memory and assumptions

I’m learning to be more careful when it comes to reading the past. For instance: I believed my father’s stories about his mother and her journey to the new world. This world, though of course North America was very different in the early part of the 20th century, before the wars, before the Great Depression, before climate change and the migration of populations to the cities that swell and strain at their seams as I write. So when did your mother come to North America, I asked, and he told me 1911. But the passenger manifest proves it was 1913.  The second mistake is mine entirely. I read the names on the manifest — Anna, Josef, Jan, Paul, Barbara, Franc –and assumed the Josef was my grandmother’s first husband. But then I scrolled over and saw that in fact Anna was travelling with five children. Josef was her son! So she was alone on the Mount Temple in the winter of 1913, in steerage, with five children. Paul and Jan (who became John) were twins, and were 4; Josef was 3, Barbara, 2, and Franc was a year old. It seems that Anna’s husband had a brother in Drumheller, Paul Yopek, and I’m guessing (or assuming) that Josef senior had gone on ahead to make arrangements for them. His name appears in the Alberta Homestead Records for this parcel of land: Section 11, Township 29, Range 20, Meridian 4.

Did he meet them in Saint John when the Mount Temple arrived on March 4? Or did she travel across Canada by train to Drumheller with her five small children? I know that a sixth child was born 9 months after her arrival so things must have gone well, in any case.

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