Most of us know that Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are the prairie states of Canada, with ranches that make the farms of Northern Ireland look like back gardens.
Jonathan and Wendy McAdam left their home area of Annaghmore and Diamond Grange to settle in Manitoba (near the small town of Virden, pop 4,000) and continued their farming activities with a small spread (by Canada standards) of 350 acres.
But it’s just a side-line for the McAdams (they are in beef cattle) who are involved in the oil industry that dominates the southern part of the massive state these days. “
You could Northern Ireland into any number of its hundreds of lakes,” said Jonathan.
“Our home is in the south-west corner of Manitoba,” he added. “I work at servicing oil rigs and Wendy works for an oil haulage company. The ‘black gold’ has brought real prosperity to the area – everyone seems to works at it.
“It’s a vast area. When we look out of the front door of our house, we can’t see a single other dwelling. There’s no shortage of space.”
They are currently back home, along with daughters Ella (4) and Evie (2), to visit their respective parents. Jonathan is the son of Victor and Sally McAdam and Wendy the daughter of Oliver and Eleanor Jackson. It’s the first time the girls, having been born in Canada, have met their grandparents and they are thrilled to bits.
“The absence of the extended family is the main drawback,” said Jonathan. “But we’ve made many friends in the community and are setting down new roots.”
He travelled west some years ago on a holiday to see an aunt and uncle Robert and Ann Stoop, liked what he saw, and he and Wendy moved out to Manitoba.
“It took us a good two years to settle,” he said. “But Canadians are a quiet, friendly race and we love it now. They’re drilling non-stop in Manitoba and across the US Border in North Dakota, and there’s plenty of oil left.”