Immigrants from Holland reunite nearly 70 years ago later at Langley Lodge

Femmy Vandenberg and Grace Bos are now in their 90s

A stranger took this picture of Femmy Vandenberg (left) and Grace Bos (right), with her husband Sid, on the Volendam. The women immigrated to Canada from Holland nearly 70 years ago and reunited at the Langley Lodge. (Trudy DeVries/Special to the Langley Advance Times)

Nearly 70 years ago two young women from Holland immigrated to Canada, travelling by ship and then by train to eventually part ways in Jasper.

Now in their 90s, the women have reunited at Langley Lodge.

Femmy Vandenberg, 93, and Grace Bos, 91, spent seven days crossing the Atlantic Ocean by ship. They eventually docked in Halifax and boarded a train travelling across Canada, according to Vandenberg’s daughter, Trudy DeVries, who shared the story with the Langley Advance Times.

They women were recently reunited at the Langley care home.

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Bos’ daughter Emily Kleingeltink recounted about when the pair first met again, and how they reminisced about the old days.

“They talked about whose brothers they had went to school with, how old they were… [Grace] had went to school with Femmy’s brother, they were in the same grade,” said Kleingeltink.

“They talked a lot about family and things from Holland.”

Vandenberg had been at Langley Lodge for nine years when Bos arrived.

“They weren’t friends really at the time [they immigrated]. When you immigrate you see someone who’s from the same town, you kind of gravitate to them and later it’s like you have this bond because you went through all this stuff together to immigrate,” DeVries said, explaining a bit about the women’s relationship.

“You grasp at whatever is familiar.”

The women were in their early 20s when they left Holland for Canada in 1951.

Bos boarded the ship with her husband Sid, who was sponsored by a family for work.

Meanwhile Vandenberg made the trek for love.

“For a year she had written letters to the love of her life, Klaas Vandenberg, who was already living up north in Houston, (B.C.),” said DeVries, as she looked through her mother’s self-penned life story.

Vandenberg met Klaas when they were teenagers in Holland. Vandenberg lived in Zwartsluis and Klaas lived nearby on a farm.

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“They had gotten to know each when they were teenagers, after the war,” DeVries shared.

“Dad fought in Indonesia and when he arrived back that’s when mom and dad met… she was driving her bike with her friends and they got to talking… after that the sparks flew, I guess.”

Klaas left for Canada to meet his brother, and Vandenberg eventually journeyed to join him.

“My mother met her sweetheart in Burns Lake and they married in Houston. Fast forward 68 years, my parents and our little family moved across Canada four times over the years, finally settling in Langley,” said DeVries.

Meanwhile, the Bos family moved around the Fraser Valley several times before settling in Langley in 1988.

Today, Vandenberg and Bos can be found at the Langley Lodge frequently spending time with their daughters, who on occasion bring their mothers together for a visit.


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