Forging a New Country
They came from all over the globe
AT THE TURN OF THE century, Canada launched immigrant recruiting campaigns in Europe and the United States to stem the population decline due to emigration—mainly south of the border. In addition
to the growth in sheer numbers Canada grew richer because the newcomers brought a variety of keen talents and lustrous customs.
‘Always time for a pork pie and beer’
Art Patterson’s Alberta roots run deep. His father, Frank, emigrated from England in 1889 and worked as a farmhand in what was then still part of the Northwest Territories. Frank Patterson served in the Boer War and upon his return to Canada in 1901, began to homestead in the rough bush country 35 km southwest of Calgary. Art’s mother, Edith, came from England in 1907—two years after Alberta became a province—and married his father in 1909. They had three children, the youngest being Art, who was bom in 1913 and later continued to farm his father’s land. Now 86, he lives in an expanded version of the wooden cottage his father built more than 90 years ago.
MY DAD WAS ONE TOUGH GUY He used to drive his produce to Calgary once each week— rain or shine, winter or summer. He rode his de-
mocrat [a horse-drawn buggy] in the summer or his sleigh in the winter. It took 2½ hours each way. Before heading
back, he always found time for a pork pie and a beer at the Palliser Hotel.
My mother was from Devonshire and she’d always had a piano. In 1917, she got some money from home and spent the whole works on an upright. They needed someone to play at the school Christmas concert so my Dad loaded the piano on a narrow-gauge sleigh and drove it through the bush for four miles so my mother could play. Eighty-two years later, we still have that piano.
The nearest school was four miles away, and so was the nearest neighbour. There were no roads, just bush trails. We used to ride horseback to school. Hell, it beats walking.
Kids these days have the buses, and it’s a darn good thing too. The only thing good about the good old days is that they are gone.
Stepping off the boat into a new land
As the Soviets advanced into Latvia in 1945, Margaret Frismanis, her husband and her daughter fled into Germany.
In December, 1948, she and her nine-year-old child came to Canada to join her husband at Haliburton, Ont., where he worked in the bush flor Ontario Hydro. Now 88 and living in Montreal, the former pharmacist recalls those days.
WE WERE IN A CAMP FOR displaced persons in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1948 when a group from Ontario Hydro came to hire workers. My
husband was working in Frankfurt as an engineer. But there could be only one engineer with the Ontario Hydro group. So my husband went to Haliburton in the summer to work in the bush, stringing lines. We had to stay until he got a place where we could live. When my daughter and I landed in Halifax, I was so scared for the future. What would we do now? I had no English. We were given $5 and transferred to
WE FELT THE STING OF ANTI-SEMITISM a. «ery m a»d were made to feel like outcasts’
Montreal by train. There we were free to go to the counter and ask for something to eat. But we didn’t know how to ask.
We arrived in Haliburton on the day before Christmas. My husband had a little cottage. And he had set the table. And it was wonderful. I said: “That can’t be real.” I could not believe that all of this food and drink, this whole set-up, belonged to us. I was so surprised, I had been afraid we were going to be living like beggars. I remember that the neighbours gave me a bottle of beer. I didn’t know what to do with it: we never drank from the botde in Europe. One year later, my husband was transferred to Toronto—where, to his great pleasure, he was able to work again as an engineer.
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Canada clamped down on allowing into the country any Jews fleeing Adolf Hitlers Holocaust. The harsh policy was best described in the title of Irving Abella’s study of immigration ofthat period, None Is Too Many. One of the few loopholes, which only about 20 families were able to take advantage of was a Canadian Pacific Railwaysponsored scheme that allowed in European refugees, regardless of their religion, if they could afford to buy some ofthe railway Companys farmland, and farm it for Jive years. Businessman Oscar Neumann, his wife, Wanda, and their 11-year-old son, Peter, took advantage of that arrangement, arriving from Czechoslovakia at Pier 21 in Halifax on Sept. 14, 1941. Now known as Peter C. Newman, the 70-year-old author and Maclean’s columnist recalls his days on the farm.
WE SETTLED ONA 15-acre plot at Freeman, Ont., just outside Burlington, where
my family began to grow grapes, peaches, celery, cucumbers and pota-
toes. It was a tough time for my parents, putting in up to 15 hours a day. We were not used to living in a ramshackle farmhouse—our mansion back in Czechoslovakia was so palatial it had been converted into a casino for Nazi officers. We couldn’t speak English and understood little about Canadian life. At the same time, we felt the sting of anti-Semitism at every turn—so much so that instead of putting our own name on the farm truck, in which we drove the produce to the Flamilton market each morning, we used the anonymous label, Dependable Fruit Growers.
Nobody every spat at us or anything like that, but we were never invited into a Canadian home. With one exception, the Hamilton Rotary Club, we could join no social or professional associations, and we were made to feel like outcasts at every turn.
Our worst moment was the day we received word that both my sets of grandparents had been gassed at a concentration camp, as had all of our other relatives who had remained behind in Europe. I remember that I was plowing a celery field in the spring of 1945
when the news came in a letter from the Red Cross, and it hit me: Canada had, literally, saved my life.
My passionate dream at the time was to become a Canadian, worthy of my adopted land. Now, more than a half a century later, that dream is no less compelling. To be a Canadian remains my highest ambition.
Canada refused entry to the boat of Jews
Ursula Miller first approached Canadian shores from her native Germany in 1939, as a 16-year-old passenger on the St. Louis. The ship, carrying 1,000Jews fleeing Nazi Germany, was turned back by several Allied countries, including Canada, after being refused by Cuba, the original destination. She and her family were among the fortunate ones —she wound up in England and stayed for 10years, before immigrating to Canada in 1948. Now 77 and living in Toronto, Miller relives that horrific journey.
THERE WERE 10 OF US on the ship—my mother, siblings and aunts and uncles. At first, it
was like a pleasure cruise. My father had gone two weeks ahead to Cuba to get a house ready for us. We docked in Cuba and could see my father waiting on the dock, but were not allowed to
Abolishing food stamps, giving cash
David Croll, Ontario’s-indeed, Canada’s-first Jewish cabinet minister headed the sensitive department of labour, municipal affairs and welfare during the Great Depression. One of his most controversial initiatives came in the fall of 1934 when he changed the welfare rules to allow people to receive cash instead of food vouchers. Haifa century later, then-Senator Croll recalled the reaction to that dramatic announcement. (Croll died in 1991, at 91.)
I ANNOUNCED IT ON A THURSDAY NIGHT: cash. Well, it was quite a bombshell even for ordinary people-saying that guy Croll may be going a little too far.The next day, one Methodist minister called me “that Jew communist Croll.” He said: “The money will go to the beer parlours; it will go to the gamblers. The women will not get it." He really let go.
On Friday noon, I usually left the legislature in Toronto and drove to Windsor to be home for the weekend. I was driving and the radio was blaring at me, repeating [the Methodist minister’s attacks!, repeating, repeating, and I never said a word. By the time I got back to Toronto on Monday morning, there was a letter of apology on my desk from the moderator of the church. They moved the minister out so that no newspaper guy could ever interview him.
It was the greatest feeling I ever had.The labour unions and the churches and the unemployed, all screaming: “How could he say that about Dave Croll?” No one ever thought of me afterward as a Jew. I do not know where the “communist” came from-because I was from Russia, originally, I suppose. But I became a Canadian all of a sudden, and it was the thrill of my life to see this.
Years later, my wife and I were in Banff. We were on the floor dancing and up came a beautiful young girl with a young man. She said, we are here on our honeymoon, my name is so and so, and I am from Windsor. My mother told me that you kept us alive on relief. I could have cried. Here she is talking about the time she was on relief, yet she had enough confidence to come up, and she was looking for me to have a chance to say it.
disembark. We were told our visas, that we each paid $250 (U.S.) for, were no longer valid. We were frantic. When we left Germany, we had to sign an agreement to go straight to concentration camps should we ever return. We were so afraid.
The ship’s captain cabled every country he could: they all refused. The
Jewish League in New York City offered to pay England, Holland, Belgium and France $100 per person they took off the ship. I was lucky, and we went to the country of my choosing, England. Most of those taken in by France and Holland died as those countries fell to Hitler.
I met my future husband’s mother
and sister in an air-raid shelter while he was off fighting the war. Jonathan and I then met, married and had our first daughter in England.
By 1948, anti-Semitism was rife in London. Jonathan said that he did not fight Nazis for six years and spend a year and a half in a German PoW camp to put up with this garbage in England. So we left: and came to Toronto. I was unhappy because I didn’t know a soul. was standing at Union Station, crying with a baby in my arms, when a man approached me and said my name. He was the brother of our neighbour back in England who insisted he meet us at the station and help. I’ll never forget that kindness. Later, our families joined us in Canada. Just to be able to be all together with my family is so wonderful.
The Jewish ghetto of downtown Toronto
The Wassermans—Murray, 75, and his wife Rayla, 69—grew up in a Jewish ghetto, not in Eastern Europe, but in downtown Toronto. The longforgotten enclave, now dominated by office towers, was called simply the Ward, a haven for poor immigrant Jews. Murray Wasserman, who became a successful builder, recalls the hardships and hatreds that dogged the Jews in Depression-era Toronto.
WE HAD A POULTRY store The building itself was ramshackle and so were all the
other houses in the area, just put together with boards. Once, we climbed up and patched the roof with a Coca-Cola sign.
I knew it was cold outside because when I turned on the tap it was frozen. I could tell when it was snowing because it snowed in my bedroom. We didn’t have a furnace, and to keep us warm, our mother made thick covers stuffed with poultry feathers.
I lived there with my grandmother, my mother and father and my sister. My two older brothers there was no room for, so they rented rooms down
the street. My father worked from 6 o’clock in the morning until 12 o’clock at night. That was the norm. You worked hard, but there was no money to do anything or go anyplace.
We played on the street on Sunday. One day when I was 10, a policeman came and he says: “Today is Sunday,” and he kicked me.
The safe area for us was in the Ward; if you went to the Beaches you risked getting beaten up badly. I used to go
dancing, and one of the girls says, “OK, take me home.” So I say: “Where do you live?” “The Beaches.” I say: “Goodbye,” because I wouldn’t dare go there. Once I went to the beach in Mimico, and the first thing I saw was a big sign that said “No dogs or Jews allowed.” That has stayed with me my whole life.
A unique childhood in prewar Japan
John Fraser, minister of fisheries under former prime minister Brian Mulroney, and the first Speaker ofthe House of Commons to be elected by secret ballot, was bom in Japan in 1931, where his father worked in the export business. Now 68, Fraser lives in Vancouver where he is chairman of the Pacific Fisheries Resource Conservation Council. His early years in Japan have had a lifelong impact.
I REMEMBER GETTING ON THE SHIP to go home, when I was 3½, and being upset because my amah [nanny] wasn't coming with us. During the war years, I remember walking across the schoolyard and having the day-
lights beaten out of me because I was a “Japanese.” Anyone who thinks there are nasty prejudices today should have been around in those days.
My father was very upset about the internment. We used to go to the Remembrance Day services in Vancouver and one day after a service, it must have been in 1944, we got in the car to go home and instead my father drove to Stanley Park. He said: “I want to show you something.” It was a little statue, a pagoda-like thing and there were names on it. My father said: “These are the names of Canadians of Japanese origin from this city who enlisted with me during the First World War and fought overseas for their country. What we have done is rounded up their sons and daughters, nephews and nieces, and we have taken them away. We are fighting a war for British justice and this is absolutely contrary to British justice. I want you to remember this for the rest of your life.” When they dropped the bomb on
Hiroshima he was very, very upset. He wasn’t a pacifist, he had fought one war and was prepared to fight another, but he said: “They wouldn’t do that to white people without giving them a warning.”
Years later, when the prime minister announced redress to Japanese-Canadians, he phoned me just before Question Period and asked if I was going to be in the chair that day. He said: “I want to be sure you are there.” My first thought was that I wished my father had known about this. I, myself, felt a quiet sense of satisfaction. It was a vindication that what was right was finally being done.
They were Canadian citizens, but enemy aliens
In June, 1940, nine months after Canada entered the Second World War, Oswaldo Giacomelli, then living in Hamilton, was arrested for simply being Italian. The 19-year-old, who was born in Hamilton but raised in Italy, had recently returned to Canada on his own in search of a better life. Unable to speak a word ofEnglish, Giacomelli was shipped to Petawawa, Ont., and remained imprisoned until the war ended. After being released in June, 1945, Giacomelli worked at Stelco in Hamilton for 36 years. Now 78, he still resides in Hamilton.
ONCE YOU WERE IN THE camp you were free except for the barbed wire. If you climbed over the barbed wire, the guards would give you one warning and on the
second warning they would shoot you.
They would ask questions like, “Why were you in Italy?” Well, my parents went back and I was a kid so I had to go with them. “Were you a Fascist?” Well, everyone was a Fascist. At my age, 18 or 19, you were automatically a Fascist whether you wanted to be or not.
In the end, they asked me if I would take up arms against the Germans and Italians and I said: “If they come to Canada I will, but overseas I won’t go.” In a letter sent to me, the government had written: “You were born of Italian parents and therefore you are an enemy alien.” I would not go overseas for them after
Growing up in Vancouver’s 1940s Chinatown
In 1908, 13-year-old Wong Kung Lai left Kwangtung province with a boatload of other Chinese refugees to find economic freedom in British Columbia. But until Ottawa passed the Canadian Citizenship Act in 1947, Wong, his wife, Chu Mun Ming, and other Chinese immigrants were barred from becoming citizens. Meanwhile, the Wongs toiled in their Vancouver tailor shop and raised nine children. The second youngest, Milton, born in 1939, grew up to become a pillar ofthe province’s Chinese community, founder of money-management firm M. K. Wong Associates, and a recipient of the Order of Canada. Now 60, Wong recalls growing up in Vancouver’s Chinatown in the 1940s.
CHINATOWN WAS REALLY like a small town within Vancouver. You knew everyone's
name. It was a very good life. I would get up at 3 in the morning and hop on the milkman’s wagon and help him deliver milk. I remember feeling very small as I’d look up at the horse. I’d get back home at 6 and go back to bed until it was time to go to school.
My mother would save everything; paper bags, newspapers. And she used to roll them up and I would take them down to the grocery stores. They’d use them to wrap goods and vegetables and pay me for my efforts with an armload of vegetables.
There was an Anglican mission in Chinatown called Good Shepherd Mission. The missionaries there were very caring towards the Chinese. They would take people who were sick to the doctor, they would take care of the poor Chinese. There was a church camp on Gambier Island and they made sure, whenever possible, that our family went to that church camp. They helped the Chinese community integrate. They contributed
a lot to who I am today, to my social values.
In 1923, the Exclusion Act preventing Chinese immigration came into place. As a young child, you don’t realize the significance of not having the franchise. Certainly, my older brothers did. In 1947, both of them were just graduating, one as a civil engineer and one as a mechanical engineer. Both of them were unable to find employment because they were Chinese. I was just a young boy, but I was made extremely aware of these issues. That’s why I am very much involved today with the community I live in.
'AFTER PEARL HARBOR, the government took our fishing boats'
they called me an enemy alien. My brother was in the Italian army. I didn’t want to fight face-to-face with my brother.
We had all the food and clothes we wanted and all the wood to warm the huts, which was good since it got pretty darn cold up in Petawawa. Nobody likes to be incarcerated, but life was bearable. We skated, we played baseball, we played football, we would have track and field. They had a
band. I played the French horn and
the trumpet. I learned to read music
There was no hate in the camps.
The only thing we were mad at was
the government for putting us in there. There were three or four fathers who had sons in the Canadian army and they were in the camp. These were all people who came over here from Italy or Germany to make a living. These people did not want to destroy the country.
I had no money. That is why I stayed in for five years. Some guys hired a lawyer, which would cost $4,000 to $5,000, and got out quick. I only had my aunt in Canada and couldn’t ask her for the money.
I still remember the day they released me. The sergeant came and called me before I went out to blow the bugle for breakfast and told me I was allowed to go. I was shocked. I think there were only five Italians left at the time. I was released right before the bomb was dropped on Japan. They gave me my clothes. I still had a suit from when I first got to the camp.
Husbands and wives were separated
A fier Japan bombed Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, the Canadian government declaredJapanese-Canadians “enemy aliens, ” and banished them to ghost towns and work camps. One of the some 20,000 interned was Harry Yonekura, then a 19-year-old fisherman from Steveston, B.C., who spent a year at a PoW camp in Angler, Ont. Restricted from fishing, he spent the rest of the war at a logging camp, a battery factory, and as a dishwasher. Now a 77-year-old retired heating and cooling systems repairman living in Toronto, he tells how the course of his life changed that December.
IN 1938, I BECAME THE sole breadwinner of my family at age 16, after my father was debilitated by a stroke. By 1941, during my most successful week I made
$3,700, which in those days could buy two or three luxury Buicks. After Pearl Harbor, the government took our fishing boats. It sold mine for half its value and gave the money to camp administrators for housing and feeding me. I remember how sad I was tying up my boat for the last time. We registered our boats voluntarily, even
though most of us knew it would be the last time we saw them. A fisherman without a boat is no fisherman, but my country was at war, and as a Canadian I would do my best to co-operate with my government in whatever way I could.
Then the government started putting Japanese men between the ages of 18 and 45 in work camps, splitting families up. Even in the United States they evacuated families together. At a train station, I saw one
woman with an infant on her back, on her knees in tears, pleading with an RCMP officer to let her accompany her husband to a work camp. That scene raised my deep indignation and I joined a group lobbying the government to evacuate families together.
The RCMP grabbed four of us in broad daylight on a crowded street and dragged us into cars. We were held at a detention centre for a month before being shipped by train to the PoW camp. It took four days. There was no hearing. Up until then, I did not know they could do that in Canada—I was, after all, a Canadian citizen. I begged to phone my mother to
let her know what had happened to me. They refused.
By 1946, I managed to get my family together in Toronto, a restricted city for Japanese, but the camp commander thought well of me and told the district security commissioner to look after me. The war was over, but we were still kept from some cities, and even needed a government licence to buy homes. April 1 of 1949 is what we Nisei call our Freedom Day because it wasn’t until then that the government lifted all restrictions on the right to vote for Japanese-Canadians.
Trapping in the bush
Eddy Trapper and his wife, Caroline, both 70, are James Bay Moose Cree who raised five children while hunting and trapping for 44 years in the bush. Four of their five children live 160 km away in Moose Factory, Ont., but Eddy and Caroline remain at their simple log dwelling on the shore ofKattawagami Lake, 780 km north of Toronto. He explains why.
WHEN I'M IN THE bush, there's always something to do. I see different things and
places every day. I was born on the trapline. They say they found me in a stump. My great-grandfather’s name was Winaegan, but the Hudson’s Bay Co. changed it to Trapper. If people didn’t have English names, the company gave them names, like Johnny YesNo. All he could say in English was Yes and No. So they called him Johnny YesNo.
I remember my mother making all our clothes. She made my winter coat out of rabbit skins. I used to play all winter in it and didn’t have to wear a shirt underneath because it was so warm.
When I was about 5, my uncle accidentally shot off his hand with a shotgun. We were in the bush and it took two weeks to get to town by canoe. His arm was getting infected, so my father cut it off above the elbow, and we tied strands of my mother’s hair around it to stop the bleeding.
I started trapping by myself when I was nine years old and by 11,1 could spend a month alone in the bush. I’d take my two dogs and my toboggan and a sleeping bag
‘A musical household’
Oscar Peterson, the fourth of five children of Caribbean immigrants who lived in Montreal, quit high school at 16 and a year later joined the Johnny Holmes Orchestra as a pianist. Now 74, and living in Mississauga, Ont., Peterson has recorded more than 200 albums, received 13 honorary degrees and the Order of Canada.
ITWAS A LOT OF FUN GROWING up in a musical household. It was competitive at times and consoling at other times. I used to hear my older sister Daisy and my brother Fred playing the piano. I thought Fred was the consummate pianist. He was a great inspiration. When I had difficulty playing, it was Daisy who would help me. I started playing the trumpet at 5 or 6, but I loved the piano even then. After I had tuberculosis at age 7 [spending 13 months in hospital], the doctor said that I shouldn’t play the trumpet anymore.
I learned the most from the Hungarian pianist Paul de Marky. Many times, his practice time was before my lesson so I’d try to get over there early and sit on the stairs to hear him play.
My father was a porter on the Canadian Pacific Railway. He worked mostly the TorontoMontreal run, but when he would go on longer runs like Vancouver he would leave us all [musical] assignments. When he returned home, he would call us each in turn into the room where the piano was, and if he didn’t hear all the things that we were supposed to have learned, it was war. There were no ifs, ands or buts.
My father didn’t want me to get cocky, so he played me an Art Tatum recording. It devastated me, it was so good. I didn’t play for two months. It was only curiosity and love of the instrument that brought me back.
made of rabbit. I’d make a little tepee and a fire and sometimes stay three or four nights. But usually I kept moving every day.
I was still a boy when I killed my first moose. It was in the wintertime and, afterward, everyone went to get the moose. We used four or five toboggans
to take it back to the camp and the next day we cut all the meat and hung it up to dry. An old man, who I talked to all the time, was praying. He put some meat on the fire and he put his tobacco down. I was standing right beside him and he said: “You’re going to hunt all your life.” I always remember that.
Wintry haven for Vietnam draft dodgers
In May, 1972, Leonard Schein was finishing his first year at Stanford University law school in Palo Alto, Calif. As a 23-year-old, he knew he risked being called up into the United States military to help fight the Vietnam War. To avoid the draft, Schein fled to Canada, enrolling in the graduate psychology program at the University of Saskatchewan in Regina. Schein, who grew up in Hollywood, Calif, eventually moved to Vancouver where he founded the Vancouver Film Festival. Now 51, he is the president of Vancouver-based Alliance Atlantis Cinemas.
I WAS YOUR TYPICAL AMERICAN who knew nothing about Canada. I didn't even know there were prairies. Because I had only visited British Columbia and western Alberta, I just assumed that Canada was all trees and
mountains and lakes and forests.
Like all draff dodgers at the time, I looked like a hippie with a beard and long hair. People would stare and point at me. But at the university, there were other
MANY ARRIVED WITHOUT SPEAKING a word of French or English
Americans, so there was a community I could become part of.
In Regina, people were very supportive. They didn’t think we were traitors, that we were abandoning our country. I arrived in September, and a few weeks later it started snowing. I was amazed at how flat it was and how cold it was. The second winter I spent there was the coldest on record and when I would go out on walks, I’d come back with icicles hanging from my beard.
Like most draft dodgers, I didn’t think too far into the future. There was always the possibility that the “revolution” would occur, that the government of the United States would change, that there would be a new consciousness.
Now, I am very happy to live in Canada. I came here in a time of crisis and I was welcomed and so I feel a great deal of loyalty.
Welcoming a new wave of Asian refugees
Toronto sculptor Khang Pham-New, now 31, came to Canada in 1980 as an 11-year-old, orphaned Vietnamese boat refugee. He had been abandoned by his uncle at a refugee camp in Malaysia, where he was adopted and sponsored by a Canadian family.
I'D BEEN AT THE REFUGEE camp for a month when Canadian relief workers showed me photos of
Canada and asked me if I wanted to go there. When you’re a kid, you just say “Yes” to everything. I didn’t know what a Canada was. But I was awed by the pictures. They were so beautiful:
scenes of autumn maple leaves and snow-covered mountains. It was my first time seeing snow. When I asked
what it was, they told me it was the same stuff snow cones were made out of. I was ecstatic! You could eat the stuff and it was everywhere!
About a month later, in June, a group of us flew to Edmonton where we stayed at a military base for three weeks. I
1 went out and started to cry’
Born in Rapiño, Italy, Maria Ferrante, now 73, arrived in Ottawa in July, 1955, afier her husband, who had been working there for three years, was injured in a construction accident.
She came with two small daughters —and not a word of English.
WE CAME FROM Italy because my husband was in hospital. He had been
staying in a boarding house. That family took us in for a week, then we moved into an almost empty apartment. I slept on the floor on a small mattress. To get groceries, my husband drew me a map to go to the market. He said to show it to the streetcar man.
Well, I wanted to buy meat. I went
into the market shop—and I showed a piece of meat to the gentleman with my finger. He took the piece and weighed it. And he said, “Four forty-four”—meaning $4.44. I didn’t say anything. I thought he was saying, “Fuori,” which, in Italian, means, “Get out.” The poor guy repeated it twice. I went out and I started to cry. This old gentleman who had come from Italy before the First World War was standing there, and he asked me what was wrong. I told him. So he asked the butcher why he had chased this poor woman out. The guy said: “I just told her the price.” And the old gentleman told me. I went back all the time after that. And we laughed together as he wrote the price on a piece of paper.
was disappointed and wanted to know where the snow was. They told me it wasn’t the right season, and I remember wondering, “What the heck’s a season?” I landed in Toronto on June 30, the date I took as my birthday because I never knew the actual one. The city then looked like an old Star Trek episode where the crew land on this planet where everyone was perfectly dressed. Everything was just so clean, huge and beautiful. This enormous white man—my new dad—met me at the airport—and I jabbered away at him in Vietnamese, assuming everybody spoke my language. It took me a long while to figure out that nobody in my new family did. E3