DZENIS email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2008-01-14 published
Farmer, refugee, gardener, singer, husband, father, uncle, vecpapa. Born April 1, 1913, in Rezekne, Latvia. Died September 7, 2007, in Barrie, Ontario, of a stroke, aged 94.
By Karen BORISS and Donna DOUGLAS/DOUGLASS, Page L6
'Grow where you're planted." Fresh potatoes, warm from the earth, ripe tomatoes from his own vines, salads from his garden - life's riches were simply grand for our vecpapa, Nikolajs (Nick) BORISS, who was forced to turn his back on his country and begin again.
Nick grew up on a prosperous farm in Rezekne, Latvia. The only one in his family of nine children to attend university, Nick studied at the Agricultural College in Jelgava, Latvia. While there, he met the love of his life, Emma DZENIS. They were married in March, 1940. By July, the first Soviet occupation of Latvia had begun.
Nick and Emma knew that they should leave the country in order to survive, but finishing their education was just as important. They continued to study and attempted to find joy in wartime life wherever they could.
In 1943, they decided to flee their beloved country in advance of the invading Russian army. Nick asked his parents to leave as well and to meet them on the shore that night - they didn't. He never saw them again.
With a newborn baby and only the clothes on their backs, Nick and Emma and Nick's sister Zenija travelled across the Baltic Sea in the middle of the night on an overloaded fishing boat with hundreds of others. After several days, they finally landed in Sweden and welcomed a new life, and another son, shortly afterward.
In 1949, still afraid of the proximity of Soviet influence, they decided to move to Canada. Nick, Emma and their sons Uldis (Richard) and Ivar eventually settled on a farm just west of Orangeville, Ontario Daily demands of a dairy herd, mixed grains and chickens meant life was busy and full.
Above all, Nick and Emma gardened. They grew hundreds of flower beds. Retirement at 65 was well deserved and they gardened to their heart's content.
A miraculous day in 1997 brought the news that one of Nick's brothers had survived Soviet internment, and although he had passed away since, he had two sons who lived in Chicago. A reunion with his nephews Bruno and Aleks blessed Nick's family with many cherished visits full of singing, drinking and Latvian storytelling. Sadly, Emma died suddenly in 1998.
Nick's children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren brought out his humour and ability to relate, with a laugh, a wink or his famous ear wiggles.
Karen BORISS is Nick's eldest granddaughter and Donna DOUGLAS/DOUGLASS is his daughter-in-law.
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