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The Immigration story of Jeannie Booth (Scottish War Bride)

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: 
Country of Origin: 
Port of Arrival: 
Language: 
English
Creative Commons: 
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2019.89.1

Story Text: 

Jeannie Booth
I met my husband Jim (James) Booth, while he was stationed near my uncle's farm in Scotland. I was at my uncle’s farm, which was near Alness, because there was a shortage of people to work in the countryside. My uncle and aunt worked outside and I did indoor stuff like housecleaning. Jim used to visit them and help out with chores. He was actually British but had immigrated to Canada with his parents and eight siblings in 1928. He landed at Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia on April 22, 1928.
Jim and his family moved to Lash Township, south of Emo in northwestern Ontario. With the Second World War on, Jim enlisted in Fort Frances, Ontario in 1940. He had problems with his feet so his twin brother Jack went through the enlistment line twice. Both served in the Canadian army.
Since Jim worked on a farm in Ontario, that’s probably why he helped my uncle in Scotland.
Jim definitely didn’t know how to dance when we first met. He should have been good on his feet because he played a lot of soccer, football they called it, while he was in England. If he hadn’t moved to Canada, he could have played soccer professionally.
We were married in 1942, about three months after we met. I was 24. We got married in a church. It was wartime so we didn’t have big weddings. We didn’t have no reception – no nothing. I wore a dress. You could wear a suit or a dress or a kilt. My dress was kind of mauve – between grey and mauve. I don’t have a photo. I did but I didn’t take them with me when I left Scotland for Canada.
I was happy at my wedding. As happy as you could be in wartime when you were always expecting the worst. By marrying Jim, I thought I might be moving to Canada. I didn’t really want to come to Canada but I went after a couple of years with our two daughters, who were born after the wedding.
When we left Thurso, Scotland, my hometown, someone was playing the song, Will Ye No Come Back Again? We went by ship, the SS Aquitania, in April 1946. Once I got on the boat, I never looked back. I remember everybody else watching as long as they could see the British Isles. They just sat and watched until they couldn’t see anymore. Not me.
My eldest daughter and I were sick on the boat. It was terrible. We hit rough weather and icebergs and ended up having to go a different way. We were a day late docking in Halifax because of the icebergs. I was so glad to get off the boat.
We landed at 11 o’clock at night. Then we took the train all the way to Winnipeg. My first impression of Canada was I thought it was the last place God had made and he forgot to finish it. I didn’t cry, though. Why would I? Wouldn’t help me any.
We stayed in Winnipeg for the weekend because I had relatives there. Eventually, we moved into a little house in Devlin, Ontario. We were there for two years and then moved about 7 km away to a farm in Burris. I was there for thirty-three years and raised five children in that house, most of that time by myself. Jim died in 1954.
I liked Burris. It was a nice place to live. People were friendly. Now my impression of Canada is a little better. I still don’t like it as good as Scotland.