Canadian repatriation: One year

Jul 15, 2016 | 8 comments |

Canadian flagsOn 18 July 2015 English Rose and I landed in Toronto on an Aer Lingus flight from London via Dublin. I was on my way home, but English Rose had left the only home she’d ever known.

Missing England

One year later, I still miss the gentle English mist, fish and chips and the “have a go” mentality so intrinsic to the British psyche.

I miss the understated humour, tea shops and crisp English voices. I also miss my hairdresser, GP (family doctor) and Marks & Spencer.  

Planting roots in Canada

However, here in Canada, I’m happy to be part of a friendly and welcoming community with several ice cream shops, two artisan bakeries, a farmer’s market and an ice hockey team.  

Although the lack of roundabout etiquette still frustrates me, much to English Rose’s amusement I’ve found a back road which enables me to circumvent most of our town’s roundabouts, most of the time.

Living between two countries

Transitioning between homes presents a myriad of bureaucratic, logistical and emotional challenges.

It took four months for my British bank to implement my correct Canadian postal address and send information via air mail, including a contact telephone number which works outside the UK.

Meanwhile, I’m still not resident in Canada for tax purposes and my application for residency seems to be permanently under review by the applicable government department.  

My Kindle was purchased and registered in the UK so I can’t access the wealth of e-books available at my local library.

And, certainly not least, Tech Guy is still living and working in England, a stretched family relationship we struggle with everyday.

Home is where the heart is

As I completed our 2016 Canada census questionnaire, I wondered if future generations would be curious about the human story behind the data.

Thanks to genealogical research, I have a snapshot of how my Gilroy grandparents many generations back lived when they were counted in a nearby township in the census of 1861.Gilroy girls

They’d arrived in Upper Canada from Ireland in 1836. Twenty-five years later, they owned a quarter of an acre of land, a two-story log house, one horse, four cows, eight sheep and two pigs.

Yet, like me almost 160 years later, the data only touches the surface of their story. Behind the statistics there’s another, more elusive narrative. One cobbled together by hopes, worries and dreams, and of the quest to build a new life for themselves, their children and their children’s children.      

If home is where the heart is, one year on my heart is stretched between Canada and England.

I suspect it always will be. 


  1. Jean Bull

    I can’t believe that it’s a year, Jen.
    Someone, writing about the Canada Pavilion at Disney World, said you only have to watch the 360 degree movie and hear O Canada to make you want to rush off and book your flight. I agree!
    It’s a wonderful country and I do so hope that soon your family will be together again.

    • Jen Gilroy

      I can’t believe it’s been a year either, Jean. Thanks for your good wishes for my family. I hope you’re able to visit us here in Canada one day.

  2. Jennifer Wilck

    I so admire your ability to adapt, Jen. I’m glad you’re happy in your new-old home and hope the rest of the glitches get fixed.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks so much, Jennifer. I appreciate your kind words. I’ve had to develop what you described as that “ability to adapt.” It’s not natural!

  3. Sue Bavin

    A whole year, Jen – and so much has happened since you arrived in Canada. I like the way your post refers back to your ancestors. So many of us have old photos and a few details about our ancestors, but not much else. The descendants of people living today will have so much more information about their forebears – so much, in fact, that they probably won’t know where to start!

    I do hope your family will be reunited for good in the near future. Sending all good wishes xxx

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks, Sue. I’m fascinated by family history and the photos that go along with a family’s story. So many unanswered questions. I appreciate your good wishes and hope you’re able to visit me here one day.

  4. Heidi Vanstone

    I’ve heard it said that a house is a building with four walls, and a roof. A home is where you make lifelong memories with those you love, regardless of what those four walls look like.

    Continued prayers for a single home where all your family members are under the same roof!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thanks for helping make memories in our home, Heidi, and for your continued prayers.


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