Coming to Canada
Mary, Marilyn and Miriam arrived here in 1967 to travel and work. Making a new home here wasn’t part of the plan, but...
We called ourselves the “Three Ms”—mary, Marilyn and me, Miriam. I am originally from Wales and, although both Mary and Marilyn grew up in England, their mothers were from Wales, too, so we have that heritage in common. The three of us first met at the Liverpool Royal Infirmary, where we trained to be nurses. After the successful completion of our training and with a clear career path ahead of us, we decided to travel and work abroad for a while. And so, on August 11, 1967, we landed at the Montreal– Dorval International Airport, travelling from Manchester, England. Mary’s sister, Ifôn, who was an anaesthetist at Montreal’s Royal Victoria Hospital, picked us up, and she apparently wanted to see our eyes pop in amazement, as she met us in a stretch limo!
Our first few days were spent at Expo ’67, which was a very fun time for the three of us. Our real aim, however, was to work as registered nurses at the Victoria Hospital in London, Ont., so off we went. Marilyn and I began work soon after we arrived there, in the newly constructed intensive care unit, where we attended open-heart surgery patients. Mary was hired not long afterwards to work in an orthopaedic unit. A highlight of our oneyear term there was a visit from Dr. Christiaan Barnard—famous for successfully completing the first human heart transplant—who had come to confer with one of his colleagues.
We had originally planned to stay in Canada for one year, however, we soon realized it would be impossible to see much of Canada in such a short time span. As a result, Marilyn and I bought a car from a friend and were soon on the road again, with Mary vowing to catch up to us at some point.
Our ultimate destination this time was Calgary and the new Foothills Hospital that Marilyn had heard about. In addition to a large swath of Canada, our meandering route took us 4,000 miles through the United States. When we eventually made it to the Foothills Hospital, we both worked in a coronary care unit and Mary, true to her word, joined us later.
A NEW LIFE
While I was working in Calgary, I met my husband-to-be, Ed, through a friend. At the time, Ed had been working in oil field construction. We got married in Drayton Valley, Alta., in 1970 and our two sons, Sean and Kenneth, were born shortly thereafter.
When Ken was 18 months old, I returned to work full-time as a registered nurse at the local hospital in Drayton, and I re- mained employed there for three years. During that time, Ed and I saved enough money to put a substantial down payment on a house destined to be built on one of two quarter sections of land we were developing from homestead sales. We sold one quarter section, so that we could concentrate on developing the 110 acres on the home quarter.
As our boys got older, they worked alongside us, clearing roots and rocks; somehow, they seemed to find the biggest rocks to move! I remember one day Ken accidentally dropped a rock on Sean’s finger, and a scuffle broke out. It was a good thing I was there to break it up or else my nursing skills
might have been called into service! But usually the boys got along just fine, and many wiener roasts were enjoyed when we burned the root piles and assorted brush we had cleared. We developed a tradition of having a bonfire on or close to Guy Fawkes’ Day on November 5th, inviting our neighbours to join us in a chili cookout followed by sweet treats. It was our big reward after all the dirty work of root and rock picking.
Our combined clearing efforts allowed us to use the land for a cow-calf operation, and Ed also worked in the Pembina oil field as a battery operator.
While Ed and I both grew up on farms, farming was not destined to be the career path for Sean or Ken. They both attended the University of Alberta. Sean graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering, and Ken graduated in 1995 with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Now, they are both partners in their respective businesses. Sean is based in Calgary and Ken is a chartered accountant in his hometown; each is stretched to the limit in terms of workload. Sean and Ken are both married, and Ken has made us grandparents to Samantha and Dakota. We have enjoyed seeing them grow up to be ambitious young ladies. I retired from nursing in 1997 and Ed retired in 2004; since then we have enjoyed becoming world travellers! When Samantha graduated from high school, she announced to my surprise that she wanted to become a registered nurse. The day Dakota graduated from high school, she said she aimed to be a chartered accountant and to have her own firm! So, at 17 years of age, she plans on following her father’s footsteps and attend the University of Alberta. Samantha graduated from Red Deer College with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing in 2017—my 50th year of being in Canada. What a way to celebrate 50 years of being in my chosen country of Canada!
As for the two other “Ms,” Marilyn returned to England around 1969. Mary, in a situation similar to my own, met and married her husband in Calgary. He was originally from France, and they decided to move there in 1972.
Despite being separated from my two long-time friends, I have remained in contact with both of them, and have even been able to meet up with Marilyn a few times in England. Mary comes to visit her sister in Vancouver quite often and has come to visit me at least three times over the years; we’ve also met up halfway between Drayton Valley and Vancouver to spend time together in beautiful British Columbia.
So, even when distance keeps us apart, the “Three Ms” are always together in spirit. ■
Moving from top to bottom: Miriam, Mary and Marilyn (from left to right) upon arrival in Montreal; the "three Ms” at Expo 67; Miriam and her granddaughter Samantha in 2016; Miriam in 1964, prior to coming to Canada.