A coincidental meeting on Huron Lake

Milena Dolezelova

Milena Dolezelova is a leading Czech-Canadian sinologist who has worked in the field of East Asian studies for more than thirty years, teaching at the University of Toronto. Professor Dolezelova first moved to Toronto with her husband and two daughters in late 1968, shortly after the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops. As Mrs Dolezelova explains here several years later they bought a cottage in Ontario as a means of getting away from the city. And, it was during one trip to her cottage that she experienced a coincidental meeting she would never forget, which she recalls now.

"It happened some three years after my family immigrated to Canada. I remember it distinctly because we couldn't stand the hot and humid weather in Toronto, so we decided to buy a cottage, and we were lucky enough to find a place which was located on Huron Lake. For me - a true Czech - Huron Lake had mystical connotations. Huron Indians were simply heroes of the novels of Karel May, and I never met before any Indian. So, I was truly happy that our vacations could be spent in this region. Once, when I returned from some shopping back to our cottage, I saw from the distance in the car a very tall man, but limping. I slowed down and even though I didn't see his face from behind, I took pity on him. So, I rolled down the window and asked if I could offer him a ride. What kind of a surprise it was for me when the face was the face of a true Indian, with sharp traits, sharp nose, and dark skin of course. He just smiled and accepted the offer and sat down in the car. So, I somehow politely asked him where I should bring him. Well, he said, just to the ferry, you know, Christian Island is an Indian reservation, isn't it... And, I said 'Well, I actually see Christian Island from my cottage'. He retorted 'And where are you from ma'am?' And I replied, terribly casually because I knew that I would hardly evoke any reaction - from Europe, from Prague. And he said 'From Prague?!! Isn't that amazing?! I was in Prague in 1949! So it was now my turn to be surprised... He said 'I was elected to be the representative of Canadian Indians to attend a congress of youth, which took place in Prague. Well, I was all silent, I brought him to the ferry, we said goodbye to each other, and unfortunately I never saw him after."