From South Korea and Scotland to Small Town Canada

MC40_OrilliaSignThis story spans many years.

In 1964 my husband, 4-year-old son and I emigrated from Scotland to small town Ontario – Orillia, Stephen Leacock’s Mariposa. We were readily assimilated into the mainly white Caucasian population, many being second and third generation descendants of early settlers. It was an easy transition for us moving from one country to another. We were accepted and made welcome as there were several immigrant families from England and Scotland living there already along with a small, well established Italian community.

It was not the norm for aIl newcomers.

In 1967 I saw a young Asian couple with a little boy carrying their laundry to a nearby laundromat and commented to my husband on how strange and lonely it must be for them as they were the only Asian family in our small town. It turned out that the young man was a chemist who worked for the same company as my husband. He and his wife and son had just arrived from Seoul, South Korea so we decided to find out where they were living, and invite them to join us for a drive to show them the area. Their names were Yong and Jong Jin Song and their two-year-old son was named Sonny. Yong spoke English quite well but Jong, who was a teacher, spoke no English. They were living in a trailer park, having had difficulty renting suitable accommodation, due in part to their ethnicity.

After spending a delightful day driving them through the Muskoka area, a relationship developed that has lasted to this day. We laugh about that outing now. Jong and me sitting in the back of the car with our two small children, smiling and nodding to each other and not understanding a word either of us was saying, our seven year old son sitting between the men acting as translator for Yong as my husband had a very strong Scottish accent and Yong could not understand some words.  From that day we became their Canadian family.

We have shared their sorrow when Sonny was killed playing street hockey, their happiness when their three daughters were born and the day they became proud Canadian citizens. Over the years our lives and those of our children have been enriched through this friendship and learning of another culture.

It was our good fortune the day Jong and Yong said yes to that drive. Little did we know it was the beginning of a long and mutually enriching journey together.

- Audrey in Vancouver