Love across the Pacific Ocean

Authors: Go Chengdu


​This is a group of Canadians who were born and grew up in Sichuan, China, the “Place of Birth” on their passports.

CS Children — Eternal Friendship and Great Love for China
This is a group of Canadians who were born and grew up in Sichuan, China, the “Place of Birth” on their passports. Decades later, the “CS” children (“CS” is short for Canadian School, a day school that served missionaries’ kids, from kindergarten to high school) are now seniors. But they have never forgotten Sichuan and China for a single day. With youth slipping away like flowing water, some of them passed away, years wrinkle their skin, but their local accent has never changed.
In late April 2014, Ms. Marion Alfretta Walmsley Walker with her husband and her granddaughter returned to her birthplace —— Chengdu to recollect her childhood and grandfather, Dr. Retta Gifford Kilborn, one of the founders of the first western medicine hospital in western China (it is the predecessor of the Chengdu Second People’s Hospital) and those of the current West China School of Medicine/West China Hospital, Sichuan University.
Before the age of 16, Marion lived with her family at Huaxiba, the site of former West China Union University (today’s West China Hospital of Sichuan University) and studied in the “CS.” “This time I brought my granddaughter to visit Huaxiba, Chengdu Second People’s Hospital and Wangjiang Pavilion. I hope she can understand why I‘ve been keeping come back and made such a model ,” she said and noted “Chengdu is excellent at protection and inheritance of history and culture. I’m glad that these places stay exactly as they were and my husband and granddaughter can have a good understanding of my memories of Chengdu. ”
Ms. Marion Alfretta Walmsley Walker with her husband (L) and granddaughter (R) in Chengdu Wangjiang Pavilion
In late Spring, Marion, embarked on her journey to Chengdu once again, the place where she was born and which keeps her unforgettable family memories. She is a granddaughter of Dr. O. L. Kilborn, founder of the West China Union University. During the period from 1891 to 1963, three generations of the Kilborns made great contributions to China’s medical science and education. Dr. Kilborn’s wife, Dr. Retta Kilborn founded the Renji Canadian Mission Hospital for women, and his eldest son, Dr. Leslie G. Kilborn, devoted most of his life to education at the West China Union University.
After having lived in Chengdu for 16 years, Marion went back to Canada. She followed her family footsteps and chose to be a nurse. With her rooted memory of Chengdu, she brought her 24-year-old granddaughter Stefani and her husband to the city. As they wandered around the Wangjiang Park where Marion spent most of her childhood years with colorful memories, they took lots of images of the city.
A Retrospective of Those Years
While walking along the Yinshi (poem-chanting) Pavilion in the park, Marion delightfully introduced the typical Chinese architecture to Stefani and told us: I like this kind of Chinese buildings very much. To commemorate the experience in Chengdu, I even have a tiny building and gate with these oriental characteristics on our farm in Canada. Before she (Stefani) came to Chengdu, she couldn’t understand why I so insist on keeping that buildings there. Today, she saw the whole amazing buildings here and I believe she will understand my persistence and the profound meaning behind these architectures.
Watching some citizens leisurely playing games in the park, Marion couldn’t help recalling her childhood in Chengdu. What impressed her most is the rickshaw, a two or three-wheeled passenger cart pulled by man. “When I was young, it was a popular means of transportation in Chengdu. I still remember my family had a very fancy rickshaw. No matter where I went, I liked to take the rickshaw, which was so comfortable and gave me enough time to appreciate the picturesque scenery along the road. It was more than a transportation tool for me.” From Marion’s joyful expression, we can easily feel her nostalgic love for this city. With the rapid development over time, modern transportation means have already taken the place of the man-powered rickshaw for a long time. Of course, Marion is very happy to witness the great and wonderful changes happening in Chengdu, but the familiar memories of the old times can never be forgotten.
The CS childeren’s everlasting love for Chengdu brings all of them together in very October in Toronto, Canada. Since the Canadian volunteers and their children returned to Canada from Sichuan, they have been organizing the reunion once a year, which even attract their grandchildren to participate in. Starting from 1936 in Toronto, the annual event has been held without interruption. “We dine together at a Chinese restaurant, reliving our memorable moments in Chengdu and sharing various pictures of Chengdu with one another. In this way, we hope we could keep our close connection with Chengdu forever and pass on our tradition and friendship from generation to generation.”
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