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.

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