Three sisters, who until recently were unaware of each others existence, were reunited in the Columbia Valley last week after discovering a family secret carefully hidden for decades and learning of their sisterhood.
For more than 70 years, Peggie Kruyssen, Carole Thorburn-Ruse, and Patricia Latter have lived their lives in different countries, oblivious to the fact they each have not one, but two sisters. The three women, who were born in England and separated at birth, recently discovered their long lost connection and were even more astounded to learn that Carole and Patricia are twins, adopted separately just days apart.
Peggie was raised by her grandmother, while Carole and Patricia, whose names were changed upon their adoption, were raised by separate adoptive families. Their joyful reunion began when Peggie, who has lived most of her life in Calgary, acted upon a suspicion. Throughout her life, Peggie heard bits and pieces of information that left her with more questions about her family history than she had answers for.
"I'd heard the rumour that I had sisters, but I didn't believe it at first", Peggie said. "When I heard it a couple of more times, I thought there must be something to it."
Peggie, 78, decided to pursue her suspicion and hired an agency to help her look. After more than two years of searching, Peggie learned she was indeed correct: she had 71-year-old twin sisters, one living in England and one in Australia, unaware of each other. Peggie contacted twins Carole and Patricia with the help of the agency, and the three dumbfounded sisters began exchanging emails and holding internet video chats over Skype. They arranged to meet each other in Calgary, and on June 28th they met on a train platform and embraced in a teary hug.
The sisters were almost speechless when trying to describe how they felt about their experience. "I was in total disbelief", Peggie said. "It was just wow. We couldn't believe it". The women had no trouble recognising each other; their matching electric blue eyes were a clear giveaway.
"When I saw Patricia for the first time, it was like staring at my mother", Peggie said.
Since meeting in Calgary, the women and their husbands, Kees (Peggie), Andrew (Carole), and Jim (Patricia), traveled to the Columbia Valley to catch up on the years they've missed together.
They chose Radium as their destination when Shannon and Ted of The Apple Tree Inn saw their story on Global TV, and offered them a place to stay. While in town, they were given a number of other courtesy visits, like a wine and appetiser evening at Casa Vino Wine Bar, in honour of their incredible story. Sitting on Casa Vino's patio on the same sofa, you'd think the families have known each other all their lives.
We've come together as strangers in a way, and in a very short time have integrated so thoroughly and comfortably like we've known each other as family all our lives. Its been a very moving experience. Carole's husband, Andrew, said.
Now that they've reconnected, they plan to stay in touch and perhaps visit again soon. They're getting on in years, Andrew said, but the Golden Girls have nothing on these three.
This story has a direct connection with the Headley Village Website's "Village Pump" - in February 2010 Andrew was making enquiries to try to trace the links to Alice Wilkinson (née Coombes) - the mother of the 'girls' in the story.
The 'Pump' also has a trail of contacts and reunions centred on the Coombes family - and there are still unanswered questions ... who is Jack Cooper?