Leamington's 'Lost Canadian' dies

Exiled John Michael Erison died desperately close to realising a lifelong dream of 'belonging' to the country he loved.

The "devout, gentle and generous" 64-year-old, who lived off Tachbrook Road, in Leamington, worked for the Post Office for 33 years and attended Radford Road church.

But he was also a 'Lost Canadian' - and on July 14 he became the first such person to die awaiting reinstated citizenship since a long-awaited piece of law was passed in Ottawa on April 18.

Bill C37 overturns 1947 legislation which campaigners say robbed up to 250,000 people of their nationality, among them children of 45,000 'war brides'.

These were women like John's mother Violet, who married a Canadian serviceman during the war and returned to his homeland.

It redresses a situation which "broke John's heart", said his wife Dawn, though after 60 years it came just too late.

She said: "His whole being was rooted in Canada - it was always there.

"In November he was diagnosed with cancer and went through all the treatments. When the bill was passed, he had had his major surgery and was getting better. He finally had permission and could have got on the plane and gone home - and then his kidneys failed."

In Mr Erison's case, it was a failure to reside in Canada on his 24th birthday, after settling in Derbyshire when his maternal grandmother was dying, which severed the tie with the country where he had spent his early childhood.

Campaigner Don Chapman says the little-known clause was just one of many "screwy ways" in which the 1947 act allowed Canada to turn its back on its citizens, breaking the promises made to the war brides when they arrived in the late 1940s.

Mr Chapman said: "It's the biggest form of identity theft and you just shake your head and say 'what has this country done'?"

Mrs Erison lived with her husband in Durham, Ontario, between 2003 and March last year - when they were told to leave following a protracted, failed emigration bid. She now faces a battle for her own Canadian citizenship, which would have been assured had Mr Erison lived.

For now, she will have to return to England after visiting to intern John's ashes in Ontario

She remembered "a good all-round guy" who loved pop music, ice hockey and genealogy and was a keen cricket fan and golf player. At the Newbold Comyn course, he typically claimed his "handicap was owning a set of clubs".

In a eulogy, Dawn wrote of a man who "made me laugh and cry with tears of amusement, joy and happiness".

John leaves children by his first wife Kathleen, Karen and Linda, four grandchildren, son-in-law Will and his brother, Ron

Click here to read original article as it appeared in the Kenilworth Weekly News.