Part 1 is here

After landing in Quebec and clearing customs, we got on a train, destination Winnipeg, Manitoba.  We boarded, but the train wasn’t leaving for a long while yet.  We had to fend for ourselves.  Father had no idea how, but courageously went to buy some food.  Knowing a bit of French was apparently quite helpful as he did come back with something familiar -  fromage – cheese.  The other things he bought resembled nothing we had in the old country.   He bought what they called bread! That stuff was pure white, like cotton, light and fluffy, while back home bread had some substance, was dark, rich, moist and tasty solid rye!  What he brought back and told us was butter  - was horrible, salty and wouldn’t even spread well on bread – tearing it to shreds.  We were not fussy eaters but this stuff was totally foreign!! At least the apples were familiar! I think we nibbled on some cheese and did try the bread and butter because we were sooooo hungry!

We did not enjoy our two-day ride in what was a dirty filthy train!  Soot, dust, grit everywhere coming through the cracks in the windows! There was no place to get comfortable.  Every time you used the ‘washroom’ facilities, you froze your tush!  And what you tried to flush landed on the tracks beneath! How disgusting was that!! Where in the world have we landed!!! Now I’m surprised mom didn’t go into a depression! Don't forget this was October 1954! 

At last we pulled into Winnipeg!  Auntie, dad’s sister and her family, who had immigrated a few years earlier, picked us up and we stayed at her house. Ahhhh, a nice warm, large home! Beds, indoor plumbing, lovely furniture, a cuckoo clock, records and player, a coal furnace, and best of all -  great food! She must know where to shop!  Wow – in our eyes she was rich!! Unbelievable that in such a short time in this country she had all this!! She also showed us how to toast that fluffy white bread and spread peanut butter and jelly on it!! YUM! Although the peanut butter took getting used to – it stuck to the roof of our mouth! 

One thing in this new country that I couldn't handle was all the litter.  In Germany everyone keeps the front of their own house and business immaculate, but here there was such abundance that folks just freely threw so much away. I love things neat and tidy and wanted to go around removing the litter from the streets!  My folks wouldn't let me. To this day I can't throw a candy wrapper on the street! LOL

On the last day of October, Auntie introduced us to a very strange custom of this new land.  Apparently everyone in town participated in this event every year she had learned. All the cousins dressed up in costumes and were sent from house to house begging for food. Imagine that! She said that to make it more fun, kids put on costumes.  Because we couldn’t afford costumes, we could dress up as hobos.  She put patches on our clothes, gave us a pillowcase to carry and we went from house to house, hollering, “Halloween apples”.  People were very generous and in just a couple of blocks of this exercise we had collected enough apples and candy to last the whole family until Christmas.  Wow, these folks were extremely generous! We really liked getting all this free fruit and even candy! We were so grateful and thanked the Lord for the help He provided through strangers!

We immediately connected to a wonderful church family of immigrants whose support, encouragement and love we still have and value to this day! Perhaps more of our church life another time.

After the first two weeks of staying with Aunt Hulda and family, we finally found an apartment to rent that would allow children.  A family from church owned a huge house and took in boarders and renters like us.  We got a 3rd floor, attic apartment – a largish kitchen with eating area and one big bedroom for all of us! Washroom with tub on the 2nd floor!  I wonder if that place still exists.  88 Spence St. Winnipeg! 

That’s what we called HOME for the next while! We had to play quietly inside the apartment – so many people living in one home.  Some did shift work.  Luckily for us there was school within walking distance and a fabulous playground where children our age could expend their energies, get all tuckered out and sleep well! Dad found work with a bunch of fellows from church on a construction crew.  We were settling in very nicely! We had no idea what to expect of the coming winter though!

Amazing how God works. Dad’s brother and his family had applied later than we did to immigrate, but their papers were expedited and processed sooner because Uncle Waldemar had received a call from the church in Winnipeg to be their pastor. 

What a wonderful family reunion! Another of dad’s single brothers, Uncle Rudi, had been the first to immigrate and had sent word that the others should come. He never painted a rosy picture; never exaggerated about the helicopter-sized mosquitoes in the summer and the minus 50-degree bitter cold in the winter! He told it like it is.  That didn’t deter these four siblings and their families to have a new start in a new country! Canada was now our home even though we still had many, many family ties to the old country.

Check my sidebar for a painting of a Winnipeg blizzard by artist, David Ristau, our nephew!

Our family story was only a very small part of a much larger story  recorded  by Dr. Wm. Sturhahn, They Came From East and West  - pictured below.

to be continued - who knows when.......


Ruth's Photo Blog said...

Karin,I am enjoying reading about all this.As I go I am learning new stuff.For one you just explained about the difference in breads,well,that explains the German bread we find in some local stores which are German owned.Thanks for the insight.

Anonymous said...

Dear Karin every time I read your post I feel closer and closer to your heart. As a life long citizen of this side of the world I could never stand what we call 'light bread'. I am so glad you called my attention to my addy I had mistakes in both. My ancestors migrated from England and Ireland and I wish I knew their stories better. I have all the genealogy, about 16 generations on both sides, but not many stories to go with it.
Thanks for sharing

Betsy from Tennessee said...

I love reading your story, Karin. I remember Part I--and look forward to MORE. As a little girl, you had a huge
culture shock when getting to the 'new' country, didn't you???? SO different.

Interesting Halloween story... AND about the liter, I wish we here in the USA were more appreciative of the environment around us. Some of us keep things neat and clean.. BUT--then there is some 'trailer trash' not that far away. GADS!!!!

Keep your story going. I love reading it.

Betty said...

That was interesting! Thanks for sharing your family history!

George said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your story. Somehow I missed the first part, so I got to read both parts today. My first wife immigrated to the U. S. from Czechoslovakia in 1949 when she was nine. She had many similar shipboard experiences, including a first experience with an orange. She landed in New York on Christmas Eve and was enthralled by all the lights.
Incidentally, Chinese trains in 1990 had many characteristics of your 1954 train!

Karin said...

Thank you all for always stopping by and giving me words of encouragement and sharing your comments with me. Much appreciated!

Anneliese said...

I also enjoyed reading your story! Anyone who has felt the culture shock of moving to a new country can relate to the feelings you expressed. It reminded me of when we came to Canada (Toronto) in 1967and then came to Vancouver by train - although I think the train ride was better. I remember walking through the dining car and being so impressed with that - although we didn't eat in there. Somehow my mom always managed to have food for us - us kids didn't even think where it came from.

Linda said...

Karin it was so good to get your comment on my blog tonight. I have missed you. I read part 2 and now I will go and read part1. It is so interesting to hear other people's stories.

We need to keep up with each other. I get behind on my reading and commenting, but I will try to be better.

Linda @ Truthful Tidbits

Julie said...

Karin, how interesting! Funny that you have an Aunt Hulda.. so do I! and she has a brother Rudy.
I was on a train from BC to Saskatchewan in 1951 to visit my Dad's family. I remember the train clean and comfortable, I loved sleeping in the bunks.
Maybe the trains from Quebec to Manitoba were older.
And I also remember the helicoper mosquitos in Manitoba when my Dad's family moved there and were visited in the summers.
Was it hard learning English? You have obviously mastered it ! smile
I love your blog... very nice!

Mary at Civilla's Cyber Cafe said...

Saw your comment at Daffodil Dreams, which I follow. I have started following your blog.

I lived in Germany when I was 17,18, when we were stationed there. Such a lovely country.

You certainly speak English well...I guess because you came to North America when you were young.

Thanks for telling your story! God Bless.

Solveig said...

A wonderful story. Thanks for sharing it.

Van said...

I love to read about people's lives. We are all on a journey and everyone has a wonderfully fascinating story. I was just out visiting in bloggy land tonight and found you.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Your bread description made me smile! We don't have real bread in the USA, either. I did not know that until I had spent some time in Russia and Europe. Now I just don't eat bread unless I can drop by a bakery that sells European bread, which is not often possible.

LegalMist said...

Fascinating to read about your family's immigration story. Funny how things we take for granted can seem so strange to other folks.

Elfie Kron said...

Hello ...My name is Elfie! I too arrived in Quebec from Bremerhaven Germany on board the Arosa Kulm, in October 1954! I was five! I remember the trip very well because only my father and I were not affected by seasickness and were probably one of the very few in the dining room to enjoy the meals! I remember the crossing being very rough and only found out years later when I realized that we had crossed with Hurricane Hazel that had blown into Toronto just ahead of us. The cleanup became my father's first job! We celebrate 58 years in Canada this October! Praise God and thanks be to Him for bringing us to a land truly of milk and honey!