Episode 197 – Atlantic Crossing

February 15, 2022. 75°F/24°C (looks like we have some wifi!!)


In 1949, my mother crossed the Atlantic from Bremen Germany to Canada on the SS Beaverbrae, the converted freighter belonging to the Canadian Pacific Steamship Line that was used to transport over 33,000 post-war refugees and immigrants to Canada between 1948 and 1954. She was sick for the entire crossing, subsisting on oranges and the kindness of sympathetic crew members. Two years later, my father (they didn’t meet until years later, in Canada) made the same crossing on the same ship, and was almost as sick (although he never admitted that to me, and I only found out about it from my aunt years after Dad had died).

For the next 9 days, from February 15th through 24th, we’re crossing the Atlantic from Uruguay to our pit-stop in the Cape Verde archipelago off the west coast of Africa before reaching Europe proper. It’s quite possible that I’ll have a couple of seasick days, but I won’t be in a windowless bunk, and 24/7 room service is a pretty big step above a crewman with oranges.

From the ridiculous to the sublime. The postcard at the top reads: Ship Beaverbrae at departure from Bremen to Canada.

Honestly, Ted and I keep metaphorically pinching ourselves; we never truly expected to be able to take an extended trip like this. Rich North American industrialists and aristocrats did “the grand tour” by steamship across the Atlantic and train in Europe during the 19th century – world tours were never for ordinary folks like us. Yet here we are. My parents would be shocked that their family has come this far in just one generation (see Episodes 65 – 77 in April/May of 2020), from almost penniless immigrant to world traveller, and I’m grateful for their hard work and the strong work ethic and financial responsibility they instilled in me. It almost goes without saying that I’m pretty darn grateful for a partner in life like Ted too!


  1. My husband and I pinch ourselves on a regular basis thinking how lucky we are to see the world. I keep a picture of me standing on the Great Wall of China in our living room, not to brag but to remind me how fortunate we’ve been, especially during these last two years. Happy sailing!

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  2. Your parents’ story is so similar to mine. Dad came over first in 1952 and Mom came over 6 months later. They were engaged in Germany and got married in a police station in Hamilton the weekend after Mom arrived in October of 1952. Don was born 10 months later. Yep my parents taught Don & I a lot about hard work and determination and making a better life for your kids. Hope the rest of your voyage is smooth sailing.


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