Before I went to Latvia and started conducting my research in the archives, I was purely a genealogist. I wanted names, dates and places. While at the archives, a transformation occured: I became a family historian as well. Rather than spending most of my time stretching back further into history, I concentrated on finding out what information I could about the lives of the people I already had that basic information for.
Now I’ve returned home, and I’m continuing that search for information – I had never really looked at the documents for the grandparents and great-grandparents I had that came to Canada, because I already knew that they were here and roughly when/how they arrived, so I was only concerned about where they came from back in Latvia.
So I’ve begun looking at what I have available here, and I’ve learned some interesting things:
- I had been under the belief that my maternal grandmother and her sister came to Canada from Denmark by way of Hamburg, Germany. This is not correct – they came via Bremerhaven, departing from there on June 30th, 1949 on the SS Samaria and arrived in Quebec City on July 11th, 1949. My maternal grandfather came later, and they married on May 24, 1950 in Toronto.
- My maternal grandparents became Canadian citizens on December 18, 1957.
- My paternal grandparents married in Latvia in 1943 – I had been under the impression that they met at a DP camp in Germany and married there or after they immigrated to Canada.
- Thanks to a 60-year old duffel bag in my father’s possession, I now have the information I need to find more information about my paternal grandparents’ time in DP camps. This duffel bag was one they brought with them from Germany, and has the name of the DP camp they lived in – Camp Noor, near the German city of EckernfÃ¶rde, which is located about 50 kilometres south of the Danish border. I’ve put in a request to the International Tracing Service, hoping to learn more information.
I’ve also learned about the Latvian Diplomatic Service, especially in the post-war time period, but that is for a different post. Still lots of documents to sort through and things to learn, even when I’m back home!