Thursday, June 17, 2010

A Sequel to Victoria Beach

It's actually a prequel, but for the purposes of this online storytelling, it's a sequel...

In the 1930s, my Voth grandfather, Johannes Voth, went to Victoria Beach to work on the cottage of the DeFehr family, a connection made via the Springstein teacher, Mr. Fast, who married one of the DeFehrs.    Grandpa Voth would have travelled by train, and worked on the site with his nephew (by marriage), Cornie (Cornelius) Bergen.  Grandpa's wife, my grandmother, was Katherine Bergen, and Cornie was her nephew.  Cornie and his sister, were orphaned:  Siberia, disease, starvation claimed quite a few lives in the Ukraine of the 1920s.  They came to Canada in the mid 1920s and lived in Springstein with their Voth relatives. 

A few years ago, walking with my mom Susanna at Vic Beach, we were strolling along Sunset Blvd., by the lake shore, and mom recounted the story of her father going off to work at a place called Victoria Beach.  It was the first time I'd heard the story.  We grew up in Southern Ontario with stories about Manitoba, Springstein, Winnipeg, and life on the prairies.  Mom made sure we knew the history that came from her childhood and teenage years on the prairies, and Manitoba was always a great emotional destination for us.  My father, Peter Wiebe, died when our kids were just little, and some time after that mom moved to Winnipeg.  It was a real homecoming for her, and she certainly continued to explore the past and present with us.  I've taken the kids to the old farmstead in Springstein, and they can see where their grandmother grew up.  But Vic Beach was another piece of the puzzle, which was news to me.  Mom concluded her thoughts by telling me she never thought she would be familiar with the place her father would visit, that her daughter's place there was a completion of a circle that came from her childhood.

Last weekend I sat around the dining room table on Baltimore Road with some of my Voth cousins -- Murray, Arlene, Val, their partners, and my daughter.  Tom and boys were canoeing on Shoal Lake.  We had more Voth stories to share.  Murray is tracking an uncle of our uncle who moved to the U.S. before the 1920s, so I am eager to hear more when he has a change to write.   It would be another prequel, I guess... to the Voth migration to the wild west.

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