- Introduction (Mp3)
My name is Sonia Brock and I was born in Chatham, Ontario,
Canada. My father was British and my mother an American. We often teased
her about being a Yankee and she would, indignantly, rise to the bait
In truth our borders were more fluid in those days. Her father worked
in Port Dover, Ontario and also in Michigan, although he was Canadian.
Grandad had been an 'efficiency expert' in factories. The 'girls' there
were paid for piecework, that is to say by completed pieces of sewing,
so they were grateful to be shown how to produce more items, faster.
Chatham was a farming town trying to be a city. The number 30,000 was
very important since it defined Chatham as a real city and not just a
town. In good times they deluded themselves into thinking that they were
independent of the surrounding farmlands. If crops were bad, however,
the city merchants were none too prosperous and I can remember, during
times of drought, being in church while folks were praying for rain.
My father was a heavy appliance and piano salesman and he had a genius
for recognizing a scruffy looking gent as a farmer with cash in his jeans.
It used to make the other salesmen really mad, especially when he came
back to work, part-time, after he retired and still outsold the younger
My mother was a talented artist and musician. She had studied opera singing
and played both the piano and the organ. She also painted in oils, and
was a potter and a skilled weaver. Mother was a capable seamstress and
made her own clothes from Vogue patterns. I still have a photo of myself
in a lovely smocked dress she sewed for me.
My 'other' mother was an English Bulldog called Googie. We adored each
other and she wouldn't let anyone come near me when I was small. The mailman
and milkman were terrified of her.
I have 2 sisters and a brother. I am the eldest. We all left Chatham as
soon as we could, each a little earlier than the last. My siblings all
moved to Toronto. I married and moved to Atikameg, Alberta with my American
husband whom I had met in the Chatham Little Theatre group. He had a job
teaching on a Cree Indian reservation.
Chatham in the 50's and 60's was not a great place to be if, like all
in our family, you read books and asked questions. Things are different
there now. It has become a college town with real theatres and a sophisticated
main street area but back then in the 50s it was not entirely favourable
Edited June 25, 2017
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