This is the last page of my grandfather’s (incomplete) memoir – I think there is one short story in the file that I will dig up eventually, and I still hope to post some pics soon. For those of you (four) who don’t know… My paternal grandfather wrote these thoughts at the age of 70 in 1974. He is currently aboard the Scythia traveling to Canada from his home in Barrow in Furnace, England at the age of 20… reflecting on his youth. It’s tagged as ‘a story’ if anyone wants to read the entire memoir. Noteworthy is that this last page is spaced differently and there are several spelling mistakes and typos… strange.
My thoughts were carried back to Barrow, where I sang in the choir as a boy, and the service game me a great lift, restoring my confidence and enthusiasm in the purpose of the journey. After the service ended, while I was walking around the deck, the fact that we were nearing the end of the voyage seemed to be creating a feeling of anxiousness among the passengers, something to be felt rather than explained. Groups were gathered together in spirited discussion and moving quickly to the rail if anyone spotted a school of porpoise, jumping out of the water as though to see what was happening on the surface. Everyone was walking and talking at a quicker pace.
Our approximate landing time, and instructions for disembarking had been posted on the various bulletin boards in the morning and passengers were looking anxiously for the first sight of land. They were actually over-anxious, as land was not sighted until the next day. During the night we could feel that the ship’s engines had been cut back considerably, and in the morning everyone was hurrying at breakfast, to get up on deck. Very little could be seen however, as we were enveloped in a dense fog, and the ship’s fog horn was sounding continuously. We were all crowding the forward rail, straining our eyes; and our efforts were soon rewarded. Out of the mist we could see a dull outline as it appeared to rise slowly out of the water and mist. True enough it was land at last, on the seventh day which had a biblical significance. It was not long before the passengers were out on dry land, solid land which did not move, claiming their luggage.
We were all in a great hurry to leave the ship, pushing and shoving, then walking the short distance to the railway station where the train was waiting. This train would take us to our final destination in the western wheat fields where the labours would commence. On the over, we were serenaded bu a group of about twelve young negroes, who were playing an assortment of musical instruments, and singing well-known songs which were popular at that time. I remember only two, ‘Barney Google and his GOO Goo GOogly Eyes’ and ‘Yes, We Have No Bananas’. This welcome raised our spirits and put us in a good mood for our next journey, on land as a change from the sea. The engineer kept blowing the whistle, in a manner which suggested that he was in a hurry and would like to get going. We gave him great encouragement, quickening our steps, and we were soon on the way. With a few more frantic toots from the engineer, the train was packed full of men, and we began to move from the station.
I wish I had more. I wish I knew exactly how he came to Southern Ontario. Hm.
I wonder why he stopped with the sea journey. I would really have liked to read about his travel to and work in Western Canada (or the Prairies). Maybe he became frustrated with typing. Perhaps my grandmother critizised his writing. I can see her disapproving of the mention of alcohol and gambling, encouraging him to add more about church. I’ll never have answers to these questions, but am grateful to have what he did write.