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We are writers who live in different parts of Canada, see life from a variety of perspectives, and write in a number of genres.
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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.
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.
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.