Emigrants from Lewis

In the post Emigrants from Lewis, I told you,

"My Mum's aunt, for whom she's named, left on the SS Marloch in 1923. She died of TB, in a hospital in British Columbia, not long after she arrived in Canada. In another post, I'll tell a wee story about her, a couple in our church and an amazing meeting in Stanley Park, Vancouver."

Well, bear with my whilst I tell a wee story.

In September 2001 (yes, that unforgettable month), my Mum and I were in Canada for two weeks. We spent the first week in the wonderful Ontario, and the second in Vancouver. In the middle of our week in Vancouver, my mum's cousin, with whom we were staying, suggested we go and take a wander through Stanley Park.

My Mum, her cousin - Muriel, Muriel's son - Don, and I spent a couple of hours strolling through this gorgeous park in Vancouver. Towards the end of our time there, we decided to visit a small Gift Shop, and took our time browsing the souvenirs there. We then visited the .... er, Ladies' / Restroom / Toilets / Taighean Beaga / Facilities (whatever they're called where you are!).

Now rewind two hours...

Unbeknown to us, as we entered the park, a man who was sitting on a bench close to the entrance heard us talking. This man was from Edinburgh and recognised our Lewis accents immediately. His wife and friends - a couple from Lewis - were in the Gift Shop while he sat enjoying the sunshine, and when they re-joined him he told them there were some Leodhasaich (people from Lewis) in the park. Asking how he could be sure, he smiled and said knowingly, 'I heard them talking'. If you've ever heard someone from Lewis speaking, you'll know that their accent is, ....well, it's, er, easily recognised, shall we say!

The couple from Lewis thought little of it, dismissing the information with, 'it'll be nobody we know anyway'.

(Not the most reasonable conclusion to reach if you're from Lewis, but there you go.)

A couple of hours later, he saw the Leodhasaich again and said to his wife and the other couple with them (from Lewis), 'Oh, these folks from Lewis....they're just away into the Ladies' / Restroom / blah blah..... 

The Lewis couple decided to hang around near the toilets...... eek - I need to re-word that.

Let's see: they thought they'd wander around admiring the flora and fauna whilst remaining close to the Facilities. 

You with me...?

They hear the door opening. They wait. Will they recognise the people? Or will they feel like total prats watching and waiting at Toilet doors?

Mum and I emerge. We see them. We are speechless. I mean totally gobsmacked. Standing in front of us is a couple who are not only from Lewis, but from Ness. Not only are they from Ness, but we know them really well. Really well. They're in our church. The man and the Builder were buddies for years. 

It was surreal. 

Did I mention we were speechless. This was Mum and I. Speechless is something we don't do too often, I can assure you.

When we did manage to speak and get over our combined shock and hysterics, we began introducing our cousins, telling how long we were in Vancouver for etc etc.

Our friends from Ness then told that they has been further North in B.C. looking for the grave of an uncle of his - the man after whom he was, in fact, named....John Smith.

"John Smith?" said Mum. "Was he in Vancouver around 1924?"

"Uuuh...yes he was," came the slightly stunned reply. "How do you know that?"

"Did he die of TB in a hospital here in B.C.?"

"Er, yes."

"Well," went on Mum, "my auntie - after whom I'm named - left Lewis on the SS Marloch . She found her way to Vancouver, but had developed TB and was in hospital. I have some letters that she sent home in 1924. In them, she speaks of a lovely young Christian man from Barvas - a John Smith - who is also in the hospital. She speaks highly of him, and says that they have wonderful fellowship together."

Both my Mum's aunt and this man's uncle died in the hospital and were buried in B.C. My mother never knew who this man of whom her auntie spoke was until she met our friend in Stanley Park that day.

My Mum and this man had spoken hundreds of times in Lewis, but they had to be in Vancouver, in Stanley Park that very day to share their stories.

This man had not known of the friendship between his late uncle and this fellow islander, Catherine. He was comforted to know that he'd had the comfort of a fellow islander and fellow believer in the weeks and months before he passed away.

How true that God orders our every step. In the tapestry that makes up every moment of our lives, each thread is perfectly woven by God. Not one moment is by chance.

I took this photo of the photo I had in my album!
Here we are in Stanley Park: Mum, myself and the two couples.

I had taken this photo as we came into the park. We were completely oblivious to the fact at the time, but the man in the foreground is the fellow who recognised our accents and so (humanly speaking, anyway!) the amazing events of the day began to unfold.


  1. My mother always used the term "a small world." It does seem like one when you are so far from home and meet up with someone you know. My mother and I had to go to Paris to find someone from our hometown! Good thing. My French stinks and we were lost.

  2. I love this story, it's just well "wow!", what else can you say? Amazing, it's great to hear it again.

    (p.s. since you were in Canada, technically you visited the 'washroom', I was told a funny story by an American who went to live in Canada, and she asked the church elder were the 'restroom' was. He directed her to an room that contained chairs and not much else. She looked slowly round the room, and just thought to herself, maaaan, what do they do here?!!!)

  3. Amazing. How wonderful.

    (p.s. Which one are you in the picture?)

  4. Incredible!!! What a terrific story!!


  5. Oh my goodness! What a treasure of a story! You are so right about God ordering our every step. And what a comfort it is that He does.

    Merry Christmas Anne!

  6. It is a small world indeed!! I grew up in Niagara Falls Ontario :) Loved your story ~Heather

  7. What a wonderful story! God does give us these gifts once in a while - these little vignettes of fellowship that show us that we are God's children, brothers & sisters, all! Merry Christmas, to you all!!

  8. Oh, I love that story, isn't that just like our God, to give this friend of yours such comforting words, that his relative had not been alone, but had such sweet fellowship with another Christian, and one from his homeland. God is so good, just like you say, weaving all of these precious details together for us, showing us His amazing love for His own.

  9. That is just TOO cool. What a story!


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