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Party of eighteen Canadians join aunt’s centennial back home

Occasion for prime family time

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HEEMSE, the Netherlands – She kept in touch with family abroad for decades, and even made a number of visits to Canada. When “tante Stien” Hofsink (nee Brink) recently turned 100, eighteen Canadian nephews and nieces made a special trip to the Netherlands to help celebrate the memorable occasion. Well over one hundred other family members attended the birthday and the family reunion.

In addition to tante Stien’s own offspring, the Hofsinks also invited cousins from both sides of the family as well as all nephews and nieces, making the event a multi-day event for the centenarian who still lives at the same address since she married in 1928.

Although she only moved once - on her wedding day - she and her husband Jan, since deceased, followed the cross-Atlantic trek by boat made years earlier by two brothers and two brothers-in-law as well as a cousin and their families. In 1966, the couple crossed Canada by train on a four month trip, getting off at Thunder Bay and Edmonton to visit her brothers Herman and Gerrit en his bothers Jan Willem en Gait and cousin Jan Hendrik in BC’s Bulkley Valley. As a widow, she returned to Canada a number of times, usually accompanied by family.

For one Canadian nephew it was the first time he returned since his departure as a child in 1953. All the others had been back to the Netherlands before. To add a special dimension to the occasion, the Dutch branch of the family made certain the Canadians received a first-hand look – by bus - at all the places in the wide vicinity which figure prominently in the history of the Hofsinks and the Brinks.