‘Indescribably sad and depressing’: A gallery of letters from Canadian pioneers and immigrants who absolutely hated it here

March 24, 2017

By National Post |

If you were born in Canada, chances are good that your family tree contains at least one person who spent much of their life absolutely hating this place.

Despite our treasured national mythos as a promised land of wealth and opportunity, our history is littered with tales of people crying or screaming with anguish after taking their first steps in the True North.

A gallery of examples are included below. While many would learn to thrive in the new country, history books usually leave out the part where the mere sight of Canada sparked utter horror in new immigrants.

“As we sped across Ontario with its rocks, hills and tunnels, we were afraid we were coming to the end of the world. The heart of many a man sank to his heels and the women and children raised such lamentations as defies description.”
Ukrainian immigrant Maria Adamowska, describing her train journey west in 1899.

“I became anxious when I wondered what kind of a person would be here to greet me. He had a good physique like I had seen in his photo, but he was simple-minded. I was so sad — I despaired.”
Japanese immigrant Ishikawa Yasu, who came to Victoria in the early 20th century as a “picture bride”; a woman paired with a husband in Canada purely through photographs.
— Excerpted from Good Wives and Wise Mothers: Japanese Picture Brides in Early Twentieth Century British Columbia.

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