Day 81 - Liz

81 Liz.jpeg

Day 81 - Liz (3rd person I approached)

March 22, 2014 - When I first told Liz what I was doing and asked if she would talk to me, she smiled and said

“I’m sure I don’t have anything interesting to tell you. I’ve lived a very ordinary life.”


Liz was born and raised in Dauphin, Manitoba. She is the youngest of nine children.

“I grew on up living on a wheat farm. There was always chores to be done. We all had different responsibilities. The boys of course spent most of their time helping outdoors, working in the fields or with the cattle. I had chores doing housework, collecting the eggs from the chicken coup, and making butter. My parents were from Poland and had lived through the great depression. Everything we ate was grown on the farm. Vegetables, fruit, milk, butter, cheese and livestock. It was also my job to catch the chickens when the time came for them to become a meal. There was a lot to do, so I didn’t really spend much time thinking about the fact that the meal we were eating was running around outside the day before,” Liz told me. 


School was a two room building that housed classes for all ages, from Grades one through eight, until that burned down and then the new school was a single large classroom. Liz recalls,

“As the youngest of nine children there was always a lot going on at home. In those days, you completed school earlier than kids do today. After Grade eight, my mother kept my older sister and I home for two years and home-schooled us. She spent two years crying in preparation. Really, the only reason she home-schooled us was because after raising nine children the house became too quiet for her, and she referred to it as her empty nest. We became her job, if you will, by home-schooling the last two of us nine children.” At Grade ten, Liz was allowed to go into town, and tells me

“In those days, completing Grade ten, you graduated high school, and Grade eleven was the equivalent of first year University prep, so I graduated again after Grade eleven!” 


At 17, Liz left home to go live in “the BIG city” of Winnipeg. She lived with her elder sister, who was married with two children.

“Growing up in Dauphin, there wasn’t really much in the way of entertainment. If there wasn’t any chores left on the farm, we spent the remainder of our time helping out with my older brothers and sisters who all had farms surrounding ours, and looking after their children. Moving to Winnipeg, that was true freedom,” Liz says, with an long, slow, extension of the word F-R-E-E-D-O-M!

"I was excited by everything the big city had. I remember seeing Len Cariou* in the bank and being so excited! On Sundays after church, my sister and I would go for coffee with our friends and then we’d sneak away to the symphony. I remember vividly seeing ‘Peter and the Wolf.’ We never told anyone we did this. We figured people wouldn’t understand why we wanted to go to the symphony, and that it was above us. As a matter of fact, my sister tells me, and I have no memory of this at all, but she said that our mother used to turn on CBC radio on Sunday nights and make us all listen to the symphony, but I don’t remember that whatsoever.” (*Fact Check - Lou Cariou is a Canadian stage and film actor - see link below).


Liz’s first job was working at The Hudson’s Bay as a filing clerk, working her way up to assistant for the buyer for the store, and then going into sales. Liz worked there for about a year, and then got a job at Moore Business Forms, a large business stationary and order form company.

“That’s where I met my husband. We dated for four years before getting married. When Moore moved their headquarters to Vancouver we relocated out west. It was bitter sweet, being away from family. My husband and I decided that working for the same company probably wasn’t a good idea, so I left Moore and looked for another job. I discovered it was very difficult to find a job as a newly wed wife, because no one wanted hire me, assuming I’d get pregnant and leave. I got a job working for the Bank of Montreal and did just that. I got pregnant with the first of our two daughters. I stayed at home raising the children until our youngest daughter was in kindergarten. I went back to work, and started what would be 27 years working in the Surrey Library system.”

I could tell from Liz’s facial expression, the smile on her face and the look in her eyes that the library was a job she loved.

“I used to do a bit of everything. I was involved in the start of the Story Time for children program, and we’d put on puppet shows. It really was a great job. Children would come to the library to do their “homework” but they’d have so much fun playing and get so involved, there was always last minute questions. Trying to find a description of a word that they didn’t know how to spell and couldn’t quite pronounce. It was a great adventure finding out answers to help the children. We didn’t have computers back then, and I became involved with research and went to night school to improve my skills,“ said Liz.


I asked Liz how she felt about living on the west coast compared to the life she had growing up on a farm on the Prairies.

“Well," she said, ”The first Christmas we had here was downright balmy. We got dressed and went outside and took pictures, and sent them to all our friends and family in the bitter cold of Manitoba. We didn’t say ‘ha ha ha’, but that’s what we meant. The day after Christmas, I ran into one of our neighbours. We lived in an apartment building, and she asked what we had done to celebrate Christmas. I told not much really, my husband had a nap and we had dinner. That was about all. We made an agreement that from then on, we would spend our holidays together, us and this neighbour. So for the next twenty years that what we did. One year at our home and the next at her’s. Whether it was Easter, or Christmas or New Year's. Over the years, it took some planning because if we were out no matter how late on Christmas Eve, the next day if was dinner for up to 20 people. As a child, the holidays started on Christmas Eve and went right through until after New Years. It was nice to bring this tradition here and celebrate with our neighbours. That's what you did.” 


Liz and her husband have two grandchildren. Liz enjoys spending ‘alone time’ with each of them; they go out for lunch and then usually some shopping. Liz and her husband celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary last year. #notastranger


*Fact Check -