We hope that the offerings presented are the beginnings of a tradition that as additional stories become known involving Ontario, they will be included in future publications. The following is one that ought to be prominent.
Jan Falkowski was a wing commander with the Royal Air Force First Polish 303 Squadron. He was credited with shooting 9 1/2 Luftwaffe airplanes during the Battle of Britain in 1940. Jan received the highest honors that Poland and Britain could bestow on their war heroes.
Jan came to Canada in 1948 and lived for a time in Stouffville. During the 1960s he wrote about his life and war experiences in a book called "With the Wind In My Face." He also wrote numerous flying instructional manuals and articles for Polish aviation journals.
A portrait of Jan Falkowski, painted by the renowned Ontario artist Arnold Hodgkins, was exhibited in 1973 at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa.
The following is an excerpt from Jan's informative book. In one segment he describes how he unexpectedly met his childhood sweetheart on a Toronto street after their separation of fifteen years when he was forced to flee occupied Poland during the time of the Second World War.
"Everything connected with Alma seems to happen on a bright, sunny day.
April 13, 1956, was such a day. The streets of downtown Toronto were crowded with lunch-hour strollers taking advantage of the beautiful spring weather. I was among the strollers.
I stopped at a corner, waiting to cross. On the opposite side of the street was a well-dressed woman. She had a roundish figure.... Something about her was familiar. But it couldn't be....
The lights changed, the woman came towards me. It was, I ran....
There in the middle of a busy Toronto intersection Alma Maria and I embraced. People smiled and stared at a middle-aged couple crying and kissing and jabbering away in a foreign language.
Someone touched my arm and pointed. The light had changed again. We were holding up traffic. Laughing, we ran to the curb and dived in the nearest coffee shop.
Alma looked wonderful and was as vivacious as ever, though, I noticed eventually, on a rather subdued note. And she was dressed all in black.
Finally she told me. Joseph had died eight months before.
She hadn't known that I was in Canada and just happened to be in Toronto visiting friends.
She and Joseph had bought a house in Langley Mill, England. He had gone into engineering after the war and there in Langley Mill she and her boys had lived happily. In 1951, they immigrated to the United States and then came to Canada. Joseph having obtained a good position in Montreal.
They had a happy home there, too. Both boys, Tom and George, had gone to university. George having recently graduated. He married an English girl and went to Africa.
Then Alma's world collapsed. Joseph died suddenly of a heart attack. She was lost without him. Alma said simply: "He had been my husband and my guardian since I was 16."
Bravely, she gathered up the pieces and took up life anew. She got a job and was doing well at it. Now she was in Toronto for a day or two and it was like a miracle meeting so unexpectedly like this for the first time in 15 years.
Need I say more? I visited her in Montreal and, in time, we became husband and wife."
Jan asks "Need I say more?" No, his story is all encompassing. Jan's and Alma Maria's experience shows that love can be rediscovered regardless of time, place and distance.
Jan and Alma Maria moved to Peterborough in 1981 where he died September, 2001.
Any stories or events that might add to future publications of this collection will be appreciated