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Marek Mackowski


I was born in Elbląg. I was always interested in travel, geography, maps, other countries and the history of World War II. As a little boy, I listened to real accounts on its course from my own father, who was a soldier in the Polish II Corps, where he served as a tank driver under the command of Gen. Kopański in Tobruk. He did not have an easy life after returning to the country with those governing authorities ...

My dad told me a lot and it was him that made me aware of many real events of World War II. Absorbed in his stories, I started analyzing what they taught us at school. I often didn’t agree with the history teachers and, thus, I had problems up to matriculation examination.

A prophetic joke

I will mention a small, but how important in my life, episode. Once a teacher in the fourth grade made us write an essay: "Who would like to be in the future?". Of course, the children wrote: a doctor, a teacher, a firefighter, a lawyer. And I wrote: "I want to be an emigrant." The teacher was struck dumb: "Whaaat ???". The other day my mother was called to school. I corrected the essay, writing that I would like to be a sailor, it gave a similar effect, and looked better.

I finished primary school. Didn’t give up my plan, I was carrying it out quietly. I went to Gdynia and started learning at Fish Processing College, today not existing anymore. I lived in a dormitory. I finished school in 1976. I stayed in the Tri-City, initially for a few years I worked in the trade port in Gdynia, later in Dalmor. First, I worked on the land, and later in the fishing fleet, when my adventure with travelling begins.

By ship around the world

When I got to the fishing vessels, I already knew that one day I would leave the country. I decided that first I would travel the world performing my learned profession. I was still young and on the ship I got promoted quite quickly thanks to the school. I really was in many countries in Europe, Africa, North and South America, but time was running out. At that time I was already married and had a young son, so we had to choose a country to live. I first came to Vancouver to haul fish, I had a cruise there. I really liked the city and its surroundings and decided to return there permanently. But the whole time I kept it a secret. Even then, there was little unemployment, and for an emigrant it was an added advantage.

Time of departure

After a regular cruise lasting five and a half month I returned to Poland, trying to sign on back into that area (it happened sometimes that you could not go back to the same route for a few years). Well, it worked. When packing this time, apart from the sailor book - it should have been the only one document that we could take - I took a driving license, documents, my father’s photos of Anders Army, birth certificate, etc.

It was a nice day, September 3, 1985. At the airport in Gdańsk Rębiechowo, because of the fact that there were many of us, the Border Protection Army customs officers inspected luggage only selectively. One of them made me open the duffel bag. When I did, the other one called him in. Phew, I made it! I took it as a good sign. I flew off to Vancouver (at that time ships were in the port, and the crew were exchanged by planes). Immediately upon arrival at the ship, without unpacking my stuff, I went off the ship, but unluckily the captain was passing. Perhaps he recognized my slight nervousness. He asked me to come to him, initially I tried to avoid talking about why I wanted to leave the ship, but after a while I told him the truth. And he also tried to keep me from that, because that was his role, but he saw that nothing would change my decision and he wished me success. I stayed with friends. After a few days, when the ship left the port I began my emigration process and it went pretty smoothly. Then, in Poland there was the communist system, and Canada opened the door for us. After a year I got the permanent resident status, after two years my wife and son came to me.

Late longing

When I came to Canada, a little strangely, but unlike others in the beginning I didn’t miss Poland. Maybe it was too fresh? But after about two years it caught up with me. Nostalgia, the lack of Polish language, friends, little Polish food and traditions ... But there were also good points of that situation. In the districts of Vancouver, where I lived and worked, there were few Poles, and it mobilized me to learn English. Even as a small boy I did not feel good in Poland (mostly because of the dark realities of political forces). Although even then, after all, I wasn’t thinking logically as an adult. Something, however, weighed heavily in my life ballast.

Emigration gave me a lot of positive approach to life. When in 1985 I left the home country, I am sorry to say it, but Poland was bankrupt. Today the state is completely different, definitely for better. I must admit that unlike others I never was in dire straits, I always worked, my wife as well. And it also gave me great comfort in life. My son had a very good start in a new country. He virtually started school here. He was seven years old when he came here. Today is 34, has a Canadian wife and two twin daughters. And this is my biggest success, that I came here and life all the time pans out in a positive way. Now, when I know more Poles here, I haven’t heard that they are in a bad situation. It really is GOOD. Are we happy in Canada? Yes, we are. Although I love and I respect Poland (quite often visit it) because it’ll always be my homeland.