Saturday, October 1, 2011

Missing Home

I often wonder what it was like for my ggg grandfather Thomas Halls (and his brothers) to leave England and come to Canada.  I don't mean the sea voyage, which I understand could have taken up to three months, I mean adapting to a new land.

In many ways it must have been reasonably familiar.  They had many family members living nearby, as well as other people from Devon, and many of the place names were from England.  Thomas lived in the community of Lambeth, southwest of London, in the county of Middlesex.  London was on the Thames river.  A little further away was the community of Stratford, on the Avon River.  The newspapers would have had both local news, as well as news from England and the Empire.  He would have sent letters back and forth to his brother William, who had remained behind, as well as his sister Charlotte.

All in all, there would have been a great deal of the feeling of home in the areas where Thomas and his brothers lived.  And yet.  And yet it would have been very different.  First, there would have been the wilderness, literally dark, almost impenetrable forest.  The woods would have been full of animals that were large, and often dangerous, animals that certainly would not have been in Devon - moose, wolves, cougars, and bears.  Many other animals had familiar names, but in many cases that would only have drawn attention to their differences, animals like robins, jays, and badgers, and plants like chestnut or beech.

Did Thomas (and his brothers) suffer from homesickness?  Did they regret coming to Canada, or would the freedom to make their mark in the world have made up for the hardships and loneliness?  I don't know, and never can know, much to my regret.

Regardless, all the Halls brothers did well in their new homes.  Their children were successful, their lives were full, and they were successful too.  It was not a story without sadness, and sometimes tragedy, but I think that in the end they did not regret the choices they had made.

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