Saturday 30 November 2013

Eaton's Santa Claus Parade

My Mom and Dad have great memories of attending the Toronto Santa Claus Parade when they were young.  Here are ten things you may not know about the 77-year tradition.

1.  In 1905, Santa arrived by train at Union Station and walked to Eaton's Department Store with the Eaton family.  In 1907, he arrived on horseback.

Santa arriving by white stallion circa 1907 courtesy

2.  From 1910 to 1912, the parade was a two-day event starting in Newmarket and making its way to Toronto's Yonge Street the following day.

3.  The year 1913 featured eight live reindeer from Labrador pulling Santa's sleigh.

4.  In the early years, Santa would visit Massey Hall after the parade where he would host 9000 kids.

5.  While the first few years only featured a horse and carriage and trumpeters, by 1917, the parade included a number of floats.

Image courtesy

6.  In 1919, Santa arrived by plane.

7.  In 1930, a Mother Goose float re-appeared which would be the parade's longest running float (30 years).

Mother Goose float courtesy

8.  The parade survived both the Great Depression and two World Wars.

9.  The event was broadcast on television for the first time in 1952.  That year the parade featured many floats and 2000 participants.

10.  During the Fifties and Sixties, Eaton's colouring books were handed out.

The Archives of Ontario Remembers an Eaton's Christmas: An Eaton's Santa Claus Parade Colouring Book with Punkinhead's North Pole Race (1960) - Front Cover

Friday 29 November 2013

Turkey Trouble

Every year at Thanksgiving, a turkey is pardonned by the President at the White House.  The protagonist of Turkey Trouble faces the same dilemma:  he does not want to be a table centrepiece on Thanksgiving.  He devises a scheme:  why not dress up as another animal?  He attaches a brush to the back of his head and wears a saddle, but no one believes he is a real horse.  Then he disguises himself as a cow, pig, sheep and rooster, all without success.  Farmer Jake, thinking that the turkey has escaped, suggests that maybe they should eat a rooster for dinner this Thanksgiving.  This story is written by Wendi Silvano and beautifully illustrated by Lee Harper. 

Thursday 28 November 2013

Thanksgiving at the White House

It's hard to believe that I was standing in front of the White House this past summer on a hot, sunny day, poking my camera between the iron bars of the fence to snap a picture.  According to our tour guide, the President was in the Oval Office that day.  Today, the President is once again in the Executive House, this time celebrating Thanksgiving with his family.  Here is the menu for the day.

honey baked ham
cornbread stuffing
oyster stuffing
macaroni and cheese
sweet potatoes
mashed potatoes
green bean casserole
dinner rolls

huckleberry pie
pecan pie
chocolate cream pie
sweet potato pie
peach pie
apple pie
pumpkin pie
banana cream pie
coconut cream pie

The President will have to be rolled out of the dining room after this feast.  Happy Thanksgiving, America!

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Train Downs Nazi Plane

Lydd Station circa 1968 courtesy

It was the middle of the Second World War.  While the London Blitz was over, Germany was still bombing England.  Although big cities were the main targets, towns were not exempt from attacks.  On this day in 1942, two Nazi planes had just bombed Ashford, England and were headed home to Germany.  A passenger train was pulling out of the station in Lydd, Kent, a market town on the English Channel.  The two planes, German Focke Wulf 190's, spotted the train and started to fire.  One of the shots hit the train's boiler sending a powerful jet of steam 20 feet into the air.  One of the pilots crashed landed and died.  However, no one was hurt on the train which was repaired and returned to service by March of 1943.

Tuesday 26 November 2013


Howard Carter with King Tut's tomb courtesy

I remember attending a King Tut exhibit at the Royal Ontario Museum when I was in Grade 7.  Little did I know what the discovery of King Tut's tomb entailed back in 1922.  The project of unearthing a 3000 year old tomb would entail ten years of work, produce a six-volume report, lead to one death, and spark Egyptomania.  

Howard Carter held the post of Inspector General of Monuments in Upper Egypt when he was approached to work for wealthy socialite Lord Carnarvon in 1907.  After several years, Lord Carnarvon agreed to finance the search for King Tut's tomb.  In late 1922, they started the project by excavating the ground at the tomb of Romeses VI.  Under the workmen's huts they found evidence of a tomb:  a faience cup, gold foil and a cache of funerary items.  

After five years, they had found very little evidence and Lord Carnarvon was ready to give up.  However, Carter convinced him to finance the project for one more year.  Finally, their perseverance paid off as they unearthed a step, the first of 12 stairs.  At the bottom of the stairs was a blocked entrance where they found impressions of the royal necropolis.  The following day, Carter telegrammed Lord Carnarvon with the announcement:  "At last have made wonderful discovery in valley; a magnificent tomb with seals intact."  Within two weeks Lord Carnarvon arrived in Luxor, ready to work.  

When they uncovered the steps for the second time, they found seals with King Tut's name on the door.  Tomb robbers had opened and resealed the top of the door.  There was evidence that the tomb had been raided twice, once shortly after the king's burial, the second time much later.  The thieves had absconded with only small items.  

Following a 26 foot passage, Carter and his archeological team found another sealed door.  It was a virtual underground maze.  Behind the door sat an antechamber which ;looked like "organized chaos":  strange animals, statues, boxes chairs and couches, mainly made of gold, were piled high to the ceiling.  Other artifacts like beaded sandals, "held together by 3000 years of habit", were also discovered in the room. 

Before excavating any further, Carter was charged with the task of documenting, photographing, preserving and transporting all of the artifacts in the antechamber.  Workers made hundreds of trips up and down the stairs bearing stretchers carrying artifacts wrapped in gauze for protection.  They were greeted by hundreds of tourists and reporters at the entrance to the tomb; some thought the stretchers bore bodies as the scene resembled that of the recent Great War.  The items were packed in crates and shipped by train to Cairo.  It took a full 7 weeks for Carter and his crew to complete the task of clearing the antechamber.

Dignitaries ring the entrance to King Tut's tomb courtesy

Finally, the archeologists picked up their pickaxes again and started digging.  This time they found a solid wall of gold:  the sepulchral chamber.  Behind the wall was a large shrine measuring 16 by 10 by 9.  In fact, there were four shrines in total.  Here is what Carter had been searching for -- the King's sarcophagus!  The slab weighed 1 1/4 tons.  Inside was a golden effigy of the boy king.  A gilded wooden coffin was discovered.  Poking and prying, it took them one and a half years to lift the lid off the coffin.  In a seal reminiscent of a Russian doll, Carter and his crew found not one, not two, but three coffins, one inside the other.  The third coffin was solid gold.  Inside was King Tut's mummy!  The king was believed to be only 18 years old when he died.  He measured only 5 foot 5 inches tall.  Once an autopsy was complete, tt appeared as if he had been murdered.  One hundred and fifty items were found inside the gold coffin including:  amulets, bracelets, collars, rings and daggers.  

The world waited with baited breath as Carter and his colleagues emerged from the dusty underground.  Stacks of mail and telegrams arrived for Carter.  This was front page news!  The discovery sparked Egyptomania:  Egyptian clothes appeared on magazine covers and Egyptian architecture graced the current day buildings.  

Sadly, Lord Carnarvon's expedition led to his death:  he was bitten by a mosquito which was aggravated when he shaved, and he died (likely from malaria, I guess).  Howard Carter retreated to his study where he wrote a six-volume account of his experience.  He passed away in 1939.  King Tut's mummy went on a travelling exhibit.  It was returned to its resting place back in the Valley of the Kings.

Monday 25 November 2013

Happy People Do It

Here are ten characteristics of happy people.

1.  They express gratitude for the blessings they already have.

2.  They cultivate optimism in their lives ex. The glass is half full.

3.  They avoid over thinking things and comparing themselves to others.

4.  They practise acts of kindness on a regular basis.  Performing acts of kindness realizes seratonin in your brain, giving you a natural feeling of bliss.

5.  They nurture their personal relationships.  They feel part of something more meaningful than themselves.

6.  They develop strategies to cope with life's problems.  Have your strategies pre-rehearsed and on call.

7.  They learn to forgive.  For Christians, we forgive because Christ first forgave us.  Besides, hate is toxic to your body.  You're only hurting yourself.

8.  They commit to a goal and stick with it.  Having a purpose makes humans happier.

9.  The take care of their bodies.  Our physical and emotional state are so closely connected.  A strong body means a strong mind.

10.  They practise spirituality.  Stay connected to God, the source of all creation.


Sunday 24 November 2013

I Have Everything I Need

"The Lord is my Shepherd
I have everything I need." 
(Psalm 23)

Thursday is the American Thanksgiving.  As I get older, I find myself appreciating Thanksgiving more and more.  By the same token, I find that the commercialism of Christmas has lessened my love for a day that I used to await in eager anticipation.  I think it's because the feeling I get at Thanksgiving is the feeling expressed in the second line of the 23rd Psalm. Thanksgiving brings a feeling of contentment, a feeling of thankfulness.  Yes, I have everything I need.  I don't need anymore.  However, at Christmas there is an expectation that we will receive gifts.  In other words, we need gifts.  We put so much pressure on ourselves to prepare for the season that by the time it comes, we don't enjoy it anymore.  We need to strip the celebration bare like the First Christmas.  It was so simple:  a father, a mother and a baby.  There were no Christmas lights, no Christmas tree, no Christmas cookies, no Christmas cards in the stable -- only a baby in a manger.  Thank you, Jesus!  I have everything I need.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Letters to Jackie

"I know words can be of little comfort now, for I lost my husband on June 12 in the same way.  The entire world shares your great loss and sorrow." (Myrlie Evers)

Moment of sorrow: Three days after his assassination Kennedy was laid to rest with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia

John F. Kennedy's funeral procession on November 25, 1963.  The Lincoln Memorial is in the background, the Jefferson Memorial in the foreground courtesy 

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on a Friday.  By Monday, his widow Jacqueline had received 45,000 condolence letters.  Within two months, 800,000 letters arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.  Within two years, over one and a half million condolence letters had poured into the White House.

 TLC Letters to Jackie: Dear Mrs Kennedy... A-list stars bring to life the 800,000 heartfelt letters of condolence sent to Jackie following JFK's assassination

While most of the letters to Jackie were handwritten, some were typewritten and others were cabled.  Some were written by Christians, others by Jews, still others by secularists.  All were united in their grief.  Americans poured their hearts out to the former First Lady.  Their sincerity was only equaled by their eloquence.

Some of the most famous cables were sent by:

  1. Duke Ellington, jazz band leader
  2. Myrlie Evers, widow of murdered civil rights leader Medgar Evers
  3. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Civil Rights Leader
  4. Nikita Krushchev, Premier of Soviet Union
  5. Cary Grant, Hollywood actor
  6. Indira Ghandi, Prime Minister of India
  7. Marie Tippit, widow of J.D. Tippit, Dallas police officer murdered by Oswald
  8. Ezra Pound, poet
  9. General Douglas MacArthur, American general in WWII & Korea

At first Jackie read each of the letters, but soon their volume overwhelmed her.  People like Maureen Shea were hired to type responses to the condolence letters, all of which were signed by Jacqueline Kennedy. The letters have been preserved -- some 15,000 are stored in the Kennedy Library in Boston, Massachusetts -- an outpouring of love to a young widow and her children.

                              TLC Letters to Jackie: Dear Mrs Kennedy... A-list stars bring to life the 800,000 heartfelt letters of condolence sent to Jackie following JFK's assassination

Television message of thanks by Jacqueline Kennedy 50 days after her husband's assassination courtesy TLC.

Note:  This post was inspired by TLC’s documentary “Letters to Jackie” which aired on November 17, 2013.  The program was based on a book called Letters to Jackie:  Letters from a Grieving Nation (Ellen Fitzpatrick).  

Friday 22 November 2013

One Brief Shining Moment Interrupted

On November 22, 1963, America mourned the loss of their beloved President:  the one who promised to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade, the one who got the nation through the Cuban Missile Crisis, the one who stood in front of the Berlin Wall and shouted “Ich Bin Ein Berliner”, the one who set the Civil Rights Act in motion.

On that fateful day, when John F. Kennedy arrived in Dallas, Americans lined the motorcade route, spilling out onto the street, excitement in the air.  As Kennedy’s limousine made its way through the Dallas streets, Governor Connally turned to him and said:  “You can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you, Mr. President”.  Within minutes, however, Kennedy was struck down by an assassin’s bullet in Dealey Plaza, caught on tape by Dallas dressmaker Abraham Zapruder.

America felt like they knew John F. Kennedy personally.  Americans had watched as Kennedy had taken the oath of office, steam coming out of his mouth on that frosty day in Washington D.C.  And now they watched as the media covered the ensuing events:   Walter Cronkite took off his glasses and explained to America that their President had passed away; Dallas police apprehended Lee Harvey Oswald in a Dallas movie theatre; Lyndon Johnson raised his hand and took the oath of office on Air Force One, the slain president’s body in a coffin at the back of the plane; Jack Ruby shooting Lee Harvey Oswald two days later in the basement of the Dallas police station.

Americans watched as they buried their president:  John-John saluting his father’s coffin as it passed by; Jacqueline and Bobby walking behind the slain president’s coffin, only the clip clop of the horses breaking the silence; and a military gun salute piercing the sky as Kennedy was laid to rest at Arlington Cemetery, on a hill overlooking Washington D.C.

Fifty years later, Americans still remember that day.  The images are forever burned into their consciousness.  They will never forget that one brief shining moment – Camelot.

Thursday 21 November 2013

John F. Kennedy

Here are ten things you may not know about John F. Kennedy.

1.  His father, Joseph Kennedy, invested heavily in the stock market.  At the time of John F. Kennedy's death, his fortune was probably worth $1 billion.

2.  Joseph Kennedy escaped a Wall Street bombing in 1920 which killed 38 bystanders.

3.  John F. Kennedy was the only President to win a Purple Heart (in World War II).

4.  Although JFK was a young president, Teddy Roosevelt, at 42 years old, was even months younger was he was elected.

5.  JFK was an experienced politician when he was elected President, serving three times in Congress and twice in the Senate.

6.  Kennedy mused openly about dropping Lyndon B. Johnson on the ticket for reelection in 1964.

7.  JFK recorded conversations in the White House, likely for memoirs he planned on writing later on.  However, he did not start the practice.  It was Franklin D. Roosevelt.

8.  JFK was administered the last rites by a priest twice.  Firstly, he almost died in 1948 when he was diagnosed with Addison's Disease.  Secondly, he almost died when he developped an infection after back surgery in 1954.

9.  JFK's PT-190 boat was sunk by a Japanese ship during World War II, but he and his crew survived.

10.  John and Jacqueline Kennedy lost a son, Patrick, while in the White House who lived only two days in August 1963.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

One Step Closer to my Dream

My dream is to have my picture book "I'm Just a Home Child" published.  I thought I would have to put that dream on hold as I recently got a new teaching job.  However, God is blessing me in two ways this month: first my job, and now a possible book.  A published author, Rose McCormick Brandon, wants to assemble a collection of eight British Home Children stories.  She has asked me to share mine!  The short story, called "The Gold & Pearl Necklace" is based on the life of my great-grandma, Daisy Blay, a British Home Child.  I am so excited!  I want to share my great-grandma's story with as many people as possible.  What a great way to do it!  The author hopes to have the book published in  time to share at a British Home Child Exhibit at Black Creek Pioneer Village (July 2014-January 2015).

Next year is the 100th anniversary of World War I, a war in which 10,000 British Home Children served.  It is also the 100th anniversary of my great-grandma's wedding, only three weeks after the outbreak of the war.  It was at her wedding, that my great-grandma wore the "gold and pearl necklace", a wedding gift from her husband, the same one that I wore on my wedding day 21 years ago.  There couldn't be a more appropriate time to publish my great-grandma's story!

For more information on the British Home Children, visit my post "The British Home Children" at

For more British Home Children Stories, visit Rose McCormick Brandon's blog "The Promise of Home" at


Tuesday 19 November 2013

Twister Sounded like Twelve Trains

"I heard what sounded like 12 trains just roaring down the tracks, and it just wouldn't stop." (Nancy Rampy, Illinois resident)

Washington, Illinois is cleaning up from a deadly tornado that roared through the community, one of 16 tornadoes to hit the state on Sunday.  In its wake it left 8 dead and 120 injured.

The town of Washington, population 15,000, is 2 1/2 hours southwest of Chicago.  On Sunday, winds gusted up to 190 miles per hour.  A funnel cloud whipped through the community stripping trees of branches, reducing buildings to rubble and turning cars upside down.  An apartment complex of 200 units was flattened to the ground.  Mail for Washington residents was found scattered 80 miles from the town.  If it weren't for the bits of American flags clinging to the trees, one would have thought that it was a European war zone.

Fortunately, the tornado warning system was used, giving residents time to seek shelter.  Many Illinois houses have basements unlike the southern states like Oklahoma where a tornado hit earlier this year.  Being a Sunday, some Washington residents were at church where they, too, headed to the basement.  In the end, four hundred homes were destroyed and 2000 people were displaced.

Monday 18 November 2013

Mickey Mouse Mania

Here are ten facts you may not know about Mickey Mouse.

1.  Mickey Mouse made his sound film debut in "Steamboat Willie" on this day in 1928.

2.  Walt Disney did the voice of Mickey Mouse in the early years.

3.  The first merchandise for Mickey Mouse was a school tablet which appeared in 1929.

4.  Walt Disney received an Academy Award for Mickey Mouse in 1932.

5.  The first Mickey Mouse comic strip, sketched by Ub Iwerks, debuted in 1930.

6.  The first two Mickey Mouse films, which had no sound, cost only $2500.

7.  Mickey Mouse first appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica in 1934.

8.  Walt Disney received a League of Nations Medal for his creation of Mickey Mouse, considered to represent "universal good will".

9.  The Mickey Mouse TV show debuted in 1950.

10.  Mickey Mouse has appeared in 120 films, from Steamboat Willie to Runaway Brain.

Sunday 17 November 2013

Yellowstone Moran

With a long beard cascading down his chest, a cowboy hat perched on his head and a paintbrush in his hand, he painted scene after scene of the American west.  He captured the imagination of the American public.  It was in large part thanks to his paintings that Yellowstone National Park was created.  His name was Yellowstone Moran.


Thomas Moran was born in 1837 in Lancashire, England.  Immigrating to the United States with his parents, he was raised in Pennsylvania where he had his first glimpse of mountains, the Appalachians.  It was in Philadelphia that he got a job as a wood engraver at Scattergood & Telfer.  However, he found working with wood tedious and decided to switch to painting.  He sought employment at Scribner's Monthly magazine where he became the chief illustrator.  In the meantime, he was influenced by local painter James Hamilton.  J.M.W. Turner became his mentor.

Dr. Hayden, the director of the U.S. Geological Survey, invited Thomas Moran to accompany him to Yellowstone, on the request of American financier Jay Cooke.  Their expedition, where Moran would paint wilderness scenes, would be funded by Cooke and Scribner's Monthly.  They set out in 1871, camping in the wilderness for 40 days and visiting 30 sites.  William Henry Jackson was also along for the trip as the official photographer.

When the U.S. Congress saw Moran's breathtaking paintings, its members decided to create Yellowstone National park.  It also decided to name a spot in the park after the painter, called "Moran Point".  One of Moran's earliest works, The grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, was purchased by the American government for $10,000.  Other works followed including "Chasm of the Colorado", painted by Moran in 1873, and now hanging in the Smithsonian Museum of Art.

Success bred success as Moran painted more landscape scenes.  Originally part of the Hudson School of painting, he later became known as part of the Rocky Mountain School.  Tourists arrived at Yellowstone via the Northern Pacifric Railway.  Many booked rooms at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel.  And many gazed in awe at the vistas that Moran had made famous with the stroke of his paintbrush.

Saturday 16 November 2013

Yellowstone: The World's Oldest National Park

Here are ten facts you may not know about Yellowstone, the world's first national park.

1.  Yellowstone National Park is bigger than both Rhode Island and Delaware combined (3472 square miles).

2.  Yellowstone spans three states (96% is in Wyoming; 3% is in Montana; 1% is in Idaho).

3.  Yellowstone's highest point is found at Eagle Peak (11,358 feet) while its lowest point is found at Reese Creek (5282 feet).

4.  Yellowstone Park is composed of 5% water, 15% grasslands and 80% forest.

5.  Eighty percent of the forest is composed of lodgepole pines.

6.  Sixty seven species of animals live in Yellowstone National Park.

7.  More than 300 geysers exist at the park.

8.  The record high temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded in 2002 at Mammoth.  The record low temperature of -66 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded in 1933 at Riverside Station.

9.  Much of the park's water is found in Yellowstone Lake which is 140 feet deep.  Water can also be found at the Lower Falls which is 308 feet high.

10.  Nine hundred historic buildings can be found at Yellowstone National Park, some of which have been depicted in 90,000 photographs taken on site.

Friday 15 November 2013

Toddler under the Christmas Tree

Every year, Rob puts on a Christmas CD ("A Christmas Gift for You"), lugs the Christmas tree box and decorations upstairs, and sets up the tree.  At first, it was a lonely job:  for six years, he did it on his own. Then Thomas came into our life.  That first Christmas, my Mom placed baby Thomas under her tree and snapped a photo.  The following year, as Thomas toddled about, he would steal Tigger off the tree.  Five Christmases later, Jacqueline joined the celebration.  At about 2 or 3 years old, she stole every candy cane off the tree and ate each one behind the chair.  Now, it's our cat's turn to steal things off the Christmas tree. Tonight, Rob and the kids put up the tree.  It looked perfect, every ornament in place.  Within minutes, however, Midnight had destroyed all of their handiwork.  Thirty balls lay under the tree!  First, Rob brought up the spray bottle and we squirted her.  But she went right back to the tree within minutes.  Then Thomas brought up the giant water gun.  She ran for the hills, but she still returned.  Tonight we'll be locking her in the room downstairs, far from the tree.  I guess it just wouldn't be Christmas without a baby to tamper with the tree!

Thursday 14 November 2013

Long Lost Letter

American servicemen in Italy during WWII courtesy

Sixteen million Americans served in World War II.  Four hundred thousand died in battle, including John Eddington, the father of a Nevada woman who would never know him.  It would be almost 70 years before she would hear from him -- in the form of a long, lost letter.

                                            This was Pfc. John Farrell Eddington's obituary. He died three weeks after the birth of his daughter

Twelve years ago, a St. Louis, Missouri woman name Donna Gregory was helping her husband's grandparents clean out their Arnold, Missouri home when they came upon a mysterious box.  Dusting it off, they found the following items inside:  a letter, a high school diploma, a draft card, and a Purple Heart.  There was also a message from the U.S. War Department announcing the death of the soldier who had written the letter.  

Reunited: Donna Gregory read from the emotional letter sent by Pfc. John Eddington to his newborn daughter. Gregory's voice cracked with emotion as she read, bringing tears to Eddington-Smith and many in the crowd of about 150

                                          Donna Gregory courtesy

Donna embarked on a years-long search to find the relatives of the fallen soldier.  Thanks to the Internet, she was finally able to track down Mrs. Peggy Eddington-Smith, a Walmart employee in Nevada who was stunned to hear about the momentos from her father.  

Donna took a road trip from St. Louis to Nevada this past September accompanied by members of the Patriot Guard Riders, a group who attends memorials for fallen soldiers.  In Nevada, a World War II veteran presented Mrs. Eddington-Smith with her father's purple heart, tears visibly falling down the woman's cheeks as she thought of the father she never knew.

Emotional: Peggy Eddington-Smith receives a flag in honor of her father, who she never met, in Dayton, Nevada, on Saturday. Pfc. John Eddington died in World War II three weeks after her birth

Peggy was able to read the letter from her father which told her that he loved her and that she should treat her mother right.  Only a few months after penning the letter in 1944, John Eddington died in Italy.  Peggy once asked her mother why she never remarried and she said it was because she had found the perfect man in Peggy's father.  She passed away in 1997.  

Pfc. John Farrell Eddington and his wife, Helen, are pictured on their wedding day

Helen & John Eddington on their wedding day courtesy

Peggy tucked away her box of precious momentos, a lasting testament to her father, a war hero.  And Donna headed back over the mountains to her home in St. Louis, her mission accomplished.  Thank you, Mr. Eddington, for your sacrifice!

Honored: Peggy Eddington-Smith received her father's medals during the ceremony, such as this Purple Heart. Earlier she received a heartfelt letter from the soldier, professing his love for his newborn daughter

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Pier 21: Gateway to Canada

Immigrant children with Red Cross courtesy

Here are ten things you may not know about Pier 21, the immigration station in Halifax Harbour which was open from 1928 to 1971.

1.  More than 1.5 million people passed through the doors of Pier 21 immigration shed.

2.  One in five Canadians can trace his or her ancestry back to an immigrant who passed through Pier 21.

3.  Thousands of British Home Children passed arrived at Pier 21 in the 1920's and 1930's.

4.  Evacuee children from Britain arrived at Pier 21 in 1939 and early 1940 to board with Canadian families while the London Blitz was going on.

5.  Half a million soldiers disembarked or arrived at Pier 21 during the Second World War.


Welcoming Canadian troops at Pier 21 circa 1945 courtesy

6.  Canadian soldiers' war brides arrived at Pier 21 to the tune of almost 50,000.  They were accompanied by their children, 22,000 in total.  

7.  Nieuw Amsterdam was the first ocean liner to arrive at Pier 21.  Many other ships followed.

8.  After World War II, refugees arrived in high numbers from the Baltic States as well as Holland.

9.  The next wave of refugees came from Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution.

10.  The immigration shed at Pier 21 fell into a state of disrepair, becoming a derelict, rat-infested building.  However, it was renovated and re-opened on Canada Day 1999 as an Immigration Museum.  

Source:  For more information, read Gateway of Hope by Linda Granfield.