One of the Family

 

After my completion of compulsory national service in the British Royal Air Force in 1957, I decided to venture out into the world and Canada was to be my first stop. I arrived in Montreal in February, 1957 and, after exploring the city for a few weeks, moved on to Ottawa, then on to Toronto.  

 

The Immigration and Employment Department told me that Leitch Gold Mine in Northern Ontario were in need of miners. This appealed to me, so I found myself working underground with many other immigrants.  

 

After a few months, I took the train to Winnipeg. I found accommodation at a boarding house. Boarding houses were the norm for young people. I enjoyed the friendship of the other eight borders and the care that the Campbells gave me. They were retired farmers and upon retirement opened a boarding house in the city. 

 

I was enjoying my new life style until late December when I was taken by surprise by the Campbells, who informed me that they, plus the boarders, would be spending Christmas with family in various places in Manitoba. I was told that they would leave a key and enough food to tide me over the holidays. I had never been away from my family in the U.K. over the Christmas holiday and I felt a deep loneliness in my heart for the first time in my life.  

 

Two days before Christmas 1957, one of the boarders said to me that his family insisted that I spend the holidays with them as their guest. It was my first introduction to a Ukrainian family. They made me feel like I was one of the family. When I arrived at their home, I found that four other people had been invited to spend Christmas with them. It was an experience that I will cherish all my life and gave me an added meaning to Christmas.  

 

I am not a bit embarrassed to tell you that tears are rolling down my cheeks as I relate this story. 

 

Ernie Stirrup

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