Sunday, August 03, 2014

History Rests on the Shoulders of Writers by Rose McCormick Brandon

William Francis Conabree, an ordinary man with an extraordinary story, sat down one day in 1952 and wrote an account of his life as one of Canada’s British Home Children. When he finished, he folded the sheets of paper and stuck them in a drawer.
He died.
His daughter retrieved the story and put it in her bureau drawer.
Decades passed. William’s daughter died.
Her family, while clearing her home, found the crumpled sheets of paper that contained William’s story. They almost went in the trash.
William had titled his story, “Believe me Friends, it’s the Truth.” He didn’t write about his experiences as a POW in WWI. That would have made an interesting story. He was interred with Con Smythe, the famous owner of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team.
William chose to write about his early days in Canada and the horrific treatment he endured as a fourteen year-old immigrant boy working on Canadian farms.
It’s not easy to tell of painful events. Most people lock their hurtful memories in a trunk and throw away the key. Yet, history rests on the shoulders of people brave enough to tell. Books about the holocaust, fiction and non-fiction, written for adults and children, continue to keep alive the memory of the worst massacre in history, a massacre committed at a time when the world considered itself enlightened.
The world needs stories from people like William. Most of the 100,000 child immigrants who arrived in Canada between 1869 and 1939 kept their pasts a secret, even from their spouses and children. Of the ones who did tell, few shared their lives on paper.
William wasn’t writing a book for publication. He simply scratched out his story on cheap lined sheets because he felt the need to tell. More than six decades later, long after his death, his words have come to us.
No one could tell this story. Only William.
Writers, skilled and unskilled, play an important role in the passing of history from one generation to another. William’s story came to me too late for my book, Promises of Home – Stories of Canada’s British Home Children.
I’ve shared it on my blog, Promises of Home, in the hope that many will read William’s story and remember the sufferings of the young immigrants who landed on our shores looking for a place to belong and give them their rightful place in Canadian history.
Rose McCormick Brandon is the author of Promises of Home - Stories of Canada's British Home Children. She writes books and articles on faith, personal experience and Canadian history. Visit her blogs: Listening to my Hair Grow and Promises of Home. 

1 comment:

Peter Black said...

Rose, what a story. The kind of suffering inflicted on William F. Conabree and others highlights the depravity of the human heart, when lived apart from grace and love, and devoid of compassion.
You're surely doing a valuable service for God and humanity in sharing these home children's stories and giving them a voice. ~~+~~

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