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.
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.
26 Mar Ray Baldwin’s story of MaryMy mother was named Mary. She was born in 1919 in Mossimin, Saskatchewan, to a young couple Willem and Alexandra Benwick. Willem was barely 20 and had emigrated from the Ukraine in 1915 and immediately entered the employ of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). By 1917 he was able to help his even younger wife immigrate. At that time the CPR had stationed him in Mossimin. And that is where Willem and Alexandra established the first of many homes over their 60 year marriage. Mossimin is also where they began a family. By the end of their lives in 1998 the Benwick family numbered eleven children.
Nancy Daley was born in Magnetawan, Ontario on July 30, 1924. Although the population of Magnetawan briefly ballooned above 300 with the birth of her five siblings, it has remained solidly a “village”, relegated to a humble, yet proud small town status in rural Ontario about an hour south of North Bay. Her father, Tom Daley met his future wife one summer while delivering vegetables by canoe on Ahmic Lake. Nancy’s mother Lydia had ventured to Canada’s lake country from Pittsburg to take a summer job as help. At 16, she fell in love with both Tom and Canada. Together they built a family, a sawmill and hydroelectric business, and nurtured family connections that have remained strong to this day.