Your Country, Your Story: CHEK’s Tess van Straaten is a 4th generation Victorian!


“Well, I was the fourth generation to be born here” CHEK News reporter Tess van Straaten said. “My kids are the fifth generation to grow up here…”

Her mom, Dee van Straaten, picks up the story at that point. “I was third, my mum was second, and my grandfather was first [generation] to be born in Victoria.”

Dee believes her great grandparents came to Victoria from England around 1882. Her grandfather was born here in 1887.

“My father was a contractor,” Dee said.

“And he and my mother built this home on Moss Street, right at the end of Clover Avenue, and they built the pool first.

“It was the first registered in-ground pool in the City of Victoria” Dee added proudly.

Which made Dee and her brother popular, in both the summer and the winter.

Holding up a photo of the frozen poll, Tess explains that in “January of ’59, it froze over, and that’s my mom in her leopard skin bathing suit, skating!”

Laughing, Dee adds that she was “imagining myself as Barbara Ann Scott!”

After graduating, then working for a few years, Dee took off to see the world. She ended up in South Africa.

“After living three years in South Africa,” Dee said. “We decided we’d like to raise a family in Victoria, so that’s what brought us here.”

“At the height of apartheid” Tess said. “Yes” Dee nods in agreement “it was.”

Tess herself left Victoria for fourteen years.

“And I kind of wrecked the generational thing” she admits, “because my kids weren’t born in Victoria. One was born in Winnipeg, and one was born in Australia, but they’re the fifth generation to grow up here.”

And, the fifth consecutive generation to attend Central Middle School!

Dee is grateful her daughter came back to her hometown.

“Raising her was a joy,” Dee says “but having the grandsons…?  Also, a joy.”

“Now you’re going to make me cry!” says Tess.

“I know, me too” agrees her mom, Dee.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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