What Canada has done for me: a thought of appreciation

What Canada has done for me: a thought of appreciation

Posted on June 29 by Gerald A. Archambeau
Share on FacebookShare on TwitterShare on Pinterest

As a proud Canadian citizen would like to express my sincere thanks to Canada after 66 years of coping with adversity and surviving with dignity. I was sent to join my mother in 1947 in Montreal, Quebec, as a thirteen-year-old boy. I was put out to work on the day after my arrival in Canada. My new stepfather was a Second World War veteran who wanted me to contribute to his family home. Since that time I never stopped working, or was ever unemployed in Canada. Also I have not had to use any government benefits that Canada has for its people. I have been blessed with very good health, which has helped me to survive hard work and harsh weather, in which I had to work at times.

I can say with pride that over my many years in Canada I tried to keep the discipline that I was taught by my aunts in Jamaica. I always kept my faith in the good people who would help me along the way. I also felt that only through my willingness to work hard in my new country, Canada, would I succeed. My motto became: Nothing is free & expect the unexpected. After working at many jobs as a teenager, I got one of the few good jobs that a black man could get in Canada at that time — with the railways. I thought of this new job as a stepping-stone to better opportunities in the future. My railway job helped me to meet and greet a crosssection of Canadian people along with new immigrants that were arriving daily. Also in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, Canada was booming along, from coast to coast.

 

Staying in transportation I went on to work with Air Canada, and was eventually promoted to ramp foreman, until my retirement in 1993. In between those years I was able to meet my wife of 34 years, Marion, who has given me the best years of my life with her love and encouragement. We have also enjoyed 21 years of retirement together, and after much travel outside of Canada, I have never seen any other country that I preferred to Canada.

With my dear wife’s encouragement, I set out to write my life story, so that it would be of help to others. So I did write my autobiography which was able to get the attention of publisher Dr. J. Patrick Boyer as he who looking for a true Canadian immigrant story to publish. Being very lucky as a new author, my book, A Struggle to Walk with Dignity: The True story of a Jamaican-born Canadian, was published in 2008, and is available from Dundurn Press. I am proud to have made a contribution to Canadian literature.

I now enjoy a good life, and the respect that Canadians have helped me to achieve. The preservation of my family’s erased history in Jamaica is a gift from Canada, which I cannot forget. Not being the first author in my family, I was surprised to see the assistance I got from UK and a Jamaican genealogist on my grandfather’s two books. All of my family history, books, and memorabilia are at York University in Toronto in the Clara Thomas Archives & Special Collections, Scott Library, The Thomas-Archambeau family Collection. I can truly say only in Canada could I get this kind of recognition, and this is what makes Canada a very special country. I sincerely feel that the sacrifices made by the founding fathers of Canada, and fallen veterans of the First and Second World Wars should be respected by all who come to her shores.

Gerald A. Archambeau

Posted by Dundurn Guest on December 6, 2014

Gerald A. Archambeau

Gerald Augustus Archambeau was born in Kingston, Jamaica, and was sent to Montreal in 1947. He worked for Canadian Pacific and Canadian National until the 1960s, when declining passenger rail traffic and the ascendence of air travel caused him to switch to a career with a major Canadian airline in Toronto. After his retirement from the airline, Gerald settled in St. Catharines, Ontario.