Brian Truscott A look at previous South Africans now living overseas...

Brian Truscott needed a safe haven in 1968 and chose Canada. Brian found a job in London involved with offshore North Sea oil and gas exploration. Those were exciting times at the beginning of a boom and involved frequent trips to Europe and Norway and a year in Milan, Italy, where Brian taught himself Italian. In the evenings in London Brian learnt pottery and started Truscott Potteries, employing local college students. This small business took Brian into another tax bracket at sixty percent. So Brian and friends looked at returning to South Africa, when in the mid 70's, Vorster said "give us 180 days and you will be surprised at the changes in RSA". Unfortunately while touring South Africa, SA troops started heading for Angola. That was not the change anyone expected. Next part of the plan was to try again to get into Canada. First by checking out opportunities in all major cities from Vancouver to Montreal. A company in Edmonton heard about the success Brian had in Milan and wanted him for a similar contract in Alberta. They battled for nine months with the Federal government before abandoning the effort to get Brian accepted. Brian then decided to get a friend and himself into Canada as self-employed Pottery entrepreneurs. Niagara Falls was an easy choice as it was considered a depressed area and so scored more immigration points, yet it is within a days drive of half the population of North America.

Arriving in Canada in mid January 1980, was like jumping in the deep end. Fortunately sales abounded, so within two weeks they had bought essential winter clothes, cars, and a derelict house in Chippawa, Niagara Falls - complete with a resident young wild cat. Christmas eve that year, they moved into the new half of the house ready to renovate the old part, and had built a new studio within the extension.

Brian has never thought of leaving Canada. It was as if this is where he always belonged. Canada stood for the same principles that Brian fought for - a land of opportunity with a social conscience.

Brian had a whole new set of circumstances and materials to adapt to, including the need to develop new glazes. Courses, workshops, lectures, dialogue, visiting other studios, etc. still help maintain an enjoyable learning process. Select pieces have been accepted in a variety of regional and national juried shows, and featured in prestigious auctions in New York City and London, U.K. Amongst notables who have several examples of Brian's work are Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Oscar Peterson.

TV Ontario featured Brian in their Hands Over Time series, titled More Pots BPN 394914. This has been used by many teachers as part of their instruction to students, and has been repeatedly aired by other TV companies. Throughout Brian's career he has actively supported craft, art and pottery associations. For several years he has served on the Board of FUSION, The Ontario Clay and Glass Association - , latterly three years as President. For several years he served on the executive of the St. Catharines Craft Guild, including two terms as president, and acted as a regional representative for the Ontario Crafts Council. He has taught pottery through art associations and privately, and has demonstrated at public shows, galleries, associations and guilds. He has had various magazine articles published about potters, crafts, and workshops.

Family, close friends, and a love for South Africa have drawn Brian back to South Africa every few years. He has maintained a keen interest in developments there. In the early days in London and Toronto there seemed to be a regular flow of protest plays and musicals from RSA. Brian never missed any. Many friends from South Africa visited in London, and Canada. Often while catching up with all the gossip in Afrikaans, so no one else could understand, someone else inevitably would. One time on a London underground the gossip was especially juicy when two elderly ladies said in Dutch that it must be that strange tongue from South Africa.

After embarrassed laughing, they got talking and took them for tea. When negotiating contracts in Brussels, Afrikaans was very useful. The Belgians would assume that coming from London, working with an American company, maybe Brian could speak French, but surely not Flemish. Brian would sit and look stupid, all the while understanding them. Brian believes that the ability to speak a second language develops that part of your brain, which makes it easier to learn other languages, of which he can moderately communicate in five and has studied three others. He pleads that whatever you do as a new immigrant in Canada - make sure you also teach your children all the languages you know. Turtle Tureen

Teapot with flourish It is so easy for children to learn another language, and you never know when that could be useful later in life.
"I have never apologized for being South African, or felt embarrassed about it. I don't judge a person by the colour of their skin, or by what language they speak, or by their way of life or sexual persuasion. As such I expect people to judge me as a person only". Brian believes as new immigrants we should all leave behind all the old prejudices we might have learnt. "Bring only love and creativity with you".

* Contact Brian at Niagara Studio Pottery, 3678 Main Street, Niagara Falls, Ontario, L2G6A8 or 905-295-3775; Fax 905-358-3136;