A Deep Family Secret

Marsh Forchuk’s mother and father

Shared with Toronto’s Great War Attic.
As a child, curious by nature, Marsh Forchuk would often ask his father George why he had left good farm land in southern Alberta to move north to Lake Eliza, a harsh place to establish their family farm. When old friends would come by for a visit, they would suddenly speak in whispers. But years later, after hearing of a news story about Canada’s internment of enemy aliens during the First World War, Marsh began to get his answers.

At the encouragement of the Canadian government, George Forchuk, a Ukrainian farmer from Werechenko, Austria, arrived in 1913 to settle and farm in southern Alberta. When war started he registered as an “enemy alien” and reported regularly as required by the War Measures Act in 1914. Despite this, he was arrested and forced into hard labour, eventually ending up in an internment camp in Jasper Alberta, which opened in February 1916. He laboured through dire conditions and escaped as “bullets whizzed by his ears” that same year. He moved around, hiding and working where he could. In 1918, Forchuk was spotted by police through the window of a restaurant in Calgary.

At the time, people were required to wear face masks in public to prevent the spread of the deadly Spanish flu pandemic. George thought he was being arrested as an escaped internee, but to his relief, he was informed that it was because he had lowered his mask to speak more clearly to the other person at his table. He also found out that the internment camp had closed in August 1916, shortly after he had escaped.

His farm was not returned to him, and so he had no choice but to purchase land where he could. The repercussions of the war continued. By the 1940s, ill health made it impossible for George to farm. Marsh dropped out of school at the age of 12 to take over. Marsh did not want to be a farmer, eventually selling the land his father gave to him, and moving east to make his own way. George Forchuk’s pride in being a staunch Canadian made the shame of his internment all the more difficult to bear. Right up until his death in 1967, he spoke of the injustices suffered for crimes he did not commit.

The Hunger

hungerFifteen-year-old Paula’s perfectionism drives every facet of her life, from her marks in Grade 10 to the pursuit of a “perfect body.” A history project brings her face to face with her grandmother’s early life and, as she delves deeper, she is disturbed to find eerie parallels between her own struggles and what she learns of the past.

As Paula slowly destroys the very body she’s trying to perfect, her spirit is torn between settling for her imperfect life or entering the shadowy mystery of her grandmother’s Armenian past. The shimmering Euphrates River beckons her, but, as she soon discovers, there are many things worse than imperfection.
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Daughter of War

Daughter of War

Daughter of War is a gripping story of enduring love and loyalty set against the horrors of Turkey during World War I.

Teenagers Kevork and his betrothed Marta are the lucky ones. They have managed so far to survive the Armenian genocide in Turkey, and both are disguised as Muslims. But Marta is still in Turkey, pregnant with another man’s child. And Kevork is living as an Arab in Syria.

Kevork yearns to get back into Turkey and search for Marta, but with the war raging and the genocide still in progress, the journey will be impossibly dangerous. Meanwhile, Marta worries that even if Kevork has survived and they are reunited, will he be able to accept what she has become? And what has happened to her sister, Mariam, who was sold as a slave to the highest bidder?
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Dance of the Banished

Based on true events, a compelling story of love and hope published on the 100th anniversary of World War I. .

DanceOfTheBanished_HR_RGB1Ali and his fiancée Zeynep dream about leaving their home in Anatolia and building a new life together in Canada. But their homeland is controlled by the Turkish government, which is on the brink of war with Britain and Russia. And although Ali finds passage to Canada to work, he is forced to leave Zeynep behind until he can earn enough to bring her out to join him.

When the First World War breaks out and Canada joins Britain, Ali is declared an enemy alien. Unable to convince his captors that he is a refugee from an oppressive regime, he is thrown in an internment camp where he must count himself lucky to have a roof over his head and food to eat.

Meanwhile, Zeynep is a horrified witness to the suffering of her Christian Armenian neighbours under the Young Turk revolutionary forces. Caught in a country that is destroying its own people, she is determined to save a precious few. But if her plan succeeds, will Zeynep still find a way to cross the ocean to search out Ali? And if she does, will he still be waiting for her?
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