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The Scholtens family

A boy from the Netherlands

Jack Scholtens

In 1958 my Dad disengaged himself from the family candy business in Holland and immigrated to Canada.

On Nov. 7, 1958 our family of 12, my mom and dad, and their 10 children, ages 1 year to 17 years, arrived in Burlington, at the Freeman Station. This was after having survived a 17 hour flight on a KLM propeller airplane, which took us from Amsterdam, to Shannon Ireland, to Gander NFLD, and then finally landing in Montreal, as landed immigrants.   We traveled by train from Montreal to Burlington and finally, the travel weary Scholtens family, arrived at their destination, Burlington, Canada.

At the station we were met by the welcoming committee of the Canadian Reformed Church, and by our sponsor family.

After gathering up all our luggage, you can imagine, and doing the count, again one more time, 1,2,3……12, we were assembled into a number of big old American cars. I can remember being driven into the deep dark night, into the spooky woods, to some place I later learned to know as Headon Road.

We were holed up in a basement there for a number of weeks. For that short duration, we kids were enrolled at Glenwood Public School, where we were all dumped into grade two, because we couldn’t speak the language. Not long after, we moved to a two story shack at 1120 Beach Boulevard, under the just recently completed skyway. This house was slated for demolition, but my dad was able to negotiate occupancy for a number of months while we found our way in the “promised land” Canada. While living “on the beach” we attended Bell Cairn School. I remember it was a long walk, which we often did, along the railway tracks.

In May of 1959, we moved to a rental house at 450 Nelson Avenue, where now the Burlington Art Centre is. We younger kids spent all our summer days at the lake, either with “Bill the boat man”, at “the wall” or at “the second tower” on the beach. We attended John A Lockhart school, and again we walked much of the way there, along the tracks.

After 2 1/2 years, in 1961, my parents were able to buy their first home at 129 Dundas Street “vinegar hill” in Waterdown.

Though the family has since spread out from here, for many Burlington remains our home, and so the Scholtens Candy Co., “Cottage Country” brand, still resides in Burlington, and coincidentally sits next to the very same track, at Lemonville Road, a few kilometers down from where we disembarked the train some 59 years ago.

I’m a train “junkie” plus the older I get, the more history means to me, and my heritage as an immigrant kid has a special significance. Burlington, the CNR tracks (the busiest tracks in all of Canada), the train station and the Scholtens Candy Company, “Cottage Country” brand, next to those tracks has significance to me and does not escape my notice.

We distribute our candy products, the Cottage Country brand, from coast to coast and much of that freight is still carried along those very same tracks as the tracks we arrived on some 59 years ago in 1958.

This is the old Lumsden Bros. Wholesale Grocers building, now refurbished, and still serving customers from coast to coast. This building sits right next to the tracks just a kilometer or two down from where I disembarked the train from Montreal as an 8 year old boy arriving from the Netherlands. Though many of our goods travel the rails, coast to coast, Canadian National railway no longer uses the spur to the rail siding docks/freight platform, still present at this building, in clear recognizable repair.

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Train

Video by Kevin Davies; photography by Bob Chambers, Bob Miller, Nikki Wesley, John Mellow, Joel Waterman, Denny Williams, Alan Harrington, Al Pettman and others (by permission)