Skip to the Content

Life Begins at 20

Time 0:03:20


Both my parents were born in Belfast. During the troubled times resulting in the partition of Ireland, many found refuge by emigrating to various British Dominions. Among my parents’ friends, some went to Canada, sending back positive reports which encouraged my parents to join them. Two and a half years and two daughters later, the effects of the Depression having worsened all over North America, my parents found themselves unemployed and out of money. They managed to obtain passage back to Ireland where I was born on Nov. 11, 1934.

My father had loved Canada and deeply regretted having to leave and my sisters and I grew up hearing many good things about life there. When I was nearly 20, my father suggested that he and I go out together to join my sister who had gone just a few months before. We could get established, then send for the rest of the family. I immediately and excitedly agreed. But, just weeks before our passage on the Saxonia, my father’s business obligations prevented his departure. I had to sail on alone.

Greeted at Union Station by my sister, I was soon enjoying my first Canadian meal in the home of Belfast friends. I was fortunate to quickly find employment, and made a wide circle of new church friends. A few months later, one of those friends helped me get a higher paying job at Westinghouse where he worked in Hamilton. Given that my purpose in coming to Canada was to financially help my parents, I had thought it prudent to delay any romantic possibilities for a few years. That was until I met Margaret at church. Our first date was for dinner on her seventeenth birthday. As we got to know each other, I became completely captivated.

During all this time, I had been surprised to discover a growing homesickness. I remembered my mother’s counsel, that if Canada didn’t meet my expectations I should not be ashamed to come home. One day, when the many British emigrés at Westinghouse announced a chartered flight to London over the 1956 Christmas holidays, I seized the opportunity to go. As a trip home had done for countless others, so for me it cured my homesickness. Life had gone on without me, and I had the makings of a new life in Canada with Margaret.

Divine Providence has abundantly blessed us with a large family, and sufficient income both to support my parents for their whole lives, as well as to visit them often. Canada has been very good to me.

Return to Victoria gallery >