When I started writing my mother’s story, it didn’t feel right. When I changed the story to be in my mother’s voice, it worked. The facts became clear, and I was able to understand how she may have looked at her world. My sisters and I were very proud of our mother, who passed in 2008. She was our cheerleader and never wavered in her support of us. I hope that I have done her beautiful spirit justice. Here is my mother’s story as I imagine it, in her voice.
My name is Beryle Maxine. I was born on October 9, 1927, in a rural community outside Ottawa, Ontario. My mother, Jenny, was eighteen and unwed when I was born. Her parents had both passed and she was living with her brother, but had no means to support me. She took a job on a farm, working for the Mackie family as caregiver to Granny Mackie, an invalid. Granny Mackie had two grown children, Florence and Borden. Aunt Florence was a teacher at the one-room school house in the community, and Uncle Borden ran the dairy farm. Read the rest of this entry »
My mother, Julia Mary Lorenz Neher, was born on October 31, 1920, in Bukovina, Romania, the illegitimate daughter of a 21 year old peasant girl named Theresa Paul. Before mom’s birth the Paul family were making plans to immigrate to Canada, specifically southern Saskatchewan, where mom’s grandfather had established himself some ten years earlier on a homestead near Wood Mountain. Their immigration process took longer than normal, because Theresa’s sister Rosa was disabled, and the Canadian government forbade invalids to enter Canada without proper documentation. The government also required that the family produce a signed petition guaranteeing that the Hungarian community would financially support Rosa. Read the rest of this entry »
She was an only child and as an infant emigrated with her parents to Winnipeg. I never knew why. They had a very troubled family life. Lots of arguments, fueled by alcohol, led to a chaotic environment. Mom remembers being locked out of the house in her nightie in the middle of winter. Eventually her parents separated, and, when Jo was five, she and her mother Joyce traveled to Vancouver. Read the rest of this entry »
My mom was born Allison Jean Swift in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, on November 28, 1914. Her father, Arthur Swift, worked for the Canadian Pacific Railway and mother Ethel worked in the home. They lived not too far from the station, in a small house with a porch and yard. Mom was an only child. Just before it was torn down, Mom and her dad went to the old railway station and liberated a beautiful carved table that was going to go for scrap. It was her pride and joy, with a hand carved pedestal and four large curved and carved feet on wheels. I have it in my dining room today, and it always evokes memories in me of her clandestine adventure. Arthur Swift died on November 27, 1930, and Ethel died on May 17, 1937. Read the rest of this entry »
The town of Elie, Manitoba was populated by French speaking people. A convent attached to a church was the focal point of all activity in Elie. In 1917 the gossips speculated about the arrival of its newest citizen. This was the day Rose and Omar Brabant became the new parents of a baby girl. Read the rest of this entry »
The weeks that separate the dry winds of summer from the relentless howl of a prairie winter are few and pass quickly. This is when my mother was born into a world falling headlong into the Great Depression. On October 4, 1930, Shirley became the last of four children born to Rose and Ernest French of Herbert, Saskatchewan. Her mother always called her Shirley Ann and it wasn’t until she applied for a passport in 1977 that she realized that she had no middle name after all. Read the rest of this entry »
My Biological Mother (Bio Mum), who now call herself Dominique, was born May 31st, 1954 to a father with a Swiss father & English mother, and a mother who had a French from France father and a Native Canadian mother. She was born in Chicoutimi, Quebec. When asked about her childhood she will tell you that she’s sure there must have been some good memories from when she was small but that she can’t really remember any of them because they are so easily weighed down by the negative memories. Read the rest of this entry »
Mary Alice Vanvolkenburgh (nee Trumpour) was born April 12, 1924 on a farm outside Adolphustown, Prince Edward County, Ontario. Her ancestor, Paulus Trumpour, was one of the original United Empire Loyalists who fled New England after the American Revolution, wintered in tents outside Quebec City and navigated the St. Lawrence River in open boats to the area around Picton, where they had been deeded land. Mary was proud to be a United Empire Loyalist descendent and attended many UEL functions in the area. Read the rest of this entry »
I never met my mother until I was 45 years old and only knew her for thirteen years. I was adopted as a child and spent a life long search for her. I found out I was adopted when I was 12 years old and made a vow that I would find my mother if it was the last thing that I ever did. After years of searching and a lot of dead ends, my vow to myself finally came true.