Story Archive

31 May Gayle Swain’s story of Minnie

Minnie and SolomanMinnie Zelda Izen, was born in Vancouver on June 8, 1916.  She was the first of three children from my grandmother, Mary, who had been orphaned as the result of the pogroms in Lithuania.  Mary was sponsored by an aunt to come to Vancouver at the age of 15.  She was subsequently married off to the first man who came knocking, William Izen, who had been born in Poland.  Mary didn’t love him.  Her heart was set for a cousin in Seattle but that was not approved.  William owned a second-hand  store on Main Street and he would go down the lanes with a horse and cart to collect things that he would sell.  Apparently, he and Mary fought a lot.  She was frequently out at luncheons and teas.  Sometimes, my aunt would have to wait on the steps for her to return home.  Mary was fanatically religious, which drove my mother crazy.  For example, Mary recruited a neighbour to light the wood stove on the Sabbath.  Her three children would stay in bed until the house was warm.
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09 May Deb Svanefelt’s story of Rosemary

Her obituary began: “In Loving Memory of Rosemary Elizabeth Faye Cozens. July 1, 1935 - July 4, 2019. Feminist psychotherapist; passionate advocate for human and animal rights; Nature lover and avid reader; good food and tai chi enthusiast. Rosemary adored all her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She was a spunky (and sometimes opinionated), ardent trail-blazer looking deeply into life, ceaselessly exploring the human shadow-lands as well as the bright and beautiful - she just loved the adventure of traveling, both on the planet and inside the human experience. She passed away peacefully in her home.” So, who was this amazing woman, who embodied all these aspects, yet who's life also contained so much more of human experience? Born in Toronto Ontario, Canada, on the day that Canada celebrates it's birthday too, Rosemary was the first born daughter, with a younger sister born 5 years later. It was in the middle of the Great Depression.
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07 May Chandrika Radhakrishnan’s story of Lakshmi

My mother was a product of her upbringing. The stiff upper lip, a legacy of the British Empire, was left behind even after independence and it became the trademark of my mother’s parental home in Madras, which is now known as Chennai, a South Indian coastal city in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Stoic, hardworking, frugal; her family was among the ones who appreciated the finer aspects of art by way of music, playing musical instruments, art and craft. Movies were one among the list of taboo topics and books were meant to educate and elevate the brains and not meant for entertainment. The family lore goes that my affluent grandmother was one of the few children who had a perambulator. She was a genteel lady and often used the word, ‘cultured.’
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06 May Shirleyan English’s story of Amy

First the statistics: She was born Amy Elizabeth Bowerman, June 4, 1906. Married Elliott David Grieve, August 8, 1934. Had three children: Shirleyan, 1936; Sharon, 1939; and Sandra (Sandy), 1946. Her name was Amy Elizabeth but her siblings called her Liz. No one else did. At less than five feet, she was short on height but long on resilience, initiative and personality, qualities that brought her through various periods of adversity throughout her long life. She was also a risk-taker and often a gambler. These qualities helped too. When confronted with a problem, she used to say, “Well, how am I going to handle this?” She usually found an answer.
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08 Apr Cory Bretz’s story of Lee

My mother is Henrietta Leigh Butts. She was born October 15, 1941 in Fort William, Thunder Bay, Ontario. She died at the age of 48 on May 25, 1989. She was known by her mother as “Henri” but she referred to herself as “Lee”, re-spelling...

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13 May Surjit Singh Flora’s story of Niranjan Kaur

My Mother Niranjan Kaur Flora was born in the town of Ramghar Punjab India, on July 12, 1941, the second of four girls and one brother: Jaswinder Kaur, Niranjan Kaur, Gurbax Kaur, Jasvir Kaur and Mohan Singh. In Sikh families all girls are named Kaur as all boys are named Singh.
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09 Dec Elizabeth Jurenovich’s story of Sally

Sally Vanderwerf She was a study in contrasts, this identical twin born to a Jewish prizefighter and an Irish Catholic teenager, who went on to become a Presbyterian minister's wife. Her name was Sally Marie, and from childhood through adulthood, she was intelligent, articulate, mercurial and...

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28 Aug Bruce Halliwell’s story of Sybil

Sybil Croll was born September 4, 1903, the second of three children and only daughter of Andrew and Agnes Croll. Her parents were Scots but by Sybil’s birth had already left Scotland for Wales. Her father was a large, opinionated, brilliant man, a gifted doctor...

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04 Aug Linda Higgins story of Anne

My mom was more than a mother, she was my best friend. Her funeral was at the United Church in Whitehorse, Yukon. My dad and I were in the front row along with aunts, uncles, and my granny. Several friends and colleagues filled the church and accompanied us to a graveside ceremony, followed by a reception at our home. I was thirteen years old. Anne Kulchysky was born on December 22, 1938 on a farm near Gronlid, Saskatchewan. Her parents, Fedora Moskal and Mykola Kulchysky were both immigrants from Ukraine, who traveled to Canada in 1911 and 1913 respectively. They married in 1920 and proudly farmed their quarter section of land.
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27 Mar Ann Sherwood’s story of Sophia

I think the word that describes my mother best would have to be resilient. No matter what happened in her life, she found a way to bounce back and get through it, or around it, with persistence and determination. She was never a whiner or complainer. My mother was born Sophia Petronella Pauw in Dordrecht, in the Province of South Holland, the Netherlands on March 24, 1918, the eighth child and seventh daughter of Rudolf Pauw Sr. and Sophia VanStokrom. An older sister had died at the age of 6 months, another sister and two brothers came after her. She was named for her mother and nicknamed Fia. The family moved to The Hague when my mother was about nine years old.
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