The winds of a dry spring sprung to mind a memory of years past.
Please pardon me if you’ve heard this before!
In 1938 my father and his older brother headed to Ontario.
For work. By hitchhiking, riding bikes (without motors!), riding trains. “Carry-with” luggage only.
Calvin was going on 20, Robert was verging on 22.
The family farm could not sustain them – Kindersley was deeply into the Dirty Thirties. Crops were pretty well non-existent, and Eastern Canada was bailing out destitute Westerners. This assistance included not only material needs, but often the contact and networking help provided by relatives “back home”.
The help the boys were looking for was from their relatives around Stayner/Duntroon, Ontario – tucked into beautiful farming country just north and a bit west of Toronto. Should they be able to reach this farming land, they intended on assisting with whatever chores they could. Farming was their life, and that of their relatives in Ontario.
Upon reaching the head of the Great Lakes, Thunder Bay, they determined that by far the quickest route would be through the United States. Inexpensive bicycles were purchased and they headed south to the crossing – a good 50 kilometers away. And by good, that means they were in good shape – and a days ride was in store.
Arriving at the border, they attempted to cross. The border guards were hesitant.
The boys explained that they were headed to Ontario. To Work.
They were not miscreants or vagrants. They would not seek sustained employment in the United States. They were headed “back home”. The border guards were not so sure. Immigrants from Canada had deceptively entered the country, taken jobs that should have been given to US citizens, and promoted a reprobate lifestyle.
NO ENTRY! – proclaimed the border guards. And, the brothers were told they were barred from entering the United States ever again – or that was the story my father told me! In all of his life, which spanned almost 91 years, this was the only country he was ever not allowed to enter – for being a supposed vagrant!
Robert went on to become a PHD – pioneering radiation treatment for cancer. My father became a respected meteorologist and raised a wholesome family of seven.
Yesterday’s stories sometimes seem amazingly new!
For more, visit KindersleySocial.ca/Ron-Baker