On March 18, 2017 I began my three quarter century year of existence in this country. I'm not certain if I emerged from the womb howling like the blizzard prairie wind on that Thursday in 1943. My mother didn't tell me. But by that time my native land, Canada, was already over 75 years old.
At Canada's birth my great grandfather, Johannes, a boy of 15, was still in Rastadt, a little village near Odessa, Russia. There, he heard from the parish priest of this teen aged country and its promise of land and prosperity.
In 1891 he emigrated with his wife and family and arrived in Balgonie in the then North West Territories. The youngest immigrant, Franz (named after Francis Xavier), his two year old child, was my grandfather.
With other families from Russia they settled in a colony north of Kronau and farmed the new land establishing a community of Christian faith.
They already had erected the Catholic Church with an onion dome steeple in St Peter's Colony when they discovered in 1905 that Canada had given birth to a new Province, Saskatchewan. Canada was still a very young 48 year old when my parents were born.
On its 70th birthday my parents, Rochus and Katherine, married and settled on a farm four and a half miles north of the colony, home to my family to the present day, my brother Mathew and his family still working the soil.
Today my great grand parents, grandparents, and parents are all literally part of the land they came to till. And so the flat land of its middle is the solid foundation of my experience of Canada, its fruitfulness, its bounty, its resilience, its openness, its challenges, its harshness. This land is my land.
All photos courtesy of Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ