‘This is her story’, by Joyce Van Dam as told when she was 101 years of age in Tiverton, Ontario – Part 3 (Part 1 – CLICK HERE Part 2 – CLICK HERE).
The family joined Bill at the mink ranch near Toronto but Bill was busy looking in the paper and he found a better opportunity at Walkerton, again working on a mink ranch. About a week after the boys and I arrived, we all moved to Walkerton.
I remember the living conditions in the apartment on the mink ranch as being about as bad as it could get. It was a small basement apartment next to a garage or shed that was used to dry mink pelts. It was damp and smelly. I became sick with jaundice and Bill set out to find better living conditions.
When Bill had arrived in Canada, he began to take correspondence courses to study accounting. He studied from 1954 to 1957 and in 1963 he attended McMaster University one day a week and received his accounting degree in 1963.
Even in the tough times, I never really felt homesick or wanted to return to Holland. My family was happy in Canada. The thing I found difficult was the language. I remember the time when I made mistakes because I couldn’t understand the language.
In 1955, we bought a house for $1,500. It was close to the ranch, was unfinished and has an upstairs. Bare lightbulbs were hanging from the ceiling and there was an outhouse in the shed. Over the years, we changed it into a modern house and we did most of the work. ourselves.
1957 was a very busy year for the Van Dam family. Bill left the ranch and began to work for the hardware manufacturing company Larsen and Shaw and, in 1957 we bought a car.
When Harry was in school, I got a part-time job filing papers at income tax time. That was my first job in Canada. After that, I worked for 15 years for the Health Unit in Walkerton. I started out cleaning toilets and floors and ended up as secretary for the Head Nurse.
With the boys in school, they began to play with the local neighbour children. The Van Dam boys made friends with the Wismer children. Evelyn Wismer was an English war bride who was lonely and she and I became friends. Also, Jack Wismer and Bill became good friends. Or two families often set out on weekend car rides. These rides eventually lead to Inverhuron. While visiting the area, Bill and I often attended Knox Presbyterian Church in Tiverton.
Then, in 1960, Bill bought a piece of property in Inverhuron at the Stony Beach end. We had to clear it to build a cottage. It was built by John Matheson and his brother.
After a few years, Bill decided he wanted a basement. and, with the help of me and the children, we started taking stones out on the weekends when we came up. We kept supporting the foundation with cement when a small piece was done.
In 1970, Bill. and I moved to Inverhuron and continued to drive back and forth to Walkerton every day to work for a number of years.
Soon after we moved to Inverhuron, we became members of Knox Presbyterian Church in Tiverton where I’ve been a member ever since. Bill soon became an Elder on the Session of Knox church where he served for many years and played the organ with enthusiasm for 20 years.
In 1976, Bill decided to out on his own with his accounting business and set up an office in Inverhuron and along the way we never stopped building.
The Lord has blessed us so much in our lives. When pressed for some words of wisdom, it is difficult to answer that in a few words. But here are some thoughts. Live close to Christ and the Holy Spirit will show the way. Love is the most important thing in our lives. Be helpful to everyone. Don’t waste energy with anger.