Pier 21, Halifax

6 11 2013

It’s a few years since we visited Pier 21 at Halifax.

This was the immigration shed, where about one million immigrants, refugees, war brides, evacuee children and displaced persons entered Canada between 1928 and 1971. It was known as the ‘Gateway to Canada.’

Pier 21 became a National Museum of Canada in 2011.


Liners docked at a wharf divided into Piers 20, 21, 22 and 23.  Pier 21 had a railway booking office and passenger train sidings for special immigration trains.


Various posters show how Canada tried to entice new immigrants to Canada, with promises of free land, healthy climate and cheap passages.


Boat loads of people, disembarked at pier 21, with their few belongings.


Then had to wait on hard seats until they were processed and admitted into Canada, or rejected and returned to their place of origin.


The ‘Oceans of Hope’ multimedia presentation takes you on a journey through Pier 21’s history, and presents individual stories and memoirs.

War brides tell how they followed their Canadian husbands to Canada and how they settled, or didn’t, with their new in-laws.

During  WWII, 500,000 military personnel departed from Pier 21 and then came back through it, if they were lucky enough to have survived.

This was the storty of the Walnut, from Estonia.


But the tale of the St Louis was not so happy.

The MS St Louis was a German liner which made a memorable voyage in 1939, with 937 German Jewish refugees.  The passengers  were denied entry to Cuba, the United States and then Canada, and had to face a journey back to Europe. Historians have estimated that, after their return to Europe, approximately a quarter of the ship’s passengers died in concentration camps.

I have not written about Pier 21 before, as I did not find it a particularly exciting museum. It was not a patch on the Mining Museum at Glace Bay, The Fortress of Louisbourg or Alexander Graham Bell Museum.

Pier 21 invites you to look up your ancestors who arrived here. I didn’t think we had anyone to research.

BUT —-Not so long ago, Jeff received an email from a cousin, telling him how their Grandfather’s brothers had been sent to Canada in 1914. These boys of 13 and 16 years had been at Quarriers Home, just outside Glasgow, after the death of their parents.  They were then sent to Canada on the Hesperian which landed on 14th May 1914.


These boys were 2 of what became known as the ‘Home Children’, here in Canada. The Quarriers children  went initially to “holding houses” at Belleville and Brockville in Ontario, before dispersing to an often arduous life on farms and homesteads.

At no time during Jeff’s upbringing did he ever hear of these uncles from his father or Grandfather. It’s sad that these boys had no further contact with any of their relatives in Scotland or Ireland. I have read that  the Home children were ashamed of what had happened to them and kept their past hidden from their families in Canada.

It is estimated that 12%, over 4 million, of the Canadian population is a descendant of a Home Child.That is a shocking statistic!

I borrowed a book from the local library about British Home Children – Neither Waif nor Stray, by Perry


Today I received an email saying that this book is free to download!!! It really tells the reader about these Home Children and how they felt about being sent away from everything they knew.


Mount Uniacke Estate Park

25 04 2011

On Saturday, we headed to Mount Uniacke Estate Park. The house here was built, in 1813, as a summer home for Richard John Uniacke, a Nova Scotian Attorney-General.

Of Irish descent, Uniacke  modeled the property after the Irish country estates he had known as a child.

The house is of Georgian design with large porticos.

There is the original carriage house

with a weather vane

An avenue of European ash trees goes from the house down to the lake, where there would have been a boat house.

Richard Uniacke called the lake Martha Lake after his wife.

We heard the laughing cry of a woodpecker and looked up to see a PILEATED WOODPECKER!!! above us. I have been hoping to see one of these birds since coming to Canada and saw one last week-end, when I had no camera.

This bird is about the size of a crow, but has this lovely red hat.

It was very busy making a nice nesting hole.

There are several hiking trails around the estate and we headed off for a good walk.

This is the Old Post Road, the original road from Halifax to Windsor. A stagecoach travelled this road daily, the 20 mile journey taking 4 hours! It must have been a comfortable trip!

There are a great many dead and dying trees on the estate.

Some looking quite majestic.

This squirrel was not pleased to see us.

Despite the dying trees, there is a fantastic regrowth of young trees.

In some places the trees cover the path.

We planned to take this track below, but it was like a river bed. We continued around the Wetlands Trail and still had to make several detours to avoid wading in water.

We made it back to the house and looked for the pileated woodpecker.

He had finished his construction, or destruction and had settled into his new home.

The house is now a museum, but was closed for the winter.

You can take a look inside on this virtual tour.


I see that the house originally had a flat roof!

I love the bedspread in the master bedroom that was woven in a mill in Lancashire. It must be nearly 200 years old and yet still looks like new.

Tall Ships Festival, Halifax

23 07 2009

Last Sunday Jeff and I headed to Halifax to see the Tall Ships Festival. This was quite an outing for us as we haven’t been so far from home – a  75 minute drive – since being in Halifax with Cameron and Louise last October! Well, we have actually driven farther south and west from Lunenburg, but on really quiet roads. As it is such a thought for us to leave the tranquility of the South Shore, we decided that we’d stay the night at the Marriott Hotel, making for a more relaxed trip.

Tall ships arrive from all over the world and many are competing in the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge. This is a seven heat race that started in Spain in May, then travelled to Tenerife, Bermuda, Charleston, Boston, Halifax and finally to Belfast.

The atmosphere at the waterfront was exciting, especially for us country bumpkins, and I took hundreds of photos. This little video, just gives a feeling of the waterfront and you might recognize the dour Scot.


Bounty 3

The Bounty,above, was built in 1960 for MGM studios’ Mutiny on the Bounty with Marlon Brando. Since then, the new Bounty has starred in several feature-length films and dozens of TV shows and historical documentaries.

The studios commissioned the ship from the shipwrights of Smith and Ruhland in our town of Lunenburg.  The new Bounty was constructed from the original ship’s drawings still on file in the British admiralty archives.

In February of 2001 H.M.S. Bounty was purchased  by HMS Bounty Organization LLC, which is dedicated to keeping the ship sailing and using her as a vehicle for teaching the nearly lost arts of square rigged sailing and seamanship.

SagresThe Sagres , above, is a Portuguese Naval training ship.She was built in 1937 by the German Navy. She was captures by the U. S. Forces in 1945 and given to the Brazil Navy. In 1962 she was purchased by Portugal.

US coastguardThe US coastguard training ship. the Eagle, was also built by the German Navy.

The Concordia, above, is a well known sight in Lunenburg, being the school for the Class Afloat. It will head off from Lunenburg in September on a 9 month long trip.

EuropaThis is the Dutch sail training ship, the Europa, as it prepared for the Parade of Sail.

Fox harbour 1Destination Fox Harbour is actually a Tall Ship – a very modern one, that had Jeff wishing he could win the lottery, but even that wouldn’t buy this ship.

Below you can see just how tall the mast is on this ship as it prepared for the Parade of Sail, alongside The Eagle.

Fox harbour  +

In the evening there was a fantastic fireworks display, from a barge out on the water. We went onto the roof garden at the hotel and had a front seat to observe the pyrotechnics. My video was a bit useless, lots of black sky with some splashes of colour in the distance, but Jeff got some good photos.


All in all, quite an adventure for us Glen folk.

I’ll tell you about the ships that sailed back here to Lunenburg after the Tall Ships event in Halifax, on my next post.