Joan Robb

I was born in Halifax on May 15, 1946, my parents having been married after VE day. At one, travelled with my parents to China on the Marine Lynx, with others bound for the West China mission field. There my parents entered language school but I had a developmental advantage and was immersed with my Danyang and other Szechuanese caretakers, and they found themselves using the dictionary to communicate with me.

In 1949, following the takeover of Nanking by Mao’s forces, Mother took Michael (delivered in Chengtu in December, 1948 by Dr. Gladys Cunningham) and me out, and back to live with her parents in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia.

When Dad returned in 1951, we moved to Halifax for his work at the Victoria General Hospital, and I started school. After the Korean War, families were not accepted on the Korea mission field, so Dad went alone from 1953-1956, while Mother taught school and we lived a thoroughly Canadian life.

In December, 1957, we departed as a family for Korea, via an exciting train trip across North America. In Toronto, after a meal in Montreal at the home of Dr. Stewart Allen, who had been imprisoned during my father’s time in Chengtu, and he returned the copy of Grey’s Anatomy that along with a New Testament which Dad had taken to him, were the only two books he was permitted while in jail. Dad kept that copy until the end of his life.

Somehow we managed to leave a suitcase, which he was able to have catch us up on the journey. We went across the American Midwest to my father’s oldest brother’s place in Pasadena, California, and sailed from San Francisco on a freighter that plied the stormy North Pacific through the Christmas season, arriving in cold, dilapidated Pusan.

I finished Grade 6, and Michael, Grade 3, at Seoul Foreign School, which was then camping out in empty classrooms of Yonsei University. We all enjoyed our fascinating life there, in what one of my schoolmates called “our magical childhood.”

In 1963, we went back to Canada on furlough, me to Dalhousie via senior matric. in Grade 12. In 1966, I was thrilled to go on a work camp in Liberia with Operation Crossroads Africa (a sort of mini-CUSO. In due course, I left with a B.A. in English and Philosophy, and then, captivated by the education department at the new Simon Fraser University, went west—way west.

Spent a few years in Vancouver enjoying the lifestyle, got my teaching certificate, started teaching kindergarten in Surrey, south of Vancouver, then moved in 1974 to the Sunshine Coast—where I find I have lived for most of the rest of my life, save one year back in Halifax getting a Bachelor of Journalism a the Dalhousie-affiliated University of King’s College.

Became very active in the teachers’ union, locally, provincially, nationally, and even internationally, when I represented the BCTF in Central America on a couple of teacher tours to see what our donation towards the Literacy Campaign had done.

Built a house in Roberts Creek, love the trees and birds and beach and mucking about there, where I live with my dog and two cats.

Retired this year! Now its exploring lots of options not open to a 24-7 teacher. Miss the kids and might do some substituting, but do not miss the exhaustion at the end of every day.

And now, who knows what?

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