Happy Stitches

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Our move to Canada March 8, 2010

Filed under: General Musings — happystitches @ 18:53

Yesterday was the eighteen year anniversary of our move to Canada: a date of great personal significance and always a cause for reflection. We moved, as a family of five, from Milford Haven in southwest Wales to Halifax, NS.  In my case, this was a ‘sight unseen’ adventure. I had the address of the Fleece Artist (from the back of a Rowan pattern-book), the name of the friend (Ilga Leja) of a friend (Shirl the Purl) who lived here (courtesy of the Canadian Knitting Guild) and I’d read a book about the first World War explosion that so devastated this city in 1917.

That was the sum of my knowledge. Yes, very Pre-Internet! No google street view, nothing.

My husband’s employer instigated the move; after putting us through two years of on-again/off-again uncertainty, they suddenly gave us THREE weeks notice of our departure. And what joker moves a family with three small children to Nova Scotia in March (snow followed by freezing rain for days unending), and expects them to stay? Come to think of it, that’s probably why they only gave us one-way tickets.

For leaving Milford, we had an excellent crew of packers to wrap and consign our goods to a container over a period of three days. On the last morning, however, they arrived at our door on foot and without the huge moving truck. They looked a little sheepish. Despite our warnings about the ditches on either side of the unpaved road that led to our home, they had managed to back the truck slightly off course at the top of the lane and now the whole rig was teetering dangerously at a 30 degree angle. I regret that I didn’t have the brain-power to take any photos of this: here, in suspended animation, 95% of our worldly goods, unsecured and about to keel over. We were also anxious to be finished and away, as we had a 6 hour drive ahead of us on UK roads with three small, unsettled children for a last night with grandparents (who, conveniently, were somewhat nearer the airport).

We absolutely had to get the truck out. The nearest heavy tow truck was in Swansea, a two-hour-plus drive away, assuming that it was even available. Grasping at straws, we thought of contacting some friends with a new tractor on a nearby farm: we were just able to, in a very muddy tour-de-force, squeeze our rented car around the truck in order to go and request their help. The phone had already been disconnected, and, imagine: No cell phones!

Fortunately the big rig was extracted safely and we were able to pack the mattresses and last few items. We said goodbye to our home sweet home and were now officially nomads. We spent a day with the grandparents and headed up to Heathrow, where we spent the night in a hotel. I don’t think the children, 1, 3 and 6, had ever eaten out or stayed anywhere other than for occasional visits with relatives and the hotel atmosphere and finding food that they would eat were major challenges. I think this was where they first encountered McDonald’s, and they didn’t know what to make of that.

Our flying day was a long one: I don’t remember much about it other then showing the children the plane as we walked to the departure lounge. Arriving in Halifax, yes, that I remember clearly: piles of dirty snow, and raining dogs and cats. For a family expecting knee-deep powdery snow this was a considerable disappointment. The wait in immigration was interminable, especially with children that had been cooped up for days.

Eventually we piled into a taxi and were driven to our hotel rooms in Halifax. Here, we had been told by someone in the Canadian firm, we could expect to find some groceries purchased for us in anticipation of our arrival, but apparently they couldn’t think of what to get, so there was nothing at all.

6pm on a Saturday night in downtown Halifax (18 years ago) was not the time or place to get food. Fortunately, my husband is gifted in the common sense department and he and Sam went foraging at corner stores whilst I bathed the girls and we ate the remainder of Grandma’s sandwiches!

Things improved steadily, we’re still here (Canadian citizens now), and I wouldn’t choose to return to the UK, beautiful and historic as it may be!

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14 Responses to “Our move to Canada”

  1. Cheryl Waters Says:

    It’s always very nice to hear a little bit of history about someone you admire and respect. Thanks for this insight into your life.

  2. Jane Says:

    And you have done NS proud since you moved here… we have all benefitted.

  3. Brenda Says:

    Stories like yours of those that emigrated to Canada always bring a tear to my eye. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been with three children the ages of yours. This knitte,r for one, is so glad you stayed.

  4. Marti Says:

    I’ve been reflecting on my own move to Nova Scotia, only three years ago this week. Not quite from as far away as the UK, but I wouldn’t change my address now for the world. I love it here too.

  5. Noreen Says:

    It’s fun to learn about how you arrived in Canada, Lucy. It took a lot of courage to make that move.

  6. MK Says:

    Happy Anniversary and so glad you decided to stay…wouldn’t be able to drive the RV right up to your house if you were an ocean away!!!

  7. Melissa G Says:

    I’ve just caught up on the last 3 months. Due to holiday vortex (?) I fell out of touch. Yes to puzzles, love the dolls–perhaps the recipient of next month’s knitting budget. Also been skiing. It was last year when I had to consciously put down the needles after a (safe) slide on the interstate (taken back up again, road conditions permitting). My major relocation was getting off the plane at the old Albuquerque Sunport in August as I moved there from Philadelphia area. To this day, 3 decades later, I can feel my shock standing at the top of the stairs looking out at the desert and mountains, experiencing the arid heat, and wondering to what hell my mother had consigned me–I rarely have been east since.

  8. Purl in the Rough Says:

    I’m very glad you stayed!

  9. Virginia Says:

    Thank you for the info about the Halifax explosion. I hadn’t heard of that before, so I just spent a happy few minutes reading about it.

    Happy Candaversary

  10. susanna eve Says:

    great story:) We only moved from Montreal but I also moved here sight unseen for a job for my dh to. That was 15 1/5 years ago now.

  11. I love the way you tell your stories. What an adventure! Like the best of them, a little good, a little bad, a big challenge and a happy ending. Thanks for sharing.

  12. Sarah Robinson Says:

    Hi, im so glad to hear you have made it for the last 18 years. We moved here on an LMO workpermit in May 2009 and we have had a struggle of a year as cant change employer etc. We also have 3 kiddies ages 1, 3 and 5 at the time we departed the UK. We have applied for perm residency but it seems to be taking forever. We are waiting to hopefully get a new LMO approved anytime soon but they are rejecting a lot at the moment but we really dont want to leave in May. Fingers crossed. Hopefully we will be as lucky as you and stil be here in 18 years.!!!

  13. TS Says:

    It’s great to hear your story, we are moving from Australia to Canada in a few weeks time, I moved from Asia to Australia 22 years ago. It was scary how, without Internet, we could not do any research.

    I found your story so interesting and really look forward moving to Canada.

  14. Dorothy Wood Says:

    Hi Lucy, although we have never met other than the odd phone call when I desperately wanted something, I love to hear of other people’s arrivals in Canada.
    On July 1st., Canada Day, this year we celebrated 53 years in Canada. Arriving soon after we married, we were overwhelmed by what we found, arriving in Toronto’s Union Station after a 14 hour train trip from New York. The train which we thought we would travel on, i.e. the ‘Canadian’ with scenic dome etc. turned out to be a New York Central System with wooden slatted seats. After 14 hours they became very uncomfortable!
    However, after 5 years we became Citizens of this wonderful country and all it has to offer.
    I will never forget those few years in our new country, learning all about Canada from coast to coast. Nova Scotia is a favourite province of ours although B.C is where we eventually settled.
    Anyone else have similar stories of their arrival in Canada?
    Glad you came here Lucy, it is a joy to have someone to share their interest in knitting, most Brits do knit and I feel we all have something in common.


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