Updated: Aug 17, 2021
Episode 3: Meet me in Windsor.
In the last episode I learned that the migrations that my ancestors did here in North America are just as important, if not more important, than the expected traditional colonial immigrations I was so intent on looking for. In this episode I am going to tell you about the 2 migration stories that brought my parents together. I am ashamed to say that I did not have all the details of this story, so I had to interview my parents for this episode. OK, I knew the basics, that they both migrated to Windsor from other cities in Canada. My Mother came from Montreal, Quebec. My father, from London, Ontario. My goal here is to piece together both of their migration stories as well as the story of how they met and once again put these family stories in to a larger context, hopefully with effect of gaining new insight into the respect that is owed to the indigenous people who so graciously share this land. Here we go… BREAK In the late 40s and early 50s people were flocking to industrial towns for work. World War II had ended the Great Depression, but WWII also served to fine tune and increase the capacity for industrial production. After World War II as war production converted back over to civilian production. Cities offered new opportunities for work. Windsor happened to attract both of my parents. My Mother, Marie was born in Montreal (she was the eldest of 6 children), my maternal grandparents had their hearts set on moving to a smaller town to raise their family so they moved to Magog, Quebec. My grandparents had difficulty finding work in this small town though. With their family was rapidly growing, 4 kids and 1 on the way, they set out to find work in Ontario. My grandfather, Victor (you heard about him in the first episode) was hesitant to uproot his family once again, so he went to Toronto alone, were he found work that allowed the family to save a bit of money. He returned to Magog after a year with a plan. He would go to Windsor alone, get set-up and send for the family, and that is what he did. My mother remembers taking a train to Windsor where they finally got settled in the house I remember as my childhood home. After my mother graduated high school she went to work. She had a few different jobs before landing a job at Daal’s, a factory, where they made seat belts and battery casings for cars. This is also about the time that my Father arrived in town. His family is from London Ontario, You heard a bit about this side of the tree in Episode 2. My father wanted to find factory work and arrived in Windsor where his older sister and her husband found jobs in automotive assembly plants. Since he had a place to stay with his sister, he came to Windsor and found a job at Daal’s. My Mother recalls working and noticing a guy staring at her. She tried not to notice because it was a bit embarrassing. This was not some polite flirting – no. My father couldn’t take his eyes of my mother. Now this is my mother telling this story so I thought, well maybe she is flattering herself. So I asked to speak with my dad to verify my mother’s version of events. My father confirmed proudly, that yes, he was making a spectacle of himself and gawking at my mother in the factory. He even added, that the minute I saw her, I knew I would ask her to marry me. Wow! So, ok my mother was not exaggerating, in fact, this same incident ended with my father walking off the platform where he was working. This is probably why there was a policy against employees dating each other, they didn’t want employees getting distracted on the factory floor. As my father found out you don’t need to be dating to get distracted from your work. This was definitely a failed policy, because not long after they met, they left their jobs. They took the opportunity on a beautiful summer night, staring at each other across the factory floor, to make a priority of their relationship. They walked off the factory floor, got in the car my father had borrowed from his sister, and go to the Drive-in movie theatre. And there was no turning back. My father asked my maternal Grandfather for his permission to marry his daughter. My grandfather said – NO! You might know from episode 2 that family disapproval does not hold a lot of sway, so they eloped. My mother asked her younger sister Jocelyn to be a wit and were married at the Methodist Episcopal Church, by Rev. Coates, his wife and all their children running around dressed as cowboys, shooting toy pistols. My mother said she didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. But they did it, and they are still together. They celebrated 53 years of marriage this year (2020). BREAK At this point in the episode I want to switch gears, bear with me At the beginning of each podcast, I acknowledge the land that I broadcast from – Windsor. That land acknowledgement describes the work of the three fires confederacy, the work of the 3 fires confederacy the very business required to share the land, and make peace. That peace allowed people to live, travel, and be safe in the connections they made and in the places they called home. This fact, alone puts Windsor in history books as a famous meeting place. Source: https://www.anishinabek.ca/who-we-are-and-what-we-do/#:~:text=The%20Ojibway%20(Chippewas)%2C%20Odawa,for%20military%20and%20political%20purposes.&text=By%20the%20mid%201700s%2C%20the,of%20the%20Great%20Lakes%20Confederacy. But even well after settlers arrived, this town continued to lay claim as a famous meeting place. I live moments away from the Francois Duff-Baby House, arguably one of the most significant homes in Canada because of its status as a meeting place. During the war of 1812. British leaders met Chief Tecumseh in this house to discuss strategy against an impending US attack. For the British leaders, there was one clear choice – retreat. It was Chief Tecumseh who pointed out that the Detroit River is a natural boundary, and that they occupied an excellent spot from which to defend that boundary. Chief Tecumseh also pointed out that to leave this place in retreat basically meant losing our country. Where are you going to stand your ground after a retreat here? Tecumseh asked. Nowhere. We stand our ground here or lose. And we did stand our ground, and the rest as they say is history. Source: https://www.heritagetrust.on.ca/en/properties/duff-baby-house Maybe at this point you might be thinking, “Does the story of how my parents met, really deserve a place next to iconic tales of the Great Lakes Confederacy, or the War of 1812? Well of course it does, without a doubt! Now before you roll your eyes, let me explain. It is no accident that Windsor is the industrial town that it is. When automobile manufacturing was in its infancy. Early industrial tycoons like Henry Ford who wanted to make Windsor a point of Canadian distribution shipped over parts over the border as needed. As demand and production ramped up, shipping parts across the border on demand became inefficient and Windsor became a hub for not only automobile assembly but also tool and parts manufacturing. So you see it is the political boundary here that shaped the local economy, and it is the local economy that attracted my parents, and many others, and that existing Can. US boundary is owed in great part to, the Treaty of Niagara which formalized the alliance between the British and the Great Lakes Confederacy, and then to Chief Tecumseh’s ability to rally the British troops for defense of our Canadian border here. Nothing happens in a vacuum, even the story of how my parents met. And make no mistake, your family stories also exist in a social, cultural, and political context. And making connections to larger narratives is worth the effort. Contextualized personal and family stories create meaning that has deeply rooted significance. It will change how you feel about who you are, here and now. BREAK Thanks for listening to the 3rd episode of the Maple Family Treehouse. Oh Hey, before you go, I want to introduce you to my partner, Theo Hummer. She is SO smart it is intimidating she is also well travelled. The first thing you notice about Theo though is a mass of brown curls on top of her head. So I think of her as a global tumble weed. And if you don’t believe me, check out this list of places were she has lived, She was born in Mississippi, then went to Utah were her dad worked, then back to Mississippi, then to Berkley California for university, then to the Chec. republic where she taught English in a cigarette factory, then back to Mississippi for work, then to Ithaca NY. where she went to Cornell for an MFA in poetry, and PhD in American Lit. After graduation she taught in several places, such as, Canton NY, Interlochen, MI., Selinsgrove, Penn., St. Pertersburg Fl. and FINALLY, to Detroit MI. It was while she lived in Detroit that we met in, you guessed it, Windsor. And now we have this brilliant tumbleweed all to ourselves. Honey, I hope after hearing the story of what an amazing meeting place Windsor is you are content to rest here with me – I know I am certainly happy to have you because I love you a bunch! If you are inclined to support the work of the Maple Family Treehouse, like and follow us on Facebook and Instagram. You can also checkout the transcripts of each episode and sources at Maplefamilytreehouse.com. And if you want to get real serious you can make donations on patreon. Wherever you listen to podcasts look for the maple family treehouse and like and follow us. Your support is appreciated. We also want hear about your own family research, you can contact us at maplefamilytreehouse.com. Cheers! S1 Episode 3: Meet me in Windsor