For this life­long, loyal Cana­dian, Re­mem­brance Day only in­ten­si­fies pa­tri­otic emo­tions

More of Our Canada - - Bulletin Board - by Beth El­hard,

As I watch the fi­nal rays of a golden Prairie sun­set glis­ten­ing on the hoar­frost of the trees, I am moved to tears at the breath­tak­ing splen­dour of this beau­ti­ful piece of Canada. I know that some­where else in this land some­one is in awe at the sight be­fore them. From the West Coast to the East Coast, it is a col­lage of beauty.

I am a third-gen­er­a­tion Cana­dian and to say that I love this coun­try would be an un­der­state­ment.

“Our home and na­tive land”

It is not just the beauty of Canada alone, how­ever; it is the core of the coun­try that I love as well. Canada’s heart and soul has its roots in the gen­er­a­tions gone be­fore us and it leaves in my be­ing a deep, in­tense feel­ing of grat­i­tude for those who forged their way in a new coun­try.

I think of my English grand­mother and great­grand­mother who ar­rived in northern On­tario in 1910 in 40°F weather. They were wear­ing felt slip­pers and sweaters and were met by my great-grand­fa­ther, who was to die soon after, leav­ing them des­ti­tute and en­dur­ing un­be­liev­able hard­ships.

They re­mained in this coun­try, which was so vast and dif­fer­ent from the Eng­land they had left. My grand­mother would in time marry my grand­fa­ther, a Cana­dian, and bring a gen­er­a­tion of hard-work­ing, pa­tri­otic, hon­est peo­ple into the world. Grand­fa­ther served in the First World War and came home a changed man who strug­gled the rest of his years. But even as he strug­gled, he served again as a re­servist dur­ing the Sec­ond World War.

My heart beats with a fierce pa­tri­o­tism ev­ery Re­mem­brance Day and my emo­tions well up, leav­ing

my voice trem­bling dur­ing the na­tional an­them at our lo­cal Re­mem­brance Day ser­vice. I think of the hor­rors that my grand­fa­ther en­dured in the First World War as I watch with pride while my son and daugh­ter lay a wreath in his mem­ory.

I think of my un­cles who served in the Sec­ond World War and of an­other who did not re­turn and never met his third son. He lies in a ceme­tery in Or­tona, Italy. I have the tele­gram that my mother re­ceived from her sis­ter, which sim­ply read, “Jimmy killed in ac­tion.” He was one of many Cana­di­ans who fought and died for this coun­try I love. “True pa­triot love in all thy sons com­mand” My hus­band’s grand­par­ents left a coun­try of strife and pend­ing war to bring their fam­ily to Canada. They sailed from Bre­men, Ger­many, and were pro­cessed through El­lis Is­land. They lived for a time in the United States, find­ing their way to Saskatchewan and then Al­berta, where they made their per­ma­nent home. They, too, were strong, hard­work­ing hon­est peo­ple who brought to our coun­try a be­lief in God and hard work and then passed their strengths on to their chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and great-grand­chil­dren. They had to learn a new lan­guage and a new cul­ture but their work ethic is found in the land that is still farmed by the fam­ily.

A lone wind­mill still marks the spot where they be­gan their Cana­dian dy­nasty. Canada suf­fered the tri­als of the 1930s, when se­vere drought and years of poverty left its mark and changed lives.

In time, my grand­par­ents, who had come west in the good years, lost their farm. That sor­row and pain was never to be for­got­ten by their chil­dren who would, on any fam­ily oc­ca­sion, make a pil­grim­age back to “the home place” to rem­i­nisce about the good times on the farm.

The one son who had al­ways wanted to farm had to leave when the “For Sale” sign by the bank­ruptcy firm went up on the gatepost. He packed a few be­long­ings in a small car­pet­bag and caught a box­car from a nearby town, rid­ing the rails with hun­dreds of other men head­ing east to the gold mine.

He en­dured dan­ger­ous men who would kill for money, the fierce­ness of the rail­way po­lice, and the shame of stand­ing in soup lines for food to find a job and forge ahead in a new life. And though it was not to be, he never for­got his love for the land. That man was my fa­ther.

Per­haps the words of Emily Carr best ex­press my feel­ings: “It is won­der­ful to feel the grand­ness of Canada in the raw, not be­cause she is Canada, but be­cause she’s some­thing sub­lime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are a part of.” ■

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