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Iconic Calgary actor finds out he’s not a Canadian citizen

Jim Lewis, who played Benny the Bear, says his case has slipped through the cracks.

Jim Lewis played Benny the Bear in the Calgary children’s series The Buck Shot Show.

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Jim Lewis played Benny the Bear in the Calgary children’s series The Buck Shot Show.

After living in Canada for 69 years, Jim Lewis – famed for puppeteering Benny the Bear in The Buck Shot Show – has just found out that he’s not actually Canadian.

The actor posted about his ordeal on Facebook

Lewis used to live in Calgary while filming the show, which ran 1967 to 1997 and is one of the longest-running children’s shows in Canadian history.

Now living in B.C., Lewis recently tried to renew his driver’s licence and was informed by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia that he was short a piece of primary ID.

“So, I decided to apply for a permanent resident card,” he said in a statement. “After all, that’s what I was!”

Lewis arrived in Canada with his parents at the age of three. Canada Immigration and Citizenship (CIC) required evidence that he entered Canada through proper channels, so Lewis provided a copy of his British birth certificate, punched Landed Immigrant cards for his parents and part of the ship’s log of the RMS Aquatania, which they travelled in. He was not issued an immigration card because of his age.

Neither the immigration card for Lewis's mother or father (pictured) included his name.

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Neither the immigration card for Lewis's mother or father (pictured) included his name.

However, because his name did not appear on his parent’s immigration cards, he was asked to reapply with more documents.

He tried a second time with a passenger list found online, which included his name with his parents, but the application was rejected again.

As a result, Lewis is unable to obtain a permanent resident card.

And, as he pointed out, this isn’t a problem unique to him.

The passenger document he found contains the names of 28 other passengers from Britain, and is only part of the whole list.

“It also indicates how poorly the arriving immigrants were documented upon their arrival in Canada, particularly the children,” he said. “This is not the fault of the Canadian government, I am sure they were doing their best to deal with an unprecedented influx of immigrants but it is easy to see how many names could slip through the cracks.”

A spokesperson for CIC said they could not comment directly on Lewis’s case.

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