Skip to the main content

Immigration story of Philip Gunyon (English Immigrant)

The Museum reviews and accepts donated personal or family memories and histories into its collection. As a learning institution, the accounts help us understand how individuals recollect, interpret, or construct meaning from lived experiences. The stories are not modified by Museum staff. The point of view expressed is that of the author and not that of the Museum.

Category: 
Culture : 
Country of Origin: 
Language: 
English
Creative Commons: 
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2016.289.1

Story Text: 

Philip Charles Gunyon

1932 - Born Kobe, Japan – Father from London, England; mother from Toronto, Canada.

1938 - Moved from Japan to England.

1939 - Moved from England to Canada; torpedoed on the Athenia on 3rd September.

1938 - 1950 - Elementary schools in England, Quebec & Oakville, Ontario.

1950 - 1956 - Royal Military College & University of Toronto (Mechanical Engi-neering).

1952 – Became a Canadian citizen

1956 - 1957 - Dow Chemical of Canada, Sarnia, Ontario (Design Engineer)

1957 - 1997 - Alcan in Jamaica, Geneva, Kitimat & Montreal (plant engineering, personnel mgt. & last 13 years as general manager of Maison Alcan in Montreal.

1997 – Retired from Alcan at age 65 with 40 years service.

2005 – Moved to Bracebridge, ON, Canada

Married Eva in 1971; three daughters. Also has a daughter Jennifer and son Stewart from a previous marriage to Norma Murrant.

Interests - Family history, woodworking, model making, military history & the family cottage at Pointe au Baril, Ontario.

Immigration Story – Philip Gunyon

I started grade 3 at Brantwood school shortly after our arrival in Oakville and the four of us moved into a rented house on Dunn Street. I spoke English with a British accent and was unmercifully bullied for that by the kids at school. But I soon integrated and made friends. I spoke British English at home and Canadian English at school and with friends. That was perhaps my most significant challenge in becoming a Canadian. My bio file above will tell of my subsequent education and life in Canada and abroad. We started attending St. Jude’s Anglican Church every week. Food became scarce for everyone and rationing was instituted. But we ate well enough. I only had hand-me-down clothes to wear and it was very cold sleeping upstairs in a semi-attic during winter. A man came each day to tend the coal furnace.

Oakville was a pleasant small town of 5,000 and I enjoyed the 11 years I lived there until going to University in Kingston, ON. I had been a “British Subject Born Abroad” until I obtained my Canadian Citizenship in 1952. I had lived the first 6 years of my life in Japan and returned there in 2002 to find tremendous changes from my childhood memories and photos in our family photo albums. I also returned to England several times, where I lived only a year before emigrating. In 2013 I visited Northwood Prep outside London, the school I had attended. It had moved and was now populated mainly with children of recent wealthy immigrants in contrast to the middle-class English boys I had known there in 1938. My father used to say he had a choice of emigrating to Canada or Australia and was always glad he had chosen Canada. I agreed then and continue to do so until this day. Between 1939 and 1945 it was a blessing to be in Canada as reports reached us daily of bombings in London and other events in WW2 that we had avoided. Keep in mind that our decision to relocate from England to Canada was based in part on the fact that although my father was an Englishman born in London, my mother was a 4th generation Canadian. Although it was all new to me, we had roots here. I’m sure this also made the application to immigrate an untroubled one that was aided in part by my father’s employer in London, despite the fact that he himself had been posted in Brazil in early 1939 and did not join us in Oakville until 1943, when he joined the RCNVR Special Branch. The immigration process took no more than from June 1939 until we arrived in October. During that time, we lost all our belongings when the Athenia was torpedoed and arrived with a minimum of clothing. As far as I know our home and car in England were sold after the war at a loss. My father joined a small Canadian company after the war and earned only enough to keep us going. The three of us children went to university through the generous help of my Canadian grandmother and her husband who lived in Oakville and who supported my mother in many ways during the war years. My younger sister also lives here in Bracebridge and my young brother died of cancer in 1962, aged 25.