Immigration

Posted by jyuhasz
 
               RK:        Well, I was the first born in 1940 in Holland where the war had already broken out, and I was in Holland in hiding for three years with a Christian family, the Munniks, M-U-N-N-I-K. Albert and Violette Munnik and their daughter Nora, who became my sister. In 1945 I was reunited with my parents who survived in hiding individually in different places and that was at least a minor miracle if not a large one because everyone else except for one first cousin was murdered.
 
RS:         And how old were you when you were taken into hiding with this family?
 
RK:         I was two years old, 1942 to 1945. Liberation of Holland was May 5, 1945 and I was returned to my parents within two or three weeks after that.
 
RS:         And after that, Dr. Krell, your family decided to immigrate to Canada?
 
RK:         My parents in 1949 looked at Israel, which was not a great place to work for a furrier, which my father was and they were worried about more wars and had just come out of one barely. So then they looked at Australia, then we got American visas which were given to the family with my father so that they could emigrate which they did to Los Angeles area and then we got our Canadian visas and came to Vancouver, British Columbia in 1951.
 
RS:         So how old were you? So I guess now we will start with your life in Canada?
 
RK:         I was...we came here in March and I was 10 years old, turning 11 in that coming summer.
 
RS:         And how do you remember that time of your life moving to a new country, you have gone through so many...
 
RK:         Oh, I was the world’s most eager immigrant. I wanted to get out of Holland that was just a place of reminders of death and other than missing a couple of relatives who survived in Switzerland and my own Dutch Christian parents, other than that I left nothing of importance behind, I was eager to be here in Canada and it turned out to be the right place.
 
RS:         So what do you remember, when you moved here how was it for you as a family to find a house, to start, you know, finding a school, to be in a new country as a child? Probably I don’t know if you spoke the language back then, so...
 
RK:         No, it was complicated for my parents. They made their second, third, or fourth start in life, which is not easy. And of course they were the only survivors of their entire family so there was no one, no one left. They started anew. For me it was a piece of cake. I didn’t speak English when I got here so I was put back one grade in an elementary school. I learned English over the summer.

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Posted by jyuhasz
 
 
               BF:         Was it difficult to immigrate to Canada in those years or was it relatively easy?
 
CE:         Well, we had to be examined, you know have a physical examination to see that we were well enough and of course we both, thankfully passed that; and we had sold our home, just given everything up because I thought ‘When I get to Canada I’ll be able to buy everything new.’ Little did I know the hardships that we were going to face when we got here. My husband’s business being a picture-framer at the time, it wasn’t easy to get into that kind of business on your own because in those days people weren’t interested in art the way they are now and so all the picture framing was done by the big stores, Woodward’s or Eaton’s.
 
BF:         Where was your first store located in Vancouver?
 
CE:         He didn’t open his first store, no. In Bradford he had opened his first store but in Vancouver he was never able to open his first store. First of all, at the time when we came to Canada from England, we were only able to bring a certain amount of money with us and each year it had to be a certain amount, and to start with, you know, by the time we had paid all our expenses for coming here, there was not a lot of money to play around with. So we didn’t even think about opening our own store. I would say that both my husband and I were always too cautious about going into debt, we would never ever buy anything until we could pay for it. So that taking a loan to open a business was just an unheard of thing.

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Posted by jyuhasz
Interviewer: Irene Dodek & Cyril Leonoff
 
ID:          And what was the trip over like on the ship? Do you remember the trip?
 
JD:         Nope. We went from Danzig to England. The worst trip I ever saw. It was only supposed to be 24 hours on the ship. It took us about two days. Everybody was sick. And that ship was going like that and like this. Terrible. You know, I had never went on a ship. [When I got out] of the ship it was just marvellous. And I woke up about 10 o’clock at night. Oh yes. I ate a hotdog with some mustard and then it all came up and I never ate mustard for probably another 20 years after that. I just couldn’t look at mustard anymore. And we got into England and then we got turned back by the…so we had to stay there another month and a half.
 
ID:          Where did you stay in England?
 
JD:         It was like an army camp.
 
ID:          Like a hostel.
 
JD:         Yeah, an army camp.
 
ID:         Was there a Jewish community there that helped feed you or look after
  you at all?
 
JD:         Nobody. I never saw anybody. The only time I ever got something and I obviously remember, I said, “If I ever had any money I’ll pay them back.” When I got on the train from wherever, Atlantic in Canada, they brought me, the Jewish people got a bag, oranges, apples, bread…I was very thankful.
 
ID:         So you landed in Quebec someplace, I guess, did you? That’s where the
  ship landed?
 
JD:         Yeah.
 
ID:          What were your first impressions of this land?
 
JD:         Well I’ll tell you, when I got on that train, sitting up here for five days. And they were heating it with coals, in the train, you know. I was sitting up for five days. And I saw all that wilderness you used to go through and I thought, “What in the hell did I let myself into?” I thought the whole of Canada was all full of lumber, you know. You know how the train goes through different places.

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Posted by jyuhasz
 
               ID:          You really had your own meat, and you probably had a garden…
 
               ED:         Oh yes. We were very, very comfortable there because we did not,  we didn’t want of anything until the revolution.
 
               ID:          And then what happened?
 
               ED:         During the revolution we had, we couldn’t, didn’t have bread to eat, we didn’t have anything. And I remember it like I can see it now, that a gypsy came along and she says, “I’ll tell you your fortune.” She says, “Where’s your mother?” And my mother was sick. And we were living in Schwartzman’s grandmother’s place across the street. Ralph Schwartzman’s grandmother’s place.
 
ID:          Ralph Schwartzman who lives here?
 
ED:         Yes.
 
ID:          His grandmother?
 
ED:         Yes. And the woman said, “If you give me a piece of bread,” she says, “I’ll tell you your fortune.” So I took her into my mother and she told my mother the fortune, exactly what was going to happen. And my mother says, “Oh,” she says, “It’ll never happen,” you know. But she told my mother we were going to leave, we were going to cross the ocean and she says the dark men are going to look after us. So my mother says, “Oi, I’m sick, I’ll never live long enough for that.” So she says, “Yes, you will live but your husband will only live a year and a half after he crosses the ocean.”
 
ID:          And is that what happened?
 
ED:         Yes, that’s why I will never go to a fortune teller. [As] I remember myself, I will never go to one...

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Posted by jyuhasz
Interviewer: Ann Krieger & Myer Freedman
 
 
 
 
               DN:        And we landed in Quebec. And Quebec we landed on August the 18th or 19th because I arrived in Winnipeg on August the 22nd.
 
               AK:         What year was this again?
 
DN:        1912. But one thing I want to tell you, when I arrived in Canada and when they asked me for money I was supposed to have at least $50 to show that you’re not going to be a burden to the country. My brother wrote me that I have to say that I haven’t got any money because I’ve got a brother in Canada. Well, they asked me for money, I said, “I haven’t got any.” I only had really 50 cents, that’s it but I said, “I haven’t got any.” So, they couldn’t make out heads or tail. And they knew that I had to travel for three days on the train, three days and three nights but I didn’t realize, so I was singled out to the side and put away in a waiting room and I sure thought I was going to be sent back because…And I waited for many, many hours ‘til a Jewish Immigration Aid man turned up and he told me that I should go along with them. I went with them and the train was still waiting, for that matter I think it waited ‘til I got on. They loaded up me with three full gunny sacks of food for the journey.
 
AK:         Would this have been from the Jewish community of Winnipeg or from the Canadian…
 
DN:        No, that’s in Quebec. That’s the Jewish Immigration Aid Society, you see this was, I want to make that clear. This is what I want to get [in there]. So I had more than I could eat and therefore—there was other immigrants too going to Winnipeg and I shared most of my food with them. They could use it too because there was big families. This is how I came to Canada. In Canada, in Winnipeg, my brother met me there not with a Cadillac and not even with a Ford but he met me with a bicycle which I never rode a bicycle in my life. He put me on the handlebars and he carted me, I would say about 20 blocks. That was the first thrill in Canada.

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Posted by jyuhasz
 
               ID:          What made your father want to leave Russia?
 
               BW:       Well, what it really started, really finished at is one night, [they] knocked on the door about two o’clock in the morning, two or three o’clock in the morning. It was after 12 anyways. And they told him to dress and they arrested about 2, 300 no, 350 people. There was clergymen, a lot of Jewish people, but there was not...
 
[Tape cuts out]
 
BW:       They knocked on the door and came in and told Dad to dress fast and to come along with them. And of course we heard so many stories so Morrie and myself grabbed his legs and started to cry. And Mother started to cry because we knew that a lot of them never came back once they arrest them. And the fellow pulled out his sword from that and he told Mother that to take us away or if not, he’ll chop our heads off. And [she] took us away and they arrested him. He was away for four days. And out of all the people that was arrested about half of 14 returned. The rest of them, nobody ever knew what happened to them.
 
ID:          Now, what reason did they give for arresting him?
 
BW:       [They didn’t for arresting him], they didn’t give no reason.
 
ID:          They didn’t have to give a reason.
 
BW:       They didn’t. No reason at all. Now when he came back his hair was as white as a ghost. And he just looked horrible. We were still in Russia, we came over here, we lived for 10 years in Vancouver. Everybody, I asked him, and Mother, everybody, “What happened?” He never said one word what happened. Either he forgot or he didn’t want to tell because it must have been so horrible. We never knew. He died, he never told us what happened in the four days that he was in jail.
 
ID:          Was this…
 
BW:       By the communists.
 
ID:          Yes, now, but when they arrested him, was it after that that he decided to leave Russia? It wasn’t before?
 
BW:       No. [What we’re talking about,] because once after that he decided and so on. But he never told us what happened.

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Posted by Anonymous

The immigration form of father of the the Vancouver Lerchers.

Source: 
Burton, Steven
Posted by Anonymous
Object id: 
L.13028

A Polish medical document certifying that Meschel Dodyk is free of ringworm, tuberculosis in any form, and free of any deformity that might cause him to be deported from Canada or the USA, and that he has been vacinated. Signed by Dr. M. Vogelbaum.

Date: 
1926
Source: 
Dodek, Irene
Posted by jhsadmin

 

SR: By the time we got to Vancouver at the very end of 1922. Say the beginning of 1923. I remember when I was kid growing up in Vancouver and I don’t think things changed very much in say, the 15 years that intervened. I remember believing, being told somehow or other that Vancouver had a population of about 500 Jewish families. Maybe 2500 people in all in the 1920s and 1930s. So I should think that they had maybe 1500 or so before the war (WWI). But I’m just guessing. I really don’t know.
 
JG:          Well, they certainly had enough to build a synagogue on Heatley Street…
 
SR:         I think the Heatley Street one was built after the way but I remember it very well of course. And next to it was the hader that I attended. The Hebrew school where we would go to for instruction several times a week.
 
JG:          So your parents came here because your father’s family had already settled?
 
SR:         Yeah, that’s right.
 
JG:          What did they do for a living?
 
SR:         Well my uncles did various things but soon at least after they got here they got into the sack business. I think they may have had to do peddling at the beginning but they got into the sack business. And each of them had a pretty good business dealing in bags, burlap and twine, that being the name on the window. Mostly it was used burlap bags, they also did some new bags and some other things, but it was used burlap bags which they would buy from the peddlers and then fix up, that is, repair, because many of them had holes, and then in turn sell them to people who wanted the burlap bags, people like farmers or many other people. So that was the business my uncles were in. When my father came here, he in turn became a peddler which must have been a tremendous hardship for him to have to start from scratch after have been a man of some substance and means. And I remember going with him as he would go from customer to customer. And these would be sometimes farmers out in Lulu Island or people with various stores who would have bags and he would sell them to my uncles, mostly my uncle Abe, who had a bigger business. And that was the way in which my father made a living. Not all unusual. It was practically the standard operating procedure for immigrants coming to at least Vancouver, probably all over North America, I should think. But at least in Vancouver, this is what you saw people doing. Later, they would try to—if they were young enough and vigorous enough—they would try to get on to other things. But that was a very common fate for the immigrants. Tough life.
 
JG:          Yes, I’m sure it was. The business was downtown in East Vancouver?
 
SR:         We lived at 641 East Georgia Street. The house is still there, which would be about two blocks from the shul. The shul was at Heatley and Pender, we were on Georgia, half a block from Heatley. So, my uncles’ business premises were on Powell Street and Pender Street, respectively. My father didn’t have a place of business, in so far as he did operate one, it would have been from our house, the garage.
 
JG:          The neighbourhood was largely Jewish? Describe the neighbourhood a little bit.
 
SR:         The neighbourhood was, it’s now called Strathcona. And it was a couple blocks south of Strathcona School. The neighbourhood was Jewish but not by any means mainly or exclusively so. It seemed to be the locale for all immigrant groups. So I remember when I went to Strathcona School, where I went until I was 8 years old, there was a statement going around then that Strathcona was the home of 95 different nationalities. And it may very well have been true. So I went to school with Chinese and Japanese, there were substantial colonies there. There were Italians, Russians, Poles, Ukrainians, lots of immigrants of various kinds. But it was the centre of Jewish life. Though already by the end of the 20s quite a number of the East End Jews had moved west to places like Fairview, and if they were well-to-do, to Shaughnessy. Some to the West End. Scattered in places like Kitsilano and so on. Mostly to Fairview in the vicinity of the first Jewish Community Centre on 11th and Oak. The centre was built in 1928, we moved to Fairview in 1929. So we were very much a part of the sort of standard ebb and flow of Jewish community life in Vancouver and probably in that sense shared characteristics and so on with many other Jews in the world.

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