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A New Life: Positive Or Negative?

1039 words - 5 pages

Why did so many people choose to immigrate to North America in the 19th and 20th centuries? For many, it was a chance to start over with a clean slate and live a better life. For some, the chance to begin a new life was for the best; for others their new life was worse. Many chose to leave their home country to escape tense political situations, dangerous war zones, or disgrace. For John Wilson, it was the latter. He was able to leave Scotland and become a respected person in Canadian society as a member of the police. However, his new life was not all for the best because he left his son and pregnant wife home alone to fend for themselves. Wilson also later committed bigamy and murder. In The Secret Lives of Sgt. John Wilson, Lois Simmie shows how immigrating to another country can completely change one’s life, for better and for worse.
In moving to Canada, John Wilson left behind disgrace to become an upstanding citizen. In Scotland, John’s brother Alex neglected his parents’ business, leading John to steal money from his brother-in-law in a desperate attempt to save the business. When others heard, it became an embarrassing and dishonorable scandal, which prompted John to run to Canada to escape his shame. John’s life in Canada changed drastically because he soon became a member of the Royal North West Mounted Police, and was respected instead of disgraced: “Jack Wilson was well liked by many in Blaine Lake… He kept his own counsel and could be trusted with people’s private affairs” (Simmie 42). Wilson was seen as a trustworthy, hard-working man, a far cry from his reputation in Scotland. He was so trusted and respected that he was later offered prestigious positions in the Royal North West Mounted Police. Moving to Canada provided him with the chance to reshape his life for the better, with new opportunities available to him that he never would have had in Scotland, such as becoming a respected police officer.
Wilson’s decision to move to Canada also changed his life and the lives of his family in negative ways. His wife, Polly, was left in Scotland to fend for herself with a toddler and another child on the way. Wilson, being so far away from home, seemed able to put everything behind him and soon wrote home and sent money less and less frequently, eventually stopping altogether. His new life shaped him into becoming a less loyal and devoted husband. His wife worked herself to the bone, taking any sewing job she could get to provide for her children since her neglectful husband was unreachable for help. In response to a comment her sister made about the decreased demand for wedding dresses during the war, Polly responded, “Thank goodness, I can hardly keep up now, along with the piecework Mr. Grossart sends me, bless his kind heart” (Simmie 21). With the departure of her husband for Canada, Polly’s life drastically changed, becoming busier and more difficult. John Wilson, once a...

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