Wooden Synagogue in Probisht
   Meyer and Rachel, Ephraim and Bess
                   Married Here


AJewISH IMMIGRANT TO CANADA Recounts His Life and times

Starting in the Russian Province (Gubernia) of Podolia that bordered Bessarabia in 1903, Meyer and Ephraim Stein learn that their safest route is not through Russian controlled Poland where they are likely to be captured and drafted into the army, but through Bessarabia that is under nominal Russian control. 

They begin their journey walking, receiving assistance from people dedicated to helping the escape of refugees. In the Ukraine, the early part of their journey, they encounter natural and human ordeals. In Beltsi the railroad, one of the many unknown advances to life, substitutes for being on foot. In Iasi they learn of the remainder of their path through Paris to Liverpool in England. As they prepare to embark for Canada aided by the Jewish Colonization Association (JCA), Ephraim cannot be found and his disappearance remains a mystery for sixteen years.


The brothers' wives arrive in Canada four years later with their sons both named Aaron Stein. Meyer receives a homestead grant in western Canada and sets out to begin to shape life as a pioneer. He returns the following year with his pregnant wife, Rachel, to complete the task of building a shelter. Rachel's sister, Ephraim's wife, remains in Montreal with the two boys. Returning to Montreal in the Fall, Joseph is born in December, and the family moves to their Hirsch Saskatchewan homestead in April.

Meyer is warned that Rachel should not get pregnant, again, but she does, hemorrhages and dies with the delivery of their daughter, Channa. Meyer remarries a girl of fifteen and they struggle, finally abandoning the homestead and moving to  a small town nearby.

Meyer struggles in Estevan as a butcher, but comes to the attention of authorities as a useful translator for immigrants. His skill with languages makes him a splendid recruit for the British Secret Service (what was to become MI-6 in later years). After the War, there is diminished need for his services as the number of immigrants to Canada, drops precipitously.


A group of wealthy New Yorkers recruits him to assist Jews to leave an area of what was Galicia. Hoping to spend no more than six months there, he winds up spending a year. Returning, he is totally discouraged and decides to embark on a mission to help a bootlegger. He becomes wealthy, but does not forget that he has promised himself to aid others flee Europe. The penultimate chapter tells of  his last assist, just before the outbreak of World War II. The final chapter has him reuniting with his brother in a very unusual scene.