‘This is her story’: More than a Century of Living – Part 2

‘This is her story’, by Joyce Van Dam as told when she was 101 years of age in Tiverton, Ontario – Part 2 (to read Part 1 – CLICK HERE).

And then …. the Germans landed

In 1940, the Germans occupied the Netherlands where we lived.  For give years we suffered under German occupation.  The food was scarce and of poor quality.  The young men between the ages of 18 and 24 were to work for the German Army if they were found. For three years, Bill was in hiding with farmers.

In December of 1944, Bill and I were married.  I don’t remember a proposal as such, we were just together and fell in love.

Things were tough and food was scarce so planning a wedding meal was a challenge.  Somehow Bill’s father was able to find a pig to butcher, so roast pork was a treat. But the real treat was a slice of real while bread made from wheat.  This was obtained from a local farmer who made his own bread.

On our wedding day the German troops moved in so all the young men went into hiding. Bill spent his wedding night in a hiding spot under the floor in the hospital.  I spent my wedding night with my in-laws.

I remember clearly the day in May of 1945 when the Canadians liberated our town.  Everyone was really excited. i jumped up and hitched a ride on an army truck.  Everyone was really happy.

Bill and I lived in Holland where our three children were born (Martin, Bill and Harry).  We may have continued to live in Holland except that Bill got some sort of a blood poisoning that just wouldn’t leave.  He had boils and open sores that the doctors in Holland didn’t seem to be able to cure.  One of the doctors suggested Bill moved to a different country.

In his usual way, Bills started to do research. He studied Canada, Australia and New Zealand and decided Canada was the place for him.  But leaving for a different country with a young family and not a lot of cash was not an easy task.

Bill persuaded his younger brother Harry to go to Canada a year ahead and sort of scout things out.  Because Harry was single it was much easier for him to pass the immigration requirements. Harry set out for Canada in 1953.

In 1954, Bill left Holland for Canada.  He was still afflicted with boils and open sores and got a ticket on a miserable army vessel and made the trip from Holland to Quebec where he met up with Harry and started to work in Canada.

In order to bring me and the family to Canada, Bill had to prove that he had a job and enough money to support the family.  Bill got a job working on a mink ranch near Toronto.  Before he left Holland he had never even seen a mink.

By September, Bill was able to prove he had a job. and enough security to bring me and the family to Canada.  I remember the boat trip from Holland as being a crowded and rather unpleasant trip. The three boys and I had to share a compartment with four other people.  The boat was rough and there was very little privacy as the curtains would open every time the boat rocked.

When the boys and I arrived in Quebec, Bill and Harry met us at the ship dock.  I remember that Harry jumped over the fence to embrace the boys and welcome us to Canada.

Life begins in Canada

To be continued …