Issue: July 2019
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Next deadline: August 29

MY CANADA EXODUS

Written by
Published on January 2018

I never thought that coming to live in New Glasgow was the first stage in my journey home to England, but it hit me like a bolt from the blue.  Here I was in good lodgings and an equally good job at the Eastern Woodworks.  

   It happened one evening as I was relaxing and getting ready to go out. The man from the Department of Health called and informed me that I was to get ready to return to England.  A week was indicated.  I should be ready to go to Halifax, N.S. in one week from the following Monday.  So I decided to go and see my sister Bessie in Barney’s River and bid her goodbye for now, call in at the Bannerman house to thank them for their kindness and hospitality and to give a sad goodbye to my friend Donald.
   Following on next day, Wednesday, I went to work and sadly explained to the boss man that I was returning to England the next week and there and then terminated my employment.  He was most disappointed at losing me, and to my surprise, took me to the pay station and drew out a month’s wages, shook my hand and put his arm around me and wished me well and the offer of a job if I should come back.  I went to say cheerio to my workmates. 
I then told Mrs. Robertson (my landlady) that I was leaving.  
   On reserve parade night I returned my uniform and the quartermaster sergeant handed back to me my cap badge as a memento.  
   Next day I drew my savings from the Royal Bank.  I spent the weekend ambling around town. At the church I saw Phyllis and bade her goodbye with the words, “I’ll be back”.  Little did I know that it would never happen despite my many efforts.  
   I had my passport picture taken to allow me to enter the British Isles.  I then made a dash to the High School to say goodbye to Leana. I asked the principal if I could speak to her but he refused to interrupt her class until I pleaded with him and explained that I was about to return to the mother country.  
   Leana came out of her class looking puzzled, until I explained, then she put her arms around me and cried.  This upset me as I didn’t realise that she was growing fond of me.  Some months later, she wrote and informed me that she had graduated from the High School and had accepted a post as a student nurse in a nearby hospital.  Leana was my last contact in New Glasgow.  
   The day of departure came and the man from the Department of Health escorted me to the station.  My designated train came in and he found me a seat, gave me a note for Mr McKinnon in Halifax, who was due to meet me at Halifax station.  My guardian loaded my suitcase, wished me well and within minutes the train moved off on the first leg of my three thousand mile journey.  
   As it passed the Bedford Basin I noted that it was quite full with merchant ships and about three Canadian Navy Warships which turned out to be our escort.  
   Arriving in the terminus at Halifax - sure enough, Mr McKinnon was there to meet me. I recognized him as he had looked after Bessie and I on behalf of the Canadian Overseas Reception Board.  Being on my own, he took me to the YMCA and lodged me in a single room. He indicated that I would probably be there for three to four days.  He left his phone number with me just in case I had any problems.  He also gave me 150$ for eating out and amusements whilst the YMCA was funded in advance by the Department of Health.  Before Mr. McKinnon went back to his office, he took me down to a diner where he treated me to coffee and doughnuts.  Then off he went to his office, but not before he asked how I had fared in Canada.  My response pleased him, and surprised him, when I related to him, in brief, the passing years and ended up by telling him that I did not want to return to England.  But as I was still a minor I had to leave. 
Mr McKinnon explained that my passport was Canadian and US and permitted me to return when I was of age.  “I’ll be in touch,” he said “but don’t stay out at night.”
   I began to settle down at the YMCA, but how should I fill in my time for up to four possible days?  Fortunately, he left me a Halifax City Guide and I spent some time going through it and pinpointing various places of interest.  

Uniacke Newsletter
2018-01-13
https://www.uniackenewsletter.ca/stories/my-canada-exodus