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The Immigration Story of Jonas Albeck (Danish 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.

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My decision to immigrate to Canada was made shortly after my discharge as a conscripted private from the Royal Danish Air Force in mid 1965. I had prior to that finished my four year college education in Frederikserg near Copenhagen in Denmark. The decision to go to Canada was driven by a desire to see something different from Europe and find out what I might be capable of achieving with my education. My English language skills were not great but passable at the business level.

Arriving by plane to Halifax, NS on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in July, I went to hotel Lord Nelson for the night. The next morning I walked over to the huge immigration reception facility in Pier 21. The place was completely empty except for half a dozen immigration officers, who seemed a bit bored, but eager to chat. They were extremely helpful and kind, welcoming me to Canada and fixing me up with an address for a temporary rooming house on nearby Morris street “as the hotel is away too expensive”.

In the afternoon and after an interview with the people at the Bank of Montreal, and several IQ type tests I was told that I would likely be approved by the head office in Montreal and could start working the following week as a bank teller.

I worked to start within BMO’s main branch in Halifax, challenged daily by a very steep language and banking knowledge learning curve. I roomed in Dartmouth crossing the harbor with little ferry every workday. I was promoted and transferred January 1966 to the University campus branch in Fredericton, New Brunswick, but quickly after some research decided to quit the banking business and move further west to Calgary, Alberta in the spring.

The following 45 years I worked in progressive positions within the Canadian and the U.S. oil and gas industry, both nationally and internationally and eventually reaching the level of Vice President. During those years, I spent just about every winter in my spare time on various management and technical courses and seminars, building on my basic education and to further supplement my practical work experience.

Initially, I worked in Calgary at Canadian Pacific Oil and Gas Ltd., PanCanadian Petroleum Ltd., later with Imperial Oil/Esso resources as well as several other domestic and international major and midsized oil and gas exploration corporations.

I became a proud Canadian citizen in 1970, but thereby lost my Danish citizenship, until I later on in 2015 applied for and became a dual Danish/Canadian citizen.

Widowed from my first wife Eva in 1997, also an immigrant from Denmark. Re-married Elisa a Canadian immigrant from a Danish-Argentinian background. Three, now adult children, Michelle, Adam and Ivanna.

On a spare time basis, I served for more than fifteen years as the Government of Denmark’s representative. First as the royal Danish Honorary Consul in Regina for Saskatchewan and for ten years in Calgary for Southern Alberta. Lisa was appointed Honorary Vice Consul of Denmark and we worked as a team out of our home that functioned as the Danish Consulate in Calgary.

I was honoured when in 2015 Queen Margrethe of Denmark bestowed on me the Danish equivalent of a Knight’s Cross, the “Ridder of Dannebrog”.

After an interesting, challenging and wonderful lifetime in our beautiful Canada, I’m happily retried as a consultant from the oil and gas industry in 2012. I now live in Calgary during the summer and spend the winters in our condo apartment in beautiful Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

From my very first day in Canada I have met and worked with so many wonderful people that were not only kind and helpful, but also provided much needed support and encouragement.