Born to parents who emigrated from Poland after the second world war, Liz Taylor, yes, that is her name, sits fifth among their 5 children. She grew up in an ethnically diverse neighbourhood in St. Catharine’s, Ontario, known as the “Facer Street” area. A community rich in multiculturalism, Liz still makes it a point to attend the Annual Street Party.
Liz describes her childhood as a time when she could play outside with other neighbourhood kids until the streetlights came on. She has fond memories of her family going to Queenston Heights, or Niagara On the Lake for Sunday picnics where they could listen to bands playing in the open air.
She learned traditional Polish dance from a teacher named Helena Kaczmarczyk, who gave her a lot of solos in dance and in singing. She called Liz a shining star. “What a beautiful thing to tell a young kid!!” Even though Liz stopped Polish dancing at around 16, she believes those words played into the confidence she needed to take up acting at 50.
Liz began working when she was 12, picking strawberries with her mom. By the time she was 18, she was managing a fitness club, teaching aerobics classes and working at Shopper’s Drug Mart as a Dispensary Assistant. At 19, she became the youngest Realtor ever licensed in North America. One of the first houses she sold was her childhood home. Having lived there from the time that she was born, it was very emotional. Thirty-six years later, Liz continues to be a licenced realtor with the same company! “Loyalty is kinda my thing!”
She attributes the sense of loyalty to a father who had the courage to leave home at 12 years old for work on a farm in Germany during WW ll. He would never see his mother again, and when he left Poland again in 1957, he came to Canada with nothing. “He built a wonderful life simply from the will to create family and to provide a better life for them. He also helped his siblings to immigrate to Canada and to get established here. When his brother in Montreal fell ill, he provided for his family so that they could stay together. To be able to do that while still providing for his own family, he worked 3 shifts at General Motors and did lots of overtime. Liz credits his example for having taught her honesty, fairness, and a good work ethic. Teodor passed away in January 2020 at the age of 93.