20 Questions with Mom

20 Questions with Mom

For Mother’s Day I interviewed my Mom. We talked about hometown, how she met my Dad, her travels, plus a bonus question on video about pets.

Mom’s name is Elise Hansen, née Torbensen, and she lives in Flamborough. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

1. Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Viby, which is a small town in Jutland and I was born there during the war. It was a very pleasant place, and we had nice gardens around the houses. I went to school nearby but then my parents moved me to a private school in Århus, the second largest city in Denmark, and I took the bus there.

2. What do you remember about the trip to Canada when your family emigrated here?

When we set out from home we had to go to Copenhagen, but the workers were striking and the ship couldn’t dock. So we took a train to Göteborg in Sweden. We crossed the ocean, and there were some storms; it was a rough voyage and we suffered from seasickness.

We finally arrived in Halifax first but we stayed on to New York and then we took a 12 hour train ride up to Toronto, where we first stayed. We started out by renting and eventually my father bought us a house. It was on a street called Fairholme, near Bathurst Street, and I lived there until I married your Dad.

3. Where was my Dad from?

It was a suburb of Copenhagen, also called Viby, (but in Zealand as opposed to my hometown of Viby in Jutland). He lived there until he was 17 when his parents decided to emigrate to Canada and he came along at that time.

4. How did you meet Dad?

I went to the young people’s gathering at St. Ansgar Lutheran Church on Avenue Road and I met him there. He had noticed me at church and decided to call me to invite me on a date. I didn’t know who he was at first but he said he was Henning’s brother and I knew Henning well from the young people’s group so I said I would go out with him.

Elise & Arne Hansen, 1963

5. When did you realize he was the one for you?

It was a gradual thing—I was 19 at the time we met and had just finished high school. I wasn’t really sure at first because that summer he asked me to marry him and I said could you give me a couple of years I would like to go to work and just get a little bit older.

So we got engaged and when I was 21 we got married. By that time I had gone to business college in Toronto and had a job at an advertising agency.

6. Where did you live when you first got married?

We lived on Lawrence Avenue close to the church where we were married, just one block away and we had an apartment there. It wasn’t long before we started looking at houses out around what was at the time called Cooksville, now part of Mississauga and we bought our first home there on Cliff Road.

7. How long did you live there?

It worked out to about 3 years. You were born there, and we started looking at bigger houses in Burlington because your Dad found a new job there. We found a house there we really liked and we lived there on Kenmarr Crescent for maybe 10 years, and that’s where your brother Dean was born.

8. If you could go back in time to one moment, what would that be?

When your Dad was alive and we were able to travel together. That was a very happy time.

Driving to California, circa 1963

9. Have you always liked to travel?

Yes. When I first married your Dad we drove to California and back. Over the years we flew to Denmark several times as a family and when we were there we rented a car and drove through Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Holland. In the Winter we liked to go to Florida.

10. What is the most memorable place you have travelled to?

Paris. Your Dad was working for AMC-Jeep-Renault as a technical training manager at the time and made friends with Claude Rouche from Renault. Claude invited us to visit with him and his family at their home in Paris. It was great to meet some real Parisians who could show us around.

11. What is one thing you would have done differently as a Mom?

I can’t say that I would have done anything differently; I suspect I would have done everything just the way I did it.

Mom & Dad on Mediterranean vacation

12. What are you most proud of?

My son’s achievements, which far surpass anything I could have achieved.

13. What is the best vacation you have been on?

The Mediterranean cruise with your Dad we took visiting the Greek Islands, going to Ephesus and Turkey, the bus trip to Istanbul, there are 4,000 bazaars where you could shop I loved that and seeing how different it is over there the landscape, the mountains, the history. We also went to Athens which I very much enjoyed.

14. Who was your best friend in high school?

Lesya Obelnicki. She was married so her last name is Pamli. Lesya and I are still best friends.

Mom with best friend Lesya

15. What is your biggest challenge right now?

Looking after my house on my own. I just had my roof partially blown off and I find that challenging when things happen to my home.

16. What is your favourite music?

I like (both kinds of music) Country & Western.

17. What is your favourite food?

Danish desserts.

18. Which genre of movies do you prefer?

Historical dramas.

Van, Mom, & baby brother Dean

19. What are your favorite hobbies and activities these days?

I like knitting, embroidering, needlepoint and cross-stitch, swimming, going to social events at the clubhouse where I live, and walking my dog. And I make jewelry with beads—I enjoy that tremendously.

20. What did you enjoy most about being a Mom?

Mom & Dad in Spring 2008; their 45th Wedding Anniversary party was in the Fall

I just adored my 2 little boys. I even found it hard to be strict with them I was more a lenient type of mom. I really loved them and still do.

About the Author

Van Hansen

While Van is not allowed to sing, he is allowed to write songs and stories. Mostly stories. Published in magazines such as Canadian Aviator, Canadian Geographic, Costco Connection, Photography Monthly, and The Walrus, Van now shares with you the Profiles and everyday adventures of the People in Your Neighbourhood™, Community Spotlights, plus News & Reviews in the NEW Hansen House Blog! Van is a Certified Executor Advisor, and a Real Estate Broker with the full-service boutique brokerage Apex Results Realty Inc. in Burlington, ON.

– Next episode is The Centenarian

People in Your Neighbourhood™ is presented by Jen & Van Hansen, Brokers with Apex Results Realty Inc., proudly affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World. We’re Local We’re Global™

Jen & Van Hansen


  1. I really enjoyed reading about your mom’s experience coming to Canada and building a new life for herself. Canadians are diverse, yet share a common thread of wanting to be better for themselves and their family.

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