Irene Gadja

Families Before 1956

My dad spoke very little of his family. Few facts are known to me, he lived in a village in Hungary close to the Romanian border, his home was a thatched house with dirt floor that he shared with his six siblings. He never mentioned his father, all I knew of his mother that she was very stern woman, a very religious Catholic.

When he was nine years old he learned of the Great Lakes in Canada. He was fascinated. He decided when he grew up he would go to Canada to see these great inland lakes. He never gave up that dream. When he was 27 years old, married and had a baby girl (me), he borrowed money from his mother and set off to Canada. His brothers and sisters thought he had gone mad. My mother and I were left to live with his mother. He sailed from Antwerp on March 15, 1929 on the S.S. Pennland. Winnipeg was his destination, on arrival he would receive $25.00 from the Department of Colonization, Agriculture and Natural Resources. He was to work on a farm. When the train stopped in Montreal he got off and disappeared into the crowd. He knew no one and didn’t speak English or French, never received his $25.00 incentive. It was during the depression and he found work-digging ditches for the gas company (he was a tailor back home). In a year and a half he was able to send our fare to join him. Mom and I left from Port Bremen on the Stuttgart, arriving at Pier 21 November 1, 1930.

My parents worked very hard and had tough times; they prospered and lived very comfortably in their old age. The rest of his family stayed in Europe. When I was younger it never bothered me that I did not know about my grandparents. I truly regret not questioning about family. My parents have both died – it is too late, I often wonder about their youth, their life and the village they grew up in.