Immigration Character Profile
By: Darcey Mckelvey
Wybe Leegstra (my Uncle Andy's father)
Wybe Leegstra (born in 1918) lived in Dokkum, Friesland, in the Netherlands with his wife and 5 children. He was a farmer with crops and livestock. He only had an elementary school education. In Holland, he owned a small piece of land with a house. The rest of the farmland was rented. The laws in Holland only allowed farmers to own a small piece of property with a house. Other parcels of land were rented from the municipality. These pieces of farmland were surrounded by canals and were not linked together like farms on Ontario. Wybe had to float his cattle on barges to gain access to other pastures. The hay had to be cut by hand because the parcel land was too small for a horse to cut. Often, the best farmland was rented to the friends of the government or by people who could afford to pay more. Wybe also collected and distributed milk to local farms by horse and wagon for the village.
In 1962, Wybe Leegstra immigrated to Lynden, Ontario. He decided that he wanted a better life for his sons and daughters and he wanted to own his own farm. He had an older brother who immigrated to Lynden, Ontario, Canada in the early 1950's who sponsored his family to come. When he first arrived, he and his children went to work in the Dundas vegetable cannery until he had enough money to buy his own farm. In the beginning, the family lived with different relatives. Wybe had no knowledge of English except for "Good Night" and "Good Morning". In Holland, the children learned some English. Wybe's wife learned English through the television and learned through conversations with farmers.
After one year, Wybe decided that he missed Holland, the land, and his relatives. He wanted to move his family back but the children refused to go back because they were enjoying life in Canada. Wybe decided to stay instead of breaking up the family. He realized his dream of owning his own land - he had over a 200 acre farm with swine operation and cash crops. In the end, he was really glad that he gave his family a better life in Canada. Over the years, he continued to go back and visit his relatives in Holland.