My Mother-in-Law was the catalyst in our decision to immigrate to Canada. She arrived at our house on our youngest sons 5th birthday, she had been ill for a while and although she wouldn’t admit it we knew it was serious and she mentioned how she thought we ought to attend her nephew’s wedding in Toronto a few weeks later. She also told us how a friend of hers, also in her 50’s, had cancer. It got us to thinking about a trip, we’d been planning to visit Toronto at some point, I always wanted to see Niagara Falls, but we were waiting for the ‘right time’, my mother-in-laws illness and our conversation that night made me wonder ‘what we were waiting for’???? My Sister-in-Law, on the other hand, tells the story differently, she would tell you that as my husband stood at Niagara Falls while on holiday visiting relatives the summer of 1979 at just seven years of age he declared that one day he would live in Canada, so I suppose you could say he was a few steps ahead of me, the decision was made long before we even met I just had to catch up!
We arrived in Toronto for the Wedding at the end of March, we were only there for a few days and every day was full, we visited the usual tourist spots, the CN Tower, Niagara Falls, attended the Wedding and a house warming party and spent time in the homes of hubby’s family and surrounded by their friends. This kind of trip was unlike a normal holiday where you see the place through ‘rose coloured glasses’ we saw how normal Canadians lived and played and it was quite an eye opening experience. What became apparent immediately was the ‘work to live’ attitude whereas in the UK it was ‘live to work’. The trip was great and gave us some real food for thought.
The following 6 months went by in a flash, the summer was always hectic for us and this one was made worse as mum-in-law’s illness worsened. The summer went by in a blur of work and hospital visits. We lost her in September. As we said goodbye to her in the hospice she talked about how she expected to end her days sitting by the sea, surrounded by her playing grandchildren but fate had other ideas and decided to take her aged just 56.
My husband had made no secret of the fact that he was ready to sell up and emigrate but I was not so sure. Our lives were very busy, we had a successful air conditioning business, and worked crazy hours and although we were doing well financially we had little time to enjoy it. But we had a good life and were surrounded by friends and family and I loved where I lived, however, always in the back of my mind was my mum-in-law how she planned a retirement that she never saw and how she spent her last few years working fruitlessly for her future. It taught me to look at things differently, not to put off the things we wanted to do and to try to enjoy each day as it comes, this totally contradicted our busy lifestyle. My Husband worked long hours everyday, all of our business was in London and he would leave home by 4.30 am, he was often on site late into the evening and we would be doing paperwork during the nights and at weekends, the business took over our lives and grew year after year. It took me another six months of soul searching before I finally agreed begin the visa application process. We owned some land close to where we lived where we would camp at the weekends and get the peace and quiet we desperately needed. I remember spending a Sunday there in late March burning some scrub we had cleared, it had been a busy time at work despite being the winter which, traditionally, was our quiet time but we were up to our neck in work and completely exhausted, the realization that our lifestyle had to change hit me straight in the face. Hubby physically couldn’t carry on working as he did and with the economy on a downward spiral our boys had little hope of a secure future in the UK. Canada was the way to go. I turned to my Husband and muttered those immortal words “Let’s go for it”