It was a lovely Monday morning (June 8) in Tandragee, N. Ireland. After breakfast, I went into the manse study and turned on the radio to listen to the morning news. The opening item shocked me. The Ontario Attorney General, Roy McMurtry, petitioned the federal A/G to ban me from entry into Canada because I was a Free Presbyterian and a friend of Dr. Ian Paisley, the FP Moderator.
I immediately called the ‘Doc,’ and he too had heard the news. He advised me that as I had emigration approval from Canada House in Belfast, I should get the next plane for Canada before any action could be taken against us.
That Monday was a whirlwind of activity, a flight to be booked, passports to be changed (the children were on my passport), new travel arrangements for May and our family on June 27, quick farewells to the elders and friends. By early Tuesday (June 9), I was ready to go.
Rather than fly into Toronto to the hotbed of media and political frenzy, I flew to Montreal. There I went through the immigration procedure without any trouble. I immediately booked a flight to Toronto and was met by my brother-in-law, Don, and stayed with his family for a few days.
It was interesting to be in Canada when our adversaries thought I was still in Ulster. I was able to listen to the furore created by the press. On their radio dialogue, Pierre Berton and Charles Templeton opined that as Canada had regulations to keep tainted food out of the country, might it not be a good idea to keep out people like Free Presbyterians as well. So much for the vaunted freedoms of Canadians! I was laughing at the thought of these pointy-headed intellectuals mouthing off, not knowing I was listening to them. The church was due to start on July 4, 1976, so the extra time in Toronto enabled me to rent a house and get ready for the family’s arrival.