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Children

Peter van der Horden
April 2, 1954

The move to Canada seemed imminent. My father’s parents along with some of his younger brothers and sisters had already immigrated to Canada a few years prior. My father felt that after the war, the future wasn’t looking bright as far as employment was concerned, and for being able to provide a future for his children. As a young boy in Holland, I was sick with bronchitis and the family Doctor felt that I needed a change in climate, preferably an environment with lots of trees. This was the last bit of reassurance that my father needed in his final decision to move the family to Canada. This was very difficult for my mother, as all of her family was still in Holland, and she was going to have to leave them all behind. Nevertheless, she supported my father in the move, and knew that the future would have to be in Canada.

The actual trip by boat across the Atlantic was a very difficult one. It was very rough seas when we crossed, and I can still visualize the waves coming on part of the deck. We had to stay clear of the railings. My father was sick for the entire 10-day crossing. Because of space limitations, the men were segregated from their wives and children. My mom even to this day tells me how much I was able to help her in the care of my little sister who was then only 10 months old.

We did arrive safely at Pier 21 on April 2, 1954 and were immediately processed through customs officials and received our Landed Immigrant Status, and then made the journey by train to Ottawa. We were greeted and warmly welcomed by members of the Salvation Army where one particular family took us into their home for approximately 3 weeks in helping our family get settled, and enabling my father to look for work in ‘the land of honey’. My father was able to find work within a few days, and slowly but surely, we started to pick up the English language. We finally found a place for ourselves, and there we were, completely on our own. My father was never without a job and my mom stayed home and looked after the household. Naturally, it took my mother a little longer to pick up the English language, but she made it.

Would they do it all over again? You bet they would! Both my parents are now in their early 80’s, and in reasonably good health. It has been an incredible journey of faith and trust, and are reaping the benefits of that initial first step that saw them apply to come to Canada and leave their homeland for good.