Pursuing the expatriate life in Italy–Poland Trois

Hmm, this is kinda frustrating. I want the information in this second book to be as accurate as possible and I’m coming across discrepancies.

In looking over death certificates, I’m finding conflicting information. Some of the information is understandable. My biological mother’s family surname was “Bakun”, pronounced “Ba’ kun”. When I first saw it, I naturally pronounced it like “bacon”. During my initial visit to B.C. to meet my family, I was informed of the correct pronunciation. Indeed, my aunt “Maria” told me that some of her siblings changed the spelling to “Backen” when they arrived in British Columbia so it would be pronounced correctly.

As a result, on the death certificates for some of my aunts and uncles, I’m seeing “father” as Theodore Bakun, but the deceased as Backen. Now this I can accommodate. But the dates are throwing me off.

My grandmother and her first two children fled Poland in 1920. The ship that brought them to Canada left out of London. They actually arrived in Quebec in June of 1920, ultimately joining my grandfather in Calgary, Alberta, Canada a little later. The five additional children, including my mother, were born in Calgary. Then everyone relocated to the Vancouver, British Columbia area.

This is where it gets funky. In older Canadian death certificates, there was a space on the document to write in the number of years a person had lived in the province as well as the country (if one were an immigrant). Three death certificates are showing different years arrival in B.C. My grandmother’ certificate is showing arrival in 1929, my mother’s is showing 1931 and my uncle’s, 1932. More recent death certificates do not show this.

I sincerely do not believe that my mother remained in B.C. for two years as a toddler to join my mother in B.C. in 1931. Even more funky is my grandfather’s certificate which is showing his arrival also as 1931. In those days it was common (as it is now) for the husband to leave first, secure housing and a job, and then send for his family. So who left Calgary first, Grandma or Grandpa?

Which date did my family arrive in B.C.? 1929? 1931? 1932? I suppose I will have to use some artistic license in deciding for myself the date. My grandfather died in 1960 and I just have a feeling that his information is probably more suspect because he went alone to B.C. to prepare for his family’s eventual arrival. I figure my grandmother’s birth certificate is most accurate.

I think everyone probably remembered my grandmother’s arrival much better. When my aunts and uncles started dying off, I don’t think much attention was paid to the entry of this information, probably due to the spate of deaths in such a short period. It’s plausible to assume that the family was wracked by continuing grief. By the time my mother and uncle finally died, everyone either had forgotten the exact date, or the person who filled out the certificate made an educated guess.

When it comes right down to it, I suppose this information is not terribly crucial. But then, as I research more, who knows what I will uncover that will render these dates more important than they seem now?

In a way, this is a learning experience for me. I am quite certain I will be finding a lot of information that will either be contradictory, unavailable or just downright wrong. It will be up to me to do the best I can from the information I glean to be as accurate as possible as I paint this picture of my family’s flight, freedom and flourishing.


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