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New Year, Canadian Beer

I received an email on January 2nd from a very excited Margot Tarajos. She asked if we would be open for her visit 363 days later. Margot was two and a half on New Year’s Eve in 1955 when her family arrived at Pier 21 and was ready to start planning a 60th anniversary trip back.

She wrote,

“ We passed through Pier 21, Canada Immigration, according to my stamped documents, December 31, 1955. My mother says it was very late at night. There were some nuns there who greeted us with warm friendly smiles and gave my mother three rosaries -- one for each of us -- and welcomed us to Canada. The best ambassadors this country could ever have had. Mother still has those rosaries.

Mother does not recall all that much about Pier 21 itself. Too much excitement for one day.

Next we boarded the train which would take us to Scarborough, Ontario. Our documentation was stamped 'Canadian National Railways' January 1, 1956. New Year's Eve had come and gone.

It was very, very, cold and my father thought that if they don't turn on the heat we will freeze for sure. The train started up and went a couple of miles out of town, stopped again, and at last the heat was turned on. We settled in for our first night in Canada.

The next morning, we started on our way. I don't think my parents realized how big Canada was. Travelling two days plus and still being in the same country!

My dad asked the conductor for a beer and he answered: "There is no beer in Canada." No Beer!

My dad tried to buy us some food; remember he spoke no English, not even a little bit. He came back with white bread and spam. How funny when you think about it now. The white bread we named 'bubble gum' bread and we still call it that today. You see they were used to rye bread and cold cuts. On a positive note, father liked the spam, although he was the only one that did!

...Finally we reached Toronto Union Station. My grandfather was waiting for us with a car he borrowed from a good friend, we had a joyful reunion and now we were on our way to our first home in Canada.

First, though, we made a stop on Danforth Road, a European deli, with rye bread and lots of cold cuts. Life is good! When we got to the house on 31 Commonwealth Avenue in Scarborough we had a welcome party. There was a bathtub full of ice and beer. I never saw my dad smile like that. They did have beer in Canada and they even delivered it to your door."

Margot's parents worked hard and built a wonderful life for their family in Canada. She writes, "Thanks to mother, who kept speaking German to me, I am still able to speak, write and read German...My father was a manager of a construction company for some 33 years. He mastered the English language. He truly loved this country and I must say never looked back. Canada was home for his family and he was proud of it. He died October 10th, 1987 and is still sadly missed.

Margot closes her story writing, "Imagine you are young, you have a small child, you don't speak, read, or write the language, you have very little money and you leave most of your possessions behind to come to a new country and start a new life!

This story is dedicated to my parents, who had the courage and insight to do just that. Without them I would not be able to proudly say to you today 'I AM CANADIAN.'"

Archival photo dated 1955 showing a ship’s deck with a woman, man and child. The woman is in the middle and has each arm around the child and man.

I am very much looking forward to Margot's visit on the 31st; to joining her in celebrating her 60th anniversary of arriving in Canada and in a toast to her parents, Molson Canadian I think.