Helen Hayward

When the Hayward family finally made its way back to Canada from China in time for Christmas with our grandparents in Toronto, I was 7 years old.

What a shock I experienced on being sent to school in Forest Hill. I had never been to school before. I couldn’t read. I didn’t know the alphabet. And I knew I wasn’t going to be there for long because we were moving to Sarnia. My Dad was taking up the job of medical doctor for the Natives in Sarnia and the nearby reserves.

The rest of my childhood was spent in Sarnia and Brantford. In those days we still attended the West China Club picnic. I’m thankful to have known some of you because I didn’t share that wonderful time at the Canadian School.

Adulthood began when I left home to go to university in Waterloo. My older brother, Bob, had long since departed to earn his Engineering degree at Guelph Agricultural College and Jean was in medical school at U of T. My younger sister, Donna was still at home. My parents had adopted a little girl of Chinese – Scottish heritage, so we were a family of 5 children.

My first jobs were as a high school teacher. When the children started coming along, I changed into an administrator of Adult Education, a job that gave me more flexibility. The flexibility must have been what also changed me into a mother of 4.

Of my four children, one remains in eastern Canada. The others have all gone to live in BC. When I retire I’m going to punish them for that – by going out there and staying with them for awhile each year.

In 1984 I joined Transport Canada in the Training group. This job was by far the most interesting of any I have had, developing courses and programs for employees in the Department. During that time, by sheer obstinate persistence, I obtained a Master’s degree in Educational Technology from Concordia University in Montreal. Many hours were spent on the road from work in Ottawa to Montreal and back home, once a week.

Now, though I tried to retire last year, I am still working, this time at the Canadian Coast Guard, still developing courses, still in the education field. Is there any other?

Memories of the Canadian School

It is unfortunate that, because Bob passed away several years ago, and because Jean has lost memory, and Mary-Elaine, Bob’s wife, passed away this spring, I am now the one with any memory of those long ago days.I will try to record a little bit of it.

There was the time when we were visiting at the school and were among a group of folks gathered around the swimming pool. Jean was in the pool. My father decided it was time for him to go for a swim as well. I believe he executed a very nice dive and then very quickly proceeded to drown, since he couldn’t swim. You’ve got to wonder what went through his head. In any case, he managed to grab Jean by the leg and hang on for dear life. She claimed ever afterwards that his grip was like a vice. Nevertheless, she got them to the side of the pool and saved his life!

I remember that during that visit the cellar of the school was under 2 or 3 feet of water. Did we paddle ourselves around in some sort of tub? Not sure.

Another visit involved the birth of my sister, Donna, at which time we were the guests of John and Isabelle Stinson. This was just before we all left for home.

As far as memories that I heard Bob tell about, they certainly involved teasing the girls, acting in the school play, and most famously, collecting tadpoles and somehow letting them all die in the jar they were in. Gruesome.


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