Immigration story of Hagen Goetz Jaeger (German immigrant)

Category: 
Culture : 
Country of Origin: 
Port of Arrival: 
Language: 
English
Creative Commons: 
CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Accession Number: 
S2016.242.1
Story Text: 

After my family had to evacuate from my birthplace, Marienburg, West Prussia in Germany on Jan. 25, 1945, I always dreamed of moving to a place where there would be no uprooting of people at any time. Eventually, Canada became the country of my choice.

As a child, we were forced to leave Marienburg; my family found a new home in my grandfather’s birthplace, Oberstdorf in Bavaria, Germany. After a turbulent high school career, I flunked out of grade 12, I began working in the agricultural field because I had heard that Canada was looking for experienced farm workers. So I spent the next three years on several teaching farms in Germany to gain experience. With my knowledge, I applied for my visa to Canada in early 1952. I was interviewed in Karlsruhe, Germany by the Canadian Immigration Mission, and they granted me a visa as a “self- paying farm worker”. With ten Canadian dollars as my “landing money” in my pocket, which I obtained in Reeperbahn in St. Pauli, Hamburg black market, I thought to myself, “Canada, here I come!”

On Apr. 25, 1953, I left Hamburg on the MS Italia. My cabin was a dormitory shared with several other immigrants. The food was great and there was a dance every night. Finally, on May 3rd, 1953, we approached Halifax. It was late afternoon, and the landscape was rocky with very little vegetation. We had left Germany in all its spring flower glory; it was quite a shock. Once we landed, we were ushered into a big reception hall with wooden benches, and this is where I received my landed immigrant stamp on my passport. That made me really proud and excited to finally be in Canada. The train station was right behind the reception hall and I boarded car number 50 which was heading to Montreal. The next morning the train stopped in Rimouski, Quebec and I was able to stop and talk with one of the locals. He got very excited when he found out I was German. He told me that he saw several German U-Boats in the St. Lawrence River. Of course, I didn’t believe him at the time. Several years later, much to my surprise, I found out it was absolutely true. Our next stop was Montreal, where I had to take a connecting train to my pre-arranged destination, Warren, Ontario. This arrangement actually happened several months before my departure from Germany. I was given a name of a farmer by the Canadian Immigration Mission in Karlsruhe that he could possibly give me work. The farmer’s name was Mr. Ripton Crampton from Warren, Ontario. Once I arrived in Warren, I introduced myself to Mr. Crampton as a farm worker and he gave me my first job in Canada.

Now back to my stopover in Montreal where I had my very first ice-cream soda. This was an unknown treat in Germany. Since I had almost all day in Montreal, I decided to do some sightseeing. I toured around and found the downtown harbor facilities quite interesting. Once back on my train, I headed for my final destination. When the train actually stopped for me in Warren, I was the only one who got off. Mr. Crampton was there to take me to his farm called St. Valerie Farm. Although I enjoyed farming, the rumor and temptation of a higher paycheck was nagging me. I had heard about the nickel mines near Sudbury and decided to say good-bye, after 6 weeks, to my farm life in Warren.

I was hired on the spot at the Creighton Nickel Mine for $1.80 an hour, plus bonuses. After working there for one year, I realized if I ever wanted to make something worthwhile out of my life, I must first finish my high school education.

I had a little money saved up and headed for Toronto. I was recommended by the Toronto Board of Education and was accepted for grade 12 at Harbord Collegiate Institute. In June of 1956, I graduated from grade 13. While attending high school, I supported myself with a large paper route with the Toronto Star. During the summer holidays, in order to make ends meet, I worked for a small construction company in Streetsville.

During my last school year I developed a condition called Hyperthyroidism. I was hospitalized in St. Michael’s Hospital and underwent subtotal thyroidectomy. Since there was no such thing as OHIP at the time, the operation and hospitalization costs were paid by the City of Toronto. Some of my teachers from school even came to visit me and helped me stay current with some of my weaker subjects, such as English.

After my high school graduation, it was decision- making time. I was thinking about going into medicine, except I needed first class honors. Unfortunately, I did not have the marks to get into that program. I decided to pick the next best thing, and that was dentistry. I applied and was accepted to the pre-dental program at the University of Toronto.

These were five very tough years. I supported myself by working in the summer as a miner’s helper in a couple or uranium mines in Elliot Lake, Ontario. The fifties were boom years for uranium and I earned enough money to put myself through dental school.

Before all of that happened, I got married to Beverly McMann, the girl of my dreams, who sat next to me in grade twelve. We got married in Santa Monica, California on Sept. 16, 1959. At the time Beverly was a RN at the St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica.

I finally graduated with a DDS degree in May 1961. I was able to secure a position as the travelling dentist for the Ontario Department of Health on a CNR Dental Car. We serviced Northern Ontario in several small towns between the Quebec and Manitoba borders. My pregnant wife, Beverly, served as my dental assistant. My first daughter, Denise, was born in Cochrane on Sept. 30. 1961. In June of the following year my contract was finished. I had earlier decided once my contract was finished to take my young family to visit my mother in Germany after being away for nine years. It was a great experience to visit the “Fatherland” after all that time.

Once we returned to Canada, I decided to set up my private practice in Galt (now Cambridge), Ontario. Our family eventually grew to four children, two girls and two boys. I retired from a successful practice due to unforeseen health problems in 1989.

Presently I am enjoying my retirement, filling my time with some volunteer work and a part-time job in a call centre, as well as the odd trip here and there. One of these recent trips brought us to Halifax and Pier 21. It was sure like going down memory lane. This really made me realize how lucky I was to be able to immigrate to Canada, the greatest country in the world.