1994hhRICK @ the RACES (RETRO REPORT 1994)

Episode 28

In 1993 we took our summer vacation visiting Pat’s Aunt Lotte and Uncle Klaas in Canada and we liked the country so much that on our return to England we decided to apply to emigrate. After sending off our application, late in the year, we spent New Years Eve in the Netherlands with our friends, the Boschma family, at their new home in Hommerts.1994a

1994bSo, 1994 began for us with our friends in Friesland, and on Jan 3 we returned to England via the Hook of Holland Ferry to Harwich.

Before heading for our home in Cranfield, we dropped in to see my my cousin Jamie Young and his family who lived in Woodbridge , Suffolk. His children , Stuart and Emma were very much into the sport of Skiing and were very interested to hear about our Canadian plans.

Alas, after returning home later that day, we had some disappointing news in the mail. It was a letter from the Canadian High Commission in London informing us , that our emigration application had been unsuccessful. I can’t remember the exact reason , but  we hadn’t got sufficient points to qualify ( As mentioned in the 1993 Retro, Canadian Immigration is done on a points basis).

We informed Lotte and Klaas who were equally disappointed. They suggested we should try an appeal, while they looked into what they could do from their side of the Atlantic. I didn’t really expect things to change, but it kept our hopes alive.

On Jan 15 ‘the Smiths’ from Bedford , one of our local stock car families, and good friends were holding a winter disco and supper in nearby Wooton, so we went along to this . 1986aI’d Known Dick (507) and Jane for many years and their sons had now started racing in BriSCA F1. Neil was racing under his Dad’s old number (507) and Craig was (207)1994c

Most of our other winter weekends were spent watching the MK Kings Ice Hockey games.

On February 28 we got a letter from the office of Preston Manning, a Canadian Member of Parliament, and leader of the Reform Party.

Canada has a history of opening it’s doors to people from all over the world, but this political party were strong supporters for the traditionally excepted countries of Europe being the preferable origins for incoming immigrants .

The Staal family had contacted them in an effort to support our case. The letter stated that they’d been in contact with the Department of Citizenship and Immigration and we should know the outcome in approximately two weeks. This gave us a bit of hope, but I still had my doubts if the answer would be favorable.

My Dad had reached retirement age in 1993, but continued to work for a while after reaching the age of 65.

His employer at this time was former top 60’s and 70’s Rally driver, Paddy Hopkirk. Paddy a former Monte Carlo Rally winner was the owner of a car accessory company that went under his name. Dad worked at the companies warehouse that was located in Leighton Buzzard , Bedfordshire.

Stored in that warehouse was one of Paddy’s famous ‘works’ Mini’s ( EBL 56C) that he’d used in the past, and it was about this time the media came along to do a story about it. 1994f 1994d 1994g 1994eDad was there with his camera to record the event.  ( the cars pedigree can be seen if you check this link:

http://www.smithmaps.fsnet.co.uk/ebl56ctext.htm )

We were still into the classic American Car scene and March was the time for our ’77’ Ford Mustang’s annual MOT test. Unfortunately MOT testing in the UK has some things that are unrelated to safety, and it failed on the exhaust emissions, which was one one of these items. mm (Large)

In it’s former life, before we owned it, it had been drag raced. The 302 cu ins V8 and Holley Carb had been ‘played with’ and as a result, it wouldn’t pass the government’s recently legislated ‘save the planet emissions stuff’. We had to put the ‘Muzzy’ into a local garage to get it sorted out before getting our test certificate.

Once the MOT pass was taken care of, we were ready to do some shows, and the first one on the agenda was a bit ‘special’ . On Saturday March 19 London’s CAPITAL RADIO were doing a fund raiser for ‘HELP A LONDON CHILD’ and they were putting on a show at Regents Park Zoo.1994i 1994j We left Cranfield early in the morning to be in London for this. We really enjoyed this show, because it was close enough to the Zoo for Pat and Carla to walk around the and see the animals as well as being within walking distance to Camden Market.1994h

On March 27 we made our first trip of the year to Brafield and just like 1992 and 1993, the BriSCA F1 scene was still under par. Only 26 cars were in attendance and just like the previous two years, the familiar number (515) of Frankie Wainman JR was the winner. F2 Final winner that day was Simon Farrington (259)

With our Canadian plans in doubt, we started thinking of other directions to ‘get away’ and do something different.

We’d looked into the possibility of buying a business , and one that took our fancy was in Scotland. Their was a small camp site and house for sale in Langholm in Dumfrieshire and on April 7/8, I took a couple of days off work so we could drive up to take a look.1994k Although it was located in a beautiful part of the country, we concluded that it wasn’t a place that would make us much money. While we were on this trip we stopped by the tourist attractions of Gretna Green and the Lake District of Northern England.

I can’t remember the exact date, but sometime in late April or early May we got another letter from the Canadian High Commission in London. They wanted Pat , Carla and myself to attend an interview in London on June 1.

We were at Coventry on May 7 to see Andy Smith (391) take the win, while newcomer Stephen Cayzer (381) impressed with a heat and Grand National win.1994l He is the son of former F1 and Superstox driver, Alan Cayzer. The next day we were at Arena Essex for the historic first ever BriSCA F2 meeting. This was won by Liskeard Cornwall’s Peter Gilbert ( 542)

On May 22 we attended the Chiltern Hills American Car rally at Stokenchurch.

On Wednesday June 1 , it was time for our interview at CANADA HOUSE in London so a few days off from work were taken. The interview went well and we were told to expect, an official confirmation that would follow.

With this in mind. on June 2/3 we took a two day break down in Pat’s old home town of Poole in Dorset, where we visited Brownsea Island,  and her sister Hella in nearby Yeovil.

We were back at Coventry on Saturday June 4 where Nottingham’s John Wright (128) was the winner.

On Friday 17 June, Willem and Anne arrived from the Netherlands to join us for a weekend of racing and the American Auto Club, Nationals at Billing. Both Brafield and Billing were two day events (18/19 Jun) so we spent the Saturday at Billing and Sunday at Brafield. 1994mWhile we were at Billing we missed a rare win by Daniel Harter (4) but were there on Sunday to see Peter Falding win the F1 European Championship. Both Saturdays and Sundays F2 Finals were won by Mick Sworder (152).

Our confirmation letter arrived from the Canadian High Commission , but we still needed to pass Canada’s official medical tests. We had to be examined by an authorized doctor in Northampton on June 24.

On June 25 we accompanied ,  Paul and Allison Blackwell, a couple of our ‘non racing’ friends,  and their kids to the Alton Towers theme park.1994n

We were at Coventry again on July 2 to see Nigel Whorton (422) take the win, then the next day at the Hollowell Steam Rally with our ‘Muzzy’ .

With our departure to Canada looking positive, we had already started selling some of our assets.

On Sunday July 10 our caravan was sold before I took off to the Siverstone Circuit.

It was the British Grand Prix and one of our neighbors offered me a free ticket that he’d acquired. 1994oI went there on my little Yamaha 80 motorcycle and saw Damon Hill ( son of Graham) take the win in a Williams.1994p

Carla ended her year at the Cranfield Middle School, with the knowledge that she would most likely , not be returning1994q

Our entry Visas to be ‘Landed Immigrants’ arrived on July 16 with the stipulation that we ‘used them’ , or in other words, be ‘living in Canada’ within 12 months of their issue. We’d had our house on the market, in readiness, so we could get things moving quickly if things went to plan.

We’d been keeping our Canada plans ‘hush hush’ and had only shared the fact with close friends and family until we knew everything had been finalized. 1994s We got an offer on our house on July 17 and things looked promising. The Ford Mustang was sold on July 21 and my Yamaha bike , moved onto Keith Palmer , one of our stock car racing friends.

The house sale was progressing well so we started selling off other stuff at ‘Car Boot Sales’ .

On July 22 the completion date of the house sale was set for August 26 , so we made plans accordingly.

One of our neighbors was a manager at the local Pickfords Moving company and we arranged through him for our stuff to be shipped to Canada.

On August 6 , we were at Coventry once again and got a surprise winner. Lisa Harter (24) , daughter of Tony (80) and brother of Daniel (4) won the final. 1994rLater, after we left England she became the wife of Andy Smith (391) son of Stuart.

The next day I was at Brafield where they were trying out something different, The F1 stock cars were split into two sections, A and B which were supposed to separate the the ‘fancy’ expensive cars from the more basic ones. The idea was a bit of a ‘no brainer’,  but the winners were Steve Cooper (221) in the ‘A’ section and Andy Robinson (140) in the (B’s).

It was the F1 World Championship (semi final) at Long Eaton on August 13 and one of the side attractions was a supporters ‘collectors fare’. I used this opportunity to take along some of my unwanted memorabilia to sell. Winner of the ‘semi’ that night was Kev Smith (64) while Murray Harrison (97) won the meeting final.

I was back at Coventry again a week later for a rare middle of the month meeting where the BriSCA F2’s were making an appearance. Winner that night was former F1 Stock Car World Champion Bert Finnikin ( 559) who’d recently switched over to the smaller formula.

On August 21 it was the Long Track World Final at Baarlo but of course we had to miss it this year. The big race was won once again by Ron Kroonder.

Once the completion of our house sale had taken place on August 26, it was time for me to hand in my notice at work, let the ‘cat out of the bag’ and tell everyone we were moving to Canada.

It came as a big surprise to my co-workers, because I’d been with the BEJAM/ICELAND group for a long time, and it wasn’t the kind of company where people ‘quit their jobs’. 1994tIt was a good place to work with conditions and pay being above average. 1994uI drove my  DAF for the last day on Thursday Sept 1.

Once It was common knowledge about our move, I posted a list on the company notice board of the remaining household items we were selling. Everything on the list was easily sold.

We moved out of Cranfield on Aug 26 and went to stay at my Mum and Dads place. That meant commuting from Totternhoe, near Dunstable  to the ICELAND depot in Wolverton for my last few days.

We arranged a ‘Farewell Party’ for our friends at ‘The Swan’ in Cranfield on Friday 2 Sept and the pub was packed.1994w 1994x

On Saturday 3 Sept we had a party in Mum and Dad’s back garden with the families of my bother Chris and sister Anne. img006It was also on this day that we parted company  with our Vauxhall Cavalier. My friend Dave Ramswell (from the American Auto Club) had agreed to buy it, and take possession just before we left.

On Sunday Sept 4 , Mum and Dad drove us to Stanstead Airport in Essex where we were to embark on our new life across the Atlantic. 1994zOur close friends Colin and Kim Herridge also came along to the airport to wave us good bye, as did my Uncle Geoff and Auntie Sheila from Ipswich.  We flew out of Stanstead with as many essentials as we could cram into our bags, while the rest of the stuff  being shipped by sea directly to Combermere, by Pickfords.

Once we’d arrived in Toronto , shown the officials our papers and got our ‘Landed Immigrant Status’ , Klaas and Lotte were there to drive us back to their place.

It was the Labor Day weekend and after a three hour drive, we arrived in Combermere early Sunday evening . It wasn’t long before we were reunited with Pat’s cousins, Brian and Terry.

Our plan was to stay with Klaas and Lotte temporarily until we found somewhere to rent. ( We didn’t want to buy a house straight away)

On Tuesday Sept 6 we had to be driven into Pembroke ( about a one hour drive away) to fill out forms for the SIN employment cards and our OHIP medical coverage.

Wednesday Sept 7 was my first day working with the Valley Cottage Raising & Moving, with Klaas and Brian. We were engaged on a job at Madawaska, Ont.1994aa

Carla started her new school in nearby Palmer Rapids on Friday 9 and had her first ride on a big yellow school bus.

Soon after arriving , we found a nice bungalow for rent on Mill Street , Combermere,  beside Lake Kamaneskeg that had a small creek  (with beavers to watch) running at the bottom of the yard. 1994bbWe moved in on Sept 15, just two weeks after arriving in Canada. The postal code was KOJIBO, which some friends in England mistook for a place named  Kojibo ( kogeebow )

On Sunday Sept 18 we went along with Terry to watch the Pembroke Lumberkings hockey game against the Brockville Braves. With Brian’s sons, Sean and Darren playing for the Lumberkings , it meant this would be the team we’d be supporting. 1994ccThrough out the winter we’d be watching them nearly every week.

Meanwhile, back in England on Sunday Sept 18, the BriSCA F2 World Final was taking place at Taunton (Smeatharpe) where Rob Speak (218) became the winner.

Up until now, we’d been relying on Terry to drive us around in his Buick Century, but on Sept 19 we bought our first car. 1994ddWe acquired a 1987 Plymouth Reliant ‘K’ Car with low mileage from Ted Maxwell’s car sales in nearby Bancroft.

In England on Saturday Sept 24 it was the BriSCA F1 World Final at Bradford, where Andy Smith (391) was the winner. This would be the first of many I’d be missing !

The next day, ( Sunday Sept 25) I visited my first Canadian stock car track when we drove out to the Golden Lake Speedway, near Eganville. Ont.1994ee Golden Lake was about a 40 minute drive from Combermere and the dirt track had opened for the first time, earlier in the year. 1994ff 1994gg 1994hh 1994iiThe cars taking part were of the 8 cylinder street stocks variety and the event was promoted by track owner Harvey Reckzin .

On October 7,  I took my Ontario driving test in Pembroke and failed miserably ! When immigrants arrive in Canada they are allowed to drive for 3 months with the driving license from their native country, after which a test has to be taken. The failure was a big disappointment ! I guess I’d been driving too many years in Europe , and needed to adapt to the North American way of doing it. A retest had to be booked.

Our belongings which had been shipped from England, had arrived in the country and we had to go down to Toronto to get them cleared by customs. We drove down on the weekend of Oct 10/11  and stayed at the same motel, in Scarborough that we used on our vacation the previous year .

Our stuff arrived in Combermere via the Port of Montreal on a tractor trailer on October 24 .

The Valley Cottage Raising & Moving business was going through a quiet period as fall approached, so I started looking for alternative employment. I began working as a welder in a small engineering shop in Eganville , but this didn’t last for long.

1994kkI then started working for Pine Tree Wood Heat on November 9, which was a short walking distance from our house. I was building ‘Out House Stoves’, which were a heating system ideal for use in rural areas. They were wood burning stoves that were located out side, and supplied heat to the inside buildings.

Combermere isn’t a big place, and Barrys Bay is the nearest small town, just 20 minutes away. Between the two places , Mount Madawaska is located, and on November 20 the ski slope opened.

We had our first big dump of snow two days later and were very relieved when Brian turned up first thing in the morning with his truck to plow our driveway.1994ll

I mentioned at the start of this chapter that Stuart Young, my cousin Jamie’s son was a keen skier, and he’d got an ambition to become a ski instructor. He looked into the ways of qualifying, and found out that if he was able to get a student work permit , he could take his instructors course here.

Many trans Atlantic phone calls were made, and on Thursday Nov 24 he flew in to Canada for an interview. Terry, Pat and Carla picked him up from Toronto Airport. He saw the people he needed to see at the Ski Slope on Saturday and was taken back to the airport on Sunday. His Interview went well and he was to return a few weeks later.

When in England we’d always had two cars, and it was time we got our second. On December 9 we bought a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne from the Clancy family we’d got to know . 1994jjSean Clancy was a local truck driver, so we had a lot in common.  I really liked the Pontiac as it was nice to drive and had plenty of V8 power.

With Christmas approaching Terry took us out to meet his buddy Phil Foubister where we chopped down our Christmas Tree on his property in Palmer Rapids. Phil, originally from Northern Ireland and a former metropolitan policeman in London,  would later become a good friend and co worker. Like Sean Clancy, he was also a truck driver.

The part of Ontario we’d chosen to live, wasn’t the most liveliest parts on the globe for people like Pat and I who were used the city life. We needed a good night out and one of the few places in the area with a bit of ‘action’ was the Wilno Tavern where they held a weekly blues and ‘jamming’ night. Wilno is small village noted as being the first Polish settlement in the Ottawa Valley. In fact the whole area around Barrys Bay has a large polish community and some of our friends jokingly called us the Youngski’s .

1994mmSo, 1994 was our first Christmas in Canada and on the day after Boxing Day ( Dec 27) we found our self heading to the Ottawa Airport. Mum and Dad were flying in from England to spend the new year with us. We decided to drive there in our Plymouth, because , strangely enough, the Pontiac had less room in the trunk for suit cases.

We had quite an eventful drive back from the airport !

At one stage we drove through ‘white out’ conditions of a snow storm, then got a puncture in one of the tires close to Arnprior. After changing it beside the trans Canada Highway, we were forced to take a slow drive home on the ’emergency donut’ . We got Mum and Dad safely to Combermere, later that night.1994nn