn’t take it all out next time. I left the restaurant and the train I was to take was leaving at 8pm. It was 5.30 pm and I had no idea where to go. I was very tired and very lonely. I suddenly realized that no one in the world knew who I was or where I was. It was very upsetting so I sat down and cried. Two ladies from Travellers’ Aid stopped by me and took over. They got me a sleeper bunk on the train and told the porter that I wanted to get out at Sudbury, Ontario. This train would arrive at Sudbury at 4am. so they asked the porter to make sure that I was awake and got off the train. I had to get another train at 8am. to Thessalon, Ontario, where my Aunt Eunice and Uncle Philip would meet me. I got off the train in the dark, waited in the Sudbury Station for four hours to get on the train to Thessalon. I was so relieved to see my Aunt Eunice at the stop, I jumped off the train, without waiting for the porter to put out the steps, into about three feet of snow. I was so happy to have finally arrived in Canada, and from there have been so happy to be a Canadian Citizen. I have many more adventures in Canada to share. I have been lucky to have the opportunity to be from Canada.