NORRIS POINT Last week marked 62 years since Lillian Pearl Laing left home in Cornwall, England, and made her way across the Atlantic to Norris Point.
Laing was one of the brides of Second World War servicemen who emigrated to Newfoundland at the end of the war.
Her husband, Joseph James Curling Laing, was a Leading Aircraftman with the Royal Air Force during the war. He was stationed in Cornwall near his future bride’s hometown of The Lizard - England¹s southernmost point.
He served as an aircraft mechanic and later a radar operator until the end of the war. The couple was married in Cornwall in 1943.
Pearl Laing said her husband was in the RAF’s 125th with the late Dr. Noel Murphy and in fact, when she travelled to North America in 1946, Laing and her two-year old daughter were on the same boat as Dr. Murphy.
Her trip took over a month to complete and was a busy time considering she was seven months pregnant and looking after her first child at the time.
“I left my home on the 26th of January and didn¹t arrive in Norris Point until Feb. 27,” Laing told The Western Star. “Back then, I didn¹t even know that Newfoundland was on the map.
My husband talked of it often of course but I didn¹t know what to expect … when I got to Norris Point, there was no electricity, no inside plumbing and no paved roads. It was a lot different from home, but the people were so friendly and I was welcomed into the community right away.”
Laing added that growing up in a fishing town on England¹s southern coast had prepared her somewhat for life in Newfoundland. Even though she was thousands of miles away from her family and her hometown, Laing said she settled right into life in Newfoundland.
Following the war, Joseph Laing took on positions as a forester, then a forestry warden and worked until his retirement as a park warden with Parks Canada. Joseph Laing died in 1997, but Pearl is still surrounded by family. The couple raised eight children and Laing now boasts 17 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. Laing has returned to visit her birthplace three times in the past 62 years. The first visit, which happened in 1964, came courtesy of a radio contest.
“I won $500 from a name that tune radio contest,” Laing said. “It was just enough to get me home and back again.
“I returned home with some of my family on the 50th anniversary of moving to Norris Point and again a few years ago. It¹s nice to visit, but Norris Point is my home and I love it.
“I have a lot of friends and I love this place.” Laing said she never once regretted her decision to move to Newfoundland.