A Tall Order for the New Year

Local columnist shares a slice of her own history and how she came to be in Harrison Hot Springs

The beginning of a new year has always been a favourite time for me. A time to look back but also a time to look forward and realign. This January was no exception, in fact, it was more so than usual. And so it came about that I decided to write my family’s story of our immigration to Canada. The time is right:  in the year 2016 it will be 60 years since we came to this country, a time to celebrate!

I talked to friends and family members about my plan and realized that, to my surprise, the interest in my undertaking was not the greatest. We all live very much in the here and now and happily leave it to the movie makers and storytellers to inform future generations about our life and time. There is nothing wrong with this, but where is the personal touch? Where is the magic of our stories – being told by those who lived them – from generation to generation?

My husband – together with his brother and the help of other family members – has put together a most impressive family tree and history, dating back to Napoleon’s time. My father, too, did much of the same for my family though not as extensive. A cousin of my husband even wrote a book about the Altendorf history which is, of course, more than most of us can do! But, at one time, when I was already retired, I became interested and ambitious enough to relate some of the fascinating stories – some tragic or sad, some happy and funny – of family members who lived during or before my time. How sad would it be if those stories would have been lost!

But the greatest story of my own life and the life of my family I have yet to write! It is the story of our immigration from Europe to Canada. Though it will be the story of myself and my family, it also will be the story of countless others. We all came from somewhere and somewhere else before and yet, each story is unique and important. There is no doubt, however, how greatly the lives of immigrants as well as of the lives of relatives and friends who stay behind, are impacted.

The years from 1950 – 1960 were a good time to come to Canada: there were plenty of opportunities and there was lots of work. Canada needed workers and the immigrants needed work. There was a willingness in the air to help each other. There was the working towards developing the country on the side of the immigrants and in return, much effort on the side of Canada to give the immigrants a feeling of belonging – a great combination!

The story of my own and of my husband’s immigration will perhaps sound more like a mini “exodus” since during the time from 1954 – 1957 seven family members of our larger family followed each other to this country. Our trek started with my brother and his wife in the year 1954 followed by my mother, Juliette, and my younger sister in 1955. Next my husband and myself with our two daughters (ages 5 and 8) reached Canadian shores in 1956 and a sister-in-law with her husband and their son ended the trek in 1957.

There are great stories behind these few sentences that have to be told at another time. For today, however, I want to say that none of us ever regretted our decision to immigrate to Canada. As one of my grandsons said:  “We are so lucky to live here, so lucky!” Yes, indeed!

Ruth Altendorf is an occasional columnist in The Agassiz-Harrison Observer. Here, she shares a slice of her own history instead of her usual tales of Harrison folks and happenings This is part one of a six-column series to appear in The Observer over the coming weeks.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fraser Valley couple wins $500K after finding scratch-and-win while moving

  • Robert Walters and Lois Gueret of Agassiz win half a million from Scratch & Win ticket

High-risk sex offender living in Chilliwack back in court

Former mayor and residents wanted James Conway gone from residential neighbourhood two years ago

Court orders Hope-area First Nation council to accept long-contested memberships

Federal judge rules Peters Band Council acted “irrationally, unreasonably” in rejecting applications

KAAC won’t back Kent’s Teacup properties plans

Public consultation meeting is on March 10 at District Hall

Students in the Fraser East work hard, need more mental health support

McCreary Centre releases stats from 2018 that show trends among students

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

B.C. landlord can’t serve eviction notice because tenant is in jail

Homeowner baffled at arbitrator decision based on notice of hearing not being served properly

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Most Read