There is no home

“I’m going home” proclaimed Gramma Harrison, as she hauled out the dilapidated suitcase from the basement and filled it with a few items. The screen door slammed shut as she lugged the suitcase down the rickety steps of the porch. She hauled the suitcase along the dusty, pothole filled lane. Abruptly, she stopped as the truth slammed into her. There was no home!

Kate Harrison at her home near Cochrane, Ontario.

That’s the way it was. Kate Atkins was 8 years old when her mother died in 1902. Her father had been unable to care for 7 children. Eventually, the family was split up and the children were sent to the workhouse or other charitable organizations. Unlike three of her sisters, Beatrice, Alice, and Rosa, Kate spent 8 years in England before she was convinced by her sister Edith to go to Canada. She arrived in Quebec, Canada on May 15, 1910 aboard the passenger ship “Canada” and traveled by train to join her sister, Rosa, in Port Dover, Ontario.

It had been ok at first, working for the pharmacist, Mr Ansley and his wife as a domestic with Rosa. But the Rosa went back to England and when she returned moved to New York state and married. Kate was alone. She didn’t stay in Port Dover for long. She headed to a domestic position in Toronto. At least there she was near her sister, Alice.

Kathleen Atkins on her wedding day

She married John Henry Harrison in Toronto on September 6, 1913. Now she lived in Brower, Ontario; a place of freezing winters and mosquito-filled summers. The lush rolling hills of Buckinghamshire, England were very different from the dense bush overgrown with spruce and pine where she now lived. She wanted to go home but the truth was this was her home. A home that had been filled with 9 children and now visiting grandchildren.

Kate never did go back to England. She died on 12 January 1973 in Connaught, a locality near Timmins, Ontario.

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