Going through my life (Au fil de ma vie)
This essay was written by Iva Kohoutek at age 14. Iva Marie Kohoutek Broz passed away peacefully on June 12th 2023 in her 88th year. Born in Prague Czechoslovakia, she emigrated to Canada in 1949 with her family and settled in Montreal. Along with being a dedicated wife and mother, she worked in different fields that fulfilled her various passions and enjoyed her favorite hobbies which included skating, tennis, skiing, and travel in nature. She loved Quebec, Montreal, Rawdon, and was a proud Canadian who always had her homeland of Czechoslovakia in her heart.
This document is reproduced with permission from Michel and Ivan Broz. It was submitted in PDF format. Chapters 1 and 6 have been converted into web format by La Société d’histoire de Rawdon.
La Société d’histoire de Rawdon would like to thank Michel and Ivan for allowing the publication of this essay.
This document was written in English. A French version will be produced shortly.
CHAPTER 1 - CZECHOSLOVAKIA AS I SAW IT AND AS I IMAGINE IT NOW.
Often enough, I think about what happened in the past, and go right to the future, what might happen and become of us and the whole world. Thus hour after hour passes.
I loved my native land-Czechoslovakia, and cannot think about not to love it continually, until my death.
The capital Prague is situated more to the West – as you should know. It is a beautiful city, the nicest I saw so far. Its royal castle is on the mount, almost in the center of the city. It stands highly and proudly climbs to heaven above the silver river, which flows in many turns under great many bridges, around beautiful forests, and through most beautiful valleys. What a scenery!
The educational side was there also. We have many permanent theatres, in which they play the operas. There were as well many movies from which you could learn quite a bit of interesting things going in the world. In Prague there is also a great university one of the oldest in the world, build by Charles Fourth – “Father of Our Native Land” – as we call him, in 1348. The schools are more public, and about the same as in Canada.
The weather does not differ very much either, only the winters are not as hard and long as here.
We have great deal of sports in Czechoslovakia, in winter it is usually hockey, skating and skiing, in summer swimming, tennis, basket-ball, foot-ball, volley-ball and many others. Besides that there is scout and sokol-it is an organization, where we do gymnastics, and every six years we have a big festival, where ten thousands and ten thousands children and also older men and women do gymnastics. People from the whole world come to see it.
Our national colors are red, blue and white. Our sign is white lion in a red field. The national tree is the linden tree.
From the news, as we get from our relatives and faithful friends, the conditions there must be just terrible. I do not know how the people can live. They can only get two eggs, half a pound of butter, a pint of milk, almost no meat and little of vegetables and fruit, for a person all this for the whole month. They cannot select their own work. They are not allowed even to have one more room than others. All the houses belong to the state. Poor people!!! They must be satisfied with the smallest things. I do not intend to say anything about those people, who have to leave their families and go to Siberia and die in the camps for sake of their beloved country. Still I would be glad to return and see my native, beloved country and “The Hundred-Towered Gold Mother Prague” as the city is often called, and with people free again!
CHAPTER 6 - CANADA AS I FIND IT
In the beginning, I compared everything in Canada to that in Czechoslovakia, but I must say, that every country has different customs and ways of living, and it is impossible to get used to everything without living here from the very early childhood or for a longer time.
The scenery from the first sight was beautiful and exactly the same as in Czechoslovakia, so that it comforts the hearts of all Czechoslovakian people even for a while, who came to Canada to find a new home.
We made many trips through Czechoslovakia, so that I know all the corners of my country, but I am afraid, that I’ll know very little of Canada, a land about seventy-seven times larger than Czechoslovakia.
The weather differs only a little, because Canadian winters are much longer and colder than ours, but the possibility of the sports is equal.
In our schools we have only five grades of elementary, and eight high school classes, where at the end of the eight high we do our school leaving examinations, and then continue in university courses. We have many sports in most of the schools, especially ping-pong and volleyball and we have gymnastics as an independent subject in our gym-suits in the gymnasium furnished with equipment of all kinds. We learn quite a lot of languages too, and we also need them badly. When I was in second grade, I remember that we had German lessons every day. This was during the war in the school-year 1943-1944. In the fourth grade, we started to learn Russian, and finally in fifth grade I started to attend a school, where we had English one, sometimes two hours a day. In eight grade we start to learn Latin and French and of course Russian continues during these years. The history, which we learned last year, that is the Greek and Roman history, I have already studied in Czechoslovakia in sixth grade, and we started to have geometry in sixth as well.
The Christmas spirit and Christmas altogether are a little bit different. Three weeks before Christmas comes St. Nicholas, who brings small gifts to everybody, and after this everything flows into the spirit of holy Christmas. We have no Santa Claus, but Christ Child and already in the afternoon of December twenty-fourth there are very few people on the streets and everything is quiet and prepares for the great evening, when we have a big supper, and after this we go to our Christmas trees and give out the presents. The next two days are great feasts also devoted to God’s services and to serious spiritual meditations. Only New Year is welcomed happily, but it is not forgotten to thank God for everything that He gave us in the old year and to ask Him to give us His blessings for the New Year.
In Canada I found my new home. I know gradually what is better than was in my country and I am looking for an explanation why this or that is different. The millenary history and tradition of my native land impressed upon every citizen its own character and I know, that it is impossible to carry over on the character of another country. It is necessary to get used to it, but by that I would like to bring to my new country that, what she could not in her short history so far know and what would produce of her really the best country in the whole world, maybe only in small things, for which would my forces be sufficient.
Table of content (The Plan) in its original PDF format
The complete document is available in PDF format.