BLESSINGS FOR THE JOURNEY
It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years!
This April 21, 2017 marks our 50th year in Canada! How do you decide to leave the country of your birth but when you can’t see a future where you are, what’s there to loose. We didn’t have anything to loose (other than family), so when Canada beckoned, we took a leap of faith and the journey began … with no money, no job, no place to stay, just two kids, with two kids, looking for an adventure…
It’s 1967, Canada’s centennial, and the Scottish employment situation in agriculture looks bleak. But a Canadian ad for agriculture looks inviting, includes assisted passage to be paid back over two years. We registered, and after interviews and medical tests, were accepted and our journey to Alberta began. With no funds of our own, it was the first blessing of our journey.
Preparing to pack only the essentials and at the advice of the shipping company rep. (who incidentally could have lost his job) we did our own packing using bedding and clothing as packing material and he arranged for it to be picked up and shipped. That we could afford. The second blessing of our journey.
Packing began with wooden tea chests packed into a large crate Jack made by ripping up railroad ties, nailed and wired shut ready to be picked up. Thanks to our neighbours on the farm who with the help of a tractor loaded the crate onto the shipping truck, as by that time we were staying with family for six weeks till our departure date. While at my Mum's my sister-in-law at the time told Jack the company she worked for were looking for a delivery truck driver to ship milk out each day to their customers. Jack applied and was hired, which gave us some money. The third blessing of our journey.
On April 21st, we said our goodbyes and boarded an Air Canada flight for Winnipeg. At Winnipeg, we were allowed into our luggage to get warmer clothing for our girls, Linda and Joanne. Going from spring in Scotland to a Winnipeg winter was our first experience of Canada.
It had been a long flight and I didn't handle the landing well. Standing in line for info on a flight to Edmonton, Jack is told the flight is cancelled and we will go on standby for whenever four seats become available, no idea when that would be, tomorrow was mentioned, and the agent indicated us to take seats in the waiting area.
This was about 4:00 pm Canadian time. For us it was already after midnight and our girls, four and two years old, were going ballistic. I was tired and recovering from airsickness. Then a gentleman stepped out from the line and told the agent ' "Have a heart and send this family to a hotel, they can't spend the night here on a bench". After much negotiations we were taken by taxi to the Fort Garry Hotel and taxied back the next day for our flight to Edmonton. The fourth blessing of our journey.
With landed immigration papers and hotel info in hand we boarded for Edmonton. Jack struck up a conversation with his fellow passenger who asked where we were heading. Paper work showed the Ritz Hotel in downtown Edmonton. He was abhorred that immigration would send us there and handed Jack his business card, saying any trouble call me. It was Saturday and the immigration office was closed, no one to meet us as arranged, we were on our own. After paying our hotel we had no Canadian funds to buy food and the hotel had no way of accepting British funds. So the phone calls began. Our friend somehow got in touch with the RCMP who alerted immigration of our situation. With one phone call immigration arranged for a taxi to take us to a motel and instructed the hotel office to refund our money right away. The fifth blessing of our journey.
We settled in to motel living, the Pan American beside the city airport, kept the girls entertained watching the planes take off and land. We shopped at the nearby convenience store and cooked for ourselves. One memory of that was sharing a big Canadian Red Delicious apple before bedtime every night, they were delicious indeed. Jack met each morning with Mr. Thompson, our councillor for the agricultural job search. The search was successful and within a week we had a place to go. Since the job came with accommodation, Mr. Thompson told us there would be no more funding for accommodation and since we couldn't move into the job for another week, we would have to pay for our own motel accommodation. Oh dear, our on-hand funds were not going to stretch that far. Jack asked for some kind of advance that we could pay back once working. Mr. Thompson's reply – “No rule against cash for groceries, no need to pay it back”. Enough cash to pay for one week’s accommodation. The sixth blessing of our journey. - Mary Cockburn
“I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” – Matthew 25:35
Next week, the blessings continue, as Mary and Jack and Linda and Joanne settle into the Canadian life…