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Who knew a skinny little British kid growing up on the shores of Lake Ontario could make it big in sunny, southern California?

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The Very Early Years
The Adventure Continues
A Bus To California
Discovering Radio
Fun In Television
All The World’s A Stage

Harry Ashley
The Very Early Years
It was 1948 and end of World War II promised a new life and prosperity to the British victors. But for my father, Harry Ashley, a working class Brit, the reality was food rations, low wages and struggle to raise his family of a wife and 3 little daughters.

Two elements converged and changed their course in history. One, Harry returned home one day pissed off at his boss, the factory rules and post-war life in general. Two, my diminutive Welsh mother had heard on the radio an advertisement seeking immigrants to Canada. Suddenly my father was off on a ship to the new world

Six months later, my mother, my 6 year older sister, me, at 3 and my 18 month old baby sis were standing on the train platform in Manchester, England headed for Southhampton, there to board what was at the time, the 3rd largest ocean liner in the world, the Aquatania, sister ship to the Queen Mary.

7 days later…we arrived in Halifax, New Brunswick, there to board yet another train for Toronto, our final destination.

4 days later, on my 4th birthday, we arrived at my father’s one bedroom flat above an appliance store.

There my father was waiting with a birthday cake with 5 candles upon it. Forever after, I was one year older than my birth certificate would indicate.

It isn’t easy being an immigrant in a new land where you know no one. Certainly we spoke English and that made a tremendous difference from our less fortunate ship mates who didn’t. My parents had met some other Brits in the in the ocean crossing… and they are still friends today, 60 years later.

Ashley & Dorothy

Idyllic Childhood
Growing up on the shores of Lake Ontario was an idyllic a childhood as could be imagined. Only one didn’t realize it until much, much later. And as an adult I realize our parents must have been frightened and stressed (not a word we used back then) at what they had done. They had each left parents and brothers and sisters, as well as life-long friends behind and brought their 3 little girls to a totally new country. Thank God my father was highly employable. He could fix anything and easily landed a job at the Toronto Star newspaper in the linotype department, keeping those behemoth hot lead spewing machines alive.

We didn’t survive in the one-bedroom flat long, when the landlord discovered his one tenant had burgeoned into five and little ones at that, we were evicted.

One warm summer evening soon after our arrival, we were piling our meager belongings into the back of someone’s pickup truck and heading south. We, the kids perched in the back, somewhat precariously on top of mattresses, were oblivious of anything amiss. Au contraire, we were on an adventure!

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